Harry was grooming Pyralis' feathers when a falcon flew through the open window. The falcon landed on the bed post and held out its leg, ruffling its feathers impatiently. Harry took the letter and gave the falcon one of Pyralis' treats, ignoring the indignant chirp the little phoenix gave at having to share his yummy treats.
Seeing that the letter was from Grey, Harry quickly opened the letter and started reading. He smiled happily upon finding that the were-tiger planned to arrive at Gringott's later that afternoon and stay the two weeks left until Harry's birthday. He was looking forward to seeing the energetic blond.
Stroking his fingers over Pyralis' now smooth feathers, Harry placed the phoenix on his perch and gave him two treats. He needed to inform Remus and Bill about Grey's impending arrival and make arrangements for the blond's stay at the cottage. It looked like Malfoy was going to have a roommate for the next two weeks.
Harry found Remus in the nursery, changing Gwen. He leaned against the doorframe, watching his guardian with a smile. Remus was a wonderful father who loved his daughter whole heartedly. Harry was a little envious that he hadn't had that growing up, but better late than never.
Remus finally realized he had company and smiled at Harry. "You look happy."
"I am," said Harry simply. "Grey's coming this afternoon and staying until my birthday. I just wanted to let you know before I left to meet him at Gringott's."
"What time is he arriving?" asked Remus curiously.
"At three," said Harry. "You and Gwen want to come with me?"
"Sure," said Remus agreeably. "Gwen could do with a little sunlight." He walked up to Harry and pushed the baby into the brunet's arms. "You get to babysit until then. I have a few things to do before we leave."
"Yeah, I'll bet," said Harry wryly. "Have fun with Bill, and be safe. As I have already demonstrated, no matter how effective contraceptives are, there are always situations where they can fail. Well, unless you're actually trying for another baby. If that's the case, good luck."
Remus rolled his eyes at the reminder. Although it had taken a while, he had come to terms with Harry's pregnancy. He still had the urge to castrate his kit's three mates, but seeing the happy glow surrounding Harry managed to mostly quell the impulse. Well, that and the inevitable retaliation Harry would inflict upon him if he dared to harm his mates.
Harry just grinned and cuddled Gwen closer. "Say bye-bye to daddy, Gwen."
"Da!" Gwen gurgled happily.
Remus' eyes widened in surprise. "Did she just-? She called me daddy!" He took Gwen back from Harry and kissed her on the forehead. "Who's my perfect little girl?"
"Da!" said Gwen, patting Remus' cheek.
Remus smiled brilliantly and hurried out of the room, eager to tell Bill about their daughter's first foray into speaking. Harry watched him go with a rueful smile. Well, apparently, he was going to have to ask someone else to go to the bank with him. He had no doubt Remus had forgotten all about their previous conversation in the wake of Gwen's new word.
Harry wondered into the kitchen , stopping short when he saw only Draco and Mrs. Weasley in the room. "Where did everyone go?
"Severus showed up earlier and asked Octavius for help," said Draco with a touch of bitterness. Severus was his godfather, but he seemed content to spend time with everyone but him these days.
"Tristan and Zenith left earlier, as well. They didn't say where they were going, though," said Mrs. Weasley kindly. "My brood and Hermione all went to the bazaar this morning."
Harry sighed softly. "Malfoy, do you want to come to the bank with me this afternoon to meet my friend, Grey? He'll be staying at the cottage for the next two weeks."
"Why would I want to go anywhere with you?" asked Draco scathingly.
"I'll take that as a 'no' then," said Harry dryly. Really, had he actually expected anything else from the arrogant prat? He turned to leave when Malfoy stopped him.
"I'll go. I need to take care of a few things at the bank anyway," said Draco arrogantly.
Harry simply nodded and left the room. He needed to prepare for Grey's arrival.
Octavius used his shadows to pull the diadem toward him. "What do you plan to do about the last horcrux? I can't exactly retrieve the snake without alerting the wizard to your plans right now."
"I plan to poison the snake with basilisk venom and kill the Dark Lord once she's dead," said Severus bluntly.
"Good luck with that," said Octavius. "Do you need anything else before I head back?"
"No," said Severus shortly.
Octavius rolled his eyes and stepped into the shadows, intending to go directly back to the cottage. However, as soon as he was immersed in the shadows, he felt a powerful summoning spell grab a hold of him and pull him elsewhere. When he finally emerged from the shadows, Octavius saw his father standing before him with a thunderous glare on his face.
