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“So what do you want to do for your birthday tomorrow, Harry
thanks to my beta Lady Narcissa for her helpful suggestions on ways to make my
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“So what do you want to do for your birthday
tomorrow, Harry?” Ginny asked from her seat across the Weasleys’ kitchen table.
Harry thought a
moment, then a sly smile lit up his haggard features.“I’d like to go to the London Zoo,” he said,
his green eyes taking on a glint of enthusiasm the others in the room hadn’t
seen in several months.
three Weasleys and a Granger exclaimed in unison.
“The Zoo.Where else could I hide in public without a
whole contingent of reporters following my every move?” Harry responded.
“But you’ll be eighteen tomorrow!” Ginny protested.
beamed.“Ginny, it’s the perfect place
to go.No Muggle teenager would be
caught dead in a place like that unless they were minding someone else’s
“I agree,” Mrs.
Weasley concurred from the sink where she supervised the washing up.“The London Zoo is an enclosed open space so
that if there’s any trouble, extra security can easily Apparate in.”
“Why do you
want to go there?” Ginny asked.
“I haven’t been
there since right before I received my Hogwarts letter.I only saw part of it, though.After I freed the boa constrictor, Uncle
Vernon and Aunt Petunia hustled me, Dudley and Piers out of the zoo so fast it
wasn’t funny.I, erm, ruined Dudley’s birthday outing.Look, I really want to go back and see the entire zoo.I’d go by myself, but it would be much more
fun with the rest of you,” Harry told her.
smiled.“Then it’s settled.I’ll alert Professor Flitwick of your plans
and see if he suggests someone for a chaperone just in case.”
shot upwards as Ginny groaned, “Chaperones?We’re too old to need cha—”
Her father cut
her off.“All four of you are too famous
to go alone.Would you approve of
George, Fred, Angelina and the baby coming with you?”
should be the perfect excuse, everyone,” Hermione smiled, “although at eight
months I’m not sure she’d understand much of what’s happening around her.”
“Well, it’s a
change of scenery and there’s a lot of movement to watch,” Mrs. Weasley
commented.“Sometimes new parents just
need an excuse to get out of the house and I’m sure Angelina will be grateful
for the opportunity to escape Diagon Alley.”
Harry, who had
been thoughtfully silent during this exchange, now spoke up.“Do you think you two are up to a three-hour
walk?” he asked, looking pointedly at Ron and Hermione.
glanced at Ron, who nodded vigorously.“Even if we get tired, I’m sure there are plenty of benches where we can
rest,” she said.
sadly at his two best friends.How he
wished they were completely whole.The
two of them and Ginny had been brilliant in the final battle against Voldemort.Unfortunately, Ron had been hit with several
Bludgeoning hexes which landed him in St. Mungo’s for a month.The most baffling curse to hit him had been a
Silencing spell so powerful that nothing the Healers did had given him back his
voice.Ron’s silence sat very heavily on
Harry’s conscience, but he forced the guilt to the back of his mind. As for Hermione, she had broken her left arm
and suffered internal injuries falling down the stairs while trying to keep
Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange from entering into Harry’s battle with
That he had
succeeded in ridding the Wizarding world of its greatest menace was gratifying,
but Harry was happiest that all those who meant the most to him had survived.
folded his newspaper and stood up.“I’ll
pop by the shop and see if Fred and George are available.Then, I’ll exchange enough galleons to cover
your expenses for the day.”
“Thanks, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said.“Please take the funds from my account.I intend to enjoy myself tomorrow and that
could be expensive.”
smiled.“Of course, Harry.”With that, he Disapparated.
morning at the appointed time, five Weasleys and Hermione tumbled through the
fireplace into Harry’s RegencyPark flat.
Harry,” Fred greeted him as he took his daughter from Angelina and deposited
the baby in her pram.“I never thought
we’d be taking Melody into Muggle London at this age.”
early to start,” Angelina said as she patted her husband on the back.“So, Harry.How are we getting there?”
strolling, perambulating…take your pick.Regent’s Park’s just a few blocks from here,” he answered with a grin.
get going, then,” George said, heading for the door.
It was a lovely
morning for a brisk walk to the park.Harry and Ginny led the way through the busy streets and soon the group
reached the Broad Walk.The wide
tree-lined avenue stretched before them leading toward the Outer Circle and the entrance to the zoo.
down and reached for Ginny’s hand held tucked under his elbow.“I’ve thought a lot about strolling here with
you ever since I bought my flat,” he told her, smiling.
Ginny beamed at
him and glanced behind her.“Don’t look
now, but Ron and Hermione are walking the same way we are,” she murmured.“So are Fred and Angelina.”
