Special Note: This story corresponds to chapter 36 of A Tale of Two Matchmakers, a story written before the HBP, and started before Jo threw a spanner into my story works by posting on her website that Ginny's birthday was officially August 11th. Since my storyline needed Ginny to have a birthday over Easter holiday, and her birthday wasn't mentioned in the books, I kept to my original story. Now HBP is the official canon year six, and my story is alternate. I hope readers will consider this an alternate birthday, allowing artistic license to a writer who began wondering how Ginny would spend her Sweet Sixteenth birthday with her family and ended up writing it down.

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Sixteen Candles

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On every other birthday, I had awakened with a sense of anticipation and the wonderful feeling that today was my day. I appreciated the gifts and cake, but the best thing about birthdays was being the centre of attention.

There was a lot of unconscious competition for our parents' time in my family. I was never neglected, but with seven children, I couldn't blame Mum and Dad for paying the most notice to whatever child was currently causing them the most problems.

I had been 'good' my entire life, unlike Fred and George, who always seemed to find trouble, or Ron—trouble constantly found him. Once a year, though, my entire family focused on me. What I wanted and what I liked came first. I looked forward to my birthday the way other kids counted down to Christmas, until today.

This birthday, I didn't want my family to fuss or smother me with love and attention.

I sat up, hugging my stuffed dragon Norbert as I stared at the walls. Mum had taken the time to paint a border of pink rosebuds around the windows and doors when I turned ten. The flowers matched the pastel hues of the rugs, furniture, and curtains. It was the perfect little girl's room, but I was no longer a little girl.

The space seemed to close in around me. I knelt on the bed to gaze at my reflection in the mirror. Fiery red hair, brown eyes, and freckles weren't beautiful to me, but since my boyfriend thought they were, I wasn't about to argue. Thoughts of Draco brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart. A moment passed before I realised that the warming sensation came from the Melusine Mirror tucked into the pajama top I was wearing.

Hastily, I dropped the covers to pull the small silver-backed square out with shaking fingers. Last December, Draco had given me one of a set of mirrors that allowed us to see and talk to each other over any distance. On Christmas Eve, I had slept with it in my hand, dropped the thing, and ended up tossing pillows and covers around the room in my panic to find it early Christmas morning.

This holiday, I was smarter. Dad's pyjama top wasn't stylish or sexy, but it had a big breast pocket. Besides, the enchanted mirror only showed faces. My love god would never know that I wore plaid flannel.

"Happy Birthday, Ginny."

Draco had a face that put classic statuary to shame. I smiled. You would think after months of touching and kissing that gorgeous face, the butterflies sensation I first felt gazing at those perfect looks would've faded. It had not.

"Thanks."

Chiselled lips curved. "You're welcome. What are your plans for today?"

I took a deep breath to say, "Fred and George will burst into my room, drag me downstairs for breakfast, after which my family will cater to my every whim all day ending with cake and presents after my favourite dinner."

"Your brothers told Blaise they'd deliver our card personally after your parents sent it back. Let me know tonight if they don't."

"Okay."

Dark grey eyes conveyed a silent question. What was I going to do now? I had told him when we first started dating secretly that I needed time to try to change my family's prejudice against anyone Slytherin. Blaise had visited, and my parents admitted that they liked her. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to overcome their fear of trusting the wrong person, and then paying a terrible price.

At the beginning of Easter holiday, they had said I couldn't invite her over anymore. If my family were that unhappy about my Slytherin friend, how would they react to my Slytherin boyfriend?

"Look, don't think about that stuff now, it's your birthday, for Merlin's sake. Have a good time."

Draco's gruff tone made a lump rise in my throat. He always called himself 'a selfish bastard,' but it wasn't true. I was the selfish one. I wanted him and my parents' approval. Trying to keep both, I had told my parents that I was spending the break with Luna and her Auntie on La Costa de la Luz while in reality I stayed at the Zabini beach house with friends...and Draco Malfoy. I said, "I wish we could go back to Spain."

He smirked adorably. "Miss snogging me on our hammock, do you?"

"I miss everything. Being with you every day most of all."

A white-blond eyebrow rose. "Just every day?"

On the last night of our holiday together, my friends had surprised me with a cake and birthday presents. Draco and I had slept out on our hammock underneath the stars. He had given me sixteen different types of kisses and quite a few more to grow on. My cheeks started to turn pink when I remembered what I had wanted to give him in return.

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Kisses led to caresses, which led to first his shirt and then mine being tossed over the side of the hammock. I didn't love Draco because he was physically beautiful, and made me feel beautiful and sexy too, but it was definitely a bonus I enjoyed. So much, that the combination of emotional and physical made me whisper when his fingers ceased arousing and started calming, "You don't have to stop."

"Don't tempt me, Red."

