The Sugar Quill
Author: Jenavira (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: This, Above All  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

AN: Ta-da! I finally finished something. Aren't you proud of me? :) So anyway, a few things. There are no real spoilers in this, though it won't make a bit of sense if you haven't read book 3. The idea for the fic came from a scene in "Objects at Rest", the second-to-last episode of Babylon 5. At the end of the episode, John Sheridan, who knows he has only eighteen more years to live, realizes that he won't be around to see his unborn child come of age, and composes a message to leave to the child. It seemed like something that James might do.

I've edited the heck out of this thing, going over and over it...I've had dozens of comments on it, many of them contradictory, so I think I'll leave it as it is. If you think it's random - it is, kind of. If it touches you - good. That was the point. :)

***

Harry Potter sat in the empty room he shared with his Gryffindor companions, staring moodily at a small piece of crystal resting on the bed before him. It was a fairly ordinary-looking piece of stone, with a metal clasp attached to the top, obviously designed to string a chain through. It had a faint glow of magic about it - not quite visible, but definitely there. An aura, Professor Trelawney might have said.

Harry was nearing the end of his seventh year, and his thoughts were full of life after Hogwarts. He still wasn't sure what he planned to do; Quidditch, unfortunately, was staring to look like a serious option. And then, to add to his confusion, Dumbledore had stopped him in the hallways between Divination and Care of Magical Creatures and given him a box. It was not a very impressive box; it was small and square, and it fit easily into the palm of his hand. It was made of what seemed to be ash, and the initials "J.P." were carved into the top. Harry, having spent the better part of seven years being subjected to the frequently eccentric actions of the headmaster, was not about to open such a thing on his way outside, so after everyone had left for dinner, he'd remained in his dormitory. The box's contents were nearly as unassuming as the box itself - the crystal pendant, and a small scrap of parchment that had been unmarked until he had touched it. Now it bore one word: Impestivus.

Harry had no doubts as to whom the box had belonged to; it was from his father. He also had no doubts as to what spell was on the crystal; it was a message. Alone, these facts were simple and not particularly earth-shattering. Together, they certainly gave the young wizard something to think about.

Despite all everyone had said about him, Harry really knew very little about his father. He knew that James Potter had been Quidditch Captain and Head Boy. He knew that he had been friends with Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, which certainly had something to say about him. And he knew that he himself looked very much like his father, but none of this really said very much about what kind of person James Potter had been. None of it was anything near a decent replacement for actually knowing him.

By now, Harry knew what he had to do, and decided not to sit around and think about it any longer. Carefully, he touched the tip of his wand to the crystal and said, "Impestivus."

An image appeared in the air before him, reminding him vaguely of the communication-through-fireplace system that seemed to replace telephones in the wizarding world. It was the image of a man, with rumpled black hair and deep brown eyes peering out from behind a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. Harry's heart constricted as he realized for the first time how much he really did look like his father.

The image was still for only a few seconds, then James Potter smiled weakly and began to speak.

"

I...I hardly know how to start this. I don't really know what I think I'm doing..." He glanced aside for a moment, then back with new resolve. "Times have been hard lately. You would know that, from history I hope and not from experience. Voldemort's supporters are more powerful than ever, and," he paused for a moment, "and it's really even numbers as to whether any of us are going to come out of it in one piece. And I started to think, started to realize that I may not be around to see my child come of age. I truly hope this isn't necessary, but in the event that it is...I give you what little wisdom I have." He smiled again, and this time it looked more genuine.

"You can't go at this life alone. It's one of the first things I learned - your friends are the most valuable things you posses. The kind of people you can lean on when you need support, who can pick you up when you stumble, are invaluable.

"Mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes you'll make minor mistakes. Sometimes they'll be huge. But what matters isn't that you fall, it's that you pick something up off the floor when you get back up.

"Some things are forever. Many more things are not. The trick is in learning which is which, and knowing then to hold on to something and when to let it go. The secret is, sometimes they're the same thing.

"Always fight for what you believe in. Everything worth truly believing in is worth sacrificing something for. It doesn't matter how many hundreds of people stand with you, or if you stand completely alone. Fight. Never start a fight, but always finish it.

"And never give up. Things may get dark - very dark - and you may feel like they may never get better again. Remember - when things can't get any worse, they will get better.

"Which brings me to my last point. I believe...I do believe that things do work out. We stumble. We fall. We lose battles; we may even lose the whole war. But in the end...in the end, things do work out.

"Remember that."

And with a final smile, he was gone.

Harry sat for a few minutes, his face in his hands, trying to absorb everything he'd just heard. His father's optimism seemed almost overwhelming in the face of everything that had happened since the message had been made.

Things do work out.

Finally, Harry picked up the crystal and examined it. He would have to find a way to string it, he decided. He would keep it with him. In the meantime, he put it in his picket, next to his wand. Then he picked up the little wooden box, slid it under his bed, and headed down to dinner, leaving the door open behind him.

//
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