Everyone has places to go and things to do. But what if they're seen? Would it matter? Would anyone suspect who they really are? And then there are those cravings one gets when one is pregnant.
More Road Trips - Off we go!
Oscar soared in through the open window and landed on the back of Gwen's chair. Holding out his leg, he hooted and clacked his beak. Eileen drifted over.
"Oscar, she's not up yet; you'll have to wait, dear. But I'll make sure she gives you a treat, alright?"
Oscar looked at the ghost, blinked, ruffled his feathers, settled down and closed his eyes for a little nap while he waited.
Not too much later, Gwen shuffled into the kitchen, yawning, heading for the stove, intent on getting the morning coffee perking. A soft hoot made her spin around. Oscar lifted his leg and blinked at her.
"That was quick! Now, where are those owl treats? Ah, here they are. Good owl, Oscar."
Having untied her letter, Gwen held out the owl treat, which Oscar took in his beak and flew off into the garden, to his hole in the oak tree.
Gwen unfolded the letter and began reading as she fixed the coffee pot.
She sat at the table as she read quickly and turned the page over. Eileen drifted up through the floor.
"Good morning, Gwen, dear. I see you've gotten your letter. Did you give Oscar a treat? I did promise him one."
"Morning, Eileen and yes, I did reward him. He really takes his job seriously, doesn't he?"
"Oh, yes; owls are quite proud of their status in the Wizarding world. What news, then?" she inquired as she drifted through the kitchen table and took a seat next to Gwen.
"I've just heard back from my friend, Bill, who works for a medical supply company. He worked me a great deal on some bottles to use for the 'Felix' potion. They should hold exactly the right amount for a six hour dose. Each person will have three bottles to carry with them and two more in reserve in our stockpile."
"My goodness, that's...that's..." Eileen was trying to do some quick calculations
"Four gross." Gwen smiled. "Five hundred seventy six bottles, to be exact. But they're small; about this big." She held up her fingers and made a space about three inches long. "And a little bigger around than your thumb."
"I see. Well, that's excellent! Airtight?"
"Well, they wouldn't shatter, but Anna's also going to put an anti-crushing spell on them, for extra stability."
"Light weight, I assume?"
"Twist top." Gwen demonstrated the movement and Eileen nodded.
"Did Anna check and see if the potion would work for you, Gwen? I'm not up on the latest research about Muggle tolerance for potions."
"Yes, she checked with Artemus and he believes that because I know about and believe in Magical potions, it will work just fine. Human physiology being what it is, most Muggle medicine would work on Magical folk and vice versa, so it seems. Especially if the patient is aware of the other world and that it's the equivalent medicine or potion - just a different name. But a special potion, like the 'Felix', needs a bit of understanding and belief in its abilities."
"I often wondered how close potions and Muggle medicines were."
"My father did a big research project on just that subject. That's how he met Severus. Dad would send owls to him to double check ingredients, etc, with chemical compositions. I could get you a copy, if you like."
"Really? Severus knew Christopher before Anna came back to Hogwarts to teach?"
"Yes; met him in Diagon Alley."
"I see. Now parts of Anna's story are making a bit more sense."
"Yes. The night she arrived, she gave me a brief history of the last twenty years of her and Severus' lives and that of the Wizarding world. Now another piece of the puzzle falls into place," Eileen explained, sitting back with a smile on her face.
"Ah, well, I know that there are several gaping holes in that story which I need to fill in for my self."
"No doubt, but, if I know my son, he won't be amenable to sitting around the kitchen table, swapping stories over drinks and a packet of crisps."
"Ha! Now, that's quite a picture! Although, when Anna, Severus, Remus and I do get together again, there's going to be a lot of talking, about all sorts of things. If I'm going to marry into the Magical world, I need to know things and ask a lot of questions."
"Are you and Remus engaged, officially, then?"
"Not officially, but now that we're so close to getting his lycanthropy totally under control, he can start thinking like an average Wizard in love, /not /as a potential hazard to my health and well being."
"Have you seen him...when he's..."
"Transformed? Oh, yes, lots of times. However, with the Wolfsbane, it's like having an overly affectionate, skinny, hairless dog trying to sit on my lap; playing the puppy dog angle with me, whining and wanting his tummy scratched. He's trying to make the best of the situation, but I know this new medicine will, literally, make a new man of him."
"That's wonderful, dear. Will you continue your medical career?"
