Bittersweet

Summer is for memories, new beginnings and bittersweet endings. James Sirius Potter fanfic, set in Summer 2019. Includes first and second generation characters. Mostly canon ships. Enjoy!

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1. And So It Goes

 

And this is why my eyes are closed

It's just as well for all I've seen

And so it goes, and so it goes

And you're the only one who knows

"James Sirius Potter! You better be down here in two seconds before I feed your breakfast to the dog!"

James rolled over in his bed, groaning at the prospect of getting out of bed. He was 15 after all, and sleep was his best friend (apart from food, of course). However as much as he'd like to just resume sleeping for another three hours, James knew better than to disobey his mother. Ginny might be the nurturing type, but she had also grown up in a house full of boys, where everyone felt the need to scream at each other from various floors of the beloved Burrow, and patience was definitely lacking.

"James if you don't come down I'm coming up there!" James heard footsteps coming up the stairs leading to his attic bedroom. This got him moving since his room was a no-entry zone, as he hadn't tidied it in ages and he wasn't up for facing the wrath of his mother this early in the morning. James hopped over piles of clothes and school books, reaching the door before his mother could fling it open.

"Morning Mum!" he said opening his door only enough so he could squeeze through. Ginny peered behind him suspiciously, and James quickly shut the door. He flashed a nervous grin but she definitely knew he was hiding something.

"Mind if I take a peek at your room, darling?" she asked.

"Oh but I really must be going down for breakfast, why don't I make you a cup of tea?" he said nervously, nonchalantly getting a hold of the door knob.

"James you're 15, is it really that difficult to keep your room decent? Lily can and she's 3 years younger than you!"

"She's also a girl."

"That's no excuse. Just go down and eat your breakfast, and for the love of Merlin try putting a comb through your hair!"

"I can't help it that my hair grows in every possible direction. I inherited it from Dad."

Ginny opened her mouth, prepared to argue back, but she was too tired to think of anything to say. She closed her mouth again and shook her head. She turned around and headed down the stairs to the second floor landing, then disappeared into her bedroom. Taking the stairs two at a time, James headed down to the second floor landing then slid down the banister towards the smell of bacon wafting from the kitchen.

"Good thing Mum didn't see that or she would've hexed you." James heard Albus say from the door of the kitchen.

"Loosen up, Al, what she doesn't know won't hurt her." James said, ruffling his brother's hair as he entered the kitchen. "Morning Dad, Lily." He said, walking towards the counter where Harry Potter stood.

"Morning James." Harry said as he handed his son a plate with two fried eggs on it. James took it and proceeded to pile bacon on his plate, then took his usual seat between Albus and his little sister, Lily.

"You know what's magic?" Albus said, sitting down with a glass of chocolate milk in hand.

"What?" Lily asked curiously.

"The fact that James wolfs down all that food without getting fat."

"Albus." Harry said, trying to sound stern while hiding his smile.

"I've got a fast metabolism." James said through a mouthful of bacon.

"Maybe you have a bottomless stomach like Uncle Ron." Lily said, poking at her own bacon.

"Maybe, but at the rate he's inhaling bacon he won't be bottomless any more, if you know what I mean." Albus said slyly.

"Just like Uncle Ron." Harry said, looking up from The Daily Prophet.

"You can say that again." Ginny said, entering the kitchen. Her hair was done in a loose bun and she was the only one dressed at the moment. She looked at her family; who were all still in their pajamas, with disapproval.

"We're supposed to be at the Burrow by 11:30 you know. Unless you're all planning on going in your pajamas, I'd suggest you guys hurry up." Ginny walked over to the refrigerator, which was blocked by the family dog, Arnold.

"For flip's sake Arnold, move your bum!" she said.

"Oh give Arnold a break, Mummy." Lily said, walking over to the black shepherd, who had retreated to his bed looking rather offended. "He's probably just hungry. It's ok Arnold, I still love you." She kneeled down on his bed and scratched behind his ears, and Arnold looked much happier.

"Everyone needs to be dressed and ready to go in 20 minutes, ok? And yes, we're walking." Ginny said while buttering a piece of toast for herself.

"Mum why do we have to walk? Can't we just apparate or use the Floo network?" asked Albus, obviously not impressed with the prospect of walking for a lengthy five minutes.

"The muggles have no magic but they still get around fine, so we can too. And Merlin knows you kids need more exercise! All you do is sit around in the house all day, fresh air wouldn't kill you."

"Because our daily Quidditch practice and weekly Potter-Weasley Quidditch tournaments aren't exercise, right? And definitely no fresh air involved with that, Mum." James said, bravely defying his mother.

"Sitting on a broom isn't exercise!" Ginny snapped, earning raised eyebrows from her whole family.

"Ginny," Harry said carefully. "Having played Quidditch since before you were even a first year at Hogwarts, are you sure about that statement?" The three children nodded in agreement. Ginny looked at Harry with piercing eyes, obviously vexed that her husband had tested her patience.

If looks could kill... James thought.

"Well, it wouldn't hurt to stretch your legs, now would it." Ginny said hotly, still upset with her defeat.

Setting his paper down, Harry pushed his chair away from the table, walking towards the kitchen door but stopping to hug his wife.

"Stressed?" he asked, with his arms still around her waist and her arms around his neck.

"Well you know, we're all meeting at The Burrow because Neville has an announcement for us. Considering the last one was that Hannah had left him, I'm scared for what he has to say."

Harry looked at his wife. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he'd been thinking along the same lines.

