A/N: Random one-shot for you today. Treasure it always. :)
Harry stood in front of the mirror, straightening his glasses, adjusting his robes, listening to the crashing echoing up the stairs from the kitchen. He smirked at the sound of Ginny shouting something. In a normal household, smashing fragile-and-expensive-sounding objects would be cause for concern, but Harry had never quite spent time in a ‘normal’ house long enough to know that. Those familiar sounds were cut number one on his daily soundtrack. While some people listened to birds chirping, leaves rustling, waves colliding with a rocky coastline, or any number of other pleasant symphonies, Harry heard his wife reprimanding his eight-year-old son and his daughter, determined as she was to help, demolishing delicate contraptions.
He turned and headed down into the war zone. Ginny was arguing fiercely with James and flipping the pancakes at the same time.
“You,” Harry told her over her reproaches, “are the world’s most amazing multitasker.”
She flashed him a quick smile before resuming her cry of, “Sit and eat and don’t touch your brother again, or you will be staying home all day instead!”
“But I want to go with Uncle Ron and Aunt Mione to see the zoo!” he shouted back. Harry poured himself a glass of orange juice.
“Then sit and eat and don’t touch your brother again, or you will be staying home all day instead!”
He sat and ate and didn’t touch his brother again and didn’t stay home all day instead. Ron pushed open the door just as Ginny managed to undo the knot in Albus’s trainers, courtesy of Lily, who had been practicing her knots on everything. Really, everything. Harry had been quite confused one evening to find that his shirtsleeves had been tied together.
“Ready?” Ron asked.
“Just a moment,” Ginny told him distractedly, finishing the bow. “There, Al,” she said. “All done. Oh, and Ron? Watch out for that thing we talked about last night.”
“I’ve got it under control,” Ron replied, remembering her lecture about James’s newfound love of ‘adventure-seeking,’ as he had dubbed it. Ginny, however, had rechristened it ‘suicidal tendencies.’
“Right then, you’re all set, and—”
“Why can’t I go?”
Lily stood in the doorway, looking quite as offended as she would if Ginny made her sleep in the rubbish bins outside, small fists on her hips.
“I’ve told you, Lilybud,” Ginny sighed, “this trip is just for the boys. That’s why you get to go to work with Daddy today. We talked about it, remember?”
Lily paused, peering up at her mother from under her long lashes. “Can I wear my new shoes?”
“May I please,” Ginny corrected gently. “And, yes, you may.”
Lily swiveled on her heel and bounded up the stairs. “Say goodbye to your brothers!” Ginny hollered after her.
There was a distant call of “Bye!” and then a door banged shut. Ginny sighed, planted a kiss on her sons’ foreheads, stood up, and ushered them toward the door and the bright May sunshine. “Goodbye, boys,” Ginny said. “Be sure to mind your aunt and uncle, okay? Be good. I mean that, James Sirius—be good. Say thank you to Uncle Ron and Aunt Mione.”
“Bye, boys,” Harry said, appearing in the doorway. “Mind your mother, so mind your aunt and uncle. See you later, then.”
“Bye, Mum! Bye, Dad!” James called, pushing Al out of the way and sprinting to the car in the driveway.
“See?” Ginny yelled after his retreating figure. “Be good!” She gave Ron a wan, apologetic smile and prodded Al out onto the porch. “Bye, Al,” she said, kissing him again.
Al waved and followed Ron down the steps. Ginny watched them climb into the car and then headed back into the kitchen. Lily was back, and she was holding up her small foot for her father to examine.
“. . . pretty, aren’t they? Mummy says I can wear them to your work today, Daddy.” She beamed, thrilled with the simple joys of being five.
“They are lovely,” Harry told her, ruffling her hair. “But why don’t you eat your breakfast, Lilybud, so we can get going?”
“’Kay,” Lily agreed, bounding into her seat.
Fifteen minutes and several new-shoe stories later, Lily and Harry were standing in front of the fireplace, ready to go. “I don’t like Floo Powder very much, Daddy,” Lily said pointedly, peering down at the soot.
