This idea has been nagging and nagging me for a very long time.
Originally it started out as a joke that I told my friend. Eventually it just kept at me until I wrote it.
Lots of people seemed to like this idea on Tumblr. O.o
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything associated with it. All rights to Harry Potter and affiliated products belong to Ms J.K. Rowling and the other proper entities.
Summary: "I don't think I can do this. It's not funny, Lily. I'm dead serious. I think I'm gonna be sick." James meets Lily's parents.
James Potter apparated onto the doorstep of a modest Muggle home in Cokeworth on one particularly dismal summer evening in 1978.
He was lucky it happened to be raining that particular evening; none of the remarkably nosey neighbours would even dare to think that anyone would be receiving callers in this weather. This was the kind of weather that any normal, self-respecting individual would stay out of, sitting in front of the telly, perhaps, or playing Bridge.
James Potter, however, was not a normal young man and, therefore, was not at all bothered by what any of the people in this neighbourhood might think of him besides the ones inside the house in front of him.
He fidgeted with his Muggle jacket for a few more moments before trying to flatten his untidy black hair—which he immediately messed up again anyway as he ran his fingers through it while knocking on the door, fiddling with his wire-rimmed glasses almost incessantly.
The sunny smile of his girlfriend met his eyes as she opened the door, ushering him inside. She took his jacket and hung it up in the cupboard under the stairs, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek. Her startlingly green eyes twinkled happily as she took in the sight of him, brushing a fiery curl behind her ear.
"Surprised you came." She commented cheekily, winking at the frown that marred his face.
"I said I'd come, didn't I?" He rolled his eyes.
"I know you did." She agreed. "It's just that most blokes would turn tail and run at the prospect of meeting a girl's parents."
James scoffed. "If I could stand to look at Sirius every day I'm sure I can handle one dinner with your parents."
She laughed. "Mum! Dad! James is here!" She called out, leading him into the living room.
"It's lovely to meet you, James, dear." An older woman stepped out of the kitchen, wearing a floral print apron. A man, scarcely taller than Lily herself (who James sometimes affectionately called 'Midget'), trooped in behind her. He surveyed James critically, his moustache twitching.
James had rehearsed exactly what he'd planned to say to Mr. and Mrs. Evans. He'd prepared answers for multiple questions that could possibly have come up during the course of the evening—things like 'what do you plan to do for a living?' and 'what are your intentions with my still-teenaged daughter?' But they all died in this throat at the sight that had greeted him, hanging above the fireplace.
"Er… can I use your bathroom?" He managed to blurt out, unable to tear his eyes away.
Lily scowled at him—he was being terribly rude. "James—"
Her mother only blinked. "Of course, dear. Upstairs, first door on the right."
James practically fled the room.
"Well, he's definitely a freak." Lily's sister, who had been sulking in an armchair by the fire, commented with easy contempt. "And so rude! Vernon would never—"
"Yes, yes, Vernon's perfect." Lily bit back. She'd been hearing nothing else all week, since she'd announced that James would be coming over for dinner to meet her family. "James has never met a girl's parents before—I'm his first real girlfriend—"
"Well that just goes to show how low his standards are, doesn't it?" Petunia shot back primly.
"That's enough, girls." Their father finally spoke. "Potter's probably just nervous. Any bloke would be." He shared a grin with his wife. "Anyway, something must have spooked him."
Lily followed the path that James's eyes had been staring in a few moments before. "He was staring at the buck head."
The entire family turned to look at it. Chestnut brown and gleaming in the reflected light from the fire, the buck head had always occupied pride of place in the Evans living room. It hung above the fireplace, it's long, polished antlers nearly brushing the ceiling.
"Maybe he's anti-hunting." Petunia offered, not without a sneer. "Incredibly un-manly of him. Vernon, of course, enjoys hunting for sport on weekends—"
"Will you shut up about Vernon, Petunia?" Lily hissed. "Not everything revolves around his fat arse!"
