Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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“Happy birthday, Harry, dear.”
“Mrs. Weasley, no, this is too much.”
‘Don’t be silly. It’s not everyday a wizard comes of age.”
Harry Potter looked down in shock at the gift the Weasleys had given him. He couldn’t even contemplate how much it had cost them. He’d only seen two in his entire life. Sitting on the Weasley’s kitchen table, now piled high with discarded wrapping paper, was a rather careworn, but still respectable Pensieve.
“We found it in a sale at Diagon Alley. It seems the wizard selling it had no idea what he had. Rather dishevled bloke, now that I think about it,” Mr. Weasley said, he stood behind Mrs. Weasley chair, his hand on her shoulder. She reached back and covered his hand with hers, smiling,
“We thought it would come in useful for you, dear.”
She was worried about him, Harry knew. The weeks since the wedding had passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Harry had spent his time with Ginny, Ron, and Hermione, laughing and talking. They had even gotten Hermione to play some quidditch. Things had been very good, indeed. But whenever the topic of school came up, Harry, Ron, and Hermione all got rather quiet. Mrs. Weasley was worried about what they were up to, but did not question them. Harry knew that she would eventually. Especially when the letters came, as Harry was sure they would, asking whether or not they would be returning. She had been constantly on the watch after the Malfoy incident. She, as well as Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny, had been assured several times by Mr. Weasley that Malfoy was securely in Azkaban. Harry was sure that Scrimgeour was thrilled to have someone else thrown in prison, even if it was a seventeen year old. This still angered Harry, but for right now, Harry was enjoying the best birthday he’d ever had.
Fleur and Bill were setting up in their new home nearby in the village; they had returned from their honeymoon the week before and announced that they had bought the small cottage on the outskirts of the village. Bill wanted to be close to home for the Order, but Fleur wanted a place of her own. The newly married couple had come up to the house for Harry’s celebration. George, Brooke, and Fred had done the same. Angelina had had to work, and had sent her apologies with Fred. Harry suspected that Fred was on the verge of asking her to marry him, but he wanted to separate it a bit from his brother’s proposal. Charlie had gone back to Romania the day after the wedding.
They had all enjoyed one of Mrs. Weasley’s wonderful dinners. Content, full, and a bit sleepy, Harry had begun to open the gifts that had been hidden in the broom cupboard.
Bill and Fleur had bought Harry a large box of chocolate frogs.
Hermione had given him a large, leatherbound book. Harry had sighed and said with false enthusiasm,
“Thanks, Hermione, I wanted another book.”
“Harry-” she had started.
“No, really, thanks.”
She had laughed, and said,
“Harry did you even look to see what book it was?”
Harry turned it over and read, A History of the Hogwarts Founders. Harry perked up considerably.
“I thought it might come in useful,” she said with a significant smile. Ron, who was sitting next to her with his arm around her waist, chuckled.
“It will. Thanks, Hermione,” Harry said, genuinely thankful this time. This would help him. It might lead to more clues about the whereabouts of the other Horcruxes.
Ron had given him a miniature Foe Glass.
“I know they can be fooled, but I thought, you know, better a Foe Glass that can be fooled than no Foe Glass at all,” Ron had said when Harry hadn’t responded after unwrapping it.
“No, this is perfect, Ron! I didn’t even think of getting any Darkness Detectors-” Harry stopped, looking up for Mrs. Weasley, but she had left the room to retrieve her gift for Harry. Mr. Weasley and Bill both looked suspicious, but, thankfully did not question Harry as to why he would need Darkness Detectors. Harry was glad when Mrs. Weasley brought in a large wrapped gift and he was saved the trouble of making excuses.
Fred said loudly,
“Honestly, Mum, you had to give him that wonderfully useful gift right before we gave ours, is that it?”
“Yeah, Mum, you’re always trying to outdo us, aren’t you?” George added, acting insulted.
“Oh please, you two. She raised you. That alone deserves the respect of every woman in the world. She could outdo you in your sleep,” Brooke said with a good natured laugh.
“Why thank you, Brooke,” Mrs. Weasley said kindly.
