Another Kind of Magic
Disclaimer:/ I don't own Harry Potter or anything else that you recognize. Fortunately. I'd probably mess it up if I did. I also don't own Blind Guardian or anything related. Although I'm buying a hoodie with their official logo.../
A/N:/ Many thanks to God, for making earth. Many thanks to my mother and father, who had fun and loved each other, and made me. Many thanks to civilisation, Newton, Edison, Einstein, and a bunch of other people for making Internet possible. Many thanks to my 5th grade English teacher, for being herself and drilling English grammar in my head. Many thanks to writers everywhere, for creating countless fantasy worlds where my mind can roam at all times. Many thanks to Jo for inventing Harry Potter. And finally, many thanks to LunaMoon224, a dear friend who does a terrific job on betaing all the products of my twisted psyche. You rock, Luna!/
Dedication: This fic is dedicated to that little boy who tuned out the math teacher to dream about flying on a dragon. To the little girl who wrote in her diary about the handsome prince who was going to save her from a beast and take her to live happily ever after. To the mum who read fairy-tales to her children. To the father who build a tree-house for his kids. To the uncle who made them bows so they could play Robin Hood. And finally, to all dreamers everywhere.
Harry awoke to the sound of a motorcycle engine rumbling loudly under his window. A quick glance at the clock told him it was early evening, so, ignoring his Uncle's outraged screaming, he leaned out the window, wand in hand, just in case it wasn't anybody friendly. Instead, he grinned as a figure with shoulder length hair looked up at him from atop a motorcycle of the likes Harry had only seen on TV.
"Hey, Harry," Sirius called, grinning widely.
"Si-Snuffles!" Harry stuttered. "What are you doing here?" he asked, happy that Sirius was there, but worried that he would get in trouble.
"I'm taking you out for your birthday, of course," Sirius replied, standing on the seat of the bike so he was nearer to Harry. "I know it's tomorrow, but since you'll be out of here tomorrow evening, I thought to take you out today so you could have some honest fun. Besides, there are some things that a boy your age just needs to know, and since nobody took care of that part of your education, the task falls to me."
Harry goggled at Sirius' words, a feeling of dread settling over him. Was Sirius going to give him The Talk? They had gotten one in primary school since it was required, but Harry had since found out pretty much all he needed to know. There were countless magazines and books where he could look to without having to suffer through embarrassing talks and awkward metaphors.
Sirius laughed at Harry's face, leaning heavily against the wall of the house. "Not that, Harry!" he exclaimed, the expression on his face telling Harry that he knew exactly what they boy had thought. "I meant this!" he said, motioning to his clothing and bike.
Harry took the opportunity to give Sirius' clothes a more than cursory "is-he-clothed" glance. Sirius had a dark green T-shirt that had a longbow on the front, with a lightning bolt as an arrow. Under the design were a few very twisted letters that Harry couldn't understand. Over the T-shirt, his godfather had a leather jacket that had seen better times. It was worn around the edges, and gave off a faint smell that hinted at small, dark rooms filled with smoke and loud music.
A leather belt dotted with silver studs was wrapped around Sirius' waist, holding up a pair of tight leather pants that were just as worn as the jacket. One of the knees was almost torn through. The pants went down in dark boots that had a hint of scales to them, making Harry believe they were dragonhide. All in all, Harry concluded, Sirius looked like he had just come from a rock concert. He grinned at the mental image of Sirius jumping up and down, with his hair flying everywhere.
"Freak!" Vernon suddenly shouted. Apparently, he had come around the house and had seen Sirius. "What are you doing here, freak! Go away before I call the police!"
Sirius winked and Harry and jumped from the bike seat, stalking towards Vernon while drawing his wand. "Do you know who I am?" he hissed, bowing his head slightly, letting his hair hang on the sides of his face. His slightly demented grin stopped Vernon's reply. "I am Sirius Black, Harry's godfather. I will take him out tonight. I don't know when we will be back," he said in a low tone.
