A/N: This written for the live journal community, catchmysnitch. The prompt was "Quick-Quotes Quill." Thanks to Sherylyn for the beta!
Harry opened the statistics sheets Ron had owled to him over a week ago. Finally he was going to have the chance to pick his teams and enter the point spreads in the Boxing Day Quidditch pool. Ron had won three years in a row and there was no way Harry was going to let him continue the streak.
Before analyzing the numbers, Harry took a moment to savor the placid quiet of this sunny Christmas afternoon. After the loud Christmas Eve party at the Burrow and the gleeful exchanging of gifts this morning, it was soothing to hear Ginny humming along to the Wireless in the kitchen as she and their daughter, Sera, washed up from their feast of roasted goose with all the trimmings. Through the window he could see his sons, Brian and David, on brooms, trying out the rusty hoops that marked the Quidditch Pitch he and Ron had built when all of their boys were still toddlers.
Harry shook his head. Brian was a Healer (the first one in the family – much to Molly’s delight), and David was in the middle of his first year as Professor of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts – much to Arthur’s delight.
He heard Sera swoon and Ginny giggle as an advert for perfume came on the Wireless. At least they still had Sera at home…
Harry frowned at the niggling thought that Sera was growing up all too quickly. Just the other night, she had refused to cuddle next to him on the settee while they listened to the Days of Destiny Christmas special on the Wireless. She had refused because she had to “do her nails” and needed the table nearby.
The first time he held her as a newborn, he was struck by how small – how feminine – her hands were. It’s a girl, Mr. Potter.
“What do you think, Dad?” she had asked, showing off her slender fingers tipped in pale pink.
He had cleared his throat. “Very nice.”
Her eyes had clouded at his unenthusiastic reaction – but he hadn’t known what else to say. He couldn’t very well tell her that her hands reminded him of her infancy and sometimes he wished she could stay that way forever.
Brian’s distant whoop and David’s shout brought Harry’s thoughts back to the present. He had Quidditch teams to analyze.
“Dad?” Sara asked from the open door of the study a few minutes later.
“Seraphina, my angel,” he answered absently. Were the Harpies going to have a twenty or thirty point lead over the Tornados? The Harpies had such an unpredictable Chasing Team this year.
“Please stop calling me that,” Sera said with dignity.
Twenty Points, he decided. “Seraphina is your name,” he reminded her without looking up. They had already had this conversation on the broom ride home from the Burrow. Sera had been mortified that all of her relatives insisted on calling her that ‘stupid name.’
“What’s up?” he asked, filling in the final boxes for the Quidditch pool.
“I was wondering if I could try out my new Quick-Quotes Quill that David gave me for Christmas.” Sara said this so quickly and nervously that Harry looked up. She was standing beside him with her new Quill and a pad of paper and she was chewing her lip.
“I finished with my Quidditch pool. Go ahead and talk to it and let’s see if it works,” he replied, wondering again why Sera had put such a vile thing on her Christmas list.
“I want you to talk to me,” Sera blurted. “Like an interview.”
“An interview?” He sat back in his chair and stared at his daughter – his daughter who looked just like Ginny did at thirteen except her hair was light brown and her freckles were confined to an adorable dusting over her nose.
Sera blushed. “I want to submit an article to the student newspaper, and I thought an interview would be something different to catch the editor’s attention.”
“There’s a student newspaper at Hogwarts?”
Sera looked interested and eager. “They didn’t have one when you were in school?”
Harry thought of all of the charmed copies of The Quibbler that circulated during his fifth year. “No.”
“Oh.” She paused and stared at him with those big brown eyes. “So, will you help me try out my Quick-Quotes Quill?”
“What would this interview be about?” he asked. He wouldn’t mind if she asked him some questions about his job as a Medi-wizard and a Search and Rescue coordinator. It would be good for the students to know about other careers besides Quidditch player and Auror.
“About the time you rescued Mummy from the Chamber of Secrets,” Sera answered. “Professor Binns doesn’t know anything about it. I asked him.”
“Seraphina, you know I don’t grant interviews about –”
“I know!” Surprisingly, her voice rose along with the hot color in her face. “You don’t talk about anything to me!” She clutched the Quill and pad to her chest. “You never have and you never will!” With a sob she hurried from the room and slammed the door. A minute later, the door opened again and Sera’s tearstained face appeared. “And I told the family not to call me Seraphina! It’s bad enough that you don’t talk to me – you don’t listen either!”
The door slammed again and she was gone for good.
“Was that Seraphina slamming doors?” Ginny asked when he entered the kitchen rubbing the back of his neck.
“What happened?” Ginny dried her hands on a towel and turned to face him.
