Chapter 35 : Birthday Bash
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A/N: Whoever guessed "turn to page 394" for the significance of the Prince's vault # is a winner! Chocolate frogs, butterbeer, and hugs from Sev!
The rest of November flew by, and soon it was Rose's birthday. She had her birthday over at her grandparents' house, so all her cousins and friends could come. Molly, Hermione, and Ginny made all her favorite foods, like chicken fingers and chips, a green bean salad with bacon, and mini hot dogs in pastry crust. There was cheese dip with chips and pretzels with raspberry and honey mustard dip. Molly made the cake, a towering strawberry shortcake with Rose's name written in red icing and the words Happy Birthday over it. She had five candles on her cake. There were also pumpkin spice biscuits and Ginny had made her delicious chocolate chip scones. There was Weasley fruit punch and pumpkin juice and milk for the youngsters. The adults had a sherbet punch with a blush wine in it, and sparkling cranberry juice for those who couldn't drink alcohol.
All of Rose's uncles, including the often absent Percy were there, with their wives and kids, if they had any. There was also Draco with Tori, Neville and Luna, Susan and Justin, Remus and Dora and of course Harry and Ginny. Rose had Frankie, Lily, Cory, Severus, Alby, Victoire, Sirus, Teddy, and Jamie to play party games with.
George and Beth were in charge of the party games. There was face painting, done by Beth and Tori, and pin the tail on the hippogriff, run by George. There was a sack race, run by Ron, and a dragon piñata which was run by Charlie. There was guess how many Bertie Botts Beans were in a jar, and the prize was a certificate to Honeyduke's. That one was run by Percy. There was the Quill and Balloon game, where you had to throw sharpened little quills at balloons and when you popped one there was a piece of paper with a prize written on it. The prizes for that game were donated by Weasley Wizard Wheezes.
The children had loads of fun playing all the games and doing the activities. They started the face painting first, and each child got something painted on them. Rose had a peacock painted on her face with roses around it. That one Astoria did, since she was intimate with peacocks living at Malfoy Manor. Frankie had a glittery phoenix painted on her face, and Lily a cat face. Shy Victoire had a butterfly mask. Alby was a hippogriff like Bucky, and Severus a raven like Mimic. Cory was a dragon. Sirius wanted a lion, Jamie a wolf, and Teddy had a skull.
Next it was time to play pin the tail on the hippogriff. Each child was handed a paper tail with a Sticking charm on it. They were given a blindfold and had to walk towards where the hippogriff was set up on a big easel and pin the tail on him. Victoire looked fearful, and she bit her lip. "I . . . I don't know how to play this game."
"It's easy, Vic!" Alby said, giving her hand a squeeze. "All ya gotta do is put on the blindfold and walk up to the Bucky picture and put the tail on where you think it goes."
"But I can't see!"
Alby giggled. "I know! That's why it's fun! Whoever gets the closest wins."
"What . . . what do we win?"
Alby shrugged. "Don't know."
"All right. I guess I can play." The game didn't sound too hard, but Vickie prayed nobody would laugh at her if she pinned the tail totally wrong.
One by one, all the kids went up and tried to pin the tail on the hippogriff. Victoire was last.
George slipped the blindfold over her head. "No peeking!" he teased. He turned her about twice then let her go. "Walk, Vickie!"
Victoire took two unsteady steps forward.
Suddenly Alby started clapping and yelling, "Walk, Vickie, walk!"
His chant was taken up by Rose, Lily, and Frankie.
Victoire kept walking, encouraged by the voices behind her. She felt the hard board in front of her and felt her way down to the left. Then she pressed her tail down.
"Great job, Vickie!" George clapped. He helped take off the blindfold.
Tails were scattered all over the hippogriff, making the kids laugh at how silly it looked. The one who got the tail the closest was Lily. She received an art set.
"See? Wasn't that fun?" Alby grinned at Victoire.
She smiled back cautiously. "Oui, I mean yes, it was."
"What did you say before? Whee?" Alby asked.
"Umm . . . that's French for yes. Sometimes I speak French with my maman—you'd say mum in English—since she comes from there." Victoire told him softly. "Sometimes I forget to speak English, if I'm . . . nervous."
"Oh. You don't have to be nervous, Vickie. I think it's cool you speak French. All I can speak is animal and bird tongues."
"Oh, but you speak a much cooler language, Alby!" Victoire said. "Lots of people speak French, but I don't know anyone who can speak with animals."
"My dad can speak to snakes," Alby said.
"Your dad is a hero," Victoire said, reverently.
"Yup. Come on, the sack race is starting!" Alby cried, and he raced over to where Ron was handing out sacks to whoever wanted to play.
