Charlie apparated just outside his family's new home and found his older brother leaned against the railing of the large porch. "Hey. Dad's not back yet, is he?"
"No, they're all still in Diagon Alley. How's our gift coming along?" Bill asked. He and Charlie had pitched in to make their brothers' birthday great. They'd started planning it months ago, which of course meant it was originally just for Ron, but they knew Harry would love it too. Actually, they almost hadn't been able to pull it off. Even with their combined incomes, they didn't have nearly enough. With the money they'd all received after Black's trial, they had more than enough. Their parents had been glad to help, so it was sort of a family gift now.
"They should be here soon, hopefully after everyone gets back. Man, Ron is going to be ecstatic. I don't think there's anything that could be better in his eyes," Charlie said with a grin.
"Yeah, I'm sure even the firebolt he undoubtedly picked out won't top it. I think Harry will be pretty pleased as well," Bill said.
"I hope so. They could both use some relaxing and fun. The summer has been tense so far," Charlie said.
Just then, Fred and George apparated next to Bill.
Bill was slightly startled by his brothers but quickly recovered. "Hey. Where are the others?"
"They'll be here soon," George said. "You'll never believe what Harry got."
"Neither..." Fred started.
"Will Mum," George finished with a grin.
"Why? What did he get?" Charlie asked.
"You'll see," they both said at once.
Just then, the rest of the family port keyed in. "Bill, Charlie, look what Harry got," Ginny said.
The two oldest boys gaped in surprise at the brown puppy in their brother's arm. "You got a puppy. He's cute, Harry," Bill said before petting the pup's head, earning himself a slobbery lick.
"Yeah. The shopkeeper tried to talk me out of it because he's muggle, but I didn't care about that. He's brilliant," Harry said as he held the dog close.
"Let's go inside, children. Your mother is waiting," Arthur said before stepping onto the porch.
"Dad, how well do you recon this will go over?" Bill asked.
Arthur only sighed in response before opening the door.
Ron and Harry came in right behind their father and oldest brother. They were shell shocked to find almost all of Gryffindor there clapping and cheering them a happy birthday. "Bloody Hell!" Ron exclaimed shocked. Nearly everyone from Gryffindor Tower was in his house, all for his and Harry's birthday. He'd never had a real party before, not like this. He, and all his other siblings, had always had family parties, but there weren't really able to have one with a bunch of friends. At most, they were allowed one or two friends. They just didn't have the room at the Burrow for a party like this. This was just brilliant.
"What's everyone doing here?" Harry asked, just as shocked.
"They're here for your birthday party, son. We thought you both might like to spend the day with all of your friends," Arthur said.
Dean and Neville were first to approach the birthday boys. "Happy birthday, guys," Neville said.
"Thanks, Neville. You too. It's your birthday too, right? How come you came here instead of having your own party?" Ron said.
"I...I don't really have big parties. I don't have a lot of friends. I usually just celebrate alone with Gran. This sounded better. Plus, I can still celebrate with her when I go home," Neville said.
"Oh, well, then consider this your party too. We don't don't mind sharing our party, right, Ron?" Harry asked.
"Of course not," Ron said immediately.
"Thanks, guys," Neville said with a happy smile.
"Ron, you got a firebolt, and, Harry, did your parents get you a puppy?" Dean suddenly asked.
Both boys beamed and nodded.
"It's nice to see you guys happy. Obviously, we heard about everything that happened," Dean said.
"Yeah. I can't believe someone was stupid enough to do that in this world. Stealing a kid here is a big deal," Neville said. He grew up learning about the laws of the wizarding world. Kidnapping was the most foul crime there was and carried a steep punishment. Most purebloods considered being labeled a blood traitor and stripped of their fortune worse than life in Azkaban.
"If you guys don't mind, could we not talk about this?" Harry asked. He was tired of the horrible things that had happened in his life being the hot topic for everyone. He just wanted one day to be light and happy.
"Yeah, of course. Sorry," Neville said.
"What's your puppy's name, Harry?" Dean asked.
"I don't know yet. I just got him," Harry said.
"Would it be alright if I pet him?" Dean asked.
"Of course," Harry said as he moved closer.
Meanwhile, Arthur went over to his wife, who was staring at their son and his new pet. "Arthur, why does Harry have a puppy in his arms?" Molly asked.
