Hogsmeade, July 2005
On a hot Saturday afternoon, Ron Weasley was meeting his friends Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom for their weekly buddy get together at the Three Broomsticks. Ron had no choice but to walk under the bright sun because he knew that the surprise birthday party plans his family had for Harry could only work if some of the details were taken care of the day before the Man-Who-Lived turned twenty-five.
Hermione had asked Ron to arrange for their usual meeting to take place before the evening because she and Ginny needed to buy party supplies at some of Hogsmeade's stores before they closed. Anticipating that the blokes' meeting would last a couple of hours was the ideal solution for keeping Harry distracted and clueless about Sunday's plans at the Burrow.
Ron had explained to Harry why Neville'd insisted on meeting during the afternoon, instead of later in the evening like they usually did. Ron explained that Neville and his girlfriend, Susan Bones, were going out in that night. They would have dinner at Susan's house.
Neville became Harry and Ron's close friend after the last battle where Neville had an important role in helping defeat Voldemort and also in helping to save the Burrow from a Death Eater attack. After Neville's grandmother got ill and couldn't take care of the wounds he got during the war, Ron's parents tended to him at the Burrow for two months until he was totally recovered. It was then that the three young men became inseparable.
Ron passed the back of his hand on his sweaty forehead; it felt as if his hair was glued to his head. He crossed the street to a discreet corner he had picked to Apparate from his and Hermione´s flat to the pub where he was to meet his friends.
The streets had a few wizards and witches walking lazily. Some children, who looked happier wearing informal and light clothes instead of the heavy robes from their Hogwarts' uniform, were playing under a big, old tree, taking advantage of its shadow. Ron looked at a group of boys and girls who were playing hide and seek and smiled. He was feeling very excited about the little package in his hand. The plan for the celebration of Harry's birthday had been brewed to perfection. He got close to the door of Three Broomsticks and went in quickly.
"So, are you ready to celebrate my father's new job?"
"I think I am, but I wish I could skip the public ceremony. But that would look ungrateful to your father... and that's the last thing I want to do after what your family has done for me all these years."
Harry and Ron were already drinking Butterbeers at their favorite table in the pub while they waited for Neville. Hermione and Ginny's official whereabouts, to Harry, was they were shopping at Flourish and Botts.
Ron told his best mate that Hermione had gotten excited about a new Runes book collection, and Ginny was looking forward to getting a gift for Angelina's birthday. It was a clever excuse so they wouldn't walk miles while the girls bought what they wanted. Ron knew as well as Harry that the girls could spend a long time exploring a bookshop, especially Hermione.
Ron took a sip from his Butterbeer and grinned. "No worries, mate. I would skip the ceremony too, but Hermione has been nagging that we can't do that for all the same reasons you pointed out, and because it's celebration for my father. I would prefer not going because that annoying Rita will be there, and I can imagine what might appear in the newspapers the next morning, but Hermione said that most of the readers have stopped believing her so we don't need to worry about it."
Harry nodded, making little circles with his bottle on the table. Ron looked at his best mate's face and avoided a smirk. The bloke had no idea about what was planned for him in a few hours and here he was, quietly talking about the Weasleys - his family of the present and also since many years ago.
They were speaking about Ron's father's promotion as the new Minister of Magic; he had earned that position because of his services to the wizarding world, especially because of the help he gave to rebuilding the wizarding world after the last battle. In a couple of days, in an event which was being organised by the Ministry, he would be officially named Minister of Magic.
Seven years had passed since the last battle in which Harry had killed Voldemort in self-defense, with help from his best friends. They received some minor injuries, but nothing too serious. They'd had the nerve and intellect to use the right spells at the proper time to take advantage of their enemy.
Ron felt very proud of his and his best mates' performance, and also happy and relieved because all of them had survived. He knew that Harry didn't want him and Hermione going with him, but Ron was thankful that they'd insisted on following Harry into the Horcrux hunt: with Ron's strategic plans to destroy each Horcrux, Hermione's cleverness about deciphering encrypted clues and doing intensive research in every book about Dark Magic, and Harry's bravery and sense of fight, they'd made it and finally gotten the desired peace in their lives.
One year after the end of the war, the trio was given the 'Order of Merlin' awards for services to the wizarding world. It had been a proud moment for all of them.
Harry took a sip from his drink and smirked. "Maybe that Rita wants to skip the ceremony, for some reason."
Ron snorted. "Yeah and Hermione will start to wear pink, fluffy clothes." Then he grinned. "Maybe she can trap her inside a flask again."
They both laughed and noticed Neville entering the pub. His dark hair was sweaty and his rounded cheeks were flushed from the heat. He smiled and sat on a chair, shaking Harry´s hand and then Ron´s.
"Sorry for being late. My grandmother took too long going on about what I was planning to wear to dinner with Susan's parents. Merlin, she drives me nuts with so many questions!"
Ron smiled at Neville's remark but he knew how much his friend cared about his grandmother and how those words didn't mean what they seemed. When he was going to ask if Neville wanted to have a drink, the package he had on the table vibrated.