Victoire decided to watch this time, she didn't like races, she was too afraid of getting knocked down and stepped on.
Alby, Cory, Sirius, Rose, Lily, Severus, Frankie, Jamie, and Teddy all took sacks and stepped into them. They pulled the sacks up as far as they could and held onto them. Ron drew a line in the dirt, then said, "All right! When I blow the whistle, it means go! You have to hop all the way to the shed along the cornfield. Whoever reaches the end first wins! On your marks . . . get set . . . go!"
Everyone started hopping like crazy. There was much laughing and shoving, as everyone tried to get ahead of everyone else.
Severus found himself bunched in the middle, next to Lily and Alby, who were giggling so hard they could barely hop. Ahead of them were Rose, Frankie, and the Lupin boys. Cory had fallen down not all that soon after the race, and though he got up, it had cost him.
Severus concentrated hard on jumping quickly and far, and he soon caught up to Jamie, who had tripped and fallen into Sirius, and they ended up in a heap on the ground. They rolled about laughing and bickering. Rose tripped over them and went down.
Teddy and Frankie were still in the lead.
Severus kept going, knowing he couldn't catch the leaders, but trying anyhow.
Frankie beat out Teddy in a surprise finish, and Severus was third. Each of them got a glass jar of Honeydukes sour candies.
"That was some race!" Teddy said, clapping Frankie on the back. He looked over to where Jamie and Sirius were still squabbling over who had knocked who down. "Stop it, you two! You're supposed to behave on Rosie's birthday."
When they still continued to yell, Teddy cried, "Idiots, Mum and Dad are watching! Unless you wanna be grounded and have all your sweets taken away, you'd better stop it."
That did the trick. The two brothers stood up, dusted themselves off, and ran over to Quill and Balloon game.
Everyone played that and everyone won something. When everyone had a prize, Bill said, "Let's see who can break the most balloons in five minutes. Whoever can wins a Galleon. You first, Teddy."
One by one they all came up and broke a balloon. Bill kept score. Finally it was down to Teddy, Sirius, and Severus. Sirius missed his last throw and was disqualified. "Go for it, Teddy!" he yelled as he went to sit out.
"Go, Sevvy!" screamed Alby, and all the girls.
Severus concentrated. Then he let the quill fly and it popped his eighth balloon in a row.
Then it was Teddy's turn. He also popped eight.
Severus went again, and popped nine.
Teddy popped nine and then they were out of time.
"Hold it! One last round, to break the tie." Bill said.
Everyone held their breath as Teddy threw. The quill hit the balloon . . . and bounced off.
"Aww! Bad luck!" his brothers groaned.
Severus stepped up the line, studying the wind and the distance before throwing.
"Aw, hurry up and throw, Snape!" Sirius yelled.
"Don't rush, Sev!" Lily called. "Take your time."
Severus did. Then, when he was ready, he moved like lightning, picking up the quill and throwing in one swift sure motion.
The quill popped the balloon.
"Whoo-hoo! Sevvy, you won!" Rosie cheered, jumping up and down. She and Lily both hugged him.
"You've got a great eye there, kid!" Bill said. "And you don't let nerves get to you." He handed Severus the Galleon.
Severus smiled happily. It was the first time he could remember winning anything in a contest.
All the kids guessed how many beans were in the jar, and Percy said he would announce the winner later on, after dessert.
Finally, it was time for the dragon piñata.
Charlie decided to forgo the blindfold that traditionally was worn with the piñata, they didn't want to be there forever while the kids tried to break it. He handed Sirius a Beater's bat and said, "C'mon, Siri, bust it open! Three tries!"
Sirius tried, but the piñata was well made and didn't break. He handed the bat to Jamie, who pounded it hard, but not hard enough. Then it was Teddy's turn.
Teddy gave it some hard whacks and a string fell off, but the dragon was still hanging. Cory swung, and knocked off a foot, but nothing came out.
The kids groaned.
Severus was next, and he aimed for the vulnerable wings and tail. The tail broke and a few little sweets fell out, Severus picked them up. "Here, Al."
He handed the bat to his brother.
But Alby couldn't bust it open either. The piñata swayed back and forth mocking their efforts.
Rosie tried and just busted a wing off. Then Frankie walloped it hard and some more sweets fell out, but not many. She and Rosie quickly snared them. Frankie turned and handed the bat to Victoire. "Go for it, Vickie!"
Victoire took the bat and looked at the dragon doubtfully.
"Aww, she can't do it! We'll be here all night," cried Jamie.