"Lily." Her mother warned, shooting Petunia a glare that simply dared her to speak. "Calm down. Come into the kitchen, and help me make tea. You know how James takes his, I assume?"
"Black, with three sugars." Lily recited, following her mother into the kitchen.
Closing the door behind them, Lily's mother turned and fixed Lily with a strange look. "He's… an incredibly fit fellow, isn't he?"
"Vernon?" Lily gasped in disgust, her mind still whirling with dislike for the aforementioned whale hybrid.
"Not Vernon!" Lily's mother laughed as she put the kettle on the burner and lit the gas. "James."
"Oh." Lily's cheeks, already alive with freckles, flooded pink. "I… I suppose so, yes."
"He's very handsome." Her mother went on, rummaging around the kitchen. "I have to say, Lily, aesthetically speaking, he has my approval. He's certainly better than that pudding of a man Petunia's been going with."
Lily bit her lip. "I could have told you that before I stopped hating him." She snorted. "Vernon Dursley at his best makes James at his worst seem like a well-mannered, considerate human being."
"He is a bit of a tosser." Her mother agreed. "But don't tell your sister I said that. She's under the impression that we approve."
Ten minutes later, the tea had been made and Mrs. Evans was checking on dinner in the oven (Mr. Evans's latest kill, made and saved for this very occasion). Lily was quickly growing agitated—James shouldn't have taken this long.
Apparently, Petunia was of the same mind. "Did he fall in?" She sneered.
"Petunia!" Their mother scolded.
Lily stood from her chair, setting her empty tea mug down on the coffee table. "James knows how to use a toilet." Lily rolled her eyes. "I'll go see what's taking so long. Maybe there's no toilet paper or something."
She climbed the stairs, shaking her head and growing slightly apprehensive. Had he apparated away and not told her? "James?" She called out, knocking on the bathroom door. "Are you still in there?"
There was a muffled sound on the other side of the door before it opened, revealing James's face. He was absurdly pale, his hair in even worse disarray than normal and looking almost mad. She cocked an eyebrow. "What's going on? You've been in there for ages."
"I don't think I can do this." He muttered, pulling her into the bathroom and closing the door. She laughed a little, thinking it was cute the way he was suddenly overcome with nerves after first setting eyes on her parents, when he had been insulted at her joking that he was too afraid to meet them in the hallway. "It's not funny, Lily. I'm dead serious. I think I'm gonna be sick."
She stopped her laughing at the earnestness in his voice. "What? You were fine fifteen minutes ago."
"That was before I walked in and saw the head on the living room wall!" He hissed.
Lily blinked. "The buck?" She asked. He nodded fervently. "What about it? You're not anti-hunting, are you?"
James fixed her with A Look. It was the same one, she noted, that she often fixed on him when he was missing something completely obvious. "Come on, Lily. Don't be daft. You know what I'm talking about."
Lily slowly shook her head, her amusement slowly draining away to be replaced with concern for his mental health. "I really don't."
He sighed in exasperation, starting to pace the length of the room and running his hands repeatedly through his hair. "I thought you did." He sighed. "I mean, we never explicitly talked about it, but…" he ran a hand down his face. "Alright. It's like this. And you have to promise to let me finish, because you're probably going to be cross with me—well, with the lot of us, really."
"Why would I be cross with you?"
He ignored her question. "Do you promise to let me finish before you tell me off?"
She sighed. "Fine."
There was a pause. When he opened his mouth again, the first question he posed was not something she expected. "You know about Remus, right?"
She nodded. "I know that he's a werewolf."
If he'd been surprised that she knew that, he hid it well. He leant against the wall on the opposite side of the room and fixed her with a sheepish look. "Well, we figured it out in second year. We saw how cut up he'd be, coming back to the dorm after a full moon; we felt really badly for him. And one of us—Sirius swears it was him, but really, it was me—" he winced "—had the bright idea to keep him company during… during the transformation."
Lily was staring at him. She opened her mouth to tell him just how stupid that was, even if they were only twelve or thirteen years old. "No, you promised. Let me finish." He cut her off. She snapped her mouth shut, instead fixing him with a flat, disapproving look.
