Part 1: The Three Owls
Harry had become accustomed to all manners of racket in his life. There were good and bad sorts. But his favorite sort was currently crawling in between him and his sleeping wife.
"Mm, sod off Harry, it's Saturday." Ginny mumbled sleepily. Even while still grasping for his glasses, Harry knew to dodge right. It was in his wife's higher pitched trailing of his name, but the eleven and nine year old in the gaping chasm were not so lucky.
A fast hand clipped Lily Luna on the forehead. "Mum!" She snapped. Albus reached out for his sister, placing two hands under wiggling arms, but unable to keep his own balance, while kneeling, under the weight of a wiggly Lily Luna and falling back into his father's chest.
Ginny turned realizing her error. "Oh Lily, I bumped you didn't I?" She sat up and held out her arms. "I'm sorry Love."
"Daddy and Al didn't say anything." Lily stated with a pointed look at her brother and father as she crawled into Ginny's arms.
"I didn't know!" Albus said sitting up and pulling his knees to his chest. "Mum's wicked fast."
Harry chuckled and held up his glasses before placing them upon his face. "Well she was the best chaser the Holyhead Harpies have seen yet, you just have to be quicker than that."
"Well thank you for the compliment." Ginny said. She looked at her two children in turn realizing with a slight frown that one was missing. "Where's James?"
"Er…" Albus winced realizing that he was breaking the one rule, never leave James unattended before breakfast otherwise it would be very unlikely there would be any food left to make breakfast. "Well, that's why we came up here. The post, it's just...there's three owls."
"Three?" Harry had swung his legs over the bed and was in the futile process of half taming his unruly dark hair. "One of them isn't Wendig?" Wendig was the ministry owl, usually indication of some Auror emergency.
Albus shook his head. "I...don't think so."
"Definitely not. He's standing."
"But Tawny's 'round?" Harry asked referring to his eldest son's owl.
"Tawny gave a letter to James." Albus confirmed.
"Well, we should go see for ourselves then, shall we?" Ginny said.
Albus and Lily Luna nodded scrambling down from their parents' bed and leaving the bedroom.
Harry put an arm around his wife. "Well, at least this isn't one of those dull mornings." He planted a kiss into her hair.
"At least." Ginny rolled her eyes fondly leaning into her husband as they followed their children downstairs.
Albus hopped the last step that led into the Potter's kitchen to see his brother, glasses sliding down his nose, studying an envelope with interest.
"Looks like Hogwarts didn't forget you after all Alby." James held up the heavy looking envelope.
"Your letter came?" Lily frowned down at her brother, a step above him, but the youngest Potter's question went unanswered as Albus processed the news.
Albus walked over to where his older brother stood. He felt himself suddenly nervous. Of course, he had been looking forward to this moment. All witches and wizards his age did, but now that it was finally here...well he wasn't sure what to think as his brother placed it in his hands.
"Well go on then," James said. "Open it up."
"You have to wait for Mum and Dad!" Lily said.
Albus nodded. That, of course, was his intention all along. But he began to notice something strange as he looked at the letters. None were where they were supposed to be, at least they didn't stay that way. He couldn't tell what the envelope said, no matter how much he focused. AlsubterPotruSsev ootermtPanr. Nothing stood still.
"Al!" He snapped back to as he registered his brother's fingers snapping in his face. He then looked up to see his Mum and Dad staring at him with keen interest.
"Today's the day then?" Ginny said. "You got your letter?"
"Er...yeah. Guess so." Albus gave a shaky smile.
"Oh darling, that's wonderful." Ginny smiled. "We'll have to celebrate then yeah?"
Albus nodded his grip tightening on the envelope, yet unopened.
"Well, go on. Don't keep us waiting!" James said.
Albus felt his chest tighten at the prospect of the family tradition, reading the letter aloud, then again for the aunts uncles and cousins, again for Gran and Grandpa. If the letters didn't stay in place on the ruddy envelope, how would they stay in place reading the letter itself? "We already know what it says, you read it fifteen times when you got yours!"
"Albus," His father started.
But he didn't wait to be scolded. Albus turned around and ran up the stairs to his bedroom.
The Potter parents exchanged a look.
"I'll talk to him," Harry was the first to speak.
"Dad," James turned to the kitchen table. Ginny followed her son's gaze to see, not Tawny, but another owl perched there hobbling forward with a pointed hoo.
Right, the third owl. Ginny sighed. The first had been Tawny, whom she assumed James had placed back in his cage. The second had been the Hogwarts owl who had flown off some time ago through the manor's large kitchen window, but this owl was still here.
She studied the envelope that the owl had dropped:
"Harry, this letter's for you." Ginny said.
"I'll read it later." Harry replied, already heading up the stairs.
Lily gasped as the owl flew over and landed on the railing right before her father placed his hand there. She then burst into laughter. "I don't think she's going to let you."
"Right then," Ginny recognized the look on her husband's face as he spoke, utter confusion. "I guess not."
"I'll go talk to Albus." Ginny said. "You two," She looked to her other children. "Give your father some privacy if you please."
"But…" Lily started.
"Now," Ginny gave her daughter a pointed look.
Lily ducked under her mother's arm and went down the steps the rest of the way. She then went over to her brother. "Can you teach me the knockback jinx?"
James sighed simply grabbing his sister's arm and dragging her out to the garden.
"James Sirius, no spellcasting!" Ginny shouted. As she watched her kids leave, she walked over to the kitchen table and placed her head in her hands. "What are we going to do with them?" She looks up to see Harry reading the letter intently, an indiscernible expression on his face.
"Well, I could put James in detention for a few days." Harry said offhandedly.
"We're not locking our son in Azkaban."
"Wrong sort." Harry now had a small half smile on his face as he thrust the letter in her direction. "Do you remember when I went over to Hogwarts last year to give that guest lecture?"
"And James lost Gryffindor twenty house points for asking you to teach the Patronus Charm to second years?"
"That's the one. Well, McGonagall said that Professor Ridge was looking to retire, and asked me if I'd like to be the replacement."
"Harry, why didn't you say anything? That's fantastic!" Ginny exclaimed pulling him into a hug.
"Logistics. I didn't know if it was official, and they needed to find my replacement at the Ministry before I could even consider accepting." His grin was slightly wider.
"But...if you're going to teach this year, and Albus got his letter...you knew this months ago!" Ginny put the pieces together. "And you kept it?"
"Well, you know what would happen if the kids knew." Harry said.
"You didn't tell me." Ginny narrowed her eyes. "Just what were you trying to accomplish?"
"Surprise." Harry shrugged.
"You're lucky it's a good one." Ginny tried to keep her serious expression, but a smile broke through as she leaned in and gave him a kiss. "We should go talk to Albus."