Saturday arrived far too quickly for Harry's tastes. The past
two days he'd spent with Ginny had been the best he could
remember. Still, Saturday meant his birthday party and the
arrival of Hermione!
That afternoon, after a rousing
impromptu game of one-on-one Quidditch, the two boys sauntered into the
kitchen to find Molly busy icing Harry's birthday cake. She had
just placed the last of the sixteen candles on the chocolate cake,
which she'd baked in the shape of a Snitch and covered with gold icing,
when Ron slipped his arm around her and scooped a bit of icing up with
"RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY! YOU STOP THAT!" she
roared as she took a half-serious swipe at her retreating son with the
spatula. "That cake is for tonight, and I'd appreciate it if you
left some icing for Harry."
Ron easily ducked the spatula as he replied, "Ok Mum. By the way, where's Dad?"
"He went to get Hermione. They should be Portkeying back any second."
As if the clock had heard Molly's words, Arthur's hand swung slowly around the clock face until it pointed to HOME.
Both boys turned to see Arthur and Hermione standing in the living room.
Even though Harry had seen her only thee weeks earlier, he was still slightly surprised at the change in Hermione's appearance.
usually didn't care that much about her attire. Not that she
didn't always look neat and well groomed, but she wasn't a fashion
hound like Lavender or Parvati, her fellow sixth years.
with her parents at the dental clinic, and having to wear professional
attire, had apparently had an impact on Hermione's wardrobe
selection. She stood there in a black skirt and red turtleneck
sweater and matching low-heeled shoes with just enough makeup to look
nice without being overdone.
Harry quickly realized that Hermione had made an effort to look pretty today and he fervently hoped Ron realized that.
Unfortunately, it went right past him as though he was blind.
squeal from the stairs filled the room as she rushed to embrace the
older girl. Stepping back, Ginny gave Hermione an appraising look
and then started firing questions.
'So, how was the
summer? Did you have fun working for you parents? Did you
go anywhere? Did you meet anybody famous? Can I borrow this
outfit when we get back to Hogwarts?"
Hermione laughed as
Ginny rambled on for several more questions before Harry interceded by
wrapping his arms around Ginny and whispering in her ear, "Hold
up! She just got here! Give her at least a couple of
minutes before you start interrogating her!"
Ginny turned and stuck out her tongue.
"I'm not interrogating her! I just want the latest gossip!"
Hermione grinned at Ginny's explanation and turned to Harry with a smile.
"Well, I can see you're looking better."
Ginny's slightly puzzled expression. Harry frantically tried to
signal Hermione that Ginny didn't know about his visit yet.
Fortunately, Hermione realized it at that instant and added, "since
last June." She prayed that would be enough.
quickly seized the opportunity to divert Ginny further by complimenting
Hermione on her appearance. He hoped Ron would get the hint.
"You really look nice, Hermione. Is that one of your work outfits?"
fluffed her bushy brown hair out, and brushed at what Harry suspected
was an imaginary piece of dirt, as she turned towards Ron.
"No, It's just something I threw on for today."
oblivious to what was in front of him, simply smiled as he said, "Hi,
Hermione," and gave her one quick kiss on the cheek. He
completely missed the small slip in Hermione's smile as he pulled
back. Harry wanted to reach out and smack Ron upside the head
with his hand, but refrained from doing so.
However, when Ron attempted to hug her next, Hermione pushed him away and she pointed to the stairs.
"Not until you've had a bath, Mister!"
Ron stopped with a mildly surprised look on his face.
"But I thought you liked my earthy smell?"
Harry and Ginny both grinned at the slight blush which arose in Hermione's cheeks.
She hissed back, "I do, but not when you're this earthy!"
Molly now came out of the kitchen, where she'd been talking with Arthur, and pulled Hermione into a hug.
it's good to see you again, dear! Now come along and tell me all
about your summer while the boys put your stuff in Ginny's room!"
Molly then took Hermione's hand and led her off to the kitchen to have
a chat that Harry suspected involved Harry's summer, not hers.
