Chapter 3 : Happy Birthday
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Albus Potter was known for his ability with people - one does not survive his family like he did without developing such talent - and his charming way to be calm and correct during any type of situation. He did not freak out during his OWL's nor his NEWT's, he was the most relaxed person at his own wedding with Gwen (James was for some reason freaking out way more than the groom), he was delighted at his daughters' birth and when Rose and Scorpius announced they were dating, he had been the one to be the most supportive.
However, Albus wasn't handling the pressure around Maya's fifth birthday party. It would be the first time the whole family would gather ever since his father's funeral. And despite saying to himself that he was ok, Albus was far than ok. Probably he wasn't as bad as Teddy, for as far as he had noticed around the Ministry. Once a week, Teddy and Tobias would have lunch with Albus and Evan and after what happened, they never did again. During the last weeks, Tobias would only send him a note, with some excuse for them not to meet, without even rescheduling.
So, Albus was nervous.
Nervous about having the whole family together and have nothing more than the children's scream to buffer the uncomfortable silence. Sad because his father wouldn't be there for his daughter's fifth birthday. Angry for someone having taken his father away from him. And tired after endless nights awake, not crying, but remembering all there was left to be said to his father. Albus had always thought he had time.
Gwen hadn't yet sat down for breakfast while Albus was already on his third toast. The party was being held at their house's backyard. It wasn't a very big house, only two-story and three-bedroom, but it had a good enough backyard to hold a party. The weather was already cooling down, but that was fortunately a very sunny Sunday.
"Darling," Albus tried for the hundredth time. Maya was speaking nonstop about the party while he fed little Eleanor. "Everything is in place and Mum will be here only at 11 o'clock. Come sit for breakfast."
"Are you sure Fleur was doing the cake?" Asked Gwen, finally sitting down next to her eldest daughter.
Albus rolled his eyes. "Of course she was. She has been responsible for baking in this family for over 30 years. I think she's got it." Albus held a meaningful gaze on his wife until she nodded and finally placed some toasts on her plate as well.
"It's the first family meeting ever since..." Gwen noted, while passing some butter. She paused and looked up at her husband. His eyes had gone blank. She shouldn't have mentioned. "My parents are coming too." She added.
"I'm sure your Dad will be pleased not to have to see Harry." Albus buffed.
One can say that having his daughter date and marry Harry Potter's son (who also looked extremely like him) was not what old Marcus Flint had in mind. He had been extremely unpleasant at their wedding and every Maya's birthday party so far (Eleanor had not yet turn one). Harry hadn't minded, of course. If Ron could handle the Malfoy's as his in-laws, surely he could have handled the Flint's. And Harry loved Gwen, and the family had known the girl ever since she was eleven and became best friends with Rose.
"Hey," Called Gwen, grabbing Albus's hand over the table. "Are you really ok about seeing everyone? We have only been with the Potter's ever since. You haven't even visited your grandmother these days."
"Lily was there the other day." Albus shared. "To tell her she was pregnant. And Nana cried in front of her, talking about Dad." He sighed. "I don't think I'm ready for that."
"You haven't talked about it." Said Gwen. "At least, not with me."
Albus looked at her with a soft smile. "There's not much to talk, is there? Dad is dead and they haven't caught the killer yet. That pretty much resumes it."
"You know what I mean, Albus Severus." She scolded, but decided to let go once she saw the sadness in Albus's green eyes. "Anyways, Dakota is bringing her new boyfriend."
"Hm," Albus considered, as he took Eleanor from her high chair to place her on his lap. "Another one? What happened to... What was his name?"
"Matt?" Gwen supposed. "He cheated on her, apparently."
"Where does she find these guys?" Albus laughed a bit, thankful that Gwen decided to drop the subject. He was really thankful for her and sometimes wondered how in the world he took so long to notice her.
"Daddy!" Maya called. "When is Alfie getting here?"
"Hm, I don't know, love." Answered her father, looking at her dearly. "Are you excited to see everyone?"
"I'm excited about the presents!" The little girl announced happily, making the couple laugh.
A few hours later, after Gwen and Albus got both their daughters and themselves ready for the party, the front door's bell rang loudly. Maya was the first one to get there to receive her firsts guests with a huge smile.
"Uncle James!" The birthday girl yelled, jumping on top of her favourite uncle. "Where's my present?"
"MAYA!" Gwen scolded.
"That's ok, Gwen. It's only fair the birthday girl gets her present." James dismissed her with a smile. "Now, where have I placed it? Liz, do you remember-? Oh, right!" He placed his niece back on the ground and took a little package from inside his robes and gave it to her.
