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The tantalising smell of bacon roused Harry from a deep sleep. He slowly opened his eyes and reached for his glasses. The twins’ bedroom at The Burrow came into focus. Harry smiled to himself as he stretched and sat up. For the first time since Dumbledore’s death he had had a peaceful and decent night’s sleep. Harry got out of bed, stretched again and pulled open the curtain. The sun streamed through the window, warming Harry instantly. He opened the window and let the light breeze enter the room.

Harry stepped over to his trunk which was back to its normal size and began digging for a clean t-shirt.
“How many mom?” Ginny’s voice floated through the window. Harry’s heart skipped a beat. With his change of clothes in hand Harry went back to the window. Ginny must have gotten an answer to her question because she turned and walked to the vegetable patch behind Mr Weasley’s shed.
Harry watched her picking tomatoes, her hair glistening in the sun as it fell over her shoulder as she leaned forward. Harry’s stomach clenched and he turned away.
“It’s for the best,” Harry told himself in an unconvinced tone. Knowing he couldn’t convince himself anyway, he pulled on his t-shirt and jeans, made a quick stop at the bathroom and headed down to the kitchen.

The delicious scents of breakfast pulled him into the bustling Burrow kitchen. Harry stood in the doorway and took in the scene before him. Mrs Weasley was busy with frying eggs at the stove; Ginny was slicing the freshly picked tomatoes, while Hermione and Ron sat next to each other at the table. Harry and Hermione had only seen Mr Weasley when they arrived as everyone else was asleep already.

Ron raised his wand and said, “Accio toast.” A piece of toast zoomed across the room nearly taking Mrs Weasley’s nose off.
“Ronald!” she shrieked. “Just because you can do magic whenever you want doesn’t mean you can become lazy and not get off your chair!” She spun around with an angry look in her eye, which melted the instant she saw Harry. “Oh, happy birthday, Harry, happy birthday,” she said as she crossed the kitchen and gave Harry a hug that only Mrs Weasley could give.
“It’s so good to see you,” she said as she appraised his appearance. “And I’m glad to see that you have some meat on you for a change, but it looks like your clothes are a bit small for you.” Mrs Weasley nodded at the shoulder seams of Harry’s t-shirt that were pulling against his muscular arms.

“Uh, yeah,” Harry said, slightly embarrassed. “I worked out a bit during my stay at Privet drive. I haven’t gotten around to altering my clothes yet.” He glanced at Ginny, who was staring at him, her mouth slightly open.
“Looks like more than a bit of working out mate,” Ron said as he stood up. “Happy Birthday,” he said giving Harry a quick hug. Ginny approached him, slightly nervously and handed him a small gift before giving him a hug and wishing him a happy birthday quietly in his ear. Harry felt a shiver run up his spine as her breath grazed his skin.
“Thanks,” he said softly hugging her back in a way that he never wanted to let go. Hermione glanced at them and cleared her throat loudly to get them to come back down to earth.

Ginny slid out of Harry’s arms gave him a small smile and sat at the table after fetching the plate of tomato slices.
“Here you go mate,” Ron said, handing Harry a roughly wrapped present with a smaller neatly wrapped one on top.
“Thanks,” Harry managed to say before Mrs Weasley placed another on top. Mrs Weasley gave Harry a familiar looking present. The shape immediately made him smile; his seventh Weasley jumper. “But put those down and have your breakfast first,” she said, placing a plate with toast and fried eggs next to Ginny.
“Thanks,” Harry mumbled again as he sat down and tucked into his toast.
“I hope you don’t mind, Harry, but a few Order members are going to coming for dinner later for your birthday,” Mrs Weasley said as she began cleaning the stove.
“No I don’t mind at all, that’s great thanks. This might be my last one so I should enjoy it.” Harry regretted it as soon as he realised what he had said. Mrs Weasley dropped the frying pan she was holding, Ron choked on his pumpkin juice and both Hermione and Ginny glared at him with flabbergasted looks.
“Sorry, sorry,” Harry apologised. “I don’t know why I said that, I’m sorry Mrs Weasley, sorry guys.”
They finished breakfast in a tense silence.

