Title: Meddlesome Mirrors
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Neville/Hannah, Ron/Hermione, George/Angelina
Rating: PG 13 for language and some innuendo
Word Count: ~8500
Summary: George’s new invention is about to blow open a few secrets.
Author/Artist's Notes: Another impromptu pinch-hit from me, since a class I was supposed to be taking got cancelled and I found myself with some extra time. aggiebell90 helped me out a lot in getting “May the Second” up and running, and now she’s helped the rest of us out by putting together the Masterlist! She never received her gift so when I got this idea from looking at her prompts, I really wanted to write it for her. I hope you like it, aggiebell90. Please forgive my abysmal lack of knowledge on all things plant-related. You can laugh at me, it’s okay. I also want to give a huge thank you to Cognitur over on SIYE for all of his help in beta-reading this for me. Again, if anyone is still working on something for aggiebell90, please don’t be put off from finishing and posting your piece because of this. Thank you!
* * * * * *
“George! Your stupid Frisbees keep biting me when I try to stack them!” Ginny called up the set of stairs tucked in the back of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. No reply. She huffed, and sucked a wounded finger on her right hand, shaking out her left to try and dispell the prickly feelings coming from the teeth marks now etched into her skin. “George!” She yelled, louder this time, “Is there a bin I could put them in instead? They’re not going to stay all stacked up on the shelves anyway!” Still no reply. “For Merlin’s sake,” she huffed to herself, and started stomping up the stairs. “Why they don’t just put those damn things in packages…”
The front door to the shop squawked behind her. “We’re not open just…” Ginny spun on the stair tread, “George? I thought you were upstairs,” she pointed her thumb over her shoulder.
“Just popped out to the post office.” He wiggled his eyebrows and hefted up the cardboard box he was carrying.
“I thought you got things delivered to the shop.”
“The muggle post office.”
Ginny came back down the stairs, curiosity peaked.
“That’s some sort of muggle thing in there then? What are you doing with it?” Ginny squinted her eyes at the box, then went up on her tiptoes to see if she could read the label, but George hefted it out of her reach, dancing around her to the stairwell.
“Ah-ah, littlest sister, keep your prying little sneak eyes out. This is top secret stuff.” Ginny’s eyebrows arched up in clear disbelief. George smirked at her and winked. “As the Muggles say, a magician never reveals his secrets.” He started up the stairs with a dramatic, sweeping flourish. Something—several things—rattled around in the box. George looked down, momentarily alarmed, and then shrugged and threw another cheeky grin over his shoulder at Ginny. Ginny rolled her eyes behind his back. “I saw that.” He said over his shoulder. She glared at his retreating back.
“George!” He jumped a little. Ginny smirked in satisfaction. “The fanged Frisbees are feasting on my fingers and they won’t stay on the shelves, is there some other way I can display them without loosing any appendages?”
“That was some nice alliteration you had going…”
“Right, er… you were stacking them? They go in the bin between the trick wands and the quibbling quaffles. Didn’t I tell you to put them in there?” He asked, balancing the box partially on the railing.
“Oh. Well, put them in there. And hurry it up, we open in,” he glanced at the clock, “seventeen minutes.”
With that, George hustled himself and his mystery package upstairs and pulled the door closed behind him, sealing himself off in his flat.
Ginny turned back to the store, still strewn with half empty boxes of unshelved items, and blew a clump of hair that had fallen out of its clip away from her face. Her eyes settled on the swaying stack of Frisbees she had made, all of the little buggers gnawing at the air, and brought her finger to her mouth again without thinking.
“I am really not getting paid enough for this.” She grumbled, moving towards the pile of plastic torture devices so that she could get them into their stupid little bin and finish up the rest of the restocking.
Later on Monday
* * * * * *
“Neville!” Ginny called, winding her way between the tables at the Leaky Cauldron. She ran her hand over her brow to wick away some of the sweat accumulated there. Thank Merlin there were climate charms in here, even just the walk from her brother’s shop to the pub had her feeling like a roast in her mother’s Aga.
“Hey, Neville!” She called again, sidestepping a tipsy middle-aged wizard holding up an empty tankard.
Neville didn’t seem to hear her. He was sitting at a table close to the back of the pub, staring off into space and fiddling with the chips on the plate in front of him. Ginny came up next to him and nabbed one of his chips, popping it into her mouth and plopping down in the chair next to him.
“What are we looking at then?” She asked, stealing another wedge of potato goodness. Neville’s head whipped over to face her, his eyes wide and a flush quickly flooding his face and neck.
“Ginny!” He said. Yup, he clearly hadn’t noticed her at all. He swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing around his thick neck. He ran a hand through his sand blonde hair, pulling it up and scrunching it between his fingers in the process, a habit she thinks he picked up from Harry, same as Ron. “What’re you doing here?”
Ginny sat back in the creaky wood chair and narrowed her eyes at him. “That’s very nice, first you ignore me, now I get ‘what’re you doing here?’”
Neville’s eyes widened in alarm. He always took her so seriously, even after all their years of friendship. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that! I was just… and then you…” Ginny had pulled her lips under her teeth and the corners of her mouth turned up. Her shoulders were shaking in her attempt not to laugh. “… Are joking,” he finished, covering his eyes with his hand and scrunching it together to massage his face. This habit was all his own and would sometimes result in him inadvertently smearing half of his face with dirt and compost.