“I know that, Lilybud, but this is the best way to do it, alright?” Harry reassured her.
Lily sighed, enduring a great personal sacrifice. “Oh-kay,” she puffed out.
Ginny adjusted one long, thick pigtail on Lily’s head. “Listen to Daddy, please,” she said, “and do what he tells you. Remember your manners. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ and ‘nice to meet you as well’ and don’t jabber away like I’m doing now—do as I say, not as I do, remember?—and be polite and don’t cry or fuss and don’t get in Daddy’s way and be sure to watch where you’re walking and stand still when in the lifts or a crowd, don’t go leaping around, and smile in a friendly way and be respectful and listen to Daddy and do what he tells you and—”
“You already told me that, Mummy, and I know,” Lily said.
“Oh,” Ginny said, “right. Then I’ll see you after Daddy gets home. I love you.”
“I love you too, Mummy,” Lily said, hugging her. “Bye-bye.” Then she returned her disdainful gaze to the fireplace and murmured, “My new shoes . . .”
Harry lifted her into his arms. “Better?”
“Yes.” She flashed a toothy smile and wrapped her tiny arms around him. Together they stepped into the fireplace and whirled toward the Ministry.
* * *
“Hello, my name is Lily. What’s yours?” Lily was in her father’s arms in the lift; it was too crowded for her to stand without taking up the little remaining space and not getting in everyone’s way, since she was full of that little-girl energy that exhausts everyone else. Now she was smiling sweetly at a woman with thick black hair and dark eyes. Harry wasn’t listening to her; he was discussing the new head of the Magical Law Enforcement department with Gary Gibbers.
“Hello, Lily,” the woman replied cheerfully, “my name is Cho.”
Harry turned to look, surprised. “Cho?” he said.
“Harry.” She smiled. “Haven’t seen you in a few years.”
“You know her, Daddy? She’s very pretty.” Lily looked between the two curiously.
Cho laughed. “I like you, Lily,” she said affectionately. Lily beamed. “You look just like your mummy, did you know that?”
“People say that a lot,” Lily answered. “But I think that she looks like me.”
Cho and Harry both laughed. The doors to the lift opened. “This is my stop, Lily,” Cho said. “Maybe I’ll see you later today.”
“’Kay,” Lily said brightly. “Bye-bye.” She waved her little hand and Cho returned the gesture as she wrestled her way out of the knot of people.
As soon as she was out of the lift, Lily turned to the man who was now standing next to her. “Hello, my name is Lily. What’s yours?”
He peered at her for a moment over the top of a memo he was reading that was so long it was wrapped thrice around his arm and still trailed behind him, then he returned to his reading.
“I said, ‘Hello, my name is Lily. What’s yours?’” Lily repeated slowly and loudly. A few onlookers sniggered.
“Lilybud,” Harry said. “Use your indoor voice, please. Isn’t that one of the things Mummy told you to do?”
“No,” Lily said. “She told me, ‘Listen to Daddy please, and do what he tells you. Remember your manners. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ and ‘nice to meet you as well’ and don’t jabber away like I’m doing now—do as I say, not as I do, remember?—and be polite and don’t cry or fuss and don’t get in Daddy’s way and be sure to watch where you’re walking and stand still when in the lifts or a crowd, don’t go leaping around, and smile in a friendly way and be respectful and listen to Daddy and do what he tells you and—’”
“Okay, okay!” Harry cried. “Well, she told you to listen to Daddy, and Daddy wants you to use your indoor voice, please.”
“I was,” Lily said.
“Of course you were. Here’s our stop, Lilybud.” Harry fought his way out of the lift and deposited Lily on the ground once they were free.
“Bye-bye!” she called to the remaining lift passengers. A couple returned the farewell, smiling.
“You,” Harry said, taking her hand in his and leading her toward Auror Headquarters, “are getting too heavy for me to hold, Lilybud.”
“I am doing no such thing.”
He smiled at the affronted look on her face. “Don’t you want to be a big girl?”
“I am already.”
Harry did not answer; he chose instead to push open the door to the Auror offices. His Aurors looked up and waved—many knew Lily, and he had told them all she was coming (he needed as much help as possible keeping her in line.)
