Charlie Apparated into the Weasley garden carrying a large bundle, closely followed by Cassia. He walked through the back door to the kitchen where he found his father tending to several large pots bubbling cheerily on the hearth.
"Charlie! Cassia!" Arthur exclaimed, hugging the two of them in turn. "How are you? Ron, Harry, and Hermione are the only ones here. Your mother left a little while ago and put me on kitchen duty so she could pick up Ginny from the Hogwarts Express. She should be back in fifteen minutes or so."
"Don't even know why she had run off and leave Dad to burn all our food; Ginny could have just Apparated back on her own," Ron said as he walked into the kitchen, closely followed by Harry and Hermione.
"Well, its been a while since Mum's been out of the village and she wanted a change of scenery," Arthur muttered, trying to calm a pot that was boiling rather exuberantly and shooting jets of green liquid at the ceiling. "And I'm not sure how skilled Ginny would be at Apparating home with a trunk full of magical objects."
"She's fine at—aah!" Ron yelped as Fred and George Apparated somewhere near the ceiling and fell on top of him in a tangle of limbs and gifts. "Why do you do these things?" he shouted.
"Well, isn't it obvious that if we'd Apparated onto the floor we might've splinched into you," Fred replied smoothly.
"That's what the garden is for," Ron growled back.
"Ah, and isn't it the man of the hour," George exclaimed, ignoring Ron as he spied Harry near the door.
"We were worried you wouldn't make it for your own holiday," Fred declared, striding over to him.
"And I was just telling Fred here that you'd make a perfect centerpiece on Harry Potter Day," George said, sliding an arm over Harry's shoulders. "We could stick an apple in your mouth, add some flowers for your hair, and you'd be ready to go!"
"Lovelier than the Christmas tree gnome-angel," Fred agreed, ruffling his hair.
"Couldn't we just call it the Thirtieth of June?" Harry pleaded, seeing Ginny levitating a trunk through the garden door with her mother right behind her.
"Of course not!" Fred said happily. "Why, witches and wizards all over Europe are gathering together to celebrate the first anniversary of the day Harry Potter defeated You Know Who, not the last day of June and the end of the school term."
"It's a day of heroism!" George exclaimed. "The day when half the existing Death Eaters were caught!"
"A day of romance! When our little Ronniekins finally proposed to the lovely Miss Granger!" Fred said, nodding at Hermione, who rolled her eyes at him.
"A day of freedom! With the Death Eaters gone and Mum still busy with wedding preparations, we've been able to go about our business without anyone hounding our steps for an entire year."
"And speaking of romance and weddings, when are you going to get yourself a girl? That Protecting-Her-From-Your-Enemies excuse is getting a bit old."
Harry's face was getting rather hot, and he began to stammer when he saw Ginny's eyes on him. "I, er, well—"
Harry was saved from having to respond when Percy shot out of the fireplace with a bawling three-year-old in one arm and a box that contained gifts for the family in the other. He stumbled over to his mother as his wife Penelope appeared in the fireplace, trying to keep her grip on a squirming one-year-old who was chanting, "Again! Again!"
"Ooh, what's wrong with Grandma's little angel?" Molly cooed, relieving Percy of the toddler so that he could gather up the spilled contents of the box that had been kicked out of his hand. "Why don't you put those in the corner of the sitting room?" she instructed him. "You too," she said, looking at the mess Fred and George had left on the floor when they knocked Ron over. "And take your trunk upstairs, Ginny."
"Now what happened to my little Brianna?" Molly asked the little girl as Fred, Charlie, and Percy carried the gifts into the sitting room. "You bumped your finger in the Floo?" she asked, kissing the finger Brianna had mournfully held out.
"And I'm hungry," she added, rubbing her belly.
"How's my favorite nephew?" Cassia asked, taking the baby from Penny as he tried to launch himself out of his mother's arms to get to her. "You look perfectly lovely. And what's that there? You have a little tummy!" she exclaimed, tickling him and causing him to squeal with delight.
"Grandma, I want pie," Brianna informed Molly.
"Not yet. We can eat after everyone gets here," Molly replied.
"But we're all hungry, and you can never tell exactly what time Bill will get back from Egypt," Ron put in.
"Stop whining and take your niece while I check on the food so it doesn't get burnt," Molly replied, pushing Brianna into Ron's arms.
Considering the importance food held for the two of them, this seemed an agreeable compromise, and Ron began bouncing the toddler up and down.
"Ron has a point," Cassia said, laying the baby in a cradle that stood in the corner of the kitchen and looking at her watch. "Bill and Zhara are an hour late. The Department of Magical Transportation isn't usually this backed up, even on holidays."
"They're flying into London the Muggle way," Charlie explained as he returned to the kitchen. "Zhara doesn't really trust magical transportation all that much, especially with such a young child. She was only introduced into the magical world two years ago; she's just comfortable with what she knows," he added, seeing the shocked look on Molly's face and knowing that she felt the exact opposite when it came down to choosing between magical and Muggle methods.
