Chapter 3 : Eighteenth Birthday and Independence
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One summer morning in the Burrow's kitchen, Mrs. Weasley was busy cooking Harry's eighteenth birthday tea. She was shifting the flour, salt, spice and butter with her wand and stirring in the sugar, butter and dried fruits. She glanced back when Harry entered in the kitchen and greeted her.
"Good morning Harry. The 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. Are you ready for joining in Auror training?" She added eggs and milk to the magical bowl.
"Not yet. I need to go shopping in Diagon Alley to buy some books," Harry answered.
Mrs. Wealsey paused."Oh, how many books do you need? Ron has to buy the same books, doesn't he?"
Harry guessed she might be worrying about the cost. He unrolled the parchment from Auror Headquarters and said, "We need two theory books, 'Concealment and Disguise' and 'Stealth and Tracking'."
Hermione came in. "Good morning, Mrs. Weasley. Morning, Harry. Did the letter come from Hogwarts?"
"Oh! Merlin. I forgot to tell you," Mrs. Weasley put her head in her hands.
"Arthur told me last night. Minerva will tell you about next term tonight ." Molly asked.
"Is she coming to my birthday party?" Harry was astonished.
"Yes, she is. She needs some rest after all her hard work at Hogwarts. So I invited her. Is Ginny still sleeping? She told me last night she wanted to make a treacle tart for you,"
Mrs. Weasley swished her wand, sending the chicken into the oven to roast, and left the kitchen to go and wake Ginny.
"Happy birthday, Harry! I bought you and Ron. Ginny and I have a set of them, too. So we can communicate," Hermione handed Harry a gift .
Harry unwrapped a palm-top mirror and said, "Wow, amazing! So can I communicate with you, Ginny and Ron while we are on duty?"
"Yes, you can. I bought them at an aboriginal magical crafts shop in Sydney," said Hermione.
Harry turned over the mirror so 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 a rock cake from the top of the pile and ate it.
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 aren't school boys anymore, Harry. You need to tidy yourself up to be a decent Auror,"Ron said.
"We aren't Aurors. We're going to start as trainees," Harry corrected and looked at the label: Wonder Wizard smoothing liquid.
"Did it work?" said Harry.
"Yeah. It's amazing. How do I look?" Ron asked.
Harry stared at the fringe of Ron's hair. It was sleek. But Harry couldn't be sure it would fix his own tousled hair.
"Oh, I forgot your presents from George," Ron left the kitchen and went back upstairs.
Harry's birthday feast that evening was wonderful. Everyone sang Happy Birthday, then Harry blew out the candles and Mrs. Weasley cut the big snitch-shaped cake and Ginny gave Harry her homemade treacle tart and kissed him under the lantern light. Harry kissed her back. McGonagall cleared her throat and took a slice of cake, beaming at Harry.
"Happy birthday, Harry. I also have a present for you," she handed a rectangular parcel to him.
"Thank you, Professor," Harry unwrapped it. Inside was a book. "'Suggestions about your Animagus Form' by Albus Dumbledore. Brilliant! I didn't know Professor Dumbledore wrote this book," Harry marveled. "But I don't know how to transform."
"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 told him.
"Oh, really? Who else will be in it?" 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 new owl. Yeh'll need him ter carry yer post," Hagrid put down the cage. The snowy owl inside hooted.
"Hedwig?" Harry muttered.
"Oh, yeh. He is a snowy owl like Hedwig. Oh, I almost forgot this." Hagrid took out a large box of owl nuts from his pocket. "He eats a lot. What will yeh call him?"
Harry stared at the jewel-bright eyes of the snowy owl who spread his wings slightly. The undersides of his wings were black. "I will call him, Sirius. Thank you, Hagrid."
The next day Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny went to Diagon Alley through Floo Powder from the Burrow with . Ron and Ginny insisted they could go shopping themselves. Mrs. Weasley reluctantly agreed, but 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. You might have had trouble doing it yourself after breaking into the Lestrange's vault," he whispered.
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," said Harry.
Ron threw the glittering powder into the flames and shouted, "Diagon Alley!" Harry went after Ron. When he stepped out of the fireplace on the other end, he found himself in a dark room. There were two beds, a wardrobe and many cardboard boxes.
Harry looked around, "Where are we?"
"We're in George's shop. 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 products in the area of Defence Against the Dark Arts. We're still getting orders from the Ministry. I'm testing a product to defend against cursed owl post. 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 Potions Master," said George.
"How about Slughorn?" Hermione suggested.
"Nah. He'd only care about getting paid," George shrugged.
Harry remembered the tinkle of bottles in Slughorn's arms at the burial of Aragog and decided George was probably right.
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," she said.
"Right you are, Verity. I'm coming." said George and he went upstairs to fetch his new product. When they managed to squeeze through the exit, George caught up with them and said, "The three of you need these." He held out three Headless Hats.
"You are the famous golden trio who saved the Wizarding World, after all, " he added with a wink.
They set off together down the cobbled street.
"George seems to be doing better," said Harry, putting on a Headless Hat.