“I dunno.” He really didn’t know. He had been about to explain why he didn’t give interviews, but Sera had flown into a fury before he could say another word.
“The Quick-Quotes Quill,” Ginny guessed, crossing her arms in front of herself.
From the way she was regarding him, Harry could tell that Ginny had known Sera was going to ask him something this afternoon and that somehow he had messed up. “Yeah.” He ran his hand through his hair in frustration. What was he supposed to say? He didn’t want his life on display – that’s why he didn’t do interviews.
At Ginny’s continued silence, Harry realized that there was something else he was missing. “Sera said I never talk to her.” He swallowed the lump of guilt that was forming in his throat. “Do you think that’s true?”
Ginny’s expression softened. “No, it’s not true. It might feel like that to Seraphina right now, but you do talk to her. You’re a good father, Harry.”
His shoulders dropped in relief. Ginny would never sugarcoat the truth when it came to their family. “I don’t feel like I’m a good father right now.”
Ginny giggled. “I think that’s what Seraphina wants you to talk to her about – your feelings.”
“My feelings?” Harry stared at her. “My feelings about what?”
“Did she ask you about the Chamber?”
“She did – but she hardly gave me a chance –”
“I know. She’s going through that backchat stage.” Ginny shook her head. “She shouldn’t talk to you that way. I’ll speak to her about it.”
“No, I will,” Harry said quickly. “But I don’t understand why she’s suddenly interested in our past. And why she hates her name.” Ginny was starting to smile at his bewilderment and it made him smile, too. “And what is up with the school newspaper? Since when has Sera wanted to be a reporter?”
“Two words: Daniel Davies.”
“Roger Davies’s son.”
“Not the one who is always getting into scrapes with Tony?” Harry asked in alarm. ”George says he’s such a smooth talker that Tony never gets detention.”
“That’s Rafe Davies – Richard Davies’s son. Daniel is his cousin who is a Sixth Year and is on the newspaper staff.”
“Sera fancies a boy in Sixth Year!” Harry’s jaw dropped. “She’s only a Third Year.” Then his face warmed. “I remember Roger Davies when he was a Sixth Year. He took Fleur to the Yule Ball and they were snogging in the rose bushes.”
“I know,” Ginny soothed putting her hand on his arm. “I was there.”
“I suppose you were snogging in the rose bushes, too?” he asked peevishly. Ginny had been very popular at Hogwarts.
She giggled. “I’ll never tell. It’s good for an old married couple to have a few remaining mysteries between them.”
“The Yule Ball.” He shook his head. “I don’t think the mysteries will ever be unraveled from that night.”
“All you need to know is that everyone was with the wrong partner,” Ginny said, slipping her arms around his waist. “But that it worked out in the end – Fleur with Bill, Hermione with Ron, Padma with George, me with you…”
He kissed the top of her head. “Is that what I’m supposed to tell Sera? That it will all work out with boys eventually – say, when’s she thirty?”
Ginny laughed. “Maybe by the time she is in her Sixth year. Sixteen seems like a lifetime away when you’re thirteen.”
“I remember being sixteen,” Harry said darkly. “And I wasn’t interested in thirteen-year-old girls.”
Ginny lifted her face and smiled. “No, you were interested in me.”
He paused from worrying about Sera to kiss that provocative smile away from those provocative lips. “I’m still interested in you.”
“No mystery there,” Ginny said, rubbing up against him.
“Why do we have all of these children?” he asked with a groan. Really, the best way to celebrate Christmas afternoon would be in bed – with her and no distractions.
Ginny pulled away, giggling. “We have all of these children because of our – er – mutual interest.” She touched his face. “You might not remember, but when you were thirteen you barely knew I was alive.”
“I knew you were alive.”
“I pined for you,” Ginny said, sounding just like Sera at her most dramatic.
He sighed. It seemed like he had loved Ginny forever but he had only clued in to his feelings when he was sixteen.
Sixteen. Those feelings.
His eyes narrowed. “Is this Daniel Davies like Roger was?”
Ginny’s eyes twinkled. “He’s a very serious, sensitive boy, according to Padma, who is his godmother.”
“He’s not some sort of pouf is he?”
“No!” She laughed. “He’s an excellent flier and he’s on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. Honestly. Is no boy going to be good enough for Sera?”
“No boy is going to be good enough for Sera,” he affirmed.
“Harry, go and talk to her.”
“Whatever she wants to talk about,” Ginny answered. “Tell her what you told the boys when they were at Hogwarts.”
“Make sure you’re not related to the girl before you ask her out? That one?”
“Harry!” She swatted him. “You didn’t say that to the boys.”