"See, totally unreliable timing," exclaimed Ron. "I think we should just eat now and save a bit for them."
"Yep," Brianna agreed. "Pie now."
"Ron, have a little patience. You're going to have to learn to go more than two hours without eating," Molly said, putting the fish into the oven. "You too," she told the cat at her feet that was trying to get to the fish. "Harry, George, please set up the tables outside."
Ron retreated to the sitting room with Brianna curled up on his chest and a pie hidden behind his back. Brianna's eyes widened with delight when she saw it.
"Well, what do you think we should do now to pass the time until Uncle Bill arrives?" he asked after they finished it.
"More?" Brianna asked, her face covered with blueberry.
"Grandma will get ideas," he told her. "We'd slink in the kitchen as quietly as we can, head for the pies, and be spotted, because Grandma has eyes in the back of her head, you know. Then she'll put us, or rather me, to work, washing dishes and pealing vegetables."
"I want pie. Pie."
"Mmm," he mused, kissing her on the top of the head, "you're lucky that a lack of pie is the only worry you have in life. Enjoy it while you can. I'd give anything to never have to worry about my best friends losing their lives in battle. War is a terrible thing. So many lives were ruined." Seeing that he had lost her attention, he changed the subject.
"Do you want to hear the story of your Mummy and Daddy?"
"Okay, I'll tell you about Uncle Bill, Auntie Zhara, and the wicked Frenchwoman. You like that one, right?" Brianna nodded eagerly. "Great. Well, this Frenchwoman, she was part Veela. Now as you know, when they are happy, Veela take the form of women, the most beautiful women you've ever seen. Their long flowing hair appears to be blowing in the wind even if there's no breeze, their song will entrance even the hardest of hearts, and they every man who sees them falls madly in love with them. But despite their beauty, they're wicked at heart; they don't care about the men at all. In the mountains of their native country, they lure men into their territory and then shoot them with deadly arrows. And you know what country Veela come from, right?"
The child shook her head, her mouth rounded into a small O in anticipation and wonder.
"Bulgaria!" Ron exclaimed.
"That's right, she's from the land of an evil, wicked people who run about robbing others of their girlfriends. And boyfriends," he added as an afterthought. "The Veela love attention. They'll make timid men daring enough to try anything to impress them. I know two boys who tried to jump off the top box in the Quidditch stands, just to prove their worth to them."
"Do the girls jump off Quidditch stands too?" Brianna asked, mesmerized.
"No, the girls get angry. Especially if they were in love with one of the boys under the Veela's spell. You see, the Veela pride themselves on being able to make other women envious of their beauty. But when their tricks don't work, especially if it's because there is a woman even lovelier than them, they become desperately jealous and transform into hideous birdlike creatures, intent on destroying the woman. Now Fleur, she had her eye on your Uncle Bill, who she thought was very handsome. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get him to love her. And this was because he was already in love with an Egyptian Muggle with beautiful brown eyes and hair as dark as the night. Since Fleur was only one quarter Veela, she did not turn into a bird, but she still become terribly jealous. And when she found out that the woman he chose over her was not only a human, but a Muggle as well, her jealousy turned to fury. So she hatched a plan for Uncle Bill to fall in love with her. And she wouldn't be content with a kiss to prove his adoration; no, she wanted him to declare his love for all eternity. She decided that they had to be married, no matter what the cost. She refused to allow him to be with a Muggle when she had chosen him to love only her. So she went deep into the dungeons of her castle, lit a flame beneath her cauldron, and brewed a potion so potent that when coupled with her charms it would make any ordinary man hers forever. But she underestimated both the strength of the love he and Auntie Zhara shared and how hard Auntie Zhara was willing to work to get Uncle Bill back," Ron told Brianna, but was cut off by voices on the stairs to the sitting room.
"I do understand what Quidditch does for him, but he just doesn't seem happy to me. It's like he's holding himself back, not allowing himself to just settle down," Hermione was saying.
Ron pulled Brianna back out of his lap as Hermione and Ginny entered the room. "What are you talking about?" he asked, walking over to them.
"Harry," Hermione replied. "He seems just as sombre as he was during the war. It's been a full year now. He needs to start living his life."
"He hasn't mentioned anything about still feeling responsible for the personal safety of every single person in the entire wizarding world, did he?" Ginny asked, exasperated.
"No," Ron answered. "We got over that one when we convinced him to play Quidditch instead of going through Auror training with me. He just seems a bit depressed now."
"About what?" Hermione seemed perplexed but perfectly in her element with a problem to solve. "The pressure to defeat Voldemort is off. He can't still be mourning those who died in the war; everyone who was close to him survived. Today's a day to celebrate and be happy. He couldn't be that annoyed about the whole 'Harry Potter Day' thing."
"Um, well, you two might have left him out of things a little since you got engaged," Ginny suggested. "I mean, all I've heard you talk about for the past month has been the wedding, Hermione."
"You've got a point Ginny," Hermione admitted, looking rather ashamed. "This might be making him terribly aware of the fact that he hasn't found anyone yet. He was so afraid of putting anyone in danger through association with him during the war that he hasn't seen anyone since he was sixteen."
