Harry woke up the next morning in a cold sweat. He had a nightmare, a nightmare he hadn’t had for a longtime. A flash of green light…a woman screaming…and a cold, high pitched laugh. Harry shook the memory of his parent’s death out of his head and walked over to Teddy’s cot and cuddled his bleary-eyed godson. Harry felt a surge of happiness in his heart—Teddy maybe an orphan, but at least he would never have to relive the death of his parents. There was a knock on the door and Harry bade them to enter. Kreacher shuffled into the room and muttered a ‘happy birthday’ to Harry who smiled in return. Kreacher shoved a piece of paper in Harry’s hand and shuffled away. Harry shoved the paper into his back pocket and vowed to read it later as he began to get Teddy sorted and ready for the day. Williamson and Proudfoot had decided to give Harry, Neville and Ron the day off.
“You’ve been working hard.” Proudfoot had told them. “Take a day.” Before Ron or Harry could open their mouths to protest, Neville stood up.
“Every day we take off is a day they aren’t being caught.”
“I admire your gall Longbottom.” Proudfoot said scornfully. “But you hardly ever leave. Go home.”
Neville had been rather huff-y about the whole thing but the three former Gryffindor’s had since learned not to fight with their superior on the smaller aspects of their jobs.
After Teddy was dressed and fed, Harry pulled the crumpled up parchment out of his pocket. It was a note from Ron.
Mum heard about the day off. She wants you and Teddy here as soon as possible. She’s going mental. Come quickly. Bring your broom. Everyone says Hello.
Harry chuckled at his best friend, but began to gather the things Teddy would need at the Burrow. It took him considerably longer to get himself ready, although whether this was due to the state of Sirius’s room that Kreacher refused to clean or the fact that he wasn’t use to going anywhere with a baby, he wasn’t sure. While Harry was digging around the room for his wand (he was sure he set it down on the table just a minute ago) Teddy entertained both of them by changing his hair into several bright colors. It took Harry several minutes to find it wand(Teddy had somehow acquired it), but when he did he shoved it in his back pocket, picked Teddy up from off of Sirius’s bed and jogged down into the kitchen. He took a small amount of green powder from a box on the mantelpiece and threw it into the fire. He covered Teddy’s head with his hand and held him close. The last thing he wanted to happen whilst travelling by Floo was to have Teddy’s head hit against the various fireplaces and chimneys in the Wizarding world. Harry and Teddy stopped spinning.
Harry emerged from the Burrow’s fireplace sputtering and spitting ash. He was clapped on the back rather roughly by George Weasley.
“Alright Harry?” George asked. Harry was prepared, but there was still a twitching feeling in this stomach when he saw the gaping hole on the side of George’s head.
“Alright.” Harry responded brushing ash out of Teddy’s fine hair. “How’s the joke shop?”
“Never been better.” George grinned. “In fact---“
What George was planning to tell Harry about the success of Weasley Wizard Wheezes was cut short as Mrs. Weasley came bustling into the kitchen.
“Oh. Look at the two of you!” She cried, sweeping Harry and Teddy into a hug. When she pulled back Harry saw there were tears in her eyes. She continued to fuss over them; telling Harry that he still wasn’t eating enough and that Teddy had grown so much in such a short time. Harry smiled graciously and took it in stride. It was nice to have someone who cared for him.
“Charlie’s back in Romania, of course. But Ron took Hermione and Ginny into the orchard. I can take him for you.” Mrs. Weasley flitted back and forth from pot to pan before holding her arms out to grab Teddy.
“Thanks Mrs. Weasley.” Harry said handing Teddy over. He grabbed him broom and bade George goodbye before heading out the Burrow’s front door and over to the orchard where the Weasley children played Quidditch during the summer. He heard their voices before he saw them.
“Ron! No!” Hermione shouted. Harry looked up from behind one of the trees to find Ron struggling to hold a bludger.
“It’s not going to hurt us.” Ron said. “You have the bat. You’ll be fine.”
