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Heavy droplets of rain pounded on the rooftop and windows in a heavy torrent, making it difficult to hear any noise aside from the raging storm outside. The wind had only just begun to pick up, the shutters banging against the sides of the house. In the distance, a streak of lightning bolted toward the ground, looking more like an explosion of brilliant white than anything else. A low, angry rumbling soon followed the flash.

But if one thought the storm raging outside was explosive, it was nothing compared to what was happening in the basement dining room of the Potter household.

At the head of the table sat Harry Potter. Technically, he wasn’t sitting, but more of slouching down in his chair, a plate held in front of him like a shield. He hadn’t started out in his hunched position at the beginning of the meal, but somehow, he had been forced to seek refuge behind the lip of the table top and the plate he currently held in his hands.

The plate in question had saved him from a particularly nasty glob of yellowish mush that had been flung in his direction and would’ve landed in his mouth had he not used the plate to protect himself. He had already tasted a bit of the yellowish mush for the sake of getting his daughter to eat it as well. But after swallowing the thickly textured glob, he understood why she was so reluctant to eat it.

A fierce, warrior-like cry flooded his ears and he groaned inwardly. He didn’t dare think what was happening behind the plate. He didn’t want to see the wreckage that lay before his eyes. Harry didn’t even want to think what his wife would say when she came spinning out of the fireplace, which was mere feet behind him.

Taking a risk, Harry peered over the top of his plate to see what had unfolded. Hopefully, none of his children had been seriously injured, otherwise he’d have Ginny to answer to. And he most certainly did not want that on his conscience for the remainder of the night.

“Yes!” a boy shouted happily; it was the same boy that had released the war-like cry.

“That hurt, James!” a small, frail voice whined. Apparently, whatever the boy had launched at his younger, unsuspecting sister had hit its intended target.

“You nailed her right in the face! Nice one, James!” another boy said appreciatively, his voice full of approval and a detectable undertone of admiration.

The sound of flesh slapping flesh resounded through the room. “Thank you, Al. It's all in the wrist.”

“You’re a git,” muttered the small, frail voice pathetically.

“Who? Me or Albus?”

“The both of you!” the girl cried, huffing angrily and crossing her arms over her tiny chest.

A look of remorse and guilt flashed across Albus’s face, which resembled Harry’s so much, it frightened the father of three. A small smile twitched at the corners of Harry’s mouth, just waiting to be released. Albus opened his mouth to say something, most likely to make an apology to his younger sister, but before he could get a word out, a thick mess of goo hit him in the mouth.

A loud, almost bark like laugh escaped James. He banged his fist on the table in triumph and sent an approving look at his little, redhead sister.

And then, the same fate that had befallen his younger brother had befell James. Lily pumped her small, balled fist up in the air and laughed as she watched both of her brothers sputter and gag on the thick mush their father had had the nerve to call supper.

“Good one, Lils!” Harry exclaimed. He was happy that she had gotten a chance to exact her revenge upon her brothers as they had not only treated her unfairly, but underestimated the small child.

“Thank you, Daddy,” she said, smiling widely and revealing two missing front teeth she'd lost the previous weekend during a particularly brutal game of two-a-side Quidditch. Ginny hadn't been very happy about that.

“So I guess that makes you the winner then, huh?” Harry continued, leaning toward his daughter.

Lily gave a delighted giggle and nodded her head vigorously. She was rarely declared the winner in anything that concerned her older brothers.

While Harry praised his youngest child for defeating her brothers, said boys were plotting across the table. James had a hungry look in his hazel eyes and Albus was simply doing whatever his elder brother told him to do.

“Got it?” whispered James, his excitement gleaming in his bright eyes.

Albus nodded. “Yep.”

“On my count. One.”

“Two.”

“Three!”

And before Harry had time to pull the plate up in front of him, two massive globs of mushy goop hit him square in the face, covering the lenses of his glasses in thick, sticky, mushiness. Like his sons, he sputtered and spat, trying to get the horrible taste of the mysterious substance he had managed to concocted in the kitchen that evening.

Many more balls of yellow paste hit him, caking his hair, skin, and clothes. He reached to pull Lily to safety as she was most likely getting hit as well, but as soon as he managed to get some of the pulp off the lenses of his glasses, he saw that she too had turned on him and was pelting him with mushy globs.

Where all the mush had come from was beyond Harry, but it didn’t seem to be running out of stock.

Pushing his chair back so roughly it toppled over to the ground with a loud crash, Harry stood up and held up his arms. “All right! That’s enough!”

Immediately, the globs stopped their constant impacts against him and he looked to see that all three of his children were staring at him with wide eyes. He very rarely lost his temper with his children and they knew that if their father raised his voice, he was angry. It was usually their mother who scolded them for wrongdoing, not their father. He was the lesser disciplinary of the house.