“I just got off at the shop of horrors,” Ginny told him.
“I thought you liked all that stuff.”
“I do. It’s just a quantities thing. One decoy detonator: great fun. Forty-odd going off in rapid succession after a kid trips into the display? Really, really not fun. It’s basically just an entire day of being chewed on and snapped at and having everything you touch explode. And things you don’t touch explode. I don’t know how George does it. Plus some of the parents of these kids are so ridiculous. Everything is too dangerous for their precious little so and so, who’s, you know, actually a fourteen year old little snot that Hermione had to detain about ten times last term for trying to blow up other people’s personal belongings,” Ginny huffed. “Anyway…” she looked over at Neville and he was staring out into space again, but nodding his head as if he were following along. The fact that she had stopped talking and he was still nodding rather gave him away, however.
She poked him. He looked over at her, instantly sheepish.
“Sorry,” he said.
“Eh, that’s alright. I was just whinging anyway. What are we looking at again? You didn’t answer me before.”
“Nothing! I was just… nothing. I –“
“Sorry I’m late!” Harry interrupted, flopping down heavily in the chair across from them. His eyes landed on her. “Ginny! Hi.” His hand raked through his hair the same way Neville had done a minute ago. “How are you?”
“Oh you know, battered, bruised, bitten, and well on my way to going deaf,“ she replied with a saccharine smile.
“Typical day at the office then?” Harry laughed, leaning forward over the table.
Ginny snuck another chip from Neville and stuffed it into her mouth to distract her from the bubbly feeling rising up from her chest at the sound of his laugh. You’d think after all of these years she’d be past this stupid girlish, giggly crush stuff. Clearly it was never going to happen. She wasn’t sure she even wanted it to anymore. They were good friends and that was plenty. Really.
“Nev, this is the plant I was telling you about, “ Harry started, opening his dragon skin messenger bag and pulling out a vial containing a deep green, thorny cutting. “We found it in the step-mother’s apartment and no one in the department knew what the heck it was. This is the only cutting we got, it lashed out pretty violently when we took it and started seeping this foul smelling yellowish liquid, so none of us were too keen on getting near it again. I thought I’d see if you knew what it was before we gave it to Monroe for testing. “ He handed the vial over and Neville held it up to the light to examine its contents.
Harry looked back over at Ginny. “How’s George doing?”
“He’s doing better, I think. He was in good spirits today. He’s bought some kind of Muggle things but he won’t tell me what they are or what he’s planning to do with them, the git. It’s really frustrating.”
Harry chuckled in response.
“Well, I’m starving, do you want anything? I’m going to go try and flag down Hannah.” Ginny asked, standing up. Neville’s head snapped to her as she finished speaking. “You want something too, Neville? I can just give her all of our orders. It’s getting packed.”
“Wha—oh, yeah. Er, can I just get another butterbeer?” Neville asked, looking flustered as he turned back to studying the plant. Ginny looked over to Harry.
“Butterbeer sounds good, and a shepherd’s pie?”
“Two butterbeers and an order of shepherd’s pie, coming right up.” She saluted the men and squeezed off into the fast forming dinner crowd.
Hannah was rounding the bar with an empty tray held up over her head when Ginny caught up with her. “Hannah!”
“Hey Ginny! I can’t really talk right now, Christina didn’t come in again, I keep telling Tom to just fire her already but he says she makes too good of an impression on the customers. Meaning she’s stacked, of course. What can I do you for?” All of this tumbled out of Hannah’s mouth at lightning speed.
“Three butterbeers, an order of shepherd’s pie and some fish and chips, please.”
“Is that all for you?” Hannah stared incredulously at Ginny as she slid two tankards of mead down the bar.
“No! Harry and Neville, too, we’ve got a table in the back.”
“Oh, gosh, I’m sorry, you shouldn’t’ve had to come up here to order,” Hannah started, but Ginny waved her off. Hannah turned to the gap behind the bar that opened to the kitchen and slid the order card through.
“No worries, I kind of gate crashed on Harry and Neville anyway, gives them some time to talk about me behind my back.”
Hannah laughed as she grabbed the two plates of steaming food that had appeared behind her and placed them in front of an older couple at the other end of the bar.
“Neville’s fine by the way, you can see him when you bring us our food,” Ginny teased, leaning over the bar, when Hannah came back to her side. Hannah’s face flushed instantly.
“Shut it, you” she hissed. A table full of men in dress robes waved at Hannah from a few tables away. “I’ve got to go.”
“Right,” Ginny said as Hannah came around the bar, “Oh and Hannah?”
“If that’s what it takes to get job security around here, I’d say you’re pretty much set.” Hannah swatted at Ginny with her towel and snorted, then rushed off to see to her customers.
Ginny weaved her way back through the throng to where she had left her friends.
“I’m not sure, with such a small cutting, it could be a lot of things,” Neville was explaining to Harry. “There are a variety of plants that secrete serum or pus like that when they’re cut, and there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it’s appearance. Did it have any flowers? Anything in particular?”
Ginny quietly snuck back into her seat, unnoticed by her two friends.
“No, it was just stalk-y-vine-things like that and some leaves.”
“What did the leaves look like? You really should’ve included one in your sample, you know.”
“I don’t know, they looked like leaves,“ Harry sighed. “Thanks anyway, I’ll just wait and see what Monroe can tell us. I just really want to close this thing and move on.”