"What is this I hear about you mating without my permission?"
Octavius scowled at his father. "I don't need your permission. Mother made sure of that before she died."
"You are still my son, and your every action reflects on me as well," snarled Maximillius Winters. "Associating with a lowly Dracken and a cursed faerie was bad enough. You will dissolve this bond yourself, or I will dissolve it by killing the little whore you mated."
"You lay one finger on my mate, and I will destroy everything you hold dear, Father," growled Octavius.
"You dare threaten me," said Maximillius, staring at his son in shock.
"If Harry is so much as scratched by your orders, I will bring your empire down around you," Octavius promised. "Everything you have worked to build will crumble into dust should you even attempt to bring harm to my mate."
"And I will help him, Father," said Claudius, stepping fully into the room. He'd seen his father prepare the summoning circle and wanted to know what the man was up to, so he'd created an illusion to hide himself in a dark corner of the room.
"Why would you do this, Claudius?" asked Maximillius incredulously.
"Because you're making a very stupid mistake," said Claudius bluntly. "First of all, Harry is a Kitiara. You should be happy that your son managed to acquire such a powerful mate. Secondly, Harry is hardly defenseless. Should you attack him directly, I have no doubts you would lose. Not only could he destroy you single-handedly, he also has formed numerous allies who would eagerly come to his aid should he need it."
"You're joking. The boy was a complete non-entity before starting at Arcane Academy. He can't have gathered that many allies already," said Maximillius dismissively.
"He's Harry Potter," said Claudius bluntly. "He had allies before he came to school."
Maximillius jerked back in shock, turning to stare incredulously at his older son. "You mated with Harry Potter?"
Octavius just stared at him in stony silence.
Claudius sighed and stepped forward, breaking the summoning circle with a careless sweep of his foot. "Go to your mate, Octavius. I'll deal with Father."
Octavius immediately stepped into the shadows, heading back to the cottage. He stepped out of the shadows and into Harry's empty bedroom. He walked out of the room and saw Remus walking toward the nursery.
"Hey, Remus, have you seen Harry?"
Remus stopped at the question, brow furrowed in thought. "I haven't actually. I saw him earlier when he told me about Grey…" Remus' voice trailed off guiltily. He'd gotten so caught up with Gwen that he'd completely forgotten about going to the bank with Harry this afternoon. "He's probably at Gringott's to pick up Grey."
Octavius nodded in thanks and left, deciding to walk to the bank in case Harry was on his way back rather than using the shadows. Just as he reached the bank, Harry and Grey walked out. Harry was talking to the blond and didn't notice his mate until he almost ran into him.
Harry blinked at the shadow demon in surprise before smiling in delight. "Tavi, what are you doing here? I thought you were still helping Severus with something."
"I finished a little while ago. Remus said you were at the bank to pick up Grey, so I came here," said Octavius. "Looks like I was just in time, too."
Grey stared at the pair in disbelief. "Harry, you are a miracle worker."
"What are you talking about?" asked Harry, staring at Grey in bemusement.
Grey smirked at the vulpine brunet. "Never mind. Come on, Harry. I want to see Gwen. I bet she's grown a ton since I last saw her."
"She has," said Harry eagerly. "And she spoke her first word today, too. She said 'da' to Remus."
A bittersweet smile curled Grey's lips. He didn't regret his decision to give his daughter to Remus to raise, but it still sent a pang of hurt through his heart to know his daughter would never know that he was her real father. It was for the best, though. His father had been livid when he found out about the baby, and now Grey had a permanent reminder of his father's fury- four horizontal claw marks across his abdomen.
"Are you alright, Grey?" asked Harry worriedly.
Grey shook away his dark thoughts and smiled at his friend. "Yeah, I'm fine. I was just lost in thought."
Octavius sighed and placed one hand on the blond's shoulder and the other on Harry's shoulder, pulling them both into the shadows. The sooner he got the tiger to the cottage, the sooner he could get Harry alone. Octavius took them directly to the nursery, startling Remus, who was sitting in the rocking chair with Gwen.
Harry just grinned and pushed Grey forward. "Remus, you remember Grey, don't you?"
Remus smiled warmly at the blond. "Of course, I do." He got to his feet and stepped toward Grey. "Would you like to hold her?"