"Ginny," Ron suggested, "maybe you ought to—"
"Bill's here!" Harry announced, poking his head through the doorway.
"Yeah, now we can eat pie!" Brianna exclaimed.
Hermione frowned at Harry as she followed him past the kitchen, around the corner of the oddly shaped hallway, and out the front door.
Outside, a blue rental car pulled up in front of the Burrow as the Weasleys gathered in the yard to greet the Bill and his family. A lovely Egyptian Muggle stepped out of the driver's seat. Her thick black hair was pulled back into a practical braid and her khaki shorts and sturdy boots spoke of her background in archaeology. She climbed into the back of the car and unbuckled a sleeping one-year-old from her car seat.
On the other side of the car, Bill slid from his seat and went to the boot, performing several unlocking charms before opening it with the key his wife had handed him. He then pulled out, not a bundle of gifts, but instead a large, thin rectangular object wrapped in paper, and levitated it into the house.
"Zhara!" Ginny squealed, hugging her sister-in-law and kissing the baby before they followed Bill into the sitting room, the rest of the Weasleys behind them. "How was the trip back from Egypt? Did the baby take it okay? And where's my present?" Ginny asked, seeing Bill sit down on the couch instead of making a second trip to the car.
"This is a present for all of you," Bill replied. With a flick of his wand he Vanished the paper, revealing an ornate silver mirror. The varnish had dulled and every crevice was filled with dust, particularly the ones at the top of the frame that seemed to form a grotesque human face when viewed while squinting. "Zhara found it last week on a dig in Cairo. Absolutely fascinating. It appears to be of Greek origin, so it must have been a very important person who had it shipped all the way to Egypt." Seeing that his younger siblings did not seem to find an old mirror to be an adequate present to share, Bill hurried to explain.
"It's a powerful magical object, so we brought it here to England; it can't go into that Muggle museum Zhara works for. I thought we might have a go with it before I turn it in to the Ministry."
"An enchanted mirror?" Hermione gasped. "I've read that those can be very temperamental. "Some, like the Mirror of Erised, will only show you your greatest desires but not grant them; others will show you whatever you ask of it; and others will give you whatever you ask, but tend to trick you into ruin. Once a man in Constantinople demanded a thousand pounds of gold and was instantly crushed by it."
"That's all true, but believe me, we have unearthed the mother of all magic mirrors. Or rather granddaughter, since it actually younger than most versions," he said thoughtfully. "Anyway, this is the Mirror of Desire. No tricks, no games, no riddles. It'll give you exactly what you wish for; its main purpose is to make whoever looks into it happy and satisfied."
"The Mirror of Desire doesn't exist," Percy insisted. "It's a legend, nothing more. All my sources are most reliable, and they say that . . ."
"Well, it turns out they're wrong. I've already deciphered all the inscriptions with a little help from one of my colleagues. We are here with the opportunity of a life—"
"Can we eat now?" Brianna asked loudly. "Just a little pie?"
"No," Percy said in an annoyed tone.
"Even Paws is hungry," Brianna insisted, gesturing towards the gray cat, who had perked up at the word "eat," but was now staring mournfully at Molly from his place under the table.
"You don't interrupt when grown-ups are talking," Percy scolded her. "Do it again and there will be no pie at all for you. Now," he said, turning back to Bill, "I want to get a closer look at this mirror. How do you make a wish?"
"Well, you have to do a charm to activate it. After that, you just stand in front if it and concentrate on your wish. Even if you're not looking at it, it should work, but I'm not sure if there's a limit to the number of wishes each person gets."
"That sounds way too simple," Hermione interjected. "Are you certain of its good intentions?"
"Positive. The tone and content of runes along the edges are all strong evidence of its construction by benevolent wizards," Bill replied. "I've done loads of research, trust me."
"Well then, I suppose we could give it a try," Arthur said, exchanging a glance with his wife.
"Everybody ready?" Bill asked as he raised his wand. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny exchanged glances. Cassia looked down at the necklace her mother had given her and breathed deeply in concentration. Molly shut her eyes tight and began muttering to herself. "One, two, three," Bill said, and then tapped his wand on the surface of the glass. "Aquaespeclora!" A breeze swept past them, augmenting until it rattled the windowpanes and set the baby wailing, and then retreated abruptly. The Weasleys looked around at each other.
"Did anyone get their wish?" Zhara asked.
"I don't know. I don't think so," Molly said, looking heartbroken.
"Shall I Floo Angelina and ask if she'll get back together with me?" Fred volunteered.
"All I wished for was pie, and I still don't have that," whined Brianna, holding out her empty hands.
"Why didn't anything happen?" Harry wondered aloud.
A long horizontal crack in the designs in at the top of the frame above the mirror split open and emitted a voice. "Because you are selfish, insatiable fools!" the mirror growled in response, and the glass surface that had reflected the sitting room of the Burrow now showed a spacious dining room containing a long table and stately fireplace that caused Molly to gasp with recognition.