Characters: Jamie Potter and his family
Word Count: 2683
Summary: Jamie Potter doesn't want to be Sorted at all; certain members of his family take steps to ensure that he is.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling, and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by the posting of this fic.
Author's Note: Written for thady.
Muggles couldn't see the bridge that spanned the river and led into his village, but it was a beautiful structure. Jamie loved how the puffapod vines grew up from the water to embrace its stones and drop their seeds in explosions of colour and scent. His favourite place to think was upon its middle-most abutment, where he could gaze out over the water, inhale the fragrance of the puffapod blossoms, and feel as though he were alone and connected to everything at once. He'd miss his family most, his friends, next, and then his bridge, he thought, kicking his legs back and forth in agitation.
I'll miss my village.
Strictly speaking, the village wasn't his; it belonged to them all: his mum, his dad, Lor, Ly, Al, and Lils—and, of course, the other denizens of Riverton, the list of which held the names of too many friends to count, and Mr Hammond. Marcus Hammond was a Squib, and the builder who'd done the most to repair, rebuild, and raise the village. After the war, many Squibs, the ones not happy with the Muggle world and wishing to find a place for themselves within the wizarding one, had pooled their resources and bought up all the land that had come to comprise Riverton. They'd relied on their magical friends and family to ward it for them, and the village had done so well that it had attracted actual wizards and witches, like Jamie's mum and dad.
Mr Hammond said that no one had called Riverton "Squibton" since Harry Potter and his bride had made it their home, but Jamie knew about the ugly things that some people sometimes still said—about him. He wasn't a Squib—and why should it matter if he were?— but his magic had developed "late," or so everyone thought. Privately, Jamie was still angry with himself for displaying any magic at all; he'd known he could work it the first time he'd conjured his own glass of water, sans glass, when he was six, but he'd hidden it, gone and got the wash bucket and some bath toys and pretended he'd just made a mess.
And if Lor hadn't tumbled into the river, no one would know!
No one would have known that he was magical, and his letter never would have come. It was his fault that people knew, but he couldn't have allowed his brother to drown.
Being a hero had no benefit that Jamie could see; his father hated being one, still, no matter what Mr Hammond might mutter about it. People were always bothering Jamie's dad—when he wasn't at home in Riverton, of course, which was partly why Jamie had no desire to go to Hogwarts. Mostly, it was because of Mr Hammond and how much he needed Jamie's help. Jamie was always careful never to let on that he knew this about Mr Hammond, who was proud and terse and brilliant.
He'd been "apprenticing" with Mr Hammond since he was little, and Jamie had loved every moment of it. He liked building things. He found it reassuring to use his hands. Tools were wicked cool, and Mr Hammond said, all the time, that "After one's mind, one's most useful tools are one's hands."
Mr Hammond was very formal and dignified, even in work clothes, and he knew everything.
Everything except where the Hat might Sort me.
What had Jamie so agitated that he'd sneaked away to think in his special place before breakfast was Hogwarts; he didn't want to go. Mr Hammond had laughed when Jamie had admitted as much to him and told him not to be foolish, but Jamie was pretty sure that he'd only said that because he'd felt he had to; Mr Hammond knew how excited his parents were to see Jamie go to school. It was all they talked about now, and Mr Hammond was a frequent visitor to their home.
Home. Mum says that nothing's more important than a happy family and home, so why's she so happy about sending me away?
It made no sense to Jamie; Hogwarts had nothing to teach him: he was a builder!
And no one ever talks about sending Lils away.
His sister loved the water and had exhibited her first magic around it, too. She read everything she could about elemental magic, and the Plan, the one everyone always talked about when discussing his sister's education, was that she would go to the Spellcraftres' Guild to be a real apprentice.
It's not fair!
Al teased Jamie about being jealous of Lils for already being so strong in her magic, but that simply wasn't true; Jamie didn't care if he never used magic again.
What hurt the most was that Jamie knew that the twins had hatched the stupid plot to make him show everyone what he could do, his own brothers!
Stupid betraying fucks!
"It's just not fair," Jamie muttered, kicking his legs back and forth more vigorously in his anger.
"What don't you think is fair?"
Jamie almost fell into the water, he was so surprised. "Damn it, Dad!"
"Don't swear. You know that your mother believes it a lazy thing to do."
Jamie huffed but said nothing because Mr Hammond thought the same, only he wasn't as nice about saying it.
"What's not fair, Jamie?" his father asked, as his Invisibility Cloak slipped from his shoulders.