Harry watch in fascination as Vernon exhausted his entire color palette before turning white as a sheet. "S-Sirius Black?" he whimpered, backing away.
Sirius nodded twice, demented grin in place. "I will be checking with my godson the day after tomorrow," he went on, unconcerned with Vernon's appearance. "If you give him any trouble over this, I will ... come and /visit/," he finished, accentuating the last word. Vernon almost fainted, but his preservation instincts kicked in and he ran inside the house, yelling for his wife and son.
After a few minutes, Harry and Sirius laughed loudly as the Dursleys drove away on a "road trip," forgetting all about the already set dinner and the brand new computer game that Dudley had just finished installing. Harry went downstairs and invited Sirius in, the two of them going to his room for Harry to change in more appropriate clothing.
"Hmm..." Sirius said a few minutes later, eying him critically. His eyes were angry, but his voice was calm as he spoke. "First, we'll go shopping."
And that they did. Harry sat behind Sirius on the large bike, holding on for dear life and Sirius broke several laws concerning speed and safe driving. After a few endless hours in which Harry learned a few new things about speed and was beginning to enjoy the rumble of the bike under his feet and the sight of buildings zipping past, they arrived in London. Slowing down, Sirius started muttering under his breath.
"Two lefts... right at the red statue... must have changes the place... that used to be a park... right here..."
Harry listened as Sirius talked himself the directions to a small shop with a large sign above the door. Harry noticed with surprise that the sign was made of wood, and hand-carved, as it was left a bit rough, with marks of tools clearly visible. "Every few years, somebody makes a new sign," Sirius whispered in Harry's ear as he showed him inside the shop.
The two of them barely had room to stand inside it was so cluttered. Rolls of cloth and leather, among other materials, were stacked on every available surface, leaving a small space for a vendor with a desk and a room for two thin customers or a well-built one. A woman was tending the desk. At the moment, she was drawing on a large piece of paper. Harry noticed with amusement that she had a crayon behind her left ear, another in her mouth and was drawing with a third one. One of her hands was holding an eraser, and she frequently brought it on the paper, going through expressions faster than Harry could comprehend. Her face went from sad as she drew a line, to ecstatic as she thickened it, to concerned as she used the eraser to correct a mistake that Harry couldn't spot.
She yelped and jumped back from the drawing as Sirius slammed his hand on the counter. "Mary! Leave the poor elves alone!" he called, grinning widely.
The woman's face froze in a shocked expression as she stared at him. "S-Sirius?" she stammered, falling back against a man-high stack or dark colored rolls of cloth.
"The one and only," he said, his voice soft this time as he spread his arms wide and turned in a circle. In a flash, the woman ran around her desk and wrapped her arms around Sirius, hugging him for all she was worth. A moment later Harry could hear her faint sobbing and felt an embarrassed blush make its way to his face as he looked away and started to walk towards the door. Sirius' arm stopped him, though, and Harry sighed and took a seat on stack of square leather pieces.
"I thought you were d-dead," the woman said a few minutes later, sniffling and raising her head to look at him. Sirius simply hugged her again, but it was brief this time. He released her a moment later and turned so they were both facing Harry. "Harry, this is Mary, my honorary sister," he said, and Mary extended a hand that Harry shook.
"Mary, Harry is my godson, and he's the reason I'm alive and kicking right now. If it weren't for him, I would be rotting right now," Sirius explained, ignoring Harry's glare and Mary's wide-eyed stare.
"Mary, besides coming to visit you, something I should have done a lot sooner and I have no excuse for, Harry here needs a new set of clothing. His birthday is tomorrow, and I'm taking him out tonight so he can have a bit of fun," Sirius said, changing the subject.
Instantly, Marry perked up and motioned Harry to stand. A meter appeared in her hand so fast that Harry thought she's summoned it. A moment later, completely in her element, Mary was telling at him to extend his arms, spread his legs, stand straight, before beginning to quiz him on colors he preferred. When he said red and gold, Sirius groaned and Mary seemed to almost glow as she rushed to the back of the store. They heard a door being slammed open, and a moment later, she was back. She slammed the shop door closed and turned a sign saying that that shop was closed.
