Harry Potter’s day began very unexpectedly quiet. That may have been due to the fact that as he woke up, the rest of his family was still fast asleep. This was an unexpected thing in itself, because usually Albus or Lily were the first to wake up, storm into their bedroom and shout about getting up, playing Quidditch or Gobstone and meeting Hugo and Rose.
He got up and dressed slowly and silently trying not to wake Ginny who was still sleeping in their bed. It was a nice day, slightly sunny. The sky was still a shade of bright pink and mild air brushed his face as he left the house for the ministry after a short breakfast. He liked these quiet days, he had had almost enough trouble for the rest of his life and being head of the auror office provided him with just the right amount of it to keep him busy.
Just as he appeared in the Atrium of the ministry still calming the feeling that he had been squeezed through a tube while apparating (which he would probably never get used to), people ran to him, shook his hand and congratulated him. A single look to the side and he saw his own face like it looked now changing into his seventeen-years old face and back. The headline of the daily prophet was displayed in big black letters above the picture: The boy who lived 35 years.
It wasn’t like he hadn’t expected something like that, but it was unnerving anyway. The people at the ministry and on the streets left him alone most of the time. Some stared at him and occasionally some would come up to him, greet him or ask a question. He could live with that. But it seemed like all the wizards and witches only waited for a special occasion, for an opportunity to drag him back into the spotlight. And his birthday was the perfect opportunity every year.
People would come to him, congratulate him, try to have a chat about nothing with him, get him to give an interview as if he hadn’t already told the story about his defeat of Voldemort a hundred more times than he wanted to. And that being not enough some would send owls (meaning even more owls than he got everyday anyway) or try to get a hand on one of his family members (which were, considering his familiar bonds with the Weasley family, not that few).
The thing was if they really wanted to give him a present, they should just treat him normally. There was no gift he would have been gladder about to receive than one year not standing in the spotlight again, just because it was his birthday and he was still the boy who lived.
He managed to make his way out of the crowd surrounding him and over to the golden gates behind which the lifts were located. Just as he was about to enter one of the emptier ones he heard a familiar voice calling his name.
Hermione Granger ran up to him with a friendly smile on her face. When she reached him, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “Happy Birthday!” she said happily.
Harry smiled warily. “Thanks”, he mumbled.
“How are you? Have you seen the reporters and the article?” she asked and he noticed the daily prophet rolled-up under her arm.
“I’m good, not that I’m not used to big crowds” he replied while the voice of the lift announced the Department of Magical Games and Sports. “And that article… Haven’t read it, but – well, business as usual. It’s always the same I’ll just ignore it and pretend I haven’t seen it.”
“You do that every year, nobody can tell me people actually believe that.” But Harry didn’t care if people believed it or not, he just wanted them to leave him alone and the day to pass as smoothly as possible. “Oh you know that reminds me – will there be a party at the burrow today?”
Harry turned his head and looked at her with big eyes. Party at the burrow? Nobody had told him anything of that. He had thought he would go to work, come home in the afternoon and have some cake with Ginny and the kids and maybe Ron and Hermione.
“At the burrow? I don’t think… Nobody told me anything.” He said.
“Oh I’m pretty sure that Molly mentioned it last Sunday. She said because 35 is such a great age and you haven’t celebrated properly since your twentieth.” Hermione seemed to be very happy with that idea.
“And why haven’t any of you asked me if I wanted a party?”
“Oh Harry! Because we knew you would’ve never said yes. But if you’re honest with yourself you must admit that you like a small party with the whole family. It will be nice.”
The lift’s voice announced Department of Magical Law Enforcement and they both stepped out. Hermione was right. He liked the parties at the burrow and he actually liked his birthday as well. He just didn’t like the whole wizarding world making a fuss about it.
“Yes, maybe you’re right” he said and Hermione beamed.
He spent most of his day in an old house in Bristol, where they had detected the use of dark curses and caught three young men which turned out to be some kind of neo pure blood supremacists. And additionally they were very rude. One of them tried to fight them even when they had already taken away his wand and Harry had needed to use the Incarceros Spell on him and fix his own broken nose from the punch of the young man.
The rest of the time he spent in his office, working through long overdue reports and talking to Dean Thomas who had joined the Auror office rather late, but brought a familiar face and a nice change for Harry.
In the afternoon he left the ministry packed with birthday cards and pralines which fell to the ground when Lily, Albus and James threw themselves onto him as soon as he had entered their house.
“I said no running on the stairs how often have I told you that?” Ginny entered the floor coming out of the kitchen. “And James, you’re not going anywhere until you’ve cleaned your room – no need to look at me like that; I already told you on Tuesday, you had plenty of time.” She went over to Harry and kissed him softly. The children looked away pointedly disgusted. “Hey, Honey. More cards?”
With a wave of her wand the cards and praline boxes lifted themselves from the ground and flew over to a table in the corner of the living room where more letters and boxes were already piled.
“A few” Harry grinned and lifted Lily up in his arms.