"You flew over here, didn't you?" Jamie accused. "Where's your broom?"
"I didn't use it."
Jamie scowled at his father. "So what, you're flying like Voldything now?"
"He's not the only person who could fly, you know."
"Yeah, but it's sort of distasteful, Dad."
His father laughed, and the sound of his laughter went skipping over the river like so many stones. "Not any more 'distasteful' than going on a pout before breakfast."
"'M not pouting," Jamie asserted, scowling and crossing his arms.
"One ought not lie when one hasn't the talent for it."
Jamie started at his father's words; they sounded very like Mr Hammond's.
"Lying, boasting, teasing, bullying—I don't like it when you do any of those things."
Something about the way his father looked at him, with Mr Hammond's expression, made everything clear all at once. "Mr Hammond! You're . . . you're doing magic!"
"And why not? I am magical. I never said that I wasn't, did I? You just assumed."
"You don't like 'assumers', either," Jamie said, peering into Potter-Hammond's eyes. "But why? Why'd you lie?"
"I did not lie."
"You didn't say you were magical, either! Isn't that a lie?"
Jamie turned away. "I think it is."
"I don't care," Mr Hammond replied with a snort. "And I think you're behaving like an ungrateful brat."
Jamie's eyes stung at the assessment, but he didn't protest it.
"I thought you wanted to be a builder?"
"I do! You know I do!"
"Then you have to go to school," Mr Hammond asserted, shoving the cloak at Jamie and levitating off the abutment to hover in front of him like Peter Pan.
It was weird, seeing his "dad" flying without a broom.
"Why? What can I learn at Hogwarts that you couldn't teach me?"
Suddenly, his father's face was sad. "More things than you know, James."
James. In all the time Jamie had known Mr Hammond, he'd never once called him by his full name. "You said you hated my name."
"Yes," Mr Hammond agreed, "but I like you."
The sting of Mr Hammond's earlier insult dissipated in the face of such a compliment; Mr Hammond didn't praise anyone, for anything. In spite of his mood, Jamie grinned.
"I want you to go to Hogwarts."
"But who'll help you if I do? And why should I go? I'll just be Harry Potter's son there—and the twins'll make school hell for me!"
"No, they won't." Mr Hammond settled back on the abutment and rested his back against the pillar. "And there are far worse fates than being Harry and Luna Potter's son, I imagine. No, I know, and you'll need your education if you intend to assist me, our village, and the field of magical construction—and make no mistake, boy, the reason I don't employ such magic in my work here is precisely because I don't know enough of it."
"But you know everything!"
"No, I know some things. No one knows everything except fools and madmen."
That made sense to Jamie, but it didn't explain to him why Mr Hammond thought he should go to Hogwarts. "There's no lessons in magical construction at Hogwarts."
"No, there aren't!"
"There are no lessons, I meant. One should speak properly if one bothers to speak at all."
Jamie almost rolled his eyes at the sentiment but knew better than to do so in Mr Hammond's presence, even when the man wasn't looking directly at him; he just knew things, Mr Hammond did. "Well, right. No lessons. So I don't see why I should go."
"Has it not occurred to you that you might ask Headmistress Weasley about engaging in a special course of study once you've completed the basics of your education? Your mother mentioned to me that the subject has been discussed with you."
"I can't ask Aunt 'Mione for favours like that. It wouldn't be fair!"
"It wouldn't be fair if the 'favour' were done for you alone, but I expect that you're not the only would-be pupil to have the desire to learn something other than Potions and History of Magic."
"There are lots of other subjects."
"Better," replied Mr Hammond.
Jamie snorted. "Enough of them that my aunt prolly wouldn't want to add more."
"That is also an assumption," Mr Hammond said, as if Jamie should have known better and it was an end to the matter of his schooling. As if to reinforce the point, Mr Hammond continued, "You should be getting home to breakfast. Your mother will worry about you if you don't."
"Naw, Dad will. Mum'll just know where I am and not worry 'bout me."
"I don't want to leave, Mr Hammond. I like it here."
"And that makes you lucky. Plenty of your school fellows won't be as eager to return to their homes as you will be."
"Did you not like going home?"
"My home was . . . unhappy."
"And Hogwarts wasn't?"
Mr Hammond didn't say anything for so long that Jamie knew. "You didn't like Hogwarts, either!"
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't say anything."
Mr Hammond sighed. "I'll have plenty to say to you in my letters, I promise you that."
"And I expect you to write to me at least once a week—and to your mother—and don't duplicate the letter."
