"Great Scott, Potter, This is War!"
Chapter Seventeen - Business Dinner or First Date
After the first few paragraphs, this chapter is completely different from chapter seventeen in "The Granger Defense." If you follow both tales there is little to skip over.
Pure Harry/Ginny. The tension builds.
Today was the day that Harry and Ginny would finally begin their research project on Spell Mongering. While Harry believed his discoveries would eventually shake up magical theory, he was equally eager to spend some time with Ginny, but it wasn't a date. He kept telling himself that - if he repeated it often enough, maybe he'd believe it.
The project, however, had to be worked around other recurring chores: Paladin visits (Harry with Sally-Ann Perks, Ginny with Wayne Hopkins) and an appointment with Flitwick to discuss other research. Ginny had agreed to wait for him and Harry knew just where to find her once he was free.
The Room of Requirement looked just as it had during DA meetings. Inside Harry found Ginny, Luna, and Colin, three he knew well, along with Mitchell Harper, a rising fifth year Slytherin who finished out the quartet.
Harry quietly slipped into a shadow so that the four didn't notice his presence. They were paired off guys and girls, and all four were very athletic in their spell dodging. Harry noticed that they used the standard spells he'd taught in DA, but the three he'd seen duel before were much more proficient and confident. The fact that Mitch used the same spells surprised Harry, as he had assumed the Slytherins learned all sorts of more violent Spellwork in their dungeons. But then it occurred to him that if Mitchell were like Draco and his ilk, the DA trio would have never brought him to the Room of Requirement.
In the end Colin and Ginny won, though both were close matches. Harry revealed his presence by applauding their efforts.
"Harry!" Ginny ran to him, her face flushed from the activity. She ran towards him, but stopped herself at the last moment. She doesn't know what we are, Harry observed.
Harry pulled her into a one-armed hug, saying "Well done Ginny. You too, Colin. It was close for both of you, but you persisted."
He released Ginny, perhaps reluctantly, briefly hugged Luna, and shook Colin's hand.
"Harry," said Colin, "This is Mitch, Mitchell Harper. He's helping with some of the Paladin visits, they usually need the four of us to make the schedules work Even Fred Weasley helps on occasions. "
Harry noticed Mitch's hesitation as he stepped toward him. Trelawney could have seen it without her glasses. He knew it was his place as the former DA leader to welcome the newcomer to this room.
"Nice to meet you, Mitch. I was under the impression that the Slytherins were pretty much self-contained in their Paladin visits."
"They are, at least to some degree. Tracey Davis and Clark Spinks have had a few visits with others, but not Malfoy and Parkinson," Mitch replied, his tone changing as he disdainfully spoke the last two names. "And Millicent makes an odd number, so I've visited with her several times. As I reckon it, I'm helping mostly because I live in the same small Wizarding community with Megan Jones, just outside of Nether Poppleton near York. There are so many of you Paladins scattered about, and all of you seem to be going to so many different places for tutorials and exercising, that Megan suggested they ask me to help. She knew I was kicking myself for missing out on the DA, but I understand why you didn't let Slytherins in on it. I had my issues with the Inquisitorial Squad myself. I want you to know a sizable number in my house are on your side in this, and many more want to remain neutral. I figure it's less than a quarter of the Slytherins that are pureblood idiots."
Not very Slytherin of him. Speaking ill of his house in front of Snape's whipping boy.
"Tell, him," Ginny said to Mitch, "about your family and why you're in Slytherin."
"It's okay, Mitch," Harry said. "You don't have to tell me anything. If these three trust you, I do, too. Your life's your own - choose wisely."
"No, Harry, it's important to me that you understand. I want in on your efforts to fight the Dark Lor-, He-Who-Must-- They insist I say Voldemort," he whispered. "I'd be hurt for saying his name in the dungeon, but I'm trying.
"We have something in common, you see. My father was an Auror, killed two days before you vanquished him the first time. I was six months old. Dad was a Ravenclaw and my mum was a Slyth. She's driven and ambitious in her career at the Ministry, but she's always stood with those fighting against the Death Eaters. I've always wanted to be an Auror, like my dad. Mum told me it's tough to make it into the Auror Academy, so I've studied really hard since I first started school. Mum said dad wanted to be the head of the MLE, and I guess that's my goal now."
Mitch paused and looked down for a moment before he said, "I never imagined the hat would put me in Slytherin. It saw my drive and asked about my ambitions and then my tie turned green and silver before I knew what hit me."
