"Harry?" Severus called up the stairs.
Harry came trotting down to the landing coming to a stop in front of his guardian. "Yeah?"
"Happy birthday," Severus said, holding out a bag of money.
Harry took it, surprised at the weight. "What's this- a bag of gold?"
"Yes, it is," Severus confirmed. "Your Triwizard winnings."
"Oh," Harry replied with a frown, remembering more than he wished to. "I feel bad taking this. Shouldn't I give half to Cedric's family?"
"Since you both won, you both got the full winnings," Severus explained. "They have since received Cedric's."
Harry bounced the bag on his hand. "What am I going to do with this? Do you want it?" he offered.
"Certainly not. It is yours; spend it on whatever you wish," Severus said. He shot Harry a sideways look. "Within reason, of course."
Harry grinned. "No pet dragons then?"
"Those are illegal and you know it," Snape replied smartly.
"How about a dog?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "Just call over your godfather."
Harry laughed, setting the sack on the kitchen table. "I guess I'll figure out something to do with it."
"Would you like me to deposit it in your vault?" Severus offered.
Harry considered the bag. "Not just yet. I'll see if I can come up with something first," said Harry.
"Alright," Severus replied. "You ought to take that to your room and then help me clean the house. Your friends are coming in an hour."
"Okay," Harry said, gathering up his sack of money. "I'll be right back."
A few minutes later, they were in the sitting room, picking up loose envelopes and arranging the cushions on the couch. Harry was in charge of dusting and clearing the bird droppings off the windowsill. As he worked, Harry got to thinking about his birthday. He was fifteen now. It seemed somehow surreal. He felt like, with all of the crazy things that had happened over the past few years, he should be older. Either way, Harry at the right age to enjoy a party, even if it was to be supervised.
"I'm kind of surprised everyone is coming," Harry noted.
"Why would that be? They are your friends," Severus said, sorting through a stack of letters.
"Yeah but I haven't talked to them very much over the summer. Usually Hermione writes constantly, but even her letters are short these days. I feel like I don't know anything that's been going on with them," Harry said, trying to keep complaint out of his tone. He would hate to sound like the ten year old whose friends didn't play with him often enough.
"Perhaps they are just busy," Severus guessed. "I am sure it is nothing to worry about."
"Probably not," replied Harry with a shrug. He set to scraping some wax droplets off of the writing desk.
The Floo flared and Harry turned, suddenly forced to catch a little red package flying through the air at him. "Woah!" he blurted, catching it just barely on the ends of his fingertips. "Thanks for the warning, Sirius," said Harry, shooting his godfather a dark look.
"Gotta keep your wits about you, Harry," Sirius said with a wink. "Happy birthday. You drinking age yet?"
"NO," Severus replied for him.
Harry and Sirius shared a grin. Sirius flopped down on the couch. "Well? You going to open it?"
"Shouldn't we wait for the actual party?" Harry asked.
"Nah. Go on."
Harry didn't need to be told twice. He ripped off the paper to reveal a small jewelry box. His brow furrowed. He shot Sirius a look. "Don't tell me you got me jewelry."
Sirius snorted. "That wouldn't be very bada-"
"Sirius," Severus warned.
"-would it? And come on, Severus. The kid's fifteen."
Harry just rolled his eyes and opened the box. He pulled out a thick ring in some sort of gunmetal color. It was smoothly curved, sloping lines giving it an almost liquid the large, round, flat spot was engraved "JP" in an elegantly masculine script. Harry glanced up at Sirius. "What is this?"
"It was your father's. It's his seal to press in the wax and seal letters."
"Oh," Harry breathed, suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. He had somehow never considered that any of his parents' things remained. Now, thinking about it, there had to be more. The house didn't burn down when they were killed, so why did this small ring have such an effect on him? With moist eyes, he sat down on the couch and hugged Sirius. "Thank you, Sirius."
"Of course," he replied, arms tightening around Harry for a brief moment.
"Yes, yes, very touching. Are you going to help clean up, Black?" Severus asked shortly.