"Come on, I have just the thing for you," she told Harry, grabbing his hand and bouncing away. Harry was dragged away, wondering how could a woman that was Sirius' age act like a ten year old on a sugar high and do such a good job at it. Sirius followed, muttering under his breath. He paused to examine the half-finished drawing and whistled in appreciation.
"You're still the best there is, sis!" he called. Mary laughed, but Harry saw a slight blush on her cheeks.
She led them through a veritable maze of colors and shape until they got to a large wooden door. It had several carvings on it, and by the position, Harry thought they had been added after the door had been set in. There were elves, but not the kind he had met. These were tall and beautiful, with delicate, pointy ears. On the side of the door, he could see a creature that was on all fours, although it looked vaguely human-like, with very sharp teeth. It was holding a fish, and above it, somebody had carved the word "Preciousss". A ring seemed to dominate the carvings, appearing in the background of most of them, or as a major element, either on a hand, with rays shining out, or falling to the ground on a severed hand. In a particularly vivid one, the ring was obviously in motion, falling towards a pit full of flames. Harry stared at them all for a few moments, thinking about all the things he had seen in the magical world, and wondering who had carved the door.
"Sirius," he hissed the moment Mary went to dig in a pile of red and gold material. "Are these wizards?"
Sirius chuckled. "No, Harry. They are dreamers. There is another kind of magic," he said, "and it's called music. The people who carved those, who regularly make a new sign for Mary's shop, are people who believe in music, and in fantasy."
"Believe in fantasy?" Harry was puzzled. "How can you believe in something if you know it's a fantasy?" he asked. He also remembered Dumbledore's words in his first year, and was wary of referring to music as magic. He'd had little chance to listen to a Wireless, but the little he'd heard enforced the wariness
"You don't have to think about it. Just believe," Mary suddenly interrupted. She was holding a few pieces of deep red leather, but she seemed to have forgotten them as she stared off in space. "When I draw... the images come to me, and I know that somewhere, they are true. Magic... is real. Music is a way to unleash it. Drawing is another," she said, smiling.
Harry smiled at her, and then stared, open-mouthed, as Sirius motioned towards the ceiling. It was covered by dozens of drawings, most of them in crayon. There were dragons that looked so lifelike that Harry inched his hand towards his wand. There were goblins, looking surprisingly like the real thing, and wizards with staves, surrounded by bright lights, battling the beasts. In one, a child-sized man was swinging a huge axe towards a creature twice his size that looked like the product of a nightmare.
"Wow," Harry said, awed. "You drew these?" he asked Mary, who nodded and then looked down, her cheeks pink.
"Magic, Harry," Sirius said, winking, and Harry couldn't help but agree. This was like nothing he'd ever seen. Even the moving paintings of Hogwarts paled to the drawings.
"Oh!" Mary exclaimed suddenly, throwing the pile of red leather she was carrying at Sirius, who caught it all and mock-glared at her. "Let's see how you look in these," she said, extracting a jacket. She seemed glad to a change of subject, obviously embarrassed at Harry's awe.
After almost an hour, Harry and Sirius left the shop, and climbed on the bike again. "Time to get that new suit of yours broken in, Harry," Sirius said, looking at him with appreciation.
Harry looked down and pulled on his tight pants. He wasn't used to wearing pants that were that tight. And despite all his time spent in Quidditch uniform, he was not used to wearing leather off the pitch. The outfit that Mary and Sirius had put together was very dark red, almost black, and consisted of a leather jacket with almost as many pockets as Sirius', completed by pants of the same color and a black belt with a few dragon-shaped studs on it. He had a soft black shirt under the jacket, and he pulled at it too, frowning at Sirius' amused look.
"That's what James did too, the first time he wore leather off the pitch," Sirius said as they took their seats on the bike. "He ranted for hours how it was too tight, how he couldn't walk in it, and how he looked like a poof in it."