Harry placed his hand on Mitch's arm. "It's all right. I understand. The hat almost put me in Slytherin, too."
All four younger student's eyes went wide, even Luna's, if that were possible. Colin looked like he'd been punched.
Harry smirked and said, "It saw I was anxious to prove myself because my Muggle relatives always said I wouldn't amount to anything. Before I got to school, I'd met Draco, and I decided that I wanted to go anywhere he wasn't, so when I was under the Hat, I insisted, 'not Slytherin,' and the only other choice was Gryffindor it seems."
Harry decided to change the subject. "Ginny, I said you could tell Luna about the changes for this coming year, did you tell these two as well?"
"Just about the Practical Defense classes. That's been all the buzz for a couple of weeks."
Harry looked at Colin and Mitch. "I won't require an oath or anything, I just ask you to promise me not to tell this to anyone else. Dumbledore asked me to take my ideas from teaching the DA in secret last year, and write up how I'd do it if the whole school were invited to openly take part in it this year, so I did.
"I thought my notes would be used to bring the next Defense Against the Dark Arts professor up to speed with what some of us knew, and set the stage for a new Defense Club out in the open. I thought the Defense professor would be the club's faculty advisor."
Harry went on to tell them that it was his outline that would become the curriculum for the new Practical Defense course being added to the curriculum in September. Harry was reluctant to say more, but Ginny's raised eyebrows and a vigorous nod convinced him to admit that he would be the Teaching Assistant, an idea used in American universities and new to Hogwarts this year. They asked about what would be covered in the elective course. After he described it, Harry asked, "Do you think anyone besides the Paladins will sign up for it? Essentially, the Paladins are pre-Aurors--they're required to take it."
"Oh, Harry," Ginny said, "Don't you know that now practically everyone will want to learn to better defend themselves, and once they find out you wrote the course and will be teaching it, you may have to turn away participants." Luna, Colin, and Mitch wholeheartedly agreed.
Dobby had outdone himself. Harry and Ginny were well sated with the picnic lunch, and the Room of Requirement had turned from the simple meadow where they had enjoyed their lunch into a small research library setting. Any book in the Hogwarts library would be available to them.
"Harry," Ginny said with a little hesitation in her voice, "I heard that Hermione can see the raw slug of magic you draw up to Monger a spell. I could only see its fuzzy outline. She's much farther along in her magical maturing and could be of more use to you in actual spell creation. I'll be okay with it if you'd rather--"
Harry gently touched her arm, causing her to stop speaking. "Ginny, I had to trick Hermione into seeing the raw slug. I showed her the Spell Monger's Spell Scrutinizer, the tool we use for analyzing spells. She confidently looked at the tool and saw the raw slug right off the mark. After she knew what it was she'd seen, she got all nervous, but I told her it was too late to go to pieces. I love her like the sister I never had, but even now, she's pretty tightly wrapped.
"You're different, Ginny, you can be critical and analytical when we need it, but you won't keep going back through everything we do, picking stuff apart. You ask questions when you don't understand, but you're not second-guessing me, trying to figure out whether or not I'm going dark.
"We may want her to pick apart certain pieces of our work from time to time, definitely if we create a Mastery thesis one day, but I just don't want to think about what her approach to 'helping' me with this would be.
"You, however, will be able to handle being my partner, my equal, instead of my inspector. You're not as knowledgeable as I am right now on this subject, but you'll be up to speed on the information and concepts quickly, and in a year or so you'll be to the place magically where you can try your hand at Mongering. Hermione wanted to try to monger a spell once she saw the raw slug. She got all huffy when I said, 'no,' but then I mentioned it would interfere with her N.E.W.T.s preparation, and she calmed down.
"You're equally smart, but less intense. I like that, and I think we'll make a great team. I expect you to ask critical questions whenever they come up, but... oh, you know what I mean."
"Well," Ginny said with a smile, "if you're sure you want me in on this, Harry."
"I do, Ginny, there's no one else I'd like to spend my time with more than you. I'm just grateful you've accepted my offer. It's your O.W.L.s year, and if our work interferes with your studying, just let me know. Like Hermione, I can be overly focused on Mongering at times. Dobby often has to tell me it's time to eat. I just get lost in it, so don't hesitate to tell me when it's too much."
"Fair enough. How do you want to get started?"
