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Chapter One: Happy Birthday, Harry

The Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom was suddenly cold today, though with good reason, as Harry Potter found himself standing at the window, wand in hand, watching a small bird on a branch. Lupin stood behind him, hands on his shoulders, watching him with those concerned brown eyes.

It was quite a sensation to look at something and know that you were about to kill it. Especially when that something was so close, and so unaware. So unsuspecting that it was currently doing the last things it would ever do.

"Go on, Harry." Lupin's hand on his shoulder tightened. "You need to do this."

The little bird on the branch outside the window was tweeting happily. Warbling to the sun. Happy to be alive, maybe even planning what it would do tomorrow.

"Close your eyes, Harry, it might help."

Harry closed his eyes, and raised his wand, then murmured, "Avada kedavra."

There was a flash of painful green light, that seemed to absorb everything. Harry opened his eyes just in time to see the little bird tilt sideways and fall from the tree, unmistakably dead.

Everything blacked out suddenly, as fast as having a blanket pulled over the head, and then just as quickly as his vision had gone, it came back again. He was sitting in a chair, somewhere cold and dark, pinned back, his head on a pillow.

"Are you relaxed?" murmured Snape's voice, in front of him, as the Potions master's face appeared out of the darkness. That voice seemed to wash over him in a deep wave.

"Yes," he whispered.

A cold hand touched the side of his face, tilted his head up, and those dark eyes were staring down at him, reaching right inside him, tearing him apart and scattering his mind and his soul into pieces. The mind was no longer a thing, a single voice, but hundreds, spread apart and examined one by one. There was another something there, a something he'd never known before, something that was dark and yet soothing. It was moving amongst his mind and dipping into the utmost corners of his conscience. He was only dimly aware of the bowl of water next to him, and his fingers trailing around in it, and then... heat was pouring from his hand, weeping into the water so fast and hard nobody had any time to prepare for it. The temperature of the water went shrieking skywards as it boiled. In front of him, he dimly saw Snape's smile.

And then, the blanket came again, flashed down into blackness and torn back into reality, bringing with it a surge of fire and glittering gold and green sparks. Draco stood before him in the darkness, completely alone, though he was surrounded by flames.

He was moving his arms almost as though dancing, swirling and ducking, twisting on the spot and then sweeping his hand out in a great arc. And from his fingers came fire, great green and red fire, that contorted itself as it ducked and weaved with him. Sparks were flying, and there was a dull roaring, as the tongues of fire formed a great dragon, which soared around the dungeon. It was amazing to watch. Draco was gazing at what he had created with wide eyes, standing as though king of the world, relishing and embracing his sudden power. Harry was cheering and clapping, whistling, as though the spectator of some spectacular show.

But before he could think, the blanket suddenly tore down again, and it was ripped back, to reveal a single face that Harry had seen many times before, though only in his dreams. The structure of a human boy, but with the tan skin of a lion, the eyes of a hawk, and a mouth full of sharp teeth like a crocodile. The boy was smiling, just smiling. "Morning, sunshine," he whispered.

Blanket down, and this time, when the blanket came back, there was nothing there. It was just nothing. Nothing left to see, nothing there, not even black. It only existed for a second, before there was that feeling of suddenly something happening, the blanket came down, and Harry James Potter was brought out of his nightmare as suddenly as it begun.

He'd been having these dreams for a month now, even though every morning when he woke up, drenched in cold sweat, he couldn't remember anything about them. And this morning was no different at all. He bolted awake, quite suddenly, torn from his nightmares so fast that he gasped. The darkness and the silence fell over him like a blanket, and as he looked around his dark room, the fleeting memories were already drizzling away. He sighed. Pulling the covers up, he sat back against his pillows and just took a few moments to let his heart beat settle again, wishing that he knew just what it was that made him so scared.

