Harry had never been to a dinner at the Burrow that was
anything other than a chaotic but exuberantly happy affair. But today,
the air in the backyard of the Weasleys house was filled with
tension. As they sat around the tables waiting for the celebration to
start, Harry realized it was obviously a new experience for the Weasleys
as well. It was taking quite a bit of effort for them to be civil to
Harrys Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley
sat at the end of the table quietly scowling at their hosts.
It had been a long and difficult three days for everyone.
The Weasleys had gone out of their way to make the Dursleys comfortable.
Arthur Weasley was careful never to Apparate in front of them. Molly
Weasley got used to preparing meals without magic - for the most part.
It took her twice as long but she never complained. Even the twins were
rising to the occasion. They had managed to restrain themselves from
trying out any of their new products on Dudley.
To the Dursleys credit, they had made a decent
effort to be tolerant of the Weasleys magical existence. It had
become obvious to them that there was a greater evil to worry about.
An evil that had given them all a new perspective and a willingness
to try to work together. Harry had never seen his family so terrified
that day -- the day they barely escaped with their lives from Number
4 Privet Drive. Now, all that remained of their house was a pile of
rubble and blackened earth. Dudley had been so traumatized, he hadnt
been able to eat for two days.
The Weasleys had generously offered to open up their
home, the Burrow, to Harry and his family and provide protection for
them until a suitable arrangement could be made. Percys old room
was cleaned out and all parties made a vow to make the best of the situation.
That was three days earlier. The new perspective they
had gained was now fading and the fear they had all felt after the attack
was not so fresh in their minds anymore. Vernon Dursley had started
to give the Weasleys crusty looks behind their backs. Petunia had stopped
trying to hide her looks of disgust at the state of the Weasleys
But they held their tongues.
There had been some worrisome moments when it seemed
the dam of tension would break. Like when Aunt Petunia had bent down
to pick a flower in the garden only to be surprised by a bite from a
gnome who had been napping underneath it. She screamed and sputtered
some comment about having a normal garden and ran to her
room and didnt come down for dinner.
Today was the third day that the Dursleys had been at
the Burrow and it had been a glorious day for Harry. It was his 17th
birthday. And for the first time in his life, he was going to have a
birthday party. The Weasleys were aware of this and had gone out of
their way to make a big fuss over him throughout the day. The more embarrassed
Harry got, the more they teased him.
Fred had told Harry that there was an ancient wizarding
rite of passage when one turns 17: to go out to the Isle of Drear and
wrestle a Hairy MacBoon until it said Uncle. Harry knew
better than to listen to Fred but he started to get a little nervous
when Ron and George adamantly confirmed it, so he went to ask Ginny.
She looked him square in the eye and said, No,
thats not true.
Harry sighed, I didnt think so.
She continued, You have to make him say Monkeys
Harrys heart started to beat fast, What?!
Ginny burst out laughing and shook her head.
Brilliant, Harry grinned in spite of himself.
Theyve got you in on it too?
Oh, Im sorry, Harry. But you should know
by now that if you ever have to wonder if Fred is serious about something,
he most likely isnt.
Harry laughed, Ill remember that.
The Dursleys had, as usual, tried to keep to themselves
that day, spending most of their time in their bedroom or in a far corner
of the back yard. Harry thought that not being bothered by them was
the best present they could give him.
The spread at dinner that night was even more wonderful
than usual. The Burrow had a large backyard that was bordered by a thick
expanse of trees. There were several tables set up which were covered
with orange sheets. Harry suspected they were some old, faded Chudley
Cannon sheets of Rons. There was brightly colored confetti sprinkled
all around the table and a three layer chocolate cake with the words
Happy Birthday Harry on it along with an icing silhouette
of a wizard riding a broomstick. The usual magical accompaniments were
notably absent. Mrs. Weasley had gotten into a great row with Fred and
George about not being allowed to set off a grand display of Filibuster
Fireworks. As a result of Mr. and Mrs. Weasleys insistence of
not including anything too magical for the sake of the Dursleys, the
celebration was a much more subdued affair than normally would take
place at the Burrow.