"That's it?" Maya asked, sounding disappointed.
"Oh, I almost forgot." James took out his wand and pointed to the package, making it grow three times in size. Maya's eyes widened with wonder before she ran off to the living room to open it up, being followed by Alfie. "She's adorable!"
"Thanks, Jim!" Gwen smiled, waving the couple inside and taking Leonard from Lizzie's arms. "You shouldn't be carrying him around so pregnant."
"James wanted to be free for Maya's hug." Lizzie explained with a smile.
"Bro!" Albus called out, coming from upstairs, after getting Eleanor down for a nap. "Good to see you." He added, going to hug his brother and sister-in-law, before fussing around Leo.
"Isn't Mum here?" James wondered.
"Not yet." Albus informed. "Can't believe she's actually late."
"Cut her some slack." Gwen intervened just as the bell rang again, only to reveal Lily and Evan. "Lily!"
"Sis!" James and Albus echoed at the same time. "And there's my cutest niece!" Albus added, taking Alena from her mother's arms.
"Is Mum here?" Lily asked.
"Yeah, good to see you too, mini Potter!" James rolled his eyes at her, forcing her into a sideways hug.
"Argh, you still call me that!" Lily complained.
"If I know your family right, love," Evan talked. "He'll never stop calling you that."
Ginny only got there after Teddy and Victoire arrived with Remus. They were all already outside, sitting out and talking whilst Maya played with Alfie, Alena with Leo and Remus flew some laps by himself (there was never a shortage of brooms in the any of the Potter's residences).
"Mum!" Albus called out, jumping from his lawn chair and going to hug his mother tighter than he had planned. "What took you so long?"
"Oh, I'm sorry I'm late." She apologised. "I had- some errands to do."
"Was Tobias with you?" Teddy asked immediately.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "I was with Ben, don't worry." She heard Teddy sighing of relief. "Actually, Vic, can I have a word?"
"Sure, auntie Gin." The blonde woman smiled, getting up and following her back inside the house and into the kitchen.
"What's up?" Vic asked once they were out of sight.
"Did you tell him?"
Vic looked down and her bright spirit was gone. "I did."
"And he was surprised, of course he was." Vic told her. "And I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, but it was still very far. He was far too upset that night when he left yours. Teddy let himself smile at the news, but he turned cold the second after." She sighed, looking down at her still flat stomach. "I hope this baby can bring him peace."
Ginny suppressed a tear and placed a hand on her niece's shoulder. "It will do just that. But I can tell you in advance this will be a hard pregnancy. But you can count on me and your parents, you know that."
She nodded. "I know I won't have his support. Nor can I ask that of him. He just lost Harry. Whenever he's not with you or at the Office, he's at his study going over and over at their data. He won't have peace until they find out who killed uncle Harry."
"I don't think that's only him." Ginny concluded with sad eyes. Vic looked down, she wasn't capable of staring at anymore sad eyes for a lifetime. "How's Dora?"
"Oh, she's great, I guess." Vic shared. "Uncle Nev says she's not very talented with Herbology but she is with Transfiguration."
"That's great." Ginny guaranteed. She looked around for a bit and her eyes widened once she saw outside. "More people have arrived. Including your parents. Let's go!"
The two Weasley girls went outside and found that between their time chatting in the kitchen, almost all Weasley's had arrived. Gwen and Fleur were now heading back to the kitchen to place the cake in a safe place while Bill went straight to hug his eldest daughter. George and Angelina were already with Neal and Remus, playing some Quidditch while Fred was hugging James and Marie had already grabbed a seat next to Lizzie. Rose was cheerfully talking to Roxanne and her husband, Brian Jordan, whilst Scorpius ran around Moses who was chasing Maya and Alfie. Lily and Hugo were hitting each other just like they did when kids while Carter and Alice (who were living together for two years) were talking with Albus and Evan.
"Is my Dad coming?" Alice asked Albus with a smile. Carter was holding her waist and looking the happiest man alive.
Albus looked at them suspiciously. "No, actually. He had a few detentions to give and he couldn't make it." Albus got closer to them. "Don't tell Ellie, but he may have added that it was Nikki and Dora."
Alice, Carter and Evan laughed. "Really?"
"Apparently, war with the Aled's didn't end with their parents." Albus explained, suppressing a giggle and giving a side-look to the infamous Marauders 2.0. Ellie and Vic were talking about their daughters while Tobias and Teddy whispered about work and seemed to be inspecting if the place was safe enough. Surely, the foursome was not what it once was. "Now, for Merlin's sake, Carter, can you take that stupid smile off your face?"
