Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe and all related materials are the property of J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers. I am in no way affiliated with JKR or Warner Brothers, and use their materials without their permission or knowledge.

Chapter One - Dreaming

Hogwarts was burning.

Multicoloured flames rose hundreds of feet into the night sky as towers toppled and crashed to the ground. Ghosts stood and watched mournfully, or drifted away silently, powerless to do anything about the catastrophe unfolding before them.

Bodies of students and teachers littered the ground.

Everyone was dead. Sirius, Dumbledore, Hermione, all the Weasleys, Hagrid, and Ginny, dear Ginny - everyone. The Ministry lay in ruins, Muggles were enslaved, and everyone Harry had ever known was dead.

They had all died by Harry's wand, with Harry's hand holding it.

He laughed as he watched the flames light up the sky. The scar on his head burned as bright as the fires, and Voldemort's voice was in his mind.

"See, Harry?" he screamed. "See what we can do? Nothing and nobody can stop us. YOU ARE MY HORCRUX AND I CAN MAKE YOU DO ANYTHING!"

Harry flung himself upright in bed, sweat pouring from every part of his body. His heart was thumping as he sucked in lungful after lungful of cold morning air. All his limbs shook and his scar still burned fiercely.

"Happy Birthday!"

He jumped as the door in front of him swung open and Ginny and young Sirius walked in. She was carrying a full breakfast tray and Sirius held a colourfully wrapped box as big as his head in both arms.

"Happy birthday, Daddy!" repeated Sirius, just to make sure he had heard. "I got you a present!"

He ran over to the bed, struggling to hold the box out in front, and then tried to climb up without releasing his grip. A frown replaced Ginny's smile as she noticed Harry's wild look.

"Harry, are you okay?" she asked, suddenly looking concerned. "Did we scare you?"

Harry shook his head as he forced a smile and leaned over to sweep Sirius, present and all, onto the bed. His heart was slowing down and the memory of the dream was fading, to be replaced with the joy he had come to know as a normal part of everyday life. He did not immediately answer her, and turned his full attention to his son.

"What have you got there sport?" he asked the squirming boy. "Is it for me?"

"It's a birthday present," the four-year-old replied, twisting and wriggling to keep from Harry's tickling. "And you'll only get it if you are good!" he added seriously in a good imitation of his mum.

Obviously, he had been told the same thing many times before.

"Oh, I will have to be good will I? We'll just see about that!" laughed Harry. Then he began to rigorously tickle Sirius, laughing as the boy squealed with delight while refusing to let go of the box.

"Stop, Daddy stop!" Sirius cried through his laughter. "Mummy, make him stop."

"All right, that's enough, Harry," said Ginny. "Let him give you his present and then you can have some breakfast." She was smiling again as she put the tray down on the side table, but was obviously still concerned.

Harry smelled the bacon and eggs and his stomach gave a rumble, indicating it agreed with Ginny. With a final tickle he released Sirius who sat up to present the box that Harry now saw was covered with little moving cartoon images of people playing Quidditch and had a ribbon wrapped around it.

"I picked it out," Sirius told him proudly. "Mummy helped me wrap it," he added hastily, with a look to his mother as she sat down on the bed next to them.

"Oh, well then, I had better be careful when I unwrap it, hadn't I?" said Harry seriously. He started to slowly undo the ribbon, showing exaggerate care. After only a second or two of this, Sirius was impatiently urging him on.

"Come on, Daddy! Hurry!" he laughed, and started tugging at the paper to help.

"Okay then," said Harry, and abruptly began tearing wildly into the wrapping, tossing pieces high into the air. Sirius laughed and excitedly joined in. Soon they were both covered in bits of paper, and so was much of the bed. Even Ginny had a piece or two in her hair.

"It's just what I always wanted, a brown box!" said Harry, playfully holding the box up for all to see. "I can put all sorts of things in that. Thank you!"

Ginny was smiling again now as the boy put his hands on his hips and told Harry in another imitation of exasperated patience.

"No Silly, INSIDE the box!"

"Oh," said Harry in feigning understanding. "Let's have a look then shall we?"

He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper and slowly and carefully opened the lid of the box. Sirius stretched as far as he could to see what was inside.

