Harry came home from work on his birthday to find Draco lounging in the drawing room, still wearing his pajamas. This was unusual, because Draco was one of those people who always got dressed, even if he wasn't going anywhere. And they were going somewhere: it was Harry's eighteenth birthday and Molly was making a family dinner to celebrate. His birthday happened to fall on a Friday this year, so they didn't have to worry about staying late and being tired in the morning. And best of all, Ron and Hermione were freshly returned from Australia with Mr. and Mrs. Granger; Harry couldn't wait to see them and find out how things went.
"Draco, why aren't you ready? We need to leave for the Burrow. It's my birthday dinner, remember?" Harry asked.
"I'm not going," Draco replied, not looking up from his knitting. It was getting longer and really starting to resemble a small blanket.
"You're not going? Why not? I know for a fact that Molly invited you."
"They're your friends, not mine. I'm not welcome. You'll have more fun without me."
"Nonsense. I want you there, so get dressed and let's go."
"No, I don't feel like it."
"And why not? If this is about Ron's big mouth, I'll have a talk with him."
"That's a big part, but it's not just that."
"Then what else is there?"
"The Daily Prophet article."
"It's just to be Hermione and the Weasleys; they all know that that's a load of rubbish that Ginny planted."
"And then there's Gin-nee Weasley. If the rest of the Weasleys are coming, then your ex-girlfriend will be there too."
"Not Gin-nee, it's said like Jenny, but spelled with a G."
"And Ginny's not supposed to be there; I hear she has a date for the night and will be elsewhere." Harry had inquired about Ginny with regards to this party, because after that Prophet article two weeks ago, and more specifically the fight he had with her after, he had no desire to attend a birthday celebration with her involve.
"I'm still not going. You'll have to excuse me if I don't think the birth of the Chosen One is an event worth celebrating. You better hurry up and go without me or you'll be late," Draco said, still not looking up from his knitting.
"Fine." Harry huffed and went off to his room to change out of his Auror robes. If Draco was in a foul mood, Harry didn't much fancy spending the evening with him anyway.
Fifteen minutes later Harry apparated to the lawn outside the Burrow. He blinked a few times and then vigorously rubbed his eyes in disbelief at what he was seeing. The lawn was set up more like it had been for Bill and Fleur's wedding than for a family dinner. There was a large tent erected and underneath it was a huge crowd of people chattering away. George and Angelina were on the other side of the lawn and looked to be setting up whiz-bangs, while Hermione and Fleur were setting up a table with a gigantic cake.
Harry dismissed his earlier plans to enter the house, and instead walked closer to the gathering. He was just passing the chicken coop when he heard Ron's voice and stopped.
"-read it, but so? He's still Harry," Ron was saying.
Harry edged closer, trying to stay hidden to listen in on what his friend was saying about him. There was a tall overgrown bush separating him from Ron and as he grew closer, he found a hole he could peak through. He saw Lee Jordon and Ernie MacMillan standing next to Ron.
"But how did it happen? You're his best mate, you must know," Ernie said.
"Yeah Ron, just tell us will you?" Lee asked.
"Don't know. Don't want to know," Ron replied.
"Come off it. He's your best friend; you must be curious," a fourth boy said. Harry could see a head of blond hair turned away from him and although he recognized the voice, he couldn't place it.
"Not really. It's Malfoy, isn't it? I'm much happier not knowing how he got pregnant. Now if you want to hear about what I got up to with Hermione last night, I'd be more than happy to talk about that. Brilliant, it was," Ron said.
Harry certainly didn't want to hear about what Ron and Hermione got up to without him. Eww; Hermione was practically his sister. And since Ron seemed to be capable of dodging the Harry-centric questions on his own, Harry decided not to interrupt them, for fear that the boys would start pestering him.
Harry turned and started towards the main gathering again, feeling relieved as Ron's voice disappeared into the distance behind him. Bill and Percy, who had just finished setting up a pair of kegs of Butterbeer, turned and saw Harry's approach. They both rushed over, Percy offering his hand and Bill beating him to it by engulfing Harry in a hug.
"Harry! Happy birthday!" Bill exclaimed.
And that started off the greetings and well-wishing. Hermione and Fleur soon joined the queue, eager to get their chance with Harry, but Harry had to shake hands or exchange hugs with about a dozen of his friends and acquaintances first. It looked like everyone who had survived the war from their year in Gryffindor was there, along with everyone who had ever been on Harry's Quidditch team with him, besides Cormac Mclaggen. Then there were all of the Aurors from the Ministry, all of the surviving Order members, and everyone who had been in Dumbledore's army. There were a ton of people, but only about a dozen of them beat Hermione to the queue.
Once Hermione finally reached the front of the li-ne, Harry grabbed her up into a big hug and asked his question into her bushy brown hair. "What's all this?"
"A proper birthday party for once. Now that the war's over, everyone wanted to help you celebrate. Isn't it wonderful?" Hermione asked excitedly. "Angelina and George are setting up the fireworks display. Ron's inside helping Molly. There's to be dancing and butterbeer too."
Obviously Hermione was not aware of the fact that Ron was behind the chicken coop explaining the intricacies of their sex life to a bunch of boys. Harry didn't feel the need to enlighten her, so instead he said, "Yeah, it is. Thanks Hermione. I want to hear all about Australia."
"There'll be time for that later. Now I believe the rest of the mob wants their shot at you."
Harry looked over Hermione's shoulder, past her hair, and eyed the crowd. "Right, well stay with me then and we'll talk once I get rid of everyone," Harry replied, pulling Hermione to stand by his side and wrapping his arm through her elbow, to ensure she wouldn't leave him to face the friendly mob alone. Sure they were all people he knew, but this wasn't something he was used to. He had much more practice being the outcast and having his birthday ignored completely.