“Yeah, I’m glad to be done with that and back in a greenhouse again, where things make sense.”
“Maybe to you they do. Magical plants are just bizarre. I’ve nearly been killed by enough of them to know.” Harry put his bag down against his chair legs and straightened up, finally noticing Ginny.
“You’re back! How long have you been sitting there?” Harry asked, surprised.
“Sorry. We were just talking about this case and… anyway. Did you catch Hannah?”
“Yup, our orders are in. Her co-worker never showed up so she’s running around like crazy, though.”
“Is it Christina again?” Neville asked. “Hannah said she was over two hours late last night.”
“How often do you come in here Neville?” Harry asked, looking sidelong at Ginny. She grinned back.
“I don’t… it’s just, you know, I’m not really good at the cooking and it’s convenient to work and stuff, so…”
“Uh huh,” grunted Harry
“And you appreciate the service,” Ginny added. Neville blushed. “Honestly, Neville, you should just ask her to dinner or something.”
“That’s not, I don’t, really, Ginny, you don’t…”
“Who’s got the shepherd’s pie?” Hannah asked, appearing behind Neville, who jumped in his chair and turned white.
“Over here.” Harry indicated himself. “Thanks, that was fast,” he said as Hannah passed out the butterbeers and then placed his plate on the table before him.
“Fish and chips are mine, thank you Hannah,” Ginny said, sitting back to give Hannah room to put her plate down.
“No problem, you guys. You sure you don’t want anything else? Neville?” Hannah asked.
“I-“ Neville’s voice cracked and his face was suddenly red again, “I’m fine. Thanks.”
“Shout if you need anything, then,” Hannah said, hurrying off to a nearby table.
“Harry, you and Ron are covering me on Saturday, right?” Ginny asked as they tucked into their food.
“Yeah. Has George found anyone yet?”
“No. Not yet. To be honest, I’m not sure he’s even been trying very hard. I know he tried to get Verity to come back but she decided to stay in Germany, I guess. I don’t think her family’s too keen on moving back, even now, after everything…”
“Yeah,” said Neville, “I don’t really blame them.”
“Well he’s going to have to find someone. After you sweep the pitch with the other players at your trial, he’s not going to have you to bother much longer,” Harry said.
Ginny beamed at him.
“We’ll see,” she said. “Thanks for the vote of confidence anyway.”
* * * * * *
Harry slid the last box of Patented Daydream Charms into place and stepped down from the ladder, wiping his hands on his trousers.
“What else do we have to do before we open?” He asked Ron, who was re-filling the Canary Cream bin.
“Was that the last of the boxes?” Ron asked back.
“I have no idea then. I guess just put the ladder back? George said he’d be down by now. Figure’s he’d leave us to do all this.”
“We are theoretically his employees today.”
Ron grumbled as he shook the bag of sweets to get the stragglers out.
Harry puffed out a breath and took up the ladder, carrying it into the storeroom and leaning it against the wall where he’d found it. He came back into the shop to see Ron grabbing up the empty sweets sacks, still mumbling to himself.
“What’s got your knickers in such a twist, Ron? It’s just one day.”
“One day I should have been spending with Hermione, instead of waist high in Ton Tongue Toffees.”
“Ginny asked us to do this two weeks ago.”
“I know, but I forgot, okay? I barely get to see her as it is.” Harry snorted at this.
“What?” Ron snapped.
“You saw her last night, mate. And Wednesday night, and Tuesday night, and Tuesday morning, so I’m guessing Monday night was well…”
“That’s not the point. We haven’t spent a day together in ages; we’re always bloody working.”
“Well, you have Monday off, too, right?”
“Yeah, but Hermione doesn’t.”
Harry sighed. “I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Doesn’t matter, I’ll just have to get Ginny back for guilting us into this.”
“It’s not like she’s skiving off, you know. She’s working today too.”
“She’s playing Quidditch with the bleedin’ Harpies, you mean. That’s hardly working.”
“Don’t tell her that if you want to keep your bollocks,” George interjected coming down the stairs with a slightly abused looking cardboard box in his arms.
“What’s that?” Harry asked, pointing at the box as George hefted it onto the counter.
“New product.” George beamed.
“Great, more stuff to stock,” Ron mumbled.
“What is it though?” Harry asked over Ron, shooting him a look.
“Cupid’s Coquettish Compacts,” George announced with grandiose enthusiasm. “New for the WonderWitch line. Hand held mirrors that flirt and compliment you in the voice of your crush! A real boost to the self esteem.” George pulled out a disk about the size of his palm and a few centimeters thick coved in a vividly purple floral fabric, “Available in a variety colors and patterns. Only 15 sickles.”
“Does it work?” Ron asked, looking skeptically at the garish mirror.
“Of course it works. What do you take me for?” George strode up to Ron and dropped the compact into Ron’s hands. “Give it a go, see for yourself.”
Ron looked nervously between George and Harry. “Here? Right now?”
“Yes, here right now, we don’t have all day.” George waved his hand in a gesture for Ron to get on with it. Ron swallowed deeply and then popped it open, peering at his reflection.
“Oooo, hello there sexy thing. You’re looking especially handsome today,” Hermione’s voice purred out of the mirror, “why, I could just—“ Shocked, Ron snapped it shut and looked up, blushing.
Harry was looking decidedly green.
