I can't believe this, Tom thought to himself as he took the long lonely walk toward the dungeons, "I know Fooze was just trying to hide his cheat sheet, and I don't bloody well blame him, but in my bag? I mean why not one for the Sanderfords, they would have been a much better target. And then not a word to me since. not a, 'Oi, brither, lat me mak it up tae ye,' nuthin. He didn't even answer the bloody coin, and Danny neither for that matter." He walked past the first two dungeons but stopped before he opened the door. He pulled out the parchment that had been delivered that morning, "You are to meet Professor Snape in the third dungeon at six o'clock sharp. Well here we go," Tom slowly opened the dungeon door. The room was completely dark, but he thought he heard the faintest whirring from further inside. "Hello? Professor?"
"SUURPRIIISE!" The slightly staggered, but raucous chorus of voices filled the room. The cauldron in the center of the room erupted in the most brilliant streaming of reds and golds. The comets of light grew bigger as they shot around the room
"What the..." Tom nearly fell backwards. The comets of light grew bigger as they shot around the room. Their contrails crossed raining down around the room revealing several of his friends and a dungeon that was looking rather undungeony. The streams of settled down, relighting all the candles in the room, bringing it into full glow.
"Happy Birthday, Tommy!" Rose cried, throwing herself at him in the biggest birthday hug she could manage.
"Merlin's beard," Tom put his hand against his forehead, "How did you guys pull this off?"
"Hou daes onything git duin aroond here, brither?" Foozle stepped around the still smoking cauldron, his arms open wide. "Magic!" He wrapped his arms around the taller boy, picking him up with a bend of his back. "Happy birthday, ye auld bauchle!"
"No I was supposed to have detention tonight. You can not tell me..."
"Oh yes we can," Rose laughed. "It was all part of the plan."
"But McGonagall, she was in on this?"
"Acourse!" He gripped the birthday boy by the neck and gave him a good shake. "Frae the fore-end. Or verra nearly, onywey." Foozle grabbed Tom by the head and leaned in to Tommy's ear. "Tae tell ye true, Ah'm awmaist hurt ye thocht Ah'd let ye tak a faw like that." His grin was as wide as a Cheshire cat's, and he gave Tommy a wink, planting a wet one on his cheek.
"You two out did yourselves," he pulled them both into a hug, "I-I'm speechless."
"Then we did it right. Rose hugged him again and looked around at the room. "We just wanted to make sure your birthday was as special as possible."
Tom smiled widely, "Well then let's get the party started."
Tom had already opened presents from Bill & Charlie, Laun, and Sam when he ripped open the large package from his mother, "Oh wow mom got me dress robes, how..." Tom smiled, "How very much like mom."
"Open mine next Tommy," Cissy beamed as she thrust her package at her brother.
"Heh, okay," Tom ripped open the red and gold packaging "Oh cool a new gobstones set," he hugged his sister, "Thanks"
Nicolette gestured to Rose. "I'll grab the present, you call off the enchantment that is holding it down."
"I'm ready... I think." Rose watched until her friend was ready to grab the gift before making her move. "Finite."
The slight brunette cringed and held onto the medium sized box and hurried over to Tom. "Open, quick."
"Um, okay," Tom ripped open the packaging. The box almost escaped her before he could see what it was. Beneath the red paper was a case with a clear top. Held inside, bound to the red satin base was a furiously thrashing bludger. In shining letters across the front of the ball were the names Karl and Kevin Boardmoor.
"Oh my God...," Tom stammered.
"Merlin's left monocle."
"That is..." he jumped up and hugged Nicolette, "Thanks Nic!"
She patted him on the back lightly. "Well, Tommy, you have been trying really hard in our lessons so I wanted to get you something really nice. Rose helped me pick it out of a catalogue. I am glad to see you liked it as much as we thought you would. Now hurry up and sit on it or something before it kills someone." She smiled at him. "Happy birthday."
Tom studied the struggling bludger, then pulled his wand and tapped it once, "Deprimo," and with that the bludger went calm.
"Aye soothing tha gurly bludger ye are, Tommy," Céilidh leaned over Tom's shoulder and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Sairy A missed the start o'tha céilidh, but A was waitin' on yer giftie ta owl in," she explained, dropping a rather large envelope with a hastily attached bow into his lap.
Tom thumbed open the wax seal, noting to himself that it was stamped with the crest of the Montrose Magpies. He slipped the contents from the envelope and studied it for a moment before what he was holding dawned on him. "Woof! This looks like my year for Quidditch memorabilia," he said, holding up the program for all to see. In his hands, he held a game program signed by the Montrose Magpies - Céilidh's father's team - and the Ugandan Patonga Proudsticks. The match made history earlier in the year when the Proudsticks managed to hold the Magpies to a draw, much to the shock of Quidditch fans and the ire of sports bookmakers the world over. He was about to pass it around for everyone to see when two sheets of parchment fell from the middle.
