Harry grinned as he watched Ron fumble in an attempt to ask Hermione to dance, the loud, pulsing music drowning out half of his words. His first proper birthday party ever, and he was loving it.
“Oi, Harry!” a voice called, and Harry turned, smiling as Bill, Charlie and the twins approached him.
“Hey, guys,” he greeted happily, allowing the twins to pop up either side of him, their arms around his shoulders.
“Oh Harry, brother dear,”
“Us older, more gifted Weasleys thought,”
“That you deserved something a little more special,”
“On your coming of age,” they told him, their alternating sentences too familiar now to confuse him. He raised an eyebrow, and Bill and Charlie grinned.
“What they’re trying to say is, we got you a little something extra,” Charlie supplied. Harry blushed slightly.
“Guys, you didn’t have to, what you already got me is more than enough,” he insisted, thinking of the presents he had already opened from the four brothers. Bill rolled his eyes, ruffling Harry’s hair.
“No, but we wanted to. You deserve a bit of a break after all this chaos, so we got you this,” he said, handing Harry a plain white envelope. “Go on, open it,” he urged, an excited grin on his face. Harry apprehensively slit the top of the envelope, pulling out a single piece of paper. Examining it more closely, his jaw dropped.
“Guys, I… wow…” he breathed, awestruck. They’d gotten him a first-class ticket to Malibu, California. “This is… wow.”
“You like it? It’s a two-week trip, you’ll be home in time to see everyone off to school and get started on your St Mungo’s courses,” Charlie explained. Harry wouldn’t be returning for his seventh year; Dumbledore had arranged for him to take his NEWTs at the end of his 6th year, after extensive tutoring, in case the war escalated to the point where Harry wouldn’t be able to return. Fortunately, Voldemort had attacked, as usual, at the very end of the school year, and Harry had finally been able to defeat him with the help of both the Order and the DA. Now, Harry was planning on starting healer training when all his friends went back to Hogwarts.
“Guys, this is incredible! I… thank you,” he said sincerely, pulling all four redheads into a strange sort-of group hug.
“You’re welcome, Harry,” George replied with a smile.
“We had a bit of help from Remus and Dumbledore, but we’ve sorted out hotel details and the like, everything is taken care of. All you need to do is go and enjoy yourself, like any other seventeen year-old boy. Think you can handle that?” Bill asked him with a grin. Harry laughed, nodding.
“Yeah, I think I can manage being normal for two weeks. Thanks, guys. This is awesome,” he said again, beaming. Fred ruffled his hair, grinning mischievously.
“Brilliant! You leave tomorrow,” he chirped, causing Harry’s eyes to widen.
“Tomorrow? But what about packing?”
“All taken care of, Remus packed for you. Though I’m sure there’ll be room in your bags for anything he’s missed out,” Fred interrupted. Harry paused, then broke out into a grin.
“Then I’d better make the most of today, hadn’t I?”
The next morning found Harry, having taken an anti-hangover potion helpfully provided by Remus, rushing about his room, checking that absolutely everything he needed was packed. Of course, Remus hadn’t let him see what he’d already packed, so it was up to Harry to assume by what was missing from his room. From what he could see, everything he might need was packed; he trusted Remus, the man knew him better than anyone and knew what Harry would want with him. The only thing Remus had told him was that the two-way mirror was in his bag, should he get homesick or just want to chat. Harry was thankful for that; he’d never even left Britain before, he didn’t know how he’d fare all the way over in America.
A knock on the doorframe startled him out of his thoughts, and he grinned at the man standing there. “Hey, Remus. Everything alright?” he asked, making Remus roll his eyes.
“Everything is fine, Harry. You ready to go? You need to be at the airport in about fifteen minutes,” he informed him. Harry smiled, excitement and anticipation pumping through his body.
“Yeah, I’m ready. Where are my bags?” he queried. Remus held up a dark green rucksack, smiling widely.
“Everything is in here. I figured you wouldn’t want to be weighed down by a huge suitcase, so it’s shrunk in here. There’s some other stuff, too, to keep you occupied. It’ll be a long flight,” he added. Harry smiled, shouldering the rucksack.