Harry reached into his bag. He pulled out a fresh scroll of parchment and said, "I guess we should write down the different major categories of research and magic and then I'll buy us some more scrolls as we need them for each category. I'll Feather-Weight them and Charm a bag like mine so you can carry it with you. Are you sure you don't mind keeping a record for us on this? My handwriting is pretty bad when I write normally and rather haphazard when I'm in a hurry to get something down. I've seen your notes - neat, easily readable, and very complete. I'm not sure how you do it."
Ginny smiled, "I think I have a better idea." She pulled her book bag off of a nearby chair and retrieved a new ledger-sized book. "You know George and Fred found the Marauder's map in their first year," she began.
"I knew that, but I didn't know you knew about the map."
She smiled. "They didn't tell Ron about it, but remember I've helped them with several of their pranks, even in my first year. They let it slip towards the end of your third year that they'd given it to you, but back to my story.
"After using it for a year, they decided they'd like to make some modifications to it, and even make a map for the Burrow and then, eventually, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. They didn't want to disassemble the spells on the map itself for fear of damaging it beyond repair, so they went on a search for a book to explain how it worked. There was nothing in the Hogwarts library, even in the Restricted Section, so they asked a few of the teachers for possible references. McGonagall didn't help, as you might expect, but Flitwick was all for the idea of a piece of parchment that would record the progress of a Quidditch game for future analysis."
"That's the story they told Flitwick?"
She nodded. "McGonagall too; she, of course, didn't believe them. The twins suspect Flitwick didn't either, but he wanted to help them with the idea anyway. George thinks it's because Flitwick was a prankster when he was in school, but Fred thinks he helped because he wanted a Quidditch parchment himself. Ravenclaw's teams have tanked Quidditch for the last sixteen years, putting them behind everyone else--even Hufflepuff.
"Flitwick suggested a book, Magical Parchment, Scrolls, Papers, and Books. It had been out of publication for decades, but the twins finally found a used copy in Knockturn Alley. After all that, the book didn't help them at all in making another map or with much of their prank development. I, however, borrowed it the summer after the diary problem. I wanted to understand how the diary enchantment worked - it was part of coming to grips with what happened.
"When you raised the idea of cataloging everything about magic and Spell Mongering, I first imagined all the different scrolls we'd create and how frustrating it would be to keep up with them, and then find something we wrote in all the mess of scrolls. I remembered a chapter in that book and found it left behind in the twin's old bedroom. I used the Linking spell that points a reader to a place on another scroll containing information about a particular thought or subject. That way we can make our references automatically jump to the connected subject with a wand tap. See."
Ginny opened the ledger to a page and pointed to the top. "We have two major categories of magic, Transfigurations and Charms. So tap the one and we go to it, tap the other and we're in that section. We can easily add other major sections to it." She tapped 'Charms.' "In the Charms section I've initially set up 'General', 'Defensive,' 'Household,' and 'Enchantment' subsections. In the Transfiguration section I have 'Animate,' Inanimate,' and 'Conjuration.' We can add more categories or change these easily.
"Also, I don't have any samples to show you, but you can write a particular idea and use the charm Invulgo Aptum, to link it to another idea elsewhere that you think is pertinent to it.
"I also used the Never Ending Pages charm on this ledger. It's commonly used for diaries and journals, but it has to be done to paper, which is made of plant fibers, because it doesn't work on animal products, like parchment. That's why Tom Riddle used a Muggle diary. It was much cheaper to buy and he charmed it himself.
"I also used the Multi-Purpose spell on the pages. See these three small pictures at the bottom of each page? The two straight lines give you lined paper for writing, the two vertical and two horizontal lines give us grid paper to create what Muggles call a flowchart. We'll use it to diagram the processes of magic in general or a spell in particular. Tapping the empty square gives us a blank page for drawing out wand movements and such. What do you think? Oh, and I've made it fire-proof, water proof, tear proof, and we can charm it so that it will only open for one of us."
Harry listened to her explanation in silence, smiling enigmatically the whole time. By the time she finished Ginny looked a little nervous.
"Ginny, this is brilliant," Harry said. "You have an amazing tool here for all sorts of uses. Tell me, how much magical effort and time did this take to spell? Were you tired afterwards?"
Ginny shook her head and answered, "It took a lot of experimentation to get it right, but even that only took five hours or so spread out over several days. Bill helped me get started. I made this one first, and added our categories and such to show you. I liked it so much that I made one for my class notes. It'll be so much easier than carrying around all those scrolls. The second one took less than an hour to enchant. I'll still need parchment for class assignments, but this will be so much handier for my notes. No more rummaging through my bag for the right scroll. It'll all be right there--everything I write down in all classes and in the library. Plus by linking subject references, I can find my notes quicker. We should think about adding a Tracking charm or something so we can't lose it.