Turning to Ron, Harry grabbed one end of her trunk and together they
took it upstairs. Leaving Ginny's room, Harry took the
opportunity to needle Ron about his middle name.
Ron threw him a dirty look as he headed for the bathroom and muttered, "Sod off! He's my uncle."
grinned at his friend's discomfort as he returned to the living room
and walked over to Ginny. But before he could get too close, she
put a hand and pointed to the stairs.
"Not until you get a bath also, Harry! You reek!"
"Well, in that case, care to join me?"
Ginny's jaw dropped and then, with a laugh, she grabbed a pillow off the couch and threw it at him.
"In your dreams, Potter!"
Harry dodged the pillow and started for the stairs, thinking to himself, "Yes, but they're nice dreams."
hour later, cleaned up and ready for the party, Harry was helping Ron
and Bill set up some tables in the back yard when the first guest
arrived. To Harry's surprise, it proved to be Professor
"Ah, Harry. Greetings and a heartfelt, if somewhat late, Happy Birthday!"
Harry smiled at the Hogwarts Headmaster and replied, "Hello, sir."
nodded and then looked around the yard until his gaze lit upon Ginny,
who was helping Molly and Hermione set out the plates and
utensils. He turned to Harry with a serious expression in his eye.
"Have you told her yet of your travails this summer?"
Harry blinked and then shook his head slowly.
"No, sir, not yet. But I will when the time is right."
Dumbledore's lips twitched as he gave a slight smile.
"When the time is right for whom, Harry? You, or for Miss Weasley?"
Harry grimaced and replied, "I'm not sure, sir."
"Never fear. You will know when you're ready to tell her. Now, shall we join the rest of the guests?"
the two walked over to the tables, Harry was surprised to find, in
addition to Professor McGonagall, Neville Longbottom and a rising fifth
year Ravenclaw friend of Ginny's, Luna Lovegood, present.
had a reputation of being somewhat odd, the fact that her father was
the owner of the Quibbler, a magazine often described as the Wizarding
equivalent to a tabloid, did little to dispel. Harry knew she
lived locally in Ottery St. Catchpole, but was still a bit shocked to
see her here, and apparently with Neville!
He left Dumbledore
with Molly and Arthur and walked over to the two and smiled as he
asked, "So, is there something you want to tell me, Neville?"
Neville looked perplexed for a second and then almost jumped as Luna suddenly let out a laugh.
Regaining her composure, Luna finally let Neville in on the joke.
"He thinks you and I are dating, Neville."
turned various shades of red as this sank in. He stammered
"No…no…no we're not dating, Harry. Luna and I worked together on
several Herbology projects last year and got to know each other.
Really, that's all."
Harry grinned as Hermione and Ginny ran up to pull him over to the table full of presents.
the, "Really, there's nothing to tell," from Neville and another laugh
from Luna, Harry allowed himself to led to his pile of presents.
Ron pushed a brightly colored box at him.
"Hurry up! Mum won't let us eat until you open all your presents!"
Harry shook his head in mock disgust as Bill and Hermione both swatted Ron in the back of the head.
Opening the first gift, Harry felt an intense pleasure in the simple act.
twins gave Harry an official copy of the business charter, which listed
him as a co-owner, and a large sample box of their latest inventions.
and McGonagall had combined to give Harry a gift certificate to
Flourish & Blotts, which they assured him, would cover all his
books for the coming year.
Neville's gift proved to be a new
set of leather Quidditch gloves, charmed to give a better grip on wood,
while Luna gave Harry a framed picture of what she claimed was a
Snorkack. Harry frowned slightly at the empty picture.
Luna noted his reaction and explained.
"They're very shy. They only come out at night when they think no one is looking."
Harry nodded and smiled, not at all sure he believed her.
Charlie's present was a complete set of the Muggle book series The Dragonriders of Pern.
Charlie told Harry that he'd first read one of the books while laid up
in the Hospital Wing after a Quidditch match and that they were what
had inspired him to work with dragons. He'd pointed out that,
"You'll like Jaxom, reminds me a bit of you."