“Brilliant, thanks. Have I got apparition coordinates, or a taxi, or…?” he trailed off, and Remus reached into his pocket, pulling out several folded sheets of paper.
“This has everything you’ll need to know on it,” he assured. “Apparition coordinates, flight times, layover details, hotel details. All the official stuff is in the black plastic envelope in your bag, but this is the important information.” Harry raised an eyebrow, looking over the paper; sure enough, Remus had written out just about everything he could possibly need.
“You really do think of everything,” he mused wryly, making the werewolf chuckle. “I’d better get a move on, then,” he added, checking his watch. He looked up, a lump forming in his throat at the thought of leaving. He hadn’t been away from Remus for so long since he’d moved in. The older man smiled, drawing him into a rib-crushing hug.
“Have fun,” he ordered. “Relax, let go, and enjoy yourself. But stay safe.” Harry laughed, hugging back before releasing him, grinning.
“I always try and stay safe, Rem,” he insisted earnestly. “It just doesn’t exactly work out that way.” Remus snorted, rolling his eyes and shoving his shoulder gently.
“Go on, you brat,” he urged lightly. “Go catch your flight. I love you.” Harry smiled, feeling the ever-present warmth in his chest grow at hearing the words.
“Love you, too,” he replied, glancing down at the coordinates on the paper. Closing his eyes to memorise them properly, he briefly cracked one eye open, grinning at his pseudo-godfather, before he was gone.
Harry arrived in a small, empty room with nothing more than a fireplace and a jar of floo powder in it, and assumed it was the wizarding area of the airport. Shrugging to himself, he walked out, feeling the tingle of notice-me-not wards passing over him on his way out. Looking back over his shoulder, he saw a nondescript door with a ‘staff only’ sign, and smiled to himself. Looking around, his eyes went slightly wider at the large airport full of people, and he resisted the urge to scan for possible threats. The war was over, he didn’t need to anymore. Seeing a sign for check-in, Harry wandered in that direction, looking at the paper in his hand to find his flight number to he could join the appropriate queue.
Due to his lack of baggage, check-in was incredibly easy for Harry, and he breezed through customs with no problems thanks to some minor charms on the bag that wouldn’t affect the machines. Slipping his shoes back on and hoisting his bag further up his shoulder, he walked into the main part of the airport, looking at the many shops available to him. With a glance at the board, he saw his flight wasn’t even close to boarding yet, and his stomach rumbled pointedly. Grinning ruefully to himself, he changed course to the nearest Starbucks, figuring food and coffee would be enough to tide him over until lunch.
Sat in the corner with a large cup of coffee and a bacon sandwich, Harry unzipped his rucksack for the first time, deciding to see what Remus had packed to entertain him for the nine-hour flight. Several books, both muggle and magical fiction, as well as a notepad and pens, and his iPod. He laughed when he saw Remus had also included his Gringotts portfolio; it looked like he wouldn’t be getting out of signing the damn thing any time soon. Sipping at his coffee, Harry figured he might as well start now, and pulled out the thick folder and a pen, flipping it open to the first page. Bank statements. Joys.
Harry was pulled out of his trance when his watch bleeped at him, and his eyebrows shot up; two hours had passed already? He gathered his things, stuffing everything back into his rucksack, and stuffed the last of his chocolate brownie in his mouth, getting to his feet. Peering at the board on his way out, he saw his gate number, and immediately head towards the signs pointing to the gates. After a ridiculously long walk through winding corridors, he eventually arrived at his gate, groaning silently at the full-looking waiting area. He spotted a single free chair off to his left and darted towards it, dropping down quickly before it could be taken. At least he wouldn’t have to be sat there very long.
He pulled out one of the books Remus had left him, cracking it open to the first page, but only managed ten pages before the woman behind the desk announced boarding. Dog-earing the page and slipping it in his bag, he pulled out his boarding pass and passport, amused at the fake name on both. He wondered who the genius behind ‘Evan Black’ was. Still, it could have been worse. Passing the documents to the smiling security woman, he waited for her to check them over and hand them back, before following the long line of people through the tunnel towards the plane. He had to admit, he was excited; every time the Dursleys had gone on holiday without him, he’d had to listen to Dudley go on and on about how cool flying in a plane was. Now he’d finally get to experience it himself.