"We knew we couldn't do it as kids." He waved the thought away. "But then, we'd thought about what McGonagall could do—you know, changing into a cat and back? When we asked Moony, he said that werewolves were no threats to animals. And when we told him what we wanted to do for him, he put his foot down and told us not to be stupid. But we did it anyway."
Lily was blinking at him. "You… turned each other into animals?"
James shook his head, The Look making a second appearance. "No, Lily. We turned ourselves into animals."
"Wait," she laughed, disbelieving, "are you telling me that you're an Animagus?" It was one of the most ridiculous things she'd ever heard in her life.
"You can't tell anyone, Lily." James wasn't joking. Lily sobered up. "If this gets out, Sirius, Peter and I could get thrown into Azkaban. We're unregistered. Sirius and I are going to register in a few years, after the war—I don't know what Pete's going to do, but I think he's going to come with us. But until then, we have to keep it quiet. It's why we never told you."
She was flabbergasted. "You… you're actually serious. You can turn into an animal?" She spluttered. He nodded. "Since when?"
"Midway through fifth year." James winced again.
"And you… you turn into a…?"
"A stag. Sirius turns into a dog and Pete turns into a rat."
Lily was speechless, simply staring at her boyfriend. Then, understanding bloomed across her features and she clapped a hand to her mouth, horror in her eyes. "Oh, God, James! I'm sorry—the buck head! I—we didn't know—if I'd known I'd've told my parents they'd have put it away, they do whenever we have sensitive company—"
"—and oh, God, Dad went out to shoot a dear for dinner tonight!" She ran her fingers through her hair in agitation. "We can't serve that!"
James closed his eyes as his stomach revolted against the smell that had wafted up the stairs while it was cooking. "I haven't eaten venison since fifth year." He admitted. "None of us have, except when Sirius is pissed at me. The smell of it makes me ill."
"He was going to invite you hunting, the next time he and Vernon went." Lily groaned. "I'll tell him not to bother—Vernon will make a fuss about it, but I wont ask you to go just to make a good impression. My Dad won't mind."
James, who had been waiting for the explosion, figured that it was probably going to happen after she was finished with her shock. He decided not to press the issue. "Well," he stuffed his hands into his trouser pockets, "that's great and all, but there's the more immediate problem of the fact that I don't think I can leave this room." He rapped a knuckle against the wall with a little of his usual swagger.
Lily put up a finger. "Wait right here. I'll explain to Mum and Dad. We can go out—they won't mind. Once I explain it to them, they'll understand—they might even ask for a demonstration! They love magic." She swept up and kissed him on the cheek before bounding out the door and down the stairs.
If he opened the door a crack and listened, he could hear some of what they were saying float upstairs. He recognised the hum of Lily's voice easily enough—he gathered the slightly worried, feminine voice was her mother, the snappish one her sister. The deeper voice was obviously her father.
"Why didn't you tell us, Lily?" Her mother was asking in tones of deep concern.
"I didn't know." Lily sheepishly replied. "He never told me." A pause. "He's barricaded himself in the bathroom—the smell is making him a bit sick."
"What a pansy." Her sister—Petunia?—snorted.
"That's enough, Petunia." Their father said sharply. "How would you feel if you could turn into a chicken and you walked into Vernon's house to see chicken's feet everywhere with a chicken roasting in the oven? No wonder the lad was so nervous—he was probably scared to death."
James's grin faltered. He felt rather embarrassed over the whole thing, but there was no helping it. He knew it was irrational, and he knew that they'd not done it on purpose—but for a moment he'd panicked, thinking that a higher power was trying to tell him something. The fact that his girlfriend's father liked to hunt deer did not bode well.
He lost track of the argument downstairs, until Petunia started squawking like a parrot. "I am not going anywhere! If you lot want to go out then fine. I'll stay here and invite Vernon 'round for dinner. You're going to be wasting a perfectly good roast because some freak can't be polite enough to eat what's put in front of him—"
"Petunia, he'll hear you!" Lily shushed her unsuccessfully.