It was still dark outside. No light was peeking through the velvet drapes hung over the windows yet, and shadows were still thrown here and there across the darkened room. As always, when Harry glanced at his two room mates, he saw that Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy were still fast asleep. They always slept until nine anyway.

He sat up, taking his glasses from the bedside table and putting them on. The shadowy room around him came into clearer focus. Ron was lying on his back in bed, snoring silently, his mouth wide open, and under Ron's mattress, Harry could make out a box-shaped distortion. Ron truly was terrible at hiding presents.

For today was Harry James Potter's seventeenth birthday, at last. Four weeks before, his sixth year at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry had drawn to a dramatic end, and ever since, he had been living at Grimmauld Place with Draco and the Weasley family. During the month, not much had happened that was out of the ordinary - at least, out of the ordinary for a house full of wizards. Summer time boredom was settling in place, and being expressed in most inventive ways. Just the day before, Mr Weasley had been called home from work early to get rid of a hoard of dancing blue carrots which had besieged his daughter Ginny in the bathroom. Ron still maintained doggedly that it was an accident.

Of course, there had been sadness too in his month at Grimmauld Place. A week into the holiday, Percy Weasley's funeral had taken place. It had been a very quiet, sombre occasion, for just the Weasley family, where Percy's ashes were scattered into the wind on top of Stoatshead Hill. Where muggle funerals said goodbye, the wizarding version was more like, "until next time".

And so today was his birthday at last. It was the first of his birthdays that he would spend in fully wizard company, and he was definitely looking forward to it. There was that box-shaped lump under Ron's mattress to attend to, but more than that, Harry was most excited about finally celebrating a special occasion with friends and family all around him. And there certainly would be a lot of people to talk to. Staying in the house at the minute were Mr and Mrs Weasley, Bill Weasley, Ron, Ginny, Harry, Draco Malfoy, Remus Lupin, Tonks, and of course, Snape. Snape would most likely prefer to spend his summer anywhere but Grimmauld Place, but his duty as Harry's magical guardian had brought him here. Bill was over in England for Percy's funeral, and would be staying for a few more weeks, while the second eldest brother of the Weasley family, Charlie, was staying at Hogwarts with the gamekeeper Hagrid. Occasionally, Fred and George Weasley would come round to liven things up a little, or get the children to test some new product. Harry quite enjoyed these visits, because apart from that, he was stuck in Grimmauld Place around the clock, and it did get very tedious sometimes.

As he looked around the dark bedroom, Harry quite hoped Ron or Draco would suddenly wake up, so he could have somebody to talk to at least. He checked the clock. It was just after eight, so hopefully, Mrs Weasley would be awake in the kitchen downstairs, cooking breakfast for everyone. Thinking he would use the excuse of needing a drink, Harry got out of bed, crept across the room, and reached for the door handle.

With timing so perfect it deserved the Order of Merlin, the door suddenly burst open with a crash loud enough to wake the dead. Draco yelped and fell out of bed with a thunk, as into the room came Tonks, Fred and George, all singing at the tops of their voices and sprinkling little bits of confetti everywhere.

"For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fe-l-oooooow.... and so say all of us!" They rounded this off with a cheer, clapping and laughing, as Harry grinned.

Ron groaned and buried his face further into the pillow. Draco got off the floor shakily, his hair sticking up in all sorts of angles, whilst everybody was covered in armfuls of glittering confetti. Harry couldn't help but grin as Tonks plonked a party hat on his head, and the three minstrels burst into applause.

"You maniacs," Ron groaned, groggily, looking up from his pillow with bleary eyes. "It's only just gone past eight o' clock in the morning..."

"Which means dear Master Potter has been seventeen for eight hours, and yet no partying?" Fred demanded of his younger brother.

"We'll have to rectify that, I think," said George, grinning. "Especially as Fred and I have taken time out of our busy schedule to come and visit."

"Come on, you two," said Tonks, bouncing over to Ron and Draco. "Up! There's no time for sleeping in now!" She poked them both in the backs of the heads, and received simultaneous groans, both sleepy boys trying to swat her away. "Up!" she trilled.

