A House Elf's Birthday
Dobby had never been fussed about his birthday. He was a house elf, and it was never a tradition for that 'special' day to be celebrated, because their masters had never even considered bothering to. In fact, he rarely even remembered his birthday until halfway through the day, where he would suddenly be struck by the realisation that that day, years ago, was the day he was brought into this world. He wasn't particularly fussed about this either – not knowing that it was his birthday would make the day no different than if he had. Who else was really going to care anyway? He was just a house elf who cooked and served food for the many pupils of Hogwarts. No one gave him any thought, except brave Harry Potter and his loyal friends – but their birthdays were much more important, much more special and much better celebrated. Dobby didn't mind this, because he knew Harry Potter deserved to be treated kindly and given presents, and the house elf much preferred to watch others happily enjoy having the spotlight on them, than be the centre of attention himself.
This was why it came as a shock to him when the day of his birthday turned out to be one of the best days of his life.
Dobby heard the portrait of the ticklish pineapple swing open, and bounced forward excitedly to see which students had ventured down to the kitchens so late that night. Standing on the very tips of his toes, he strained to rise over a few of his fellow house-elves crowding round the entrance, his large, bright eyes watching as a tall teenager clambered up through the usually hidden hole. The first thing he noticed was a vivid crown of bright red hair, and he instantly recognised the boy as a Weasley. Weasley's were friends with Harry Potter, he knew, and he proceeded to leap up and down in order to catch a glimpse of two more people following the first into the kitchens.
"Bring us the butterbeer!" the Weasley exclaimed, raising his head to reveal a grinning, heavily freckled face; the face belonging to Ron Weasley, Harry Potter's best friend. He looked positively elated as he beamed at all of the house elves gazing up at him as he towered above them like a skyscraper, before a few of them scampered off to attend to his blatant wishes. The other two students had moved into view, and Dobby instantly recognized them as Hermione Granger and Harry himself, smiling almost as widely as his mate. The delighted house elf pushed as politely as possible in front of the others and beamed up at the wizard, who regarded him with a pleasant expression.
"Dobby!" he said excitedly, his warm, glinting green eyes looking down upon him gleefully. "Guess what?"
"It's my birthday!" Ron interrupted loudly, his tone overjoyed. "I'm seventeen! Finally!"
Harry rolled his eyes, the corners of his mouth twitching.
"You spoilt the surprise a bit there, Ron," he replied, but his friend appeared not to care.
"I'm seventeen! For so long I've waited, and now it's here! HA! I'm seventeen!" he shouted, dancing and spinning around the room as he boasted.
"Ron, you do know that Harry still has four months to wait, don't you?" Hermione asked, watching him skeptically.
"Obviously!" he answered, jigging around the startled house elves with his arms waving wildly in the air. "You think I don't know my best friends birthday?!"
Hermione rolled her eyes – clearly he didn't quite catch on to the underlying message. Harry grinned and shook his head, turning back to Dobby, who was watching Ron with a toothy smile.
"Have you got any butterbeer? Or cake or something?" he inquired hopefully. "There's sort of a celebration going on in the tower see..."
"Of course Harry Potter!" Dobby answered eagerly, bounding away to a cupboard that some other elves were milling around. He saw a large number of bottles hastily being retrieved from within it, and stepped forward to help the small creatures carry them over to the door. Taking two in each hand, he passed them over to Hermione and picked up some more, glad that there were enough to go round the whole Gryffindor Tower. Ron bounded towards them like an overexcited terrier, eager to take a few bottles himself. Harry handed them to him without protest before looking down at something tugging on his robes.
"Sir, Dobby has asked his friends to bake a cake for young Mr. Weasley," Dobby declared, pointing a bony finger at a group of elves crowding what seemed to be some sort of refrigerator.
"Thanks Dobby!" Harry exclaimed as a large, circular chocolate cake was carried over, wobbling slightly as the house elves walked briskly towards him. Ron's eyes widened as he saw it, and for a moment he even stopped jigging around to get a good view.
"Is that for me?" he asked, his shining blue eyes focused on the delicious looking dessert. Dobby nodded enthusiastically, withdrawing from behind him a can of spray-on icing. He handed it to Harry, who took it, a little puzzled.
"You have to squeeze it," Dobby explained, "onto the cake. To write something!"
"Oh," Harry replied, and held the can aloft over the pudding, squeezing out some white icing words onto it.
Happy Birthday Ron
Weasley Is Our King
Hermione peered over his shoulder, letting out a small chuckle.
"Shall we get back up to the tower then, boys? Everyone will be getting quite restless now, I think..."
Harry nodded, and carefully picked up the cake. Ron rushed to the entrance and leapt through it, yelling,
"Come on! Hurry! Let's go!"
Hermione sighed and followed suit, Harry close behind. Before he stepped through the portrait, however, he turned back to Dobby.
"When's your birthday, then?"
Dobby showed his crooked teeth again.
"June the twenty-eighth!" he exclaimed brightly. "Why?"
"No reason," Harry answered, shrugging. "See you later, Dobby!" The pair waved at each other before Harry left, and the house elf smiled as he imagined Harry Potter's friend, Mr. Weasley, stuffing his mouth with cake and jumping around in his common room. What a great party that would be.
Dobby was so used to students sneaking down to the kitchens during the night that he didn't even look up when the portrait swung open and a chattering of voices could be heard as people began to scramble through it. Concentrating on the assortment of ingredients he was mixing in a large bowl, he was surprised when his own name was mentioned.
"Dobby! He's there," Ron exclaimed, pointing out the elf to his friends. One of them broke apart from the group and approached him, grinning broadly.
"Hey Dobby. I'm Seamus," he said, offering his free hand (In the other he was clutching a small parcel). Dobby took it in his own, much smaller one hesitantly, very confused as to what was going on. "Happy birthday."
