Birthday Surprises - Chapter One

Usual disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue. Please. Wish it were mine though. Ah, if only… Lolly, xxx.

Harry looked at the clock - it was just over a minute until he was seventeen - at last! In just over a minute, he would no longer be an underage wizard. In just over a minute, he would be able to use magic whenever he wanted to. A minute to go. He wondered briefly what he'd do about the Dursleys - should he tell them that he could use magic? Should he just ignore them totally? Thirty seconds. He might even be able to leave this infernal place forever. Ten seconds. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Ha, he thought. Despite Voldemort's wishes, he had finally reached his seventeenth birthday. He was of age.

Harry hadn't stopped grinning when there was a small bang and a flash of light. As he looked around, he spotted Fawkes, the headmaster's phoenix, standing near the foot of his bed - he had apparently brought some sort of basket. Harry walked over, peering into the basket and almost fell over in shock. There, peering back at him, were three pairs of identical bright green eyes.

"Ok - what's going on?" Harry whispered as Fawkes held out a letter.

"Thanks Fawkes. This ought to be interesting." Harry unfolded the letter, recognising the writing of Albus Dumbledore.

"Dear Harry," He read, "I realise this may be a little bit of a shock for you, but I would appreciate if you could take care of these three little ones for the rest of the summer - I'll explain everything when you come back to school. They are five weeks old. It is up to you to name them. Take good care of them, Harry. If you have any questions, send them with Fawkes. Also, I have put you on the floo network - you can contact me that way too. There is a container of floo powder in the bag, along with a list of things you need to take care of them - all you have to do is tap the item with your wand and it will be delivered immediately. The money will come from my account. Good luck." Harry looked back at the three babies uncertainly.

"Look after you? Me? This has got to be a joke." He murmured.

"Right, I have a question - why me?" He quickly wrote this on a scrap of parchment before handing it to Fawkes.

"Off you go then." He said.

Almost as soon as Fawkes had left, one of the babies began to cry. Harry looked around uncertainly before resigning himself to the fact that he would have to look after them - at least until the morning. He carefully lifted the tiny child and cradled it gently in his arms. It was a little girl. "Hmm - a name for you. What shall we call you?" He murmured. The baby had stopped crying, and was watching him with sleepy eyes. "How about…Elizabeth? No - I don't think so. Sophie? No. Oh - Eleanor. How about that? Yeah, you look like an Eleanor. Little Leah. Perfect." Harry looked down to see that baby Leah was now fast asleep, lulled by his talking. He put her gently back into the basket before picking up another of the triplets. This one was a little boy. "Hey there. I think we should call you Andrew." Harry walked over to his window, watching the darkened street. No one was awake, except from him, it seemed. He looked back at Andrew, who was silently sleeping in his arms. Questions suddenly came to mind - where were their parents? Who were their parents and why hadn't they named them themselves? He couldn't imagine giving up a child, and wondered why anyone would. Then again, maybe they were dead. Harry shivered, hoping that they weren't. He knew all too well how horrible it was to grow up without parents, and he wouldn't wish it on anyone. He placed Andrew back in the basket and watched all three babies sleep peacefully - he didn't have the heart to wake the last one up to name him, for it was another little boy. This one would be called Samuel.

Harry woke in the morning to the sound of three screaming babies. He scrambled out of bed and hurried to the basket. "Hey, shush. Please, right, erm… Are you hungry?" He picked up Sam and suddenly realised that food wasn't what they were crying for - they all needed changing. "Oh. Ugh. Right. Shall we bath you all while we're at it? Yeah - so, where's this list? Shush, I know, I'm working on it." Harry cast a fearful look at the door, before casting a silencing charm on it. He didn't want the Dursleys finding out about the kids. That was all he needed. He pulled a list from the bag that Dumbledore had sent, and ran his wand down it. "Right, we need a baby bath, some nappies, a changing mat, erm - what else? Towels, soap….." Harry ordered what he needed and it appeared immediately, as promised.