"Nnh!" said Ron, irritably, throwing his pillow at her.

At that moment, the door opened again, and the oldest Weasley boy, Bill, came in. He looked down at them all bemusedly, draped in a scarlet dressing gown that made him look even more tanned than usual. "What's going on here?" he asked, blinking at the confetti fluttering around.

"My stupid cousin and your stupid brothers are trying to reanimate the dead by the sound of it," Draco groaned from under a fistful of cover.

Tonks gave Draco a playful shove, and there was an indistinct moan of annoyance from under the bulge of blankets. She chortled. At first, there had been some awkwardness between Tonks and Draco. They were cousins, linked by their mothers, but they had never met and had lived very different lives indeed. Though now they had settled in, Tonks was perfectly delighted to have a new cousin to tease, and even though Draco found her incessantly irritating, he liked her really.

Ron had finally staggered out of the warmth of his bed, and after fumbling around under his mattress for a few moments, he pulled out a present wrapped in gold and handed it to Harry with a sleepy smile. "Happy birthday, mate."

Harry grinned. "Thanks!" he said, eagerly, as he took the box from Ron and started pulling at the paper. Ron sat on the end of his bed to watch, and out from the gold wrapping fell a brightly-coloured package. According to the label, it was "An Assorted TrixBox from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes".

"Prototype," said Ron, with a bleary smile. "It's got all your typical joke stuff... fart draft, instant pimpling potions, some fake spiders... I think there's a fake tongue stud in there which is pretty cool."

"And another prototype for you, Harry," said Fred, throwing Harry a lumpy parcel from behind his back.

"First one ever made," said George.

"Completely exclusive," said Fred.

Harry caught it, and pulled open the packaging eagerly. When he saw what it was, he couldn't help but laugh. It was a t-shirt, emblazoned with a large moving picture of Snape, wrapped in a fluffy green towel and apparently waxing his legs.

"Getting In Touch With His Feminine Side Snape T-Shirt," both the twins grinned at once.

"It comes with several different towel colours," said Fred, idly. "Pretty pink, lime green, or baby-blue. We thought the green version would bring out your eyes more."

George sniggered and handed Harry another parcel. "Don't eat them all at once."

Harry pulled off the paper and revealed a large bag of fruit gums. "Hey, I didn't know you guys did normal safe sweets," he said, and then turning it over, he smiled. "Ah. WARNING - the makers are not responsible for any mutations, mutilations, explosions, accidents, injuries, amputations, losses and sudden disappearances."

Fred and George both grinned at the same time. "Can you blame us?" said Fred.

"What is the meaning of all this noise?" a voice hissed from the door. They all whipped around, and standing in the door, swathed in a black dressing robe that was more like a Halloween costume, was Severus Snape. Before this summer, Harry had thought they couldn't possibly be a scarier side to Snape than when he was teaching Potions first thing on a Monday morning, but he had been wrong. That had all been before he'd ever laid eyes on a Severus Snape, sleep deprived, having been just woken up by noisy teenagers in the room next door.

"It's Harry's birthday," said Tonks, grinning, clapping him on the shoulder and sprinkling a handful of confetti into the air around him.

Harry, realising he was still holding up the Feminine Snape t-shirt, dropped it quickly and tried to hide his grin a little. Snape glared at him from behind his greasy, ruffled black curtains of hair. "Mm," the Potions master droned, unconvinced.

"Would you like a party hat, Professor Snape?" asked Fred, offering Snape one with a fluffy pink bauble on the top.