Harry resisted the urge not to smile. If he smiled, that would give him away and he couldn’t have that just yet. He had to wait for the perfect moment. He had to wait until they were on the very edge of their seat before retaliating. They wouldn’t be expecting it. At least, he didn’t think that they would. They all looked so. . .so frightened at the fact that their father had raised his voice and was glaring down at them. Although, Harry had to admit, it was very hard feigning anger at his children.

Hell, it was hard being angry at them period.

Lily opened her mouth to speak, but Harry held up his hand. She immediately closed her mouth and averted her brilliant chocolate eyes to her folded hands in her lap. A frown threatened to quirk the corners of his lips downward, but somehow he had managed to fight off the urge to show the tell-tale signs of sympathy toward his daughter.

“I cannot believe that the three of you would ever think about throwing your dinners at one another; especially the dinner I spent nearly an hour cooking for you ungrateful lot!” Harry said, struggling to keep his voice at a higher volume than the tone he normally spoke in.

“Sorry Daddy!” Lily and Albus cried in unison, the former’s lips quivering dangerously as she lowered her head even further.

A pang of regret surged through his chest. Should he really be torturing his children like this, when he was just going to attack him like they attacked him?

“And what do you have to say for yourself, James?” Harry asked, hoping that his tone sounded as stern as it sounded in his head.

Apologizing wasn’t exactly one of James’s strong suits. He hated admitting that he'd done wrong and he hated having to succumb to the demands of others. Especially when he wasn’t genuinely sorry for what he had done or disliked the person he had wronged. But when he was truly sorry, James apologized straightaway, his whole heart in it.

James lifted his head and met his father’s gaze, staring at him intensely. Sometimes, Harry wondered if James could detect every flicker of emotion inside of him, as his eldest son seemed extremely connected to other people’s emotions. But that was just ridiculous, wasn’t it? He had never heard of empathetics in the wizarding world, but then again, there were a lot of things he had never heard of until other magical beings had bestowed the knowledge upon him.

“I’m really sorry, Dad,” James said quietly, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

Harry sighed. He couldn’t continue acting like he was pissed off when he really wasn’t. His children, even James, had all been genuinely sorry about causing such a mess, even though the kitchen wasn’t nearly as bad as Harry had thought it would be when he had been hiding behind his shield. . .er, plate.

“It’s all right,” he said, smiling tightly at his three children, who were all but on the edge of their seats, waiting to hear the next words that would issue from their father’s mouth. “You didn’t make that much of a mess,” he continued, walking around the corner of the table. He clasped his hands behind his back for dramatic emphasis as he surveyed the room. He ran his finger over the edge of the table and thick mush collected on his fingertip. “In fact, it could use a bit more messing up,” he turned his emerald orbs toward each of his children and grinned. Harry flicked the bit of food at Lily, who squirmed out of the way, “what do you say to that?”

Their faces lit up with bright grins and cheers of agreement erupted from their throats.

- - -


An hour and three quarters later, Harry was hurrying up the stairs, Lily’s arms and legs clamped tightly around his abdomen and screaming in his ear words of encouragement.

“Go, Daddy!” she cried, casting a cautious look over her shoulder. She shrieked and slapped her father on his chest, hoping that it would make him go faster. Harry winced as the high pitched sound reverberated in his ear; it had felt like his eardrum had ruptured. “Hurry, they’re catching up!”

Sure enough, a few flights below them, Harry could hear the pounding of small feet on the wooden stairs. His sons were laughing as they ran up the stairs as fast as they could, taking two or three at a time. James was, as always, struggling to get in front of Albus, so he could reach their father first and win the game for pair.

“We’re going to get you good!” James shouted, his voice sounding closer than it had moments ago.

“Yeah!” panted Albus, who was a flight below his brother. “We will!”

“Don’t worry, Lils, they won't get us,” Harry said, panting slightly as he struggled with her additional weight to run up the stairs. There was only one flight left and then, they would be trapped. Unlike Hogwarts, Grimmauld Place didn’t have any hidden passageways. None that he knew of, anyway. And Harry never pretended to know all of a dwelling's secrets. Especially a dwelling that had once belonged to Dark wizards.

But it seemed that his sons would end up getting him. He and Lily would lose the game he had initiated in the kitchen.

At the very beginning of the game, there hadn’t been teams; it was every man for himself. But once Harry saw just how much Lily was struggling to fend off her older brother, Albus, he immediately went to her side and began to assist her in pelting the globby mess, which he had duplicated with a simple flick of his wand. At first, neither of her brothers protested to this, but rather they enjoyed it, getting to slam both their father and their little sister with giant balls of mush. However, once they saw that Lily and Harry were quickly overpowering them, they began to shout out about it being unfair. Then Harry had made the oh-so wise decision to divide them up into teams.

If he had thought chaos had reigned in the kitchen, it was nothing like the scene that unfolded in the living room. . .the drawing room. . .the sitting room. . .the library. . .every room in the house was covered with the nasty yellow mush. There wasn’t a single wall that wasn’t splattered; there wasn’t a bit of floor that wasn’t caked; there wasn’t an inch of any of the Potters that wasn’t yellow.