Grey silently nodded, too busy staring at the baby in Remus' arms to answer verbally. He couldn't believe how much she'd grown since he last saw her. Taking Gwen into his arms, Grey was awed at the beautiful little girl he'd helped create. He barely noticed the others, giving him some privacy to get acquainted with his daughter.
"Why are we here again?" asked Tristan irritably. "And why did I have to come along?"
"We're here to pick up Harry's birthday present," said Zenith, grabbing the redhead around the waist and flying into the air. He landed in his grandfather's house, setting Tristan back on his feet. "I wonder where he is."
"I'm right here, Zenith," said Skylar calmly, stepping into the room. "I just had to make a few more arrangements before you got here."
"Where is it?" asked Zenith eagerly.
Skylar sighed and scratched his cheek nervously. "Yeah, about that-"
"You didn't get it?" asked Zenith worriedly.
"Well, believe it or not, there were only six hatchlings born this year, and they were all claimed immediately." He held up a hand to keep Zenith from interrupting him. "I did, however, manage to acquire a dragon egg of a different sort."
"What does that mean exactly?" asked Zenith warily.
"It's a miniature Japanese dragon," said Skylar.
"A Japanese dragon? I don't think I've ever seen one of those," said Tristan thoughtfully. "What does it look like?"
"Asian dragon look like long serpents with four legs," said Zenith. "They also have the ability to fly even though they don't have wings."
"And unlike western dragons, Japanese dragons don't breathe fire," Skylar added. "This egg is not from your typical Japanese dragon, though. The mother was a winged ice dragon, and the father was a Druk."
"Are you serious?" asked Zenith incredulously.
"What's a Druk?" asked Tristan in bemusement.
"It's a thunder dragon," said Zenith, almost in awe. "I didn't think they even existed these days. The image of the god, Quetzalcoatl, was based on a sighting of a Druk."
Skylar walked into his bedroom and brought out an enchanted pouch. Opening the pouch, he pulled out a small ice blue egg with yellow streaks. "The pouch is enchanted to stay at a constant temperature. The egg should stay in the pouch for at least another week. You'll know when the egg is about to hatch when the pouch breaks."
Zenith took the pouch from his grandfather and looked at Tristan. "Well, do you think he'll like his gift?"
"I think Harry will love it," said Tristan honestly. "The rest of his menagerie, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely. I imagine Talbot will be the most upset, though. He's probably going to be jealous of the new dragon taking Harry's attention away from him."
"What's this about Talbot?" asked Skylar curiously.
"Talbot absolutely adores Harry," said Zenith. "In fact, I think if he wasn't already bound to me as my familiar, he'd bind himself to Harry instead."
Skylar chuckled softly. "I know exactly how you feel. My familiar always preferred your grandmother over me, as well. Rayna would curl up in Tara's lap like an overgrown cat and hiss at me if I tried to make her move."
Tristan burst out laughing. "Talbot did something similar just yesterday. He was curled up on the bed beside Harry, and when Zenith tried to make him move, Talbot blew smoke in his face."
"Yes, it was hilarious. However, it's time to go. Harry should be returning with Grey shortly," said Zenith, handing the pouch to Tristan. He would need both hands to carry the redhead back down to the beach.
"Yeah, not looking forward to that," muttered Tristan. "That tiger still gets on my nerves."
Zenith rolled his eyes at the disgruntled faerie. Grey wasn't that bad. He was just a little excitable was all. "Sorry to cut the visit short, grandpa, but we should be heading back. I'll see you again soon."
"You better," said Skylar affectionately. "And make sure you bring that little mate of yours. I quite like the little spitfire."
Zenith nodded and grabbed Tristan around the waist, taking to the air as soon as he reached the ledge. Gliding down to the beach, he set Tristan back on his feet and pulled a piece of chalk out of his pocket. Zenith quickly drew a dragon's gate on the cliff rock and activated it, waving Tristan through first. He followed the redhead through the gate, stepping into the kitchen just as Harry and Remus walked in.
"Where's the annoying one?" asked Tristan bluntly.
"Don't be rude, Tristan," said Harry sternly. "Grey is in the nursery getting acquainted with his daughter." He kissed the redhead briefly as he walked by and did the same to Zenith. "So where did you two run off to?"
