Disclaimer: JK Rowling be awesome.
Chapter Fifty: Birthday
Harry bounced excitedly down the stairs wearing his favorite shirt with the Quidditch cape. He wooshed his way into the living room and around the coffee table a couple of times before making his bold entrance into the kitchen through the swinging door. "It is I, Harry, the birthday boy!" He announced, laughing and spinning in a circle now.
"Happy birthday!" Sirius beamed, swooping Harry up into his arms and hugging him closely. He could hardly believe that it had been a whole year now that they had been back together. Last year at this time, Harry was just beginning to learn what it was to have a real family. His speech and pronunciation had been delayed as well as his physical development. Now here he was, a thriving five year old with a whole family who loved him and friends as well. He'd been to preschool. He'd learned about magic, and werewolves, and babies. So many things had happened in the past year, it was hard to believe how short it felt now. It was truly remarkable how much someone could change over the course of just one year alone. "We have your very special birthday breakfast!"
"Oh!" Harry looked excitedly at the table and wriggled down, climbing into his chair with wide eyes. "Train waffles! I remember train waffles!"
Remus laughed, reaching out a hand to ruffle Harry's hair. "That's right. You had them on your birthday last year. You sure have grown since then."
"Mhm!" Harry nodded, his mouth full of bacon. He chewed and swallowed, grinning. "I love train waffles."
"Good morning!" Lexie came into the kitchen carrying Rozzie. She bent down and kissed Harry's head. "Happy birthday, buddy."
"Happy birthday to me." Harry smiled. He was so very excited that it was his birthday. He sat up to give Rozzie a kiss and her mouth moved, babbling slightly but not much. Usually she was pretty quiet unless she was crying, always focusing on the world with her ears.
"So, Harry, we've got a few hours until it's time for your party, but there's something special waiting for you in the back garden after breakfast." Sirius grinned, sitting down to eat at his own waffles.
Harry's eyes widened and he started eating faster, too excited to go slow like he was supposed to. He demolished his entire plate and then slipped out of his chair. "Can I go see now?"
"Go right ahead." Sirius smiled, motioning towards the back door. It was open, the screen door closed but letting in the early morning warmth of what promised to be a hot last day of July.
Harry dashed across the kitchen and pushed through the door. "Woah!" He came running back inside, jumping up and down. "Paddy! Paddy! A trampoline! A trampoline! Can I have a go on it? Oh can I please?"
"Course you can." Sirius laughed. He rose from his chair and he and the other adults and Rozzie followed Harry out the back door. Harry dashed over to the trampoline, climbing up the foam steps to get to the bouncing black part. It wasn't a Muggle one, but a wizarding one with foam padding covered in rainbow colored vinyl all around the edges, blocking the springs from little legs. Mesh netting jutted out from the sides of the foam, creating a safety net ready to catch a wayward jumper. The whole thing was fairly large and set off to the side of the garden, out of the way.
"Oh, take your shoes off Harry!" Remus called.
Harry did as he was told, kicking off his shoes til he was just in his socks. He pulled these off as well and then tossed them off the edge of the trampoline. He went right into the middle and, after a moment of hesitation, jumped. He bounced, up and down, over and over, around and around the trampoline. He flung his arms out, his cape soaring up as he went downwards. He lost his balance a couple of times and laughed as he fell backwards, bouncing on his bottom.
"This! Is! So! Cool!" Harry shouted with each bounce, unable to keep the smile off of his face. He bounced and bounced, his energy too high for him to tire quickly. "Paddy! Come bounce!"
Sirius laughed and took off his shoes. He climbed onto the trampoline and stared bouncing gently next to Harry. Harry wobbled, the extra bouncing setting him off balance and making him land on his knees.
"Harry, stay down and I'll show you something fun. Here, come tothe center." Sirius suggested.
Harry nodded and sat down on his bottom, crossing his legs and schooching to the center of the trampoline. Sirius started bouncing around him. He gave a great big jump. The shock waves of it sent Harry flying upwards in the middle of the trampoline. Harry's mouth flew open and his limbs flung out in surprise before he started laughing.