Ron checked to see if Harry had seen it, but thankfully he was distracted with Neville, who was telling him how glad he was with his job as the Herbology professor at Hogwarts.
Ron slowly opened the parchment under his hands and murmured to himself, "Aparecium."
He took a deep breath. Then he tried to make a casual face while he read the words written on the parchment. Ron chuckled because the handwriting belonged to his sister.
Hi, sweet brother! One more hour and we're done. By the way, is Neville there? I need to know if he bought the peanuts I asked for.
Ron gasped. Ginny must to be joking!
Neville looked at Ron and arched an eyebrow. Ron shrugged and, as discreetly as he could, he wrote on the magical parchment his next message:
Yes, he is here, but how am I supposed to ask him with Harry right in front of me? I'm hopeless at doing Legilimency!
Meanwhile a staring Harry was looking at Ron. Neville made an inpatient gesture with his hand under the table.
"What are you doing, Ron?"
Ron tried to smile at Harry, who for sure had to be wondering what the hell Ron was doing with a blank piece of parchment and why he seemed to write on it without ink
Ron pretended to remove some dust from the parchment. "Uh…nothing! Only studying some strategic moves for the next Cannons' game. We have to win the next two games in order to win the International Quidditch Cup. So while we wait for the girls, I was taking a look at the strategy. Where is Seamus? I need another Butterbeer!"
Almost as if Ron had called him, their sandy-haired Irish friend approached their table with a grin.
"Did I hear my name, Ron? What's your complaint? Is it an empty bottle? Welcome to the best pub in the wizarding world, mates. Take a sip from any of the magical drinks of Finnigan's collection, and your girls are going to want you forever!"
Harry and Neville snorted as they heard one of Seamus's worst tries at saying funny lines. Neville winked at Ron and stood from his chair.
"Harry, you must look at Seamus's new collection of little vodka bottles with fruit tastes from Russia? I ordered one to give to Dean for his birthday. Come on, let's go to the counter before more costumers arrive and crowd around the bottles. Ron, you should tell Fred and George about those bottles too."
Ron felt relieved by their absence and wrote back to Ginny:
Buy a bloody big package of peanuts, put away all stuff you bought at the Burrow and come back here! Harry is getting suspicious about my behavior!
Harry looked at Ron but turned his head towards Dean Thomas, who had just arrived at the pub and was waving to him and Neville.
The parchment vibrated again. Ron wasn't expecting to read Hermione´s handwriting.
Hang on for just one more hour, Ron. We have to buy the cake and Ginny is in doubt whether to pick chocolate cake or an apple pie.
Ron gasped at the words written on the parchment. He couldn't believe Hermione´s words.
Bloody hell, woman! Pick the chocolate cake and hurry up, for Merlin's sake. If you take any longer, you'll end up visiting your husband at St. Mungo's because all the pub´s costumers will decide to put me in there for madness!
The parchment vibrated so intensely that Ron got it in the air. He couldn't believe they were rowing through a sheet of parchment.
Oh yeah? Try shopping for three hours with your not-so-demanding sister, who wants to give the best to her husband... and being seven months pregnant a the same time. My feet are dead by now!
Ron sighed. He knew he needed to change his strategy to make Ginny hurry up, and to calm Hermione down.
Hermione, please tell Ginny to read my next message. And your feet will feel better when I go home and massage them, promise.
Hermione answered with a quick agreement, and he then wrote another message:
Ginnybean, if you don't hurry up during this next hour, I think your husband is going to find out that you served a delicious apple pie last week - which you bought, and he thought it was made by you. And the smell of burning wasn't coming from the fireplace, but it was from the pie you tried to make at home.
The parchment vibrated intensely again, revealing a cuss word aimed at Ron, along with a not very nice quote about wives who tell everything to husbands, including their best friends' secrets.
Ron grinned and went back to his friends. They all talked and had a good time until an hour and half later when the parchment vibrated again with a message telling Ron that the girls were done with their shopping and asking if they could pick them up from the bookstore. Not surprisingly, Hermione had also bought some new books that were quite heavy.
Ron smiled with the thought that his wife couldn't resist buying a new book every time she shopped. And this time she had to have books with her, because that was the excuse given to Harry about where she and Ginny had been.
Ron looked at his watch and suggested that they should pick the girls because it was getting late.
Harry was the first one who stood and put some Knuts on the table to pay for the Butterbeers. Ron and Neville protested, but Harry smiled at them, poking Ron's shoulder softly. Ron poked him back, and then it was time for Neville to poke Harry's shoulder, and all of them went out towards Flourish and Botts.
Ron was glad that the plan had worked well, but Harry could only find out about the party on the afternoon on the day of his birthday. There was still time to take care of last minute details at the Burrow and to hope that his sister, his adorable nieces, and his best mate would spend the evening at their home and not at the Burrow as they usually did on Saturday evenings.
But Ron knew Ginny never failed when it came to getting her husband to do what she wanted. Ron chuckled to himself, thinking of the things women do to poor men who have the luck of marrying unique witches.
Harry´s Birthday - Early Morning
"Harry? Are you up?"
"Good, he is! Good morning, mate!"
