Harry beamed at his friends seated around the long, rectangular table as Ginny handed him another present. They had all turned up in full force to celebrate his 31st birthday. Ginny was seated on his left, Neville next to her, Seamus, Dean, who was chatting to Luna, perched on Fred's lap, George and his boyfriend Lee Jordan, and Hermione and Ron on Harry's right.
"Okay, this is from...Fred, George and Lee!" Harry said, reading the tag on the large, brightly wrapped box. He opened it to find a huge range of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes newest merchandise.
"Wow, thanks guys!"
"There's a bunch of stuff in there from our new X-rated range. Self-locking handcuffs in stainless steel and lined with faux Kneazle fur, Firewhiskey-flavoured lube-,"
"That's enough, Fred," Ron interrupted, face red.
"Well...thanks, Fred," Harry replied, putting the box away.
"Use it well," George added with a wink.
"I'm going to get another some more Butterbeer," Harry said, standing.
"I'll come with you," Hermione said, following him to the bar.
Harry leaned back against the bar top as they waited for the Butterbeer and Hermione's Gillywater, glancing over at his table of friends. Seamus was daring Neville to do shots, and the rest of them were placing bets on how many Neville would be able to drink before giving up, laughing uproariously.
Harry turned to Hermione, who was also watching them and giggling.
He sighed. "I cannot believe I'm fucking thirty one."
"Oh Harry, we all grew up and turned thirty one, it's your turn now," Hermione replied.
Hermione nudged him. "Might want to think about finding a nice man and settling down."
"Hmm." Harry replied, smiling slightly.
Hermione raised an eyebrow, but thankfully their drink order arrived and Harry was saved from further probing. They returned to the table, where Neville was washing down his three shots of Firewhiskey with a handful of chips.
"So Harry," George started, "Lee's cousin, Alistair, is back on the market. You interested?"
Harry shook his head. "You guys, what is this? My birthday party, or a meeting of the 'Let's fix Harry up' committee?"
Ginny placed her chin on her hand and sighed. "Lately, every one of our gatherings has been a meeting of the 'Let's fix Harry up' committee. Maybe if you find yourself a boyfriend, we'll give it a rest."
Harry glanced around the table, and couldn't help but notice he was the odd one out. Hermione and Ron had been married for two years, Neville and Ginny recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Fred and Luna were engaged, Seamus and Dean had been dating on and off since the end of the war. Even George and Lee, who up until last month were self-declared confirmed bachelors, had started going out.
"Thanks, George, but I'm not interested," Harry said.
"Why not? You're turning down a perfectly nice, normal, smart-,"
"Good-looking," Lee interjected.
"Man?" George asked. "What's wrong with you?"
"Are you seeing someone?" Ginny demanded, eyes narrowing.
Harry sneaked a glance at Hermione, who was looking at him with a calculating look on her face, and took a sip of Butterbeer.
"He's not denying it," Neville said.
"He is dating someone!" Ron exclaimed. "Who is it, mate?"
"I have no idea what you're all talking about," Harry said.
The entire table immediately started asking questions, and wondering aloud who Harry could possibly be dating.
"Oliver Wood? He works in your department, doesn't he, Harry?" Dean asked.
"No, Oliver is straight. He's sleeping with Flora, that Unspeakable," Fred replied.
"Oliver is not straight," Seamus said. "He went out with that Beater from Pride of Portree last year."
"He's bi, so what?" George added. "No, I bet Harry's dating that new Quidditch correspondent from the Daily Prophet."
"Oooh, that makes sense. He would visit the Games department often, and he's fit," Ginny replied.
Harry placed his head in his hands and groaned. Ron snickered.
"You know, it would be a lot less painful if you just tell us," he said.
Harry shot him a dirty look. Finally, he was saved by Luna, who hopped off Fred's lap and pulled him onto the dance floor, next to the small jazz band playing in the corner. Ginny and Neville followed their lead, and soon the conversation drifted back to things not related to Harry's love life.
Ron and Harry joined Seamus and Dean in a heated discussion of this season's Quidditch, and they were in the middle of discussing last week's match when Ron looked up and frowned.
"Look who just walked in," he muttered, angling his head toward the entrance.
The rest of them turned to look, and Harry spotted Draco Malfoy making his way to a booth on the other side of the pub, followed by Blaise Zabini, sporting his usual haughty look. Malfoy's pale hair glowed under the lights, which were flames encased in glass globes, suspended in mid-air.