Ron followed, nodding warmly at the elf and then turning around as if to check if someone was there. There was movement, and on cue, Harry stepped forward, clasping a clumsily wrapped package (the crimson paper was peeling off at unbound edges, and the parts that had been stuck together had been done so with an unprofessionally excessive use of spello-tape). Dobby's eyes lit up as he saw Mr. Potter grinning cheesily at him and offering forward the present, which he took gratefully.
"Happy birthday Dobby," Harry said, smiling as more students appeared through the doorway. The house-elf stared at the gift for a few moments, taking in the bright colours and pictures of ribbon-wrapped boxes, before carefully pulling at the spello-tape. The layer of paper fell away to reveal a vivid red woolen hat with a large fluffy bobble attached to the top. Dobby almost squealed with delight and hastily dropped the discarded packaging so that he could pull the hat down over his balding scalp. It fitted comfortably, his large ears snuggling up to the cosy material but allowing them room to breathe.
"We thought we'd treat you to a celebration, you know, 'cause it's a special occasion," Harry continued, looking proudly at the elf as he sported his new item of clothing. "And we know you like clothes so..."
Dobby was nodding so enthusiastically, Harry was a little fearful that his disproportionately large head my just snap off from the vigorous movement. Luckily it didn't, and Harry moved out of the way so that the other members of the Gryffindor tower that he had persuaded into coming down could offer their presents. Fred and George handed the elf a sock each, each one brightly coloured and swarming with animated kitchen utensils. Seamus's parcel turned out to be a t-shirt with a large Irish clover emblazoned on the front (Dobby thanked him profusely, even though he had no idea what the symbol meant), and Ron gave him a Chudley Cannons baseball cap that he placed jubilantly on top of the hat he was already wearing. Hermione wrapped a hand-knitted scarf proudly around his small neck which he ran through his fingers in awe when she told him she'd made it herself.
Once all the presents had been unwrapped and were now being worn by Dobby, the elf's skin was almost completely covered, hidden except for his gleeful shining eyes and pointy nose that stuck out in front of the sea of wild, clashing colours that were enfolding him. The students laughed at him – someone even poked his nose, but jumped into the fray of their friends before Dobby could seek out who it was. There were many variations of "bit cold, Dobby?" but the elf chuckled at each one, his eyes crinkled and shining with joy.
"We got you something else too," Harry said once his friends had settled down a bit and returned to a sensible volume of chat. Dobby looked up at him curiously, thinking that surely he would not be able to squeeze into yet another garment of clothing. Hermione appeared behind the boy, her wand aloft as she levitated a large plate with something dark brown resting on top of it. Smiling warmly, she lowered the dish down to Dobby's eye level so that he could see the cake, carefully constructed just for him. He gaped, his eyes shifting from the dessert, to Hermione and then to Harry and the people craning their necks over his shoulder behind him. "You're welcome," Harry grinned, guessing what the elf wanted to say next. Dobby looked down at the cake again, seeing words written slightly messily in some white icing; just as it had been at Ron Weasley's birthday all those months ago.
Happy Birthday Dobby
The Free Elf
Dobby couldn't control his steadily widening mouth, showing off his crooked teeth as he continued to stare at the words.
"Of course we understand if you don't want to eat it," Ron piped up from somewhere nearby. 'Mione made it and her cooking could be fatal-" He broke off as Hermione aimed a smack at his arm. "Oi! I was only joking," he said, winking at Dobby. Hermione couldn't help the corners of her mouth twitch. Dobby laughed too, and pulled down one of his scarves so that he could eat. None of the Gryffindors had thought to bring a spoon, so he was forced to tear a chunk out of it with his hand and put it straight into his mouth. Ron's warning had been false; Hermione's cake was delicious, the chocolate melting smoothly on his tongue and the light sponge crumbling delicately as his teeth chomped down on it. He gave a nod of satisfaction and a thumbs up to show his contentment – something he had learnt from the many young witches and wizards that had visited over the past months he had been working in the kitchens. Hermione beamed and glanced over at Ron, her smile transforming into a smirk. Ron rolled his eyes and sad something about politeness.
"Mind if we have a try, Dobby?" Seamus asked hopefully, his eyes flicking down to the still very large cake.
"Of course," Dobby replied, his mouth full of cake, and he offered forward the plate. Seamus, Dean and a few others reached down gleefully and tore away a piece each, chocolate sponge crumbs raining down and drenching the plate and surrounding floor as they did so. Lavender was ducking below Harry's arm as he took his own share, causing her to be showered by the residue of his portion, the dark specks lodging themselves in her blondish brown hair like an odd sort of dandruff.
"Harry!" she exclaimed furiously, flipping her hair over her head and shaking it with her hands to try and extricate the fragments of pudding. "You'll pay for that," she said with mock venom as Harry laughed. Picking up her dessert, she brought her arm back, ready to throw. Harry made to duck, but it was too late; she flung it at him, hitting him on the nose and exploding chocolate flakes all over his face.
"Piece of cake," she smirked slyly.
The boy tried to retaliate by leaping over to the plate of pudding, but Hermione got there first, shredding a slice off and hurling it at him. This time Harry's reflexes did not fail him, and the cake hit Seamus instead, causing him to roar with rage and try to tackle Hermione head on. She was quick on her feet, however, and sprang behind Dean, who Seamus settled for instead, picking him up with voiced effort and slinging him over his shoulder, causing them both to collapse on the floor. The rest of their friends took that as an opportunity to bombard them with cake, which Dobby joined in with gleefully, throwing the biggest chunks and laughing the hardest.
He had finally celebrated his birthday with the good wizards and witches at last.
It seemed a bit ironic that his first birthday party was his last.