"Now I am, Nev, and good morning, Ron… Could the both of you explain why the hell you're yelling at me at eight o'clock in morning from my fireplace? It's Sunday. I wanted to sleep in, not have you two screaming at all the neighborhood and waking up my girls. Ginny is pissed with you and I agree with her this time!"
Neville blushed and Ron decided to say something for both of them. Today was a day of joy, not a day to get into a row, especially with Harry.
"Because we agreed to take a ride on our broomsticks, remember? And by the way, happy birthday, Harry."
Ron had to avoid laughing at the almost pathetic expression Harry had, looking at him through his fireplace. Harry didn't have his glasses on, his hair was all messy, and his pajama shirt was opened and the bottoms were hanging low on his waist. Harry murmured a quick thank you, blushing a bit.
Neville spoke with concern. "Sorry, we can come back later. Please tell Gin, and we're sorry for getting the girls up so early."
Harry stretched his arms and smiled at Ron and Neville. "That's okay. Ginny wears her heart on her sleeve, but as fast she gets upset, she calms down just as quickly. Give me ten minutes, and I'll join you two outside, close to the backyard's Quidditch hoops."
Ron nodded and ended the Floo call, planning to get the broomsticks to fly to Harry´s backyard.
Charlie was sitting close to the fireplace, drinking a glass of milk and still wearing his pajamas. When Ron and Neville backed away from the fireplace, he said, "As we agreed, you only come back from the ride at about two o'clock in the afternoon. By the way, don't eat much until lunch time. You'll drool over the feast the Weasley women have prepared for Harry."
Ron and Neville got their broomsticks and flew away quickly. It was Ron who was faster because Neville never got used to flying much - but for Harry he agreed to take a fly.
When they arrived near Harry's Quidditch hoops, Harry was already there making some loops around the field. Neville was the first who flew close to his friend.
"Wow, Nev! I never thought you flew so well. I'm impressed!
"Ron helped me practice. Do you really think I'm good?"
"Yeah. You could try playing Quidditch , if you want, mate."
Neville pretended to hit Harry with his broomstick and Ron laughed. Neville smirked. "Don´t over do it, Harry. I'm much better behind a desk teaching Herbology. I'll leave the great flying shows to the both of you."
The three men flew for a couple of hours and practiced some Quidditch until Pig flew to the pitch and delivered a message to Ron. At his signal, Neville threw a Quaffle to Harry that was the Portkey that Ron and Neville had decided to get, as it was the most useful way to get Harry to the Burrow without any suspicion on his part. Harry caught it, and the Portkey activated immediately. A confused Harry arrived in the the Burrow's backyard. Minutes later, Ron and Neville Apparated to the Burrow's living room.
Ron knew Harry would follow the charmed Snitch that flew around him. It would bring him inside the Burrow's kitchen, which was empty. And then Harry´d find another charmed Snitch, and both the Snitches would continue flying through the kitchen door that lead out to the living room.
When Harry arrived in the living room, Ron, who was hidden behind the couch with Ginny, would give the approval sign to her through his thumbs up, and she would slowly and discreetly find her way out of living room, up to the bedrooms.
Ginny would tell the others, who were waiting in Ron's bedroom, that Harry had arrived. Then, all guests would Apparate to the living room at the same time.
The moment Harry heard many cracks around him, the second Snitch touched the other Snitch and both were transfigured into a big birthday banner. At that same all the Weasleys and Harry's friends started singing happy birthday to a surprised, but very pleased Harry.
Ron and Neville approached him, smiling, and each of them gave their buddy a hug. Harry's eyes were beaming. "You rotten prats! You're the ones who made all of this, right?"
Neville winked. "Of course we did, even though it's very hard to fool the great wizard, Harry Potter! Your wife was a precious help."
Ginny approached them, and hugged Harry tightly. Harry pretended to be offended, but the corners of his mouth twitched into a big smile.
Ginny let go of him so their girls could greet their father. "The hardest part was making you spend a heated afternoon in Hogsmeade, while we were taking care of the last details."
Harry looked at Ron and smirked. "Oh that´s okay, Gin. It was very funny to see your brother writing furiously on a piece of parchment while he frowned at it like it was a Potions essay."
Ron tapped Harry's head but ended up in a fit of laughter like Harry, Neville, and Ginny.
Hermione approached Harry and hugged him. Her belly bumped softly against Harry, who smiled at it. "Happy Birthday, Harry. We have a big feast prepared for you, including a menu from all over the world and some funny games, courtesy of all the Weasleys and your friends. Have fun."
Neville quickly added, "Susan and Luna made your favorites desserts."
Harry nodded and smiled at everyone, friends and family alike. Friends like Tonks and Remus, with their two sons; Dean and his wife, Padma; Seamus and his wife, Parvati; and Luna and her boyfriend, Lee Jordan, were also present.
The day was long and everyone had a good time remembering the old Hogwarts times, eating and laughing and especially sharing a good moment between friends.
Ron felt accomplished at having given his best mate, with the help of everyone who cared about Harrry, a birthday to remember forever.
A/N: Special thanks to my good friends pili204 and belovedranger for their encouragement and wonderful pre-beta work, their valuable suggestions helped so much.