Harry didnt mind. It was a fantastic party - better
than he had ever dreamed of. The magical fireworks werent important.
What was important was that they were all safe and healthy for the time
being and just being there with them felt like the best thing in the
world. At moments like these, he could believe that everything would
be all right.
After theyd finished the wonderful dinner Mrs.
Weasley had prepared, they lit the candles on the cake and sang Happy
Birthday - very loudly. Petunia put her fingers in her ears and
winced as if she was in pain. The Weasleys only seemed to sing louder.
But when the song was done, Fred was still singing, You look like
a Mug-gle and you smell like one, too.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley gave their son stern, reproving
looks as Harry and the rest of the family tried to stifle their laughter.
Just a joke, Dad! Fred grinned.
Luckily, the joke was lost on the Dursleys.
Open your presents, Harry, Ron said.
This one looks like a good one, Mrs. Weasley
said, picking up a present from a large stack in the center of the table.
Thats from Hermione, said Ron.
Harry slowly unwrapped his gifts trying to conceal his
utter delight at so many presents to open. As Harry thanked each giver
profusely, Mrs. Weasley passed around slices of cake.
At that pace, well be here all night,
Ron grinned at his friend.
Harry grinned back, Whats the matter? Got
a hot date with a veela tonight, Ron?
Ha! In his dreams, laughed George.
Having dreams about veela, Ron? Better not let
Hermione find out. said Fred.
I am not having dreams about veela! said
Ron who was looking quite irritated. I havent in a long
time. Thats old news. Dont you ever get tired of bringing
Fred and George looked at each other and shrugged, No.
Harry reached over to pick up a present which was much
larger than the rest.
Wow - this ones really big. Whos this
Uncle Vernon cleared his throat and said curtly, Thats
from your Aunt, Dudley and I.
Harry gaped at his uncle.
Dudley rolled his eyes clearly indicating he had nothing
to do with it.
Fred looked like he wanted to say something but Mrs.
Weasley shot him a warning look and he looked back down at his cake.
This is from you? Harry said
His family, who hadnt so much as wished him a Happy
Birthday since he was 10 years old, were apparently now making
a good show of it by buying him a large, expensive gift.
Of course its from us, Vernon said
The table was now very quiet. Mrs. Weasley was staring
daggers at Fred who looked like he was itching to say what he thought
of the Dursleys present.
Harry got up from his chair, leaned over the table towards
his Uncle and placed the present down in front of him.
No thanks, he said steadily and sat back
in his chair eyeing his Uncle intently.
The Dursleys just stared at him in shock.
Well! I never ... in all my life... Petunia
After everything weve done for you..
But their voices were drowned out by Fred who was grinning
like a Cheshire cat as he yelled, Harry! Open this one next. Its
Suddenly the tension had been lifted from the table and
Harry and the Weasleys were smiling again.
Thanks Fred! Harry said enthusiastically
as he took the present from his friend.
But Uncle Vernon was not going to stay quiet.
I have never encountered such rudeness in all my
life! How dare you treat us like that! When I think about all weve
done for you, you ungrateful little...
But Ron had had enough, HE DOESNT WANT YOUR
STUPID PRESENT YOU GREAT CODGERY BUFFOON! The words seemed to
reverberate into the night air, WHY DONT YOU JUST TAKE IT
AND STICK IT UP YOUR -
RONALD ALEXANDER WEASLEY! shouted a horrified
Harry sat stunned afraid to move. Ginny looked at her
brother in awe. Fred and George burst into laughter. The Dursleys just
stared at Ron too shocked to respond.
Mr. Weasley stammered, Now Ron ... you apologize
Rons ears had gone quite red, Im sorry
Mum and Dad but Im sick of putting up with these people and I
KNOW you are too! He looked pointedly at this mum and dad.
Well, Ron ... thats no reason to ...
Rons right, said Fred, Im
sick of putting up with them, too.
Yeah, added George, Theyre a
real drag on this party.