Foozle snatched up the papers and gave them a glance before handing them back to Tom. His eyes widened and he let out a short whistle, "Oi, Ginger, how'dye git yer Da ta spring for tha'?"
"He didn't, A asked Ma tae break tha lock on tha strongbox..." she gave Lando a wink.
"No. Bloody. Way!"
"Aye, nou A see whaur frae ye git yer sneaky streak," he drew a hand across her back in a sideways hug.
"No. Bloody. Way!" Tommy's eyes were as wide as dinner plates and they were busy shooting back and forth between the parchment in his hands to Céilidh, who by now was grinning ear to ear.
"What's all the fuss now?" Forster asked. He wasn't sure why, but Lando's familiarity with Céilidh at that particular moment made him feel... angry?
"Oi, really Tommy," Danny began, snatching the parchment from Tom's hands. "You're acting like she just gave you -" Danny's voice trailed off as he gave a hard look at the papers, "two tickets... to the... Quidditch World Cup. Top.. box..." Danny paused and looked about the room. Everyone save Céilidh - grinning like the Cheshire Cat - and Foozle was stunned to silence.
"Right then," Danny said, breaking the moment, "I'll be ready to go camp out a few days before the match."
Everyone laughed as Tommy crossed over and wrapped Céilidh in a huge hug, "A ken ye cannae use them fuir a bit, but A couldnae pass on them."
"Wow I don't know how I'm going to follow that Tommy, but I hope you like mine," Aeryn handed Tom a lavender shaped box, "I hope you like it."
Tom ripped open the package and opened the box. A green blur zoomed out of the box and raced around the room. It finally landed in front of Tom. A small green Dragon paced in front of him, small jets of fire shot from it's nose.
"Oh, wow Ryn."
"It's a Welsh Green," she beamed, "since your family is from Wales I figured it was perfect."
"It's bloody brilliant Ryn, I love it!"
"Here Tommy, here's one from Monty," Tom opened the glossy paper to reveal a new broom servicing kit.
"And here's one from Benny," she handed him a package wrapped in shiny gray paper.
Tom ripped open the paper, "Excellent, a new beater's bat," he swung the bat in the air, making the tiny Welsh Green Dragon jump and snort a small stream of fire.
The assembled guests laughed at the little dragon figure, but suddenly all went silent as the door to the dungeons opened again, "I hope I am not interrupting,"The headmaster gave a lopsided smile as he joined the rest of the group, "Professor McGonagall had told me that you were using the dungeon and," the smile grew wider, "I do so love a party."
Tommy stammered, "Professor Dumbledore, I..." The guest of honor was a little taken aback by the Headmaster's arrival. "Welcome?" He sort of looked around the crowd for some sort of reassurance.
"Thank you, Tom." The old man gave the birthday boy a kindly smile. "Oh, and Happy birthday." He revealed a small package roughly the size of a brick wrapped a brilliant green paper with phoenixes flying around it, topped with a golden bow.
Had there been a stiff breeze there in the dungeon, most of the guest attending would have no doubt been unsurprised if Tom would have been knocked over from it. He looked at the gift, almost unsure of what to do with it. Dumbledore gave him a reassuring nod, almost as if he were more excited for the boy to open it then Tom himself. Tom delicately peeled back the elaborate wrapping paper with the greatest care. Underneath was a fancy box embossed with the D&B logo of Dervish and Banges. Opening the top revealed an ornate pair of what appeared to be the worlds shiniest binoculars covered in dials and knobs and levers.
The boys eyes went nearly as wide as the lenses. "Omnioculars?" His big eyes met Dumbledore's. "Professor, I don't know what to say. Thank you. Thank you so much!"
"You're welcome, Tom." the Headmaster nodded, quite pleased with Tom's reaction. "Now, I think I'll help myself to some of those treacle tarts and some punch." The elder man patted Tom on the shoulder and moved through the crowd to one of the tables of food set up along the wall.
A smile appeared on Bobby's lips. He was happy for a time despite their recent problems. Tom deserved and earned every little thing he got this year, including the Quidditch tickets. "Open mine next, Tommy," cried out the housemate once Professor Dumbledore excused himself. Unfortunately, the guest appearance of the headmaster made the teen forget the top part of his gift. Who knew "The Witches of Quidditch: Swimsuit Edition Calendar" laid on top of the real gift which caused the heavy thump earlier. A heavy book, leather bound, Healing Herbs and Remedies, by Phyllia Spore. In the back was this personal inscription, "Tommy. I know sometimes things have been rough with us, but you've always been someone I can count on. I know the application part of Herbology tends to get your after seeing a few of the projects Professor Sprout has given out over the years, but you always knew more about the medicinal herbs than anyone else I know. Maybe this could help you stay on top. Who knows one day you could be fixing me up thanks to this thing? Always, Bobby."