Sirius bounced Harry up again and then a few more times before they started jumping some more together.
After Harry grew tired from bouncing, he decided he wanted to go up into his tree house for a bit. He could see a lot of things from his tree house and quite enjoyed playing up there by himself sometimes. Though he usually liked to have someone play with him as well.
The tree house was set a nice six feet off the ground, high enough to not be low as Harry grew, but low enough to not be too high if he fell now. Te tree would grow over the years as well, and if the house got too long for Harry's liking, they could always magic it taller. For now though, it was just right.
Harry loved his tree house. He climbed up the rope and wooden slat ladder and through the top door before he pulled the ladder up after him and closed the door. That was a rule he had been taught by Lexie. He had to close the door, that way he couldn't accidentally fall through it.
The inside of the treehouse had been furnished with a small bookcase of books and toys, a table just the right size for Harry and a couple of his friends, and a basket on a rope tied to the railing of the little deck. From the deck there was a slide that could carry Harry down to the ground without him climbing down the ladder. There was plenty for a little boy to do.
"Ahoy!" Harry called from his little deck, a pirate hat upon his head.
"Ahoy!" Sirius called back and dashed towards the tree, pulling up wooden sword he had hidden there in the knothole.
Harry grinned and dashed into the treehouse, grabbed up his own wooden sword and dashed back out to go down the slide. His sword held high, Harry let out a battle cry and raced across the grass towards Sirius. "On guard ye scurvy dog!"
"On guard!" Sirius laughed, raising his own sword out just in time to catch up Harry's slashing. He liked hearing Harry speak pirate, something he had learned from one of the bedtime stories Remus had read to him.
The wooden swords clanked against one another over and over, Sirius moving backwards as Harry moved forward. They ran about the yard, chasing one another around and around. Eventually they ended up back on the trampoline, swords in hand as they pretend fought and bounced at the same time.
"You two are a couple of butters." Lexie commented, but she was smiling as she bounced Rozzie in her lap.
"Aye! But they have left the ship without protection!" Remus shouted from the window of the tree house.
Harry and Sirius looked up, pausing in the fighting for a moment.
"Get him!" Harry bellowed and they dashed off the trampoline and across the yard towards the tree house. They ran round and round the base, now pitted against a common 'enemy' for their 'pirate ship'.
The swords soon went away and the game of pirates turned to one of cops and robbers, Harry making the trampoline the jail. He would bounce upon it whenever possible, and whomever he captured had to bounce him high until they could escape. Lexie couldn't stop laughing as she watched Sirius and Remus bounce Harry dizzy and run off like a pair of mad men. While Harry regained his balance to run after them.
After spending all morning running about the back garden. Lexie called the boys into the house to come help her get Harry's birthday party lunch set up. Their guests would be arriving soon.
Harry happily carried a bowl full of grapes to the table set up outside. They were going to just have food set out for whoever was hungry instead of a regular sit down meal, except for the cake of course. They would do that all together at the right time. All of Harry's friends were coming, including some Muggles from the daycare. All of the wizarding folk who would be in attendance had all been notified ahead of time so that it would be easier to keep the magic a secret, especially if it was accidental by one of the children.
Harry laughed brightly, looking around the backyard. In the time it had taken for him to go inside and help Lexie wash a bowl of grapes, the garden had been decorated with streamers in shining red and gold and balloons in all different colors, tethered down to table legs, the fence, or the tree.
Sirius and Remus grinned brightly as Harry ran toward them, his arms outstretched, black hair flying in the wind as he joyfully was scooped up by Sirius.
"Do you like your decorations, Prongslet?"
"Yeah!" Harry nodded, hugging Sirius tightly round the neck before squirming to be let down. He laughed and spun in a circle before racing over to the small shed in the corner where they kept most of the outdoor toys. The doors of it were open and inviting. "Let's get stuff for everyone to play with!"
"That's a fantastic idea Harry." Remus remarked, glad for the generosity of the little boy. Not being allowed to share for three middle years of his life had made Harry all the more apt to want to. However, it was much easier for him to share his toys or food than it was for him to share a person or his absolute favorite things, like Lion.
