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Being the youngest in a family of seven children means that you pretty much know the major events that are celebrated while growing up. And so it was with Ginny and her seventeenth birthday. She knew far too much for any type of surprise party for this occasion. So instead, she took an active part in the planning, which suited her just fine. It was to start mid-afternoon and involve family, friends, brooms and some fun quidditch.

Hermione was in the kitchen of their flat tying a bow on the present she was giving to Ginny.

"Harry, are you ready to go to the Burrow for Ginny's party?"

"Yes, almost done wrapping her present," said the distant voice of Harry from his bedroom.

A moment later, Harry walked into the kitchen. "Okay, I'm ready. Just wish I had a broom to bring along."

"I'm sure the Weasleys will have one you can borrow," said Hermione as they moved to the fireplace.

"Yeah, but it's not the same as having your own." He nodded to her, "After you."

She stepped into the green flames and said, "The Burrow!" Harry followed a moment later.

He stepped from the floo into the Weasley kitchen.

"Hello Harry!" said Arthur. "I think you forgot your glasses."

"I don't have to wear them anymore. I went to St Mungo's and they corrected my eyesight."

"Yes," said Hermione. "Doesn't he look good without glasses?"

"Hmm," said Ron with a smile. "That looking good part might be a bit of a stretch."

With first a smile, and then a scolding expression, Hermione hit Ron gently on the arm.

Harry smiled and said, "So where's Ginny? I want to wish her a happy birthday."

Ron said, "She's outside. She hasn't put down her wand since she woke up this morning. Using magic for every little thing. I was never like that."

Arthur smiled and said, "No, you were worse."

Ron chuckled and said, "Seriously, Ginny is doing some very impressive magic. Hermione, have you been giving her lessons?"

Hermione smiled and said, "I may have shown her a few things. She did ask me once about some of the spells I used in our sixth year."

Ron's eyes widened a bit and he said, "So ... in addition to bat bogies, she can also do attacking birds?"

Hermione tilted her head with a knowing expression.

Ron thought for a moment and said, "Pity any guy who gets out of line with her." Then, realization slowly spread across his face and with a grin said, "Thanks Hermione!"

Harry and Hermione laughed as they all stepped out into the backyard. Ginny was walking back toward the kitchen when she saw Harry and Hermione come out. She ran up to them excitedly and hugged them both. Harry and Hermione wished her happy birthday.

Ginny said, "Harry! You look good without your glasses." Ron rolled his eyes and shrugged. Then, Ginny pointed to the meadow and said, "So what do you think?"

The meadow now contained quidditch hoops at each end of a playing field. There were also colorful banners and flags waving in the breeze. There was a refreshment table containing drinks and snacks.

"It looks great Ginny," said Harry. "Did you do all that yourself?"

Ginny nodded happily and said, "It's really great fun being able to do magic whenever I want. No more underage magic owls from the Ministry. Mum and Dad are very pleased about that!"

While they were talking, Molly and Arthur walked up carrying a package. Arthur said, "Ginny, this is our birthday present to you. We think you should open it now."

Ginny's eyes went wide as she took the long thin package and excitedly ripped off the birthday wrapping paper. She let out a loud whoop and shouted with delight, "A Nimbus broom!" Beaming a smile, she hugged each of her parents thanking them.

Molly said, "Congratulations on becoming Gryffindor quidditch captain. We are so proud of you!"


Everyone was enjoying themselves at the party. Harry, Ron, Ginny, George, Angelina, Ben and Katie were on brooms playing quidditch in the meadow. They were all having a good time passing the quaffle and performing their favorite moves with each other. Ginny was enjoying her new broom and was easily out flying all of them. It was very clear to the others that she had been practicing. Even on a new and unfamiliar broom, Ginny flew with speed and precision.

After a while, Ginny took charge and got the others to try out some new moves she had come up with. She wanted to see how they might work for the Gryffindor team. Her ability to be a good captain quickly became apparent to the others. They followed her instructions and supported her efforts to refine her ideas. During breaks in the game action, the other players used their wands to add happy birthday banners and well wishes to the field decorations. 

