Grinning widely as the singing ended, Harry Potter blew out his sixteen birthday candles.
“What’d you wish for?” Ginny Weasley asked, inching closer to the birthday boy.
“If I tell you, it won’t come true.” In the back of his mind though, Harry knew that no matter what he did, his wish wouldn’t come true. He had wished for the same thing he had been wishing for this entire summer: to go to bed in the near-perfect life he was in now, and wake up in it. But that wasn’t about to happen any time soon; he never spent two consecutive days in the same reality, if that’s what these “lives” were called.
“Please?” Ginny pressed.
“Would you just tell her so we can eat the cake?” Sirius asked impatiently. Even if he didn’t get along too well with Molly Weasley, the wizard wasn’t letting that get in the way of his opinion of her kitchen skills; having Mrs. Weasley’s homemade cake stare him in the face for so long was taking all the self control he had not to simply start digging in.
Ginny rolled her eyes as Ron agreed, but Harry still refused. He wasn’t ready to tell anyone, not even Sirius, and especially not everyone, what happened every day… or night.
“That’s it. I’m cutting the cake.”
“I’ll do that,” Mrs. Weasley said, taking the knife from Sirius. She served the first, and largest, piece to Harry.
The party was over; most of the mess was cleaned up, and most of the guests had returned home – Remus was spending the night in the spare bedroom, and Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were sleeping over in Harry’s room.
At the moment, everyone was prepared for bed, if not yet asleep, save for Sirius and Harry. They sat together on the back porch, the darkness of night held off by a dim, magically-induced light overhead.
“So, Harry,” Sirius asked, a mischievous glint behind his eyes, “why wouldn’t you tell the lovely young redhead your birthday wish?”
Harry glared; he should have expected this – Ginny’s request to know his birthday wish hadn’t ended with the birthday cake.
“Ron never asked to know,” Harry replied, earning a bark-like laugh from his godfather.
“I doubt anyone by Hermione and his mother would ever call Ron ‘lovely,’ Harry. And ever Hermione is a push.”
“What d’ya mean?”
“Oh, don’t tell me you don’t see it!”
“Playing matchmaker again, are we Padfoot?” Remus asked, stepping out to join the two wizards in the night.
Sirius shrugged and took a sip of the butterbeer he had brought out with him. “Well, it’s worked out so well for both of you; I’ve decided to go for four out of four.”
Remus groaned. “Please tell me you aren’t still on that and you just haven’t learned to count.”
“Still on what?” Harry asked.
“Sirius believes – wrongly, I might add – that his matchmaking, ahem, skills were what caused your parents to get together.”
“Well it was!” Sirius stated indignantly.
“Padfoot, last time you suggested that, Prongs punched you square in the mouth.”
“I think that was more the manner I suggested it in,” Sirius said thoughtfully. “But you still haven’t answered my question.” He quickly changed the subject, pointing at his godson.
Harry immediately opened his mouth to reply, but Sirius cut him off before he could utter a sound.
“And I’m not going to settle for some b.s. about how it won’t come true if you tell her.”
The young wizard closed his mouth, shared a glance with Remus, then looked back at his godfather. “I’m not falling for that again,” he said determinedly.
“Falling for what?” Sirius asked, all too innocently. Seeing the unchanged resolve in his godson’s eyes, he went on, “You can’t deny it worked out quite nicely for you, you know.”
Despite Harry’s determination not to “fall for it,” it was true, what Sirius had said. It had worked out rather well; although whatever “it” was wasn’t entirely definable.
Not too long after Hermione and Ron had returned to their own homes, Harry sat alone at the kitchen table, working on one of his summer essays. (It sucked, really, how he had to do them all twice). Sirius had just finished magically cleaning some dished – Harry had a nagging suspicion that Hermione was behind their house-elf’s strange, sudden, and unexplained vacation – and he sat next to his godson.
They were talking about something, Harry couldn’t quite remember what, when his godfather changed to topic of conversation to girls and Ginny.
Harry had insisted that the girl he liked that way was not Ginerva Weasley; that she was his best mate’s little sister and more like a sister to him, too. But Sirius kept nagging him with it, pressuring him, working off of his emotions and anger; until, finally, he accomplished his goal.
Harry stormed to the fireplace and threw in some Floo Powder. He fell out in the kitchen of the Burrow, but ignored Mrs. Weasley’s greeting of “Hello, Harry, dear. How are you?” and marched into their living room to find Ginny.
Not taking notice of her brothers in the room with her, Harry asked her out.
The sudden silence and look of disbelief on Miss Weasley’s face snapped him back to reality, and he made a run for it before getting an answer.
Ignoring the look of confusion on Molly’s face, he used her fireplace to Floo back home. Upon falling out of his own fireplace, Harry was met by a satisfied, knowing smirk plastered onto his godfather’s face.
“So, how did it go?” the older wizard casually asked the younger.
Harry glared, his face bright red from embarrassment, and he used his entire arm, both of them really, to make a rather rude gesture directed towards the man in front of him.
Sirius just laughed it off as Harry made for his room.
Later that day, Remus and Tonks – frequent and welcome visitors to the Black/Potter household – came over.
Remus, who got the gist of what had happened at the Burrow, pulled Harry aside and explained to him that Sirius was a manipulative bastard, and that Harry would fare well to watch for that in the future.
Harry immediately understood a deeper meaning behind the werewolf’s words: Sirius had done to him and Tonks exactly what he had just done to Harry and Ginny.
It didn’t turn out too bad though; about a day later (well, two, if both “realities” were taken into account), Errol arrived with a letter from Ginny. Harry knew it was from her ever though all it said was “Yes.”
Harry had only been with Ginny for a few weeks, but they were a few wonderful weeks.
Except for his godfather occasionally grinning at him and going “I told you so.” (The first time that happened, Harry had given Sirius a special bird, but quickly discovered that ignoring him worked much better, since Sirius was prone to let immaturity get the best of him and turn his godson’s action into a “let’s see who’s bird can fly the most creative flight plan” competition.) But being with Ginny was worth it. Harry was amazed he hadn’t found out his feelings for his girlfriend before now, but he accepted finding them now over never.
Harry looked up into his godfather’s eyes. “I just… can’t,” he said lamely.
Sirius’ expression showed a hint of concern that hadn’t been present mere moments before.
“Harry,” he said slowly, wanting his godson to fully understand was he was about to say, “if you ever want to talk about something, anything, you know I’ll always listen, right?”
“Yeah… I know.”
Harry shifted uncomfortably, glancing at the ground, as his godfather’s concerned, grey eyes continued to scan his face.
The raven-haired boy said his goodnights, and headed back to the house to go to bed.
“Hey,” Sirius said, calling him back.
Harry turned around.
“Happy birthday, kiddo.”
The sixteen-year-old smiled. “Thanks.”
As he turned to enter his home, Harry felt a powerful wave of exhaustion sweep over him. He didn’t know where it came from, but he could guess he was entering the other reality. “No, no,” he muttered, tears springing to his eyes. He didn’t want to go back, not to the mess he was in. Unable to hold himself upright and steady any longer, blackness consumed him as he toppled over.
“Harry!” Sirius yelled in panic, but his cry was heard only by Remus, who paid no attention to his friend as he leapt up to catch Harry before he hit the ground.
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