Took me some time to catch up, but tonight I did. I feel uncomfortable about birthdays, too, because since 21 years dreadful things happen around my birthday and therefore I hate it. (Like Christmas actually, but I try to be brave since I have DarthUncle in my life and do all the decorating and other necessary Christmas stuff.) Your characters are full of dread and/ or nervousness. But wise people around them help them to grow and change their perspective on life a bit. This is what I love most about your fics, the personal growth.