Chapter 6 : The fun begins
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The Potter Mansion glowed with decoration; there were streamers everywhere; thousands of balloons were floating in the air; classical music was coming out of a piano that had no player; the ceiling was enchanted to resemble a starry night. House elves who were very generously compensated for their service were serving drinks and Hors d’oeuvres. Some were even chatting with the guests. Ok, they were chatting with one guest – Hermione Granger Weasley.
The atmosphere was very lively. People a mile away could have heard the excited chatters had it not been for the silencing charm that Harry had put on the house. He was proud of his son for putting together something so grand for his little sister. His son, the mischievous James Potter, had become responsible after all.
“James,” he called out to his son, who was in the midst of his teammates.
“Yeah dad,” James came towards Harry.
“I want you to meet someone. But before I do that, could you fetch Lily?”
James ran off to find his sister. He hadn’t known how much work went into organizing a party. It had kept him very occupied, and as ashamed as he was to admit it, he could not deny that he had not really had much chance to see Lily in the past two weeks, much less talk to her. It was a sad realization. He hoped the surprise that he was going to give her this fall would make up for it.
There was another problem as well that he was not very eager to admit even to himself. He had been avoiding Grace, and considering Grace was with Lily virtually every single moment, it was very hard to do both, i.e. spend more time with his sister as well as avoid Grace. Though Grace had offered to help him with the party on numerous occasions, he had always found a reason to decline her help. He felt like he was in a danger of admitting to something whenever he was near Grace. Therefore, he had taken the safer route and avoided Grace.
As he walked to the corner where his sister was chatting happily with her friends, he saw Grace. Did she look pretty or what! He could not remember Grace ever looking prettier. Hoping he would not say something stupid, he walked towards his sister. “Hey, Lily!”
Lily turned around.
“You look gorgeous, my little sister,” he said. “You really have grown up.”
“Thanks, James. Where have you been? I have barely seen you at the party today. Come to think of it, I have barely seen you these past few weeks.”
“I know. I am sorry. I have just been busy with stuff.” Before she could ask him what he had been busy with he added, “Dad is looking for you. He wants to introduce us to some people.”
“Alright. Just give me a second.” Lily turned towards Grace and Amber.
James nodded and just stood there for a minute. In his mind he could see Grace dressed up in the green cocktail dress that perfectly highlighted her features. He had wanted to talk to her, but he had held himself back. Why had he held himself back? What would the harm have been in talking to her? He liked talking to her. He liked how she teased him; he liked how he teased her. He liked how brightly her eyes sparkled when she smiled. He liked…
Realizing what he was doing, he shook his head to erase thoughts of Grace, but without much success. Grace was to his mind what the blush was to her face. It was always threatening to creep up her face, and appeared when she least wanted it, embarrassing but enhancing her beauty nonetheless.
Unable to shake off thoughts of Grace, he walked back to where his dad was hoping that would do the trick. It didn’t.
As James and Lily approached Harry, he proudly smiled at his two children. He wished Albus were there too. His heart always glowed with warmth whenever he saw how well his three children had turned out. He had had a hard teenage life. Sure it was a life full of adventure, a life probably envied by thousand of people, but he had always been miserable.
True, there had been many happy moments that he savored even now. True he had gotten life long friends and life partner while he was still a teen and true that he had finally found a place where he belonged. Yet, his life had always been uncertain. He could never be sure what would happen to him the next day and the huge responsibility on his shoulders always seemed to weigh him down. So, he had taken special care to make sure that his children weren’t deprived of a normal teenage life, that they got to be children when they were kids, unlike him who was forced to mature while still a kid.
But now he was proud to admit that his children had become just like him. One of them chose to be famous like he unwillingly was when he was a kid, the other one chose to become involved in more important issues about muggles and the muggle world, the world where he came from. And he was sure Lily would do something to make his chest burst with pride as well. He was satisfied with his children, his wife and his job. He was truly a happy man. His uncertain teenage years had given his family a secure, happy life.
“Hey, dad,” Lily said, pulling him out of his thoughts.
“Lily, James, I want to introduce you to Oliver Woods, a very good friend of mine and a legendary Quidditch player at Hogwarts in my time,” Harry said smiling at Oliver.