“Happy Birthday, Daddy!” she said and hugged his neck so tightly that breathing became harder. “Yes Happy Birthday, Dad” said Albus and James at once.
“Dad, can we go to the burrow now? Teddy will be there” James said, but Ginny answered before Harry could open his mouth.
“You go and clean your room, young man, before you even think of going anywhere else!”
“Now” Ginny said sternly and surprisingly resembled Molly Weasley. James groaned, but climbed up the stairs.
“Very nice of you to tell me there was a party planned at the burrow, darling” Harry said ironically.
“I see you’ve heard of it already” Ginny grinned.
“Yes, I met Hermione this morning.”
“Well then you know of it.”
“You could have told me earlier.”
“What’s life without a little surprise?” Her grin even widened as she took Lily from Harry. “And you go get changed.”
“The new dress, Mummy?” she asked as Lily put her back down on the ground. “If you want to” answered Ginny and Lily smiled. “Yes!” She ran up the stairs as well.
It took them all another half an hour to get ready, especially James who couldn’t find his Chocolate Frog Scrapbook which he wanted to show Teddy and was forced by Ginny to clean his room so that at least she could walk through it without constantly stepping onto little moving figures, magazines and litter. Albus then forgot the card game Louis had lent him and they all had to wait for him to get it just as they all finally stood in front of the fire place.
They were almost the last to arrive at the burrow, because when Harry looked around he saw a whole bunch of red heads. He saw Hermione discussing something with Bill and Percy at the end of a long table in the garden. Hugo, Louis, Lucy and Roxanne played hide and seek. Molly and Dominique sat under a tree with their noses behind a magazine. Fred, his father George, Ron and Arthur stood around an obviously charmed microwave in front of Arthur’s shed. Teddy Lupin, today with turquoise hair (his favourite colour) sat in a corner, snuggled up with Victoire, while Rose sat in the middle of Angelina, Audrey and (to his utter surprise) Professor McGonagall and looked rather bored by their fierce discussion about Quidditch and Fleur and Mrs Weasley were in the kitchen singing loudly to the newest single of Christina Warbeck on the radio.
“Grandma!” Lily cried out and before Molly could turn around completely Lily hugged her tightly. “Oh that was about time” Molly said and stroked Lily’s hair. “It’s so good to see you all! James, Albus – Merlin your hair, just like yours, Harry – oh happy birthday, dear!” She kissed them all and at the first opportunity James and Albus ran off to their cousins. Lily stayed with Fleur and Molly in the kitchen and Ginny and Harry were glad that the three of them were occupied while they went to greet the others.
After another fifteen minutes Neville and Hannah Longbottom with Luna Scamander in tow had arrived and taken a seat next to Harry and Ginny, Kingsley Shacklebolt had apparated directly beside Arthur so that the microwave had been startled and bit him. Hagrid had been the last to arrive and had brought a big hard cake with him.
When everybody had arrived, Molly followed by Lily and Fleur came out into the garden and almost screamed at them so that all conversations slowly died down.
“Now that all of you are here I think it’s time to sing!” She smiled at all of them. The children were up for it instantly and so was Hagrid, the rest of them either liked to sing or hated it, but they managed a two minute birthday song and Harry just had to smile as he looked into all these familiar faces.
After that a big table packed with wrapped up boxes of all seizes appeared and Albus and Teddy pulled him onto his feet and pushed him over to the table.
The first present was rather big and neatly wrapped in dark green paper. As he opened it he saw the newest Helbit’s advanced Broom Care Set and his eyes got big. That was one of the greatest presents he had got in a long time and he felt incredibly thankful. He looked for a name on the paper until he noticed a little card.
I thought you might not have given up on that
Congratulations, Potter. – Minerva McGonagall
He looked over to McGonagall and smiled. “Wow – I – thank you!” She waved her hand and replied. “You’re welcome.”
The next gift was from Ron and Hermione. It was a big box of Bertie Botts Beans and a book called Ridicule of the Dark Arts. Angelina and Fred gave him a Portable Room Balloon, one of the newest inventions of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Neville, Hannah and Luna gave him a rainbow coloured plant, Kingsley a Sneakoscope. Percy, Audrey, Bill and Fleur had bought him a new helmet and riding suit for Sirius’ old motor bike. Hagrid gave him a little hairy ball which breathed loudly, smelled badly and sometimes showed four little legs on which it tried to run away. He said he had bred it himself. Molly and Arthur had made him a big broom shaped cake and gave him the book The Greatest Wizards and their Opponents.
All of the children had either drawn him something or gave him sweets, except for Teddy, who – with a big grin – put a cap onto his head on which in bright colour changing letters was written: best chosen godfather and on the backside since Sirius Black.
All of them laughed very hard at this one, although Harry’s smile had some kind of nostalgic sadness to it, which he could see mirrored as he looked at McGonagall. But Ron and James made him wear the cap all day and he soon forgot about it.