"Wasn't planning on it," Sirius admitted. Severus glared at him until he relented. "Alright, fine."
"Good," Severus said. "While you do that, I can give Harry my present."
"Feeling outdone, are you?" Sirius muttered spitefully.
Severus simply left the room, not deigning to reply. Harry helped clean until he returned, carrying a very similar package. "Happy birthday, Harry."
"Thanks," Harry replied, taking the package. He opened it to find another jewelry box. Glancing at Severus curiously, he lifted the lid. "Wow, thanks, Sev."
"I figured that it would not do for one of the most famous people in the Wizarding World not to have his own seal," Severus said.
Harry lifted it out gently. The ring was identical to his father's in every way, save the initials "HP". Harry's recently dried eyes had become moist again. This was something that was his, yet held the very essence of his father. It was perfect.
"Thank you," Harry repeated, stepping over to give Severus a hug.
Severus patted Harry on the back. "It was no problem."
Harry stepped back, blinking rapidly. "You guys are the best family I could ever ask for."
Harry met Severus's eyes, which were unusually soft, and knew that should he wish to, Severus could see that Harry meant that with all his heart. He gave a small smile and was surprised to find it reciprocated.
"I'll... er... see how Midgy is doing with the cake," Sirius said, edging towards the kitchen.
Harry turned his way and stopped him. "I meant you too, Sirius. Really."
Sirius gave a wry smile. "You look so much like your father, but I think that was Lily talking."
Sirius clapped his hands abruptly. "Well! Let's finish up, we've got to get some decorations up before your friends get here. And maybe Midgy will let me sample that cake..."
"This cake is excellent," Hermione commented. "Who made it?"
"Midgy," Harry replied automatically.
"Midgy?" Hermione asked curiously. "Who's that?"
Harry looked at her. He had forgotten that she had never been to his house before, being that she never had access to a Floo. Except now because, he assumed, she was staying with the Weasleys' or Malfoys' for a bit. "Our house elf."
"You have a house elf?" she asked, eyes widening.
Harry took her response to be one of envy. After all, the Weasleys, Ron in particular, often commented on how nice it must be to not have to do chores. They surely wanted a house elf. "Uh... yeah?"
"That's horrible!" Hermione exclaimed, pushing her cake away.
"What?" Harry asked in surprise. "Why?"
"They're like slaves! They are slaves! Do you pay him?" Hermione demanded.
Harry shirked back, noticing Ron and Draco watching in amusement from across the table. He shot them a quick glare before responding to Hermione. "Uh, no? I don't think she wants paid. And Midgy is a girl, by the way."
"Either way," Hermione said, glaring at the cake as if it would make a difference. "I thought that after the way your relatives treated you and after seeing Dobby, you wouldn't let something like this happen."
Harry stared at her in shock. "Let something like what happen? Midgy likes it here. We treat her just fine. Midgy!" he called.
Midgy appeared in a sparkle. Her tea towel was sparkling white, nothing like the rags that Dobby used to wear. "Yes, master?"
"You make her call you master?" Hermione said, appalled.
"No, I don't make her! She just won't stop," Harry said defensively. He turned to Midgy. "Midgy, tell Hermione honestly what you think of being here."
Midgy nodded, long ears flapping. She looked up at Hermione with huge eyes. "Midgy likes masters very much. Midgy likes to help them because masters treat Midgy very well."
"You don't want to be freed?" Hermione asked, peering at her closely.
"Midgy be freed? Where would Midgy go?"
Hermione frowned. "Wouldn't you like to be paid?"
"What would Midgy do with money? Masters give Midgy everything Midgy needs," the elf squeaked.
"Hm. Well," Hermione said, thinking that over.
"Is something wrong with Master Harry's friend's cake?" Midgy asked in concern, gaze darting between Harry and Hermione. Hermione's cake lay pushed away, nearly untouched.
"No, Midgy, it's delicious," Hermione insisted kindly. "Thank you."
"Midgy is happy."