“Well, I need to go to Diagon Alley for a few things, and then I’ll be stopping by Headquarters for a bit,” Mrs Weasley informed them as they finished breakfast. “Please will you all do me a favour and de-gnome the garden this morning. I don’t think Fleur’s family will be very impressed if there are gnomes running around during the wedding next week.” Mrs Weasley threw Floo Powder in the fire and disappeared in a swirl of flames.

Harry looked at his friends, who were still very silent. “I’m sorry about my comment early guys, really I am.”
Ginny spoke first. “Its okay, Harry. You just voiced what we are all worrying about. No one is sure who will be around to see any more happy occasions.” Hermione and Ron nodded in agreement.
“But, let’s not dwell on such depressing matters when we can go play toss the gnomes,” Ginny said with a smile.

The four friends spent the morning summoning gnomes from the overgrown depths of the garden and then trying to see who could throw a gnome the greatest distance.
“This is much easier with a bit of magic,” Harry said to Ron as a gnome zoomed from under a bush into his hand.
Ron spun and released a particularly chubby gnome into the air. “Definitely,” he said as he watched the gnome bounce into the field beyond the garden.
“Nice throw bro,” Ginny said as she aimed her wand at the watering can. “Accio Gnome,” she said and a gnome popped out the can.
“I guess the Ministry is not too concerned about Underage Magic at the moment,” Hermione said.
“No, more important matters,” Ginny said with slight sarcasm, “anyway, with you three doing spells at the same time how are they going to know?” Ginny threw the gnome an impressive distance.
“Your Chaser arm is looking strong,” Harry said.
“You’re not the only one who has been working out,” Ginny said with a mischievous grin. “I have to compete with the Veela family on a wedding day so I need to look good.”
“You always looked good,” Harry said, and blushed.

“Ron,” Hermione said suddenly, “Are you okay?”
“Yes. Why?” Ron answered, confused.
“Well I just noticed that its lunch time and you haven’t said anything,” Hermione said with a smile.
“Now that you mention it-”
“I thought so. We’ll go sort out lunch. You two, find the table and chairs and we’ll sit out here.” Hermione grabbed Ron’s hand and pulled him inside.
Ginny shook her head at the pair who had just disappeared. “I actually don’t know how Hermione puts up with him.”
Harry threw the gnome he was holding and then stored his wand in his pocket. “So table and chairs?”
“Dad’s shed I think.”

Harry followed Ginny into the shed. A small patio table and six chairs were stacked against a wall. Harry bent to pick up the table but stopped as Ginny spoke.
“Can I ask you something?”
Harry turned to face her, “Sure.”
“I know you are trying to keep me safe and all that, but Harry, what would happen if…V-Voldemort captured Ron or Hermione? Or if it was Lupin or Tonks or Neville or one of the twins? Harry would you leave them?”
“No of course not, but it’s not the same thing.”
“It is Harry. You would risk your own life for everyone you love and that’s just who you are.”
“But he’s used you before Ginny, I don’t want to see you in danger again!”
“Harry, if it had been Colin, Luna, even Lavender who Riddle had gotten hold of what would you have done?”
Harry opened his mouth to argue, but couldn’t. “The same thing.”
“Harry, being your friend and being partial to the Order, being part of my family, it is all part of being in this fight and nothing you, my brothers or my parents say is going to keep me away.”
Ginny’s eyes were fixed on Harry, who dropped his head to look at the floor.
“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” Harry said softly.
“But you don’t want that for anyone, Harry,” Ginny said walking up to him. “Harry,” she said softly putting her hands on his shoulders, “I’m not bailing out on this fight and I’m not going to bail on you either, no matter what you do or say.”
Harry lifted his head and met her eyes. “I just don’t want to loose you.”
Ginny smiled softly, “You had me before we even met Harry.”
Without another word, Harry slid his arms around Ginny and hugged her tightly. After a few minutes, Ginny said softly, “I think we should get the table and chairs outside before Ron bursts through the shed door.”
“Good point,” Harry said as he let his arms drop. “Magic?” he asked with a smile.
“You are loving being 17 aren’t you?” Ginny grinned at him.
“You have no idea.”