Tom turned the book over in his hands, "Wow, Bobby, that is great, I really appreciate that."
Glaring at the picture on the front of the calendar which now sat in Tom's lap, Rose elbowed Forster forward. "Now yours," she suggested, keeping her voice as level as possible as she considered the possibility that that was the kind of girl Bobby really wanted.
Bobby rolled his eyes before he muttered, "Always gotta be the center of attention," under his breath as his eyes were focused on Rose.
Forster smiled a bit sheepishly. "I knew I should have gone first." He lifted his gift and offered it to Tom. "Hope you like it."
Tom eagerly tore into the wrapping paper to reveal yet more books, but considering this was from Forster, that didn't surprise anyone. Tom began to look through the first two titles. Beating the Bludgers - A Study of Defensive Strategies in Quidditch and Quidditch Through the Ages.
"Don't tell Belle that I got you the Defense book; she'll have my hide."
Tom gave a bit of a chuckle as he turned the two books over inglanced his hands. Beating the Bludgers was practically pristine. The other book, looked used. And Tom got a bit of a lump in his throat. "Um... Fors... I don't know how to tell you this. But I alredy own Through the Ages."
Forster smiled, "I know, that's why I had 'Celia swipe it for me." He over at the younger Llewelyn whose grin matched his own. "Open the cover, mate."
Tom shrugged and opened the book and began to read, "To Michael Thomas Llewelyn on the occasion of his sixteenth birthday," He looked up in amazement before finishing reading the inscription. ""Kennilworthy Whisp!" Tom clapped Forster on his back, "This is really...wow."
Forster just grinned, "In that case you might want to hold off on digging any further in the box.
"Well is there more weight in the box or do I have to go search my room for the rest of them?"
Tom reached into the box to pull out two more books. A new copy of Quidditch Through the Ages, "The new revision, he couldn't autograph it because it doesn't go on sale until Monday," Forster mumbled by way of apology. Tommy set it down to reveal the last book. He Flew Like a Madman: The Life of "Dangerous" Dai Llewelyn
Tom turned the biography in his hands, for a second, it almost looked like there was a tear in his eye.
Oh wow Fors," Cecelia beamed, "I so want to read that as soon as you're done!"
"I really appreciate this Fors."
Forster turned a bit red. "Your welcome. I'm glad you like 'em." He grinned again at the younger Llewelyn, "Let me know if your brother still hasn't finished it by Christmas, and I'll see if mom can get Whisp to send another copy."
Backed by the punch bowls Foozle and Danny watched as Albus Dumbledore approached them carrying a plate of treacle tarts, mint humbugs, and a cocobee crumpet. Looking at one another they shared the least suspicious expression they could manage and greeted him with a wide smile. "Hello, Headmaster."
"Hello, Lando, Dan." Dumbledore smiled. "This is quite the impressive show you all have put together. And in such short time too." He ducked as one of the little Falmouth Falcons buzzed him but was instead blindsided by one of the charmed bludgers. He shook the impact off as the ball dissipated and reconstituted on the other side of him. The two boys stifled a laugh. "Yes, quite impressive, I think." Dumbledore himself laughed, and the boys joined in.
"Brosia gits the credit, sir. It wis aw frae her megrim." Far on the other side of the dungeon the girl in question was beaming at Tommy as he chatted with his well wishers looking over all his gifts.
"I don't know about that." He picked up up a mint humbug and bit it. "Mmmm, delicious. Your girl Gerti has outdone herself." He finished the humbug happily. "I must say. It will be a sad day for Hogwarts were she ever to leave us."
"Aye." The pair nodded in agreement. After all, the motherly house elf had been an important figure in their lives here at school. Her not being there... The idea was just inconceivable.
Dumbledore didn't let the thought sink in too far. "How's the punch?" He leaned, looking past to the large bowls of red drink on the table behind them.
Coming from Albus Dumbledore the question should have unnerved them. The boys played it with an almost professional cool. "It's no bad." He shrugged.
They parted, allowing him access to the punch ladles. "Aye. A bit ower sweet."
The Headmaster scooped a ladle of punch out and poured it into a cup. They watched somewhat intently as he lifted the cup to his lips and drank. "Mmmmm." He smacked his lips some, examining his cup. "Ahh yes. Quite sweet. With the faintest aftertaste of..." His lips puckered as he tried to place the fading taste. "Fluxweed? Hmmm, interesting."
"Fluxweed?" Foozle looked down at his own cup. "Why would they use fluxweed to make punch?"