Harry examined the journal. It was roughly 10" x 14" and about an inch and a half thick. It was hardback, fabric bound in a neutral green with a heavy, dark, brick-red spine. "How much did this cost and where did you buy it?"
"There's a Muggle shop for office supplies on the high street in Ottery St. Catchpole. They were tagged at ten pounds, but I noticed they were covered in dust. I asked why, and the man said they weren't used much anymore. Something about computers taking over he said. He wasn't happy about it, so I offered him twelve pounds for the two of them and he agreed without a blink. Makes me wonder if I could have bought them for less."
"Your mum bought my parchment supplies for the last few years," Harry said. "I didn't take that many notes, which wasn't good, so I don't really know. What do good students spend on parchment for school each year? How much does your mum buy you?"
Ginny had a ready answer. "I was amazed when I went to that office supplies store by how much less paper costs than parchment. But then I figured out that Muggles use lots of paper, so they've created ways to mass-produce it. Parchment is still made by skinning animals, which is expensive. I asked the man at the Muggle store if he had any parchment and he laughed at me. He said he could find some for me and told me a price that was even higher than what we pay in the magical world.
"But that doesn't tell you how much I spend on parchment in a school year. I start first term with about ten Galleons worth. Ron uses much less. I usually have to buy a few more scrolls on a Hogsmeade weekend before term ends. I come back with another ten Galleons worth after Christmas and Mum usually sends me a little more in the spring. That's why I bought both of the ledgers the store had left. With the Never Ending Pages charm, I won't need nearly as much parchment this year. Mum will be surprised when I tell her that I only need enough for the written assignments I have to turn in."
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out his money bag. "Let me pay you for the one you bought for us--"
"No, Harry. Let this be my contribution to our project."
"Ginny, your contribution is taking all the notes we'll make and keeping track. People pay assistants to do such work. I've been meaning to ask you--"
"Don't you dare, Harry Potter!" Ginny said angrily. She grabbed his arm and said, "If you truly think of me as a partner, then that's my compensation. Do you realize how much I'm going to learn from all of this? People pay to apprentice to well-known witches and wizards to learn about magic on this level. I know I'm not a Spell Monger's apprentice, but I'll learn almost as much in terms of basic knowledge, I just won't be Mongering spells."
Ginny stopped and took a breath. "I want to be a part of this. I think it will be monumental. Dumbledore was an apprentice to Nicholas Flamel for several years during which they discovered the twelve uses for dragon's blood. Flamel was the famous alchemist, but Dumbledore gained a good deal of fame just from helping. I think one day this will be really big, and I'll be well known just for being a part of it.
"But that's not why I'm doing this - the fame. The knowledge is wonderful but mostly I want to help you. I want to see your ideas take hold in our world. I've thought long and hard about what faster spell development and a better understanding of magic will mean to us. I want in, Harry. I can't afford to pay you, Harry, so let me do what I can."
Harry took both of her hands gently in his.
"You don't know how much that means to me" Harry said. "You're the first person who's grown up with magic and heard all the bad things about Spell Mongering, who's turned around to support me in this. No, that's not quite right. Hagrid's behind me, but he's always been my biggest fan, and I do mean biggest. And Remus is all for helping me. He says that he'll talk to Professor Vector and try to soften her anger about my Mongering at Hogwarts.
"But you, Ginny, you're going beyond that to assist me - spending a good deal of time in your busy O.W.L.s year helping me develop my theories."
By time he finished talking, they were sitting very close, gazing into each other's eyes.
After a moment Harry leaned in to gently rest his forehead against hers. "Thanks, Gin," he whispered. "It means a lot."
Ginny smiled at him, and then they started working.
They only took one short break when Dobby brought in butterbeer. After four hours they reached a good stopping place. They agreed to resume their efforts Wednesday afternoon, as Harry would be busy with the Wizengamot on Tuesday.
They were about to leave the Room of Requirement when Harry asked, "Ginny, do you think other students, particularly the more serious ones, would be interested in your enchanted notebook idea? Maybe the Ravenclaws for example."
"Probably," she answered. "Why do you ask?"
"You paid six pounds each for the ledgers. Even if you bought them at the full ten pounds each that would have been much less than three Galleons. You said you spend roughly twenty-five Galleons a year for parchment total. How much of that would you say is for the parchment required for written assignments?"
