Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I just like to play with the brilliant characters

Lessons in Life, Love, and Betrayal

Harry Potter sat in his bedroom in Number Four Privet Drive smiling sadly to himself. He was looking through a photo album that had once been given to him as a gift. His parents were smiling up at him on their wedding day. The best man and Harry's godfather, Sirius, was laughing gleefully. A single tear rolled down his cheek. They were all dead now. He was alone. He had almost his entire life to deal with his parent's death, but Sirius' was still a fresh wound. He felt so many conflicting emotions every time he thought of Sirius: happiness, anger, guilt, frustration. His normal way of dealing with matters of the heart was to completely close himself off, but this time his friends had not allowed him to. In fact, despite all of his feelings regarding Sirius' death, this had to be the best summer of his entire life. He spent most of his time at his neighbor, Mrs. Figg's, house. She was a squib, but it wasn't her company that had been keeping Harry happy. His friends had been coming to visit him via the Floo Network. In addition, the headmaster of his school, Professor Dumbledore, was coming by twice a week to teach Harry Occlumency. Harry was now very good at closing off his mind, and he was no longer being haunted by visions in his dreams.

Harry looked up from his album just in time to see the clock change from 11:59 PM to 12:00 AM. It was his birthday. He was 16 and about to start his sixth year at Hogwarts. The last few years this would have meant the arrival of several owls baring presents, but not his year. He was actually going to have a real birthday party for the first time ever. Harry put up his album and turned out the light. He rolled over in his bed, barely able to keep his eyes closed in anticipation.

When Harry work up the next morning he hopped out of bed and got dressed as quickly as he could. He ran downstairs and out the door, not even acknowledging his aunt, uncle, and cousin eating breakfast in the kitchen. After all, if they didn't remember his birthday, why should he waste his time with them? Harry ran down the street, trying to ignore the two aurors who discreetly followed him every time he left the house. After Dumbledore had revealed to him at the end of last term that he would either have to kill Lord Voldemort or be killed by him, he understood why the guard was necessary. It just made it that much harder for him to ignore his dreadful fate. Harry had made the decision not to tell any of his friends about the prophecy that had determined his fate, instead choosing to bare the burden on his own.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!" a crowd of people erupted as Harry opened Mrs. Figg's door. Harry knew his friends were coming, but he had never expected this. The room was filled with balloons and a giant banner. He saw his best friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, as well as Ron's younger sister Ginny and older twin brothers Fred and George. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley stood towards the back of the crowd, along with Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Bill Weasley, Tonks, Mad-eye Moody, and Kingsley. Harry's fellow students Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood were also there as well. Harry was trapped against the door as all of his friends tried to hold him in a hug. He finally managed to give himself some space and squeaked out the word, "Thanks," still overcome by his party.

"Oh Harry it's so good to see you!" Hermione squealed. "Sheesh, it's only been a week," Ron scoffed at her.

"Well it's good to see you all the same," Hermione said, which Harry interpreted as good to see you happy and smiling. "You should see the cake Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, Luna, and I made. We tried to get Ron and Neville to help but they wouldn't have any part of it." Hermione shot Ron a look.

"Ignore her. Wait until you see what I got you, mate!" Ron seemed so excited Harry would have sworn that it was Ron who was receiving the gift.

"I'm sure it's all great... hey guys!" said to Neville, Luna, and Ginny. "How's everyone?" Harry was glad to be with all five of his friends again. He felt a bond with them after their journey to the Ministry of Magic. He felt like they all seemed to have grown up a great deal over the summer.

"As good as can be expected," Luna said dreamily. "Except for Ginny of course. She's just been dumped again." Ginny shot Luna a look that could kill, but Luna didn't even seem to notice.

"Eh, it's his loss," Ginny said regaining her composure. "We never really got to see each other."

"Well I think you're too young to be dating," Ron said happily. Ginny shot another look, this time aimed at Ron.

"Just because no girls fancy you—"she was cut off when she saw her mother approaching out of the corner of her eye. "Oh Ron, don't be sad, I'm sure the right girl is out there somewhere!" She patted him on the back consolingly and Ron's face when red with anger.

"Happy birthday Harry dear!" Mrs. Weasley said pulling him to a tight, motherly embrace. "We've all been so worried about out lately." Now it was Harry whose face was red.


"Harry, you've got to see our latest experiments," Fred called, dragging him away.