"I hope to and do research, too, as Dad did. I've been to the States, consulting with people I know at several university hospitals and also on a more holistic/natural level. Now that I know about the Magical side, I'll get in touch with some of the Indian shaman community that Anna and Dad were acquainted with over there and keep the lines of communication open to them, too."
"Excellent. It's Muggles, such as yourself, which are the hope for the Wizarding world. This 'pure blood' silliness would be the death of us all. There aren't that many true 'pure blood' families left and even those who claim to be 'pure' have a Muggle or two somewhere on the family tree."
"Tonk's dad is a Muggle born Wizard, isn't he?"
"Yes, I believe so. I remember that the Blacks had a right fit when Andromeda ran off with...Ted....I think was his name; quite the scandal."
"Now, Tonks is one interesting witch; being able to change appearance at will. That is so cool!" Gwen giggled. "I also understand certain witches and wizards can turn into animals at will. Anna told me Professor McGonagall becomes a grey tabby cat."
"There aren't many Animagi; the transformation is quite difficult to master. And you have to be registered with the Ministry of Magic."
"Not everyone does, though, do they? I heard about James, Sirius and Peter learning to change while they were students, to keep Remus company during his transformations."
"Yes, true friends, indeed."
"Until Peter betrayed James and Lily Potter, that is."
"Don't fear, he'll answer for his actions. Mark my words, dear."
"Yes, I would like to see that little rat get his, to tell you the truth! Pun intended."
"His Animagus form was a rat."
"Oh! My goodness." Eileen looked shocked.
"That makes one more thing to add to the shopping list, then," added Gwen, crossing her arms and nodding.
"What would that be?"
"The biggest bloody rat trap I can find!"
They both dissolved into fits of giggling.
"Wish I could go with you," Draco sighed, as he sat, slumped in his chair at the breakfast table.
The adults had left and he and Harry were just sitting, finishing their coffee and the morning paper.
"But...I know it would be too dangerous. So, I'll just muck about until you get back," continued Draco.
He sat up and reached for the coffee carafe, to top off his mug. Puzzled by the silence, he turned and looked at Harry, who was gazing off into the distance. Draco cocked his head.
"What are you thinking, Harry? I've learned to recognize that look; a scheme is brewing, me thinks, matey! Arr!" kidded Draco, doing his best pirate imitation. No response. "Polly want a cracker/?" Draco squawked. /That got Harry's attention.
"What? Oh, yeah...I was just thinking..."
"Oh, oh," said Draco, rolling his eyes, grinning.
Harry smiled back. "I was thinking..." he started again, "Maybe there is a way for you to come. At least to do the shopping for the tumblers with Hermione and me, then come straight back with the goods, so to speak."
"Really? That would be fantastic; just to get out of here for an hour or so....how?"
"Floo to Anna's house with me, meet up with Hermione, go shopping on Oxford Street, it's about six blocks from the house, Floo back, Bob's your uncle, no harm done!"
"That's bloody brilliant!"
"Let's go ask the Headmaster. What's the worst he can say...'No'?"
"Yeah, he could."
"Look, you weren't planning on going anyway, so his saying 'no' won't change your plans. If he says 'Yes'...we'll do it!"
"True. Race you!"
With that, the two boys jumped up and tore out of the Great Hall and up the stairs.
"It would be good for Draco to get out a bit; he could wear his sunglasses and get used to the effects. We would be sure and scout out of the windows and see it there are any Death Eaters watching Anna's house before we go out onto the sidewalk to meet with Hermione. We'd be relatively safe in Muggle London; I mean how many Death Eaters walk around Oxford Street with any regularity, do you think?"
Harry finished with his reasons for allowing Draco to come with him to London. Both he and Draco watched Dumbledore's face, trying to gauge his reaction. The Headmaster was leaning back in his chair, fingertips steepled in front of him, tapping his index fingers together. It was the only movement in the room until Fawkes shifted his weight and fluffed his feathers.
Dumbledore seemed to sit there for an awfully long time, until suddenly, he sat up and leaned on his elbows on his desk and drummed his fingertips together for a few seconds. Then he stood and walked around the desk to where Harry and Draco sat.
"You can go with Harry, Draco..." Both boys sat up and grinned. "...on one condition." They sank a bit and their smiles sagged.
"And that would be?" asked Harry.