“Your dad is too modest, James. We would have never secured the Quidditch cup if it hadn’t been for your father.”
“It’s nice to finally meet you, sir,” James said. “Dad always tells us how good of a captain you were.”
“Don’t worry about formalities, James. Call me Oliver. And I’ve seen you play. Having two amazing Gryffindor Quidditch players for parents, I’m not surprised that you play as well as you do. Keep it up, young man. Ah, and you young lady, aren’t you on the Gryffindor Quidditch team?” he asked Lily.
“Yeah, dad, she is one heck of a player. She plays chaser on our team,” Glen Woods jumped into the conversation.
“Hi Glen,” Lily said and instantly turned away cursing at herself for not greeting his father first.
“Lily, why don’t you show Glen around the house? I am sure he would much rather hang out with your lot than with Oliver and I.”
“Sure, dad,” Lily said motioning Glen forward. “So, Glen how do you like the party?”
“It’s amazing. Happy birthday, Lily.”
“Thanks,” she beamed. “James pulled the entire thing together without any help.”
“Speaking of your brother, I am a huge fan of his. I didn’t wanna look like a star-struck kid in front of him. But I almost asked for an autograph.” Glen looked a little embarrassed.
“I am glad you didn’t. His ego would’ve become too big for his head if one of my friends had asked him for an autograph.”
Glen laughed out loud and his laughter took away the tiny bit of sanity she had left. She had an insane urge to kiss him right then, but a familiar voice saying, “Where is the birthday girl?” brought her back to the reality where Glen hadn’t shown the slightest interest in her.
She turned around, and ran straight towards the open arms of Ted Lupin. “Teddy!” she exclaimed. I didn’t think you were back from South America yet.”
“I couldn’t have missed the day Princess Lily Potter turned seventeen now, could I?”
Lily smiled remembering her five-year-old-self who had insisted that Teddy always address her as Princess Lily Potter. Teddy had dutifully agreed and to this day called her princess, now more to embarrass her than to oblige her.
“Not if you wanted to live to see me turn eighteen,” returned Lily.
“Well, I am gonna let you get back to your friend and go find Victoire. Don’t tell her I saw you before her.” He winked at her and left. Lily giggled like a five year old. She didn’t know how Teddy always brought out the five year old in her.
She looked back to where she had left Glen. He was still there, frozen in place, with a very confused and slightly horrified look on his face.
“Lily, did I just see you run into the arms of our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?” His voice was incredulous.
Lily laughed. “Do you not trust your eyes, Glen? I believe that is what just happened.” She decided to pull his leg.
“But how can you…” Glen trailed off.
“How can I what? Hug him?” Lily said with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “See it’s easy.” She went closer to him. “You open your arms.” She tugged his arms that were folded across his chest apart. “Then I put my arms around you like this and then you wrap your arms around me like this. Of course it all happens a lot faster than this in real time. So it doesn’t look and feel this clumsy.”
Had she just hugged Glen? Was she still in his arms? She had really just tricked him into hugging her and poor Glen was too confused to move. He could be so dense sometimes. She enjoyed his confusion (and his arms) just a little bit longer and pulled away.
Glen looked a little shaken. She was thoroughly amused and couldn’t hold it any longer. She burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny here?” Amber came out of nowhere and inserted herself into the conversation.
“Oh Glen just wanted to know how I could run into the arms of our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor,” Lily replied.
“Aw, you poor thing. Are you traumatized?” asked Amber.
Glen nodded without blinking and Lily taking pity on him decided to put him out of his misery.
“Relax, Glen, Teddy is practically a brother to me. My dad is his Godfather. He lived with us up until he graduated from Hogwarts. Nobody, other than my parents, has put up with more of my tantrums than Teddy has.”
“Wow, I wouldn’t have known that you two knew each other outside of class from your classroom interactions.” Glen had found his voice at last.
“Teddy is very good at being impartial in class. He inherited the treat-everyone-kindly-and-equally genes from his father. My dad tells me that Teddy’s dad, Remus Lupin, was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor he ever had at Hogwarts. And although Remus and my granddad James had been very good friends at Hogwarts, he never let my dad know that in class. In fact my dad didn’t know they had been so close until the end of the year.”