Behind those crescent moon glasses there was a twinkle in Dumbledore's eye. He looked down his crooked nose at the boys. "Why indeed?" His lip curled up on the end. "No matter." The elder man reached up the sleeve of his robe and came out with a flat black flask. He popped the cap back with his thumb and tipped it over the rim of his cup pouring a nip of its amber contents in. A wink passed to them as he slipped it back up his sleeve.
"Okay, Tommy," Cecelia beamed as she grabbed a large box from under the table and dropped it in front of Tommy, "Daddy said he wanted you to open it last."
Tom eyed the long package in front of him. Tom picked up the card that lay on it and opened it "Dear Tom," he read half to himself and half out loud, "I felt like it was time for this, you've had your old one long enough," he ripped open the package.
"That model juist hit the shelves."
Tom's eyes boggled as he lifted the Comet 230 out of the box, "Bloody hell!!!"
"That is the dogs bollocks mate."
"Ach! Céilidh exclaimed "That's fairly ower muckle broom frae ye, Tommy!" Everyone had a good chuckle at that, despite half of them not really understanding a word of it.
"Really all of you thank you for this. This possibly has been one of the greatest birthdays ever. Okay enough of me, every body have fun eat some cake, drink some punch, it's a party after all," Tom's grin lit up the room.
"Cissy," Rose motioned Cecelia over to her.
Biting her lip, the little Ravenclaw looked around the room before answering. "I got Tommy a really personal gift and even though everyone else in the room would know it's just a gift from a sister to a brother I'm not sure Bobby would understand that..." She looked back at Tom's smiling face. "I know this is Tom's birthday and he's the one I should be worrying about but I just thought maybe you could distract Bobby a little while I give the gift... just to make sure I don't make things worse and all."
Cecelia winked, "You got it," Cecelia put on her most innocent smile and walked over to Bobby, "Hey," she took a big sip from the cup in her hand.
"Hmmm?" Bobby responded in a sluggish way that sounded more like a grunt.
"That was a really nice present you got Tommy."
Britto rolled his eyes, "Then tell his self-centered girlfriend to actually spare a moment so Tom may be able to enjoy it. Y'know like she did with all the other bloody gifts." Every word was stuffed with a snide and slighted tone as daggers were tossed towards Rose's way with the piercing gaze the Gryffindor gave her. "Hard not to feel passed over thanks to the party dictator."
"Tommy?" Rose plucked at her friend's sleeve, lightly pulling him away from the group of partygoers who were still admiring his broom. "I haven't given you my present yet."
Tom smiled,"Funny, I hadn't noticed."
Rose stuck her tongue out at him then laughed. Reaching behind her back, she pulled out the delicately wrapped present. "I know it's not as fancy as everything else you got today..." She hesitated only a moment before placing it in his hands.
Tom studied the package. More carefully than any of the other presents, Tom removed the wrapper and opened the box. His eyes opened wide, "Rose is this?"
She grinned, bouncing on her toes a little. "I had it fixed for you."
"I haven't seen this thing in years."
"I just thought it might be something you'd like since it was for your sixteenth birthday and all..." She looked away, suddenly nervous.
Cissy's mouth hung open as she heard the words come out of Bobby's mouth, "Bloody hell Bobby what is that all about?"
"...Nothing. It's a long story," he watched Cissy closely, "Can I get out of here to get some fresh air? I....I gotta clear my head."
Cecelia's eyes caught Rose's as the door to the dungeon slammed.
Tom's head whipped around to the sound of the door, "What the bloody hell was that?"
"Excuse me for a minute, Tommy." Rose gave him a quick, tight hug then started to move toward the door. "There's something I need to take care of."
Céilidh had wandered away from the throng surrounding Tom and made her way over to the punch bowls for some refreshment and a snack. Jertie's treacle tarts were legendary, as evidenced by the pile that she had placed on her plate, along with various other confections. She was just about to ladle up a hefty serving of punch when Dan and Orlando wandered up on each side of her. She noted they were both grinning and glancing between her and the punchbowl.
"Good, innit?" Danny asked.
Céilidh's eyes narrowed, "A dinnieken, Danny. Why?" She knew the boys were up to something, but whether she was to be the butt of the joke or not... though after that one time in first year, they had made special efforts to steer her clear of any of their machinations. Rumor had it that Danny still woke in a cold sweat every now and then.
"Ye'll be want'n tae drink up as much as ye can, Ginger," Foozle leaned in conspiratorially, "Make guid an ready fuir tha Hallow's eve céilidh."
"An juis what are tha twa o'ye plannin'?"
Danny held up two fingers, "A've got twa wuirds frae ye, lass," he dropped on finger, "Plausible -"
"Deniability," Fozzle finished. "Drink up, lass..."
Fly Falcons Fly!