"Oh, about three or four Galleons worth at most, I guess. I even plan to write out my assignments in my StudyBook first and correct it there. That way I'll have rough copy of what I handed in."
"Is that what you call this invention, a study book?"
"For lack of a better name for it. Although Hermione suggested I run it together into one word and capitalize the 'S" and the 'B' so it looks like this." Ginny open the ledger to the front inside cover where she had printed very neatly in flourished handwriting, "StudyBook."
"Hermione saw it," Ginny continued, "and wants to borrow the spell list from me to make her own. Ron wants one, too, just so he doesn't have to keep up with all of his scrolls of parchment. Both of them like my linking system and think it will be great for revising. Harry, why are you so interested it this? Do you want me to make another one for you to use in your studies?"
"I'm wondering," he said, "if there might not be a market for these books, at least for Hogwarts students. Hermione and Ron aren't the only ones who might want these, but the fact that they both do proves you could sell them both to serious students and to those who are too lazy to keep up with all their many scrolls.
"You said the second one took a lot less time. Could you prepare the next one even quicker? I wonder if we could take all of the spells and Monger them so they use less power? What would it take for you to enchant twenty of these for example?"
"The hard part," Ginny admitted, "was the anchoring runes to preserve the charms over time. Enchanting, as you know, takes charms and makes them permanent. I couldn't begin to do the runic anchor work, but Bill helped me. He anchored both of these ledgers and it took him almost an hour, though the second one took less time. He was glad to do it, and laughed off my offer of pay, but I can't see him agreeing to do more than the two others for Hermione and Ron. I'd also rather not impose like that again. It was a bit draining on him. I could tell."
Harry took the StudyBook back. "Where are the runes?"
"On the inside back cover."
Harry opened the back of the book and shot his wand out oh his wrist holster . He cast the Monger's Spell Scrutinizer and examined it for a few minutes, mumbling to himself. Finally he snapped the StudyBook closed and smiled at her.
He simply looked into her eyes for a minute before asking with a smirk, "You do know who gave George and Fred their start up money, don't you?"
"Of course, Harry, you did," she answered with a grin. "I sussed that out before we made it to the Burrow at the end of my third year, your fourth. They had a thousand Galleons in a moneybag. Shortly before that you had received the thousand Galleons prize money in an identical money bag."
"I'm just glad your mom didn't catch on so quickly," Harry said with a laugh. "Let me propose a business deal for you. Let's find out if we can buy those ledgers in quantity at a discount. You charm them. We sell them for twenty Galleons each and push the convenience and linking abilities, and point out that the savings in parchment for the year will pay for it and then they'll also have the convenience of an all-in-one StudyBook as well as the linking."
"But, Harry, what about the anchoring runes?"
"I'm guessing the runes and spells to cast them are in the book you borrowed from the twins?" When she nodded he continued, "Well, based on what I see here, we should be able to make much simpler runic expressions that will accomplish the same thing. We'll work on it Wednesday. Permanence is one of the major things I want to focus on in our Charms research. I'm actually more concerned about a ready supply of ledgers at a reasonable price than I am about the runes issue, but we'll have to solve it, too, before you have a business here."
"Maybe just a small business, meaning one that makes you some serious spending money at the start of each year, but I think this idea can be much bigger. But we'll start you off slowly, just StudyBooks for students at Hogwarts."
Harry's mind raced ahead with the possibilities, but he turned back to Ginny shortly and smiled.
"We'll sell them at the twin's shop. I'm sure they'll help us out. I think they are planning on advertising in the Daily Prophet for the last week before classes begin. We'll put a small ad right besides theirs, and see what happens. If we can buy the ledgers for three or four Galleons, sell them for twenty, give the twins a Galleon per unit for handling the sales, that's roughly fifteen galleons profit on each. I know George said the half page ad they want in the paper goes for two hundred Galleons. Say we spend seventy-five for an advert, we only have to sell five StudyBooks to break even. We take the cost of replacement ledgers out of the profits to create new inventory. After that we split the profits twenty-five percent for me and the rest for you. What do you say?"
Ginny pondered this for moments before saying, "I like the idea. You'll have to solve the runes issues, but I know you can do it. So, if we can find an affordable source for the ledgers to keep the costs down, I'd like to try it, but Harry, as the investor you need to make more than twenty-five percent."