“I should have. Our children are related to half the students at Hogwarts, I reckon.”
“Sera is not related to Daniel Davies,” Ginny said, turning him around and giving him a little push. “You don’t have to cover that angle. Talk to her.”
Sera’s room was at the top of the house. It had sloped ceilings and lots of irregular walls because of the chimney and the stairs. Sera loved it because it “wasn’t perfect” and it had “lots of character.” Harry thought the ceiling was “too low” and the walls were “too pink,” but Sera would only roll her eyes whenever he suggested Uncle Ron remodel for them.
He found Sera lying on her bed, staring at the stick-on constellation she had affixed to the sloped ceiling. Harry had the fleeting thought that Professor Sinistra would not encourage such a skewed view of the stars, but he knew that Sera would just say her ceiling’s purpose was “beauty” and not “accuracy” or some other stubborn reasoning that defied argument.
“I know why you’re here,” she said in a sullen voice, still staring at her sparkly ceiling. “I shouldn’t have backchatted.”
“Or slammed the door,” Harry reminded her, settling into her desk chair.
“Or slammed the door.” She sighed. “Sorry.”
“I’m ready for my interview.”
“Really?” Sera scrambled to a sitting position, surprise and eagerness all over her face. “Okay.” She impatiently brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes and reached for her new quill and pad of paper. “Let me just activate the quill.” She glanced anxiously over at him as if to make sure he hadn’t slunk away while she was fiddling with her quill.
“Go ahead,” he said, trying not to let the resignation seep into his voice.
The quill started to write:
Harry James Potter, age 45, agreed to sit down with this reporter, his daughter, Seraphina Lily Potter, age 13, and discuss how he rescued his one true love from the Chamber of Secrets when he was only twelve.
“Er – Sera?” Harry said after reading what the quill was recording. “I didn’t know your mother was my one true love when I was twelve.”
“Er – no. I wasn’t really interested in girls when I was twelve.”
Sera nodded vigorously. “I’m not surprised. I think girls mature faster – don’t you? That’s why I’m not interested in any of the boys in my year.” She lifted her chin as if she was expecting him to argue with her about the boys in her year.
When he didn’t take the hint to talk about the boys in her year, she consulted her questions. “Er – how did you feel when you were rescuing Mum? I mean, Ginny Weasley?”
“Scared? But – Dad! Mum said that Uncle Ron went with you and that when she woke up Fawkes was there and you had a sword.”
He told her about the cave-in and how he went forward alone. He told her a severely edited version of his battle with the Basilisk and then with Tom Riddle. The quill scratched across page after page of the notepad. “So now can you see why I was scared?”
“Yes, I understand,” Sera said quietly. She looked pale, as if she hadn’t realized what a harrowing event it had been for him. “Daddy, you must have loved Mummy to go through all of that for her. You must have thought she was special.”
He ran his hand through his hair. How could he make Sera understand? So much had depended on that moment. What if he had failed? “Of course she was special. But it wasn’t romantic – it wasn’t…”
Sera’s eyes filled with tears. “No one is ever going to think I’m that special.”
Ginny was right. This “interview” wasn’t about knowing his history as much as it was about knowing her future.
“Now why would you say that?”
“Because I don’t play Quidditch and I don’t have beautiful red hair that everyone notices,” Sera answered.
“Ah.” Now he understood. “You’ve thought a lot about this.”
Her eyes widened. “Well, yes. How I am I ever going to get Da –” She shut her mouth abruptly and blushed.
He decided to ignore that slip-up since he wasn’t supposed to know about Daniel Davies. “Sera, you are special.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but he cut her off. “You know what a difficult time your mother had when she was pregnant with you.”
“She couldn’t do magic for nine months,” Sera recited in a bored tone.
“Which is why David became fascinated with the Muggle way of doing things,” Harry continued.
“That and Grandpa,” Sera said pertly.
Harry gave her a quelling glance. “Did you know that your mother knew she wouldn’t be able to do magic if she became pregnant with you?”
“No. I –” Sara faltered at this revelation. “I just thought I was some sort of unwelcome complication.”
“You were a welcome and anticipated complication,” he said softly. “After Aunt Padma finally got her boy –”
“Tony,” Sera groaned.
“Your mother was convinced that the third try would be the charm for a girl.” He remembered the arguments they had that winter when Ginny had begun her campaign to convince him they needed one more child – no matter the risk to her health.
“What did you think?” Sera asked shrewdly.
She wants to know how you feel.
“I was scared,” he finally answered.
“Oh.” She didn’t argue with him for saying ‘scared’ this time and he didn’t elaborate. They sat in silence for a moment while Sera read what the Quick-Quotes Quill had written and Harry wondered what he was supposed to tell her about boys. The subject hadn’t really come up. Before he had a chance to say anything, though, Sara spoke.