"But I haven't decided to go."
"You're going. You're going because I say so. You're my apprentice, and I won't keep you if you're stupid enough to throw away the opportunity of your education, do you understand?"
Before Jamie could say anything, he found a scroll being thrust at him. Looking up at Mr Hammond, whose dad-like features were beginning to go all watery, he took it.
"Your apprenticeship, to be formalised by our signatures—and your parents', of course."
Pride and joy unlike anything Jamie had ever known flooded him. His fingers and toes tingled with it. Eagerly, he unfurled the scroll, his eyes seizing upon the text only to arrest themselves on the name of the offerer.
"Oh, but that's—"
At Mr Hammond's pointed cough, Jamie looked up and into someone else's face entirely. "But . . . but . . . but you're dead."
"No, I've seen Mum's portrait of you in the painting with all the other fallen heroes, and—"
"I'm not a hero, James."
You are to me, Jamie thought, but given how Mr Hammond appeared to feel about the matter, he decided it would be stupid to say so. "Why are you hiding? Isn't that a lie, too?"
"Not at all. It's thanks to your mother that I'm alive and living any kind of decent life, and she doesn't lie. You know that."
"Wow. I mean, this is . . . this is big!"
"This," said Mr Hammond, "is a secret. Between us. Well, among your family and me—the ones who've been or are going to Hogwarts, at any rate. Understand?"
"Oh, yes sir! Of course. I won't tell anyone, but—"
"N—no, no buts. Wow."
"Stop wowing and go eat—and then bring your parents to my home so that we can make that document official."
"Yes, all right!" Jamie exclaimed, about to leap from the abutment and into the river. "Oh, but, but if I swim back, I'll get this wet," he said, holding up the now re-furled scroll.
Mr Hammond smirked and touched the scroll with a finger tip. The scroll shimmered, and Jamie knew that Mr Hammond had somehow made it safe for the water.
Their post-prandial meeting had officially ended with James whooping off to find his friends and share the news of his apprenticeship, but Luna and Harry had lingered.
"Thank you, Severus," said Luna, beaming at him.
"Yeah, that was well done. I never thought Jamie'd agree to go."
Severus rolled his eyes. "He was always going."
Potter laughed. "Perhaps."
"No, always—and he's not going to be a builder. He's going to end an advocate for Squib rights."
Luna smiled and laid a hand on his. "That's what my Arithmantical calculations say, too."
Severus flushed. "Arithmancy does have its place."
"None that I've ever found," said Potter.
"You've always been a dunderhead."
"Oh, well, if that's how it's to be, then I'm off to work before you warm up to worse insults." Potter's smile was as fond as his tone had been as he rose and kissed Luna. "Keep your greasy hands off m'wife."
It was an old joke between them; Severus didn't mind it because he had no cause to.
When Potter had gone, Severus turned to find Luna staring at him with wet, wide eyes. "What is it?"
"Never understood that—crying when one was happy."
"Yes, well, I am, and right now, mostly because of you."
"Thank you, Severus. Thank you for helping us to raise our children."
She squeezed his hand, and Severus fell silent.
"I know that you were afraid they'd end up like their grandfather. I know that's why you stayed, and I'm glad."
Severus was glad, as well, but for a reason other than the one Luna assumed. "I'm not his father, just his friend."
"Well, you're the very best of friends to all our children," said Luna, emphasising the "our" in a way that made Severus grateful, for once, that Luna had a rapid way of taking her leave of a person.
He wiped away the tear he felt rolling down his cheek in her wake, and he was happy, too, even though he found his happiness rather bittersweet.
Just as well that it is. I wouldn't be able to manage properly otherwise.
Potter and Luna had welcomed him into their family and given him leave to help them build it; the magnitude of their generosity still astounded him, especially when one considered . . . . But Severus wouldn't allow himself to consider his feelings for Luna too closely; it was enough that Potter knew of and accepted them with more grace than Severus had once thought him capable.
Placing his hand upon the signed contract, he smiled. James, his James, was going to do great, good things. Oh, he'd receive his full apprenticeship, but Severus knew that the foundation with which he, Luna, and Potter had provided the boy was such that his interests would take him beyond building, and knowing that he'd been a part of preparing James for his proper future instilled in Severus such a sense of paternal pride that James might as well have been his own blood.
I love my family, Severus thought, feeling, in the secure solitude of his own making, a sense of connectivity to the people in his life that he'd never imagined before building the bridge that had led him to Riverton.