"That I can accompany you; I'm feeling the need for a little adventure, myself. That is, if it's alright with the two of you?"
Harry looked over at Draco, who nodded.
"Sure, why not?" "Fine with me, sir."
"Right." Albus rubbed his hands together. "That means digging into my wardrobe for some suitable Muggle clothes. Hummm....Grandfatherly, but fashionable. Can't embarrass Anna in the style department, can we?"
"Too true, but sir, I don't think any of us would be comfortable calling you 'Grandfather'; how about 'Uncle Albus'?" Harry gave him a cheeky smile and winked.
Dumbledore threw back his head and laughed.
"Splendid! When do we leave?"
"In about two hours. Oh, we'll have to tell Hermione to meet us on Oxford Street, instead of all of us going to Headquarters. Anna's is closer and 'mione can take the Underground and we could meet up at the Oxford St. Station entrance."
"Let's alert her, then, shall we?"
Going to the fireplace, Albus pitched in a handful of Floo powder.
"Headquarters!" he called out and then stuck his head into the green flames which shot up. "Good morning, Molly...Fine, thank you...and how's Bill?...excellent...Yes, Severus should be coming back this afternoon...Could I impose on you to call Miss Granger, please. Small matter of a change of plans for this morning...No, no, nothing's wrong, just slight shift of rendezvous points...Right."
He stood, bent over, his face in the flames for a few moments. Harry and Draco exchanged looks.
"Ah, good morning, Miss Granger...I'm fine, thank you...well, there's been a slight change of plans for today...oh, yes, Harry's still coming, but he will have to meet you at the Oxford Street Underground Station, as he'll be walking from Anna's...well, we're coming with him...myself and Mister Malfoy...yes, I'm perfectly serious...bit of an outing...Draco and I will return here in time for tea and Harry and your good self can return to Headquarters as originally planned."
Draco leaned toward Harry and whispered, "Bet she's thinking of a dozen questions."
"And coming up with the answers on her own, too," Harry added.
Draco nodded. "Do you think she'll mind?"
"No, she'll be fine with it."
"That's very interesting...yes, I'll tell Harry and we'll see you at, say, 11 AM?...Splendid...Until then."
Pulling his head out of the dying flames, Dumbledore turned and regarded the two young wizards in front of him.
"Well? Go get changed and meet me here at, say 10:30?"
"Oh, right!" "Ok, fine!"
Both boys jumped up and turned to leave.
"Hold on. What was interesting?" Harry stopped and turned to look back at the Headmaster.
"Ah, caught that, did you?" Albus chuckled. "It seems Miss Granger has obtained a means of paying for the tumblers without having to go to Gringotts and exchanging money. She'll tell us all about it when we meet, so...off you go! Chop, Chop!"
"Ok, I'm running up to York first, get the cases of bottles, do the last bit of shopping for the nursery and pick up a load of groceries. Anything else while I'm out and about?"
"No, I think that will keep us busy for a while," Anna replied.
'There is one more thing I am going to pick up, though, just for the sake of having them: paint chips. So you can start deciding what colors you're going to use to spruce this place up. No offense, Eileen, but it is a bit dreary inside." Gwen looked over at the ghost sitting on the window seat.
"Oh, no offense taken, dear and I agree; it's dead gloomy in here, in the winter, especially. Now, the curtains and fabrics you've used to cover the sofas and chairs have helped, but the walls could do with a change."
"Yes, and I'm taking some swatches of the fabrics with me to match colors, so, can you think of anything else, Cissa?"
"A cheeseburger; a big, /juicy/ cheeseburger with mustard and extra pickles." Cissa sat with hands clasped, gazing with a rapturous look on her face at a spot on the wall somewhere above Anna's head. "And a milkshake, a chocolate milk shake."
"Do you want fries with that?" Gwen inquired, grinning broadly.
"Oh, yes, please," answered Cissa, looking happily around at Gwen, not getting the joke. She realized Gwen was rocking with suppressed laughter. "What in the world is so funny?"
"Nothing," gasped Gwen.
"You're mental, you know that!" Cissa sounded slightly alarmed. "Are all Muggles prone to insane outbursts, like this one is?" she inquired, pointing at Gwen, but directing her question to Anna.
"Not too often, but yes, some of them are quite unstable."
Gwen stood up, shaking her head.
"Explain it to her after I leave, Anna." Checking her watch, she nodded. "I better get going, too. /Dobby/! /Are you coming with me this time or just to the gate/?"
