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BEGINNING OF YEAR FOUR: GOBLET OF FIRE

The end of the summer comes around very quickly, it feels, for Harry. Between Sirius’ desperate attentions and the flood of orders still coming in from Ravenclaws’ families and their allies. His birthday was inordinately extravagant thanks to Sirius; he still sometimes seemed confused on who he was with and what year it was, as demonstrated by Harry’s surprise birthday party being decorated with red and gold. Remus had sighed and dragged Sirius aside to talk about it in the hall of No. 12 Grimmauld Place, but they were loud enough that Harry could hear Remus’ exasperation and Sirius’ confusion that anyone would want their home decorated in green and silver. He was vocally of the opinion that Slytherin was nothing to be proud of, and on the whole left Harry feeling rather sad and downtrodden. Remus had returned and spelled everything the colors of Harry’s house, ignoring the childish pout on Sirius’ face, but the day had been rathered ruined and Harry wasn’t really up to celebrating anymore. As he left the room, Lilla took the time to snap her jaws at Sirius’ ankles to watch him hop about in a startled mayhem.

His friends had been a tad more understanding. Hermione had sent him a set of books from France, where she’d been vacationing with her parents, and a large basket of French candies from the French version of Honeydukes with a note rambling about her summer and her excitement for the upcoming Quidditch World Cup, where he’d be accompanying her and some of their other friends. It was signed with a tiny paw print instead of her name, a funny little code she’d thought up. Draco had sent a set of marble chess pieces and a marvelous hand-carved board, and a letter explaining that Draco loved chess and thought Harry might too, and once they met up again they could play. Harry taught the pieces to dodge the other side’s blows and leap back into the box, the better to keep from having to clean up all the shards of rock all the time. The pieces may regenerate, but there was always a fine coating of dust on everything.

Harry’s Ravenclaws sent letters upon packages of secrets and scandals and all sorts of mysteries: the animagus form of one Ms. Rita Skeeter, a prominent reporter for a Wizarding newspaper; the fact that their teacher for next year still had yet to be chosen but that wasn’t truly a surprise, the curse on the DADA position left the list of potentials growing frightfully short; Dumbledore was, thankfully, still in Azkaban, where he entertained the dementors with marvelous images of butterflies and rampant rays of sunshine and generally drove them all batty; Harry’s unfortunate Aunt Marge still had digestion problems and loud gas attacks at unfortunate times of day, such as when she was entertaining paying customers or checking out in grocery stores. It was all quite thrilling and would eventually be useful, he imagined, in the long run.

His gift from Sirius was a racing broom (wonderful if not for the fact that Lilla detested them), a potions set (woefully understocked and rudimentary, Sirius did know he was going into Potions 4, yes?), and a mirror enchanted to compliment Harry’s appearance no matter how ghastly (not very useful if he didn’t want to look ghastly). Sirius thought they were delightful. Remus had sighed again and covered his face, and Harry, who had probably had last had a birthday sometime around his first birthday, had said they were lovely and that he would use them.

Suffice to say he probably would not.