"I tried to give that first money to the twins, but they gave me thirty-three percent for a thousand Galleons. I doubt I'll put two hundred into our endeavor. It may never be more than a business on the side at Hogwarts that gives you spending money. If so, I'll let you buy me out for twenty Galleons after I've made back my investment. But I think we'll soon see Ministry workers carrying your StudyBooks, though we'll have to come up with a name for the non-student versions. Any sort of researcher should want one also. Too bad it has the Never-Ending paper charm on it. I like the idea of someone having to buy a new one each year. Maybe we can figure out a time limitation on the Never-Ending bit."
"Oh, the spell isn't really never-ending." She said. "It really only increases the paper in the ledger as you use it by up to five times. I just calculated the square footage of parchment I go through in a year and compared it to five times the number of number of pages in the ledger. It should only be about seventy to eighty percent full at the end of the year. The spell's name is an exaggeration."
"That's brilliant, Ginny. This could be a great business some day. Uncle Vernon has spent hundreds of pounds that I know of for time management seminars and business planners. Of course, he has little discipline for anything beyond writing everything down and giving it to his secretary to keep him on track. Wizards and witches are often a little scatter-brained, but at least the bright Ravenclaws and the hard working Hufflepuffs should see the advantage of this. After all, even Ron and I want one, so there should be a market for these to the underachievers, too."
"But, Harry, the man at the shop seemed glad to be rid of these two ledgers. Muggles may not even make them any more."
"Perhaps not, but I have an idea." Harry drew his wand and called Dobby. He wrote a quick note and said to his elf, "Please take this to Hedwig and send her off with it. I don't really know where Justin lives, but he is nearer to our summer place than he is to Hogwarts, and Justin said an owl could reach him. Ask Hedwig to wait for a reply and have her come back to you. Bring it to me at-- Hold it.
"Ginny, do you have plans for dinner, it's almost six?"
She shook her head. "There's an Order meeting tonight. Mum said that she'd make a big pot of soup so that everyone can eat when it suits."
"You're dressed Muggle enough. Would you like to go to dinner so we can talk more about the business?"
She nodded, smiling at him.
"Dobby, please take this to Hedwig as I asked, and then go to Headquarters and tell Mrs. Weasley that Ginny will be with me for dinner. Tell her I'll have her safely home by 9:00 or so. If Hedwig returns with Justin's answer before I get back, you'll find us at Harry's English Restaurant in Brighton. You do know where the house-elf entrance is or can find it, can't you?"
"Yes, sir, Harry, I haven't been there, but Winky knows it and can direct me." Dobby gave a saucy salute, and popped off.
"You own a restaurant in Brighton?"
"No," Harry said with a grin. "Different Harry. You've heard of Greeenbees in Diagon Ally, haven't you?" When Ginny nodded he continued, "Harry Greenbee owns it now. It's been in his family for years. Well, Harry started a Muggle restaurant a few years back and that's where we're going. A lot of younger magical folks like to go Muggle for an evening and eat there, too. He has a Floo and staff members that can transfigure your robes for you if need be."
Harry left the Room of Requirement and turned right instead of left heading straight towards the dead-end wall.
"Harry, that's a wall--"
"Actually, it's the cabinet I'm heading for, Ginny. I know I can trust you; the cabinet leads to where I've been staying since--well, since I had that day in Little Whinging. During school students that want to attend church come here and go straight through into St. Simons. I stay in the attached abbey, so I take a little different route."
Harry opened the cabinet. He then took Ginny's hand, and led her forward, warning her about the steep steps as he went.
"You can't tell anyone you know about this," he warned. They walked outside and into the church itself. They then Flooed to Harry's English Restaurant in Brighton from a room just off the church foyer that was hidden by a Muggle-Notice-Me-Not charm.
A little before 9:00 that night Ginny Flooed back to Grimmauld Place and Harry stepped out right after her.
"Thanks so much for telling me the secret to Floo travel," Harry whispered in her ear as he squeezed Ginny's hand. "I hated ending up sprawled across the floor every time I went somewhere."
She giggled and said, "I'm just sorry I didn't think to ask you about it sooner. You know how to do such powerful and momentous things with magic, Harry, that it's never occurred to anyone to teach you the things we learned as children."
"Have a good meal, dears?" Mrs. Weasley asked as they entered the front parlor. She tried to appear engrossed in her knitting so that it wouldn't look as if she'd been waiting for them.
Ginny shot Harry a look that screamed, "I told you so," and he choked back a laugh which caused him to actually choke.