He found his seat without too much trouble, taking his book from his bag and stowing it in the overhead locker. He had the aisle seat, and next to him at the window was a woman who looked to be in her late twenties, with iPod earbuds in her ears. He pulled his own from his pocket, starting it up and slipping his earbuds in, resuming his reading.
Harry barely even noticed when the flight attendants started giving safety information, but he supposed it didn’t really matter; should anything happen, he could just apparate out. Eventually, however, the plane started to move forward slowly, and the excitement churned in Harry’s stomach, making him feel like a small child. Outwardly he was perfectly calm, but for the minor tightening of his grip on his book, but his eyes were flicking to the window every so often, and a grin tugged at his lips as they gained speed, finally lifting off the ground with a lurch that reminded him of the feeling he got when he pulled out of a sharp dive on his broom.
After the initial take-off, the motion of the plane was relatively uninteresting; he could barely even feel it moving at all. Smiling politely at the flight attendant who offered him a drink, he allowed himself to get engrossed in his music and book. He was in for a long ride.
After a short layover in Dallas, and a journey in a far smaller plane, Harry was finally stepping into the airport in Malibu, the sweltering heat immediately making him wish he’d worn shorts. He breezed through baggage collection and straight to the arrivals lounge, wandering over to the nearest help desk. “Excuse me, I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to get to the Silver Sands hotel?” he queried, offering a smile to the man behind the desk. He smiled back warmly, gesturing to the doors just to his left
“Your best bet would be to get a taxi. The bay is a little ways down there if you turn left when you exit the airport,” he explained, and Harry grinned.
“Thanks,” he replied, hitching his bag further up his shoulder and heading in the direction pointed out to him. The taxi bay was fairly busy, but Harry managed to hop in the back of one as it pulled up, smiling at the driver.
“Where to, kid?” he queried, raising an eyebrow at him through the rear view mirror.
“Silver Sands hotel, please,” Harry requested. The driver nodded, pulling out to overtake the parked taxis, and set out on the road.
“This your first time in the US?” the driver asked curiously, and Harry nodded.
“Yeah.” The man grinned, pulling up to a set of traffic lights.
“You’re in for a hell of a time, then. Malibu’s the party city; don’t expect to get much sleep.” Harry laughed, smirking.
“Sounds like my kind of place. Anywhere you’d recommend?” The driver shrugged, eyes still on the road.
“How old are you? Twenty, twenty-one?” Harry raised an eyebrow at that, not thinking he looked that much older than he actually was.
“Just turned twenty one,” he replied, deciding to go with the age on his fake ID.
“Then you’ll want to head to Meltdown, it’s a club by the beach, pretty classy but definitely worth it if you can get it. My daughter and her friends love it, and apparently it’s where some of the celebrities party.”
“I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled when I go there, then,” Harry assured with a smirk, making a mental note of the name. Anywhere the locals recommended had to be good.
They pulled up outside a hotel with a large sign reading ‘Silver Sands’ in cursive silver lettering, and Harry pulled out his wallet, shuffling out of the taxi with his bag over his shoulder. Paying the driver and wishing him a good day, Harry walked through the automatic doors, smiling at the sleek interior of the hotel. Whichever of the Weasley boys had picked the hotel, they’d picked a good one. Checking in under the name Black, Harry was given a key card and directed to the sixth floor. Checking his room number, Harry followed the signs, eyes going wide when he opened the door. “Oh, those boys are getting bloody brilliant Christmas presents this year,” he murmured to himself, a grin splitting his face as he surveyed his room. He had a suite, with a huge living room and enormous TV, complete with DVD player. There was a small kitchenette with a fridge and minibar, and the bedroom was unnecessarily large, and had another TV. Even the bathroom was huge, the bath claiming jacuzzi settings and the shower having more dials and buttons than Harry knew what to do with. Still, he had two weeks to figure it out.
Grinning widely, he threw himself down on the bed, rummaging through his rucksack for his shrunken suitcase. Resizing it, he leant back and lazily directed the clothes to start unpacking themselves, reaching for the TV remote and the room service menu. If he was going to spend two weeks in Malibu, he might as well make the most of it.