Zenith plucked the pouch out of Tristan's hands and handed it to Harry. "Happy Birthday, Harry."
Harry stared at the pouch in bemusement. "My birthday's not for another two weeks, though."
"I know," said Zenith. "Just open it. You'll see why you're getting it early."
Harry slowly opened the pouch and looked inside, jaw dropping when he saw the blue and yellow streaked egg. "Is this what I think it is?"
"Yep," said Zenith proudly.
"You got me a dragon," said Harry, still staring at the egg in shock.
"You got him what?" asked Remus incredulously.
"Don't worry, Remus. This dragon is a miniature dragon like Talbot," said Zenith soothingly. He reached over and reclosed the pouch. "The pouch needs to stay closed for at least another week. Grandpa said the pouch would break when the egg was ready to hatch."
Harry smiled brightly at the Dracken and kissed him enthusiastically on the lips. "Thank you for the wonderful gift, Zenith." He hugged the egg close and hurried out of the room, eager to put the egg safely in his room.
"Great, it's not even his birthday yet, and you've already topped anything we could come up with to give him," muttered Tristan enviously. He'd already gotten Harry's gift, but now it paled in significance to Zenith's gift.
"What did you get him?" asked Tristan curiously.
"I got him a memory bear," mumbled Tristan. At Zenith's confused look, he explained further. "A memory bear is kind of like a human video recorder, except instead of storing the material on a video tape, it creates memory orbs. These orbs can then be either destroyed or viewed with a pensieve."
"I don't know why you're so worried. Harry will love that," said Zenith confidently. "I take it, the memory bear is a Fae invention then."
"Yeah, I had one until a few years ago. It disappeared shortly after Callandra died," said Tristan.
"I really don't like your parents, Tristan," growled Zenith.
"Where did Harry run off to now? I could have sworn he was just in here," asked Octavius, walking into the kitchen with an irritable scowl.
"Zenith gave him his birthday present early, and he left to put it somewhere safe," said Tristan.
"What'd you get him?" asked Octavius curiously.
"He got him a mini-dragon," said Tristan.
"Not bad," said Octavius. "It's not as good as what I got him, but it's not bad."
"What did you get him then?" asked Zenith.
Octavius pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Zenith. The Dracken just stared at the paper in confusion. It was a list of cities all around the world: Tokyo, Japan; Aukland, New Zealand; Paris, France; Venice, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Cat Island in the Bahamas.
"Is this supposed to mean something?" asked Zenith.
"It's an itinerary, Zenith. The last three weeks before school starts back, we will be spending at least four days in each of those cities," said Octavius proudly.
"That's actually a good idea. Harry's never been on an extended vacation, so this will be a good for him," said Tristan.
"Exactly!" said Octavius.
"Exactly what?" asked Harry curiously as he walked back into the room.
"We were discussing ideal vacation spots. Is there any particular place you want to go?" asked Octavius.
Harry shrugged lightly. "I don't really know. The only places I've ever been were Britain, here, Arcane Academy, and Zenith's island. I'd like to visit more places, though. I think just about anywhere would be exciting as long as you three were with me."
Octavius snapped his fingers in Zenith's direction. The silver-haired Dracken rolled his eyes and handed the paper back to the shadow demon. Octavius promptly passed the paper over to Harry. "Happy Birthday, Harry."
Harry looked down at the paper and frowned in confusion. "Am I supposed to pick one of these for our next vacation?" He placed his finger on Athens, Greece. "This one. I've always wanted to see some of the ancient Greek temples."
Octavius sighed and took the paper back from Harry. "Your gift is a three week vacation with the three of us, so we can visit all these places. It's already been approved by Remus, and we're scheduled to leave two days after your birthday"
Harry grinned happily. "This has been an amazing birthday, and it's not even my birthday yet."
"Well, since they've already given you your gifts, I may as well give you mine, too," said Tristan. He walked out of the room, gesturing for Harry to follow him. He led the brunet back to their bedroom, and opened his trunk. He pulled a black teddy bear with bright blue eyes out of the trunk and handed it to Harry. "It's not as extravagant as Zenith and Octavius' gifts, but I thought it might come in handy when the baby arrives."
Harry took the bear, holding it almost reverently. "It's beautiful. Thank you, Tristan."
"It's a memory bear. They're used to record and monitor your baby's first moments," Tristan explained.