“Hello, Lily,” called a young, thin wizard. “Remember me?”
“Yes, you’re Gerald Harpy, and you gave me a pink Quaffle for my birthday two weeks and three days ago.”
Gerald laughed and took her hand in one of his large ones. “Did you like it?”
“I loved it. Thank you.” She flashed a smile at him.
Meanwhile, Fiona Perkiss whispered to Harry, “She doesn’t seem too taxing.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” he murmured darkly, arching an eyebrow. Then he reached out and placed a hand on Lily’s shoulder. “Come on, Lilybud—let’s go put Daddy’s things in his office before he loses them.”
“’Kay. Bye, Mr. Harpy.”
Harry was dragged by his daughter into his office. She promptly hopped up into his chair. “So, Daddy, what are we going to do today?”
“I don’t know yet,” he answered. “It changes every day.”
“Oh, I see,” she said. “Do you like my new dress, Daddy? I don’t really like dresses, but Mummy said that I couldn’t wear my play clothes ‘cause she says I destroy them. It is green, see? I like green. And blue. But not purple. Or pink. Definitely not pink.”
“It’s beautiful, Lily,” Harry told her.
Suddenly there was a voice from the doorway. “Mr. Potter?”
A tall brunette stood there, tucking a piece of her chin-length bob behind her small ear.
“Kelly,” Harry greeted. “It’s Harry, not Mr. Potter. This is my daughter, Lily. Lilybud, this is Kelly, one of my helpers.”
“Hello,” Lily greeted merrily, leaping down from the chair and hurrying over to shake hands with the woman. “My name is Lily.”
“Hi, Lily. It’s nice to finally meet you. Your daddy talks about you a lot.”
“It’s nice to meet you as well.” Lily pointed to her feet. “I got new shoes, see? They go good with my dress, don’t they?”
“They go well,” Harry corrected automatically. If there was one thing he had become paranoid about after his years with Ginny, it was grammar.
“That’s what I said,” Lily told him dispassionately. “Anyway, do you like them, Miss Kelly?”
“I do, Lily. Very pretty.” Kelly smiled at the little girl. “Do you know what you want to be when you grow up yet?”
Lily nodded. “I want to be a singer, actress, dancer, gymnast, writer, Auror, Quidditch player, Healer, lawyer, and telephone tester.”
“A telephone tester?” Kelly asked, looking bemused.
“Yeah. My older brother James told me about those; he says I should be one ‘cause I talk so much, but Albie said there’s no such thing. Then James punched him, and Mummy got mad and made James go to his room. She does that a lot. Sometimes I get sent to my room, even if I didn’t do anything wrong. Can you believe that?”
“No, I can’t,” Kelly said sympathetically, fighting a smile as she looked at Harry, who shrugged sheepishly. “Lily, would you like to come with me to run some errands?”
“Oh, yes! That would be fun! I like you!”
Kelly laughed. “Ask your daddy, then.”
Lily turned and grinned at her father. “Daddy, may I please go with Miss Kelly to run some errands?”
“Will you behave and do what she tells you?”
Lily looked offended. She gave her father a wilting look worthy of Ginny. “Of course I will!”
“Okay,” Harry said, “just checking. Have fun.” He mouthed thanks to Kelly as she led the little girl from the room.
She winked before saying, “You said you wanted to be a singer. Will you sing for me?”
Lily began to sing her ABC’s to the general amusement of the department as she followed Kelly out into the hall. Harry shook his head and pulled out some paperwork, seizing the Lily-Free moment.
“Er—Mr. Potter? Sir?”
Harry looked up after nearly an hour to see Kelly standing before him, looking very worried.
“Kelly, where’s Lily?”
“I—I’m not sure, sir. I—she just . . . disappeared. Please don’t be angry with me or worry or anything; we’ll find her, sir, but—”
Harry stood up, and Kelly looked frightened.
“I’m sorry, sir, but—”
“Don’t worry, Kelly,” Harry said wearily. “She does this often. She doesn’t mean to; she’s just so inquisitive and forgets that people need to know where she is. Did you check levels four and seven? She loves the funny creatures and Quidditch.”