Usually remarks like that made her cringe. But she felt oddly insulted today and she took a firm stance with the bat, lifting it and eyeing the dragon. Her dad had taught her to play cricket and Quidditch and she knew he was somewhere watching. She took a deep breath and swung hard.
The piñata rocked wildly and started to break apart.
"Yeah! Hit it again, Vickie!" Bill yelled.
Victoire grinned and hit it even harder.
The piñata sagged in the middle.
"One more, girl! Go to it!" Arthur was cheering.
Victoire swung with all her might.
The piñata burst open, scattering sweets and small toys all over the ground.
Victoire stood there, bat in hand, and she cried, "I did it!"
Suddenly her cousins rushed past her, screaming like banshees ad diving on the ground to get the sweets and toys. The mad dash for the prizes soon degenerated into an all out free for all. The kids shoved, pushed, and kicked each other trying to grab the candy.
Severus, who hadn't joined the others in their frenzy, turned to Victoire and was about to ask her if she wanted any of the candy, when he saw Lily reaching for a shiny whistle on the ground.
Then Sirius charged up and pushed her down. "I want that!" he yelled, snatching the whistle and stepping onto Lily's hand at the same time.
Severus didn't even think, he just reacted. "Get off her, you imbecile!" he snarled, and sprinted into the melee. He knocked Sirius sprawling with one shove and then turned to help Lily. Only to realize he too was in danger of being knocked down. So he did the only thing he could think of. He threw himself over Lily.
Everything was chaos. Kids were screaming and fighting, stepping on each other. Severus didn't care though. All that mattered was protecting Lily.
Charlie, Bill, Percy, and Harry waded in to break up the brawl. They grabbed kids arms and the backs of shirts and pants and placed them down far away from each other.
"Calm down, you bloody hooligans!" Percy ordered, dragging a struggling Teddy away. "It's just sweets, not gold!"
When everything had been sorted out, they found Severus still huddled over Lily, who was crying. He was bruised and battered, bleeding from a cut on his cheek and his fingers were swollen where someone had stepped on them. He hadn't even felt it.
"Sevvy . . . what the hell happened to you?" Harry exclaimed, helping him to his feet.
Draco came and helped Lily, hugging her tightly. "You okay, little one?"
"They were stepping all over me, Daddy!" Lily wept. "Till Sevvy came!"
"It's all right, Let's get you cleaned up." He carried Lily inside the house.
Harry surveyed his son in dismay. "Sev, you're a mess. Ginny's going to murder me."
"I had to, Harry! Sirius knocked Lily down and hurt her." Severus said. "She couldn't get up."
There was a fierce protective light in his eyes then. Harry saw it and knew that Severus would have allowed himself to be trampled for Lily's sake.
"Come on, let's see what Grammy has to fix you up." Harry led the way inside, where they found Sirius and Lily and several others being treated for scrapes and bruises.
"I say next year we should not do the piñata," Hermione was saying as she put a sticking plaster on Rose's knee.
Sirius caught sight of Severus and glared at him. "Mum, Severus knocked me down on purpose!" He had a cut on his chin and dirt on his face.
"Yeah, well you knocked down Lily and stepped on her hand!" Severus accused.
"She was in my way," Sirius said, his lower lip sticking out.
"And you were in mine!" returned Severus.
"Boys, quit squabbling!" ordered Molly.
They went quiet.
Harry carefully wiped the blood and dirt off Severus and mended his swollen hand with a wave of his wand. "This was definitely not a good idea."
"It was a great idea!" Sirius protested.
"Not if people got hurt," Dora disagreed. "Sirius, tell Lily you're sorry for stepping on her."
Sirius mumbled an apology.
"Severus, apologize to Sirius."
Severus did so, but he didn't really feel sorry. Sirius had hurt Lily on purpose! Over a dumb whistle.
Lily smiled gratefully at Severus. "Thanks for helping me, Sev. I was scared to death I'd be trampled."
"Not on my watch," he told her.
She came and hugged him.
The adults exchanged amused glances. Sirius rolled his eyes.
"Let's have the cake and then we can open presents, Rose," suggested Hermione.
"Yay!" Rosie clapped her hands.
They all went back outside and sang "Happy Birthday" to Rose and watched her blow out her candles. Then Hermione helped her cut the first piece and gave it to her.
Once the cake was all portioned out, and everyone who wanted some had a piece, Ron took Rosie over to the gift table. Sitting on his lap, Rosie held a present and then opened it. Her first gift was from Lily and Cory, they had gotten her two kits, one that you could make colorful potholders with and the other a modeling clay kit to make cute little animals.
"How cool!" Rosie squealed. She loved making things.