"What made him stop?" Harry asked, eager to learn more about his father.
"You're about to see," Sirius said, gunning the engine, making further conversation impossible.
A few minutes later they were exiting London and stopping in a small village that was shrouded in the night. Harry's boot struck the cobbled street and he flexed his legs, wishing the bike had the comfort charms his broom had. He took the time to look at his surroundings.
They had stopped near the exit of what seemed to be a very small village. He could see the road turning back the way to London. In the other side, antique lampposts dotted the street, casting cones of light to dispel the gloom of the new night.
Sirius pushed the bike a few yards, grunting with the effort, and Harry examined the building Sirius obviously wanted them to enter. It reminded him very much of The Three Broomsticks, made of rough wood that had signs of age and use all over it. There was a sign above the door, hand-carved, just like the one the clothier had. A lamp with an actual candle in it rested above the sign, casting shadows over the carved dragon and letters. "Dragon's Nest," Harry read. "Erm... Sirius, are you sure this isn't a wizarding place?" It sure looked like one to him.
Sirius put an arm around him, stopping as well. He waved his hand to indicate the building and the surroundings. "Welcome to Dragon's Nest," he said, giving a small, hesitant smile at his godson's apparent indecision. "It's completely Muggle. Some wizards know of it, but as far as I know, none actually enter the place."
Harry looked away from Sirius' smiling face and glanced at the place he had stashed his bike. There were a few other bikes there, one of which drew his attention immediately. It was large, very much so. Harry thought that Hagrid would sit comfortably on it. Silvery metal glinted in the dim light, outlining the bike and the carvings on the lit side. There was a dragon there, wings stretched in flight, fire pouring from the opened mouth.
From the bike, he gave the others a cursory glance, finding them interesting, but normal. There were a few bicycles as well, all done in dark colors, one of them with a flame motif that Harry thought looked overdone.
Finally done with staring at the vehicles, he turned his eyes to the door, taking a deep breath. He fingered his wand pocket, despite Sirius' earlier assurances that no wand magic would occur, and that he would not be in danger.
"C'mon Harry, let's get inside," Sirius prompted, tugging on Harry's arm and stepping towards the door.
Smiling at the man's eager face, Harry followed him in, blinking few times at the lit room that greeted him. Sirius put an arm around him, whispering a "Happy birthday" in his ear. Harry stared at the room, making a conscious effort to keep his mouth closed.
The room was almost square, with a bar set in a corner, next to a stage. The floor was wooden, as were the walls and most of the ceiling. There were a few supporting pillars in the room, also wooden. The tables Harry could see were wood as well, with metal legs that twisted around each other to reach the floor. Harry saw bolts on the feet of the closest table and decided that that was the only way the tables could stand without magic.
Harry didn't want to look like he was staring, but he couldn't help it. Every single square inch of available wood was carved. The walls, the ceiling, the pillars, even most of the tables. The designs varied from dragons to majestic men and women handling weapons, to creatures Harry had never even heard of. Others were leaves and vines, encircling symbols or different object that had no meaning to Harry. Not all carvings were very good. But most of them were, and he found himself with a deep desire to go around the room and look at each one.
Sirius chuckled at his expression and led him to a free table to the side, from where they had a good view of the small stage. At the moment, there were three men on the stage, apparently tuning their instruments - two guitars and a violin, Harry noted. There was music coming from speakers set all over the room, and Harry saw a pair of tables occupied by long-haired, leather-clad teens that were yelling the lyrics to the song.
"The band is called Blind Guardian," Sirius said, having seen Harry looking at the teens. "They are very popular in this bar, especially due to the subjects they sing about," he explained, waving a hand to attract the attention of one of the waitresses working the room.
Harry wanted to ask something, but another song started, causing almost everybody in the room to shout out. Harry watched wide-eyed as a gray-haired man that looked to be in his late forties began shaking his head, sending his long hair flying. Various people around the room did the same, calling out the lyrics to the song, a song that Harry discovered he liked as well. There was something about the singer's voice that made him think of an evening spent next to Hagrid's hut, talking to him about the exploits of his parents or other students that the half-giant had known.