The couple exchanged a look before Alice grabbed Albus's and Evan's arm. "I need to talk with you." Carter waved them goodbye to go talk with his own parents, Katie and Oliver, who had just arrived. The trio of friends waited for Carter to leave before they all stared at each other.
"Gosh, Ali, what happened?" Evan yelled it out.
"Shh." She begged.
"You're getting married, aren't you?" Albus supposed, placing his hand on his head out of despair. "I almost didn't get through Lily's wedding, don't tell me you're marrying Carter. My heart won't handle it."
Alice stared at her best friend very bemused. "Wow, drama much?"
"Tell us already!" Evan begged.
"We are moving to Egypt." Alice announced with a little handclap. She was smiling from ear-to-ear and had her arm open to receive a hug from her two closest friends.
They had been inseparable for years. Although they kept close with Rose, Roxie and their dorm mates during and after Hogwarts, the three of them had always been together. Endless nights at the Ravenclaw Tower, studying, laughing, sleeping (Alice found herself on either Albus's or Evan's beds more than she admits) were the foundation of their friendship.
"WHAT?" Albus was the first to regain his voice.
"You're kidding, right?" Evan was next.
"Boys, I thought you'd be excited for me. I was offered a job there and Carter didn't even hesitate to come with." She explained. "It's only for 18 months or less."
"That's way too long." Albus cried. "I can't lose you."
"Al, please, you'll never lose me, for crying out loud. I'll be back so you can walk me down the aisle!" Alice laughed, bringing him close for a hug.
"Walking down the what?" Evan repeated.
"Oh, right, Carter proposed. And I said yes." Alice blurted it out. And before any of her friends could understand what she had said, she was attacked by a pair of arms, bringing her to a hug.
"Alice, dear!" Katie Wood screamed. "Carter just told me! I'm so happy!"
"Thanks, aunt Katie." Alice smiled first before giving a killing glare to Albus and Evan. "Or should I begin calling you Mrs. Wood?"
Katie giggled. "Please, I have known you ever since you were born. You can keep calling me aunt Katie. It's fine!" She gave Alice a kiss on the cheek before turning to both Albus and Evan. "What happened to you two?"
"Apparently, they can't decide whether to be more shocked about me getting married or me moving to Egypt." Alice explained and regretted once she saw Katie's eyes widen. "Oh, Carter didn't tell you that part?"
Far from where Carter was explaining to his parents about their moving plans to Egypt, Ben was sat with Heather, Hermione, Ron and Ginny. Hermione was telling them about a meeting she had had with the Head of Magical Games and Sports - aka Angelina Weasley, and the head of Magical Transportation - aka Percy Weasley, and how the two of them undermined Percy's whole agenda.
"That was well done for Percy!" Ginny put in with a small smile. "I'm glad you didn't become a boring Minister, Hermione."
"Oh, well, I deal with so much, I guess I'm allowed to have some fun." Hermione agreed. "Now, when were you going to tell me Vic was pregnant again?"
"WHAT?" Spilled Ron and Ben at the same time.
"Vic only told me when we arrived from Australia." Explained Ginny. "Hm, she wasn't sure how Teddy would feel about a new baby."
"How come?" Heather asked confused. "Of course he would be happy, wouldn't he?"
"Well..." Ben started it off. "Teddy is not handling his lost very well."
"Nor is you, may I add." Hermione accused.
"Any of us are." Ron concluded before exhaling loudly. "I still wait to find he's actually playing a very rude prank on all of us."
"Well, he's not." Ginny barked, getting up. Suddenly she was upset. She didn't mean to snap at her brother but, apart from Heather, all in the conversation had too much grief of their own. Ginny felt overwhelmed. "Excuse me."
"Ron, do you mind?" Ben called out, signalising with his head towards the house. They both excused themselves from their wives and went inside, passing by Lee and Alicia who were fussing around their son, Brian.
"Yeah, Ben, what's up?" Asked Ron when they finally arrived at the living room. Gwen, Rose and Mrs. Flint were in the kitchen, getting the food ready for the guests.
"How are you handling this?" Ben questioned, looking into Ron's blue eyes intensively.
As the new Head Auror, Ben had to learn to control his feelings out in public. When he arrived at the scene of the crime and saw Harry's bleeding figure in Ginny's arms, he was overtaken by the responsibility of everyone's safety. He didn't have time to realise that his best friend had died until after the funeral, when he walked into Harry's office to clear it up. Bernard ended curled up on a corner, crying. Susan found him there only two hours later. But ever since, he hadn't had any big crying fall outs, only brief nervous breakdowns. He knew he wasn't handling his lost right, however he had no idea what to do. When he lost Robins, he had had Harry, Heather and Tobias to help him through. Now, he felt alone.