Snape gave him a look of utter loathing, and then turned, sweeping out of the room in a flurry of black dressing gown. They all smiled. Fred and George took every possible opportunity to antagonise Snape to his absolute limit, and it had to be said, they were doing a marvellous job so far. Even though the Weasley twins weren't technically staying at Grimmauld Place, as they now had a flat in London somewhere, they still seemed to think that Snape was imposing upon their territory. As a result, Snape spent a great deal of time in his attic room at Grimmauld Place, apparently reading or playing chess. Harry wasn't going to admit it to Fred and George, but he'd actually joined the Potions master once or twice. He'd been beaten mercilessly both times - which was another thing he would never admit to Fred and George.

The door opened, yet again, and Lupin and Mr Weasley came in, rubbing their eyes and looking exhausted. "Now really," said Mr Weasley, sleepily. "What is all this noise about so early in the morning?"

"Harry's birthday!" said Fred, merrily. He leant up and balanced party hats on both their heads. "We thought we'd start the festivities early!"

"Harry got a new t-shirt," said Ron, grinning widely.

"Oh?" said Mr Weasley. "Who from?"

"Us," said Fred and George at once.

Mr Weasley looked at them worriedly for a moment. "And what exactly was on this t-shirt?"

Harry grinned and held it up to show Mr Weasley and Lupin. They both took a moment to register it, and when they did, small smiles crossed both faces. Lupin's soft brown eyes twinkled as they met Harry's gaze. "How... unfair to Severus," he said, mildly.

"So what size can we order one for you in?" asked Fred, grinning.

Lupin chuckled quietly. "I do have to work with him, Fred, and I'd rather be alive for the start of the new term, if you don't mind."

Mr Weasley held open the door for them all. "Well, seeing as though everybody's awake, we might as well go downstairs... Molly's making pancakes I think."

Fred and George skipped out of the room, bursting into song again, followed by a very energetic Tonks who knocked over an umbrella stand on her way out. Harry pulled on his dressing gown, and he, Ron and Draco, then made their way down to the kitchen. Draco was mumbling something reluctant about his hair looking a state, but Ron said, brusquely, "Oh, your hair always looks a state, shut up and stop moaning, Malfoy."

When Harry entered the kitchen along with everybody else, Mrs Weasley hurried over from the oven and gave him a huge, affectionate hug. He grinned and hugged back.

"Happy birthday, Harry dear," she said, fondly, as she smoothed his hair back for him. "I've got pancakes and waffles for everybody. Grab a chair and sit down, we've got to give Harry his presents!" She bustled back over to the oven to check on the breakfast, as they all sunk down into chairs around the kitchen table. Snape was already sitting in his usual place by the window, sipping coffee through pursed lips. He was not a morning person.

Mr Weasley came into the room then, holding two or three parcels wrapped in brightly-coloured paper, a big smile on his face as he sat down in the only available space at the table. "Happy birthday, Harry," he said, reaching across to ruffle Harry's hair.

Harry grinned widely. Mrs Weasley came over and started setting down the plates of pancakes in front of people, trying to fit plates, presents and Mr Weasley's paper all onto the table without knocking anything over. Ginny said, "Excellent!", and reached out for her plate, but Mrs Weasley pushed it out of reach.

"Not yet," she said, smiling. "Harry hasn't opened his presents yet."

Grinning from ear to ear, Harry picked up one of the parcels, and started to open them, feeling as though he was going to burst with happiness. From Mr and Mrs Weasley, there was a huge red jumper with a big 'H' knitted onto the front, and a box of best Honeydukes chocolate; from Ginny, there was a novelty Snitch that made odd sound effects when bounced; from Bill, he had an interesting book about ancient Egyptian dark arts; Draco, who didn't have much money, had whittled him a little model of a dragon; from Tonks, he received a large bottle of Madam Madmop's Magical Hair-Dye, in rainbow colour; and from Lupin, he was given a St Christopher Pendant.

"Your father and Sirius gave that to me on my own seventeenth birthday," said Lupin, with a smile, as Harry ran his fingers over the silver. "I know they'd want you to have it."

The door opened, and Mr Weasley came in, carrying a newspaper and a bag under his arm. "My my, it's getting warm out there... such a shame post can't be delivered directly to the house. I'm not complaining about the walk of course, it's certainly good to stretch my legs... now then... some parcels came along with the paper, and I believe they might be yours, Harry." He smiled, and put the bag down in front of Harry.

Harry looked in the bag interestedly, and saw five parcels, all with letters and cards attached. Curiously, he reached in, and picked up the largest. It weighed nearly as much as a stone slab, and judging by the neat handwriting on the envelope, it was from his other best friend, Hermione Granger.

"Bet you it's a book," said George, smirking.

It was. When Harry pulled back the brown paper, he came across the glossy bronze title, "So You're Taking Your NEWTs?", and a large picture of an owl in a pointed hat.

Fred spluttered into his hot chocolate. "She's sent you a book about NEWTs, already? It's only the start of the year, you've got ages before your NEWTs!"

"I think it's a very thoughtful gift," said Ron, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, you would," said Fred. He mimed kissing an invisible person. "Oh, darling Hermione, let me copy your Potions homework..."

"I don't do Potions," said Ron, sniffily.

"Luckily," said Snape, icily, from the corner by the window. They all jumped. As usual, everybody had quite forgotten he was there at all.

Harry opened the letter along with Hermione's gift, and read it aloud to everybody, as Mr Weasley interestedly picked up the NEWTs book and read through it. "Dear Harry and everybody else - I hope you're all having a good time at Grimmauld Place, and that you're enjoying your birthday, Harry. I thought that this book would come in handy for your classes this year, though it's quite interesting to read, I got one myself. Hope to see you soon, love from Hermione."

"Quite interesting?" Fred repeated, as he took the book from his dad. He flicked through it. "Hmm, four-hundred pages about revision techniques! Wow, crazy!"

Harry was starting on the next parcel, another box-shaped one that was rustling slightly as he tore at the paper. Ron leaned over his shoulder interestedly to see what it was, and when it fell out into Harry's lap, he gave a gasp. "Oh, cool! He's got you a fuzzy fungus kit!"

"What's a fuzzy fungus kit?" asked Draco, raising an eyebrow.

Harry held up the box and started to read the instructions on the back to the rest of the room. "The amazing make-your-own fuzzy fungus kit. Just put one of the seeds into the plant pot provided, sprinkle with the coloured powder of your choice, fill the plant pot with water and within a week your new fuzzy fungus will have grown. Please note, fuzzy fungus is not edible." The front of the box was covered in pictures of little animals, that looked more like large mushrooms with arms, legs, and hugely cute eyes, in various pastel colours.

"They're really cool," said Ron, enthusiastically. "They're like little pets you grow yourself, but they're technically plants."

"Oh, it's those?" said Bill. He leant over Harry's shoulder interestedly. "I took Herbology at NEWT level, we did fuzzy fungi in our sixth year. They're certainly interesting, though you have to be careful what you feed them or they might turn nasty on you... should be a fun project."

Ron took the note from the back of the box, and read. "Dear Harry, happy birthday! I hope you like your gift. I didn't know what to get you at first, but then I saw these on sale in Diagon Alley, and I thought I'd get you one. Bye! From Neville."

Smiling slightly, Harry put the box on the chair next to him along with his other presents, and then reached into the back, pulling out an oddly lumpy parcel with a note spellotaped to the back. He read the note out first. "Dear Harry. Hopefully these will bring the world around you into clearer prospective. From Luna L." Curiously, he tugged open the paper, to reveal a pair of what looked like muggle swimming goggles.

"What on earth has she sent you goggles for?" said Ginny, curiously.

Harry looked at the label attached. "It says that they're RealWorld Glasses. They show the world as it really is, and can even give hints to where invisible people are."

"Cool!" said Ron, eagerly. "Put them on, have a look! Is there anybody invisible in here now?"

Harry carefully pulled the goggles over his head, and blinked a few times as the greenish blur around him came steadily into focus. Everything was upside down, and anything that posed a danger seemed to be glowing a painful sort of red. "No invisible people, but you're all upside down." Draco sighed, reached across the table, took the glasses off Harry and turned them the other way up. Harry blinked. "Ah, you're all the right way up now... no invisible people though."

"Shame," said Ron, as he nosed into the bag, taking out the last two parcels. "Who are these from?" he said, frowning.

Harry took off the goggles, and checked the packages. One was wrapped rather clumsily in rough brown paper, and on the front was written, "To Harry, hope you have a great birthday, from Hagrid." He tugged at the paper a few times, and after a moment of struggling (Hagrid had used an awful lot of spellotape), Harry managed to open the present.

It looked like a wooden muggle toy, in the shape of a bird. Harry could remember a trip to some boring old museum when he was about seven, and Uncle Vernon had gone on and on for hours about a glass exhibit full of toys like this. He turned the bird over, and saw that its tail was a whistle. Curiously, he blew down it.

The lump in Ron's top pocket quivered a little, and a green head wearing an acorn hat poked out of the top. Sneezy the opsittop had been staying at Grimmauld Place along with Ron and Harry, as their Care Of Magical Creatures homework for the summer. As they watched, Sneezy carefully pattered onto the table and scurried across to stare at the wooden bird in absolutely fascination. After a moment, he started to whistle in just the same way as he bobbed up and down on the balls of his little feet.

Harry smiled, and put down the whistle. Sneezy beamed up and him and started to applaud. Everybody laughed as Sneezy then pottered off, whistling merrily to himself and clambering back into Ron's top pocket.

"A forest whistle," said Bill, smiling and taking the whistle to study. "Charlie showed me one he had a few months ago, for calling bowtruckles. The sound changes every time you use it... watch." He lifted the whistle carefully to his lips, and gave a few soft piping blows, the sound of a cuckoo. Sneezy's head popped out of Ron's pocket again, listening avidly to Bill.

Harry grinned as Bill started teaching Sneezy how to cuckoo, and then turned to his last present. Everybody else was watching Sneezy's attempts at the call ("Hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo!") and so nobody caught the look of confusion when he realised there wasn't a label.

Curious, he eased the shiny red paper off. A bottle fell into his hands. It was heart-shaped, and full of a glittering pink liquid that shimmered as it caught the light. Harry carefully uncorked it with a quiet pop, and took a few timid sniffs. It smelt like roses, strawberries, winter mornings and something else, something warm and comforting that Harry knew he had smelt before but couldn't put his finger on.

Snape, who wasn't exactly an animal lover, had been watching him from across the room. He stood up and came over, taking the chair next to Harry. "Who sent you that, Potter?" he asked.

Harry handed him the potion with a shrug. "I don't know... there wasn't a label."

Snape uncorked it carefully, and holding it as though it would explode, he smelt it tentatively. He raised his eyebrows. "A love potion. How... thoughtful."

"A love potion?" said Harry, with wide eyes. "Why would somebody send me a love potion? And who?"

"Smell it again," said Snape, "and carefully... try not to get any on your lips. It should smell faintly of the person who sent it."

Carefully, Harry took the bottle and sniffed a few more times. He couldn't match a face to that hidden smell at all, though it seemed very out of place in the rest of the bottle. It was almost musky, but sharp, like leather.

"Leather," said Harry, frowning curiously. "It smells a bit like leather."

"Do you know anybody with strong connections to leather?" asked Snape, raising an eyebrow.

Harry stared at him, and then a smirk curled his lips. "Your half-sister wears leather boots, doesn't she?" he said, slyly.

Snape's face worked. Harry knew that expression very well. It was the look which said all too plainly that Snape was torn between smiling and throttling Harry to within an inch of my life. "My half-sister couldn't brew a love potion to save her life, Potter, and if she could, I'm rather sure she would not be sending it to you."