“Good.This was meant to be an enjoyable day for
“I think Uncle
George is even enjoying pushing Melody,” Ginny observed with a giggle.“Oh, Harry, he positively dotes on that
little girl!”She paused, then said, “I
think she’s helping him get over Alicia’s passing.He was so sad after the battle…”
Ginny.We all lost so much,” Harry said
quietly and steered her onto one of the side streets in the AvenueGardens.
later as they crossed Chester Road that led to Queen Mary’s Gardens, Harry found what he
was looking for: the refreshment lodge.He steered Ginny toward it.
“I’ll order for
everyone,” he told her as the others came up.
later, he came back with seven paper-wrapped packages.“Lemon ice lolly,” he said handing them
out.“Uncle Vernon bought me one of
these only because Dudley and Piers got ice creams and the vendor asked me what I wanted before
we could walk away.”
askance and commented, “You weren’t going to get a treat?”
“Nope.This was the cheapest item on the menu, but
at the time I thought it was heavenly,” Harry said taking a bite and savouring
the frosty sourness.“Still is.”
strolled down the Broad Walk until they reached the Outer Circle and turned left toward the Zoo’s entrance.Harry paid their fees and handed out the zoo
maps the attendant had given him.Hermione and Ginny immediately opened theirs and began reading about the
exhibits as the group strolled further into the zoo.
everyone,” Fred called as they approached a bench.Ron sank onto it and reached for Hermione’s
map as his brother passed out what Harry recognized as Muggle
walkie-talkies.“Dad said to give these
out.He didn’t think we’d need them, but
you never know.Just press and hold the
call button to talk.We’ll all come
running if there’s trouble.”
Ginny said.She turned to Angelina.“Melody might like the Snowdon Aviary.With all the birds flying around she’s bound
to see something.”
idea.Where are you four headed?”
Ron pointed to
the Aquarium as Hermione, Harry and Ginny said, “Gorillas,” “Reptiles,” and
“Mappin Terraces” all at once.They all
began chuckling at the stunned expressions of their “chaperones.”Harry finally commented, “Let’s meet at the
clock tower at .Agreed?All right, Hermione… let’s go see your
They split into
two groups with Hermione leading the way to the Ape and Monkey pavilion.As they walked, Harry saw Ginny studying her
map.He slowed down to peer over her
shoulder to see what she was reading.
this,” Ginny said pointing to the paragraph about the buildings.“The Sobel Pavilion was built in 1970 to
replace the 1926 Monkey House which was originally on this site.It consists of five enclosed buildings and
thirteen outdoor enclosures.Its main
attractions are the gorillas and several of the larger primates such as the
orangutan and the chimpanzees.There’s
even a building for the smaller monkeys.”
looking at the same pamphlet.“Hey, the
Giant Pandas are here, too!It says here
that the animals are allowed to climb in the rafters holding up the roofs of
their enclosures.I wonder if the Pandas
will be active this morning,” she mused.“The last time I was here they had gone to sleep inside their sleeping
“You mean you’ve been here before?” Ginny asked her
silly,” she answered.“My parents
brought me here when I was little.They’ve got pictures of me petting the animals and trying not to get
stepped on in the Children’s Zoo when I was two.”
laughed as they entered the primate complex and began looking at the
Ron was hugely
entertained by the antics of the smaller monkeys.He grinned as they watched a Spider Monkey
wrap its tail around the artificial branch it was playing on.
“A monkey tail
like that would come in handy during Quidditch.You might stay on your broom a little better, Ron!” Ginny teased.
Ron threw his
sister a dirty look and went to find Hermione .They found her gazing rapturously at the Giant Pandas.The black-and-white animals were outside this
morning, eagerly stripping the leaves from a giant pile of bamboo.
they cute?I just want to squeeze them,
they look so cuddly!” she exclaimed as they joined her at the railing.“I wish I could take one home!”
“I’d like to,
too.But do you think Crookshanks would
like having something that big as competition for your affections?” Ginny asked
sighed.“I suppose not.He’s rather possessive of me, really.Maybe I’ll stop in one of the shops and price
a plush panda, though.”
wandering around the exhibit and eventually found themselves at the gorilla
cage.The huge animals were sitting
quietly amid their morning meal of lettuce, carrots, celery, and other
vegetables.Ron poked Harry in the side
with his elbow and mouthed, “Dudley.”
Harry burst out
laughing.“That’s what I thought the
last time I was here,” he said, grinning.
Hermione and Ginny came over to them. “What’s so
funny?” Hermione asked.
Ron jerked his thumb the gorillas and repeated his
Ginny giggled, “I’ve never seen Dudley up close, but I get the picture.”
Shaking her head, Hermione commented, “You haven’t
missed anything,” which sent the four into renewed giggles.
Hermione admitted when she could talk again.“I saw a kiosk selling Coca-Cola as we walked in.Have you ever had one?It’s a Muggle drink.”
When Ron and
Ginny shook their heads Harry commented, “Dudley would drink a dozen a day if
They found the
kiosk and Harry went in to purchase drinks for everyone.As he stood in line, he glanced at the small
display of chocolate bars next to the register.He quickly added four Mars Bars to the bill.