Ron held Ben's glaze for a few seconds before he sighed. "I'm not."
"Ron, I'm desperate in the investigation." Admitted Ben. "We have no idea what we are doing, despite knowing what we should be doing. Everyone's lost. The Finnigan's have closed themselves into their cacconun. They are probably the most active members in the investigation. Teddy is just helpless. Tobias tries his best, but he can't get a positive response out of him. He is just immersed in the whole X.O. investigation. It's actually painful, because Teddy is being exactly like Harry was when we were investigating X.O. the first time around. And I- I have to be there for everyone, I have to walk into his office everyday, I have to see the new sign saying Bernard Bennett, Head Auror and recall myself that is correct now."
"Ben," Ron interrupted him, placing his hand on Ben's shoulder. "I know what you mean. And- I- I admit that I have been sometimes jealous of you and Harry being so close, but one can't be partners without becoming close, but I see that Harry cared a lot about you."
"You really should've been jealous, Ron. There wasn't a day that he didn't speak of you. You were truly his brother. He loved you."
"Thanks for telling me that." Ron smiled. "And about handling it, I think it will be better once you get the killer, but I guess only time will tell. But- I remember when we lost Fred, the pain seemed like it would never go away and one day, it simply eased and it became part of me. For as much as I loved Fred - and it pains me to admit this - I felt more devastated when Hermione told what had happened."
"You knew Harry for over 40 years." Ben explained. "That's more time then you ever spent with your brother. I understand. I thought the same about Robins's death. I realised that I have been friends with Harry for way longer that I had been with Robins. That's insane."
Ron giggled. "We're quite the pair, aren't we?"
"I bet Harry is laughing of us just about now, don't you think?" Ben supposed, not being able to suppress a grin.
"I believe so."
Outside of the house, most of the guests were getting ready for the food that was being served by Gwen, Rose and Mrs. Flint. Ginny had escaped from the table and had wondered around the party, exchanging brief words with everyone, including her parents. Albus had come to her to tell about Alice's moving plans and engagement, James and Dominique pulled her over to ask about Vic's pregnancy (apparently that was the party's gossip) while dear Lucy and John Finnigan ran to her so they could ask her opinion on when was best to announce their own engagement. Finally, Ginny got herself out of everyone's way and managed to get inside the house without being seen. She located the couch and let herself go on it, putting her legs up, on a very unladylike.
"I wonder what Ginny Weasley is doing inside when all the food is out there?" A voice asked from behind her, startling her. Ginny placed her hand on her chest out of surprise before turning her head around to see who had scared her. She was shocked to see who it was.
"Dean!" Said Ginny, getting up in a jump and standing in front of him with the couch between them. "What are you doing here?"
"Ouch! Good to see you too." Dean smiled and went around the furniture to give her a brief hug. "I was brought along, if you must know. Peter is dating Jenny Wood."
"He is?" She gasped.
"Yes, and Jenny thought it was a good idea to bring me along as well." Dean explained further. "I can see that it was not, from your face."
"No, no." Ginny hurried to deny. "I'm just surprised. It's been years since I last saw you. How have you been?"
"Not bad." He replied. "And you? I heard about Harry. I couldn't believe it."
"Neither could I." Ginny admitted. "Never in my life I had thought of the possibility of living without him. Ever." She continued, looking down and blushing. "We even had this crazy arrangement that we would die together. Obviously, it wasn't the case."
"You seem to be handling right." Dean suggested.
Ginny gave him a snarky laugh. "Yeah, right. My kids are fine, my brother is going mental and Ben is losing tracks. I roll on bed everyday expecting him to be there, but yeah, I'm great."
"I know what you mean." Dean quietly said.
Ginny looked immediately up, suddenly realising how immature and rude she was being. Dean had lost his wife to childbirth, 25 years ago. He probably knew exactly what she was feeling.
"I-I'm so sorry. Sky-" Ginny started but was cut off.
"That's ok, Gin." Dean guaranteed. "It was over 25 years ago and at least I know what killed her."
"I guess, but it was rude of me to snap at you like that." Ginny insisted. "Tell me, how long did you take to be yourself again?"
"I didn't have much time to adjust to the news." Dean told her. "I had a newborn child to look after and a job to keep. Luna and Rolf helped me for a bit, but then the twins were born and well, they had their hands full as well."