“N—no, sir,” she said, obviously shaken up by his serenity. “I’ll go do that now.”
Just as she turned to leave, there was an explosion that shook the building. Picture frames fell off walls, papers scattered, some of the ceiling crumbled down around them, and Harry ran his hands over his face.
The ever-familiar, cool female voice rang out: “Mr. Harry Potter, would you please report to the Atrium to retrieve your daughter?”
Shaking his head, Harry headed for the lifts, fighting back the laughter that his Aurors were not trying to conceal.
“Told you, Perkiss,” he said to Fiona as he passed.
“Well, if they didn’t want me to play with the wand, then they shouldn’t have left it sitting out,” Lily was telling a very grouchy-looking security guard. “And don’t stick that gold thing in me again; I don’t like it.”
“Leo,” Harry said, placing his hands on Lily’s shoulders, “I’m so sorry. She was with Kelly and decided to run off.”
“I did not run off,” Lily told him coldly. “I went spelunking.”
“You go spelunking in a cave, Lily,” Harry replied tiredly.
Lily puffed out her cheeks and let out a sigh of vexation that caused her hair to flutter away from her face. “I know that, Daddy. I was pretending to be in a cave.”
“Right,” Harry said. “Anyway, Leo, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Keep your daughter out of trouble,” Leo snapped. “Oh, and fill these damages papers out.”
He held out a stack of papers as thick as Lily and an old, chewed quill and motioned toward a chair. Harry, sitting down and dipping the repulsive quill into some bright red ink, wondered how his wife managed Lily every day, let alone the boys, who had a tendency to fight over everything under the sun. That woman deserved a medal.
He had just completed the last page when he heard a shout from Leo.
“Hey, kid, get down from there! You’ll hurt the fountain!”
Praying that it was another kid, any other kid, but Lily, Harry looked up. To his mortification, however, Lily was perched on the centaur in the middle of the fountain, the hem of her dress sopping.
“Lily!” Harry cried in horror, leaping up and running over to her. “Lily, get down from there this instant!”
“But, Daddy, I’m playing!”
She looked surprised at the unusually angry tone in her father’s voice. He hardly ever yelledat his children, because he hardly ever needed to. Ginny did a good enough job for both of them.
Lily pounced down from the centaur and hurdled onto the rim of the fountain. Then, graceful as ever, she stepped delicately onto the polished floors.
“Lily,” Harry said sternly, “you cannot do that, do you understand me? Stay out of things that are not designated as toys. You know better than that. I’m ashamed of your behavior. Go apologize to Mr. Crawley now.”
Lily dragged herself over to Leo, who frowned down at her from his black eyes. “I’m sorry, Mr. Crawley, sir, for causing any trouble,” she said quietly. “I promise that I won’t do it again.”
He looked as if he wanted to give her one of his traditionally gruff replies but instead ended up with the only smile Harry had ever seen on his face. “’S okay,” he said brusquely.
She smiled and hugged his legs before running back to her father. “How was that?”
“It was alright, Lily.” Harry frowned slightly at her. “But what on earth were you doing on the centaur?”
She grinned and dropped her voice. “Can you keep a secret?”
Harry crouched so that his bright emerald eyes were level with her striking brown ones. “I sure can.”
“Okay.” She giggled. “There was a cute boy over there, and I wanted to impress him.”
Harry groaned. Five years old and already thinking about boys.
He was screwed.
Jacob Wood’s father placed a hand on his shoulder. “Jacob? What are you staring at?”
“Look at that girl over there, Dad.”
Oliver followed his son’s finger. “The wet redhead?”
“Yeah. She’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
“She’s Harry Potter’s daughter.”
Jacob locked his green eyes with his father’s. “I like challenges, Dad.”
Oliver laughed as the small girl pulled her father away from the puddle her dress had made on the floor. “You’ve got one, buddy.”
A/N: Reference to Stargazing! Woo! Reviews rock my world. In a good way, not the destructive, study-it-in-physics-class sort of way.