"Yes, he is. He is no coward. He's determined to live for Fred. He's still running the joke shop to accomplish Fred's dream. The Weasley clan's unbeatable. We'll 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'm a Head Girl!" Head-less Hermione said, delighted.
"Oh, are you? I'm Gryffindor Quidditch captain!" exclaimed Ginny.
"Wow, Congratulations!" they said excitedly to each other.
Mr. Weasley beamed at them. They headed for Flourish and Blotts. When they approached to the shop, Mr. Weasley opened the door for them. "The three of you better take off your Headless Hats or you'll give the shopkeeper a heart attack,"
When they returned to the Burrow that afternoon, Harry sat in the kitchen, flipping through the 'Theory of Concealment and Disguise'.
"What concealment charms do you think we'll learn first?" said Ron sipping a glass of butterbeer.
"Maybe the disillusionment charm?" said Harry remembering the time Mad-Eye Moody cast the charm on him, two years ago.
"Yeah, that one's cool. I can't wait," said Ron.
Both of them were absorbed in reading through the theory books. After a while Harry looked out of 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 was the first place Harry ever felt at home except Hogwarts. But in September Ginny and Hermione would 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 could he live? Grimmauld Place? It was located in inner London. It was convenient to commute to Auror Headquaters from there. But the idea of living there alone like Sirius was unbearable. Then it occurred to him-he could live there with Andromeda and Teddy. It seemed like a good idea to Harry. He went upstairs and sat at George's desk to write a letter to Andromeda.
He called on her and Teddy the next morning, flying over from the Burrow. He dismounted from his broom and 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. Tonks, who had healed Harry's tooth and ribs, had been murdered by the Snatchers; He felt a pang of sadness thinking about him. When Harry got near the house, the door swung 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 at the tidy drawing room.
"Please have a seat, Harry. I'll bring you a cup of tea. Are you hungry?" she said, and put Teddy down into his cradle.
"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 returned with a tray bearing a tea pot, two teacups, and a plate of crumpets, which she put on the table. "You said you wanted to have a talk about something in the letter. What's the matter?" She stared at Harry, her kind eyes wide.
"Well, I would like to live in Grimmauld Place with you and Teddy from this autumn," said Harry in a rush.
Andromeda was silent for a while before saying, "Oh, this so unexpected. I'm very glad to hear your proposal, but you have a family at the Burrow. If you're just taking pity on us, please don't worry. We're fine."
"No, I'm not. I mean, I won't be living at the Burrow any more from September the first. I'll be starting Auror training. So I decided to live in the place Sirius left for me. And Grimmauld Place has plenty of rooms, you know. It's too large for me to live in alone," said Harry.
It's true that it will be convenient for you to commute to the Ministry. It's a good idea for you to begin a new life in inner London. But I have very few happy memories there. My father disowned me when I got married to Ted. Please let me think about it. I'll owl you before the end of August," said Andromeda. 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 for your answer."
Upon his return to the Burrow, Mrs. Weasley protested against Harry's decision to move into Grimmauld Place.
"But you're welcome to stay here!"
"Can you bear the portrait of Walburga Black?" "What if the remaining of Death Eaters ambush you?" Molly fired questions at Harry.
Harry felt like he was left behind when Ron announced that he would live in the second floor of George's joke shop in September. Leaving the nest would prove that he became an independent man. Harry had to persuade Mrs. Weasley to let him begin his new life at Grimmauld Place.
Two weeks had passed since Harry had called on Andromeda, but Harry hadn't had her reply yet.
"If you can't persuade mum, you could ask George if you can live with us in his joke shop. 'Cause you did give him his start-up loan," said Ron.
Harry was a little less worried upon hearing that, but the room was too small for three adult wizards. So he wrote to Andromeda again.
Harry spent most 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 Ginny convinced her. After the game they discussed who would be the next Gryffindor Quidditch team members. Just then a snowy owl descended down to their spot.
"Sirius!" shouted Harry. He pulled off Andromeda's reply and offered Sirius some nuts from the pocket of his jeans. He read through Andromeda's letter on his way back to the Burrow.
Sorry for the 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. My best memory in Grimmauld Place was the time I spent with Sirius. Only he and uncle Alphard understood me. When I remembered those times, your owl Sirius arrived. You are Sirius' godson. So I have decided to live with you in Grimmauld Place until you find your future wife 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 had turned into bright sunshine.
In the evening Harry showed Andromeda's letter to Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Weasley looked dissatisfied about Harry's moving, but finally she consented, although unwillingly.
"Well, at least Andromeda can cook for you every day. She is good at cleaning spells and healing charms. 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 Kreacher would say if he heard.
Ten days before September, Harry went to Grimmauld Place with Andromeda, Teddy, Ginny, Bill and Mrs. Weasley to clean the house. Ron went to George's joke shop to help him, and Hermione went back to her parents to spend the rest of summer with them.
Bill entered the entrance hall first and checked for any Dark magic.
"It seems Snape had already checked the curse Yaxley had cast, before he was killed by Voldemort," said Bill.
Harry felt grateful for Snape's arrangement.
The day after they finished cleaning, Harry, Andromeda and Teddy moved into Grimmauld Place.
Author's Note: Many thanks to my beta readers, krazybotharryginny and chinaglaze.
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