“See? They do say it’s the bookish ones don’t they?” He waggled his eyebrows as Ron’s ears darkened. “Now, this one has the same restrictions for selling on it as the daydream charms, alright? They’re a bit racy so no one under sixteen for these round ones. There are heart-shaped ones in there too; I have them separated. They’re just called Cupid’s Compacts. Those ones are for the younger crowd. They just say stuff like “you’re pretty” and “I like your freckles.” We’re putting them in the window on the WonderWitch side. Just let me go get the display. Be right back. “
George launched himself up the stairs again as Harry and Ron stared at each other.
“You want to…?” Ron asked, holding up the compact. Harry shook his head vehemently.
Ron smirked. “Afraid of exposing your crush?”
“I don’t have a crush on anyone,” Harry answered quickly. “Here, give me those bags, I’ll take them into the back. “
“You’re just trying to avoid it now,” Ron teased, handing over the sweet sacks he was still holding. “What, are you scared of the little mirrors?” Ron called after Harry, who was striding quickly back to the storeroom. Harry replied with a one-fingered salute before disappearing into the back.
George appeared seconds later at the top of the stairs, carrying a large pink cardboard monstrosity.
“Give me a hand here, will you?” he called. Ron ran up and grabbed the other end of the display.
“This side’s facing the window. It’s got the advert on it and we’ll just put a few of the compacts on each ledge so people can see them. The rest will get stacked on the shelves on the other side. We’ll probably not have enough room for all the ones in that box, so we may have to keep restocking it throughout the day. Don’t let it get empty. There are more of them upstairs, and I’ll be working on charming a bunch of them today, so if you run out, just come up and get some more from me, alright?”
“Er, right.” Ron said as they placed the display on the floor in front of the window. George tapped it with his wand and it doubled in size. The top was scrolled and painted to look like intricate molding and there were moving illustrations of a girl opening a compact to have little animated hearts fly out of it and circle around her a few times while her cheeks turned pink. The words “Cupid’s Compacts” scrolled out in giant elaborate lettering that flashed and glittered above the scene. To the side of the girl were the words “A compact that compliments you in the voice of your crush! Finally hear him (or her!) appreciating you for all that you are! Trademark of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.” Below that were what looked like a series of small plate rails.
The other side of the display was made up of open sided shelves spaced closely together. The top most shelves were labeled with signs saying “Cupid’s Coquettish Compacts – 16 and older” while the bottom shelves: “Cupid’s Compacts - for all ages!” At the top was a large sign displaying the price.
“Isn’t it a beauty?” George asked as Harry joined them, bringing with him the box from the counter. Turning to his employees-for-the-day he rubbed his hands together. “Now we just have to fill it up! Get cracking! We’ve got fifteen minutes until doors open.”
Later on Saturday
* * * * * *
Harry turned the key in the latch and leaned back against the doors. He sighed and wiped the back of his hand over his brow.
“Finally,” Ron said, leaning back against the counters, “I thought the parade of midgets would never end.”
George came back in from the storeroom holding a brush and dustpan, “I’m going to need to get another order of those mirrors in. Stock’s already running low.”
“No kidding, the little buggers were eating those things up. I bet you Ginny would have killed to get her hands on one back in the day,” Ron looked pointedly at Harry, “The-boy-who-lived whispering to her about her hair being as lovely as carrots or some other rot. She’d have had a ruddy heart attack,” He laughed.
“Shut it,” Harry grumbled as he stomped up the counter, slamming the keys down, “She was eleven. Don’t be such a prat.”
Ron held his hands up in surrender, still snickering. “I was just saying.”
“Well I heard your voice coming out of quite a few of the compacts today, Mr. Potter,” George put in, wiggling his eyebrows, “seems our little Ginny has some competition.”
Harry groaned, “She’s not even into me anymore. And can you not remind me of how many mini-Romildas I had hanging off of me all afternoon?” Harry shuddered.
“They’re persistent, I’ll give them that,” Ron added.
“A number of them weren’t mini anything. Don’t know why you don’t bask in it a bit more, mate,” George goaded. Harry narrowed his eyes at him, “You’re just dead-set on being a hermit, I suppose. We need to get you a kneazle or two. Complete the picture.” Ron chortled and Harry rolled his eyes. George sighed dramatically. “A shame. Well, let’s get this place cleaned up so I can go meet Angelina and be done with you two tossers.”
“You’re meeting Angelina?” Harry asked, surprised.
“Yes, you see some of us like to spend our Saturday nights in the company of a lovely lady, rather than brooding alone in our apartments,” replied George.
“I don’t brood alone in my apartment,” Harry grumbled, bending over to pick up a rubber chicken that was flapping about on the floor.
“So you save it all for when I’m home? How considerate of you, mate,” Ron said, charming the brush George had leaned up against the wall to start sweeping the floors. George waved his wand at the dustpan he was still holding and it joined the broom, chasing it around to gather up the foil wrappers, dirt and debris that littered the shop floor.
Harry started going around the store picking up and straightening everything while George began taking inventory. Ron grabbed a rag from under the counter and started wiping the sticky fingerprints off of the various bins and jars.
Harry circled around the central aisle and found himself in front of the Cupid’s Compacts display. There, at the foot of the display lay a lone Coquettish Compact in a fiery shade of red with a small clump of dust clingy to the top. Harry picked it up gingerly, and brushed away the dust. He reached up to put it back on its shelf when the mirror dropped open. He caught a glimpse of his reflection and then a voice he knew, one he would tune in to and seek out in any crowd without even meaning to (this he knew from experience) rang out in the quiet of the mostly empty shop.