"You can go now Midgy," Harry said. After a nod, she disappeared. Harry looked at Hermione. "Are you done overreacting now?"
Hermione looked a bit sheepish. "Yes. But just because Midgy is happy here, it doesn't mean all house elves everywhere are happy."
"Yeah, okay," Harry said, humoring her.
"Sorry," Hermione apologized. "I'll go tell the twins there's cake."
"As if they don't already know," Ron muttered. "I swear they have food sense that tingles when they're missing out."
Hermione left the room and Harry turned to his other two friends with a groan. "Thanks for helping me out there, guys."
Draco grinned. "It was fun to watch her tear into you like that."
"Yeah, Hermione doesn't do that often," Ron seconded.
"None of us do, really," Harry noted. "So what've you been up to this summer?"
Neither gave him a direct answer. Draco shrugged, saying, "Not much, really."
"Same," Ron said.
"Where's Hermione been staying that she was able to Floo over?"
"With me," both Draco and Ron said at the same time. They glanced at each other quickly, almost panicked.
Harry's brow furrowed as he looked between them. "Sorry?"
"Er, uh," Draco began. He cleared his throat. "Both Ron and Hermione are staying with me. So she's kind of staying with both of us."
"Oh," Harry commented. "I guess one more would have overloaded your house," he muttered. He knew just how large the Malfoy manor was.
Ron adopted a hurt expression. "I'm really sorry Harry, but we-"
Ron winced and Draco withdrew his elbow. Harry looked between them with a new sense of betrayal settling down on him. Had they really all gotten together without him? Didn't they want him?
"Heya, Harry!" a cheery voice said from behind.
"Ooh, is that cake?" George said, grabbing a piece.
"You just told me you had already gotten some!" Hermione complained.
"No, we didn't," George said.
"Well, he might have, but I certainly didn't," Fred said, taking a piece of his own.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Boys. Aren't they ever full?" She glanced at Harry with a quick half smile, but froze upon seeing his face. "You okay, Harry?"
"Okay as I can be having found out that my best friends don't want me around."
Hermione scowled, looking over at Draco and Ron, then back at Harry. "What?"
"Oh, nothing like you all getting together, having fun, having a blast and leaving me out of it. That certainly couldn't be it," Harry said, voice dripping with sarcasm.
The twins were eating their cake and watching this exchange like a show. Harry ignored them as the fury bubbled up in his veins.
Hermione looked to the other boys for help but none was forthcoming. "Harry, we thought you'd want to spend some time with Professor Snape. I mean you were gone-"
"I was gone from you and Ron, too," Harry pointed out smartly.
Hermione looked a bit scared. "Harry-"
"No, it's okay. I can tell when I'm not wanted," Harry snapped.
"Hey, Harry, you can come work at our joke shop!" one of the twins offered.
The offer threw a wrench in Harry's worked up temper. "You have a joke shop?"
Fred shrugged. "Well while we're talking about things that may or may not be true-"
"-your friends hating you-"
"-us having enough money to open a joke shop..." Fred finished with another half shrug. "Would be neat though, wouldn't it?"
Harry looked at them flatly. His mind flashed to the gold he had upstairs but he was hardly in a charitable mood. After all, the twins had to have known that Harry was being excluded. They could've mentioned it in an owl. "Perhaps you guys had better go," he said, eyes on the table.
"Oh, Harry-" Hermione began.
"Hermione," Draco said quietly. From the corner of his eye, Harry saw him steer her into the other room. At least that made it easier. Arguing about whether or not they should leave would have ended badly. "Bye, Harry."
"Sorry for ruining your party, mate," Ron said.
"Happy birthday," the twins chorused.
When Harry didn't respond, both Ron and the twins left the room. It wasn't their fault entirely. He had ruined his own party. What a fabulous way to spend his birthday, Harry thought bitterly.
AN: Welcome to Sparks of the Tempest, the fifth in the As it Began series! I recommend reading the others first if you are just stumbling onto this story as you will be very confused. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy writing it and please do review! I love reviews! Thanks!