"James!" Ginny Potter was at her wit's end, yelling for her stubborn son to get out of his room and come down for breakfast. With a frustrated sigh, she turned to her husband. "Harry, can you do something about him? I already have my hands full with the two here." She glanced down at the young Albus Severus Potter and the even younger Lily Luna Potter.
Laying down today's copy of the Daily Prophet on the dining table, Harry Potter finished his hot chocolate in one gulp and stood up, shaking his head at another one of James' difficult tantrums. "Yeah, I'll do that."
As he ascended the stairs, he couldn't help thinking if it was a mistake to send James to a Muggle school. He had hoped it would help Ginny to ease her load in taking care of three children at once; it also helped to separate James from Albus for a bit, for the former seemed to have taken a liking to bully his younger brother with pranks that greatly reminded Harry of the Weasley twins… and his own father, James Senior. He had taken Hermione's advice to give James an earlier school experience at a Muggle institution before going to Hogwarts, but he wasn't sure if that had made the matter worse.
Unlocking James' door with an Alohomora Charm, Harry was greeted by the usual chaotic mess in his eldest son's room. He had to duck down as a book suddenly came flying towards him.
"Go away!" James screamed, throwing balls of parchments at his father. "Leave me alone!" Tears were flowing down the young boy's cheeks, his brown eyes glowering fiercely at Harry. The latter was taken aback at the furious look—one that Harry would hate to see if he had accidentally stepped on one of Ginny's many landmines on her bad day. The resemblance was uncanny.
"James," Harry tried to calm his son down, clearing up the maelstrom of papers with a wave of his wand. "Did something happen—"
James cut him off with a sarcastic laugh. "Why do you care?" he snapped. "Nobody cares about me—Al and Lily are all you need. You throw me into a Muggle school so that you can spend more time with them, yeah?"
"James, listen to me—"
"I have enough! I'm out of here!" With a roar of finality, James threw his red lion alarm clock at his father before storming out of the room. In the moment of distraction as Harry caught the clock with a hand, he couldn't stop his son from stalking out the front door.
"James!" Ginny was equally shocked at how the situation had escalated as she rushed out of the kitchen to see what the din was about. "What is he thinking, leaving the house like this?"
Exhaling slowly, Harry raised a hand to stop Ginny from going after James. "I'll take care of this," he muttered, then glancing down at the frightened younger children hiding behind the mother. "You stay here to keep an eye on them."
It wasn't hard to find James. The young boy didn't run away very far; he merely went to a deserted playground nearby, sitting on a swing alone. Harry approached slowly, careful not to alert the son of his presence. He only called out to James in a soft voice when he was in the other swing next to the boy. "I'm sorry that I didn't notice this earlier."
James still refused to look at his father. "…Isn't it too late to apologize?"
"It's never too late to apologize," Harry replied in the same gentle tone. "It's my fault for not understanding how you feel." He paused, looking up at the clear sky. He had felt jealousy towards his cousin Dudley from time to time when he lived with the Dursleys in his childhood days; even if they were his distant relatives, Harry always felt an unbreakable wall between his magical background and the normal, Muggle life that the Dursleys had been adamant about upholding. They were fearful of the gossiping neighbors if anyone found out about Harry's 'mumbo jumbos', as his uncle, Vernon, had put it.
Of course, Harry knew that it wasn't the same as the blood bonds between James. "I… don't have siblings like you, and I was never close with my cousin. I won't pretend that I can understand how you feel, but there are times I do feel like the world is unfair." He let out a short laugh. "I do get jealous of others, too."
James said nothing; though, he sneaked a glance at his father before looking away again.
As the awkward silence between the two dragged on, Harry cleared his throat to break the tension. "But what I really want to say is that I love you as much as I love Albus and Lily. You're my child as much as they are."
James didn't seem convinced. "…Really?"
"Words mean nothing." James narrowed his eyes at his father, unwilling to give in so easily. "How will you prove that to me?"
Harry stared at his glaring son for a moment, then he smiled. "How about we just stay here and continue to talk like this for a while?"
That made James raised his eyebrows at his father. "What about Mom?"
"Oh? Do you want to go back home now?"
"No." The annoyed look on James' face finally cracked into his usual mischievous grin. "How about we run away from home a little longer—and further?"
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