The house elf came trotting into the room.
"Dobby is coming just to the gate, Missy Gwen. Then I'll come and wait for you to come back, this afternoon."
"Better make it around 2 o'clock, Dobby, just in case I run into any traffic snarls."
"Alright, then. I'll bring a late luncheon of fast food for you lot, then."
"Yippee!" Narcissa clapped.
"Super size EVERYTHING, Gwen," Anna added, laughing.
"Thanks so much for having us, Gran. It was really good of you, considering how we just showed up, and all." Dean gave Gran a kiss on the cheek and climbed onto Tut.
"Quite all right, Dean, anytime either of you two is in this part of the countryside, you must be sure and drop in and say hello," Augusta Longbottom replied. "And Seamus, I really had a lovely ride with you last night, it was so thrilling, zooming along like that."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it, Gran. I'll be sure and stop by and give you another ride, when I can."
Seamus gave her a kiss, too, and then settled on the driver's seat and put his gloves on.
"Goodbye, Tut, you're a very beautiful and well behaved motorcycle. I really think Anna and Seamus are lucky to have you." Gran patted the headlight of the big machine and was rewarded with a wink.
Neville gave his Gran a hug and a kiss and then lowered himself into the sidecar.
"Bye, Gran. See you soon."
"Goodbye, Neville, dear," she said, smiling at him. "Now, have a good time, you three, but be careful. Neville, this is a Muggle gathering you're going to, so listen to Dean and Seamus; they'll take good care of you, /won't you/, boys?"
"Yes, Gran. We'll not let him get into any trouble."
"Good. Send me an owl when you get back to school, with a long letter telling me all about your adventures. And I want a letter from each /of you, not just Neville. That way, I'll read about /everything you get up to." Gran Longbottom winked at them and then laughed.
"I won't tell if you don't, Dean."
"I'll tell on both of you," laughed Neville.
"Seamus, unlatch the sidecar, and we'll just leave him here," instructed Dean.
"Naw, he's our navigator, he's gotta come!"
"Too right! Otherwise, you'll spend the week just trying to get out of Yorkshire!" Neville laughed.
Seamus started Tut's engine and the three boys waved to Gran as they started off down the lane. She waved goodbye, a tear rolling down her cheek, as she watched them disappear around a curve in the road.
"Have fun, boys, and hold those memories dear. Not much else this year will be anything to smile about, I'm afraid."
Heaving a sigh, the grand old lady turned and headed for her flower garden, intent on focusing her mind on more pleasant thoughts.
Thank to Anna's tutelage, Harry had acquired quite a few clothes and stood looking at a couple of outfits lying on his bed.
"Knock, knock!" Draco walked into the dorm room. "Still trying to decide, Harry?" He smiled at the serious expression on Harry's face.
"Yeah; it used to be easy; grab my jeans, a t-shirt, and my trainers and go. Now, Anna's got me thinking about mix and match and what shoes go with what look; causal, dressy, dressy casual. It's insane, but, consider the source!"
Draco walked over and collapsed on Ron's bed, laughing heartily. Harry scowled at him and then shook his head and grinned.
"Shut up, Draco." Harry turned back to the problem at hand. "Alright, I'll...pick.../this/!"
Grabbing a pair of chinos and a light blue, buttoned down, short sleeve oxford cloth shirt, he waved his wand and the other clothes flew back into the armoire and the drawers and doors banged shut. Stripping off his t-shirt and jeans, he was soon dressed and reaching under his bed for his deck shoes.
"Very nice, Potter; not too fussy but not a right slob," drawled Draco, as he circled Harry, checking out his 'look'.
"Thanks, Draco, you don't look too bad yourself. Just casual enough, but still screaming, 'I'm loaded with the ready, girls!'," laughed Harry.
Draco obligingly turned around. He had chosen charcoal grey slacks and a white, V-necked, cable knit, light weight cotton jumper, with the sleeves zudged up. It showed off his tan good looks and he knew it. His black loafers finished the ensemble.
"Wonder what Dumbledore's going to wear?"
"Your guess is a good as mine. Let's go see, shall we? Got your glasses?"
"Right here." Draco lifted his hand and put on his pair of specialized D.A. sunglasses, then took them off and hooked them in the V of his jumper. "You?"