From Frankie she received a sparkly shirt with a baby phoenix coming out of a fire and a stuffed phoenix. "Aww! I love it!"
Severus and Alby gave her a new potions set, complete with a copper cauldron, stirrers, measuring spoons and cups and a new potions book called More Potions for Aspiring Potion Makers. "Oooh! Now we can make more potions!"
From Victoire there was a flower press kit, because Rose also liked flowers. "How neat!"
Jamie, Sirius, and Teddy had bought a make-your-own-sweets kit and a rag doll. "Cool! We'll have to do this soon."
From Percy there were some cute dresses and a book about unicorns.
Susan and Justin gave her a pretty basket with fruit and chocolate and several new books.
Molly and Arthur gave her clothes and a bake set complete with magical recipes.
Ron and Hermione gave her a new training broom.
Once all the presents were opened, Percy announced the winner of the Bertie Botts contest. It was Jamie who had guessed the closest with 125 beans. The actual number was 145. He received the certificate to Honeydukes and the jar of beans.
All in all, it had been a memorable party, even with the piñata disaster.
A week after that, the women decided to take the girls shopping for some presents, and told their husbands they could go shop with the boys. They returned loaded down with boxes and bags and mischievous grins on their faces. Then came the decorating frenzy, though this year Ginny couldn't really do much decorating.
Harry had the school elves come decorate their quarters, then he asked Hagrid to please pick out a tree for them for Godric's Hollow. Hagrid was quite happy to pick out a thick blue Scotch pine and bring it to Harry's house, putting it in a bucket of water and soil in the den. The tree had been extracted by magic, and so did not die, but would live all through the season and after would be returned to the forest.
That first weekend in December, Harry, Ginny, and the children returned home to decorate the house and the tree. Harry Accio'd the boxes containing the decorations from the attic and floated them all downstairs into the living room. Some were for the tree, others for the rest of the house.
Together, Alby, Harry, and Severus had fun winding huge swags of fir, holly, and red and green ribbons with bells all around the banister on the staircase. They hung larger swags on the fireplace mantle and over the doorways until the whole house smelled like a forest. Harry hung a kissing bough inbetween the kitchen and the living room, so he had an excuse to kiss Ginny everytime she came from the kitchen.
Ginny was happily baking gingerbread and tiny mince tarts and fruit and nut biscuits. Severus and Alby alternated between each parent, one helped Ginny and the other helped Harry, then they switched after an hour. Harry put on the radio and Christmas tunes filled the whole house.
The radio played I'll be Home for Christmas, and Harry pulled Ginny in her flour-dusted apron out of the kitchen and danced with her all over the living room.
"Harry! For goodness sake! I've got gingerbread in the oven!" she gasped, laughing.
"So? You need to get out of the kitchen, love!" he grinned, twirling her around gently.
"Harry, I'm eight months pregnant! I can't dance!" she cried, still laughing. "I'm as big as a whale!"
"Nah. A hippo, maybe," he teased.
She smacked his arm playfully. "Just for that, Potter, I'm returning your present!"
"Just kidding. You look like an earth goddess," he apologized.
"Okay, I forgive you," she relented.
"Nice save, Harry," Severus commented, smirking. He was standing by the tree, holding a string of lights he'd been testing.
"Be quiet, you!" Harry ordered. "No input from the peanut gallery necessary." He maneuvered Ginny over to the kitchen, kissed her smackingly on the lips and released her. "Sweetheart, your buns are burning."
"Harry!" she mock-growled, swatting him.
"What? They don't understand what I mean," he said, his green eyes twinkling roguishly.
"Alby doesn't, but Sev does!" she waved a finger chidingly at him. "Just for that, no gingerbread for you!" Then she rushed into the kitchen to check on her gingerbread.
"Hey, no fair! What if I promise to be good and never do it again?" he called, pouting.
Ginny snorted. "That would take a miracle." Then she smirked at him.
Harry retreated, chuckling. He returned to the living room to help Severus hang the lights.
Severus eyed him knowingly. "Can't stay out of trouble for a minute, can you?"
"Who asked you, brat?" He picked up the light string from the five-year-old and said, "This is the hard way to hang lights. Let me show you how to do it the easy way." He waved his wand and all the light strings flew up and draped themselves around the trees. "Simple, right?"
"Sure. If you're a Gryffindor," Severus said impudently.
Harry's eyes narrowed. "You know I can send back all your presents."
"I don't have to give you anything either," Severus declared, sticking his tongue out at his guardian.
"You're just asking for trouble, Mr. Snape."
"At least I have to ask, it doesn't follow me." Severus teased, then he danced away when Harry lunged for him.