He wasn't familiar with some of the instruments he could make out, but admired the skill of the players. As he let the song wash around him, he looked at the carvings and began to truly appreciate the bar, and feel very grateful towards Sirius. He hated being forced into the Muggle world during the summer, when all he wanted was to remain in the magical world.
This place made him feel at home, in a way. There was no actual magic that he could see, but he could sense the atmosphere. When they had entered, Harry had expected a few odd looks thrown their way, but none had come. A few had looked at them, but they hadn't received more than a passing glance. In the bar, they both had the full anonymity the Muggle world could offer them.
And then there were the carvings, and the drawing, and the art he saw on some of people's clothing, Dragons, elves, goblins and dwarves, facing armored knights or fighting alongside them, or simple landscapes with herds of unicorns - it all made Harry feel at home. Magical, despite the lack of the magic he was familiar with.
He was pondering that when a girl wearing a sweater with a picture of the bar name on it appeared next to their table. Hie eyes were locked on the pillar closest to him, mentally cataloguing the differences between the carved dragon and those he had actually seen, so he didn't hear the girl at first, but he felt Sirius' foot kick his, and he blushed in embarrassment, thanking Merlin for the dim lights of the establishment.
"What'll it be?" she asked cheerfully, taking a pen from behind her ear and preparing a small notebook.
"Just bring me something tasty and not too alcoholic, please," he told her. He had no idea about what drinks they had, as he hadn't looked at the menu. By the looks of it, the thing could use a break. It was made of a single piece of thick paper, printed on both sides. The edges were slightly burnt, a side looked like it had been through water, and somebody had completed some of the faded words with a marker. For some reason, Harry liked the menu more than he would have liked a shiny plastic thing. He turned it over in his hands as they waited for their drinks.
For his part, Sirius had spent the time craning his neck this way and that, spotting old familiar faces and waving at some, although nobody left their table. Harry wondered why that was when the waitress came back and, after a polite question, plopped down in the seat to Harry's side, cradling a steaming mug.
"Hey, my name's Alice," she said, shaking Sirius' hand and then Harry's, who stammered when he said his name, and ducked his head, hoping the blush would go unnoticed. Alice winked at him. She seemed to be only a couple of years older than he was, with long brown hair that went down to her waist and large brown eyes that were full of wonder. Harry was glad he had gone through a growth spurt at the end of his fourth year, making him taller than the petite girl.
"So, you're new here?" Alice asked after a few minutes.
Harry nodded, smiling. "Yeah." Seeing that more was expected of him, he elaborated. "It's my birthday tomorrow, and Sirius," he nodded at his godfather, who grinned at him, "decided to take me out and show me this place."
"Your birthday? Really? Happy birthday!" Alice exclaimed wrapping her arms around him and giving him a kiss on the cheek, smiling sweetly at his blush. She moved back, but kept an arm around Harry's, scooting her chair closer so she could lean on him properly, which she promptly did.
"Who did these?" Harry asked in a desperate attempt to change the subject, ignoring Sirius' winks.
"Well, most of the carvings were here when I first arrived here, a few months ago. From what I know, if you can carve wood they will let you carve something here, as long as it's something fantastic," she explained, looking around the room. "And it seems that no matter how hard you look, there's always something new, something you haven't seen. I've been told that this room has been like this for decades," she continued, although he tone was a bit skeptical.
Sirius nodded, taking a bit of his drink before speaking. "The first time I was here - it was actually Mary who showed me this place, Harry - most of the carvings were here. James and I tried out hand at one ourselves, but all we did was dig a lot of grooves in the wall," he said with a rueful grin.
Harry chuckled and felt Alice giggle next to him, the vibrations making themselves felt through his arm, which he was currently holding very still, not sure what he should do. Alice either didn't notice or chose to ignore it as she began to explain about the different carvings visible from their spot, with input from Sirius who remembered some of them from his youth.