“Oh Merlin, Harry, you’re looking very roguishly handsome. I wish I could just run my fingers through that luscious hair of yours...”
Ron and George froze, staring over at him. Harry hastily clapped the compact shut, his face blossoming in color as he swallowed deeply.
“Was that..?” Ron started, staring at Harry in shock. “That sounded like…”
“That was definitely Ginny,” George supplied, looking at Harry as though he’d sprouted a second head.
“Wha… What?” Harry stuttered, “ Of course it wasn’t…” He fumbled to put the compact back on the shelf but his hands were shaking so badly that he dropped it instead. He immediately bent down to scoop it up.
“Hello again, handsome. You look awfully sexy from this angle—“ Harry grabbed the compact and hastily shoved it onto the shelf where it settled, blessedly closed and silenced.
“Oh god, I did not need to hear that, “ Ron said, voice strained, as he continued to stand frozen in shock, staring at his best mate.
“She’s not actually saying it, “ Harry grumbled, staring at his feet, faced away from the two brothers.
“So you admit it’s Ginny then?” George pressed.
“I… what? I didn’t…” Harry spun around to see George with his arms crossed over his chest, looking back at him pointedly.
“How long have you been harbouring indecent thoughts about my baby sister?” He demanded, voice even, one eyebrow cocked in question.
“They’re not just inde—“ Harry snapped out before catching himself, biting back on the words, his face morphing into an expression of horror. His eyes were wide and his face drained of all of its colour as he realized what exactly he had just admitted to, and to whom.
“How long?” George asked, staring Harry down. The jig was up. Harry glanced over at Ron who still hadn’t moved. His mouth was gaping open like a fish’s. Harry looked back at George and swallowed, trying to quell the scratchiness in his throat.
“Since… since the start of my sixth year,” he answered quietly, looking down at his shoes again.
George’s eyes widened and he let out a low whistle.
This seemed to knock Ron out of his stupor. “What? You’re kidding!”
Harry turned to face Ron, sighing. “Ask Hermione, she knows. She figured it out years ago.”
Ron took a step back and slumped against the shelves. “Why on earth did you never do anything about it?”
“What?” Harry asked, dumbfounded. “Why are you not… you sister, me, I…?”
“If you’ve fancied her for the last three years why haven’t you done anything about it?” Ron asked. Harry’s head swung to Gorge, to Ron, and back again. Both of them were watching him expectantly.
“Well… “ he began hesitantly, “she was dating Dean and then I was chasing down Horcruxes and it was just… never the right time.” Harry sighed again, “Besides, she’s over me. She’s been over me. We’re just friends. She’s one of my best friends, I couldn’t… I don’t want to ruin that.”
“What a load of rot,” Ron said after a moment.
“It’s not!” Harry said, shooting Ron an incredulous look.
“No. Ron’s right. This is Ginny we’re talking about, yes?” George didn’t wait for a reply before plowing on, “This girl, I’ve known her her whole life, you see, and when she gets something into her head or her heart the way she got you, it is never leaving her stubborn little body.”
George walked up until he was just in front of Harry. Harry flinched. George laughed and swung an arm over Harry’s shoulder. “He thought I was going to hit him,“ he whispered loudly to Ron who snorted in response. Harry groaned and dropped his head back until it thudded into the display behind him, pulling at his hair with his left hand.
“Well that’s settled then.” George said, patting Harry’s shoulder and then pulling away to continue inventory. “Now we won’t need to find you those kneazles.”
Harry just stood there, rigid as a board, watching George check off the quantities of each product that lined his shelves.
Ron stayed slumped where he was for a few more minutes, staring at his best mate and trying to understand what had just happened.
Finally George turned to the two of them. “Get moving! I have a hot date in ten minutes and you two better not make me late for it.”
Ron hastily resumed his scrubbing while Harry wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers and turned back to straighten the display. His eyes landed on the red compact. He looked over his shoulder to see that Ron and George were both busy with their tasks, not looking at him. He turned back, clenching his hands, debating. Carefully and surreptitiously he reached out and grabbed the mirror, sliding it into his pocket. He stepped back and turned to face George, clearing his throat.
“You, uh, want me to go ahead and do the till?” Harry asked.
“That would be good,” George said, not wavering from his task, “Thanks.”
Harry hurried over to the register, pulled out the tray, and started counting up the day’s earnings.
Looking up to see Ron taking the brush and pan back to the store room and George finishing up his inventory, Harry fished 15 sickles out of his purse and dropped them - along with the money from the till - into the bag that George would be depositing at Gringotts on Monday.
George came over a moment later and slid his clipboard down on the table. Harry handed over the bag and the sales ledger. “We’re all squared up,” he told him.
“Brilliant!” George beamed, “Now get out both of you. I need to get ready.”
Harry, still feeling wound up and uncertain, made a grimacing kind of smile and pulled off his smock and name tag, as Ron came out of the back, already having shed his uniform.
“I got those,” George told Harry, taking the uniform from him.
“Thanks,” Harry said awkwardly, and started making for the exit. Ron was following behind, his hands in his pockets, seemingly lost in thought.
“Oh and Harry?” George called, “I’m letting Ginny off early on Monday.” With that he disappeared up the stairwell.