"Oh, just wait!" Harry cried, chasing the brat around the tree.
Severus ran. In and out of the boxes and halfway up the stairs before Harry caught him and tossed him over his shoulder. "Let me go!" he cried, wriggling.
"Not yet. Not till you've been punished for that smart mouth," Harry said, sitting down on the couch and pulling Severus into his lap.
For a moment, Severus froze, wondering if he was about to get smacked even though Harry didn't seem angry enough to do so. But then he shrieked with laughter as Harry's fingers began tickling him. He wriggled and squirmed but there was no escaping.
"Are you going to behave?" Harry inquired, tickling the boy along his ribs and the backs of his knees.
"Yes! No more! . . .Please, Harry . . . I'll be good . . .!"
Ginny and Alby came running into the living room. "Harry, what on earth! What are you doing to Sev?"
Harry looked up from the tickle torture. "Disciplining him, what else?"
"Why? Was he bad?" queried Alby.
"Terrible enough to be tickled to death," Harry replied, poking Severus in the tummy.
Ginny threw a dish towel at his head. "I'd say he's learned his lesson."
Harry peered down at Severus, who was still giggling helplessly. "All right, brat!" He gave his son a light spank on the behind and let him go.
Severus promptly collapsed on the floor, snickering. "You're horrible, Harry!"
Alby ran over. "Me too, Dad! I wanna be tickled to death too like Sevvy!"
"Were you naughty?"
Alby nodded. "I was worser than Sevvy."
"Oh yeah? Then you get twice the punishment!" Harry growled and grabbed his youngest and tickled him unmercifully until he howled.
"When you're done disciplining, husband of mine, we need to string cranberries and popcorn to decorate the bushes outside for the birds," Ginny reminded him. They always did that as a Christmas treat for the animals. She smiled at her husband. He was such a good father, which really was a miracle considering his awful childhood. She placed a bowl of popcorn and one of whole cranberries along with pieces of waxed thread and a long needle on the table in front of the couch.
When she returned with a plate of gingerbread and cups of hot cocoa some ten minutes later, all of her boys were sitting on the couch, stringing cranberries and popcorn.
Harry looked up and grinned. "Oh, thank Merlin! Disciplining these brats makes me hungry." He snitched a gingerbread man from the tray and a mug of cocoa. He bit the head off the gingerbread man and said, "Fantastic as always, hon."
Ginny beamed. Then she picked up a string and began threading cranberries and popcorn too.
When they had threaded enough to place on the bushes in the front and back of the house, Alby led them outside, where they draped the bushes with the colorful treat.
Then they waited for some birds or squirrels to come.
Three minutes went by and nothing happened.
Alby sighed impatiently.
"Al, I think we need to go inside," Ginny suggested. "The birds won't come if we're out here."
"Yes, they will, Mum. They just need to know there's food," Alby said. "Watch this." He spread his arms wide and yelled at the top of his lungs, "YO, BIRDS & SQUIRRELS! LUNCHTIME AT ALBY'S HOUSE!"
"Albus Severus! The whole neighborhood can hear you!" Ginny cried.
"So can the birds, look!" Harry pointed as the sky was filled with small black shapes.
Within moments, birds of all shapes and sizes had converged upon the yard and some landed all over Alby, until he looked like a mobile bird perch. All the birds were cawing and chirping and fluttering excitedly.
"It's over there! See? Go get it!" Alby said, spinning about and laughing. Birds flew off him to the bushes and then back again. Within moments the bushes had been stripped bare.
"There's more this way!" Alby called. "C'mon, I'll show ya!"
A mixed flock of birds of all sorts and some squirrels as well followed the fledgling Beast Master around the house and to the last set of bushes and started eating.
Ginny, Harry, and Severus trailed them.
"I think we should've made more," Severus said, observing how the birds and squirrels were devouring the food.
"We'll make more tomorrow," Ginny promised. "Alby, say goodbye to your friends. We need to finish decorating the tree."
"Aww, Mum!" her son groaned. "I gotta go. But come back tomorrow and there'll be more, okay?"
The birds rose in a feathered cloud, chirping loudly, then departed as swiftly as they had come.
Harry watched them and suspected that they were going to be frequent visitors to the Potter house from now on.
Putting his arm about Ginny, he headed inside to finish decorating the tree. With Severus and Alby around there was never a dull moment.
A/N: Birthdays and Christmas preparations, oh my! BTW, that pinata scene I wrote was something that really happened at my nephew's birthday party when he was six or seven! Kids were going crazy and it was like fifteen kids all climbing all over each other and screaming, like a feeding frenzy of sharks! What did you think of the Potters' decorating spree?
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