Harry levitated the chairs and tables out of the shed and on to the grass and Ron and Hermione came out with lunch. Half way through the meal, Mrs Weasley walked into the garden dusting soot off her shirt.
“Hi mom, want some lunch?” Ginny said as she saw her mom walk into the sunlight.
“Ah, yes thank you dear,” Mrs Weasley replied, as she perched on a chair.
“How’s Diagon Ally?” Ron asked as his mother tucked into her sandwich.
“Quiet, well, aside from your brothers’ shop. Tom was saying he hasn’t had a guest staying in the Leaky Cauldron for four weeks.”
“And anything interesting from Headquarters?” Ron continued. Mrs Weasley gave him a sceptic glance.
“The only thing I really found out about was that Harry will be continuing on a quest the Dumbledore started. Remus and Minerva will be here to chat to you about it later,” Mrs Weasley informed Harry. “And Minerva said I must let you know that Hogwarts is open and the Library is available for your research needs.”
“That’s great, thanks Mrs Weasley,” Harry responded, with a hint of excitement in his voice. “There are a few things I need more information on.”
“So when will you be going to Hogwarts?” she asked.
“Maybe tomorrow, if you don’t need my help for the wedding,” Harry said earnestly.
“I think I can spare you for a few days…I suppose you would like some company though?”
“Well, if you don’t need them, I’d appreciate Ron, Hermione and Ginny’s help.”
Ginny dropped the apple she was holding, Ron choked on his juice (again) but Hermione just grinned.
“Absolutely Harry. I’ll need you all a couple days before the wedding, but from what I’m guessing about your mission, it’s very important.”
“Yes, it is,” Harry said solemnly.
“Well, this afternoon I’ll need some help with dinner preparations, but you four are free to research from tomorrow.”

After lunch they started to help Mrs Weasley with dinner preparations. Once the potatoes, pumpkin and peas were pealed and cooking, they setup the table and place settings.
“Harry, you haven’t opened your presents,” Hermione said as she picked up the wrapped packages from the table.
“Oh yeah. I forgot between breakfast and gnome hunting…”
“Here you go,” Hermione handed him his presents.
Harry opened his Weasley jumper first. It was plain black with a hint of gold in the wool. Then he opened the small neat box from Hermione which was a watch, with a compass and calendar on the face. “Thanks Hermione. I haven’t had a working watch since our swim in the Black Lake.”
He tore open the Ron’s rough wrapping paper to find a brown paper bag crammed with some of Fred and George’s products including instant darkness powder. Finally Harry opened the small box which Ginny had given him.
“It’s a mini-writing kit,” Ginny said as Harry opened it. “You just enlarge whatever you need.” Harry pulled out a tiny bottle of ink and smiled. “It’s got parchment, quills, pencils…so you can write to me wherever you are,” Ginny smiled.
“Thanks Gin,” Harry said, giving her a hug. “And you guys too, thanks.” Harry felt slightly awkward. “Um…I’m just going to take these upstairs.”

Harry sat on the edge of his bed and looked at the gifts in his hands. He sighed, wishing his birthday was happening at a time with a slightly better future in sight. With another sigh he lay back on the bed and closed his eyes.