The rest of the party continued in the fashion; Harry would try and find time talking with each of his guests, and before long someone else would always drag him away. The party, like the summer, has been most uneventful except for two occasions. The first had been when Fred and George had slipped Harry a bag that appeared empty. They then told him quietly not to open it there. The second had been when Lupin had given Harry a small package and the same instructions. Finally, the sun had set, and Harry found himself sitting in the midst of a mess with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny.

"Harry, I hope this party was fun for you," Hermione said.

"Well seeing how it's the only birthday party I've ever had it was great."

"What!?!" all three shouted together.

"Well the Dursleys don't actually recognize my birthday, or any other holiday with me for that matter."

"Oh Harry, I'm so sorry," Hermione said, "I always forget how awful those people are."

"Don't be," Harry said reassuringly, "My first birthday cards were from you guys, so my first party might as well be too!"

"Did you like what Fred and George gave you?" Ginny asked curiously.

"Why do you know what they got him and I don't?" Ron said getting angry.

"Well they didn't want to get the ittle prefect in trouble," Ginny replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Well no," Harry said putting an end to the argument, "they told me not to open it here."

"Oh, that was just so Mum wouldn't find out."

'Well, she's busy cleaning now, Harry, open it!" Ron said excitedly. Hermione looked on nervously, you never knew what to expect when the Weasley twins were involved. Harry grabbed the bag and looked inside.

"There's nothing in here!" he said, surprised.

"No, no, no. You have to reach inside." Harry stuck his hand in the bag, surprised at how deep it was. He felt a bottle, grabbed hold of it and pulled it out. When he saw what it was, his face turned pink and he tried to shove it back in the bag, but it would no longer fit. He looked at Ginny helplessly.

"Oh give it to me," she said laughing at Harry's state of panic while Ron and Hermione looked on curiously. She took the bottle and slipped it inside her backpack. "Fred and George charmed the bag so it supplies Firewhiskey. They got the idea from muggle magicians. The charm only lasts a month though, so you'll have to use it while you can." Hermione looked worried, Harry looked embarrassed, and Ron looked like he was about to explode.... And he did.

"Why do you know about this and not me? Have they given you Firewhiskey before? And why did they give this to Harry and not their own brother?"

"Shut up Ron!" Harry and Ginny hissed at the same time. "Mum's still in the house you know," Ginny said furiously. "As for why I know, I go to visit the twins, I work in their shop, and I'm not a prefect." As she said her last reason she flashed a mischievous grin. "As for Harry, well you'll have to ask them yourself, but I'm sure he won't object to sharing, since the supply is unlimited for a month."

"But you're too young to have Firewhiskey," Ron whined.

"We all are," Hermione said in a disapproving tone.

"But I have and you all can too, that is only if you want to." Harry was the only one who was quiet during this exchange. He looked at Ginny in awe. He'd always just seen her as the youngest Weasley, but now she seemed mature, very grown up. At the moment, much more so than Ron, who was still whining.

"Okay, so it's my bag, right?" Harry said, pausing until the other three nodded silently. "So what to do with it is my decision, right?" Again, they nodded. "Well I've decided that right now is neither the time nor place to use or discuss it." Harry's tone was firm, and the others knew to drop the topic. "So Ginny, how long have you been working for the twins?"

"All summer. They needed the help, and I don't think any Weasley could ever turn down some extra pocket money. It's nice to have some money of my own."

"That's very smart of you," Hermione said. "You should save it. Start a vault at Gringotts."

"Or I could spend it all pampering myself, like I've already started doing." Ginny flashed an innocent smile and batted her eyelashes. Ron and Hermione both looked ready to argue with her when Mrs. Weasley walked into the room.

"I'm afraid Mrs. Figg is kicking us out. She's ready for bed. Harry, Tonks and Alastor will walk you back to your house." Harry hugged all of his remaining friends and gathered his things. When he arrived home, the Dursley's looked at him nervously, noticing all of his presents. Harry ignored them again, determined not to let his only living relatives ruin his best birthday ever.

Harry dropped all of his bags and collapsed on his bed smiling. He closed his eyes and tried to relive every moment of his party. He thought of the box of fireworks Ron had given him. The book of Defense spells Hermione had given him. Ginny putting Ron in his place. He couldn't help but laugh out loud when he thought of Ron crying like a baby while Ginny egged him on. She was more like Fred and George than Harry had ever realized. He then though about the package Lupin had given him. Harry sat straight up in bed. He hadn't opened the package!

Harry searched the floor through his presents and found the small package from Lupin. Harry tore off the plain white paper, and a small green notebook fell out, along with three letters. Harry looked and saw his name engraved on the front of what appeared to be a journal.

