Within the Shadows of Hatred (Chapter 1: The 5th Birthday)

“Carl get away from my broom!” Colin Potter yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Mum said I could play with it!” Carl hollered back, holding on with his chubby hands. “It’s my birthday!”

“No it’s not!” Colin grabbed on as well. “We’re just having a party early so I could be here for it. Let go!!!” he pulled hard and the toy broomstick was yanked away from his brother.

“MUMMMMM!!!” both boys screamed.

Hermione Potter sighed and leaned her forehead against the cool wooden cabinets. She had sent her two sons in to play while she fixed breakfast, and all had been quiet for a total of five minutes before the fighting began.

“Colin, let him play with it, you’re too old for it anyway!” she poked her head into the living room. “Honestly!”

“But Mum, Grandpa Sirius gave it to me, and if Carl takes it, he’ll break it!” Colin whined. “I still want to keep it!”

Hermione closed her eyes and counted to ten. “If you two do not stop fighting, you’ll go hungry until the party starts!” she threatened. “Now that’s enough!” Both boys let out one final whine before Colin took the broom and ran upstairs with it. She ducked back into the kitchen and grabbed her wand off the table. “Forget trying to prepare this the Muggle way.” She muttered, and with a flick of her wrist, a full breakfast sat on the table.

“Oh did you get everything done already?” Harry Potter asked innocently as he strolled into the kitchen. Hermione shot him a look filled with venom as she tied her dark shoulder length hair back into a ponytail.

“So nice of you to help.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm. “You could have been down here a few minutes ago helping me with your sons.”

“So they’re my sons now?” Harry asked, knowing his wife wasn’t really angry. He encircled his arms around her slim figure. She looked younger than her early forties, although raising three children certainly wasn’t easy. He had found a few grey hairs on his own head from time to time.

“When they argue they are.” Hermione felt her stress evaporate as Harry’s arms tightened around her waist. “They’re troublemakers, just like you.”

“Oh I’m a troublemaker now eh?” Harry’s eyes twinkled. “Will you punish me?”

“Maybe tonight, if you’re good for the rest of the day…” Hermione smiled up at him as he leaned down to press his lips against hers.

“Don’t you guys EVER stop snogging?” A voice at the doorway made them break apart. “I mean, it seems like every time I come by and you two are in the kitchen, you’ve got to be kissing!”

“Caty Cat!” Harry exclaimed, hurrying over to give his eldest daughter a hug.

“Dad I’ve SO outgrown that name.” Caitlyn said, but she was grinning. “Hi Mum.” She said over Harry’s shoulder. Pulling herself out of her father’s embrace, she hugged her mother tightly.

“Caitlyn what are you wearing?” Harry asked in shock as he was treated to a view of her back. Her shirt was nothing more than a red kerchief, tied around her back, and she wore (faux) black leather pants.

“Clothes.” She answered. “Why, don’t you like them?”

“Aren’t they a little…. small?” Harry chose his words carefully although he wanted to grab a large blanket and wrap it around her.

“Probably.” Caitlyn answered. She had become extremely lucky since leaving Hogwarts; the fall immediately following her graduation, she’d become the head of a large research firm based in Diagon Alley. Caitlyn could work wherever she felt like, and wear whatever she wanted, therefore her wardrobe had everything covering business clothing to things she’d normally only wear away from her father’s overprotective eyes.

“I think you look cute.” Hermione said defensively. She also thought her daughter’s clothes were a bit extreme, but after all; women did stick up for one another; that and the fact that she enjoyed annoying her husband.

“CATY!” a little voice screamed from the doorway. A figure attached to a head of long black curls came flying at her.

“Hi Corny!” Caitlyn used the name that she, and ONLY she was allowed to call her younger sister Corinne. She picked her up and hugged her tightly, relieved for the interruption. She had meant to change her clothes before coming over, but then Blue had come in the bedroom with breakfast and her mind had been…. elsewhere.

“Did you bring me a present from your trip?” Corinne asked, her green eyes sparkling.

“Maybe.” Caitlyn grinned. Corinne stuck out her lower lip, and Caitlyn laughed. “Of course I did, I got something for everyone.” She gestured to the large bag she’d dropped in the hallway upon her arrival.

She had just arrived home in England the previous evening from a two-week stay in Madrid, Spain, where she’d been doing research on an ancient amulet that mediwizards had been searching for. It was rumoured to have exceptional healing powers, now if they could only find it.