"Yes, mum, it was very good," Ginny answered as she thumped Harry on the back. "I had shrimp and clams in some sort of Italian sauce, but it was a white sauce, not red. Harry had the swordfish." Ginny's eyes shone with excitement.
"Thanks, Gin," Harry murmured before addressing Mrs. Weasley.
"My Uncle Vernon thought fish had to be fish and chips or it wasn't British enough for him," Harry explained, "so I never thought much of it one way or the other. Fish was just food, but I've had several different types of fish at the place I'm staying this summer, and I've acquired a taste for it. That's why I had to try the swordfish--I'd never had it before."
Molly smiled and nodded as Harry gave her a quick hug and said good night.
"So, I'll Apparate here tomorrow a little before seven," Harry said to Ginny as she walked him to the door, "and we'll go to the Leaky Cauldron to meet Justin for breakfast. Then you can Floo back here while I go on to my next appointment. You'll easily make your 9:00 tutorial with McGonagall."
"I'll be ready, Harry."
They had reached the front door, and Harry gave Ginny a quick one-armed hug, bringing his other arm around her in seconds. Ginny's embrace lasted longer and was firmer than the one he had given her mother. He then stepped outside and immediately Apparated away with the slightest popping sound.
"Good heavens, dear," Molly exclaimed as Ginny closed the door, "he's almost silent."
"Yes, Mum, he's just about got that spell mastered."
"What? What spell?"
"Oh, Harry says that we make a cracking sound when we Apparate because when we go, we leave a hole in the air." Ginny clapped her hands to demonstrate. "The air slams in and slaps together. So, he's working on a spell to release a small bubble of compressed air that expands to meet the crack and silence it. Harry almost has it, but it's difficult because he can't stay behind and hear what happens after he Disapparates. He's worked on it with Dobby and Winky and a person he stays with, but it's not far enough along yet to compact the spell and package it for sale, which has to happen before he can pass it along to anyone else. Normally he'd find another Monger to work with on perfecting the spell, but right now, he's the only one."
Molly walked with her daughter, listening as they made their way into the back parlor which had become their family lounge.
"So, how was your date, Ginny?" Ron asked snidely. Hermione popped him on the back of his head and when he turned towards her to protest Molly hit him from the other side.
"Ouch! What's that for? I've asked you two not to do that!" he complained.
"And we've asked you to not act like a nine-year-old little brother, Ron," his girlfriend said. "Honestly."
"It wasn't a date," Ginny said, smiling in anticipation of the small explosion she hoped to produce with her next words. "It was a business meeting."
Four "What'?"s rang through the room, much to Ginny's delight. Arthur asked, "What sort of business meeting? Did he need a companion for some special business affair?"
"No," Ginny said with a smile. "Harry and I are forming a new business. We think it may be as big or bigger than George and Fred's shop in a few years, if our ideas are as good as we think and we can control the cost of inventory."
She went on to explain about their plans. Everyone seemed pleased. Ron looked perturbed for a few minutes, but calmed down after Ginny assured him she'd still enchant his StudyBook for him for free, provided he buy the ledger first .
Ginny walked out of the loo on her way to bed just as Hermione came up from 'saying goodnight' to Ron.
"So, was that really a business meeting this evening?" Hermione asked with a smirk after they had entered their bedroom and closed the door.
"Yes, it really was," Ginny replied. "We mostly talked about our start-up. That's what Harry called it. Evidently it's a Muggle business term and I like it. Did you know Harry's also financing a new dress shop with Lee Jordan's sister?"
"I heard Parvati talking about it," Hermione mused. "I usually ignore such talk from her and Lavender, but honestly, the fashions in the magical world are so outdated, even I don't like them. And if anyone can make more comfortable school robes than what we buy at Madame Malkin's, I'll go all Lavender and buy a new wardrobe, or at least a good supply of whatever is available.
"So, Harry's behind that venture," she continued. "I didn't know he was interested in fashions, what with the Dursleys and all. He thinks the school robes are great, which is a terrible pity."
"It's not a matter of Harry's fashion sense," Ginny explained "although I believe he is now more aware of fashion than the typical guy in his teens--except for possibly Draco--because of this business venture." The girls both emitted 'yuck' sounds at the thought of Draco Malfoy and the appropriate facial grimaces to accompany the sounds.