They spent the afternoon sitting around the big round table in the garden, chatting and eating broom shaped cream cake and the most delicious Corned Beef and pumpkin pie. The children got their hands on a packet of chocolate frogs and had great fun chasing the frogs through the garden (sometimes the gnomes caught and stole them) and trading the cards.
“Oh look! I’ve got Snape!” exclaimed James and looked at the card fascinated. The others leaned towards him. “He’s the only one I needed to complete my Order of the Phoenix special Edition. But he’s so rare, it took me ages!” His eyes twinkled and the other children watched him curiously. “Come on now, read it!” demanded Rose.
“Okay: Member of the Order of the Phoenix: Severus Snape, former Potionsmaster and Headmaster of Hogwarts. He died during the famous battle of Hogwarts in 1998 and was afterwards revealed as a double agent for Albus Dumbledore. Although many doubted his loyalties during the Second Wizard War he played a very important role in the defeat of Lord Voldemort. He was a former Death-eater and is considered one of the most frightening teachers of Hogwarts. After his death he was awarded with the Order of Merlin first class for distinguished services during the war.” James looked up, not only the children had been listening.
Harry met Albus’ eyes. He seemed uncertain what he should think about the man he was named after and Harry smiled at him reassuringly. He had forgiven Snape. He may not have been the best man or the best teacher, but he did everything he could to save him. He was brave enough to do it and he gave his life for Harry’s. Maybe not because of him, but because of his mother and that was enough for him. It had took him some time to come to terms with everything he had learned about Snape, but in the end he had forgiven him for only seeing his father in Harry.
“That’s so cool!” breathed Hugo who just held the card. “Can I see?” asked Harry and Hugo handed him the card. Snape, like Harry had always known him, stared grumpily at him and folded his arms over his chest as he saw him. Harry smiled and looked at Ron next to him. “Some things won’t change, will they?” he muttered and grinned at Harry.
“Can I have it back, Dad? – Hey Al, who do you have?” James took the card from Harry.
Albus looked at his card while Fred caught the chocolate frog and shoved it into his mouth. “Dumbledore.” He said quietly.
“Oh I’ve got him five times already!” said Roxanne. “Me too!” exclaimed Louis and Teddy – grinning - said: “I’ve got him fourteen times.” All of the children grumbled, only Victoire laughed.
“Go ‘head, boy. Read.” Angelina said.
“Albus Dumbledore, former Headmaster of Hogwarts. Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the Dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. He also founded the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation fighting Lord Voldemort during the first and second Wizard War and died summer 1997. He is the only headmaster ever buried on the grounds of Hogwarts, due to being considered the greatest Headmaster Hogwarts has ever seen.” Again Albus looked at Harry, but this time he smiled.
“I always thought Voldemort was the greatest wizard of modern times” said Rose. “Dark, but great.” Harry, Ron and Hermione opened their mouths at the same time, but someone else was faster.
“Albus Dumbledore was the greatest of all wizards! Don’ let anyone tell you any other thing! He was the best Hogwarts ever had an’ he was the kindes’ person as well, I mus’ know!” It was Hagrid. His voice was so loud and he so big that all eyes lay upon him, but he didn’t even turn red. There was a short pause. “Well, I couldn’t have said it better, Hagrid” said McGonagall and raised her glass. And Harry felt like there was nothing more to say to that.
“Hey Teddy, look who I’ve got!” said Lucy and handed him her card. For a second grief flashed over Teddy’s face, but soon he smiled brightly. And read with a loud voice: “Member of the Order of the Phoenix: Remus Lupin, former defense against the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts. He died during the famous battle of Hogwarts in 1998. After his death he was awarded with the Order of Merlin first class for distinguished services during the war and hence was the first werewolf ever to be accorded this honour. He was a close friend of the famous Harry Potter and later married Nymphadora Tonks. His life is considered an example for all werewolves and initiated the Pro-Werewolf movement after the war.” Teddy looked up proudly at all of them.
“You see? That is Dad, brilliant, isn’t he?” Probably he didn’t notice, but his hair had turned into a sandy blonde and Harry could see in the other’s faces that he was not the only one who thought that Ted Lupin incredibly resembled his father. “Brillant, indeed!” said Bill and Harry raised his glass, so did Kingsley. Teddy’s smile shortly became sad again, but he raised his glass as well.
The rest of the afternoon they spent with the chocolate frog cards and Quidditch and Harry felt as comfortable as he hadn’t in a long time. He looked around and saw his family and friends, happy and safe and that was the best gift anyone could have ever given him.
When the sun set and half of the guests had already gone home, Arthur approached him. “Harry, I wanted to ask you something – see I’ve got this Muggle Newspaper and here” he fiddled with the paper. “Here it says: The Chosen ones: Wizards and witches celebrate Harry Potter and JK Rowling's birthday – why do the Muggles celebrate your birthday?”
Harry took a quick look at the newspaper and shrugged. “Must be a different Harry Potter… Look, she is an author – probably one of her characters.”