Harry's breath caught in his throat as he reached in and drew out a magnificent crystal orb. Inside the orb was an image of a golden phoenix in flight, its plumage spreading a rainbow of colours as the light fell on it. At the touch of his hand, a soft music filled the room. It was eerie, spine-tingling, and unearthly; it lifted the hair on Harry's scalp and made his heart feel as though it was swelling to twice its normal size. It was the phoenix's song, just as he had heard it for the first time many years before while trapped in an underground chamber facing his mortal enemy, and a few times since. Unbidden tears filled Harry's eyes and he looked at Ginny. A slow trickle ran down her cheek too.

"Did you…?" he began to ask.

"No," she replied, wiping away the tear. "He really did pick it himself."

"It's just like the one that saved you and mummy," Sirius told him, stroking the top of the orb gently.

"It's beautiful," said Harry, carefully placing it back into the box. "Thank you." Then he grabbed Sirius and Ginny in a heartfelt hug that quickly turned into a three-way wrestling match, as usual.

"Okay, okay," said Ginny, breaking away. "Come on Sirius, time to leave Daddy enjoy his breakfast and clean up the kitchen." She picked the protesting boy off the bed and pushed him towards the door. "Then go feed the animals; they are probably starving by now!"

As soon as Sirius obediently headed off out of the room, Ginny turned back to Harry.

"Are you all right?"

Harry tore his eyes away from the orb and looked at his wife. "Yeah, just a bad dream, that's all," he said negligently. She was not convinced.

"It was about Voldemort, wasn't it?" she asked.

Harry was shocked. It was not often he heard that name from Ginny, and not without good cause.

"Why do you say that?" he asked, trying to sound scornful.

"Your scar is bleeding."

Harry's hand shot to his forehead involuntarily, but came away clean. He looked at her puzzled, then realised she had tricked him.

"I knew it," she said sadly, sitting down on the edge of the bed and picking up a piece of toast. "I have been expecting it you know."

"What do you mean?" He was not sure how she had known, though she did know him better than anybody did. He had long ago given up trying to understand how she could become so close to him that she could guess almost his every thought and mood. Sometimes it was as if she had cast a Legilimency spell on him, while he felt as if he barely knew what the strange creature who had stolen his heart was, let alone how she was feeling.

"It's ten years."

"Oh," he said, "I didn't realise it had been that long." He had known, but in a 'back of your mind' sort of way. It had not been a big issue to him.

"Not consciously," she added, "but obviously your heart knew."

He sat back thoughtfully and picked at a bit of the bacon, not hungry anymore.

Ginny sat quietly watching him and nibbled her toast. She knew the turmoil of thoughts that would be going through his mind now; it was inevitable. In the years they had been together since his final confrontation with the greatest evil and worst threat the world had ever known, she had often wondered how he had managed to stay sane, let alone be the kind and wonderful father of her children.

As if on queue to the thought of her children, there came a loud crash from the kitchen. Farther off in the nursery, the baby started crying.

Harry couldn't help but smile as Ginny rolled her eyes and stood up to go.

"Where's my present from you?" he asked her playfully.

She bent over and placed a lingering kiss on his lips. He breathed in her soft, flowery scent; it made his head swim.

"Later," she teased, and turned to leave the room. "Don't stay in bed too long," she called over her shoulder. "We've got dinner at Mum's house tonight, and everybody is going to be there, so it is going to be the usual chaos. You have a lot to do before we go."

"Excellent!" he called out. He loved big get-togethers with her family.

The sight of more than a dozen adults and almost as many children warmed his heart like nothing else. Ron, who had lived with that sort of thing his whole life and seemed immune to it, thought it had something to do with never having a proper family while he was growing up. Harry did not care. He had a family now, and it included both of his best friends as well as Molly and Arthur Weasley, who had been more than in-laws to him for a long time.

Harry sat chewing some bacon and stared at the orb. As he stroked it gently with a single finger, its soft song sang from the box.

Ten years he thought. Sometimes it seemed like yesterday. Other times it seemed a lifetime ago. Unconsciously his hand rose to his forehead and touched his scar again. It didn't feel hot anymore, although it did seem more prominent than usual.

Ten years since he found he didn't have a piece of Voldemort's soul in him.

Ten years since he opened the door in the Ministry and released a wave of magic that had almost killed him while it burned away the vile thing that Voldemort had become, along with his Dementors.

Ten years.

Harry rose from bed and began to dress. He still wore mostly Muggle clothes when he wasn't working; an affection left over from a childhood spent not knowing he was a wizard. Despite being Tuesday, Harry did not officially have to go to work today. A perk of the office, he thought. One of the few, if you were honest.

As he dressed, he idly wondered what had become of Dudley Dursley and his parents.