"Good!" Petunia snapped. "Go on, then! Go out and worship the freaks like you always do! God knows I've seen enough of them come traipsing through here as if they own the place over the last few weeks!"
"Alice was here for half an hour yesterday!" Lily's temper had flared—not good. James winced. "And Marlene was here for three hours on Friday, and we spent the whole time in my room—that's hardly taking over the house! I don't complain when your whale of a git of a boyfriend comes over, do I?"
"You leave my boyfriend out of this!"
"You stop insulting mine!"
"Vernon is a nice, sensible, caring man! You think I didn't hear you complain every summer about what a prick Potter was? 'That Potter is such a twat! He harasses me every chance he gets!'" Petunia imitated. "'He's such a spoiled brat, I don't know how anyone can like him!' You're nothing but a big, dirty hypocrite!"
"At least James didn't sneer at you the second he saw you!" Lily screeched, sounding almost to the point of tears. "I've told him all about what a selfish, stroppy, prejudiced cow you are and he's still making the effort not to hex you!"
"That is enough!" Their father bellowed. "Petunia, you will come to this dinner for your sister. She put up with the family dinner when you introduced Vernon to us; the least you can do is repay the favour. The next time Potter comes around you can bugger off for as long as you like."
There was an eerie silence, and James fancied that he would almost see Lily seething. Her hair would be in all sorts of disarray, her cheeks would be splotchy, and her eyes would be welling up—that was something that he'd learned early on in their relationship. Lily's emotions were tied directly into her tear ducts. When she got extremely happy, she cried. When she got incredibly depressed, she cried. When she was angry to the point of distraction, she cried.
"Fine!" Petunia snapped. "But I'm not going dressed like this! I'm going to change!"
He heard her stomp up the stairs and snapped the door shut, not wanting her to catch him eavesdropping. There was a slam somewhere down the hall, and James heaved a sigh.
A few moments later, the bathroom door opened and Lily came in, wiping at her eyes. "You okay, Love?" James asked, tugging on a lock of her hair. It looked like she'd run her hands through it a few times—definitely a habit she'd picked up from him.
"I'll be fine." She washed her face with some cold water. "I'm sorry you had to hear that."
"I'm sorry you're related to that." James quipped instantly. "Makes me think twice about wanting a brother."
"You're already stuck with Sirius." Lily attempted a laugh. It was just a little pathetic.
James wrapped his arms around her from behind and stared at her in the mirror. He stood head and shoulders over her, so his view was unobstructed. "You'd better not listen to her, you know." He mock-threatened. "I think I'd be forced to show you just how wonderful you are if you did."
"Oh, whatever shall I do?" The watery giggle was genuine this time, bringing the smile back to James's lips. He spun her so fast that she squealed as her bum met the lip of the counter.
He cupped her face with his hands. "You are the single most wonderful human being I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, Lily Evans." He murmured. "Never, ever forget that." She giggled into his mouth as he kissed her, one hand moving to hold her waist. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him possessively.
A knock at the door caused them to spring apart, red-cheeked. Turning, they met the amused smile of Mrs. Evans. "I'm so sorry about that, James, dear. If I'd have known, we would have planned for it."
"It's not your fault, Missus Evans." James's charming smile stretched across his face. "It's mine for not telling Lily. No harm done."
"Yes, well, I still feel rather terrible." She admitted sheepishly. "We should be ready in about ten minutes. Did you want to wait outside, under the shelter, or did you want to wait up here?"
"Fresh air sounds good right about now." He admitted. He turned to Lily. "You coming?"
"Give me a mo'." She turned back to the mirror, evaluating her appearance. She pulled out her wand and muttered a spell, fixing her running makeup. "Alright, let's go."
James took Lily's hand, entwining their fingers together as they brushed past her mother with a smile on each of their faces. Maybe, James thought, the evening was salvageable after all.
He avoided looking back into the living room on his way out of the house.
There. Now the plot bunny can go back into the cage it belongs to. Hmph!
Anyway, please review and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading,