Summary: One shot. Harry has a surprise visitor on his birthday and becomes aware of his feelings for his best friend. Fluff, fluff, fluffity fluff, fluff.
Harry was spending the night of July 30th as he usually did—awake and waiting. He looked at his clock on the bedside table; ten more minutes to go. As Harry lay in his bed, he wondered what this year of his life would bring. At the moment, he had little hope that it would be much better than the last.
Dealing with the loss of Sirius was still day-by-day for him, and, he knew without a doubt, that his nightmares of that terrible night at the Ministry would continue. The Wizarding World had stopped believing that he was an attention-seeking nutter, but that was little consolation. So…he was their hero again. Harry gave a quiet snort. No doubt, something else would turn them against him again soon.
Harry had experienced the fickleness of this world before, in his second year, with most of the Hogwarts student population believing he was the heir of Slytherin setting the basilisk on Muggleborns. Then, again, in his fourth year, when no one believed that he hadn’t entered himself in the Triwizard Tournament. Well, no one but Hermione, and some of the teachers. Harry smiled as he remembered all the hard work Hermione and he had put into learning the spells he had needed. How she had been his sounding board, how she had taken care of him.
Last year had been nothing short of hellish. Harry traced the faint scars on his right hand. I must not tell lies. All the scared and pitying looks he’d had to endure. The anger and fear that had ruled his thoughts and actions. He went over the fiasco with Cho in his head. Had she ever really felt anything for him, or had she simply been using him as a substitute for Cedric? He looked over at his Firebolt resting against the far corner, his hands balling briefly into fists as he remembered the day Quidditch had been taken away from him.
The Dursleys had let him keep all his Wizarding things in his room this summer again with the understanding that his door must always be kept shut whether he was in or out of his room. Moody’s little talk with Uncle Vernon had helped quite a bit. The bars had been removed from his window and he was being offered better food than he ever had been. If only he felt like eating.
Thinking back over the past year, Harry could thankfully remember a few bright spots but even those had difficult memories attached to them. Finally getting to be with his friends at Grimmauld Place last summer, and the result of the hearing. Watching with pride when his fellow students learned as he taught them what he knew in the D. A. meetings; the D.A. meetings that had eventually caused Dumbledore to leave Hogwarts. The painful interview with Rita Skeeter that began to turn the tide of people’s wrongful perception of him. The group of people gathered at King’s Cross Station to show their support for him as he had to go back to the Dursley’s.
Harry glanced back over at the clock. Less than one minute to go. There…midnight. ‘Happy Birthday to me,’ Harry thought wryly. He doubted the Dursley’s would acknowledge this day as any more special than yesterday. He got up and walked to his window, looking down at Privet Drive. He wondered if one of The Order was lurking somewhere along the pavement. Sighing, he looked at the full moon that was bathing his bedroom in silvery light. ‘I hope Remus is okay,’ Harry thought, casting his eyes down. ‘Wonder what Hermione and Ron are doing…wonder if they’re together again without me…’ Harry felt his insides clench, unconscious of his fingers worrying the hem of his t-shirt as he envisioned the pair of them enjoying themselves at The Burrow. Harry was unaware that he was grinding his teeth as, in his mind’s eye, he saw Hermione laughing at something Ron had said, and then putting her hand on his arm still smiling as she—
Bang! Harry’s eyes snapped up to see what was unmistakably the Knight Bus rolling to a stop in front of Number 4. He opened his window and leaned forward just a bit. Was someone coming to visit Mrs. Figg? Just then, an obviously female silhouette appeared in the bus’ doorway carrying something in one hand. She stepped lightly to the ground with a backward wave. The Knight Bus rolled down the road a bit then disappeared with another Bang!
The person who had just gotten off walked a few feet in the shadows of the trees, gazing around her as though looking at the house numbers. Then, she walked under one of the streetlamps and turned her eyes to Number Four. It couldn’t be…but then, his heart leapt in his chest. Hermione! She looked up, waving as she saw him and Harry saw that she was carrying a basket on her arm. He stood there dumbfounded, but with a large grin growing on his face, as she walked to the grass under his window.
“Well,” Hermione said in a stage whisper, grinning back up at him, “Are you going to let me in or not?”
“Oh!” Harry finally came to himself, turned quickly from his window, and quietly made his way down the stairs. He was careful not to tread on the squeaky one as he neared the landing by the door. Fortunately, with the full moon, there was enough light that he could see his path well.
Painstakingly, he turned the locks and opened the door as noiselessly as he could. Hermione was standing on the porch, her mouth spread in a grin. Harry shook his head in disbelief and grinned back. Then, putting a finger to his lips, he motioned her to come in. After he had closed and relocked the door, he motioned again for her to follow him, making sure that she skipped the noisy step just as he had. Finally, they made it to his room.
Harry let Hermione go in first, then listened for any noises from the Dursley’s before pushing his door softly shut and turning the lock. He turned around to Hermione, who had put the basket down on the floor beside her. She enveloped him in a hug and whispered, “Happy Birthday, Harry.” He returned the hug for a bit, and couldn’t help but be aware of her body fitted snugly against his. “Thanks,” he replied softly, finally releasing her. “What in the world are you doing here?”
“I-I kind of snuck out. I hope you don’t mind,” Hermione said, sounding a bit nervous now.
“You what?” Harry said incredulously.
“Well, I couldn’t miss your sixteenth birthday,” she replied, with tilt of her head as the moonlight shone softly on her face and glinted in her hair. “I had a feeling the Dursley’s wouldn’t throw a party for you so I decided to bring a little celebration myself.” Hermione bent down to get the basket, carried it over to Harry's bed then sat down and reached inside. First, she pulled a quilt from it and spread it on the floor. Next came a box, which she set down on the quilt and then she produced some plates, silverware, napkins and finally, some soft drink bottles.
Looking back into Harry’s astonisheded eyes, she asked, “Would you like to open your present now or later?”
“Now, I guess,” he replied, wondering what else was in the basket.
Hermione nodded and smiled. “I thought so.” She pulled a nicely wrapped package out of the basket. She slid down to the quilt and patted the space beside her. Harry smiled back, lowered himself quietly to the floor, and taking the present she held out to him, began to open it slowly.
Harry removed the ribbon and paper and lifted the lid off the box to find two small identical mirrors. He became absolutely still, staring at them.
“They’re to use to communicate,” Hermione said brightly. “See, you give one to someone else and when they want to talk with you they just say your name and--Harry…is something wrong?” Her voice went from excited to hesitant.
Harry shook his head and swallowed. “No, they’re really great. Thanks, Hermione.” He looked up into her worried eyes and tried to smile as reassuringly as he could.
“Please don’t lie to me,” Hermione said quietly, her shoulders drooping.
In answer, Harry gently placed the package on the quilt and stood up. He walked over to his school trunk, opened it, and reached to the bottom. His fingers felt around carefully for the sharp broken shards. After he had found them all, he took them and sat back down, laying them out gingerly on the quilt. He rebuilt the mirror like a puzzle, only face down. When he had finished, he motioned for Hermione to look. In the moonlight, she was able to make out Sirius’ message and Harry heard her take a sharp breath.
“I had that the whole time,” Harry said, not meeting Hermione’s eyes. “Sirius gave it to me right before we left Grimmauld Place after Christmas. Said I could use it if I ever needed him. And I forgot about it.” He was working hard to control the trembling in his voice. “There was never any need to use Umbridge’s fire—either time. I had what I needed to talk to Sirius; it was with me the entire time and I never realized. After he…one night after, I tried to use it and of course it didn’t work. That’s when I broke it.”
“I’m so sorry Harry,” Hermione’s voice was filled with tears and Harry quickly looked up as she went on, “I-I didn’t know.”
“Hermione, please don’t cry—‘course you didn’t know.” Harry moved over to her and put an arm around her shoulders. “And it is a really great present…so, thanks. I’m sorry I reacted like that. Just surprised me, is all.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze and Hermione nodded and leaned into him, still snuffling just a little.
“So,” Harry cast around for a change of subject. “What’s in this box?” He pointed to the first box that Hermione had taken out of the basket.
Hermione hitched up a smile and said, “It’s your cake.”
“Well, let’s have a look.” Harry slipped his arm around from her shoulders and waited.
Hermione leaned forward and lifted the lid to reveal a small chocolate cake adorned with a Snitch made from gold and silver frosting. Happy 16th Birthday, Harry! was written in gold icing under the Snitch.
“Wow!” Harry turned to Hermione. “I think that’s the best cake I’ve ever seen.”
Harry nodded emphatically. “Really.”
Pleased, Hermione dug around in the basket once more and brought out candles and some matches. She quickly stuck the candles in the cake and began to light them.
“Ready?” she asked.
“Ready for what?” said Harry, confusedly.
“Your wish—you’ve got to make a wish and blow out all the candles for it to come true, you know.”
“Oh, yeah.” Harry thought for a moment. His first thought was of Sirius, but he wasn’t going to waste a wish on something that couldn’t come true. But what, then? Harry looked up into his friend’s eyes. Her face was bathed in golden light and the flickers from the candles danced merrily in her eyes. Her lovely, deep brown eyes that still had a few tears clinging in her lashes. Harry blinked, realized he was staring, then quickly took a breath and blew all the candles out. The room was washed in silver once more.
“Oh, good! Your wish will come true, then. Ready for a piece?” she asked, smiling softly.
“Definitely.” He said, trying not to give away what he was actually feeling. “Looks delicious.” He couldn’t believe what he had wished. It hadn’t been a coherent thought, really. It had been more of a vision—a dream. He had seen himself touching his lips to Hermione’s, and imagining it again made his insides uncomfortably fluttery.
He took the slice of cake she offered, grateful for something to do to take his mind off the odd thoughts his impulsive wish was causing. Hermione handed him a fork and then held out a bottle of soda to him.
“Mmm, thanks,” Harry said, putting a bite of cake in his mouth. “Wow, this is really good,” He said through a mouthful of cake. “Did you make this yourself?”
Hermione laughed softly and nodded, adding, “My mum helped me with the frosting, though,” as she put a piece of cake in her mouth.
Harry watched, in spite of himself, as she licked some chocolate from her lips. He was finding it just a bit hard to breathe for some reason.
“Something wrong, Harry?”
“No…I mean, no,” Harry said awkwardly, feeling suddenly a lot warmer than he just had.
Hermione looked at him with a bemused expression on her face, but said nothing.
When both had finished eating, Hermione took the dishes, wrapping them in a cloth along with the soiled silverware and put them carefully back into her basket along with the other picnic things she had brought. Harry closed the lid on the box that held his birthday cake, and then showed Hermione the loose floorboard as he put the box away for safe-keeping until he got hungry.
Hermione stood up and put her basket on her arm, surveying the room and checking for anything she might be inadvertently leaving behind. Seeing nothing she had missed, she looked to Harry saying, “Well, I’d best get home before someone notices that I’m gone.”
Harry nodded, but a sinking feeling as he watched her prepare to leave was beginning to empty him of the happiness he had felt for the last hour. “Hang on!” A thought had just popped into his head. He turned and reached for one of the mirrors that Hermione had given him. “Here,” he said quietly, holding a shiny mirror out to her. “You take this.”
“Me?” Hermione said, with some amount of surprise at the offering. “But what about Ron? I thought sure you’d want him to have it.”
Harry shook his head and he continued to hold the mirror. “I’m giving it to you. You will use it…won’t you?”
“Only if you’ll use yours,” Hermione said, a smile growing on her face as Harry nodded. “Well, then, I really need to go.”
“I’ll walk you down,” Harry whispered. “Mind that noisy step like before.”
Hermione nodded and they stole down the stairs and out the door as quietly as they could. Harry walked with Hermione all the way to the pavement.
“Well, happy birthday, Harry.” Hermione lifted her face close to his and gave him a soft kiss on his cheek.
As her warm lips caressed his face, he saw again the vision he’d had when he blew out the candles. She turned from him, preparing to summon the Knight Bus, but Harry’s hand caught hers before she could bring her wand parallel to the ground. He saw her look questioningly at him as her eyes widened just a bit. Then she smiled. It was a smile he’d not seen before, and he unknowingly returned it.
Harry narrowed the gap between them with a small step and swallowed nervously. He watched her eyes watching his as he drew nearer to her. Harry saw her eyes flutter closed as he leaned down to join his lips with hers. He knew he had never felt anything softer as he gently caressed her lips with his. What had begun as something sweetly impulsive quickly turned into a thing of need, and they clung to each other. He didn’t know how long they kissed, but he was sure he would be happy to spend the rest of his life right there on that small section of pavement with Hermione. When their kisses had ended, they drew apart but kept their hands joined. Harry’s lopsided grin matched Hermione’s dreamy smile.
“Well…” Hermione tried to begin, but apparently couldn’t form a coherent thought.
“Yes, well…” Harry seemed to be in the same predicament.
Hermione giggled softly. “You know, I’d always imagined myself being a bit more eloquent than this after we kissed for the first time.”
Still befuddled, Harry nodded and smiled again. “Yes, well—wait a moment…you’ve imagined this?”
Hermione nodded, squeezing his hand gently. “And it turned out so much better than I’d ever imagined.”
“I’m glad…because I thought it was pretty great, too.” He pulled her back to him and slid his arms around her. They embraced for a long moment in the darkness, just enjoying the feeling of holding one another close.
Hermione finally pulled back, and Harry reluctantly let her go, as she said, “I really must be going. I don’t want to worry my parents.”
Harry nodded and said, “Thanks again for coming, Hermione. This is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”
Hermione quickly kissed him one last time. “You’re quite welcome.”
“Talk with you soon?” Harry asked, his eyes searching hers.
“Very soon,” Hermione promised, returning his gaze.
Harry nodded and Hermione stuck out her wand. Bang! The Knight Bus rolled to a stop in front of them. The doors swung open and Stan Shunpike stepped smartly out. “Welcome to the Knight Bus—oh, it’s you again,” he said as he saw Hermione. “Y’don’t want t’hear me speech again, d’ya?” Stan asked hopefully.
Hermione smiled and shook her head. She turned to hug Harry one more time and then stepped onto the bus.
Stan had just gotten a good look at Harry. “Hey, Ern’! It’s Ha—”
Stan looked crestfallen as Harry cut him off with a vigorous shake of his head, and then stepped back from the curb. He watched Hermione find a seat and, with a wave and another bang!, she and the bus had disappeared. Harry stood looking at the place where the bus had just been for a moment before starting back to Number 4. As he turned towards the house, he smiled and then began to whistle very softly. If he hadn’t been whistling, he might have heard the voice of a cloak-covered female with chartreuse-colored hair whisper happily from beside the garden wall, “Happy birthday, Harry. You’ve just given yourself the best present of all.”