Chapter 3 : Eighteenth Birthday and Independence
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In the summer morning at the Burrow kitchen Mrs. Weasley was very busy cooking Harry's eighteenth birthday feast. She was shifting the flour, salt, spice and butter with her wand and stirring in the sugar and dried fruits. She was glancing back when Harry entered in the kitchen to greet her.
"Good morning Harry. Rock cakes will be ready soon."
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley. Can I help making breakfast?" said Harry.
"Oh, it's alright. I can manage myself. Above all, are you ready for joining in Auror training?" Mrs.Weasley was now adding the eggs and milk in the magical bowl.
"Not yet. I need to go shopping in Diagon Alley to buy some books for training," Harry answered.
"Oh, how many books do you need? Ron has to buy the same books, doesn't he?" Mrs. Weasley stopped her hands.
Harry guessed she might be worrying the cost. He unrolled the parchment from Auror Headquarters and said,
"We need two theory books, ‘Concealment and Disguise’ and ‘Stealth and Tracking’."
Then Hermione came in.
"Good morning, Mrs. Weasley. Morning, Harry. Did the letter come from Hogwarts?"
"Oh! Merlin. I forgot to tell you," Mrs. Weasley held her head in her both hands.
"Arthur told me last night. Minerva will tell you about next term tonight."
"Is she coming to my birthday party tonight?" Harry was astonished.
"Yes, she is. She needs some rest after hard work at Hogwarts. So I invited her. Is Ginny still sleeping? She told me last night she wanted to make treacle tart for you,"
Mrs. Weasley set about roast chicken with her wand swishing and left kitchen to wake up Ginny.
"Happy birthday, Harry! I bought you and Ron the same palmtop two-way mirrors. Ginny and I have a part of a set of them. So we can communicate," Hermione handed Harry a gift.
Harry unwrapped, and took out the mirror and said,
"Wow, Amazing! So can I communicate with you, Ginny and Ron on our duty by this mirror?" Harry asked.
"Yes, you can. I bought them at an aboriginal magical crafts shop in Sydney," said Hermione.
Harry turned over the mirror then he could see the beautiful aboriginal decoration on the face.
"Wow, great. Thank you."
Just then Ron came in the kitchen.
"Happy Birthday, Harry. Nice mirror," Ron picked up the rock cake from the top of the pile and ate.
Hermione frowned at his behavior.
"What did you buy for him, Ron?"
"A magical smoothing liquid for bed hair, here," Ron held out the slim bottle.
"No wrapping?" Hermione scowled again.
"It has just delivered in the box yesterday. I have one, too. I tested it myself this morning. We are not school boys Harry. You need to tidy yourself up as a decent Auror,"Ron said.
"We aren't Aurors. We're going to start as just trainees," Harry corrected and looked at the label: Wonder Wizard smoothing liquid.
"Did it work?" said Harry.
" Yeah. Amazing. How do I look?" Ron asked.
Harry stared at the fringe of Ron's hair. His hair was sleek. But Harry couldn't be sure it would fix his tousled hair.
"Oh, I left your presents from George," Ron left the kitchen and went upstairs.
Mrs. Weasley cut the big snitch-shaped cake after the happy birthday song and Harry's blowing out the candles. Ginny gave Harry her homemade treacle tart and kissed him under the lantern light. Harry kissed her back. McGonagall cleared her throat and took the slice of cake. She beamed at Harry.
"Happy birthday, Harry. I also have a present for you," she handed a rectangular parcel to Harry.
"Thank you, professor," Harry unwrapped it.
"Suggestions about your Animagus Form by Albus Dumbledore. Wow, did Professor Dumbledore write it down? Brilliant! But I don't know how to transform," said Harry.
"Don't worry, Potter. I'll teach you and Ronald Weasley when you're assigned to guard Hogwarts. Other trainee Aurors will also join in the class," McGonagall answered.
"Oh, really? Who will attend the class?" Harry asked.
"I can't tell you now. You'll know soon. Well, how's George? Is he busy with reopening the joke shop? " McGonagall asked.
"Yes, he is. He stays in the shop to develop new products."
Just then Hagrid marched across the garden towards the lantern-lit table.
"Happy birthday, Harry. Sorry fer bein' late. There were plenty o' customers at Eeylops Owl Emporium. I got yer an owl. Yer need owl ter carry yer post," Hagrid put down the owl cage. Snowy owl hooted in the cage.
"Hedwig?" Harry muttered.
"Oh, yeh. He is a snowy owl like Hedwig. Oh, I forgot this. Hagrid took out a large box of owl nuts from his pocket.
"He eats a lot. What will yer call him?" Hagrid said.
Harry stared at his jewel-bright eyes. The snowy owl flickered and spread his wings. Inside of the wings was black.