Harry smiled softly and hugged the bear close. While it wasn't as extravagant as Octavius and Zenith's gift, it was no less precious, and he cherished it just as much. "I love it, Tristan."
"Good, I'm glad," said Tristan with a relieved smile.
Ten days later, Harry walked into his room and saw the pouch holding the dragon egg lying in tatters and the egg vibrating slightly. He gasped in excitement and watched intently as a tiny crack appeared in the egg. The crack slowly widened and branched off into three more cracks. The egg suddenly rocked sharply and a little pale blue snout broke through the egg. The dragon finally broke completely free of the egg with a flare of its wings, tumbling clumsily onto the desk.
The tiny dragon flapped its wings, rising slowly into the air until it was balanced on its coiled tail. To Harry's surprise, the dragon had no feet. It looked more like a winged serpent than a dragon. Then the dragon sneezed and released a burst of freezing cold air.
Harry slowly reached out and scooped the tiny dragon into his hands. "Hello, little one. It's nice to finally meet you."
The dragon cooed softly and flew into the air, landing on Harry's head and nuzzling the brunet's furry ears. The dragon tensed and flared its wings when a gasp drew its attention. It took one look at Zenith and hissed, flapping its wings threateningly to warn the Dracken away.
"I don't think it likes me very much," said Zenith warily.
"Maybe you just startled it," said Harry hesitantly.
Zenith a step toward Harry before stopping abruptly when the dragon growled and snapped its wings forward, sending sparks of electricity toward the Dracken. "Nope, he doesn't like me."
Harry sighed and pulled the dragon off his head, cradling it gently in his hands. He stroked the dragon soothing between its wings, smiling when it relaxed with a content rumble. "No attacking Zenith now. He won't hurt you, and he certainly won't hurt me."
Harry slowly walked toward Zenith, and the dragon growled but didn't attempt to attack the Dracken again. "Can you tell if it's a boy or a girl?"
"It's a boy," said Zenith confidently. "You can tell because there are no talons at the tip of his wings. Females have talons on the wings to help protect their young."
"Any suggestions for a name?" asked Harry, stroking the dragon's wings absently.
"Sparky?" asked Zenith jokingly, smiling when the dragon hissed at him.
"Yeah, I don't think so," said Harry. "How about Hyperion?" The dragon buried his face in his wings in denial. "I guess that's a no."
"What about Ixion?" asked Zenith. The dragon didn't budge.
"Helios? Shiva? Thor?" asked Harry, getting no response from the dragon.
"Snowflake? Volt? Stormy?" added Zenith, snickering softly when that resulted in an annoyed growl. "Obviously not."
"Dante? Yv-" Harry broke of what he was saying when the dragon perked up. "Dante?" he repeated, watching the dragon preen at the new name. "Dante it is then. I'm glad that's finally settled."
"Do you want to try feeding him now?" asked Zenith.
"What does he eat?" asked Harry. Hopefully it wouldn't require feeding the little one brandy and chicken blood.
"Small chunks of raw meat should suffice for now," said Zenith nonchalantly. "Mrs. Weasley was just about to start on lunch, so maybe we can liberate a bit of raw meat before she starts cooking."
They headed toward the kitchen. However, the twins jumped out of a hidden corner, trying to scare Harry, only to get hit with a jolt of electricity for their efforts. They fell to the floor, twitching slightly, and their hair stood on end.
Remus walked out of the kitchen, stopping short when he saw the twins on the floor. "What happened to them?"
Zenith leaned down to check the twins, making sure there was no permanent damage. Fortunately, they would be just fine in a few minutes. "They pranked the wrong person. It isn't very wise to try to scare someone holding a dragon that can wield lightning."
"The dragon hatched?" asked Remus.
"Yep, meet Dante," said Harry, holding the little dragon up for Remus to see. "We were headed this way to feed the little guy when the twins scared him."
Remus sighed in exasperation. "You two go feed the dragon while I deal with these two." He levitated the twins into the air and carried them to their room. "You should be fine in just a bit. Perhaps next time you'll be more careful when trying to prank Harry." He walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him.
"M-maybe we should concentrate more on new products for now," George suggested.
"T-that's probably a good idea," Fred agreed. Pranking Harry and Hermione was beginning to be hazardous to their health these days. Maybe they should concentrate elsewhere for now.