Satisfied that they had insulted Malfoy appropriately, Ginny continued, "It's more a matter of Harry's business sense. He saw the need for a new dress shop, found a great designer--he absolutely raves about Clarinda's designs--and then put his money where it could help. He seemed very knowledgeable about all we'd need to do to start my little company. He believes it will be big someday. He thinks solicitors, ministry officials, potions masters, businessmen, and researchers will all want versions of my StudyBook. Oh, and he says the student version can be called the StudyBook, but we need different names for business, research, potions, and ministry versions of the book."
"Back to dinner, Ginny," Hermione pressed, "I want to ask something really important. Did it feel like a date?"
Ginny grinned wryly and sighed. "Maybe no, maybe yes. There's something there, Hermione, I can feel it, but Harry's holding back. We went to a Muggle restaurant owned by a wizard Harry knows. He seems to be developing quite a number of friends and associates outside of Hogwarts this summer. Anyway, the food was great, and Harry put up a Zone of Silence around us--something he mongered--so that we could speak freely of magical and business things and still hear everything around us."
"This sounds like a date to me, Ginny."
"Yes, I know," Ginny said with a sigh, "but Harry could have easily had most of our conversation with George and Fred, or even Justin Finch-Fletchley."
"Justin, what does he have to do with this?" Hermione wanted to know.
Ginny explained Harry's business dealings with the Muggleborn Hufflepuff, and also briefly their Gringotts connection, as she understood it. "As a matter of fact, Harry and I are having a business breakfast with Justin about Muggle ledgers at the Leaky Cauldron tomorrow at 7:00, so I need to go to sleep." With that Ginny finished her nighttime preparations, hoping to end this line of discussion.
Hermione returned from the loo several minutes later. Noticing that Ginny was not yet asleep, she couldn't resist asking, "It was wonderful tonight, wasn't it?"
After a long pause Ginny confided, "Yes, it was, but I am trying to not let my heart get ahead of my head on this. Harry does like me, although with all of the curvy girls running around Hogwarts, I surely don't see what he likes about me physically, but we both know that's not foremost in Harry's mind."
"You're really very pretty," Hermione insisted, "and we've both heard Harry say he loves your hair. A guy just doesn't say something like that unless he thinks you're attractive."
"Yes, but I need you to help me keep my feet on the ground here. I'm well over my crush on him and Harry knows it. We've trained together and fought together at the Department of Mysteries. Now we're research partners and soon to be business partners. If Harry were to date someone, sometime, he might consider me, but we both know he's absolutely determined to win this war.
"His business dealings, the Wizengamot, the Practical Defense courses, his own preparations to fight, even his Spell Mongering - all this comes first and Harry seems to have decided he won't have a personal life until some time in the vague future. Oh, if there's a Yule ball or something, he might ask someone, maybe even me since we're friends and he won't have to go out of his way to ask me, what with all the time we'll be spending together. I'll definitely be the convenient choice with all our research, but he could also ask someone else who happens to be around when the idea of going with a friend strikes him.
"Some day in the future Harry will feel like he can begin a social life, for lack of a better way of saying it. At that point I may or may not be someone he considers. But in his mind, planning for that is probably up there with deciding where he wants to have his thirtieth birthday party."
There was silence in the room for a minute. Then Hermione asked, " But it was nice, wasn't it?" The happy smirk dripped from her words.
Ginny buried her head in her pillow as she admitted, "No, it was better than nice. It was fabulous."
Author's Notes -
Two Ways You Can Help - One - The StudyBook - I need names for Ginny's StudyBook for the commercial versions. Harry mentions professionals might like a version of the StudyBook with different names for their specific areas of expertise. I need product names for the versions for solicitors, ministry officials, potions masters, businessmen, and researchers. Any other professions in the Wizarding world you can think of that might like a book like this? Special mention in future chapters of the readers who send in the names I choose. Extra points for creativity and humor. Please leave your suggestions in a review.
Help Me Two - Name Clarinda's Shop - We need a name for Clarinda Jordan's fashion shop. It's more than a dress shop because there will be men's fashions too. She'll sell more than robes, so robe shop is out also. I've also ruled out CJDA for Clarinda Jordan Diagon Alley like DKNY - entirely too Muggle. Special mention in future chapters for the reader who creates the name I choose. Please leave your suggestions in a review.
The StudyBook Idea - I created the StudyBook in an attempt to make a Wizarding magical equivalent to a personal wiki. How'd I do?
My writing coach, *Pamela St Vines - As you might guess, Pamela St Vines is Mrs. St Vines, my wife. She has been my writing coach all along, using the name ebdarcy. Now she's posting her Jane Austen fanfiction as a subsection to my website at FanficAuthors (dot) net.
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