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James Sirius Potter and the Ghosts That Were Not Ghosts

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The train left King’s Cross with its usual fanfare, and Jay Potter, newly seventeen, waved to his parents from the same compartment he had ridden in the last six times he set foot on this train. This, of course, was his seventh, and last, train ride on the Hogwarts Express, and he intended to make the most of it. There was a book in the ratty old red and blue backpack he’s had since primary school with his name written on it waiting for him, along with a few treats he’d snuck from his siblings’ general stockpile, but he wasn’t telling on that count.

Lily would be the one to notice that he’d taken more than his share, if either of them did, because Al wasn’t the type to keep track of his things too well, let alone anything that might be shared. And they were both off with their friends at the moment, anyhow. Lily was probably getting a head start on making friends (or enemies) of her fellow first years, Hugo in tow as her second for any possible duels, and Al was probably snogging Cory Malfoy (if not worse) in a bathroom while Rose kept up the pretense that she and Malfoy were doing their assigned rounds of the train.

Jay shifted in his seat, the Head Boy badge he’d been so proud of all summer shining as it caught the sunlight filtering through the window, and dug through his bag for the book he kept untouched since his birthday just for this ride. His father had gotten him Charms of Defence and Deterrence as a birthday present, telling him it would be a fun read, and he hoped there was some truth in the matter, at least.

But before he could open the book, the train screeched to a halt, tipping over suddenly, and the impact threw him sideways into the window.

He heard only a ghastly scream from across the hall before the world faded to black.

"Good Lord, Jim, we thought you’d never wake." A voice said, from right by his ear, and Jay groaned, ignoring the pounding in his head as he slowly sat up. "Mate, why’ve you got a 'Puff uniform on? You leaving us for that lot?"

"What?" Jay murmured sleepily, rubbing at his eyes before slowly forcing them open.

"Merlin’s beard." The same voice whispered, and he turned his head just a fraction to the right to stare into wide gray ones. "You’re not even James Potter, are you?"

"I am, though." Jay frowned, looking around the room to see a scrawny boy next to a much taller one, wearing a familiar patched up cardigan.

And then it struck him.

He certainly was James Potter, yes, but definitely not the one they were looking for.

"You're Sirius Black, aren't you?" Jay swallowed hard before looking around the dormitory, which was adorned with posters bearing lions in various poses, making it obvious where he was. Incidentally, this dormitory seemed nearly exactly like the one he occasionally camped out in with his cousins in his own time, so apparently the Gryffindor boys dormitories did not change all too often. "We're in deep crap, gentlemen."

"Deep crap indeed." Remus Lupin, who Jay only knew from Teddy's imitations of him, frowned in confusion. "So, who are you, if you're not Prongs?"

"Prongs 2.0, I suppose." Jay offered a shadow of a smile. "There was an accident. I have no idea where your Prongs is now, but hopefully he's where I was."

"Hopefully." The blond boy spoke up again, nervously fidgeting, and Jay cracked his neck, rolling his shoulders before getting out of bed, immediately discarding his Hufflepuff tie and sweater before taking the offered trunk key from Sirius. He grabbed a sweater and spare tie from the jumbled mess within, resolving to organize it properly at the first opportunity, and pulled them on as quickly as possible to avoid any further mishaps. It wouldn't do to get caught wandering around in a Hufflepuff uniform, especially when pretending to be the most devoted Gryffindor until Jay's father came along, and he was thankful the clothes fit, although his grandfather was a little bit wider in the shoulders than him. Probably from Quidditch, he mused, which Jay wasn't all too bad at, but definitely not on par with the rest of his family. "Right. Any important bits you need to tell me about him?"

"Well, for one, there's this bird he likes--" Sirius began, but was cut off by the door opening, revealing a short girl with familiar eyes, although he was used to seeing them on faces much more similar to his own, standing in the doorway. "And that would be her, just on time."

"James? Oh, there you are." Lily Evans sighed in relief as Jay stammered his way through an apology, trying to decide whether locking himself in the bathroom was a viable option or not as she approached him. "The boys said you'd gotten hurt and, well..."

"I'm fine. Excellent. Ten out of ten. Great." Jay grinned. "No need to worry about me. Nope."

"He's perfect." Sirius whispered to Remus, shaking his head. "Better Prongs than Prongs is."

"We've got Charms in a few minutes, but if you're not feeling well enough to come, I'll hold off Flitwick." Lily frowned, looking over him cautiously, and Jay kept his distance, knowing that he could pass for the original James Potter as long as he kept enough distance between himself and everyone else. His eyes were brown, which was close enough to hazel, and he'd inherited his grandfather's skin tone, so from far away, only those looking for a difference would find one. After a few seconds, she turned her back on him, going back down the stairs, and Jay exhaled loudly, going back to sit on what would be his bed for the foreseeable future.

"Well, Evans is pissed at you." Sirius offered helpfully, patting Jay on the shoulder, as Peter ran to shut the door. "That's a lot like normal."

"Yeah." Jay scrunched up his nose in a decent approximation of Lily's usual expression of frustration, which only caused Remus' frown to deepen. "Bother."