How Wizards Do Money: Harry Potter

James Sirius Potter was such a wanted child.

His father was the Boy Who Lived; James was the Boy Who Was Loved.

Now most babies, when they’re born, are spoiled pink by doting parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles; James had just the Weasleys, who — well, let’s just say that his grandparents provided the expected hand-knit jumper, which Ginny whispered to Harry must have been knit from yarn unraveled from one of Percy’s old jumpers, and Fleur sent a white lace blanket that Ginny was delighted to see her infant son immediately soil; Hermione gave them a book, and Ron, who was putting most of both his and Hermione’s money into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, sent a spinning top, which was technically a choking hazard, and an IOU.

“When we start making money, I’ll give my favorite nephew what he deserves,” Ron wrote.

So Harry and Ginny, between them, set out to give their son everything he could possibly need. They both grew up in cramped rooms with hand-me-down clothes — Ginny remembered how her mother would slice into one of Bill’s old shirts, saying “can’t let good fabric go to waste!” before sewing it into a Ginny-sized blouse — and they agreed that their children would never have to share a room, would never wear hand-me-downs, would never look longingly at a toy or a book.

James at this point was not quite old enough to look longingly at anything, but they packed his room with stuffed bears and wooden blocks and books anyway. When Harry found himself overwhelmed or frightened by fatherhood — which he did, often — he would read to James. “A,” Harry would say, and the Cornish Pixie in the illustration would twist itself into the letter’s shape. That seemed to comfort both of them.

Harry said once, to Ron, with an excitedness and forgetfulness borne of sleep deprivation, “and it’s so wonderful that we don’t have to worry about money.” Harry’s fortune ensured that he would never have to tally up a line of numbers, never have to decide which purchase was the most important, never have to wonder whether he had chosen the right job. Whenever he wanted something for himself, or Ginny, or James, it was there.

Ron kicked the ground with his foot, a little, when Harry said that.

He kicked it a little more after he and Hermione had Rose and the three of them would take her to the Potter home to play with James and Albus. Harry and Ginny had taught their oldest son to share his toys, of course, but there was something imperious about the way he handed out and withdrew his possessions. There was nothing James owned that was also his younger brother Albus’s, so he had the right, if you can call it that, to decide when and how each of his numerous toys were used. He was a natural leader, who naturally failed to see that Albus and Rose didn’t always want to be led.

“He’s starting to remind me a little bit of Draco,” Ginny said.

Harry felt overwhelmed and frightened again, so he said “Well, you know, a lot of girls fancied Draco.” It was the wrong thing to say.

And then one day, when they were all visiting Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Harry heard his son tell another little boy: “I get everything I want because my daddy’s rich.” Harry was at that moment carrying an armful of candy and toys for his sons, and he stopped, and looked at Ginny, and she said quietly “no, don’t put it back, we want to support Ron,” and so they took everything home and instead of putting it into two piles for their two children, Harry took a single toy, a wind-up witch that put out colorful sparks as she flew, and set it down between them.

“This is for both you and Albus,” Harry said, “to share.”

“Right,” James said. “I will share it with Albus.”

“No, it’s both of yours,” Harry said, “equally.”

“Is it more mine,” James said, “or more Albus’s?”

“It’s both of yours,” Harry said. “It belongs to both of you.”

“Where are the rest of the things that are mine?” James asked, and Harry had to explain that they were putting those away for now, and the night ended in tears.

“How do we deny them when we can afford to give them everything?” Harry asked Ginny, when they were both finally in bed.

“I don’t know,” Ginny said. “Especially because James knows. He knows that there is no reason he can’t have something except for it’s us saying no.”

“I suppose we say no, then,” Harry said.

“No,” Ginny said, remembering what her mother had said to her as a child. “We say no, you already have enough.”

Years later, Ginny and Harry discovered the box of James’ baby toys and clothes, long forgotten in their spacious attic.

“We should donate these,” Ginny said, turning over tiny baby pants that looked like they had barely been worn.

“He had so much,” Harry said. “We gave him so much.”

“We gave him everything we never had,” Ginny said, forgiving them both. Then she saw something in the box that made her smile.

“We should keep this one,” she said, taking out a silver spoon and mug. “You remember. Ron gave it to us when James was born. He had it engraved.”

“I thought he gave us — ” Harry started, and then stopped, because he couldn’t remember what he had thought.

To my first favorite nephew, James Sirius Potter, read the inscription. You were born with a silver spoon. What you do with this gift is up to you.

Previously: Rubeus Hagrid

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