Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter
AN: Sorry about the wait! Here's the third chapter!
The wind rustled the leaves in the oak tree he was perched in. Harry gave a contented sigh as it tousled his hair lightly. August was half over. They'd be moving in a few days. Most of the packing was already done. Ryan and a few of his other friends from martial arts and school were coming over this afternoon. They were throwing a going away party. For him. Because he was moving; he was actually moving. He was struggling to come to grips with that; trying to comprehend that this chapter of his life was ending. Life was moving on, and it was leaving his room, his friends, his home, and this sturdy oak tree behind. It was moving toward biscuits and tea and crumpets and blood sausage. Despite the fact that he was born in Britain, he felt like an American. It was all he'd ever known. And holy shit, he wouldn't have to start calling soccer football would he?
Harry glanced over to where his father was setting up three tents in the backyard. After the initial party, twenty or so of Harry and James' closer friends would be spending the night outside. Ghost stories, potato chips, and sodas would abound. His parents had really pulled out all the stops for this, and Harry appreciated it.
"Harry!" his mom's voice was barely audible from his distance from the source, but Harry instantly knew he'd been called. It was a sixth sense he'd developed naturally over time with help from his mother. His mother could shout from the other side of the world and he'd hear. Harry slipped from the branch he was perched on, dropped three feet and snagged another one and swung to the ground, almost landing on his back. If he had, he might have broken his spine and any number of ribs, or at least have the wind knocked out of him. Eleven year olds don't think of these things, though, as any mother would tell you. Harry managed to make his landing into something approaching graceful, and trotted inside to see what his mother wanted.
Lily Potter was standing on a chair in the dinning room, trying to tape a banner across the entryway. Harry watched her struggle for a few moments, then spoke up.
"Did you consider using a sticking charm?" he asked, amused. His mother sometimes reverted back to her muggle upbringing at odd times. It did help often with their current lifestyle… they practically lived as muggles now. Aside from a few spells cast here and their on rare occasions and a shelf in the far corner of the basement that housed some of the Potter's more valuable and personal items, the house was clear of charms, potion ingredients, spell books, flying brooms, and other magical objects. The Potters had kept a low profile, even in America's wizarding community. No sense in taking risks.
"Actually, I did, smart ass. I was afraid somebody would notice. We're going to have a lot of people over today; all of your and James' friends. Last thing we need is somebody discovering the Potter's don't need tape like the rest of the ordinary people."
"Mother, your being paranoid." Harry grinned.
"Hm." Lily answered, noncommittally. "Give me a hand with this."
Harry pulled up a chair, and took the tape from his mother. "You probably have something more productive to be doing mom. I'll take care of all your worries. I'll leave so much tape up, it would take a blind man to miss it. I could use black duct tape too if you prefer."
Lily swatted the back of his head. "Smart ass. You sure? I do have things to do…"
"Go on. I can handle taping up a banner." Harry smirked. "By the way, when this thing falls off and lands in the punch bowl, it's your fault, not mine."
Five minuets and half a roll of tape later, Harry stepped back to serve his work. Nodding in satisfaction, Harry clumped up the stairs to his room.
Harry watched from the porch as Ryan got out of his families' Mercedes, gave his mother a parting hug and strode up the driveway.
"Almost packed yet?" Ryan asked as Harry fell in step with him.
"Mostly. Have a bit more junk in the basement. And we still have the sparing gear out for tonight." Harry grinned at his friend.
"So, how are you?" Ryan asked.
Harry considered the question for a moment before responding. "Resigned."
"How's your brother?"
"Ecstatic." Harry remarked dryly.
"How's your mother?"
Harry stopped walking and gave his friend a peculiar look. "She's… fine."
"How's your father?" Ryan asked, ignoring Harry's look.
"Is there a point to-" Harry began, but Ryan cut him off.
"And how's your reflex?" He grinned, taking a swing at Harry's face with an open hand.
Harry caught it, barely, and grinned at his friend's… uniqueness. "I'd say he's pretty good too."
"What are you two up to?" Harry and Ryan turned to see a boy of about thirteen jogging up.
"Hey Dillan. Ready for the matches tonight?" Ryan asked.
It was tradition among Harry and his friends to have rough housing tournaments at each others parties. With an anti-injury charm placed in their playroom, the Potters had no need to worry about wrathful overprotective mothers, and expensive lawsuits.
"Sure. How much fresh meat we got tonight." Dillan asked.
"Quiet a bit. Lot of James' friends coming tonight." Harry grinned. "I'm looking forward to seeing you and Ramal go at it."
Dillan's eyebrows rose. "Ramal? Who's Ramal."
"A friend of James. Five foot six inches. Fourteen years old. Black. One hundred and fifty-seven pounds. Still hasn't hit his growth spurt." Harry grinned. "You've got your work cut out for you."
Dillan rubbed his chin in thought. "Ramal, hmm? I'll look for him tonight."
Harry gave a snort. "He'll be hard to miss."
Ryan clapped Harry on the shoulder. "So, when's this party thing getting going?"
"In a couple hours. What do you want to do until then?"
