Harry Potter laughed as he watched the Weasley twins zipping past the window with the Prewett twins close behind them. They were supposed to be practicing quidditch for the upcoming season but somehow Fred and George managed to sneak water balloons into the sky. A stupid plan really as they weren't allowed to use magic outside of school yet and their uncles…well they were. The younger set of twins lost control of the situation quickly. It caught him off guard when a balloon flew through the open window. He barely jumped out of the way in time. In the process, however, he backed into a shelf in his Uncle Sirius's attic.
He loved it here. Sirius lived less than a mile from Harry's grandparents and only a mile from his own house. Regulus and Remus, Harry's other two uncles each lived close as well. None of them were his father's biological brothers, Harry knew, but that never seemed to matter. His father called them brothers, his grandparents called them sons, and they called him their nephew. It wasn't the most normal family in the traditional sense of the word but Harry Potter never did care much for normal. It reminded him far too much of his mum's stuffy sister, her annoying husband and their bratty son. Harry wondered vaguely if they would be there later today as he watched a small box fall from the top of the shelf that he'd just inadvertently backed into. Today was Harry's eleventh birthday. It was also Lizzie's eleventh birthday. Lizzie was Harry's favorite cousin, Sirius's second daughter. For as long as he could remember he'd wanted a twin like Fred and George had but he obviously didn't have one.
Lizzie was the next best thing. They were the same age. They were best friends. They spent every day together. And sometimes it was like they could read each other's minds, granted that wasn't all too unusual in the wizarding world.
Harry stooped down to pick up the box and place it back on the high shelf when something fell out, catching his eye. It was a bracelet. It looked to be three strands of white gold braided together. He wondered why something so pretty would be hidden away in a box in the attic and decided to take a closer look. Most of the engraving was unreadable but he could make out the last few words. "All you and always, Harry."
That was peculiar. He was the only Harry he knew. There was his grandfather of course, the man he was named after but everyone always called him his full name, Harold.
Letting his curiosity get the better of him Harry lifted the lid off of the box and scanned the contents a little further. There wasn't much: an old Gryffindor robe, a quidditch jersey with "Potter" scrawled on the back, a photo album and a yellowed piece of parchment. He spread the contents in front of him as a sense of calm unlike any he'd ever felt before spread inside of him. These things were different. He could tell. But why?
He opened the album first looking at faces that were familiar but so different. The only faces that he recognized completely were the Weasleys but even that didn't seem right. Who was the girl with bushy brown hair? It looked so much like his Aunt 'Mione. He'd always felt so close to her for some reason. She just seemed to understand him in a special way. As he looked further into the album the Weasley's got older. He was almost positive that was Ron but Ron was only a few months older than Harry and he looked sixteen in the final picture of the album and he was standing next to that girl again and a boy who looked a lot like Harry's own father but with green eyes like Harry's own.
He reached for the parchment next and his jaw dropped as he read.
"Harry!" he heard his cousin yell up the stairs. "Harry! Come down here! They're here!"
He knew what she meant of course. It was their Hogwarts letters. Somehow they didn't seem as important as they were moments earlier. In a daze he repacked the box and headed toward the stairs, holding it in front of him as if he were afraid it might explode.
Uncle Sirius and Aunt 'Mione were cuddled together on the couch when Harry entered the room. His own parents were close by, along with his other two uncles and their wives, and the Snapes, Longbottoms and Daniels. Their children were his best friends the same way the adults were his parents best friends. Along with the extra-large Weasley family, Harry couldn't remember an important event, or any event, in his life that these people hadn't been there for. He couldn't remember a single day that went by without one of them there actually. All people he'd known since before he was born. All people he trusted completely. All people who'd been hiding something very important from him his entire life.
"Is it hard?" he heard Dean, Aunt 'Mione's best friend, ask in a low whisper as he neared. "Seeing them all? It was around this time that you met them after all?"
She only smiled and shook her head.
"Finally!" Lizzie called when she saw him enter the room. "I've been waiting to open my letter!"
Harry just walked past her as if he didn't hear a word.
"Son, you cousin's talking to you!" his mum reprimanded catching everyone's attention.
His father, uncles and aunts all looked at him at once and he watched as their faces turned from realization to shock to fear to relief in only seconds. It wasn't all of them that grasped the seriousness of what he was holding of course. Even his mum didn't seem to understand fully. No it was just Aunt 'Mione, Uncle Sirius, Uncle Remus, Uncle Reg, Dean, Severus and his father that understood. Harry walked right up to them and placed the box on his aunt's lap without a word. He didn't know what to say. It just didn't seem real. It didn't seem possible. But Harry knew in his world anything was possible.
"We were going to tell you," his dad started to explain.
"It just never seemed the right time," Sirius continued.
"I mean, you still so young," his dad started again.
"We couldn't even believe it when it first happened," Remus added.
'Mione was silent. He thought for a moment if he'd always called her that, even…before. Sirius and Dean were the only other people who did. His mum said it's just how it came out the first time he said it and it stuck but he wondered now. He barely even called her "aunt" unless he was talking about her to someone else. Then he said "my aunt." He always addressed her as "Mione."
He watched as she ran her fingers lightly over the lid of the box before opening it. She looked through the contents and her brow furrowed. Harry reached into his own pocket and pulled the bracelet out, handing it to her.
She smiled at him. In that way that only she could. The way that always made him feel secure.
"What's that Mummy?" Sirina, his older cousin, asked.
"Yes, what is it Mum?" Lizzie seconded.
Their mother didn't respond but his father did. "Your mum's a brave witch, you know?"
"Yes," Sirina answered. "You've told us all about the war."
James just shook his head. "It's so much more than that. Harry, she's the best friend you've ever had and you never even knew it."
"Best friend any of the kids has ever had," Severus corrected.
"Best friend anyone here has ever had," Dean insisted looking at his own son as he spoke.
"What's going on?" the children persisted.
"Get comfortable," James told them. "It's a long story."
a/n: Wow. I'm done. Just WOW! Review & I'll start working on my other unfinished stories soon. Thank you all for sticking with me with long!