“Can I have it?” Corinne asked eagerly.

“Later, it’s your birthday gift.” Caitlyn replied, setting her down and flipping her long braid back over her shoulder. “I’ve got to give Mum and Dad their gift now though.” She grabbed the bag and retrieved a long flat package from the bottom.

“Here, I got this for you while we were travelling just outside Madrid.” She handed Hermione the package.

“Caitlyn this is gorgeous!” Hermione lifted out a panoramic painting of the Spanish countryside.

“Isn’t it?” Caitlyn stepped next to her mother. “The artist had just finished painting this one and I had to snap it right up. It looks exactly like the scenery.”

“Thanks sweetheart.” Hermione set it down and hugged her daughter. “Isn’t this a wonderful gift, Harry?” she asked her husband, who still looked pained at their daughter’s choice of clothing.

“It’s very nice.” Harry said. “Caitlyn, shouldn’t you put on something more…substantial…before everyone gets here?” he asked, and Caitlyn snickered.

“I will Dad, don’t worry.” She rolled her eyes in his direction. “I’ve brought a change of clothes with me.”

“Okay.” Harry visibly relaxed.

“Caty is Blue going to come today?” Corinne asked, tugging on the bottom of Caitlyn’s very long hair.

“Yes, he told me this morning before he left he’d be by later, he’s got a meeting with the Cannons at eleven.” Caitlyn said.

“This morning when he LEFT?” Harry asked pointedly, looking up from where he’d been admiring the painting.

“Uh…” Caitlyn mentally swore at herself, she hadn’t meant to let that bit of information slip. She and Blue had been living together in her luxury flat for about seven months, unbeknownst to both sets of parents. Blue had simply told his folks he no longer needed his own flat, he spent so much time with the Cannons.

“Caitlyn, I’d like to hear more about your research.” Hermione stepped in before Harry could say anything else. Caitlyn shot her a grateful look as they stepped out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

“BREAKFAST!” A loud shout startled Harry as his two sons came charging into the room. Their earlier argument seemed to be forgotten as they laughed together while cramming all the food they could into their mouths. Within moments, the large breakfast Hermione had prepared was completely gone, and so were the boys, leaving behind a huge mess.

“Hey!” Harry cried after them as they raced outside. “Come back in here and clean up!” Colin and Carl both ignored him as they ran around the yard and back by the small forest surrounding his and Ron’s property. Harry shook his head and sighed, then turned to the mess.

“I’ll help you Daddy.” The sweet voice of his almost five-year-old daughter rang in his ears.

“Thanks baby, but Daddy’s got it. Are you hungry?” he asked Corinne. She shook her head.

“I want some cake later.” She replied.

“You don’t need cake, you’re sweet enough.” He growled, scooping her small body up in his arms and cuddling her. Corinne shrieked with delight and kissed her father’s cheek.

“I love you Daddy.” She said, her small arms wrapping around his neck.

“I love you too.” Harry set her down.

Upstairs, Hermione put her hand to her forehead. “Remind me again why we’re having a party today?” she asked her daughter.

“Because Colin won’t be here for their actual party, and as much as he hates to get along with Carl, he’d be upset to miss it.” Caitlyn replied helpfully.

“Right.” Hermione let her arm drop down as they entered Caitlyn’s old bedroom. “So what was all that about downstairs?”

“What was all what about?” Caitlyn pretended not to know what her mother was referring to.

“Caitlyn, I’m not so sure about your father sometimes but I’m certainly not stupid.” Hermione said, a smile starting at the corners of her mouth. “Sit.” She commanded, patting the bed on which she sat.

Caitlyn sat, drawing out a long sigh. She should have known she couldn’t hide her relationship status from her mother, ever since Hermione had become a part of their lives again they’d been extremely close. Caitlyn confided nearly everything to her; she recalled only too clearly the advice she had gotten in the early stages of her relationship with Blue.

“What do you want to know?” she asked, swinging her braid around so it hung in front of her. She loosened the end and began to unravel it, she’d let her hair grow extremely long and it was most convenient to wear it back in a braid.

“How long as Blue been sleeping at your flat?” Hermione asked perceptively. “Not just last night I take it.”