"Let's shoot some hoops."
Over the next few hours, Harry played basketball with the teams constantly growing and reshaping as more people arrived, until Lily called them in for the party. They entered the house, a mass of sweaty bodies, laughing and slapping each other's backs and started in on the sodas. Harry found James in the crowd.
"Ready for tonight?" Harry nodded at James.
"Yeah." James gave his brother a superior nod. "Ready to feel the wrath of the chosen one?"
"No time for witty banter now. Dad's about to talk." Harry pointed over to where their father was standing on a chair.
"Your attention for a moment. Just a moment, then I'm done. I know why you're all here. I have two bright, friendly sons who have in some way touched your lives. I know and you know what special, and incredible kids they are. But that's not why you're here. You're here for Lily's cheesecake."
A loud cheer arose from the crowd, and Mr. Potter had to wave his hands to keep them quiet. "In all honesty, though. You're here because one of my two sons calls you friend. That makes you welcome in my home."
As Mr. Potter stepped down off the chair, conversation resumed as normal. Harry slipped away from his twin in order to mingle. After a few minuets of trying to thread his way through the crowd, Harry reached the base of the stairs and stood on the second step to get a view over the crowd. There was Terry Calwell from school, and Patrick, Terry's younger, ten year old brother. Panning his vision across the room, Harry scanned and checked people off his mental guest list until he finally caught sight of who he was searching for. Harry jumped from the steps and began to once more weave his way through the crowd towards Mike.
"Hey, Mike." Harry greeted, slinging an arm over his second best friend's shoulder.
Mike turned his piercing blue eyes on Harry and smiled. "Hello Harry." He said with a cordial nod.
Mike was a very different type of person then Harry, though both were rather reserved. Harry loved the mind challenges presented in a fighting scenario, though he had to admit the brutal, physically demanding part of the challenge had no small appeal to him as well. He loved to analyze his opponents weaknesses, strengths, and strategies and work out how to best combat them with his own. Harry also enjoyed thoughts born the of silence and calm that was the night sky and the stars. Deep, powerful thoughts that had no particular purpose or direction.
Mike directed his thoughts towards a goal. Mike was an artist and whether it be a poem, a drawing, a song, or a story that begged to be created, it was his calling from birth to give it existence. Mike's art was about order and serenity, not the tide of passions and emotions one often found in art; but that's not to say he didn't put his soul into his art. He just had an air of peace around him that he could portray in perfection in his creations. Mike was a childhood prodigy and had four different tutors training him. Regardless of that, his mother had wanted to give her son something of a normal life, so Mike remained in public school. Harry often found that the only reason he wasn't insanely jealous of his best friend was because of the one thing he had that Mike never could. Magic.
"Are you going to the matches tonight?" Mike asked, with a slight eye roll.
Harry grinned at his friends reluctance. "Yeah. You don't have to watch if you don't want to. I know it's not really your thing…"
"You must be joking. You'll need somebody with a level head when you break your stupid skull open. I fear the rest of the barbarians you tromp around with will lack the intelligence to dial 911 in the right number sequence." Mike scoffed.
Two pairs of hands snatched Mike by either arm. "Lets test that theory, shall we Dillan?" Ryan suggested in a conversational tone to the other boy griping Mikes arm. " I'll break his fingers, and you see if you can dial 911."
"Why do you get the fun job?." Dillan protested.
Harry felt his attention drift as conversation continued between the other three. A slap to the back of his head brought him back to reality. Harry turned to see Kate giving him her usual superior look.
"Ready too get cleaned tonight, Potter?" Kate asked.
Harry hadn't known Kate for all that long. But she was nice enough… In her own boys-are-inferior-to-girls, overly competitive, warrior princess sort of way.
"I'll tell you exactly why I'm not going to lose to you tonight, Kate." Harry responded coolly, giving her his own mock superior look.
"And why's that?"
"It's all very simple, really. It's because your a girl." Harry stated in bored tone.
Kate's face turned a dark red. "Boys!" she snarled in distaste as she stormed off.
"That girl is going to grow up to be a raging lesbian." Dillan observed.
Ryan shook his head. "You mean you couldn't tell? She has it bad for Harry." Ryan was rather perceptive when it came to girls. Once Dillan had asked him where this rare knowledge had sprung from, and Ryan had divulged that he'd been dropped on his head as a child, for that was the only way one could come to understand women.
Dillan had been beating his head against solid objects ever since.
Harry stared his opponent in her eyes, and was pleased at the anger he saw. That girl comment had really gotten to her. Good. He'd figured Kate for an aggressive fighter. With a grudge to settle, Harry hoped she might do something foolish.
The rest of the party was gathered around the mat, waiting for someone to make the first move. As Harry had expected she would, Kate moved first, opening the fight with a jump kick. Harry easily evaded the first strike, but was momentarily surprised by the ferocity of the follow up punches. He retreated a few steps before his opportunity. One of Kate's punches was a little to slow in returning to it's guard position and Harry snagged it with his left hand and threw a punch under her extended arm, straight into her chin. Harry was about to follow up, when she drove her knee into his gut. Harry managed to twist slightly before it connected, avoiding a severe blow that would have probably left him winded. The right hook that nailed his cheek, however, was a solid hit. Harry ignored the pain.