They are still our guests, no matter how
much wed like to hang them from the trees by their ankles! They
will be treated with respect! shouted Mrs. Weasley.
We promised to protect them, reasoned Mr.
Why dont we just put them to sleep and stuff
them up in the attic? Ginny said thoughtfully. Theyll
be safe there.
Ginny! Mr. Weasley looked at his young daughter.
How could you suggest such a thing?
Yeah, Ginny, George scowled. What about
the poor ghost? How do you think he would like being cooped up
there with the Muggles?
Ghost? Dudley shrieked.
Dont worry, Dudley, George said, He
likes the living. If he really likes you, he might even possess you!
Dudley, looking utterly horrified, turned and ran into
the surrounding trees as fast as his chubby legs could carry him.
Dudley! Petunia shrieked as she stood up
ready to run after him.
Dont worry, dear. Ill find him,
Vernon patted Petunia on the shoulder.
Id better go with you, said Mr. Weasley
getting up from the table.
Vernon turned his furious, screwed up face to Arthur
Weasley. I dont need help from the likes of you! he
You dont understand! said Mr. Weasley
irritably. There are dozens of protective spells surrounding our
property. If Dudley should happen to step somewhere he shouldnt...
But he was cut off by a muffled yelp of pain coming from
the direction Dudley had ran.
Dudley! Vernon yelled as he ran off towards
Oh, dear, Arthur sighed as he took off after
Its all right, Petunia, Molly Weasley
tried to reassure her. Hell be just fine.
No thanks to you or any of your rotten children!
Molly was on her feet now, Who are you calling
rotten? You with the spoiled little brat of a child!
How dare you talk about my Dudders like that!
Ill talk however I want to! Its MY
Oh! Thats a fine way to treat guests - threatening
us and encouraging rudeness and disrespect in your children. I dont
know why I expected anything else from... Petunia looked down
her nose at Molly Weasley, ...from your kind!
Molly Weasleys face was screwed up in fury and
her twitching hand was hovering over her dress pocket. We have
all bent over backwards trying to make you lot comfortable here! Do
we ever get a word of thanks? Oh, no! All you ever do is complain,
complain, complain! Theres no hot water. The gnome bit me.
A bundiman crawled into my bed as I was sleeping. Honestly! Ive
never been with such unpleasant company in my life! I dont know
how Harry has restrained himself all these years from turning you all
Do it, Mum! Do it! Ron yelled.
But Molly turned her furious face to her son, Im
not done with you yet, young man! You do not talk to an adult
that way, no matter how much they deserve it!
Ron slumped down into his chair
Molly turned back to Petunia, And as for you, this
is Harrys birthday and Im not going to let you ruin it for
him! If you dont shut your mouth, you soon wont have a mouth
Petunia started to back away from Molly, How dare
you threaten me! If you try anything... Well, Ill ... She
nervously looked towards the forest and called, Vernon?
There was pure fire in Molly Weasleys eyes as she
slowly took out her wand and pointed it at Petunia, Dont
test me, dearie.
Petunia turned and sprinted towards the forest calling
for her husband and son who had certainly suffered some horrible fate
in Petunias mind.
Bloody hell! Molly Weasley was exasperated.
Youre going to set off all our alarms! She ran after
Petunia into the trees.
Only when Mrs. Weasley was safe out of hearing range
did the children feel it was safe to let themselves laugh.
Finally! Ginny laughed. Its back
to normal around here.
Sorry, Harry said sheepishly. I guess
I really started something.
Somebody had to do something! exclaimed George.
This party was dying.
What do you mean? said Harry. I think
its been a great party.
Are you kidding? said Ron, Weve
never had such a boring party!
No Filibuster Fireworks even! George looked
Yeah, to be honest, Harry, it was downright embarrassing,
It turned around quite nicely, though, Ginny
There were general nods of agreement around the table.
Ron raised his glass, Happy birthday, Harry!
The rest of the Weasley children followed suit by raising
their glasses. Happy birthday, Harry! they chorused.
Cheers, Harry smiled.