Harry blushed. He was stuck in place, staring at where George had just been, the implications running through his head. Monday. This Monday. Could he really say something to her then? What the hell would he say? What would she--?
“You coming?” asked Ron, who was holding open the door to the alley beside the shop. Harry shook his head to clear it before striding out into the muggy August night.
“So…” Ron began, “you and my sister?”
“Well, we’re not…you know. I just… Look, I know, I mean, but…” Harry sighed in frustration, “She’s… Ginny.” Harry said, as if that explained it all. He looked helplessly at Ron, who sighed.
“Let’s get a drink, yeah?” Harry nodded emphatically and the two wove their way over to the Leaky Cauldron.
Diagon Alley had been quiet and peaceful, and so walking into the wall of noise of the pub was a bit jarring. It took a moment to get their bearings. When they did, Harry smirked. Neville Longbottom was sitting at the bar, following the barmaid with his eyes while sipping from a bottle of butterbeer. Harry nudged Ron and indicated to where Neville was sitting and the two made their way over to their former roommate. Hannah passed behind them when they were a few feet away, shouting a greeting as she went, and this allowed the two to fall into Neville’s line of sight.
Neville waved the two over to the bar and Ron and Harry settled next to him after a minute of humiliation on Harry’s part.
“Oh, Mr. Potter! Here, take my seat it’s really no trouble, no trouble at all,” A middle-aged man in gray tweed robes stared hard at Harry’s scar and fumbled off of his bar stool, only to be interrupted by the blue-haired woman on Neville’s other side.
“No please, take ours, dear. We’re just leaving now anyway, don’t you mind yourselves one bit. Oh, Marjorie will never believe me when I tell her. It is such a pleasure to meet you, truly. Now don’t mind us, you just sit here with your little friends. Oh but he does remind me of our William, don’t you think, Albert?”
“How’s the case going?” Neville asked, and Harry was relieved to have a subject change.
“Monroe tested the sample that I showed you, it’s poisonous, no surprise there, and the poison is a match for what they found in our victim. We still can’t figure out what the plant is though. They’re thinking some sort of hybrid but… We’ve quarantined the house but I’m sure, if you’re interested, you could talk Robards into letting you check the thing out. “
Ron flagged down Hannah and ordered two glasses of Firewhiskey, and then slumped over the bar, staring out into space.
“Everything alright with him?” Neville whispered to Harry.
“Er. Yeah. Fine. He’s fine. Anyway, we brought the woman in for questioning on Thursday. “ Hannah slid the glasses in front of him and Ron. Ron swallowed the liquor in one swig and passed the glass back to Hannah. She glanced at Harry and Neville briefly before refilling it and hurrying on her way. “She, er, confessed to being a part of it but she’s refusing to implicate her son, so we’re basically back to square one.”
“Yeah,” Ron said, taking a sip of his whiskey, “Bloody frustrating. Robards has us going over all the files, yet again. It’s enough to do a bloke’s head in. Isn’t this what we have trainees for? I thought we were past the point of having our heads stuck in a file full of paper work day in and day out.”
“That why you downed your last glass?” Neville asked, taking another swig of his butterbeer.
“No, we just got back from working George’s shop,” Ron supplied. Harry gulped down a measure of his own drink, looking nervously at Ron out of the corner of his eye. He still couldn’t tell what Ron thought about the revelation the he was, well, that he felt the way he did about Ginny.
“Oh yeah,” Neville nodded sagely, “you were covering for Ginny today,” Harry tensed at the mention, “How’d it go?”
“Oh it was… very enlightening, don’t you think Harry?” Ron nudged him and Harry fumbled about on his stool for a moment, taken by surprise. “George has a new product, you see,” Ron continued, smiling as Harry threw him a look of horror, “they’re these mirrors that talk to you in the voice of the person you fancy. You know, flirt with your reflection and so forth,” Ron took another drink and glorified in watching Harry sweat it out from the corner of his eye. “Girls were just eating them up,” he finished.
“Wonder where he came up with that?” Neville asked.
“I think it’s quite clever,” Hannah put in, having stopped in front of them to fill up a batch of mugs from the taps. Neville turned to smile at her.
“Where does he come up with any of his barmy inventions?” Ron asked, finishing his drink. “Anyway, I guess I should go. I’m supposed to meet Hermione soon. What do I owe you, Hannah?”
“What? Oh! That’s two galleons, thanks.” Hannah replied, turning to Ron as he fished the coins out of his pocket.
“Wait Ron, I’m done too,” Harry said, finishing up his drink and standing up. He needed to make sure he and Ron were alright after… “I’ll see you soon, Neville, Hannah,” he said, reaching into his pocket to pay for his drink.
Harry slapped the coins onto the bar as he heard something clatter to the floor.
“I’ve got it,” Neville said, bending down to pick up the fallen item. Realizing, too late, what it was, Harry dived down to try and snatch it up before Neville could.
“Well now, I wouldn’t mind having you water my garden, Mr. Longbottom…”
There was a crash from the other side of the bar and Neville’s head came up suddenly and cracked against the underside of the counter. He snapped the compact closed, cutting it off at the word “sexy.”
Ron was the first to break the sudden hush that had descended on their little corner of the pub. “What the? Did you knick one Harry? Are you barking? It’s a bleeding compact.”
“Ron, I didn’t knick it…” Harry stated, blushing furiously.