"I call him, Sirius. Thank you, Hagrid."
Next day Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny went to Diagon Alley through Floo Powder from the Burrow with Mr.Weasley. Ron and Ginny insisted they could go shopping themselves, but Mrs. Weasley said,
"Dark wizards and witches might be hidden somewhere in Knockturn Alley. Be careful."
Mr. Weasley handed a money-bag to Harry.
"Bill got it out of your vault for you. It's not clever way to do it yourself after breaking into Lestrange’s vault," he whispered.
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," said Harry.
Ron threw the glittering powder into the flames and shouted, "Diagon Alley!" Harry stepped out of the fireplace after Ron. The room was dark. There were two beds, a wardrobe and many cardboard boxes.
"Where are we?" Harry looked around and said.
"We’re in George's shop. We are in the second floor. He rebuilt and added this floor. Lee often stays and helps him."
Then Hermione stepped out of the fireplace, Ginny and Mr. Weasley followed.
"Well, let's go downstairs," Mr. Weasley said brushing off soot.
The shop was packed with customers. They couldn't get near the shelves.
"My new product didn't work?" George was standing behind Harry. He touched Harry's tousled hair.
"Yes, it did. Look at my hair. Harry hasn't tried it yet," said Ron.
"Thank you for my birthday presents. Your products are all cool," Harry grinned.
"You're welcome. I developed the area of Defence Against the Dark Arts. We're still getting orders from the Ministry. I'm developing the tester against owl posts cursed. I'm really sorry I can't consult Snape about potions for the tester now."
"What? Have you ever consulted Snape about potions?" Ron inquired.
"Nope. But I think we should have. I desperately need a Portions Master," said George.
"How about Slughorn?" Hermione suggested.
"Nah. He will count on my collateral money or other things," George shrugged.
Harry remembered the tinkle of bottles in Slughorn's arms at the burial of Aragog.
A witch with short blond hair managed to squeeze through to them.
"Mr. Weasley, there's a customer out here looking for a Wonder Wizard smoothing liquid," said Verity.
"Right you are, Verity. I'm coming." said George and he went upstairs to snatch his new products. When they managed to squeeze through the exit, George caught up with them and said,
"You need these, three of you," he held out three Headless Hats.
"You are famous golden trio who saved the Wizarding World," winked George.
They set off together down the cobbled street.
"George seemed to overcome his sorrow," said Harry putting on a Headless Hat.
"Yes, he did. He is not a coward. He determined to live for Fred. He is still struggling with the joke shop to accomplish Fred's dream. Weasley clans are unbeatable. We will never give up," said Ginny.
She walked alongside Harry,
"You look like Head-less Nick!" she giggled.
"What did McGonagall say about your next term, Hermione?" Head-less Ron asked.
"I got a Head Girl badge! ",Head-less Hermione said delighted.
"Oh, did you? I got a Gryffindor Quidditch captain badge!" said Ginny excited.
"Wow, Congratulations!" they shouted one after another.
Mr. Weasley beamed at them. They headed for Flourish and Blotts. When they approached the shop,
"Well, three of you should better take off your Headless Hats. The shopkeeper will be given a heart attack," Mr. Weasley said and opened the door.
Harry flipped through the pages of Theory of Concealment and Disguise.
"What concealment charms do you think will we learn first?" said Ron sipping a glass of butterbeer in the kitchen of the Burrow in the afternoon.
"Maybe disillusionment charm?" said Harry.
He remembered the time Mad-Eye Moody casted the charm on him, two years ago.
"Yeah, it's cool. I can't wait," said Ron.
Both of them were absorbed in reading through the theory books. After a while Harry was looking through the kitchen window. The sky outside the window was changing from deep blue to steely grey and then slowly to beautiful pink. He loved the view from there. He loved the Burrow. He loved Mrs.Weasley's cooking. He loved Ron's family. This is the first place Harry ever could feel at home except Hogwarts. But from September Ginny and Hermione will be back to Hogwarts. Bill, Charlie, Percy and George were living their own lives. It was time to set himself up as a trainee Auror. Where should he live? Grimmauld Place? It was located in inner London. It's convenient to commute to Auror Headquaters. But to live there alone like Sirius was unbearable. Well, how about living there with Andromeda and Teddy? It seemed a good idea to Harry. He went upstairs and sat at George's desk and wrote a letter to Andromeda.
Next morning Harry called on Andromeda and Teddy. He dismounted off the broom, walked by the muddy pond and across the garden. He couldn't believe it was only a year ago when he fell from the sky with Hagrid after the ambush. Mr.Tonks, who had healed Harry's tooth and ribs, was murdered by the snatchers. He felt sorry for Mr. Tonks. When Harry came near the house, the door was open.