"Hit like a girl." Harry teased.
Kate's face turned red as she threw another hook at his face. He'd expected it. With a smooth motion, he stepped outside her punch in a classic female triangle movement, slapping her punch lightly aside and delivering a backhand that had his entire body weight behind it. Kate staggered backward, giving Harry room to use his jumping, spinning crescent kick. It connected with the side of Kate's face, and she toppled to the ground.
Harry stepped forward and offered her his hand up, which she pointedly refused as she pushed herself to her feet. "I don't need your help."
Harry sighed. Kate was a proud person by nature, and Harry knew he'd damaged that pride. "You fought well, Kate."
"Don't patronize me. You got lucky. Next time You won't be." She snarled.
"Kate, you don't have to prove yourself to me."
Kate's eyes widened suddenly, and the look of anger passed. With a slight nod, she stepped back into the crowd.
Ramal and Dillan's fight was interesting. Ramal was the superior in weight and strength, but Dillanknew better how to use his own weight, and how to turn his opponents against him. It ended with Ramal in a painful looking arm bar.
Finally, the moment came. Harry stood poised as James circled him. "I'm going to win this one, brother."
"Of course." Harry yawned. Then he moved. The sudden attack caught James of guard for a moment, but he recovered swiftly. The twins soon moved into a dance of sorts, each attacking and counter attacking with amazing speed and grace. Harry focused on the fight. He knew his brothers style inside and out, as James likewise knew his. James was on the defensive for the moment, but he didn't plan to stay that way. He would win this. He COULD beat his brother at something. Harry, for once, on this day, would taste bitter defeat while James stood over him, the victor.
Harry noticed the determined and focused way James was fighting. He was surprised James had managed to do this well so far. Usually, a fight between him and James was very one sided. Harry had never lost to him. Still James seemed to be holding his own rather well. He was tiring, though, Harry noticed as he blocked a kick that could have had more power behind it. It was time to end this. The next blow, Harry rolled off and threw a sharp uppercut at his brothers kidneys.
It was blocked. Harry barely had time to be surprised at his brother's reflex before an elbow sent him staggering backwards. The follow up flying kick sent Harry stumbling backward and into the floor.
James stood over his brother as the crowd around clapping. He soaked up the moment, wishing he could hold it forever. Finally, his brother would feel the disappointment James had been through so many times.
"I win." James grinned down at Harry. He could die knowing he'd beaten Harry. The moment was perfect, everything, he'd dreamed it would be. He watched his brother, looking for signs of disappointment and defeat.
But then his brother picked himself up off the floor and clapped his brother over the shoulder, a grin on his face. "Well done bro. I underestimated you. It was a mistake I will never make again."
James' friends encircled him, clapping him on the back and congratulating him, but James could only stare as his brother faded into the crowd, trying to understand why the feeling of victory was suddenly gone.
Harry was making his way through the crowd when Ryan caught up with him.
"Hey, follow me. I brought a going away present for you."
Harry glanced at his friend. "You didn't have to. Nobody else did."
"Shut up, Harry. I wanted to. Hang on, it's in my bag."
Harry followed his best friend into the living room. Ryan knelt in front of his bag, his back turned to Harry as he pulled something out. He stood, his back still facing Harry, before turning slowly to face him. In his hands he held a katana, still in it's sheath. He handed it to Harry reverently.
"This was custom made just for you. It was very expensive, and I put a lot of thought into it, so don't insult me by trying to refuse it."
Harry nodded, and took it, staring at it. The hilt was beautifully designed, and Harry took a moment to study it.
Ryan sighed impatiently. "You gonna look at the blade, or what?"
Harry grinned sheepishly and hastily removed the sheath. It was beautiful. The single edge was keen, and the blade had a blood groove running down it's length. The balance was perfect, and Harry gave it a few experimental strokes.
"Now." Ryan said, bringing Harry's attention off his blade and onto his friend. "This gift does come with a single condition. And I want your promise on this, okay?"
At Harry's nod, Ryan continued. "Every time you draw this blade, whether your about to do your little sword dance thing, or if your showing it off to a cute girl, I want you to say my name. Ryan. I don't care if it feels dumb. Every time. No exceptions. I want you to remember me."
"I promise. I wont forget you." Harry promised.
"You'd better not. And WRITE. Keep in touch. Let me know how bad boarding school is. And most of all, keep practicing. When we meet next, I expect you to be a challenge for me to thrash."
"Yeah." Harry grinned sadly at his best friend.
"Now, I hear there's a party going on around here some where. Wanna try to find it?"
"Sure." Harry replied, and the two rejoined the crowd. Harry would have a good time tonight; he would make a memory, and he would never forget it.
AN: Originally, I was going to jump straight too Britain in this chapter, but many people like certain characters in America, and I decided to give them a bit more spot light. I already have most of the next chapter done, so you wont have to wait months for it or anything like you did this one. I'll probably post it tommorrow.