A knock on the door woke him up. Before he could sit up, Ginny opened the door.
“Harry, are you okay?” she asked as she closed the door behind her.
“Uh, yeah. I must have dozed off,” Harry said sitting off. “What’s the time?”
“It’s five o’clock.” Ginny sat down next to him. “I think it’s good that you are sleeping. You must have a lot on your mind.” Harry shrugged and sighed.
“Listen Gin, there are a few things I think you should know before we start doing all this research,” Harry said softly. So Harry explained in basic detail about the prophecy, Voldemort’s history and that the research they were doing was to find out more about Voldemort’s past and relics belonging to the four Founders of Hogwarts.
“Wow!” Ginny said as Harry finished.
“There’s more to everything,” Harry said, “but the less detail you know, the less anyone can try and get out of you.”
Ginny nodded. “I’m just glad I can help you Harry. Now,” she said standing up, “the reason I actually came up half an hour ago was to tell you that McGonagall and Lupin will be here at six o’clock, so shower get changed for dinner and they’ll see you downstairs.”
Ginny put her hand on his shoulder, “Thanks Harry, this means a lot to me.” Ginny kissed him softly on the check. Her lips lingered for a brief second; Harry took a deep breath. “See you downstairs,” she whispered. The door shut behind her and Harry groaned and fell back on the bed.

Half an hour later, Harry walked into the kitchen, his hair still damp after his shower, wearing a black shirt and jeans.
“Ah, the birthday boy,” Mr Weasley said. He crossed the kitchen and shook Harry’s hand warmly. “Happy Birthday Harry,” he said.
“Happy Birthday,” Lupin said stepping forward and embracing Harry.
“Thanks.”
“Professor McGonagall is in the lounge. I think we should get this meeting over with so you can enjoy your birthday dinner.” Harry followed Lupin into the lounge,

After getting a brief catch up overview on some of the Order’s activities, McGonagall asked, “So what is it exactly that Dumbledore needs you to do?”
“Well, I can’t say too much. Dumbledore said that the fewer people who know the better but basically it will lead to finishing off Voldemort. I’m going to be searching for a few things connected to Voldemort and the Hogwarts founders. I don’t know where exactly I’m going, but I have a few leads. Ron, Hermione and Ginny are going to help me with research at Hogwarts and in a few days time I’ll have a better idea,” Harry explained.
After an hour of planning for Harry’s expedition, they ended the meeting and planned to meet the evening before Bills wedding.

The rest of Harry’s birthday flew by. The dinner Mrs Weasley planned was delicious and the Order members who came for dinner and the family enjoyed every crumb of it. Harry was happy to see that Luna and Neville joined them for the evening. Harry got more birthday presents than he had ever had and was deeply thankful for the fun evening.

As people started leaving, Harry helped clean up. He met Ginny at the sink with a pile of plates.
“Have a good evening?” she asked.
“Yeah, it was great, except…” Harry’s voice faded.
“Except what?”
“Except I was so busy with everyone else, I didn’t get to chat to you,” Harry said with a smile.
Ginny smiled. “Well don’t worry; we’ve got a whole week.”
“Thanks you two,” Mrs Weasley said, putting a few more dishes in the sink. She tapped the cloth with her wand, added some soap and the dishes started washing themselves. “I think its bedtime.”
“Thanks for dinner Mrs Weasley,” Harry said giving her a hug.
“It was my pleasure. Good night,” she said as Harry and Ginny made their way to their rooms.

Ginny’s room was next door to Harry’s. They paused outside her room.
“Well I hope you had a good birthday Harry…One to remember,” Ginny said.
Harry smiled and nodded, “Very good, thanks,” he said meeting her eyes. Without thinking for a change, Harry leaned forward and kissed her. Ginny’s arms wrapped around his neck and Harry pulled her closer with his arms around her waist.

After a few moments they broke apart, and tried to get their breaths back. Harry took a small step back and opened his mouth. Ginny quickly placed her finger over Harry’s lips.
“Not a word Harry,” she said, kissed him again softly and then pushed her door open. “Good night Harry, sweet dreams,” and she disappeared into her room.
Harry sighed. “Definitely a birthday to remember,” Harry said to himself and headed for his bed.

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