After a few more songs, Alice pulled Harry to his feet. "Come on, birthday boy, let's show you the more interesting ones!" she said, dragging him towards the exit and stopping at the door. They began making their way around the room, Alice doing her best to explain the action behind each carving, as well as the characters. A pair of older men rose after a few moments and joined them adding their own knowledge to her explanations. The two left them after a few moments, giving Harry a slap on the back.
"Good to know the new generation is following in our footsteps," the man said as he walked away. Alice giggled while Harry stared bemused.
"Come," Alice said, taking hold of his hand and entwining her fingers with his. "I'll show you my favorite!"
She led him near the tables with the rowdy teens, but the teens simply called out greetings before returning to their own business. Harry supposed it was because it was a common occurrence to see people walk around the room and look at the carvings.
He looked at the one Alice had indicated and felt his breath stop in his throat.
The carving was three, maybe four feet long and almost as tall. In it, Harry could see a castle, with a sun shining from behind a tower, the rays cutting through a storm cloud. In the forefront of the image, the lower right corner, there was a pair of hobbits, as Alice had named them, both with satchels on their backs. Alice pulled him back a bit and crouched down, pulling him down with her. Once he was also crouched, she turned her head to stare at the carving again, and Harry did likewise.
The expression on the faces of the two characters struck him again. He could see a bit of Neville in the second one, but with an amount of determination and loyalty that Harry hadn't seen on Neville, though there were hints. He was gazing towards the first one, aiming his feelings that way, and Harry vowed to himself to get to know his friend better.
The first figure was similar, but there were a few fundamental differences. The determination to go through with his task was clear on the hobbit's face, but there were also signs of a burden placed on him, a burden he was willing to carry but was afraid he couldn't succeed.
In the upper right side, there was a more recent addition, its lighter color giving it away. Between two trees with entwinning branches, a couple stood. A man and an elf woman - princess. They were holding hands, gazing at each other with obvious love in their eyes. The image hit a point deep in Harry's soul, waking up a longing for a profound love like the couple shared. Unconsciously, he squeezed Alice's hand, receiving a slight squeeze in return.
He closed his eyes and let out a long breath. Next to him, Alice sighed and stood, taking his hand again once he was standing. He moved towards the table, despite the fact that they hadn't seen the entire room, but Alice didn't protest, sensing a shift in his mood.
They sat back at the table and chatted with Sirius and Mary, who had arrived at some point during their wandering, and Harry pushed the images of the two lovers out of his head. He was going to get those books and read them, he decided. For the moment, though, he was going to have fun.
It was half an hour later that the door opened again. When he saw the figure standing in the doorway, Harry thought for a brief, despairing second that the Death Eaters had somehow found him. But the old man was not a Death Eater, despite his black, flowing cloak.
The room quieted as he took a few steps in, a wrinkled hand holding a staff. The end of the staff hit the floor twice with each step, echoing in the silence. He had a long gray beard and bushy eyebrows, almost hiding his eyes. His head showed signs of beginning baldness, but he proudly displayed long white hair, bound with a ribbon. A few people waved as he passed, but it was more or less quiet as he climbed on the stage and sat down on the edge.
"One time, 'twas said that they be back," the old man said suddenly. Behind him, he musicians began to finger the chords, creating a pleasant hum in the background as the man went on.
Alice snuggled closer to Harry as Sirius and Mary sipped their drinks and watched the old man with attention. Harry's confused expression was answered by a whisper coming from Alice. "He's the Old Man," she said. "Everybody calls him that. From time to time, he comes in here and tells a story or two. Sometimes he recites a poem. He is very good at it," she finished softly, her lips almost touching his ear. He shivered.
"Sidhe, they be called," he said, his voice full of passion. "Faire Folk, other named 'em. Elves, some said."
"I love this one," she whispered to him. He nodded, eager to listen the man's story. His voice was strong, despite his obvious old age, and Harry could easily hear him. The prospect of listening to a tale of magic was very attractive, even if he knew it was just fiction.
