Ginny stood beside the stove and sweated. The little
thermometer that Dad had secretly scavenged from his shed for her
wavered somewhere near 124. Ginny watched the gauge closely; this
was her third attempt, and she was determined to get it right this time.
of the Burrow, Hermione shrieked with laughter. Glancing briefly
out the window, she could see Ron chasing her through the garden and
Harry watching them with a half smile. Tonks was nearby, perched
in the good climbing tree with her wand out; she looked slightly
nauseated by the spectacle.
Grinning, Ginny turned back to the candy cauldron. Sweat dripped down into her eyes.
The thermometer had risen to 125.
Irritated, Ginny swiped her brow with the back of her hand. This was never supposed to take all afternoon.
potion beside the larger, candy-filled cauldron bubbled away. It
was a steady 127, if Fred and George were to be trusted.
It's very simple to make, Fred had told her. Just combine the ingredients when they're the same temperature.
George had added, But they must be the same temperature, and don't get any of it on you; it burns. And you must finish before Mum gets home.
had laughed at the last. Mum and Dad were to be gone all
day. She had not anticipated it being so difficult to bring both
concoctions to the same temperature.
Ginny heard the pound of footsteps, and then someone huffing in the open kitchen doorway.
yet?" Harry asked. When she glanced back at him, Ginny saw that
he had that distant look about him; it was there despite the way that
he smiled and watched for her answer. Ginny wondered vaguely if
he thought no one would notice his distance, or if he just found it
easier to pretend that no one did.
Ginny brought her attention back to the candy thermometer: 126.
"Almost," she said.
She heard the scuff of his trainers as he moved into the kitchen, and then the squeal of wood on stone as he sat.
Outside, Hermione gave another high peal of laughter. Ginny giggled a little.
"I think Tonks is feeling sick," he said.
grinned. She smoothed back her sweaty hair and looked over at
him. Harry looked pale where he sat in the slant of sunlight
coming through the door.
"You don't look so good yourself," she said.
tooth-rotting," he said, making a face, but Ginny could tell that he
didn't really mind. That or he had deliberately avoided her
She smiled and turned back to the thermometer.
cursed. Heart racing, she pulled the pan to an unused burner and
grabbed the handle of the steadily boiling potion. After
combining the ingredients, she felt a tremendous sense of relief when
the candy remained a pleasant tan color.
Harry was standing at
her elbow, only slightly closer than necessary. Ginny struggled
to keep her hands steady as she carried the cauldron to the waiting
ceramic tile. The cauldron was heavy.
"Did you get it this time?" he asked, still close; he peered over her shoulder at the mixture.
the right color," she said taking out her wand. She muttered a
series of spells and the candy mixture spun from the pot to the waiting
molds that Fred had smuggled over that morning. She knew that she
had to finish quickly, before the candy set and ruined Mum's
cauldron. Harry's presence, just at her elbow, was distracting.
still perched in the climbing tree, Tonks caught Ginny's eye.
Pointing at Ron and Hermione, she turned her face green and pretended
to vomit. Ginny giggled.
"What are Fred and George
giving you for doing this?" Harry asked. He was watching the
curls of hardening candy sail into the molds.
"If Mum catches me, they're disowning me."
Harry grinned. "And what if she doesn't catch you?"
"A decent broom," she said. "Plus, I'm nicking a tray of these for my own purposes."
The last of the candy settled and Ginny muttered a quick scouring spell on the cauldron.
"Done?" Harry asked. Ginny smiled at the impatience in his tone.
"Excellent," he said. "C'mon. They're nutters, both of them. I already got your broom."
Ginny glanced once at the candies hardening on the counter, and then followed him into the sunshine-filled yard.
had gone flying everyday that it was fair, but they seldom played
Quidditch. At the start of summer, Hermione had expressed a
desire to become a better flier, but it was hopeless to expect her to
improve her flying while she agonized about her inability to execute
basic Quidditch moves.
So they played games, the old games,
the ones that had made summer days so pleasant while everyone was still
at the Burrow. There were chasing games, and dodging games, and
throwing games. Ginny had grinned when Ron came up with the
solution, because she knew that he was grooming Hermione to play
Quidditch. Even if Hermione did not play this summer, than she
would play the next.
After several hours had slipped by in
laughter, Ginny amused herself by skimming along the tops of the trees
and feeling the leaves slap against her shoes. The others lazed
in the shad down below. In her mind, Ginny could hear Mum
shouting warnings about not letting the Muggles see. Hardly
anyone passed by the Burrow anymore, but Ginny kept a lookout anyway.
She noticed the brilliant yellow of Mum's sweater first.
she muttered, and dove down to the others. Before Ginny had quite
landed, Harry was already on his feet with his wand out. "It's
just Mum and Dad," she said hurriedly, "but they're back early."