They raided the shed and pulled out plenty of toys. Frisbees, a couple of wiffle balls and a bat, the croquet set, a football, some skipping ropes, and a hula hoop. Once food had been eaten they would get out the water pistols and balloons, knowing it would be better to have the water fight in the hot heat of the afternoon.
"Harry! Happy birthday!"
Harry glanced up from where he was setting down the croquet balls and burst into a smile. He waved and rushed over to the gaggle of Weasleys, very excited to see them. He was hugged by Mrs. Weasley and Ginny and then clapped on the back by all the men, a happy birthday from all of them each time.
"Now we're both five!" Ronnie stated excitedly as he put an arm around his best mate's shoulders.
"Yep!" Harry laughed, reaching and hugging his friend happily.
Harry turned and looked at the doorway to the kitchen. Hermione stood there wearing a blue party dress topped off with her favorite fairy wings. Harry's face burst into a huge smile. He and Ronnie looked at each other and then they ran straight for her out of pure excitement. They hadn't seen her properly since Christmas.
They caught her up in a four armed hug, very happy.
"Hermione, I didn't know if you was coming." Harry stated as they jumped up and down, unable to contain themselves. A birthday party was always very exciting in general, especially when you got to see your friends.
"Well, I couldn't very well miss your birthday." Hermione beamed, just as excited as the boys were. "I haven't been able to come play for a long time because of ballet, and my other activities. I think Mummy and Daddy want me to make friends at my school because I have an activity almost every single day that I've got to go to but all the other children seem to think I'm quite strange."
"They're just jealous 'cause you're smarter than them." Harry remarked boldly, causing Hermione to smile brightly.
"Who else is coming?"
"Lots of people!" Harry bounced on the balls of his feet, looking around. "Luna and Neville. And some of my school friends, Marny and Sebastian and some other kids from the daycare. You'll like them, they're nice."
"Oh goody!" Hermione grinned.
Once everyone had arrived at the party and wished Harry a very happy birthday, they spread out all over the garden, playing all sorts of games and having a blast. Hermione and Marny took a shine to each other, sitting down in the grass with Luna and Ginny to make pasta necklaces. Harry, Ronnie, Neville, and Sebastian headed up into Harry's tree house to play pirates with the toy wooden swords in there.
"Have you noticed yet?" Remus asked Sirius as he handed him a cup of punch. He pointed to the two groups of children. "Girls. Boys."
"Huh. That's strange. Normally they're all bunched together."
"They're at that age." Remarked Diane, Marny's mother. "I remember when Natalie was that small. She used to play with girls and boys, no problem, but somewhere between nursery school and first year at primary, the genders separated themselves. One of the teachers I asked about it referred to it as the 'Cootie Age'. You know, where they think if you play with the opposite sex you'll get cooties or so they're told by their peers. That, and they just don't have as many of the same interests anymore."
"That's sad." Sirius heaved a sigh. He knew how much Harry enjoyed playing with his girl friends just as much as playing with his boy friends, but it seemed those times would be fading soon. Of course, he would encourage Harry to be friends with all of his classmates, but he could not force him to do so.
"ATTACK!" Marny shouted, raising her pasta necklace in the air before slipping it down over her head. She and the other three girls raced at the tree house ladder and started up it before the boys could pull it in.
"However, I think we'll be okay for now." Remus chuckled.
The girls got into the tree house and the boys came barreling down the slide, their swords in hand as they raced about. The girls followed them down, each with their own sword as well. Sirius had made sure to duplicate a bunch just in case something like this happened, although he wasn't expecting it to be so much of a boys versus girls thing.
They watched the children race about, swords clashing, voices laughing as they tackled one another playfully down. Harry managed to capture Ginny for a moment, but she got loose again, pealing with laughter as she raced away, Harry hot on her heels.
"I'mma get you Ginny Weasley!" Harry shouted, his sword raised. He liked chasing Ginny, watching her long red hair whip out behind her like a flag of color in the sun. He'd always liked her hair though, from the first time he'd seen her last August and she'd come running across the grass bare footed like she was now. Shoes were optional when it was summer time and you were a Weasley. That was something any little boy could admire.