"Of course Harry," Hermione replied.
And so with that settled, Harry turned back to the crowd. There were a great number of hugs, copious pats on the back, and a few dozen handshakes before the line started to thin. Towards the end, Ron, Lee, Angelina, and George appeared, apparently done with setting up their entertainment and gossiping. Harry hugged Lee and Angelina first, before turning to Ron.
"This is absolutely brilliant mate! Have you seen the load of presents you've got?" Ron asked.
"No…" Harry replied.
"Well they're all over there, stacked on that table, aren't they?" Ron asked, pointing at a table that was absolutely piled with wrapped packages and bags with colorful ribbons.
"Whoa, that does look like a lot of presents," Harry replied. It was probably more presents than he'd ever had in his entire life. Dudley would be jealous.
"Well Mum did let on that your seventeenth birthday was marred by the war, so we thought we'd try again and do it right this time," George said, pushing Ron aside to hug Harry himself. "Happy birthday mate."
"Thanks George," Harry replied.
There were just a few people left, but among them was Arthur Weasley. "Move aside so the rest of us can get our chance," Arthur told his sons.
"Sorry dad," Ron replied, and shuffled to Hermione's side.
"We'll talk later," George promised with a wink.
Then Arthur Weasley was at the front of the line, but instead of stepping forward, he stepped aside and said, "Go ahead Dromeda, Molly. Ladies first, I insist."
Dromeda, holding Teddy, and Molly seemed to be just joining the line, but they bustled forward all the same. Both women gave Harry a kiss on the cheek, while a ginger-haired Teddy smacked Harry's cheek with a slimy hand.
"Oh Harry dear, I do hope you like your surprise. I know I said it would be a small family celebration, but well, everyone wanted to come too and I couldn't say no," Molly said.
"It's great Molly, really," Harry replied.
"Harry, where's Draco? I was hoping to get him to watch Teddy for me for a moment," Dromeda said, looking around.
"He didn't come," Harry replied.
"Why not? I invited him," Molly replied indignantly.
"Said he didn't feel up to it after the Prophet," Harry answered.
"Nonsense! Ginny's out with Michael, so there's no reason Draco can't come," Molly replied.
"Molly, perhaps he doesn't wish to be the pariah in this crowd. These people are Harry's friends; Draco barely knows them," Dromeda said.
"Well Draco is part of the family now and it's time everyone learns to accept that. Harry, you need to go back and get him," Molly insisted. She had that serious look she wore when she meant business, as if she could see right through him.
"Harry, you really should go back for Draco. He needs to get out of that house; keeping him coped up there isn't really the best idea," Hermione said.
"Yeah mate, and I'll keep my mouth shut this time, I swear. Mum threatened to shut it permanently if I don't," Ron added.
"Too right, I did," Molly replied. "Best remember that young man."
Harry caved to the pressure and went back to Grimmauld Place, where he found Draco locked up behind the bathroom door.
"Draco? Are you in there?" Harry asked, sure that Draco was. He could hear the sound of running water and the light was on.
"Yes, why are you back?" Draco asked through the door.
"They've sent me back for you."
"Well you can just go back without me."
"Draco, it's not just a small dinner party; Molly and Arthur have gone all out. It's a huge celebration that you'll not want to miss."
"I know and that's why I want to miss it."
"Molly told me."
"And you still don't want to go?"
"They're not my friends; I'm the enemy, remember?"
"You're not the enemy anymore. You're carrying my child."
"All the more reason for them to hate me."
"If anyone has anything negative to say, then I'll put a stop to it."
"I'm a Death Eater and that party's full of Aurors and the Order of the Phoenix. Are you forgetting my role in Dumbledore's death?"
"Are you forgetting that you couldn't do it? That you lowered your wand?"
"Fat lot of good that did; the old man's still dead, isn't he?"
"Yeah, but not by your hand. Come on; this is the perfect opportunity for you to meet all of my friends and for me to set the record straight for anybody who's got anything bad to say about you."
"You're seriously going to stand up to all of your friends and proclaim my innocence?"
"Yeah, I am."
"To all of it?"
"What else is there? You saved our lives on Easter."
"I locked you in the cellar on Easter. I cornered you in the room of requirement during the final battle. I tortured under the Dark Lord's orders. I witnessed a Hogwarts teacher being eaten by that bloody snake for Salazar's sake!"
"You had no choice on Easter or with following Voldemort's orders. Granted I would've preferred if you didn't follow me into the room of requirement, but Crabbe's fire destroyed the horcrux and everyone but Crabbed survived—and well, Crabbe got what he deserved if you ask me—so no harm done. And you were just a kid; you shouldn't have been put in that situation in the first place."
"I'm two months older than you."
"Right, well back to the point: it's my birthday and I want you there."
"Because you're carrying my child! If we're doing this, then we might as well get it over with. You can't hide from everyone forever."
"Fine, I'll go, but you better keep your word and defend me," Draco replied and there was the sound of movement on the other side of the door.
Draco had been taking a bath, so he was not at all ready to go. It didn't take that long to dry off and throw on some clothes, but Draco didn't share Harry's ideas on the simplicity of getting ready. Instead Draco went through his usual egregiously long routine of grooming, styling his hair, and making himself look perfect. Harry was about to leave Draco and go back to the party alone, but he didn't, because he had just spent so much effort on convincing Draco to go with him.
Author's Note: So I was planning on writing Harry's whole birthday this week, but it's already pretty long and I haven't finished the rest. So I thought I'd post what I have and turn the rest into another chapter. Harry just promised to defend Draco to his friends, so who and what do you think Harry should defend Draco from? Or what else should happen once they return to the party? Any and all ideas are welcome!