Ron, typically, had found him a Chudley Cannon's t-shirt, which Harry knew he would inevitably borrow.
Hermione's gift was also typical but intriguing. A book entitled Practical Physical & Mental Relaxation Techniques for Use in Defense against the Dark Arts by Jessica Hunter. He raised an eyebrow at Hermione.
"It's a really good book on ways to keep from getting tense or stressed out."
Harry grinned, "Tense? Stressed out? What ever gave you that idea?"
A chorus of voices rang out, "Experience!"
Laughing at his expression, Ginny now handed him a small box.
"It's from me."
opened it to find a small wallet sized wizarding photo of Ginny shyly
peeking at him from under a pile of socks as she mouthed, "I love you."
Harry pulled her into a close embrace and whispered in her ear, "I know."
gift proved to be a very practical item. Harry opened the box to
find a brand new leather wallet inside. Pulling it out, he opened
it to reveal a compartment to hold Muggle notes, as well as a coin
purse and a place for a photograph to be inserted. He immediately
put Ginny's photo in the slot.
Bill reached out and took the wallet from Harry. Opening it, he pointed to the coin pouch.
this has a special feature. When you open it the first time, it
will show any Muggle coins you have in it. But, if you close it
again, wait three seconds, and then reopen it, you can access any
Wizarding money you might be carrying. This way, you're never
without either form of currency. Provided, of course, you keep
some in it."
Harry now turned to Molly and Arthur's
present. He opened a big box to find nothing. Confused, he
turned the box upside down and was rewarded with the sight of a key
falling out. Stooping, he picked up the key and looked
quizzically towards the two adults.
Arthur grinned at Harry's bewilderment.
"It's a key to your room at the Leaky Cauldron."
"But I don't have a room at the Leaky Cauldron."
"Not yet, but you will in twelve days."
Molly now supplied the answer.
has to go to a conference week after next in Calais, and I'm going to
join him for a little holiday. Bill has agreed to look after the
four of you, while you stay at the Leaky Cauldron, before you catch the
Hogwarts Express back to school."
The cheers from Ron, Ginny, and Hermione could have been heard in the next county!
Harry stood stunned at this revelation, as first Molly, and then Arthur, came over and gave him a big hug.
He finally managed to stammer out, "Thanks."
Arthur replied softly, so that only Harry could hear him.
"After last spring and this summer, you deserve it." Then in a louder voice, he added, "Shall we eat?"
The chorus of approval showed he didn't have to ask twice.
the last present had been opened, the last bit of cake had disappeared,
and the last guest had departed except for Professor Lupin, who had
arrived late, and who now quietly took Harry aside and motioned for the
two of them to move out of earshot of the others. Harry nodded
and both men headed towards Mr. Weasley's shed.
around behind the building, Harry watched as his former professor
reached into a pocket and pulled out an envelope and a small box.
Lupin handed the items to Harry.
"I'm sorry I was late, Harry,
but I had to meet Sirius and he was delayed in getting to the
rendezvous. I left your present inside. I hope you don't
mind that it's a new set of school robes."
Lupin paused and
watched with amusement as Harry turned the small box over and shook it
once, trying to determine its contents.
wanted to be here today, Harry, but the possibility of other guests
meant he couldn't risk it. The letter is from him and the box has
a small but practical birthday gift. He also said to tell you
that he'll get your real sixteenth birthday gift to you at a later
The former Marauder watched as Harry eyed the items in
his hands with a look of resignation and regret. He put his hand
on Harry's shoulder and watched as a pair of sad green eyes turned to
"I've got to get going myself, so I'll leave you here
while I make my goodbyes to Molly and Arthur. Don't be too long
because I think Ginny has plans to keep you all to herself
As he turned to leave, Harry asked quietly, "Will I see you again soon?"
Lupin paused in the act of rounding the corner of the shed and smiled ruefully.
wish I had an answer for you, Harry, but I don't. Dumbledore has
asked me to head over to the Continent to meet with Sirius and check on
some things. Seems there are some rumors of Death Eater activity
in Flanders, although, for the life of me, I can't imagine why.