Muggle sweet,” he told everyone happily as they made their way toward the
Aquarium under the Mappin Terraces.“I
haven’t had one of these in ages!You
know, I was rather disappointed when the Hogwarts Express didn’t have them
until Ron introduced me to Chocolate Frogs.”
“I felt the
same way about Cadbury’s Picnic bars,” Hermione said.
as the fizz from her drink tickled her nose.Ron took a huge bite of his Mars bar and then pantomimed “Good” as they
reached the Aquarium.He finished it
quickly, leaving a small smudge of chocolate on his upper lip, since food
wasn’t allowed in the exhibit and looked inquiringly at the others.
Harry shook his
head.“You two go on in.Ginny and I are going to the Reptile House.”
Harry?” Hermione asked looking pointedly at him.“Some of those animals give me the willies.”
Hermione.You two go have fun with the
fish,” he said and reaching for Ginny’s hand began strolling toward the Reptile
House.They found a place to finish
their snack before going in.
“How come you
wanted to come here alone so badly?” Ginny inquired as she threw her empty cup
into a bin.
into the building before answering.“I
want to talk with the boa constrictor again,” he whispered in her ear.“I’m hoping it’s the same one I spoke to last
found the display and Harry stood where he could see the snake’s eye.“Erm... can you hear me?” he hissed in
The giant snake
raised its head.“What did you say?” it
asked, surprised.“Humans generally
don’t talk to me.They just rap on the
glass trying to wake me up.”
“Were you here
seven years ago?” Harry asked.
wasn’t.I’m on loan from the zoo at
Chessington's World of Adventure in Surrey.Have been for several years.”
suddenly dejected.He had no idea how
much he had wanted to converse with the reptile so much.“Well, thanks for your time,” he said and
turned toward another exhibit.
“Hold on!” the
snake cried.“I remember talking to a
boy a long time ago! He set me free!”
around to face the snake again.
matter, Harry?” Ginny asked, confused.
it.I found my snake!” he told her
excitedly.He turned to the
reptile.“What do you remember?”
“The boy I
talked with was with two others:one was
really fat and thought I was boring because I wouldn’t move.The boy who spoke my language was skinny and
wore round glasses almost like yours,” the snake said with a nod of its
head.“He made the glass vanish so I
could go to Brazil.”
hardly contain himself.“I’m the boy you
talked to!” he exclaimed excitedly.
be!Good to speak with you again!” The
snake slithered closer to the glass.
“How long were
you free?” Harry inquired.
months.It was wonderful.”
“Did you get to
sighed.“Alas, the RSPCA caught me
before I could find a boat going south.”
about that.I always hoped you’d get to
see your homeland.”
“I can’t miss a
place I’ve never been, so don’t be too disappointed.Besides, this zoo is much nicer than the
warmer rocks, live plants.I have a mate
the enclosure.“I don’t see her.”
“She’s in the
back with our eggs,” the snake said proudly.“I’m going to get to see my offspring rather soon, I think.”
you’ve got it pretty good.”
“I do.Hey, will you come back and talk with me
again some time?”
smiled.“I promise,” he said as his
“Come to the
Aquarium, quick!” it squawked.
Hermione.I wonder what’s happened,”
Ginny said worriedly as they hastened toward the door.
sound at all upset,” Harry commented, “so it can’t be anything too awful.In fact, she sounded rather excited.”They skirted a group of families gathered
just outside the exhibit and began sprinting toward the Aquarium.
reached the entrance a teary but glowing Hermione greeted them.“We’ve gathered over here,” she said, leading
them to a nearby bench where Ron and his family were waiting.
from one face to the other; they were all smiling as though they could hardly
contain themselves or their mirth.
next to Ron and took his hand.“It’s a
miracle!” she exclaimed, blushing.“Ron
and I—we were kissing the chocolate off each other’s mouths and –”
“My voice came
back!” Ron croaked, grinning.
Harry and Ginny
gaped at him; the next moment Ginny launched herself at Ron, and pulling him to
his feet, encircled him in a hug worthy of their mum.
“Oh, Ron, this
is such good news!I’m so happy for
you!” she exclaimed, voicing the pleasure that Harry was experiencing
After Ginny had
disentangled herself from her brother, Harry stuck out his hand for Ron to
shake.“Hey, mate.Congratulations... to both of you,” he said,
sincerely including Hermione in his comment.“It’s about time, too!”
scowled.“What do you mean?” he demanded
could explain himself, Fred suddenly produced a long, loud wolf whistle.
George teased, “there will be peace in the Gryffindor common room!”
spats.” Fred joined in.
bickering!” added Harry.
reign!” quipped Ginny.
birthday—” supplied Fred.
“—seems to have
stolen the show by—”
“—with the help
kiss!” they finished together.“Aww,
isn’t that romantic?”
Ron grinned and
gave Hermione a quick kiss before asking no one in particular, “Who would have
thought getting together would be so sweet?”
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