While the quidditch activities we going on, the other guests sat a short distance away at the picnic table under a shade tree. Hermione, Percy, Penelope, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Neville, Luna, Arthur and Molly were all talking about family, work, school and the Ministry. Hermione was talking to Neville and Luna who sat next to each other across the table from her.

"Neville" said Hermione, "What are your plans for school this year?"

"I'll be going back to complete my seventh year NEWT's in herbology. I want a career as a herbologist. I've spent most days this summer helping Professor Sprout get the green houses back in order. She's been giving me extra lessons to help me catch up from last year."

"That's great Neville!" said Hermione. "You've always been so good at herbology."

"Thanks." said Neville. "The Ministry sent me an owl with some other offerings; one of them was Auror. I thought a long time about that offer and about following in my Mum and Dad's career. But after all we went through last year, I thought maybe I could do better by being at Hogwarts. Maybe I can help dissuade the next would-be Tom Riddle student and turn their thinking toward a better goal."

Hermione's eyes glistened as she looked at him and said, "Oh Neville. That's so wonderful! I think your mum and dad would be very proud of your choice."

Neville smiled and said, "McGonagall also wants me to be a staff assistant at Hogwarts this year. She seems to think that after helping lead the resistance last year, I know all of the secret places at Hogwarts."

Hermione smiled and said, "Hmm ... I'll have to be careful then if I want to do any snogging in the hall."

Neville laughed and said, "Five points a snog." Hermione giggled.

Neville said, "Seriously though, with so many people redoing parts of last year, Hogwarts will be at full capacity. McGonagall is being extra cautious this year."

Neville said to Luna and Hermione, "I think I'll get a refill on lemonade. Can I get some for either of you?"

Both said yes. Neville got up and headed toward the refreshment table.

Hermione said, "Luna, are you and Neville still dating?"

In a dreamy voice she said, "No, it was a nice time and we are still the best of friends. We are so very different, unlike you and Harry who are perfectly lovely for each other." Leaning in close, she said in a quiet voice, "I see it in your auras."

"Erm... Thanks Luna. So ... What about you? What are your plans?"

"I'll be completing my seventh year studies and taking general NEWT's. I'm not sure yet what I want as a career. I might do a bit of world travel after seventh year to help me decide, maybe something in the Department of Mysteries. It was quite interesting that time we were there."

Hermione said, "I've been thinking about a career in the Department of Mysteries too. I'm interested in charm studies."

"I think you will be very good at that. Recently, I was helping Professor Flitwick with the rebuilding effort. Ravenclaw tower was damaged extensively as you know. I mentioned to him my career thoughts. He suggested that I was gifted in abstract thinking."

Luna smiled and with a serious thoughtful expression said, "I suppose that's how I got the nickname Loony. Anyway, Professor Flitwick offered to give me lessons in philosophy and abstract reasoning this year. It all sounds so very interesting."


The quidditch game had been going on for quite a while. Hermione stood up and walked toward the edge of the meadow. Harry was circling around and now came to a hover about thirty feet in the air, not too far from where she stood. He turned and looked toward her and she waved. Harry looked at her for a moment and then slowly moved forward and started descending. He disappeared from view behind a tree.

A minute later, Harry walked up beside Hermione and took her hand. "Come with me." They walked a short distance to a large old oak tree that had a swing attached to one of the large branches. He had her sit down on the swing and then he pushed her gently.

"How was the quidditch game?" she asked.

"Not really a game but everyone is having a good time, mostly just flying around and practicing moves. How are Luna and Neville? Are they still dating each other?"

"They are just good friends now. They both talked about getting ready to attend Hogwarts. Neville will be a staff assistant this year in addition to his classes."

Harry asked, "Have they chosen careers?"

"Yes. Neville definitely wants to be a herbologist. Luna is still undecided. She is thinking possibly something in the Department of Mysteries."