Still, it was good to see you again and here, before I forget, Sirius
told me to do this for him," and with that Lupin reached out and
ruffled Harry's hair as he said, "Happy birthday!"
watched as Lupin headed for the house and then sat down to examine
Sirius's gift. After a moment's hesitation, he opened the box to
find it contained a single Hogwarts button, like the ones on his
robes. He picked it up, looked it over, and replaced it in the
box. Now thoroughly confused, he turned his attention to Sirius's
know this is no way to for me to help you celebrate your sixteenth
birthday but I promise I will make it up to you one day when this is
over. By now, you've probably opened the box Moony gave you and
are thinking that I've taken after your Muggle relatives. Please
be assured I haven't! The button is a genuine Muggle RAF button
compass from their Second World War. If you pry the button apart,
you'll find a miniature compass hidden inside. Whatever you do,
DON'T tell Arthur Weasley about it! If he gets his hands on it,
you'll never see it again!
friend, who shall remain nameless, has charmed the button to look like
a Hogwarts button from your robes. He's also charmed the compass
to always point the way back to Hogwarts when you activate the
spell. You activate it by tapping it twice with your finger and
sayingLocatus . As long as you're within five hundred miles of
Hogwarts, the compass will point the way home. After the last two
years, I realized that you'd been very fortunate to have a Portkey
available. Merlin forbid it, but the next time you might not be
Harry contemplated this information and nodded grimly in agreement with his godfather's assessment, then he read on.
wish I could be there, but with Voldemort laying low after last spring,
we can't afford to pass up any chance to try and tip the balance in our
favor. I can't begin to tell you how proud I was of you when I
heard from Moony what you did last spring for Ginny Weasley, I know
that had James been in the same situation as you, he'd done the same
thing for Lily. I've never met Miss Weasley but from what Moony
tells me, you've got a very special girl there and I'm glad you have
I hope you did well on your OWLs and that you're ready to go back to school. Just try and remember one thing.
SOME FUN!!! Now, mind you, I not suggesting that you destroy the
school in the process, but every now and then, take a "Harry's Day Off"
and just get out as it were. Maybe find a way to spend dome
quality time with your girlfriend without anybody knowing where you
are. Do not take this to mean that I'm suggesting you shag each
remember that you were very lucky last spring. Please try not to
push your luck like that again. I've got enough gray hairs
already without you adding to the collection! I know it's going
to be difficult but with Ron, Hermione and Ginny's help, try to spend
some time being just Harry, and enjoy life!
Love, your godfather
stood there quietly for several moments, rereading the letter several
times, before putting it, and the button compass, in his pocket and
heading for the house.
As he approached the back door, he found Ginny waiting for him.
missed Professor Lupin leaving. He said to tell you to 'stay out
of trouble or don't get caught.' It was your choice as to which
option you chose." She smiled as Harry grinned at Lupin's parting
advice. "So where did you run off to? I thought I saw you
and Professor Lupin go around behind Dad's shed a few minutes ago."
Harry shrugged and tried to act nonchalant by wrapping an arm around Ginny's shoulder.
"We did. Professor Lupin just wanted to talk to me privately about how you were doing without your Mum being around."
"And what did you tell him?"
"That you were fine."
"Is that all?"
Harry pulled her close and whispered 'No. I also told him I was deeply, madly, hopelessly, in love with you."
Ginny gave him an approving look.
now, the two had walked into the kitchen to find Hermione helping Molly
with the dishes and leftovers. However, there was no sign of Ron.
"Mum, where's Ron?"
looked up and replied, "He went upstairs with Fred and George.
Something about looking at some catalogs full of new merchandise I
Hermione snorted derisively.
"Looking at new merchandise indeed! He just wanted an excuse to avoid helping clean up!"
Molly sighed and nodded her head.
probably right, dear, but I certainly appreciate your help since a
certain somebody was too busy with other things," and she gave a
pointed look at Ginny.
Ginny turned bright red as Molly then gave a meaningful sidelong glance at Harry.
Molly smiled at Ginny's reaction and made to shoo them out of the kitchen.
