The Sugar Quill
Author: PiperX (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Long Awaited Party  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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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 Weasley’s 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 their guests.

Harry’s 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 Dursley’s credit, they had made a decent effort to be tolerant of the Weasley’s 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 hadn’t 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. Percy’s 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 Weasley’s house.

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 didn’t 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, that’s not true.”

Harry sighed, “I didn’t think so.”

She continued, “You have to make him say ‘Monkey’s Uncle’.”

Harry’s heart started to beat fast, “What?!”

Ginny burst out laughing and shook her head.

“Brilliant,” Harry grinned in spite of himself. “They’ve got you in on it too?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Harry. But you should know by now that if you ever have to wonder if Fred is serious about something, he most likely isn’t.”

Harry laughed, “I’ll 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 Ron’s. 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. Weasley’s 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 didn’t mind. It was a fantastic party - better than he had ever dreamed of. The magical fireworks weren’t 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 they’d 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.

“That’s 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, we’ll be here all night,” Ron grinned at his friend.

Harry grinned back, “What’s 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 haven’t in a long time. That’s old news. Don’t you ever get tired of bringing it up?”

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 one’s really big. Who’s this from?”

Uncle Vernon cleared his throat and said curtly, “That’s from your Aunt, Dudley and I.”

Harry gaped at his uncle.

Dudley rolled his eyes clearly indicating he had nothing to do with it.

Ron tutted.

Ginny sighed.

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 incredulously.

His family, who hadn’t 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 it’s from us,” Vernon said indignantly.

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 Dursley’s 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 started.

“After everything we’ve done for you..” Vernon added.

But their voices were drowned out by Fred who was grinning like a Cheshire cat as he yelled, “Harry! Open this one next. It’s from me!”

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 we’ve done for you, you ungrateful little...”

But Ron had had enough, “HE DOESN’T WANT YOUR STUPID PRESENT YOU GREAT CODGERY BUFFOON!” The words seemed to reverberate into the night air, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST TAKE IT AND STICK IT UP YOUR -”

“RONALD ALEXANDER WEASLEY!” shouted a horrified Mrs. Weasley.

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 this instant.”

Ron’s ears had gone quite red, “I’m sorry Mum and Dad but I’m sick of putting up with these people and I KNOW you are too!” He looked pointedly at this mum and dad.

“Well, Ron ... that’s no reason to ...”

“Ron’s right,” said Fred, “I’m sick of putting up with them, too.”

“Yeah,” added George, “They’re a real drag on this party.”

“They are still our guests, no matter how much we’d 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. Weasley.

“Why don’t we just put them to sleep and stuff them up in the attic?” Ginny said thoughtfully. “They’ll 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.

“Don’t 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.

“Don’t worry, dear. I’ll find him,” Vernon patted Petunia on the shoulder.

“I’d better go with you,” said Mr. Weasley getting up from the table.

Vernon turned his furious, screwed up face to Arthur Weasley. “I don’t need help from the likes of you!” he shouted.

“You don’t understand!” said Mr. Weasley irritably. “There are dozens of protective spells surrounding our property. If Dudley should happen to step somewhere he shouldn’t...”

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 the trees.

“Oh, dear,” Arthur sighed as he took off after him.

“It’s all right, Petunia,” Molly Weasley tried to reassure her. “He’ll be just fine.”

“No thanks to you or any of your rotten children!” Petunia seethed.

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!”

“I’ll talk however I want to! It’s MY HOUSE!”

“Oh! That’s a fine way to treat guests - threatening us and encouraging rudeness and disrespect in your children. I don’t know why I expected anything else from...” Petunia looked down her nose at Molly Weasley, “...from your kind!”

Molly Weasley’s 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! There’s no hot water. The gnome bit me. A bundiman crawled into my bed as I was sleeping. Honestly! I’ve never been with such unpleasant company in my life! I don’t know how Harry has restrained himself all these years from turning you all into slugs!”

“Do it, Mum! Do it!” Ron yelled.

But Molly turned her furious face to her son, “I’m 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 Harry’s birthday and I’m not going to let you ruin it for him! If you don’t shut your mouth, you soon won’t have a mouth to shut!”

Petunia started to back away from Molly, “How dare you threaten me! If you try anything... Well, I’ll ...” She nervously looked towards the forest and called, “Vernon?”

There was pure fire in Molly Weasley’s eyes as she slowly took out her wand and pointed it at Petunia, “Don’t test me, dearie.”

Petunia turned and sprinted towards the forest calling for her husband and son who had certainly suffered some horrible fate in Petunia’s mind.

“Bloody hell!” Molly Weasley was exasperated. “You’re 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. “It’s 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 it’s been a great party.”

“Are you kidding?” said Ron, “We’ve never had such a boring party!”

“No Filibuster Fireworks even!” George looked outraged.

“Yeah, to be honest, Harry, it was downright embarrassing,” admitted Fred.

“It turned around quite nicely, though,” Ginny said, smiling.

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.

 

 

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Last updated Monday, May 20, 2002

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