Hoping that she'd make it home before Mum spotted her, Ginny let her
broom clatter to the ground and sprinted toward the Burrow; she was
dimly aware that Harry sprinted after her.
The candies were not on the counter.
"Maybe your brothers came for them already," Harry said.
"Maybe, except that the reason I was to make these for them was that they were too busy."
withdrew his wand. "Maybe whoever took them is still here," he
said, stalking toward the lounge. Ginny took out her own wand and
At the arch into the lounge, she heard a
voice muttering softly. Ginny froze, but then Harry pointed to
the chess board. Someone had left one of the pawns out that
morning, and it was complaining about it.
Harry pointed upstairs and Ginny nodded. They moved toward the staircase with their wands held before them.
front door creaked open and Ginny clutched her wand tightly. She
was relieved when she heard her mother's bristling chatter.
it's wasteful, Arthur. It can hardly get more than a few years'
use, and there are dozens of other things that the money would be
better spent on. Oh. Hello Ginny, Harry." Her cheeks
turned slightly pink and she looked embarrassed for a moment, but then
her gaze narrowed. "Why do you have your wands out?" She
looked past Ginny to the kitchen, and Ginny was glad that she'd already
cleaned away her candy making mess.
Ginny returned Mum's gaze
steadily. "Tidying up," she said, pointing her wand at the errant
pawn. It flew back into its pouch.
said. He pointed his wand at the blanket someone had used to keep
warm that morning. Ginny had to suppress her laughter when,
instead of folding neatly, the blanket tied itself into a large
knot. Mum corrected his blunder absently, looking bewildered.
"I'm...I..." she said. "Oh." Mum embraced Harry, who promptly turned pink. "And on a sunny day, too."
met Harry's bewildered gaze. "Will you get the loo?" she asked
calmly. She glanced once at Dad who looked amused by the
exchange. He mimed stirring a cauldron and Ginny put a finger to
"Yeah," Harry said. "Excuse me, Mrs. Weasley."
yes," Mum said, still looking touched and a little overwhelmed.
Ginny felt guilty for not taking the initiative to tidy up more often.
Wands still out, they made their way upstairs.
we tell them?" Ginny asked when they were on the landing. Harry
stopped and looked at her. There was very little light there,
except for what made its way through the cracks beneath closed
doors. What little light there was made his glasses glint.
"Wouldn't you get in trouble?" he asked.
"Well," Ginny said, wondering if she could talk herself out of this particular trouble. "Probably," she admitted.
this was enough of a reason for Harry to consider the matter
settled. He said nothing as he opened the first door.
They searched the rooms on the second landing, and then moved up to the third, where Ginny's room was.
on her bed, was a much wrinkled and sloppily-folded note; the note was
affixed to an unmarked shipping box. The box was the same size as
that used by her brothers; Ginny knew because she helped pack them
"Don't touch it," Harry said.
Ginny leaned down so that she could peer between the paper edges and see if she could identify the handwriting that way.
"Looks like runes," she said.
Harry lifted his wand and Ginny giggled.
"No," she said. "It's just George."
picked up the box so that she could remove the note, and felt that
familiar, bludger-to-the-gut feeling of a Portkey taking hold.
she said, looking at Harry, and then her room vanished. She could
just hear Harry shouting her name before sound, too, muted to silence.
landed somewhere cold and dark that held that buttery, heady, sweet
smell of a candy shop. It was completely dark; there was no hint
of light. Ginny's heart pounded as she felt her eyes strain to
"Lumos," she said, and found herself surrounded by boxes and bags of candy in a cellar. She was alone.
Ginny thumbed the letter with her free hand.
"One thing more," the letter said in George's angular scrawl. "We
fouled up one of the orders. In the box is a hat and cloak that
should conceal you...what we need you to do is to exchange the contents
of the attached box for what old Zonko has in our bin. If he
finds out that we sent him the wrong thing, it will ruin
business. He's already reluctant to sell it. Fred should be
waiting for you in the usual place when you’re done."
Ginny rolled her eyes. The usual place. Honestly.
box contained a mixture of the candies she had just made, as well as an
assortment of multicolored candies that she knew could turn skin and
hair various interesting shades. She looked at the ugly,
floppy-brimmed hat and the silvery cloak and shook her head. Amateurs.
about her new broom, Ginny popped a few of the candies into her mouth
and waited. When her hair had brightened to a brilliant purple,
she hefted the box and carried it up the cellar steps.
shop was crowded, and no one observed Ginny slipping into it clutching
the box in a professional manner. She found the bin containing
her brothers' product, and began the exchange.
"Can I help you?" asked the shopkeeper in a somewhat menacing way. Ginny had almost emptied the bin.
She smiled. "I'm the girl from WWW. I think my employers owled you about our new Autumn product?"