“She’s never played before.” He heard Ginny say. “You should let her be a chaser. Or a seeker.”
“I’ll do that thanks.” Harry said showing himself to the group. Hermione squealed and nearly fell off of her broom trying to get to him. She landed on the ground with a loud thud and rushed to Harry nearly talking him as she pulled him into a hug. Ron was next, clapping Harry on the shoulder with a large grin on his face. Ginny hugged his last; wrapping her arms around his next. He breathed in her scent; his fingers tangled themselves in her hair. He never wanted to let go. Before he knew it Ginny was kissing him and he was kissing her back. The kiss seemed to last forever, Harry relished in the way that Ginny’s lips fit in his, the way they tasted…the way she pressed her body into him.
Ron cleared his throat.
Harry broke the kiss and took a few steps backward. His face turned red and he grinned at Ron sheepishly. Ginny, was not as embarrassed at Harry was and she didn’t feel back telling Ron off.
“Don’t start!” She snapped. “I’ve seen you with Hermione. Around every corner, at all hours, never a peaceful moment.” Harry raised his eyebrows at Hermione to confirm if what Ginny was saying was true. Hermione turned a delicate shade of pink and buried her head in Ron’s shoulder. Ron was an awful shade of red and appeared to be almost shaking.
“Are we going to play?” Harry asked awkwardly. Ron made rude hand gesture that Harry laughed off as he mounted his broom. Hermione, as it turned out, was a horrendous beater. Ginny chased the lone Quaffle around the makeshift pitch and time and time again scored against Ron who began increasing flustered. Harry kept his eye on the golden snitch that was fluttering around all of them. He could have caught it immediately and ended the game but he liked watching his friends play. Laughing at the way Hermione cringed and wildly swung the bat every time the bludger was anywhere close to her. Laughing at the way Ginny made fun of the increasingly flustered Ron when he missed a save.
“The good thing about you leaving Hogwarts,” Ginny said. “Is that you’ll never have to be Keeper again.” Ron was not impressed and used a tree branch to hit the bludger in Ginny’s general direction. After nearly an hour of play; Hermione, who was less than confident in her flying abilities, was begging Harry to hurry up and catch the snitch.
“Harry please.” She pleaded swinging her arm wildly to discourage the near-by bludger from getting closer to her. Harry obliged and dove toward the ground at top speed. He pulled out of the dive, the snitch struggling against his fingers. Hermione cheered and swooped toward the ground, glad to be out of the air and on the solid ground where she felt she belonged. Ron came down soon after and leaving Ginny and Harry alone in the air.
“We’ll be going now.” Hermione called. Ron opened his mouth to object, but Hermione jabbed the end of her broom into his stomach and dragged him out of the orchard before he recovered his ability to breath.
“So.” Harry said, but before he could say anything else Ginny had already flown toward him. There brooms were side by side in the air. She reached out her hand and he grabbed it, intertwining his fingers with hers.
“You never come round anymore.” Ginny breathed.
“Sorry.” Harry said lamely. Ginny gave a sort of half-chuckle.
“With the Horcruxes. That was one thing. But now, you’ve all the time in the world.”
“Sorry.” He repeated lamely.
“You should let people help you.” Ginny said after a moment’s silence. “With Teddy. With the Aurors. The world doesn’t sit on your shoulders. Not anymore at least.”
Harry chuckled. “I guess it hadn’t crossed my mind.”
Ginny leaned in a close as her broom would allow. He could smell the flowery scent of her shampoo. They were so close together. She leaned in, her lips brushed his and Harry was overcome with a sense of happiness. Their lips broke apart for a millisecond.
“Happy birthday Harry.” She whispered.
“Thanks.” He grinned against her lips and gave her another kiss.
They sat in the orchard for a long time. Kissing each other, revealing in the feeling of each other. They had abandoned their brooms in favor of lying down in the sweet smelling grass. Harry and Ginny held hands as they watched the clouds in the sky.