I hoped my face didn't resemble a little girl pouting over being denied the one thing she'd really wanted.

The intense expression Draco had worn softened. His eyes looked steadily into mine. "I've had sex without love, and love without sex makes me a hell of a lot happier." Masculine fingertips stilled my protest. "Yeah, I know we'd be making love, but you're too young, and it wouldn't be right."

"It feels right to me."

His smile at my passionate words slowly faded. "I don't think your parents would go for that argument."

"My parents have nothing to do with this!"

A bit of Slytherin cool crept into his drawl. "Oh really? I think they have everything 'to do with this'." His lips twisted. "Or have we been hiding our relationship from them and everybody else because you enjoy lying?"

"Of course I don't enjoy it, I just want..."

"You want to work a miracle and bring them round." The droll note in his voice made me smile reluctantly until he said, "But even if they never accept me, Ginny, they're going to have to accept us one day." His gaze became steely with resolve. "I want to be able to look your father in the eye and tell him that I love you, and I've never taken advantage of your love for me."

I hadn't thought about the future. That Draco had made tears spring to my eyes. His lips kissed away the tear that rolled down my cheek. Lying against his chest, hugging him tight while his hands made slow circles on my back, all I could do was wish I never had to leave his arms.

"Look, don't think about that stuff now. Let's just look at the stars. If you remember a certain conversation we once had beneath a dragon claw willow…."

"I still think you're bright and beautiful as a star."

A low rumble arose from my dragon's chest. The pleased sound made me content. My eyes began to close. Before I drifted off to sleep, I heard him whisper, "I fell like one for you."

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The memory made me smile so widely, my cheeks hurt. "I miss you day and night, eight days a week. Satisfied?"

"It'll do, for now."

A knock sounded at my door. I said reluctantly, "I've got to go. I love you."

For a moment, Draco looked wistful. "I love you too, so go try and have a happy birthday without me."

I was still giggling when identically charming faces peeked round the opening door.

"She's giggling, Fred. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"Depends on if she's laughing at us or just out of happiness, George."

I hurled a pillow at Fred. "It's both."

Their equally merry brown eyes met in silent communication. Turning to me, Fred lifted the pillow, playfully threatening, "I think sixteen swots…."

"Are definitely in order!" George said gleefully. He leapt on the bed and wrestled me over so Fred could 'swot' me with the pillow.

I shrieked with laughter, pleading with brother who stood in the doorway chuckling, "Bill, save me!"

He strolled in. "Boys, boys, do I have to teach you everything? You forgot the most important part." When I yelped indignantly, he grinned. "A pinch to grow an inch."

"Mum!"

It worked like a charm. Immediately, my brothers moved away, holding up their hands.

"Now, there's no call for tattling..."

"…on us, be a good sport, there's our girl."

Bill told the twins, "Never had a girl object to a pinch before."

I watched the three back toward the door, feeling smug. "Yeah, well, save it for your girlfriend, Billy-Boy."

In the corridor beyond, a loving voice called, "Good morning, darling, Happy Birthday, breakfast is ready when you are." The tone promptly shifted into a lower, crisper, demand, "What's this about you having a girlfriend, Bill?"

My eldest brother narrowed his eyes at me before slinging an arm around Mum's shoulders to lead her away. "Aw, Mum, it's only a pen friend."

The twins snickered appreciatively. "We'll be able to breathe easier today," George began.

"Now that Bill's taking the heat," Fred finished.

I asked, "What have you two been up to that you're worried?"

They exchanged a lightning quick glance before chorusing, "Nothing…much."

After I pushed the pair out of my room, I quickly dressed and tromped down the staircase. A glint of pink made me smile. According to the mood ring, I was happy. I didn't need a stone to tell me that, but I liked the reminder of the boy who'd given it to me. Impulsively, I kissed the ring before stepping into the kitchen.

My brothers conjured strawberry crepes for me. They were divine. I wiped a bit of powdered sugar off my lips and told the identical chefs, "You boys are going to make some girl a great husband one day." I saw Mum's scowl and said, "I meant girls, plural, who aren't intimidated by our dear mother."

Everyone chuckled. Mum shook her finger at me. After breakfast, Dad asked, "Is everyone ready to go?"

My eyebrows rose in surprise. "Go where?"

"London. We're taking you shopping for your birthday, sweetheart."

It was the most surreal day of my life. I was encouraged to buy anything that caught my fancy in Diagon and the neighbouring Alleys, and yet the only thing I really wanted couldn't be bought.

Returning to The Burrow with shopping bags and tired feet, three familiar faces smiled at me from the fireplace. "Happy Birthday, Ginny!"

I said, "Thanks Ron, Hermione, Harry. How'd you like staying at school over holiday?"

The three assured me it had been much more fun than they'd expected. That probably meant that they had been doing a lot of snogging. If Mum noticed how close Ron's head was to Hermione's, he would be getting an owl-post soon. Better him than me.