“That, but, that was me. I mean, my voice.” Hannah stuttered, staring at Neville as he came up from under the bar, holding his head in one hand and the scarlet compact in the other. His face was beet red as he stared in shock at the small disk in his hand.
He gulped and looked up at Hannah. “Yeah…”
She continued to stare at him, her mouth ajar.
A second passed and then Neville squared his shoulders. Still blushing furiously he blurted out, “Wouldyouliketogooutwithmesometime?
“Yes. Yes. I would like that!”
Neville smiled stupidly at Hannah as he passed the compact back to Harry, “Here you go.” Hannah was smiling back in the exact same fashion. “Tonight?” Neville asked.
“I get off in about an hour.”
“Great,” Neville responded, still smiling, as he managed to get himself back onto his bar stool without taking his eyes off of Hannah.
“Great. I, er, have to…” She said, gesturing out to the rest of the pub as she stepped carefully around the shards of broken glass and spilt beer at her feet. She waved her wand at the mess and muttered a quick “Evanesco” before disappearing into the kitchen.
“See,” Ron started, pinning Harry with a look he didn’t quite understand, “You just ask her out. Neville can do it.”
Harry gaped at Ron, who continued to look at him as if he’d just said the most obvious thing in the world.
“You’re talking about Ginny?” Neville asked, the silly grin still firmly in place.
“How did you…?!” Harry turned to Neville, mortified, but Neville waved off the question.
“Oh don’t worry, she has no idea,” he said, but this was hardly comforting to Harry. He sank back onto his barstool and buried his face in his hands, one of which was still holding the troublesome compact.
“Great. Everyone knows. Surprised it hasn’t been in the ruddy papers yet,” he mumbled.
“Harry…” Ron started.
“And you! I can’t believe you’re encouraging me to go out with your sister!” Harry hissed.
“I thought you would hate me!”
“Please don’t tell me that’s the reason you’ve never asked her out,” Ron said, looking decidedly uncomfortable.
“It’s not the reason,” Harry grumbled, “I told you, it’s just never the right time.”
Ron rolled his eyes, “So you make it the right time.”
“This from the guy who took-- how long to get together with Hermione?” Harry returned, voice dripping in sarcasm.
“I don’t even know why I’m talking to you about this. It’s Ginny. Just do it. Figure it out.” Ron huffed and then Disappatated before Harry could respond.
* * * * * *
George had been looking at her funny all morning and she could not, for the life of her, figure out what his problem was. It was enough to make her want to smack him upside the head every time he came round. Her nerves were already on edge as it was. She thought that after the trial she would calm down, but her anxiety just switched from worrying about what and how well she would do to what the Harpies had thought of her and whether she’d actually managed to earn herself a spot. The suspense was already killing her, and it had been less than two days.
Ginny counted out the change for Rose Zeller and bagged her Canary Creams, Pygmy Puff Playhouse, and pale blue heart-shaped Cupid’s Compact, handing the parcel and the change over to the giggling girl.
It was not as if this was the end-all-be-all for her. She still had trials with Puddlemere, Portee, the Arrows and the Magpies coming up before the season started. It was just that, this was the Holyhead Harpies. They had been her favorite team for as long as she could remember, her bastion of girl-power in a house-full of boys. The Harpies had been her proof positive that her brothers were full of it when they left her out of their games or claimed that girls couldn’t play as well as boys could. The Harpies were a strong, solid team that placed consistently well without having to rely on gimmicks or dirty tricks like the Falcons or, some would argue, the Tornados.
But she was getting ahead of herself. She wasn’t a professional Quidditch player yet, as George had reminded her at least seven times since she came in this morning.
Ginny rang up customer after customer until George came down from his flat with yet another box full of his patented mirrors and told her to take lunch.
She picked up a sandwich at Café Enchante, a new business that had been opened by a friendly couple after they came back from hiding in France during the last year of the war. She settled into one of the chairs out on the cobblestone patio that overlooked Diagon Alley and sipped her pumpkin juice.
It was remarkable how much had changed in the last year. The store-fronts were nearly all full again, people bustled about doing their shopping, groups of kids getting ready for Hogwarts were lingering at shop windows, Gringotts had been fully patched up. It was almost as if the war had never happened, and that was, strangely, a bit upsetting. This, after all, was what they all wanted, what they still wanted: for people to be able to go about their day without fear or persecution, a thriving community of wizards and witches from all backgrounds. But this shining picture, as wonderful and relieving as it was, still felt a bit out of place. There were no real scars here. Fortescue’s old shop was under new management; Ollivanders was up and running again. It was only a year and a bit after the worst period of her life, of so many people’s lives, and you’d never know it to look. It was all a bit jarring.
Ginny finished her lunch and made her way back to her brother’s shop. She pushed open the door and saw George standing behind the counter looking back at her. He was holding up a large, fat, emerald green envelope.
“Look what came to the house while you were at lunch? Mum just brought it over,” he said, waving the envelope back and forth. Her heart in her throat, Ginny made a grab for it but George reached up and held it over his head, teasing her.
Wasting no time, Ginny pulled out her wand and pointed it at him. A small group of parents standing nearby gasped and clucked at the sibling’s behaviour but Ginny couldn’t have cared less.
George knew better than to maintain the taunt now that Ginny had stuck her wand in his face. A few more seconds of lording it over her head (literally) was not worth the bat bogies that would undoubtedly result. He handed over the envelope and Ginny sunk onto the floor behind the counter, staring at it and it’s little gold seal.