“OI!” They heard Ron yell through the trees. “Are you two done snogging yet?”
“Ron!” They heard Hermione scold. Harry got to his feet with a groaned and extended his hand to Ginny, who waved it off and hoisted herself up off of the ground.
“Are you decent?” Ron yelled, pushing his way through the trees. Hermione hurried into the clearing after him, cursing him under her breath.
“Nothing happened.” Harry found himself saying as his cheeks grew hot. Ginny raised an eyebrow coolly at him. Ron snorted.
“Alright. Mum’s asking for the two of you.” Ron said. “I think she feels bad your birthday got ruined last year. Anyway, Neville’s shown up and George is getting restless.”
“Restless?” Harry asked, picking his Firebolt up out of the grass and slinging it over his shoulders. Ginny followed suit.
“Sometimes…he gets bored. Tries out things for the joke shop. On anyone nearby.” She said following Harry out of the clearing.
“He’s just not used to running it by himself. Running a business if difficult and he used to have a partner.” Hermione said. Harry rolled his eyes so Hermione couldn’t see.
“Or maybe” Ron said. “He just wants to try out his new inventions.” They reached the Burrow door. Harry and Ginny tried in vain to scrape the mud off of their shoes; when they couldn’t they entered the Burrow anyway and propped their brooms up in a corner of the kitchen. Ron nearly dragged Harry into his room. Harry stumbled across Ron’s littered floor and onto his bed. Ron slammed the door.
“What are you playing at?” Ron asked. He didn’t sound particularly upset with Harry but there was an edge in his voice that Harry wasn’t used to.
“What are you talking about?” Harry replied. He knew what Ron was talking about but he yearned to avoid the subject for as long as humanly possible.
“What are you doing with Ginny?” Ron asked. “After last time Harry, you better nor be messing around with her.”
“I’m not doing anything!” Harry insisted. After a long pause he said “We’re back together.”
“We’re dating. Again. We decided the day after the Battle. I—we didn’t want to tell anyone.”
“It’s bad enough being paraded around. I don’t need to drag her into that.” Harry said, standing up. “Are we done?”
Ron stood too. “I just don’t want her getting hurt.”
“Well that’s one thing settled.” Harry said as he walked down the Burrows many rickety steps.
“What’s that?” Ron asked as he followed Harry down the stairs
“Hermione’s wrong. You haven’t got the emotional range of a teaspoon.” Harry laughed as Ron gave him a hard shove down the stairs.
That night at the Burrow was one of the happiest nights in Harry’s recent memory. Mrs. Weasley presented Harry with a freshly bathed Teddy and a giant cake shaped like a snitch nearly identical to the one she had baked him for this birthday last year. She had made Neville a cake as well, shaped like a mandrake. At some point Hermione or Ron must have mentioned how much Neville liked Herbology. After a rousing, out of pitch chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ Harry and Neville were both presented with a pile of presents. Harry looked around the table. At the head was Mr. Weasley; smiling as he chatted with his wife and Neville’s grandmother Augusta. Next to Mrs. Weasley was George and Percy who weren’t talking to each other but enjoying a comfortable silence. Then came Ginny and Harry, Luna and Neville and Ron and Hermione. Harry couldn’t remember the last time he had been surrounded by so many people he cared for.
“I’m sorry I’m late.” Said a voice form the gate. Andromeda Black came gliding toward the table; two small packages in her hands. She gave one to Harry and one to Neville before snatching Teddy out of Harry’s lap and going to talk with Mrs. Weasley.
The group sat and chatted in the Weasley’s yard until around midnight when George, aided by Ron, set off a spectacular fireworks display straight from the newest line of Weasley Wizard Wheezes products. Harry, feeling rather drowsy and fully fed, was offered a bed in Ginny’s room which he graciously accepted. Andromeda decided to take Teddy back to her house. As he lay on his back, Harry couldn’t help but think that his eighteenth birthday was one of the best birthdays he had ever had.