Harry smiled and said, "Well, like you, she's got the brains for that ... though in her case, somewhat unorthodox at times."

Hermione smiled, "Yes. But there are some areas where that kind of thinking is needed."

Harry held the swing and then moved to stand behind her. He began to gently massage her shoulders at the base of her neck.

"So have you decided on your career?" asked Harry.

"It's hard to talk when you do that ... but don't stop. Yes. Of the choices the Ministry offered, I like charms development in the Department of Mysteries the best. It's an area I have always been interested in. The people I met there during the informal interview were very nice. I think I'd like to study and develop healing charms."

"I think that is an excellent choice," said Harry. "You've always been good with spells and charms."

"Thanks. It will be a lot of work even with all the special Ministry of Magic arrangements for us. From what I've heard, the NEWT's are quite intense. What about you Harry? Have you decided?"

"Yeah, the Magical Bureau of Investigation. The job is a lot like a muggle detective. Very little hand-to-hand combat. I need to pass NEWT's for the position but they have arranged a work study program."

"Good. I think you've had quiet enough combat over the last few years. It may be selfish of me, but I want you around and in one piece."

She stood up, moved toward him, and kissed him.

Just then, Ron's voice called out and said, "Hey you lovebird's, were sitting down to eat."

Harry and Hermione separated and chuckled. Harry took her hand and they walked back to join the others. They sat next to each other at the table and teased each other by playing footsie during the meal. Cake, candles, ice cream and presents for Ginny followed.

The remainder of the evening was full of fun and laughter. George tried out a few new products from the joke shop to the delight of all present. Much later, Harry and Hermione were the only remaining guests. Ginny and Hermione went to Ginny's room for some girl talk. Out of earshot of Molly, Arthur discretely invited Harry and Ron out to his workshop to see some things he was working on. He slipped out the door and Harry and Ron followed a minute later. 

On their way to the workshop Harry said, "Ron, have you decided on a career?"

"Yeah mate. I want to work in the Department of Magical Games and Sports. I was so glad when the Ministry offered it. I know it will require a lot of work to achieve but it's something I really like."

They cautiously entered the workshop. In addition to Arthur's collection of plugs, old radios, portable TV's and other oddities, they saw hundreds of round plastic shinny disks floating in a corner. There was a hole in the center of each and rainbow patterns could be seen on them as they gently twisted in the light.

Pointing at them, Ron said, "Dad, what are those round things?"

Arthur smiled and said, "Muggle sun catchers. I'm still not quite sure how to hang them to catch the sun. I think they would also make good Christmas tree decorations. Your mother, of course, might disagree on that use."

Harry smiled and said, "What are you doing with this old muggle mechanical typewriter over here?"

Arthur smiled, "Ah yes, it's almost done. These muggle typewriters are very fascinating and tricky contraptions. In spite of what it says above the paper roller, it doesn't have to be under wood for it to work. Here, let me put in a piece of parchment. ... Okay. Now Harry, speak something to it."

Harry said, "Happy birthday Ginny".

There was a mechanical grind and then tapping sounds were heard. The bell dinged twice and the paper advanced a few lines. Harry and Ron looked at each other and grinned. The typed line read, "appee burpday ynniJ".

Arthur frowned and said, "Hmm... still needs some work. At least the letters aren't upside down any more."

As they were leaving, Harry and Hermione hugged Ginny and wished her a happy birthday. Then they returned to their flat.  It was very late and sleepily, Harry began to move toward his room. Hermione put her hands on his back and began to scratch it. Harry stopped and bent over slightly rolling his shoulder forward.

"Down a little, yeah. Now a bit more to the left; ooh yes!" He stood up straight. "That's the spot."

Hermione giggled.

After a minute or so more, he turned to face her and said, "That was very nice, thank you."

"Thank you for the ride on the swing today." said Hermione.

She kissed him briefly. Then, they both went to their rooms.

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