"Great, just what we need to ruin your birthday," Ron said.
"Just ignore them, Ron," Harry replied.
Malfoy's gaze rested on their table, but he didn't give any indication that he recognised them, apart from a slight raise of his eyebrow. He then turned away to speak to the waitress Zabini had summoned.
"Fucking prick. Thinks he's so much better than everyone else."
Harry turned back. "Ron, leave it."
They returned to their conversation, but Harry found it hard to concentrate. He could feel Malfoy staring at the back of his head.
Suddenly, the lights overhead started to dim. Harry looked up.
"What's going on?" he asked.
He heard the lead singer of the band speak over everyone's conversations. "I've just been told we're celebrating a special birthday here tonight at The Singing Phoenix. Let's all join in to wish Harry Potter a very Happy Birthday!"
Harry face started flaming as he turned to Hermione. "You guys promised not to do this!"he hissed.
Hermione answered with a wide, unapologetic grin. The band was playing 'Happy Birthday' and everyone in the pub joined in, singing. Harry couldn't help but smile as Ginny and Luna carried over a huge cake complete with sparklers to their table, singing at the top of their voices. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry could see Malfoy smirking in amusement.
"Happy birthday to you!" Everyone ended the song and applauded. Harry stood, face red as a tomato, and raised a hand in thanks to the pub. Luna reached up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek.
"Make a wish, Harry!" she sang.
He closed his eyes and blew out the sparklers, still feeling the gaze of a certain blond.
"I can't believe you all!" he said to his treacherous friends as Hermione and Ginny started cutting up the cake.
"You know we never keep our promises!" Fred and George said in unison.
The cake was probably big enough to feed the entire pub, so Harry took the rest over to the bar, and told the manager to serve a piece to everyone else.
Ron was helping himself to a second slice of cake when Harry saw him scowl fiercely over his shoulder. Hermione, George and Lee also stopped talking and were looking in the same direction. Harry turned to see Malfoy approaching their table.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Ron asked rudely. Hermione slapped his arm.
"Good evening," Malfoy replied politely. "I just came to thank you for the delicious cake."
Harry glanced behind Malfoy and spotted Zabini staring at his untouched slice of cake suspiciously as if it had been poisoned.
"You're welcome," Harry said. Malfoy placed his hand on the back of Harry's chair, and the tip of his finger brushed Harry's arm softly.
Malfoy looked down at Harry. "I heard it's your birthday, Potter."
"I think the whole of Diagon Alley heard that it's my birthday," Harry said with a smile.
"Well, seeing as it is, I should give you a gift. Would you like to dance?"
"I would love to." Harry got up from his seat and took Malfoy's hand, ignoring Ron's indignant sputters.
He led Malfoy to the middle of the dance floor and wrapped his arms around his waist.
"Your friends resemble a school of goldfish," Draco remarked, peering over Harry's shoulder as he placed his hands on his shoulders.
"And Zabini doesn't seem surprised at all," Harry replied. "He knows about us?"
Draco nodded and looked at Harry uncertainly. "Is it alright...that I asked you to dance?"
Harry smiled. "It's more than alright. But I thought...you didn't want anyone to know."
Draco shrugged and looked away. "Well, I couldn't leave you all alone and date-less at that table full of smug couples."
"We were going to meet at your place later," Harry said, pulling Draco closer. "So I wouldn't have been completely alone."
"Are your friends going to be okay with us?"
Harry brushed his lips over Draco's forehead. "I think so. They're pretty desperate for me to get a boyfriend."
Draco placed his head on Harry's shoulder. "You're still coming to my place later, right?"
"Yes," Harry said, smiling into Draco's hair. "And I happen to have some new Firewhiskey flavoured lube we can christen."
"I like Firewhiskey," Draco murmured into the collar of Harry's shirt.
"Well. I guess we know who Harry's dating now," George remarked, breaking the shocked silence at the table.
They all looked to the dance floor, where Harry and Draco were wrapped up in a tight embrace, swaying to the music.
"I...Malfoy. It's bloody...Malfoy."
"And we're going to be supportive, aren't we, Ronald?" Hermione asked with a threatening edge to her voice.
"I think they make a lovely couple," Luna piped up.
"I agree. They look as hot as hell together," Ginny said.
Seamus, Dean and Lee nodded in agreement as Ron groaned and reached for his pint of beer. He took a long drink and sighed.
Well, at least Malfoy hadn't ruined Harry's birthday.
Happy 31st Birthday to my beautiful Harry!