"You worry too much. Maybe he discovered a new species of plant, or he's been given Hogwarts Teacher of the Year. Not all announcements are bad you know." Harry said, kissing his wife on the forehead.

"I hope you're right." she said, moving towards the kettle to make herself a cup of tea. For one reason or another, tea always seemed to calm Ginny. James' father shrugged and headed towards the stairs.

James finished his last piece of bacon, pushed his chair out from the table and put his dishes in the sink. His mother leaned against the counter, sipping her tea with that look in her eyes again. That look of someone who'd had their fair share of uncertainty. James knew the whole story of the Second Wizarding War. He knew that his mother used to lay awake at night, wondering if Harry, Ron and Hermione were ever coming home. Worrying about who would be dead tomorrow. Even after the war, she was still anxious about her family's recovery from the war. It pained James to see this look in his mother's eyes. Even if she hadn't been the one to battle Voldemort, she hadn't escaped unscathed. Yet she still worried about the well-being of everyone else before she tried mending her own wounds, grieving, and moving on.

James suddenly thought of the day his mother had decided he was old enough to know more about the Second Wizarding War. His mother told him in detail what had happened, and James found himself horrified that anyone could ever feel the need to hurt so many people. The part that had really gotten to him though was when his mother started talking about the aftermath of the war.

Ginny explained to her son that once the war ended, her family was fragile. They had to pick up the pieces and had to learn to be happy again. The sad truth though, was Fred and George had always been the ones to make every one smile. They were the ones that were strong and supported every one. Because no matter what, no matter how much grief everyone was put through, they still had each other. But without Fred, George couldn't be the rock any more. He needed to lean on some one. And Ginny ended up being his supporter. She willingly took up the role of being the strong one, being the one who helped get everyone back on their feet. She cooked and did all the house work, she made sure everyone had clean clothes and ate at least one meal every day. She managed all the funeral expenses and tried to coax every one into talking to each other, or going outside for the day. Harry, Hermione and Ron would come and try and help on occasion, but Ginny knew they had their own wounds to heal, so she'd always send them away again.

Eventually her family started coming around, first her father, then her mother. They knew that despite all the pain, they had to be there for their children. Bill and Charlie ended up coming home too, to try and help out. They'd already finished grieving in private, as they weren't the type of people to show any weakness. After a few months Percy had started talking again (but never as much as he used to). He'd have a bit of conversation with his father about the Ministry, and on good days he would play a game of Wizard's chess with whoever was around (and win, but only because everyone was letting him). George took the longest to come around. Ginny spent most of her time with him, talking to him, reading to him, trying to get him to eat. Some days she would try so hard to get a reaction, any reaction out of him, but he would just sit, completely mute, on Fred's bed. He'd long abandoned his own. One day Ginny and Mr. Weasley were planning to take it out of the room, hoping it would help George to let go, but instead he sat on it and gave them a lethal look. Even if he hadn't said it, they knew that there was no way that bed would make it out of the room.

More months rolled on, and George still didn't leave his room, or talk to anyone. The whole family; even Harry, Ron and Hermione, (who also returned to The Burrow eventually, having come to terms with what happened, sort of. Their past can never truly be forgotten.) would take it in turns sitting outside his open bedroom door. George was prone to mental break downs, so someone would always have to be monitoring him. Ginny always took the night shifts. She liked seeing George sleeping, because he looked like the George she used to know. Sometimes Harry would come and they would just sit in silence, and when she cried he would hold her. The way Harry thought of it, he owed it to Ginny to support her, as he'd been the one to cause all of this sorrow. Ginny told him he didn't owe her anything, but she never asked him to leave. She was comforted by his company.

One day, when everyone was crammed into the kitchen eating breakfast, George came down the stairs. "Hello everyone." he said, grabbing a plate from the cupboard and helping himself to some food. Everyone was too taken aback to say anything. George acted as if he hadn't been confined to his room for almost a year, not speaking to anyone.

"Uhm, hello George." Ron had finally said. "Long time no see." Hermione had kicked him under the table for this. George was silent for a minute, and everyone was scared the he had fallen back to his muteness and would disappear into his room again.

"Yes, I suppose so. Couldn't be a sad git all my life though could I?" he said. What really surprised everyone was how normal he sounded. Ginny felt like she had her brother back. She fought back the tears that were welling up in her eyes, and hoped that no one would notice her beet red nose.

No one knew what suddenly caused George to come out of his trance, but no one asked. They had George back, and that was all that mattered. They were really a family again. This part of the story was James' favourite.

Even though James was deeply saddened by his mother's story, it also made him realize how strong Ginny was too. She might not have been the one to initially defeat Voldemort, but she had been the one to help clean up the mess he had made. She's stronger than people think he always thought to himself. Even though she could've just broken down, she'd been strong for her family and had helped them recover. James hoped that when he was older, he could be as brave as her.

"Dad's right, Mum. You worry too much. Maybe Neville's getting remarried!" he said cheerily.

"That's silly, James." Ginny said, smiling.

"It might be, but the idea still made you smile." he said, kissing his mother on the cheek and heading towards the door.

"He might drive me bonkers but I do love him." James heard his mother say quietly to herself.

Disclaimer: No I'm not J.K. Rowling, I don't own any of these characters, and I don't own Harry Potter. If I did, there would probably be a few more alive wizards/creatures alive today, now wouldn't there. The lyrics at the beginning are from And So it Goes by Billy Joel, and no I do not own that either.

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