“Now, sad as this may seem, my education on the magical world extends to the funny, but sometimes horrible creations that these two come up with. Can I ask what all this stuff is? I mean, what does it do?”
“Well, sweetheart, you see that there? That’s called a book. You open it like this…Hermione, hand me that book, and then you follow the words on the page andthey supply the person reading it-you-with information,” George said slowly as if he was speaking to a small child.
Brooke laughed and slapped George lightly upside the head,
“Thanks so much, George. Now that is a concept that we Muggles could really put to good use! I meant that, what did you call it Ron, the Foe Glass. And the very impressive Pensieve. What is that?”
Harry started to answer, but Hermione began speaking the way you would expect an encyclopedia to talk, if it could speak. Ginny, who was sitting next to Harry, grasped his hand in hers and whispered,
“I’ll give you my gift when we’re alone.”
Harry whispered back,
“You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“Tell me this,” Ginny whispered back, amused, “why is it the automatic response to say ‘you didn’t have to get me anything’? You’re my boyfriend. Of course I had to get you something.”
“Just so long as it’s not a necklace with ‘My Sweetheart’ on it.”
“What?” Ginny looked shocked.
Harry opened his mouth to explain, but Hermione had finished her explanations and Fred said,
“If you two would stop whispering sweet nothings to each other over there, we could get on with giving you our traditional gift of our newest and best products that Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes produces.”
Harry blushed at Fred’s interpretation of his and Ginny’s conversation. Ginny gave a sarcastic,
Harry took the box of products and found many products from the twins’ elite Dark Art’s Defense line. Harry looked up at Fred and George who looked pleased at the thankful expression on Harry’s face.
“Thanks, guys, really. Thank you.”
It’s as if they knew that he would soon need many of these products. They couldn’t know, but Harry thought they probably suspected that Harry had plans to do something dangerous and life-threatening. Or, then again, they could have just anticipated that something dangerous and life-threatening would find him. That happened quite a bit.
With a wave of her wand, Mrs. Weasley sent Harry’s gifts floating up to Ron’s room, and she cleared the mess of wrapping paper from the table. After that, Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley’s fell into easy conversation. Mr. Weasley questioned Brooke about her life as a Muggle. The rest enjoyed hearing Brooke’s explanation of things like letter openers, music boxes, and DVD players. She had really adapted well to the Weasley family, and was eager to learn about the magical world her fiancée had lived in his whole life. Through the course of the conversation, they learned that Brooke had lost her parents in a plane accident last year and had given up the idea of going to secondary school to take over the paper shop at eighteen. Mr. Weasley restrained himself from asking the question he wanted the answer to more than anything (how do airplanes stay up?) in light of the tragic way the airplane had been brought into the conversation.
“So, after we’re married, I’ll still work in the village, so I’ll be close by here. I’m living above my shop right now, just as George is over his, but George and I are planning to buy a home close by. Because I can’t, what was that word, George. Oh, I remember now. Apparate. I can’t Apparate to work, so we need to be closer to the paper shop than to his joke shop.”
There was a lull in conversation after this. It was very late, and Harry let out a wide yawn. Ginny gave Harry’s hand a small squeeze and jerked her head towards Ron and Hermione. Hermione’s head was resting on Ron’s shoulder, and she looked as though she were about to fall asleep. Mrs. Weasley noticed as well, and she said,
“I think it’s time to be off to bed.”
Hermione jerked awake, and everyone stood up to say their goodbyes. Bill and Fleur were the first to leave. They walked out into the yard and vanished. Brooke sighed,
“Useful talent, that. I unfortunately have to walk.”
“I’ll go with you,” George said, his arm around her waist, “Thanks for the hot meal, Mum. Fred and I live off of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans at home.”
“Ugh! I never want to hear about those Beans ever again,” Brooke said, “He gave me a brown one that he said was chocolate flavored,” she said to the group at large, “It was rubber boot!”
“I couldn’t have known that,” George said innocently, “That’s all part of the fun.”
“Rubbish! That’s not fun! Thank you for dinner, Mrs. Weasley, it was really good.”