“You are mean, you know that?” Glen asked.
“How is that?”
“You let me think you were romantically involved with Professor Lupin.”
“And how would that make Lily mean?” asked Amber, too interested now to care that this was not her conversation.
“Yeah, why would that bother you, Glen?” asked Lily, and she dared to hope.
“Well you know,” coughed Glen. “He is um our professor.” He said a little triumphantly.
And Lily’s hope was dashed.
“I am going to need a butterbeer after this,” said Glen. “I will catch you later, Lily.” Glen hurried away from her.
“Oh, he likes you,” drawled Amber.
“Yeah, right and Alex is in love with you.”
“Ouch that hurt, you didn’t have to rub it in.”
“Oh, I am sorry. That was mean.”
“Never mind that. I have actually been over Alex for a full week now. I think I have picked out my crush for next year. I saw your cousin Hugo Weasley earlier while looking for you, and let me tell you the frog has transformed into a handsome prince.”
Hugo Weasley, Ron and Hermione’s son, had always been a little small for his age. He was a Ravenclaw prefect along with Amber. He had inherited his mother’s intelligence, but he was a bookworm who always remained hidden behind his books and glasses. Mostly, all anyone saw of him from the top of his books was the trademark Weasley red hair. When he spoke, his voice came out a little squeaky, and his steps were a little bouncy. It seemed like testosterone hadn’t fully kicked in in his body yet. Amber had always been reminded of a frog whenever she saw him. But it seemed like in the last month that Amber hadn’t seen Hugo there had been a huge surge of testosterone in his body.
“Glad to know that you didn’t have to remain crush-free for more than a week, Amber,” Lily said smiling. “But Hugo, really?”
“Lily, have you checked out the boy recently?”
“Ew, Amber, he is my cousin. Of course I haven’t checked him out!”
“Well, he seems to have grown a foot in the few months I haven’t seen him. His shoulders have become really wide. He cut his hair shorter and looks absolutely amazing now. He looks like an athlete. You wouldn’t know what kind of brain was in that head if you saw him now.”
“Wow, I hadn’t realized my cousin had become such a hunk. But please spare me any additional details. Where is Grace?”
“I think she is with Alex. I don’t know where the two of them ran off to as soon as Alex got there.”
“Lily, we are starving. Can you come cut the cake, please?” Ron Weasley’s voice rang throughout the Potter mansion as if they were coming out of loud speakers. There were no loud speakers in the Potter mansion.
Lily and Amber walked to where Ron stood. Very close to the cake.
“Uncle, Ron!” Lily hugged him. “Where is Aunt Hermione?”
“Oh you know she is interrogating the poor house-elves. Asking them if they are well compensated and happy and such. You know, the usual. Ouch,” he said as he felt Hermione poking him on the side.
“Happy birthday, Lily.” Hermione kissed her on the cheek. “Ron, how many times have I told you that it is important to me…”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you, Hermione. Rose felitoned this morning to tell us that she would be coming home next week,” Ron cut her off before she could go on her rant about how important elf rights were to her. “Her boyfriend apparently has to go back to school in a couple of weeks. So their vacation is coming to an end.”
“Ron, it’s telephone. We even have one at the house now, and you still can’t remember what it’s called!” Hermione sounded exasperated.
“I know what it’s called,” Ron whispered to Lily. “I just love seeing her so frustrated with me. Also it’s easy to distract her away from the house elves with that one. Always does the trick.”
“Okay, lets cut the cake now,” he said loudly. “Where is your dad?”
“Right here, Ron,” Harry said.
“Oi, why am I the one telling your daughter to blow out the candles. Come over here, and do your job.”
Harry laughed. “Lets not keep Ron hungry any longer, Lily. Hunger really puts your uncle Ron in a foul mood.”
“Dad, we can’t cut the cake just yet.”
Just then they heard a huge crack by the fireplace and Albus’ head popped out. “Happy birthday, Lils!” he said.
“Albus!” Lily exclaimed. “Now we can cut the cake.” Lily looked around at all the people gathered around her. Her family was so big that she could barely keep track of all of her cousins. But despite the size somehow the Weasleys and the Potters had remained close. They were all practically one big family.
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