Harry has a pleasant chat with his mother. A short alternate universe fic written for anibe.
Warnings: Some swearing and implied m/m.
Genre: Alternate Universe
Disclaimer: Not mine. Rowling's.
Comments: For anibe, because this idea wouldn't leave me after a certain conversation. It's a vignette set in a larger story universe where Voldemort was defeated much earlier than in canon. Things are not quite the same, to put it mildly. For anyone interested, the painting referenced in this fic is this one:
Much gratitude goes to Nina, who patiently put up with my spamming over y!m.
Angle in the Sun
"I like the new painting."
"Don't lie, you're not very good at it." Lily Evans Potter quirked an eyebrow at her son. "What do you think, really?"
Harry hesitated, caught between honesty and the sardonic gleam in Lily's eyes. "It's a painting of a /genealogy chart/."
"You're just like your father."
"But with better manners." Harry poured his mother another glass of wine. "And--"
"You know, the first time I met him, I thought your father was a twat."
They shared a smile. Lily took another drag of her cigarette and exhaled, sending a plume of clove-scented smoke over the remains of lamb chops and tabouleh. Harry moved his wineglass further to the right on the table and back again, restlessly.
"You used to hate paintings."
"I like this one. It's by an Argentinian artist. Guillermo Kuitca."
Harry didn't have to ask if Guillermo Kuitca was Muggle. Lily had only her wand and a Portkey to show for being a witch -- everything else in her Putney flat were Muggle-made. In her tailored suit and Jimmy Choos, Lily could have passed as just another well-to-do barrister.
But, he thought, Lily was also his mother. Blood knew blood. He still had her Order of Merlin medal, the one she'd wanted to return to the Ministry of Magic when she walked out on his father half a lifetime ago.
Lily was watching him carefully.
"How's James? You haven't said anything about your father all evening."
Harry's eyes flickered behind his glasses. Lily stubbed out her cigarette and lit another, before offering one to Harry. He took it gratefully, glad that she seemed inclined to let him work himself up to an answer.
The stereo in Lily's lounge had stopped playing Hungarian gypsy music, and skipped to the next CD. Cuban /bolero/, he thought. They smoked silently for a while, listening to the plaintive melody of "Dos Gardenias."
"He's been talking about alliances again," Harry said abruptly, breaking the fragile tension.
Lily's cigarette barely missed the tablecloth. "The Malfoy boy?"
"Oh, /honestly/. James should stop trying to play the lord of the manor and go back to his Quidditch, where his talents are."
"It makes sense," Harry pointed out quietly. "We can't survive more factional disputes, and an alliance can temper their--"
"Bigotry?" Lily snapped. "I don't care if you're a pureblood heir. You're only sixteen, Harry. And the Malfoys are /nouveaux riches/. Lucius Malfoy may be swanning around pretending to be aristocracy, but neither he nor his son has any idea--"
Lily sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "What if he wants more than a schoolboy affair?"
"It's not a schoolboy affair. It's just--" Harry stopped.
"Mother, please." Harry tapped out the ashes of his cigarette. "Lucius Malfoy wants his son to marry someone suitably pureblooded. Draco Malfoy won't risk his father's disapproval."
"Your father doesn't know about the... /details/, does he?" Lily's eyes narrowed slightly.
Harry made a face. "Father isn't any good with the indirect approach."
"Neither are you."
"No, I'm not," he admitted. Harry cocked an eyebrow. "But I don't need to surround myself with minions who tell me how wonderful I am, the way Malfoy does."
"Ah, the sign of an insecure man."
"Who isn't as cunning as he thinks he is." Harry leaned back in his chair, smiling faintly at his mother. "You're taking this awfully calmly."
"I was married to your father, remember? I still am, technically. I know what pureblood politics are like."
"Was that why you left?"
Lily laughed. "No, I left because your father was always a twat."
"/Mother/. I still have to live with him. And I meant: was that why you left the wizarding world?"
"I'm sorry." Lily drained her wineglass with a flourish. She frowned at him, though a smile lurked in the corners of her mouth. "I left the wizarding world because I saw what was coming. I would never want to live in a society where I'd be seen as inferior."
Harry laced his fingers together, tightly. "Things are worse for Muggleborns now. There's a girl in my year -- Hermione Granger -- she nearly transferred to Durmstrang after the Triwizard Tournament."
"God, I hate to say this: Voldemort was defeated too quickly." Lily sighed, tucking a lock of her hair behind an ear. "Wizards live too long to want to remember one moment of real fear for the rest of their lives."
"Maybe it's easier to return to status quo, but not all change is good. The Muggle world would destroy us. Mother, can you imagine Ollivander surviving in a free market economy?"
"No, and no one is saying that we should open wizarding society to Muggles. But some form of integration is inevitable, Harry. And it worries me that lineage is becoming more important at the moment, rather than /magic/. That's the real core of a witch or a wizard, not who their parents were."
"You should've stayed and fought." Harry forced himself to stop talking, hoping he didn't sound too accusing. "I'm--"
Lily waved his words away. "Apology accepted. You're not the first one who said it, you know. Sirius called me a coward."
"/What?/" Harry jolted up straight, teeth bared. "He didn't. I'm going to kill him."
"Honestly, dear, I'm quite capable of defending my own honour."
Harry paused, a second cigarette between his fingers. "You hexed him, didn't you?"
"Sirius had hair growing out of his teeth for a /week/."
Mother and son laughed.
"I should be leaving soon," Harry said, casting a regretful look at the clock. "I promised Ron and Neville I'd meet up with them."
Lily stood with him, leaning forward to kiss him on the cheek. "Don't let Ron Weasley drag you into a pub crawl."
"No, but he'd convince Neville to go with him and pretend they're eighteen. Someone has to look out for my other best friend."
"I'll see you on your birthday, then. Same time and place as usual?"
Harry grinned. "Some things never change."
"I do live in hope that your father will one day stop giving you only Quidditch gear."
"I like Quidditch, Mother." He kissed her cheek in return, smelling Chanel and Indonesian clove cigarettes. "And I like looking forward to your surprise gifts."
Harry wasn't sure he liked the evil glint in Lily's smile, though.