Fred and George looked at each other and nodded smugly before grinning at me. They obviously agreed.

'Chefs Gred and Forge' as they asked us to call them, conjured paella for dinner. The dish sparked their memory of the card they had promised to deliver.

Taking me aside in the lounge while Bill helped mum clear the dishes, Fred sheepishly handed the envelope over. "Oh, almost forgot, Blaise came by the shop, asked us to deliver this since the folks aren't accepting mail from Zabini anymore. Sorry."

"It's okay, George…Fred…could I have a few moments?"

They nodded in unison and left the room. I opened the card. An illusion charm engaged, causing a fuchsia bougainvillea flower to appear and open. Tiny flamenco dancers stomped and clapped on the petals. After they bowed and disappeared, a male voice sang huskily, 'Happy Birthday to you.'

It was Draco's voice. I almost cried from happiness. I read the note from Blaise, which ended oddly.

'Say Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen.'

Since no one was around, and I was curious, I muttered sarcastically, "Say Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen."

The blank side of the card began to manifest bold, black handwriting.

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Ginny,

I wish I could write this for the world to see, but I guess my feelings, like the sketches, are better hidden for now. Happy Birthday, and when you blow out the candles, if you make a wish about us, I'll do my best to make it come true.

Love,

Draco

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"We're ready to light the candles—hey, why the sad look? Did Zabini write 'how old are you, you look like a monkey and you smell like one too?'"

George's question made me smile. I looked down at the card. "No, she wrote 'Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen'."

The handwriting faded back into invisibility. I forced my lips to turn up in a bright smile. Placing the card on a shelf in a nearby bookcase, I followed my brother into the other room.

Later, after trouncing the boys in game of skittles, I followed them upstairs to find Dad setting up an enchanted Muggle 'record player' in the lounge. He beamed upon seeing me. "Look here, sweetheart, I found it!"

I moved to his side. "Found what?"

"The perfect record. Listen." He took my hand and twirled me in a circle, smiling in a way that showed where the twins got their mischievousness. "And give your old man a dance!"

My father's enthusiasm for everything Muggle was a constant source of amusement in our family. If you gave him a battery or plug, he was like a little boy with a new broomstick. I always complained when my father played Muggle 'oldies' music, but secretly, I didn't mind so much.

Tonight, the song Sixteen Candles was nice, but Dad singing along made it perfect. I looked up into the face of the man who had more friends than money, and who I knew loved his 'little girl.' Tears began to prickle my eyes and clog my throat. The rest of my family watched us with smiles. I smiled back, blinking madly.

Somehow, I made it through the song. Dad put on another record, and I danced with Fred, George, and Bill before Mum and I showed them how to hustle to 'Dancing Queen.'

After everyone had gone to bed, and I was alone in my room, I walked over to my dresser and picked up a small painting of a picturesque white village in southern Spain. My fingers pressed what looked like an imperfection in the wood. The frame opened up to reveal two hidden compartments containing sketches—one of Draco and me on a hammock drawn by Blaise, and the other a sketch of my face, drawn by Draco.

Gently touching the radiant features that I still marvelled were really the way he saw me, I made a decision. I didn't care that I was in Dad's flannel top and an old chenille robe. Taking out the Melusine Mirror, I called, "Draco."

His face appeared instantly. I said, "I tried to have a happy birthday without you. It can't be done."

"I'm Flooing to your father's workshop. Meet me."

Slipping my feet into slippers, I silently crept downstairs, avoiding the creaky steps and remembering to pull, and then push open the back door to keep the rusty hinges from squeaking. I ran across the garden to the large, cluttered shed that my dad puttered around. Inside the workshop, a boy in a black silk robe was lighting the second fireplace. He stood when the spell engaged and warming flames appeared. His silvery eyes met mine. Draco strode forward and I walked into his arms.

Not for the first time, I felt like we were exchanging souls during the exchange of kisses, breath and tongues. Receiving his heart for mine was the only present I ever needed. After long, sweet kisses, he drew back to smile. "Did you make a birthday wish? I promised I'd do my best to make it come true."

Smiling through my tears, I said, "You already did."

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A/N: If you've never seen the film Sixteen Candles, go rent it, already! It's very VHI 'I love the 80's', but there are classic lines, and the final scene, when Samantha is sitting on the dining room table in her pink bridesmaid's dress with a birthday cake between her and the guy she's been dreaming about, makes the whole film. Jake says, "Happy Birthday Samantha. Make a wish." and she replies, "It already came true." If you don't watch that, see their kiss and say Awwww so loudly that others give you strange looks, what the heck are you doing reading romance? LOL- Thanks for reading my story, whatever your reason. Review, and make me go Awww! (It's my favourite, after smiling, and quoting fave books and films in fics :D) Kerichi