Bath time with triplets proved to be quite an experience - they were definitely a handful. Harry privately thought that the headmaster was insane to trust him with something as precious as three little lives. Still, he managed to bath all three children without major incidents, unless you counted getting absolutely soaked. He dried them carefully and redressed them. Then the owls came flying in. It seemed that the owls fascinated Leah, especially Hedwig, while the boys weren't too sure about them. Harry laughed as one-month-old Leah tried to reach for them. "Hey Hedwig. I am so glad you're here. Can you believe this? We have houseguests. Three tiny ones." Hedwig examined the contents of the basket, before turning to Harry and hooting in a reassuring sort of way. "Thanks girl. What have you got for me?" Hedwig held out her leg, which had a rather large parcel attached. It turned out to be from Hermione. Unsurprisingly, it was yet another book - one about old wizarding families. Harry eagerly flicked through it for a moment before taking the letter from the wrapping. Next was Ron's present - a packet of sugarquills and a photo of the three of them sitting in the common room, laughing and smiling. There was a note attached to that too. The next parcel came from Molly Weasley and contained a delicious-looking birthday cake and a box of fudge. A small, neatly wrapped box fell from the package and turned out to be a small silver box, engraved with his name and the Gryffindor crest. Inside were Ginny's note and five miniature sugarquills. From Hagrid he received a small dagger, which looked disconcertingly sharp, and from Dumbledore he received a chunk of some kind of crystal, which supposedly warned him when danger was coming. His last present came from Remus Lupin, and was a photo of Sirius, Harry's late godfather, with Harry's parents, Lily and James. They all looked so happy in the photo - so alive. Now all three of them were dead. Also in the package was a beautiful leather wand holder, so that Harry's wand didn't blow off his backside, he supposed. He set both photos on his desk before reading the letters that had come with the presents.

After putting his presents away, Harry went to check on the babies, and found, much to his shock, that Pig had settled down in the basket beside Leah, who was snuggling up to the tiny owl. Harry searched around for one of Dudley's cameras and immediately found one, albeit a rather bashed and broken one.

"Reparo." He muttered, before conjuring a film. He took the picture just as Leah began to wake. She watched Harry with sleepy eyes as he pulled out his cauldron to make the developing solution. He remembered Colin telling him all about how to develop photos, and for once was glad that the younger boy had been so enthusiastic about photography. All he needed was the basic potions ingredients and his wand. He quickly made the potion, setting it aside to simmer for the hour that it needed. Leah had gone back to sleep, but now Sam was wide awake and looked as if he were about to start wailing. Harry picked him up and spoke quietly to him. Sam blinked and looked around, his eyes lighting up as he saw the books piled up on the desk. "You're a book worm, huh? I don't think you'll find anything of interest there - they're all schoolbooks. Very boring. How about we look at the family book, huh?" Sam just looked at Harry, who took that as a yes. He sat down in a freshly conjured armchair and opened the book.

Harry had been reading to Sam for almost fifteen minutes when Dudley came charging into the room. Harry mentally cursed himself for not putting a lock on the door.

"What are you doing? Mum wants….." Dudley trailed off as he looked at Harry.

"What does your mother want?" Harry asked.

"You're holding a baby!" Dudley exclaimed stupidly.

"No! Really? I hadn't noticed!" Harry replied sarcastically as Sam began to howl.

"Well done Dudders." He said sharply, rocking Sam slightly and calming him before putting him back in the basket. Now Leah and Andy were awake too. "Great." He muttered, picking the other two up to calm them as well. Dudley stared.

"There are three of them? Who did you knock up? One of your freak friends?"

"Dudley, do you know what date it is today?" Harry said quietly.

"The thirty-first of July. Why?"

"Any significance to that date that you can think of?"

"No." Harry rolled his eyes. Trust the Dursleys not to remember his birthday.

"It's my birthday - my seventeenth. I'm of age in the wizarding world." He said. His words hit Dudley Dursley like a freight train -

"You mean you can use…..m…..m…….."

"Magic, yes I can. Therefore, I would advise you not to insult my friends or me. And no - I didn't 'knock up' anyone, as you so delightfully put it. I'm looking after them for the headmaster - you know, at Hogwarts. Now, what did you want?"

"Mum wants you to go to the shops."

"Typical. Tell her I'll be down in a moment." Dudley left in a hurry, thudding down the stairs and making the house quiver.

Harry slipped his wand into the holder and tied it around his waist, hidden by his well-fitting T-shirt (he had finally transfigured the old baggy clothes into clothes that actually fitted). He also slipped the crystal into his pocket. He hoped that the children would be ok alone for a few minutes - he reckoned that if he apparated, then it shouldn't take longer than five minutes. He ran down the stairs, and into the kitchen, where Petunia was waiting, her eyes narrowed. "Is it true?" She demanded.

"Is what true?"

"You've got triplets in your room."

"Yeah, it's true. I'm looking after them for the headmaster - if you have any complaints, I suggest you present them to him."

"Well you'd best hurry then - you can't leave them for long, and go expecting us to help you."

"Wouldn't dream of it." Harry whispered waspishly. He took the money that his Aunt held out for him before walking back into the hall and apparating behind the shop. The shopping took three minutes exactly, and he apparating back to Privet Drive before four minutes had passed. Dropping the shopping bags in the kitchen, he bolted up the stairs to check the children.