"Not if I get you first!" Marny pelted her entire body at Harry, tackling him down in the grass. Both of them laughed and then Neville came running to the rescue, tackling Marny. Soon there was a dog pile of children rolling about in the grass, chuckling and unable to stop, their wooden swords forgotten.
"Hey Harry, can we try your trampoline?" Sebastian asked, pointing over to the bouncing thing of gorgeousness.
"Sure." Harry nodded. He had had a blast on the trampoline that morning and was sure his friends would too. "But we gotta ask my Paddy first, that's the rule."
They gaggle of children raced across the lawn towards the adults and jumping up and down, pointing, managed to get their idea across.
"Alright, alright." Sirius laughed. "But only four at a time. Let's see, how about Sebastian, Neville, Luna, and Ginny take the first bounce? Then Harry, Ronnie, Hermione, and Marny can have the second." He suggested, pairing up the children he thought would do beast with one another. There was a bit of disagreement in the second group, mostly from Ronnie and Marny. "Everyone will get a turn so long as their patient. Your first four head over to Remus and he'll help you out. You other four though… how about you come have a snack since it's about lunch time?"
"Food!" Ronnie cheered and the second group dashed over to the table set up with all the snacked while the first group went over to the trampoline.
Harry grabbed a plate and some of the cut up grapes before he sat down on the grass with his friends to eat.
"This is a really fun party, Harry." Ronnie remarked as he picked up a piece of cut up hot dog. Lexie was always cutting things up lately. Hot dogs and grapes were choking hazards, but perfectly fine when cut.
"Thanks Ronnie." Harry smiled, glad his friends were having fun. He knew he sure was.
When the first group of four was done on the trampoline and herded over to the snack table, Harry, Ronnie, Hermione, and Marny all paraded over to the bouncing fun time toy. Marny and Hermione removed their shoes and socks, both of the boys already barefoot, and then all four of them clambered up onto the trampoline.
"Like this!" Harry gave a great jump and he bounced upwards, sending the other three wobbling for their balance. When all four of them started bouncing though, they were everywhere. It turned out, that bouncing with more than one person on the trampoline was a lot harder and someone was always making you fall down onto you bottom. However, it was quite fun as well to accidentally fall onto one's bottom when you weren't expecting it right at that moment.
A bit later, once everyone had had their fill of trampoline time and it was getting further into the afternoon, Lexie came out of the house carrying Harry's large birthday cake. It was shaped like a train and had the candles stuck into the whistle so that it looked almost like it was really steaming. The adults worked to gather all of the children up and then they all took seats on blankets on the grass, ready to watch Harry blow out his candles.
"Come here, Prongslet." Sirius beamed, lifting Harry up onto a chair behind the cake so that everyone could see him. He grinned brightly as the candles were lit by Moony and everyone started to sing. Never in his entire life had he had so many people around him, celebrating with him this very special day that was all his own. He felt his little being swell with the love surrounding him and he closed his eyes, wishing really hard to always stay with his family and maybe a new broomstick if he were allowed more than one wish. And then, he blew.
The candles went out and everyone cheered before Sirius cut into the cake and started handing out pieces, until everyone had one. As they ate, Harry opened the presents everyone had brought him. Sweets from the Weasleys, a new book about teeth from Hermione. A puzzle, a board game, some toy cars, and a wide variety of other things five year old boys liked. Hagrid had even brought him a lovely kaleidoscope carved out of real wood with different gems to set in the end containing fairy dust, dragon scales, unicorn hair, and glow bug goo.
Harry said thank you every time he opened something, beaming and grateful. He had never had so many birthday presents in his life!
Once cake and presents were done with, the food table was brought inside out of the way along with most of Harry's new toys. He would have shared them right away with all his friends, but there would be time for that later… after the water war.
Everyone had come wearing bathing suits under their clothes, so changing was no hassle. All the clothes were safely deposited into an empty hamper and set in the kitchen where they wouldn't get wet. Then Sirius brought out the water guns and balloons while Remus turned on the back garden's sprinklers.