"Among those who spoke so there was a boy called Alindor. He was a mere ten winters old when he first saw the Folk," the man said, his voice soft, but carrying to the entire room.
Taken by the soft noise of the instruments, and the old and wise voice, Harry lived the life of young Alindor, the peasant who married an elven princess and flew on dragons. He didn't notice the time passing, so lost he was in the story. When the man finished, hours later, there were a few moments of silence, as people shook themselves out of the fantasy, and took stock of their surroundings.
Harry blinked, not remembering ever closing his eyes. To his shock and acute embarrassment, he found that he was not sharing the seat with Alice, as she was halfway in his lap, arms wrapped around his neck. His arms were around her waist.
"I love that story," Alice said finally, her voice husky as she whispered in his ear.
"It was wonderful," Harry managed, trying to get used to the idea of having a girl in his lap. Alice shifted slightly to grab her mug and took a few sips. She giggled and grinned impishly at Harry at the reaction her shifting caused. Harry ducked his head, hoping to hide his blush and to avoid seeing Sirius' smirking face and Mary's knowing smile.
"That it was," the clothier agreed, eyes still a bit unfocused as she doodled on a piece of paper in front of her. Harry had found himself cheering inside for the young peasant as he went through his adventures, defying death and fighting evil. He had felt sad at the death of Alindor's parents, and had joined the boy in his vow to revenge them. When the princess had first appeared. Harry had wanted to yell at Alindor, to give him pointers, even though had was clueless himself.
After a few minutes of silence, Alice, who had been leaning on Harry, pulled back slightly and looked in his eyes. "You have beautiful eyes," she announced softly.
For a moment, Harry was frozen between blushing and saying something. Then a moment from the story came to him. The princess had told Alindor that she liked him because he had a beautiful soul. The peasant, at the time a war-weary warrior, had gathered his courage and had kissed the elven princess.
Harry wasn't quite that brave, but he leaned forward and pecked Alice on the cheek, making her smile.
She winked at him and gave him a small kiss on the lips before turning in his lap so she was facing forward and leaning on him. Harry saw firsthand how well built the table legs were, as Alice propped her feet on a twist in the metal. Sirius winked at Harry over his mug. Mary was still doodling, lost in her own world.
A few hours later, the three of them were among the last patrons in the room, and a man was gathering empty bottles and glasses, taking them to the bar - or for the broken ones, to a large crate in a corner. Alice watched him and sighed. "I really should go and help Dad," she said, beginning to slide off Harry's lap, who didn't know how he should feel about it. He had begun to genuinely like having a girl in his lap, especially Alice, who proved to be great company over the hours they had spent chatting. Sirius had made the rounds, catching up with old friends. At first, Harry had worried about the Muggle news about him being an escape convict, but Sirius had told him that as far as the Muggles were concerned, he wasn't a criminal anymore. Mary had been mostly silent, filling a few pages with sketches, and offering a couple to Harry as a birthday present, along with a large tube that contained one of the larger ones she had.
"Nay girl, you stay with yer friend," her father said, seeing her take a step towards him. "Plenty of time to clean tonigh'," he finished, throwing a broken glass at the crate and missing. Alice grinned at his words and ran back to Harry.
However, it wasn't long before he had to leave, but he made sure to get Alice's address and phone number, and he promised to call as soon as he got the chance. Sirius told Harry that if he were willing, he'd take him to the Dragon's Nest every other night, since he was going there anyway. Harry immediately agreed, eager to spend more time with Alice.
As Sirius went to the bike to get it ready, Alice wrapped her arms around Harry's neck, and he gave in the urge to kiss her. It was minutes later that they broke apart, sharing one last hug before Harry climbed on the bike and they took off towards Privet Drive.
In a bag attached to the bike, there were three thick books, full of fantasy and magic, and Harry couldn't wait to read them. They were worn, obviously having been read a few times, but in Harry's eyes, it increased their value. Alice had presented them to him after a brief trip to a back room, as a birthday present. On the first page of each book, a feminine hand had written: To Harry. May your dreams come true.
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