"A journal is the last thing I would ever expect anyone to give me, all things considered," Harry thought out loud remembering his second year. He carelessly tossed the journal into his open trunk and turned his attention to the three letters, wondering which one to open first. He then noticed that one of the letters was labeled, 'Open First.' "Duh," he thought. He quickly opened the letter and recognized Lupin's small, neat handwriting.

Dear Harry,

Happy 16th Birthday! I wanted to tell you that Professor Dumbledore has asked me to come back to Hogwarts to work with you privately. He wants you to be as prepared as possible for when you have to face then inevitable. I hope that's okay. I'm sorry I haven't been there for you this summer as much as I which I could have been. I know you've been going through a lot this summer, trust me, I've been going through it too. I hope you're doing okay. I really want to sit down and talk to you about everything after we're back at Hogwarts.
(Harry groaned at the thought of talking about his emotions.) Now to your present. Enclosed are two additional letters: one is from your parents, and the other is from Sirius. They all knew they were living in a time of war, and wanted to be prepared if anything ever happened to them. The journal is from Sirius, something he had done last spring. I'm sure he explains it better himself in his letter. If you ever need anything Harry, anything at all, don't hesitate to ask. I'm here for you.

Love, Moony

Harry reread the letter several time. He wondered why he hadn't gotten the letter from his parents sooner. "I'm sure they thought that I wasn't grown up enough to hear from my dead parents yet," he thought gloomily. Harry held the two letters in his hand, neither was marked, and Harry wasn't sure which letter he would want to read first if he knew which one was which. Harry slowly pulled open one of the letters. He saw a delicate feminine writing. Without having even read a word, Harry knew it was from his mother. He felt tears fill his eyes as he started to read the letter.

Dear Harry,

Happy 16th birthday, darling. If you're reading this, it means that your father and I are gone. I'm so sorry we're not there for you. The life we chose is an honorable, but dangerous, one. We were fully aware of what we were getting ourselves into, however, we never realized the impact it would have on you. I'm so sorry that your destiny is intertwined with one so evil. You have to know that I'd give my life a thousand times before I'd ever let anything happen to you. If I could, I would fight all of your battles for you, but that is no way to grow up, cowering in the shadows, fearing for your life. There are so many things I wanted to teach you, to share with you. I know that you will have to face many dark things in your life, much sooner than I would have ever wanted. Which is why you have to fill your life with as many light, wonderful things as possible.
Love, Harry. You have to learn how to love. Love with all your heart. Give your love openly, freely, and to as many people as possible. Love is the greatest gift, being given and received. No matter what may fall before you, you have to love. And keep loving.
Harry, I'm not going to pretend you don't carry a large burden. Much more than anyone your age should have to. You have to learn to live your life despite that. You have to learn not to blame yourself for the things that happen around you. Guilt is not healthy. The things Voldemort does are beyond your control. You have to accept that. Eventually, you will have to face him. But enjoy your youth. Take everyday as it comes. Don't shut out the people who care about you. Learn as much as you can, be prepared, but please, be a kid. Make mistakes. Take chances. Break a few rules. Always, always, know that you are loved. Find someone to share your love with. That is your greatest gift, your strongest power. I love you.


It was as if she knew every thought that had ever crossed his mind. Every fear he had ever had. He wished he could have known her, now more than ever. It was obvious that she had been wise to instruct not to give him the letter any sooner, he could barely handle it now. Despite the fact that he was crying, he felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. It was like he had permission to live a normal life. He wanted a normal life. Harry smiled. He was going to live his life like his mother told him to. It was the only thing she had ever asked of him, and he felt like he owed it to her. He then remembered Sirius's letter. He didn't know if he could handle another letter like the first one. Harry cautiously opened the last letter, surprised by how short it was.

Dear Harry,

My wish, if I have to die young, is to die in battle, saving someone else's life. I don't want to die in my sleep. I don't want to fall down the stairs. I want an honorable death, to make up for my wasted life. I lost too much time to spend my life not taking chances. You're like a son to me Harry, and I would do anything for you. Remember that I'm a grown man, all of my choices are my own. I've had this journal made, especially for you. Next time you're feeling down, just open it up. It'll help you feel better.

Love, Sirius

Harry had finally stopped crying. He was confused by Sirius's gift. Didn't he know him any better than that? Harry couldn't think any more tonight. He lay down on his bed, still fully dressed, and slept. He dreamt of his mother, laughing and talking to him while she fixed him breakfast.

A/N My first attempt at a fanfic. I'd love some feedback.