“About seven months.” Caitlyn admitted, flopping down on her back. She looked up at her mother. “You won’t tell Dad will you?”

“Caitlyn, he’s going to find out sooner or later.” Hermione said.

“I’d rather it be later.”

“Come now, don’t you think he’d like this news?” Hermione teased.

“Great Wizards Mum, he’d probably go try and lock me up in a convent!” Caitlyn flew up and off the bed. “You know how overprotective he is.”

“I know, “ Hermione smiled. “But you’re still his ‘baby’ girl, no matter how old you get.”

Caitlyn knew this was true. Her father had good reason to be overprotective of her, and for the most part, she didn’t mind. “Just promise me you won’t say anything.”

“I promise.” Hermione held up her hands in defeat. “I don’t like keeping secrets from your father, but I won’t say a word. I don’t think he’ll react as badly as you think he will, though.”

“Thank you.” Caitlyn said in relief as she opened her bag and pulled out a button up white shirt and some jeans.

“Have you two talked about your future yet?” Hermione asked, plucking at a loose thread on the quilt.

“A little…” Caitlyn answered from the bathroom, where she was changing. “I mean, yes, we’ve talked about getting married, but neither of us wants to.”

“You don’t want to get married?” Hermione was somewhat stunned.

“Well, not yet.” Caitlyn re-emerged, tossing her discarded clothes back in the bag. “Right now we’re both content with the way things are.”

“As long as you’re happy.” Hermione said. She was about to say something else when a crash was heard from downstairs, followed by a few shouts. “Oh my…” she hurried from the bedroom, Caitlyn following closely behind her.

Harry stood in the middle of the kitchen, covered with suds, a broken dish in his hand. Hermione covered her mouth quickly to hide her amused smile. Colin and Carl both sat at the table, Corinne next to the sink, all three of them also covered in soapy white foam.

“What did you three do to your father?” Hermione asked, trying not to laugh. Caitlyn was not so successful, and she stood in the doorway, clutching her stomach.

“Dad that’s a great look for you.” She giggled, and Harry turned and glowered at her.

“Funny.” He scooped some of the foam off his face and flicked it at his daughter, who jumped out of the way and came into the kitchen.

“What were you trying to do?” Hermione asked.

“Clean up the mess these two made!” Harry replied. “Only I don’t think I used the right spell.”

“I don’t think so either.” Hermione said as Caitlyn hugged her soapy brothers. “Here.” She took Harry’s wand from his hand and muttered a few words, and he and the children were all clean, as well as the kitchen.

“Hermione to the rescue.” Harry grinned.

“As always.” She finished. Hermione looked at her sons. “Have you two eaten?” they nodded vigorously.

“So Colin, are you excited about starting Hogwarts?” Caitlyn asked, sitting down next to her brother.

“I can’t wait.” Colin replied.

“You know, to find out what house you’re in you have to battle a troll…” Caitlyn said wickedly. “If you fight it, you’ll go into Gryffindor, like me and Blue, and Mum and Dad, and if you chicken out, you’ll go into Hufflepuff….”

“Caitlyn, stop telling your brother lies!” Hermione admonished. “Really!”

“Mum already told me they just put a hat on my head!” Colin stuck his tongue out at her.

“You spoil all my fun Mum.” Caitlyn teased.

“Caty what time is Blue coming?” Carl asked.

“Whenever his meeting is done.” She replied.

“He’s doing really well this year isn’t he?” Harry asked, sitting down next to her.

Caitlyn grinned proudly. “Yes he is, don’t tell him I told you this yet, but they’re saying he’s the best keeper since Oliver Wood was on Puddlemere.”

“Really! That’s great!” Hermione said, happy for Blue.

“He’s got to be really excited about that, not many people can live up to Oliver’s status.” Harry said, remembering his former Hogwarts Quidditch captain. “The Cannons must really be excited. I wonder if Ron knows this?”

“I’m sure Blue’s going to tell him today.” Caitlyn said. “So what time is everyone coming today?” she asked, steering the topic away from that of her boyfriend; she was hoping her father would forget her earlier slip-up.

“Early afternoon.” Hermione replied. “Which reminds me, Lavender is coming over soon to help me get things ready.” She got up from the table. “Caitlyn, come with me I want to hear more about your research.”

“Sure Mum.” Caitlyn replied, walking out with her; leaving her father alone with her three mischievous siblings.


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