“Call me Molly, dear.”
“Oh, um, alright,” Brooke looked a bit flustered, but she recovered quickly, “Happy Birthday, Harry. May you have many more.”
“I hope so too,” Harry muttered, then said more loudly, “Thanks.”
They left, followed by Fred,
“Just so you know, Mum, we don’t live off of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.”
“That’s a relief,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“We live off of cockroach clusters and fire-whisky. Though there tends to be more fire-whisky then cockroach clusters.”
Fred held his hands up in font of him to ward off Mrs. Weasley, who was attempting to box him around the ears.
“Oh, get out of here,” she said, sounding cross, but a smile twitched at the corners of her lips.
“Fine, then. I have to go anyway. I promised Angelina I’d meet her for breakfast in the morning before work. Happy Birthday, Harry.”
With all the rest gone, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron were free to go to bed.
“Thanks again, Mrs. Weasley. This was the best birthday I’ve ever had.”
Mrs. Weasley smiled and pulled Harry into a hug.
“You’re welcome, dear. Goodnight, you lot! Don’t stay up too much later, now.”
They all four climbed the stairs, yawning all the way. They stopped outside Ginny’s room, as was the nightly routine now. Hermione kissed Ron goodnight, and she wished Harry pleasant dreams and a Happy Birthday. Ron proceeded to climb the stairs after Hermione had gone into Ginny’s room, leaving Harry to say goodnight to Ginny. Ron tended to find it sickening to watch Harry kiss Ginny, and though he was getting better about it, they had worked out this routine so that Ron didn’t have to witness Harry and Ginny’s goodnights. Tonight was not the simple goodnight kiss, however. Ginny pulled a small package out of her pocket. She gave it to Harry, and waited anxiously for his reaction. Harry pulled the wrapping from the gift and looked down at a small golden ball. It was a snitch.
“Ginny,” he breathed. He knew where she had gotten the idea for the gift.
About a week and a half before, they had been out in the orchard playing Quidditch when Hermione decided that she had taken all she could of the sport and she and Ron had gone for a walk. This left Harry and Ginny in the orchard. Harry had held his broomstick at arms length with an expression of deep remorse.
“What is it, Harry?” Ginny asked, circling her arm around Harry’s waist, and pulling him down to sit beside her in the grass under a tree. She lounged comfortably against his chest, and looked up at him, concerned.
“It’s just…I hadn’t thought about it before, but I’ll never play another game of Quidditch for Gryffindor. No more Quidditch matches. I’ll never have the chance to catch another Snitch, Ginny, ever.”
Ginny had turned his face towards hers and kissed him,
“Never say never, Harry. You don’t know what’s going to happen. For all you know, you could defeat Voldemort and decide that you want to play professional Quidditch.”
“But, you can’t know that.”
“And you can’t know that you won’t. You’ll hold another snitch. I promise.”
Now, Harry did hold a snitch in his hand. It was the most thoughtful gift he had ever gotten.
“Do you like it?” Ginny asked.
Harry pulled her to him and kissed her.
“So, that’s yes, or are you just avoiding the question?”
“Ginny, this is the best gift anyone has ever given me. Thank you.”
He kissed her again, and Hermione poked her head out the door,
“You two had better watch it. Ginny, you’re mum will be round soon to check that we’re asleep. Night Harry! Get some rest. You and Ron have that apparition practice in the morning, remember.”
“Oh, yeah. I s’pose I should get to bed, then. Thank you, Ginny. Thank you so much.” He gave her one last, small kiss and she disappeared into her room.
Harry climbed the stairs to Ron’s room thinking how lucky he was to have Ginny.
A/N: Sorry, it’s short. I have less time now that school’s about to start. I’m really busy. What did you guys think? I’m just laying the ground work for later chapters, so it’s not all that exciting right now. Please review! I need to know if people are going to keep reading, or if they’re going to drop it because it’s not as good as The Wedding. What do you guys think? I’d also like to give a shout out to my new friend Young Phoenix. Thanks for flattering me, babe!