"Peter needed you, that must have helped, no?" Asked Ginny. "My kids are grown, with their own families now. I don't have anyone else to look after."
"I bet they need you more than they show off." Dean calculated. "I was talking to Lily earlier and she couldn't stop telling me how you were the best mother. And then she went off to hit Hugo for something he said."
Ginny laughed. "I wonder why they bicker so much. Recently Hugo told me that she was trying to marry him off. Hermione was helping too."
"Have your kids all married between themselves too?" Asked Dean with an amused face.
"Come on, it's not that bad. From my kids, only Teddy married Vic, which was very predictable. But Al, for instance, everyone thought he would marry Alice and look how that turned out. Only Alice is about to marry Carter-"
"Gin, give me last names." Dean interrupted her. "I have no idea who is who, except for Jenny and your kids."
"Ok, fair enough." Ginny laughed. "Alice Longbottom is marrying Carter Wood, twin brother of Jenny." Once Dean nodded, she carried on. "Louis Weasley is dating Lie Wong, Cho Chang's daughter. Lucy Weasley is engaged to John Finnigan - but you didn't hear it from me, Roxanne Weasley is married to Brian Jordan and Rose Weasley is married with Scorpius Malfoy."
"I heard about that!" Dean laughed. "How did Ron live through it?"
"Scorpius is a lovely boy. We've known him ever since they got into Hogwarts. Actually, I know his mother much before that. She is a Harpies' fan." Ginny defended. "And he's almost a natural Weasley."
"And how is grand-motherhood treating you?" Wondered Dean with an amused smile.
"Don't remember me. 7 grandchildren." Ginny sighed, finally sitting back down on the couch. "With other three on the way!"
"Wait, 7?" Dean too sat down, at the armchair by the couch. "James has 2, Albus 2 and Lily one. That makes 5 grandchildren."
"You forget Teddy's kids." Ginny explained.
"Wow, you really do consider Teddy like a son, don't you?"
"Of course I do." Ginny said, almost outraged. She was about to give him a lecture about how she nursed Teddy ever since he was in diapers and saw his first steps and was up all night whenever he got sick, but they were interrupted by the subject himself.
"There you are, Mum!" Teddy sighed out of relief. Ginny exchanged a knowing look with Dean, as if saying 'Does that explain it for you'. "We have been looking all over you. We're about to sing Happy Birthday and Maya is crying without you."
"Oh, my!" Ginny exclaimed. "I'm sorry, love. I just- well, I had to get away from your uncle Ron and uncle Ben."
"Well, you missed them becoming best of friends." Teddy told her while he led her and Dean out of the house. "I think they might be drunk."
"Great!" Ginny rolled her eyes.
"It was great catching up with you, Gin!" Dean said, before they separated. "We should do this again sometime."
Ginny nodded. "We really should." She gave him a sincere smile before she went over to her granddaughter and took her off the ground, making her extremely happy. Albus pointed to where she should stand while all the guests placed themselves in the front on the table. Albus was carrying Eleanor in his arms while Gwen grabbed her wand to light the five candles up.
Ginny took the moment to look at her family. James had Leonard in one arm and was holding Lizzie's waist with the other while Alfie was jumping up and down in front of them. Lily was hugging Evan by his waist while he had Alena on his shoulder, hitting his head like a set of drums. Teddy had his arm around Vic's shoulder who was making sure Remus paid attention instead of chatting with Neal. Indeed, the Potter's had turned out just fine and she was relieved by it. She and Harry had done a good job.
And from the back of the crowd, Ginny could see Dean, standing there quite awkward with no friends (Ron hadn't seen him yet, while the Finnigan's didn't attend and Neville was at Hogwarts). But once Ginny locked eyes with him, a understanding feeling ran through her and she smiled at him. After one month of being 100% miserable, she felt 1% at peace.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR MAYA, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!" Everyone enchanted out loud while little Maya blushed from all the attention. Ginny brought her close to the cake so she could blow the candles.
"Grandpa Harry will always love you, ok?" Ginny whispered into Maya's little ear, before placing a kiss on her cheek.
Maya turned to look at her grandmother with a big smile. "I know, Nana. He's here right now."
A/N: So, what did you think? Lots of new information, right? Well, they are quite a few people hahaha Sometimes I think I'm going to lose track about everyone, I have so many lists haha And Dean is back? What do you think of that?
I can't wait to hear from you, as always. Thanks for the loyalty! Caa xx
The Improbable Author.
P.S. What happens in Dublin, stays in Dublin, my new one-shot about the Neville's stag party, is already up, go check it out!!!
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