The battle had been thick and was waging as just strongly as it had been in the beginning. Luckily, his sons didn’t have wands and, although he considered it an advantage, all three of his children, his daughter included, had objected to any use aside from making more muck. So, having stowed it in his pocket, he could no longer use the wand to Apparate into the drawing room and seek refuge behind the couch.

Harry hadn’t thought of building a fort. Maybe. . .

Because he had been so distracted, he stumbled over the last step. Lily let out another shrill shriek and clung to his neck tighter than ever; it was becoming very hard to breathe. It took him longer than normal to get back on his feet, due to the fact that Lily was wiggling about so violently on his back that it was physically impossible to move. He tried to tell her to stop, but her linked hands were pushing into his throat, closing off his airway.

He could hear James and Albus’s footsteps getting closer, and closer, and closer. Until finally, they were only a few steps away from their father and sister. Both broke into war-like cries and jumped on Harry’s back as well, causing all the air that had been left in his lungs to whoosh out of his mouth. He could barely breathe now.

It was Albus who figured out that something was wrong. “Guys, get off of Dad!”

“What? Why?!” James cried. “We have victory at last!” He slapped a glob of muck into his father’s already matted hair.

“Because he’s not breathing, you idiot!” Albus shouted.

As though burned by fire, James leapt off of his father and grabbed Lily around the waist, pulling her off as well. Immediately, all three children dropped down to their knees and began to poke their dad.

“Daddy?” Lily said timidly, poking him in the side. When he didn’t respond, she turned her wide, fearful brown eyes to her brothers. “Oh no! We killed Daddy!” she sobbed loudly, flinging herself into James’s arms dramatically.

James exchanged a look over Lily’s head with Albus, who was extremely pale. Had they really just killed their father? If they had, he would take all the responsibility. If it hadn’t been for him, none of this wouldn’t happen. There wouldn’t have been a muck fight, they wouldn’t have disappointed their father, this war wouldn’t have been waged in the first place.

With Lily sobbing into his chest, it made it very difficult for he and Albus to turn their father onto his back. Albus gazed at his brother and with a hesitant sigh, James leaned forward and touched his dad’s wrist, where he knew there would be the tell-tale sign of a pulse. James saw his father’s left eye wink at him and suddenly, he understood what his dad was doing.

“Oh no,” muttered James, hanging his head in a perfect picture of remorse. “We did kill him.”

“NO! NOT DADDY! WHAT HAVE WE DONE!” Lily screeched loudly, sobbing harder into James’s chest. All the color had left Albus’s face.

Lily tore her small form away from her eldest brother and moved to hug her father. She laid her head down on his chest and sobbed, tears streaming down her mucky face. And suddenly, a loud scream tore through her throat as Harry’s arms tightened around her.

“Help me!” she screamed, trying to wiggle out of her father’s grasp. Albus leapt forward and seized Lily around the waist, retching her free of Harry’s grip.

As soon as she was out of his arms, Harry popped up and opened his eyes. Lily and Albus both screamed in terror and, after grasping her hand tightly, Albus led her down the stairs at lightening speed. Harry winked at James, who was grinning back widely, and followed his two youngest down the steps, James hot on his heels.

Harry caught Lily around the waist just as she was rounding the corner into the drawing room and at once, he started tickling her. Her shrieking laughter was heard throughout the house as she squirmed in his arms, trying to get away. Albus was nowhere to be found, James assumed that he was hiding somewhere. Smart boy, that one. Harry continued to tickle Lily until she was pink in the face. He set her down and the second her feet touched the ground, she was off again, glancing over her shoulder as though daring her father to go after her.

Harry followed, much like Lily had intended him to, and halfway down the hall, they ran smack into Albus. Harry looked down into the eyes so much like his own and saw that Albus’s orbs were swimming with a mixture of fear and amusement. He seized Lily’s hand once more and the pair tore down the hallway, disappearing into the living room.

Just when James thought he was in the clear, he felt a hand clamp down on his wrist and he was being pulled into the living room by his father, where a pillow fight was raging. Lily tossed her brother a fluffy throw pillow before beating Albus with it. James rushed to his brother’s aid, giving Lily a smart whack that sent her flying into Harry, who was waiting to catch her. She pushed herself off of her father like he was a rubber band and slammed into James, causing him to topple to the floor. James tried to grab onto Albus to keep himself upright, but managed to pull his brother down on the floor. The three wiggled about, smacking each other with the pillows until one of them burst and a shower of feathers rained down upon them.

Harry stood over his children, a wide smile on his face and a deep laugh rumbling his throat. And, before he knew it, he was sent crashing to the ground and was getting plummeted with pillows, feathers clinging to every inch of his body.

And even though he knew he’d have hell to pay when Ginny got home, hearing his childrens' joyous laughter was definitely worth it.

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