Arthur winced a bit. "I'm sorry, Molly. I know this is something I should've discussed with you, but I had no idea it would happen. Hermione wanted to go in and get some things for her cat and Harry just saw him. I don't even think he knew that he wanted a dog, but I could see how much he wanted him when he held him.
"You couldn't have gotten him a cat or something? We've always told the children no when it came to dogs," Molly said. They had never had the room or money for a dog. Plus, the children were too young for such a responsibility before they turned eleven, and after that, they were off to Hogwarts.
"Yes, but that was largely because of the money. We don't need to worry about that now," Arthur pointed out.
"But the children will be off to Hogwarts in a month. They won't be able to take the puppy with them. That will crush Harry," Molly said. She was looking at her son right now and she could see that he loved that puppy. He wasn't going to handle leaving it behind very well.
"I'll talk to Dumbledore. I will get him to make allowances for Harry," Arthur said. Normally, he wouldn't ask for special treatment for his kids, but Harry had been through so much, and that puppy was the first thing to put a smile on Harry's face in a while. He would not force him to part with it. "Look, you didn't see him. I haven't see him so happy in a long time. When I told him he could have the puppy, he even hugged me. I couldn't tell him no."
Molly looked back at her son and saw the grin still plastered all over his face his friends fawned over the puppy. If that was how he looked in the pet store, she doubted she would've been able to say no. "Alright, but Albus better let him take the puppy to Hogwarts. He'll be crushed otherwise."
Just then there was a knock at the door.
"I've got it," Charlie said before he and Bill rushed to the door. They were pretty sure he knew who was there.
"That must be Bill and Charlie's gift. Harry and Ron, come here," Arthur said.
"What's going on, Dad?" Ron asked as he and Harry went over.
"Your brothers have a special birthday gift for you," Arthur said as he pointed to the door.
Ron turned just as the door opened. He went as white as a ghost and could swear his jaw dropped to the floor. "N...no bloody way!"
"What is it?" Harry asked. All he saw were two men who appeared to be dressed in quidditch attire. He could admit that they might look slightly familiar, like maybe he'd seen a picture before, but that was it.
"Who are they? I don't know how you can even ask that! It's Galvin Gudgeon and Joey Jenkins. They play for the Chudley Cannons." He could just not believe it. Two players from his favorite quidditch team were in his house.
"Bloody hell," Harry said in shock. He wasn't a fanatic like Ron, but he was certainly excited to meet professional players. It was different then when they met Viktor Crum. He was still a student like them. These men were different.
"Oh bloody hell, they're coming over," Ron said.
"Hey, boys. You're Ron and Harry, right?" one of the two men asked.
"Y...Yeah," Ron squeaked out.
Many of the other kids came over, but respectfully stayed a few feet back to let the birthday boys have the first crack at the two professionals.
"I see you have a firebolt with you. You the one who plays?" one asked Ron.
"N...No, that's Harry. I just got me broom today. I hadn't had a good enough one before. I hope to play this year though," Ron said.
"That's great. You'll do well on a broom like that," he said before turning to Harry. "You play seeker, right? Your brother told us you're the youngest seeker in a century."
"Um, yeah. I got chosen in my first year," Harry said.
"Brilliant. No one gets picked in their first year. You guys have a pitch here?"
"No, but we have a big yard to play in. We just use makeshift goals," Harry said.
He laughed. "I think we've all had to do that at some point. Unfortunately, we can't stay long, but we brought some things for both of you. He took out a quaffle and a beater bat and handed them respectfully to the two boys."
"Bloody hell! This has all of your signatures on it!" Ron said in amazement as he held the quaffle.
"This is great. Thank you," Ron said. This was officially the best party he'd ever had. He got a real party and to meet members of his favorite team.
"You're welcome, boys," they both said as they turned to leave, only to be bombarded by the other quidditch fans.
Ron turned to his two eldest brothers. "Bill, Charlie, thank you so much," he said before running to hug them. He got Charlie first since he was closest.
"Yeah, thanks, guys," Harry said. He didn't hug them. He wasn't too comfortable yet with physical contact and he wasn't sure if they'd want him to anyway.
"You guys are welcome. We wanted you to have a good birthday," Bill said.
"It was bloody awesome. Come on, Harry. We should go put these in our room so they don't get messed up," Ron said before rushing for the stairs. Harry followed right behind him.