The shopkeeper frowned. "No."
Ginny smiled and removed the last of the bad candy. "Almost finished," she said brightly.
knew she was grinning a bit stupidly when the Portkey dumped her in the
middle of the Burrow garden. She held her sleek, shiny broom with
one hand, and an extra sack of candy in the other (tucked into her
pocket was a handful of her own candies). The Zonko’s shopkeeper
had been so pleased with her promptness and efficiency--and so
apologetic about forgetting her appointment--that he plied her with
sweets and wouldn't let her decline them.
She had hardly been gone more than ten minutes. Her hair still held faint tinges of purple.
Harry came running from the Burrow first, and he was soon after followed by Ron, Hermione, Mum, and Dad.
Harry said, then tripped over a gnome and landed face-first in the
lettuce patch. He barely noticed, and was quickly on his feet
again, staggering toward her. "Are you alright? Did they do
anything to you?"
"They gave me a broom!" she said. She
thought it was rather obvious, actually: it was right there, shiny, and
very much in her hands.
Ginny knew by Harry's expression that
her declaration did not quite answer his questions. "I told you
it was George, and they gave me a broom, just like they said."
He had reached her by then, and he simply stood there, looking at her and blinking. Ginny frowned.
"What?" she asked.
Mum's angry voice cut across Harry's next words, "What's this about George?"
"I already told you about the broom," Dad said calmly. "Leave her alone this time, Molly."
Ginny was still watching Harry, wondering what he had said. He looked pensive.
"I'll tell you later," he muttered.
Interest piqued, Ginny nodded
that night, Ginny and Harry played chess and ate the Zonko's
candy. Ron and Hermione sat talking by the fire. Not long
after Hermione yawned and departed for bed, Ron stood up.
"Night, all," Ron said, yawning.
"Night," they chimed, not looking up. "Your turn, Ginny," Harry added.
nodded, chewing absently on a blue gummy candy. She sat curled in
the fireside armchair with her chin on her knees and her hand on a
protesting bishop. She gripped the edge of the seat cushion with
her bare toes.
"What's another word for disgusting?" Harry asked her.
she said absently. She moved the bishop. "Your turn."
She waited for the squeak of Ron's door, then asked, "What was it that
you stopped yourself from saying earlier?"
"Yeah, never mind about that," he mumbled. He sounded so embarrassed that Ginny looked up and grinned.
"Now I can't let you avoid telling me. Come on, then. What was it?"
ran a hand through the back of his hair, a gesture that barely
disturbed the squashed hairs on the back of his head. That and
the faint flush on his cheeks made it look like he'd just woken
up. Ginny felt her grin widen.
hand still in his hair, he moved his pawn. "Your turn. I
was just worried this afternoon, that's all." He hurriedly popped
a candy into his mouth and chewed. Ginny giggled as his
face turned purple. Harry frowned. "It's nothing to laugh
about. You disappeared, Ginny! I was right there, and there
was nothing I could do."
"No, it isn't that," she said. "Your face is purple."
"Oh." He stared at her wide-eyed for a moment before grinning. "Well, yours is blue."
"Really?" Ginny wished that she could see. "I thought I had one of mine."
"What do your candies do, anyway?"
shrugged. "Just a variant of my bogey hex. Less violent,
though equally disgusting. These are fond of knuckles."
Seeing movement, she glanced down and watched a bogey perch lightly
upon the back of her hand. Harry laughed. Disgusted, she
shook it off.
"Sorry, that was mine."
Ginny snorted and pretended to be annoyed. "Your turn, Harry."
watched him while he deliberated his move. "You know, Harry, I
don't believe you. It doesn't make sense that you would be
embarrassed because you were helpless when I disappeared."
was looking absorbedly at the pawn writhing between his fingers.
"It wasn't just that I felt helpless," he said quietly. He
replaced the pawn, picked up a knight, and moved it decisively to
engage her Queen's Rook. When he looked up at her, his gaze was
so piercingly intent that Ginny felt a little frightened; as always,
when she faced the fullness of Harry, Ginny felt her emotional control slip away.
distract herself, she grabbed the first chess piece that came to
hand. She felt inexplicably warm, and Ginny could not help
noticing that, now that the purple had faded from Harry's face, his
cheeks were pink as well.
They were two temperatures, rising. She could feel the truth of it in his gaze. Go on, she thought. Just say it. She'd been waiting for weeks, for years, and had given up on this moment numerous times.
She didn't think that she could bear the tension any longer.
"It's your turn," she said.
reached across the chessboard; Ginny thought that he was reaching for
his queen, but he took her hand instead. She looked down at their
“Don’t disappear again,” he said. When she
looked up at him, he was smiling, and she smiled back, marveling how,
with one gesture and very little drama, everything had changed.