It was the picture that undid everything for Jack.
Not the sight of these once familiar halls, nor the people he had once known. Professor McGonnogal was waiting in the Headmaster’s office, eyeing each of them in wary confusion. It hurt on some level, to see that susupicion aimed at himself - but he had given them no reason to trust him.
But the picture ... it was sitting innocently enough on the Headmaster’s desk, surrounded by other decorations. It was a muggle picture, not moving as the others around it - which was perhaps the reason why Jack’s eyes were brought to it immediately.
Both Will and Elizabeth both were staring around themselves, much as they had been in the halls. It was the pictures that really did it for them, he knew. Moving as if the souls of the dead lay trapped inside .. or perhaps only part of a person’s soul, if that person still lived.
The ones in the halls were what did it for mot people when they were first introduced to the Wizarding World; those portraits that spoke and felt just as if they were real, living and breathing people. He’d never met one of a person who was not dead and gone, of course; wondered if it was even possible.
But THAT PICTURE.
It caught his attention, and though the eyes of both professors were on him, he found himself moving across the room to pick it up, cradling it in both his hands.
It could have almost been him, the figure in that picture, though he did not recognise the other two children. Almost, except for those startling green eyes. That, and the height; he had always been tall for his age, quickly topping his mother’s 5′2". And then there had been Lily - sweet, gentle Lily. She had been short - shorter even than his mother, not even topping five feet.
The figure in this picture was closer to Lily’s height than anything - the red-headed boy in the picture towering over him. Even the girl seemed large in comparison to the slight figure that could have been his double.
Or his son.
He survived. That was the one thought his mind focused itself upon, the one idea he was having so much trouble comprehending. He didn’t realize he had said it out loud until Professor Dumbledore made a sharp sound from behind him, and the picture was pulled forcefully from his hands.
“Do you know that kid, Jack?” This from Will, who never seemed to know when to keep his mouth shut. Normally Jack didn’t mind - it gave his enemy something else to focus their attention on. Now, however, he felt a sudden anger burning in his chest. He wasn’t sure where it came from, wasn’t sure WHY, but he didn’t want them here; didn’t want them knowing about Harry.
Harry. Laughing, smiling Harry. He had always been a happy baby, always inquisitive, always ready for his next adventure.
Just like him.
Dumbledore, for his part, said nothing to Will as he moved to stand directly before Jack, one aged, gnarled hand moving to grasp the edge of the picture frame. “Who are you?” He spoke to Jack, never taking his eyes off the younger man, blue eyes devoid of the twinkle he was known for.
“Jack Sparrow.” The answer came too quickly, he knew - the lie easily seen through. Even poor Will looked a tad confused - and the wheels were already turning in Elizabeth’s head. It was said not with the usual flair, nor the insinuation that the listener should have known his name already. No, this time it was said quietly, quickly, as though he wanted no questions raised as to the validity of his claim.
Which only made those questions come all the more readily.
“Really.” It was obvious the aged professor did not believe him, but Jack couldn’t bring himself to care. The older man’s fingers didn’t even stray onto the picture itself, didn’t obscure his son’s face, so Jack didn’t even try to pull the frame out of his grasp, merely continued staring down at that smiling face.
He wished it were a less mundane photo - wished he could see the real emotions of his son during the taking of the photo. Had he really been that happy, really had so few cares? He hoped so ... but if Voldemort were still at large, he highly doubted it.
It hurt now, to think back to those fear-filled days. He had never been so afraid, as he had been in those last few weeks. Afraid for himself, for his wife, for their son. For the new life growing within her. A little brother, maybe a sister for little Harry ... the thought had filled him with hope for the future, at the same time scaring him even more. He had more than himself to look after, more even than his wife. Three lives had depended on him ... and he had been so sure he had let them - all three of them - down.
Maybe just two, then.
The thought shouldn’t have made him as happy as it did - but he had long ago pushed his grief for Lily to the side. He hadn’t faced it, knew it would come back to haunt him one of these days. But here was Harry ... sweet, innocent Harry who had laughed so gleefully at the sight of a sucker, or a little bit of candy snuck to him behind his mother’s back. Lily would constantly go on and on about rotting his teeth, of course ... what few of them there were.
The longer he stared at the picture, though, the more little things jumped out at him. The way Harry’s mouth remained closed, not showing those pearly white’s. It wasn’t even a full smile, was it? Half-arsed, it was, his arms hanging loosely around the shoulders of each of his friends. He slouched - no big deal, really. Most kids did. Something about that particular slouch, though ... almost like he was trying to disappear.
Jack wasn’t sure how he had missed it the first time around, but it WAS the clothes; old, worn, far too large for such a small boy. Fingers running over the surface of the picture, Jack was barely even aware of the others in the room. Even as Dumbledore began speaking, he paid only half an ear to him.
“You knew James, didn’t you?” Though it was phrased as a question, the older man didn’t seem particularly put off when Jack didn’t answer. Merely continued watching him, those intense blue eyes never leaving Jack’s face.
“You knew Harry, then.” Amazing, the conclusions the old man could jump to on his own. He was filling the blanks in his memory on his own, not bothering to really confirm anything, his aged fingers finally setting the picture back in it’s original position.
Finally tearing his eyes from the picture, Jack turned his attention back to the older man, a frown pulling at his lips as the fingers of his right hand moved to pull at his own beard, tangling in the beads tied there. It was more a nervous habit than anything else - something to do with his hands.
“Is he here, then? Attending?” His eyes remained trained on the older man’s nose - close enough to his eyes as to not seem impolite, but not close enough to let the other man see inside, as he had done so many times before.
All traces of the accent he had once sported were gone, however, and he knew without looking that the confusion from earlier had only increased in the faces of both Will and Elizabeth.
It had grown natural over the years - that accent. Teague thought it hilarious, that he had taken to the other man’s style of speech so eagerly. So eager to give that old life up, are ya m’boy? He could still hear those words, no matter how he tried to fight the memories of those first few days in the man’s company.
“How did you know them?” Ah, a question for a question. So very much like the man, keeping his cards close to his chest, never giving away anything.
Except that he was giving away something; there was a wariness there that had nothing to do with his initial suspicion of the three of them, and had everything to do with the secrets that only two men were privy to; Albus Dumbledore and James Potter.
Jack almost smirked - almost. Somehow, he couldn’t seem to display his usual flair, his usual disregard. “We were ... close, once. The three of us.” Let him think what he would of that statement - that ‘three’ meant simply James, Lily and he. It was close enough to the truth.
Really, though, all of this Jack only paid half his attention to, the other half revolving around that one fact he couldn’t seem to wrap his head around.
His son was alive.
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