“Are you going to open it or are you just going to stare at it all day?” George asked as he rang up a group of teenaged wizards, stocking up on various banned items for the new school year. Ginny stuck her tongue out at her brother behind his back and resumed her examination of the envelope.
There was her name, written neatly across the back in gold script. They said it could take up to a week, but here it was. She couldn’t tell if that was a good sign or a bad one.
“Would you just open it?” George asked, completely exasperated, as he turned to look down at her. “You’ve gotten all you can get out of the envelope. You’re not going to know what it says until you open the stupid thing.”
“It’s not stupid,” Ginny argued, not taking her eyes off of it.
“It will be if the Harpies haven’t taken you on,” George argued, “won’t know until you open it.”
“Fine. Opening it. A girl can’t savour a moment a little bit without someone jumping down her throat…” Ginny slid her finger under the flap and broke the seal. She slid the parchment out of the envelope and began to scan the letter.
Later on Monday
* * * * * * *
The front door squaked as Harry entered Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. The store was always relatively quiet on Monday afternoons, but right now it was surprisingly empty.
“I’ll be right with you!” He heard her call from the back. The butterflies redoubled their efforts. Butterflies weren’t even the term anymore for the tempest currently going on inside of him. Rampaging Hippogriffs would be more accurate. Maybe throw in the Whomping Willow and a dragon or two and it would be close to what he was feeling. What on earth was he going to say to her?
“Sorry about that! Do you need any—“ Ginny bounced into the room. “Harry!”
“Hi,” he squeaked out.
“Hi! I—did you hear?” She asked. She was radiant, practically bubbling over.
“Hear what?” He couldn’t help but smile, despite his nerves, the way she was bouncing in excitement before him.
Suddenly she was launching herself at him. “I made the team! I’m playing for the Harpies!”
Harry’s arms came around her as a laugh escaped him. Well, of course she made the team, what was she thinking of? Then it registered that Ginny was actually hugging him, her arms around him, her sweet flowery scent enveloping him. Normally this would have him stepping back, out of the embrace, but he was feeling far too giddy. She was too giddy and it was making him a little delirious. Or so he would claim. Her face was turned up to look at him. She was positively glowing with her news. Merlin, she was so beautiful. Before he could stop himself, his head ducked down and captured those smiling lips in his own.
Her hands tightened their grip on his shoulders as she returned the kiss with fervour. Harry’s mind went blank as warmth spread through his whole body. Despite that, gooseflesh crawled up his back and down his arms as he pulled Ginny closer. After several more moments – or possibly several sunlit days—they pulled apart.
“Brilliant,” he breathed, not entirely sure whether he meant the kiss or the news—maybe both.
Her face flushed as she smiled at him. “Did you just?”
“Kiss you?” He asked nervously.
“Just making sure.” She laughed. He laughed.
“Ginny, I…” He started. “That’s really great news. I mean, I knew you would get it.” Harry finished instead, cringing at his own cowardice.
“Thanks,” Ginny said, starting to pull back. Suddenly she looked uncertain.
“Wait, I mean,” He tried again, keeping his arms circled around her to try and keep her from backing away anymore. This would be a lot easier, he thought, if he could just kiss her again. And then again whenever it got awkward and he was faced with actually having to explain to her that he’d been in love with her since he was sixteen. Somehow, though, he wasn’t sure that just kissing her would go over so well this time.
“Harry, look, it’s alright, you don’t have to…” She backed up again, looking for a way out.
“Yes I do. Please, I’m just… I’m really bad at this kind of thing,” he said, moving one arm from around her waist to tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear for her. This froze her, and she stared at him with questioning eyes. Blushing, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his Cupid’s Compact. He popped it open and glanced at Ginny significantly before peering into the mirror.
“Hello again, you gorgeous man. You’re looking quite fit.”
Harry snapped the compact shut, blushing to the roots of his hair. Ginny was looking between him and the compact in shock.
“You’re? But it’s my… and it’s your… then you?” She stuttered out intelligently.
“It wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know,” He said, “I mean, in case you think…”
“No, of course it didn’t, you’re well aware that you’re gorgeous and well fit,” she laughed.
“That’s not what I meant!” He spluttered, laughing too.
“Well, what did you mean then?” Looking at him with an arched brow. She wasn’t going to make this easy on him.
“That I’ve… fancied you,” he cringed internally at the word that felt so inadequate, “ for a long time. I should have… done something or said something about it ages ago. I’ve just been scared and I didn’t want to screw it up because you’re… you’re really important to me, Gin.”
Ginny took his face in her hands, her eyes blazing. She pulled his head down to hers and kissed him.
“I never gave up on you, you know,” she said after they broke the kiss, “not really.”
“What?” he asked, still feeling dazed, “but Hermione said…”
Ginny rolled her eyes, smiling at him as she pulled out her own compact, bright emerald green, from inside her pocket. She flipped it open and brought it up to her face.
“I love your freckles. I could just—“ Ginny snapped the mirror shut, chuckling at it.
“That’s me,” Harry said, eyes wide, as he grinned like an idiot.
“Of course it’s you, you smug bastard,” Ginny laughed, shaking her head. She smiled up at him.
“Well, I do you know,” He said, smiling back.
“Love your freckles.”
* * * * * *