“You don’t really want me to write this interview for the paper, do you?” she asked, looking steadily at him.
“Not really, but if you must…”
“No,” she said quickly. “I understand now why you only want certain people to know about that part of your life. I don’t think I would want to have just anybody know about my innermost thoughts and feelings.”
He didn’t know how she understood that – but he was glad she did. “You’re not just anybody, Sera. I don’t mind telling you these things now that you’re older.”
She flushed with pleasure and then rushed over to him for a hug when he held out his arms. “Thanks, Daddy.”
“Let’s see how that quill worked, shall we?” he suggested when she pulled away.
“I’m not going to give this interview to the paper,” Sera said as he leaned over to see what was written on the last page of the note pad. “It’s too personal.”
It was personal, Harry realized.
The interview took a poignant turn when Mr. Potter was asked how he felt about his wife’s decision to endure the difficult pregnancy that resulted in the birth of this reporter. Although Mr. Potter is not known for describing his feelings, he candidly replied that although he didn’t know at the time that he loved this future child, he and Mrs. Potter were willing to take to the risk – no matter how frightening.
His confession about Seraphina Potter reminded this reporter of Mr. Potter’s descriptions of his feelings in the Chamber of Secrets. At age eleven, Ginny Weasley didn’t play Quidditch, nor did she have dozens of friends and boyfriends. She was just Ginny Weasley, but that was enough for Mr. Potter to risk everything. And it was a risk that paid off handsomely years later in the sum of great personal happiness for Mr. Potter.
“What do you think, Dad?” Sera asked after he finished reading it.
“I think they’ve improved Quick-Quotes Quills since I was in school.”
She probably didn’t know about Rita Skeeter, Harry realized. He would have to tell her that story another day.
“I don’t know, Daddy. I mean, I like knowing about you and Mum, but I wish…”
“You wish what?”
“I wish I could know what will happen to me.” She looked at her chipped pale pink nails.
Harry thought about how safe and secure all those events of his past seemed now since he knew the ending: great personal happiness for Mr. Potter. But to be in the midst of those years as Sera was now…
His heart swelled as he looked at her – his daughter with the smooth, shiny hair and the strong opinions and the wistful heart. “Sera, someday there will be a boy who will know how special you are.”
The quill scratched out a few more words.
Mr. Potter concluded the interview by reassuring this reporter that she would have a boyfriend someday – but only after her thirtieth birthday.
Sera groaned when she read it.
Harry laughed. “I like that quill.”
Two days later Ron brought Harry his winnings from the Boxing Day Quidditch Pool.
“The Harpies by twenty points?” Ron shook his head. “That was a risky bet considering Fred said the Tornados by ten.”
Harry looked over at Seraphina who was painting Ginny’s nails so that her mother could ‘move out of her time warp into the twenty-first century.’ “The Harpies are an all-female team,” he reminded Ron. “So you really can’t know what they’re going to do.”
“Unpredictable.” Ron nodded, grinning.
“I can hear you, Dad and Uncle Ron,” Sera said not looking up from her important task of updating her mother.
“But because they are an all-female team, they’re special.”
“Special,” Ron agreed.
“Dad, did you show everyone that interview?” Sera exploded.
“Just your Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione,” Harry soothed. “It was a brilliant interview.”
“It was,” Ron told her. “I didn’t know half of what went on in the Chamber.”
Ginny snorted. “Yes, you did – you just forgot.”
“Ha,” Ginny mocked, waving her hand around to dry the purple varnish on her nails. “You were there in McGonagall’s office when Harry was explaining it all to Mum and Dad and Professor Dumbledore.”
“Oh yeah.” Ron smiled and shrugged. “Harry’s done so many crazy things over the years…”
Ginny looked at Harry fondly. “He has, hasn’t he?”
“I say he paint his nails purple next,” Ron said.
“You first,” Harry invited.
Ron laughed. “I’ll stay on the predictable team, thanks.” He glanced at Seraphina who was now ‘updating’ her nails in purple. “Who are you going to interview next, Sera?”
Sera tossed her hair and blew on the wet varnish. “I’m not going to be a journalist. It’s too easy to exploit the feelings of others and I’m not going to be part of that.”
“So what are you going to do with your Quick-Quotes Quill?” Harry asked.
She shrugged. “I’m going to have it take notes in History of Magic.”
“Good idea!” Ron said.
Sera blushed at this praise and Harry laughed. “Sera, all of your notes are going to read like a romance novel.”
She couldn’t fight the smug grin that was spreading over her face. “I know – I love that quill.”