Water shot up out of the grass and the pealing laughter of children sounded, bright and happy and thrilled as they were all splashed with the cold water. Guns and balloons were handed out and with a battle cry from Fred and George, the war began.
"AI-YAI-YAI-YAI!" The twins banged on their chests and raced across the yard, guns held in their hands.
Water balloons flew in every direction. Those who didn't want to get wet retreated to the safety of the living room to drink coffee and coo over baby Rozzie, though neither of her parents were currently there and she was in the care of Neville's grandmother who didn't seem to be able to get enough of her.
Lexie shot a well aimed water balloon at Sirius who got it right in the chest. He chased after her, his feet kicking up loose strands of wet grass from yesterday's mowing until he slipped and went falling backwards to land flat on his back. Lexie laughed and Sirius pushed himself up, shooting off after her once more only to be taken down by a hoard of five year olds with water balloons.
"Ah! Somebody save me!" Sirius cried out, trying to army crawl across the grass as Harry, Ronnie, Hermione, Marny, and Sebastian held onto his legs. Harry let go and climbed onto Sirius's back, hugging onto him from behind. The others let go and Harry sat up, kicking his legs just a little bit and grinning. Sirius pushed up onto his hands and knees and began walking. This had been much easier months ago when Harry had been smaller and he had been a dog. Thinking back on it now, they had gotten exceptionally lucky that day when the Minister of Magic had come to try and take Harry away. Even luckier that the Lovegoods lived only a few miles away. And still, the luckiest of all that he had been able to keep Harry, his sweet little boy, instead of being forced to give him back to the Dursleys or worse, watched him put into a home with someone else, like the Malfoys for instance. Sure, there had been that week long stint of doubt around Valentine's Day when he could have lost Harry to the Malfoys forever, but they had pulled through that as well.
Everything they had been through in the past year had led up to this one moment that they would never get back. Harry, his Harry, on his fifth birthday, hanging onto Sirius's back like he was the most wonderful and fun person there ever was. Sure, there would be other moments like this, similar and just as good, but this moment was the only one of it's kind. It was quite remarkable, really, how far they had come in just this single year alone.
"I've got you, Paddy!" Harry fell forward, hugging around Sirius's neck and nuzzling his nose against his cheek happily. Sirius beamed and spun around to sit down, pulling Harry around off his back and into his lap. He buried his face against Harry's dripping wet hair and kissed his forehead. He looked around the yard. One year and a day ago he had been sitting in the corner of a cell in Azkaban, no longer knowing how long he'd been in there and not seeing any hope of every seeing the sun again. But now the poured down upon him through the water that sprayed up from the sprinklers and people around him laughed joyfully. He watched as Remus swung Hermione up through the air as her brown hair flew out behind her, her face alight with shock at the sudden movement. He saw Ronnie wrestling with Fred and George. Ginny and Luna pressing sticky hands covered in mud to one another's faces. Lexie rocking Rozzie as she sat down beneath a gentle spray of water. And finally, Sirius peered down into those emerald eyes, shining so bright, and that smile that lit up every fiber of his being knowing that he had helped cause the pure unadulterated happiness behind it and that it would get even brighter when Harry found out there was a new toy broomstick waiting in his playroom. Nothing could make this single moment of time in their lives feel any better than it did right at that split second.
"And you always will, Prongslet. You always will."
Well, that's it you guys. It's done. I'm having an emotional moment right now... I am really, really grateful to all of you who had read and asked for more, I never would have gotten this far on it if it weren't for you guys, so thanks so much! I really hope you have enjoyed reading this story, and particularly this chapter. It didn't come out completely the way I wanted it to, and it was actually finished weeks ago, but I couldn't bring myself to tweak it the way it needed to be before posting it. But now it is and it's complete. Holy crap. I would love to hear what you think of it though! Also, as promised, the second installment will be posted up within the next hour. I am very excited about it, so, go check it out if you wanna see what happens next!
As always, with love,