"Hermione and I have this well in hand so go on and get out before I change my mind and put you both to work."
needed no further urging and silently tapping Ginny's shoulder, Harry
pointed towards the door, which led to the garden, and leaned close so
that Molly wouldn't hear him.
"What do you say to the idea that we leave everybody in the house and go outside for a little private birthday celebration?"
smiled and nodded her head. Once outside, and away from prying
eyes, she leaned against Harry as they walked out into the yard and
found a bench under a tree.
"Hmmm, sounds like an excellent
idea. By the way, with Hermione helping Mum in the kitchen, and
Ron upstairs, whatever are we going to do out here to pass the time?"
Harry chuckled and whispered in her ear, "I could think of a few ways, but your Mum would kill us if she walked outside."
Ginny sighed and snuggled closer.
"I suppose you're right, besides, it's the thought that counts."
two had not been sitting there more than five minutes when the window
to the twin's room flew open and a magazine soared into the air.
A second later, the two heard Molly's furious, "Incedio!" and watched
as the magazine burst into flames before it hit the ground. A
stream of invectives, which made Ginny turn bright red with
embarrassment, immediately followed this.
Harry turned to Ginny.
"Wasn't Ron going up to the twin's room?"
Ginny suddenly went pale.
no! I think the boys just made a huge mistake. Come on!"
and with that she jumped up and raced inside, with Harry, just a bit
confused, following on her heels.
Charging up the stairs, they
stopped in the door of the twin's room to find Ron, Fred and George
sitting quivering on the bed with Molly Weasley screaming full bore at
them as she waved what Harry recognized as a copy of Playwizard
magazine under their noses.
"HOW DARE YOU BRING THIS FILTH
INTO MY HOUSE! HAVE YOU NO RESPECT FOR ME! I KNOW I CAN'T
STOP YOU FROM LOOKING AT THIS GARBAGE, BUT AT LEAST YOU COULD HIDE IT
She paused for breath and Fred tried to speak.
Mum, we just were reading the articles! Besides, our competitors
advertise in it, we needed to check out the merchandise…"
WEASLEY! IF YOU EVER TELL ME SUCH A BOLD FACED LIE AGAIN, YOU
WILL FIND THAT ALTHOUGH YOU MAY BE AN ADULT IN THE WIZARDING WORLD, YOU
ARE NOT TOO OLD FOR ME TO TURN ACROSS MY KNEE AND TAN YOUR BEHIND UNTIL
IT'S GRYFFINDOR RED!"
Then, in a quieter, but clearly furious
tone, she added, "All three of you will go to bed right now! In
the morning, I expect you up early and ready to spend the day working
outside. After that, I'll decide what additional action I'll
Molly rubbed her chin thoughtfully for a second and then snapped her fingers.
know, I'll pay a visit to Amos Diggory's neighbor and see if he still
needs those two fields treated with fertilizer. Since he's a
Muggle, I'm sure you three would be glad to help out shoveling animal
manure for a day or two."
The three visibly shaken boys nodded
their heads and scurried out the door like frightened mice seeking to
abandon a sinking ship.
Harry turned to Ginny.
"I think we'd better find Hermione."
Ginny shook her head and pointed at the door.
"It's a little late for that."
looked over his shoulder and saw Hermione standing there silently, a
single tear running down her cheek. She noticed Harry's gaze and
their eyes locked for a second. The pain Harry saw in her eye
ripped at his heart as he realized that Hermione had heard Fred's
pathetic attempt at an explanation. Then she turned and, brushing
past Arthur, Bill and Charlie, fled towards Ginny's room, slamming the
door behind her.
Ginny whispered in Harry's ear, "I think I'd
better go after her. My idiot prat brothers really made a mess of
things this time. Goodnight, Harry." Then she pulled him
down, kissed him on the cheek, let her fingers slide slowly down his
chin and hurried out the door.
A/N Since I forgot this last time, once again, a
very appreciative thank you to Imogen, Bart, and Kathy for their
excellent Beta work. Between them, I might eventually learn to
pass for a Brit with my writing.