Harry chuckled, and put the bottle down, studying it for a moment, before Draco turned away from the opsittop crowd. He leant forward to examine the bottle interestedly. "You've got a love potion," he said, blankly.

Snape raised one thin eyebrow. "So quick to realise what it is, Malfoy?"

"I happen to know what a love potion looks like," Draco said, coolly. "I hope, Professor, you aren't suggesting that I may have used one at some time... after all, I would hardly need one, being the ravishing handsome half-breed that I am."

"You're not a half-breed," said Harry. "Just a quarter-breed."

"Indeed," said Draco, vaguely, still studying the potion. He uncorked it, and leant forward to have a sniff. He looked thoughtful for a moment, and then smiled. "How thoughtful of her."

"Do you know who it is?" said Harry, eagerly, sitting up in his seat.

Draco gave him a contemptuous little smile. "You mean you don't, Potter?"

"Tell me!" Harry pleaded.

"Can't you think of anybody in the world who would send you a love potion?" said Draco, raising his eyebrows, apparently relishing the role of know-it-all. "Somebody who clearly cares for you a lot, but prefers to make her affections simple... with a strong connection to leather. Not necessarily clothing... a sport, perhaps?"

Harry thought for a few minutes, and then realised. "Kainda! She sent - ... hang on... how did you know my girlfriend smells of leather?" he said, suspiciously.

Draco raised his eyebrows. "Now there's something you're probably never going to say again."

Harry grinned, and took back the love potion. He took another sniff, a proper one, and there was no mistaking that scent of leather and the outdoors, mixed with something soft and caring. He glanced at Snape after a moment, and said, "What will happen if I drink this?"

"You'll fall in love with whoever sent it," he said, idly.

"But what if I'm already...?"

"It will act as a memory boost of that love," said Snape, and he was smirking at Harry. "At last, the great Harry Potter has fallen in love. I'm not going to have to endure "the talk" with you, am I? I don't think I could stomach it."

"Me neither," said Harry, smiling. He lifted the bottle carefully to his lips, and took the merest hint of a sip, then put it down. For a moment, nothing happened, until a swelling feeling suddenly blossomed in his chest and he found himself grinning. It was the oddest sensation, just like those few moments after a first kiss.

Smiling, he went to drink some more, but Snape pulled it out of his hands and recorked it. "Love potions are notoriously dangerous," the Potions master said, in a tone that suggested he'd caught Harry playing with matches. "There is a documented case of a wizard who drunk a whole cupful at once. He promptly committed suicide, claiming that such love was too great for life to ever contain."

Harry smiling a little. "Okay, I'll be careful."

Everybody was done with the opsittop, and were all sitting back down again, tucking into breakfast at last. Harry put the love potion under the table. As much as he loved and cherished the Weasleys, he didn't want them to all be studying the love potion and asking questions. He thought that Fred and George would probably start doing "Harry Potter gets a love potion" t-shirts if they found out.

"So what are we doing today?" Ginny asked, ladling syrup onto her pancakes.

"Just the usual," Mrs Weasley sighed. "I might take you, Harry, Draco and Ron out for a walk later... you're all getting far too excitable cooped up inside. There's a muggle shopping centre not far from here... I suppose we could go and have a look round. We'd all have to come with you, of course, to protect you, but I daresay you'd all like a chance to stretch your legs."

There was a great chatter of approval, and Ron started talking about a muggle coin he had found a few days ago, asking Harry what he could buy for two pence, but Mrs Weasley called over them all.

"Yes, yes, I know you're all excited, but eat your breakfast and then we'll think about going out!"

They all started eating again, and Ron was still talking excitedly about going for a walk at last. Harry watched them all for a moment, happy as a family, talking and joking with each other, and he couldn't help but grin.

Draco had noticed the look on his face. "What are you smiling about?" he asked.

"It's my birthday," Harry replied. It was the first time he'd ever said that, and smiled at the same time. It was a marvellous feeling.


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