"Good morning, Harry. Your handsome snowy owl delivered your post last night. What's his name?" said Andromeda holding Teddy in her arms.
"Sirius," said Harry.
"Oh, you named him after my favorite cousin," she smiled.
"Please come in."
Harry entered the house and looked around. The drawing room was tidy.
"Please have a seat, Harry. I'll bring you a cuppa. Aren't you hungry?" she said, and put Teddy down into the cradle gently.
"No, I ate breakfast at the Burrow," Harry stood up from the sofa and went down on his knees by the cradle.
Teddy was sleeping. Harry rocked the cradle gently.
Andromeda was bearing a tray. She put a tea pot, two teacups, and the plate of crumpets on the table.
"You said you wanted to have a talk about something in the letter. What's the matter?" her kind, wide eyes were staring at Harry.
"Well, I would like to live in Grimmauld Place with you and Teddy from this fall," said Harry at one go.
Andromeda kept silent for a while and said,
"Oh, it's so unexpected. I'm very glad to hear your proposal but, you have a family at the Burrow. If you have pity on us, please don't worry."
"No, I don't. I mean, I won't live in the Burrow any more from September 1. I'll join in Auror headquarters as a trainee. So I decided to live in the place Sirius left for me. And Grimmauld Place has a plenty of rooms, you know. It's too large for me to live alone," said Harry.
"I reckon it's convenient to commute to Ministry. It's a good idea for you to begin a new life in inner London. But for me, I have very few happy memories there. My father disowned me when I got married to Ted. Well, please let me think about it. I'll owl you until the end of August," said Andromeda and she buttered a crumpet and urged Harry to eat it. He nibbled at the crumpet and sipped a cup of tea and said,
"Well, I'll wait in expectation for your reply."
Mrs. Weasley protested against Harry's decision to move into Grimmauld Place.
"Who cares about you?"
"Can you bear the portrait of Walburga Black?"
"What if the remaining of Death Eaters ambushed in front of the entrance?"
Harry felt like he was left behind when Ron announced that he would live in the second floor of George's joke shop from September. Harry had to persuade Mrs. Weasley for all over the world to begin his new life at Grimmauld Place.
Two weeks passed since Harry had called on Andromeda, but Harry had not gotten her reply yet.
"If you could not persuade mum, you'll be able to ask George to live with us in his joke shop 'Cause you are an owner of his shop," said Ron.
Harry was relieved of his worry a little to hear that, but the room was small for three grown up wizards. So he wrote a letter to Andromeda again.
Harry spent rest of his days reading through the theory books and playing two-a-side Quidditch in the Weasley's orchard: he and Hermione against Ron and Ginny. Hermione was very reluctant to play but for Ginny who would challenge tryouts for professional Quidditch teams, Hermione went ahead. After the games they discussed about who would be a next Gryffindor Quidditch team member at Hogwarts. Just then a snowy owl descended down to their spot.
"Sirius!" shouted Harry. He pulled off Andromeda's reply and offered Sirius his nuts from the pocket of his jeans. He read through Andromeda's letter on his way back to the Burrow.
Sorry for late reply, Harry.
I was at a loss whether to live with you or not. My father Cygnus and my aunt Walburga hated me. My father disowned me when I got married to Ted. The best memory in Grimmauld Place was the time I spent with Sirius. Only he and uncle Alphard understood me. When I remembered the time, your owl Sirius carried your letter. You are a god son of Sirius. So I decided to live with you in Grimmauld Place until you'll find your partner to live with.
Please tell me when we will move to Grimmauld Place, we must clean the house.
Harry felt like a gleam of light in the distance turned into bright sunshine.
In the evening Harry showed Andromeda's letter to Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Weasley looked dissatisfied with Harry's moving still, but finally she consented unwillingly.
"Well, at least Andromeda cooks for you every day. She is good at cleaning spells and healing charms. And she didn’t pass any vital information to Death Eaters last year. And I liked Tonks. So her mother is fine though she's from Slytherin."
Mrs. Weasley didn't approve of Kreacher's cooking. Harry wondered what Kereacher would say to hear her disapproval of his cooking.
Ten days before September, Harry went to Grimmauld Place with Andromeda with Teddy, Ginny, Bill and Mrs. Weasley to clean the house. Ron went to George's joke shop to help him, Hermione went back to her parents to spend the rest of summer with them.
Bill entered the entrance hall first and checked if any dark magic revealed or not.
"It seems Snape had already checked the curse Yaxley had casted, before he was killed by Voldemort," said Bill. Harry thanked Snape for that.
Next morning the day after they finished cleaning, Harry, Andromeda and Teddy moved in Grimmauld Place.
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