"All packed." Harry lifted a small backpack and hooked it on his shoulder. "Let's get going."
Albus Dumbledore studied his reflection in the mirror.
"Not bad," he muttered to himself. "Not bad at all."
Humming, he walked from his private chambers to his office.
"Hello, Albus. My, don't you look dapper!" Christopher was leaning on the frame of his portrait. "I was waiting for you. I have a question from Anna."
"Hello, Christopher, and thank you." Albus walked over to the portrait. "And that question would be?"
"Do you think the house elves need to be provided with doses of the "Felix" potion the girls are brewing, or can they, as Gwen put it, 'take care of themselves, without our help'? Anna knows that house elf magic is stronger in some areas than Wizarding magic, but if they could tolerate the potion, would they use it?"
"That's an interesting question. I'll get with our elves this evening and I'll have an answer for you after dinner, Christopher."
"Good. By the way, why are you dressed to the nines?"
"A shopping trip to Oxford Street. Anna would be very jealous, so don't tell her." Albus' eyes twinkled.
"Mum's the word." Christopher nodded. "Ta!"
Draco knocked on the Headmaster's office door.
"Come in, boys!"
Draco pushed open the heavy oak door so he and Harry could enter, but he didn't take more than three steps before coming to a complete halt. Harry walked right into him and then looking around him, froze, too. The sight that greeted their eyes was astonishing, to say the least; Albus Dumbledore stood there, arms out, turning slowly, showing off what could only be described as the archetypical English businessman's uniform: black pinstriped suit, crisp white shirt, 'school' tie (Hogwarts, of course) and furled umbrella.
"What, no bowler?" Harry inquired, grinning, circling the Headmaster, and checking out the impeccably dressed Wizard.
"Can't abide them; reminds me of Cornelius Fudge," Albus said out of the corner of his mouth. He turned to Draco. "Cat got your tongue, Mr. Malfoy?"
Draco was standing, mouth open, shaking his head slowly. "I anyone had told me that...that you'd look...wait! You cut off your hair and beard!" he gasped.
"Blimey! You're right, Draco!" Harry exclaimed. "I hadn't gotten up that far; I was still on the suit and tie!"
"I just charmed the beard short and trimmed it a tad. I'll return it to its full glory when we come back; have no fear. It just didn't look quite right with the suit, but I think I can get away with my shortened hair in a queue, don't you?"
The boys nodded, dumb struck as they tried to absorb the whole picture of their changed Headmaster.
"If I'd chosen to wear blue jeans and a safari jacket, I'd have left the hair and beard as they were, but no use drawing undue attention, eh?" He looked back and forth between Harry and Draco, who nodded and then shook their heads.
"Ah, yeah, good thought." Harry was trying not to stare, too much. "I prefer you the way you normally look, though. No offense."
"None taken, but we must blend today, for all our sakes and safety, agreed?"
"Right." Draco started to grin. "Father would have a stroke if he saw you dressed like this. Good thing he's already dead!"
"Indeed," laughed Dumbledore. "Well, let's go to Anna's, shall we?"
Walking to the fireplace, they each took a handful of Floo powder and stood in the hearth, side by side.
"It's 42 Harley Street, Draco," Harry informed him.
"Ready, boys? 1...2...3!"
"42 Harley Street!" POOF! "42 Harley Street!" POOF! "42 Harley Street!" POOF!
Hermione emerged from the Oxford Circus Underground Station, wearing a bouncy, flowered sundress. Putting on her D.A. sunglasses against the sudden glare, she looked around, but didn't see Harry or Professor Dumbledore. Glancing at her watch, she realized she was a few minutes early, so she walked over to a cement post and leaned against it, searching in the direction of Regent's Street. They'd come from that direction and she'd be able to check behind them to make sure they weren't being followed.
'Constant vigilance', Mad-Eye's favorite axiom was now ingrained in her mind; a natural part of her life: being cautious, aware of her surroundings, always expecting the unexpec...
Hermione squeaked and jumped, spinning around to find Harry, Draco and ? Professor Dumbledore ? standing behind her, grinning like idiots.
"Good morning, Miss Granger."
"/Professor/?" Hermione gasped.
"Ah, it's 'Uncle Albus', for today; we thought it would work better than Professor or Headmaster."
"Your beard! Your hair!" She circled him, taking in the new 'look'. "I like it!"
"Told you she would." Harry looked at Draco, who shook his head.
"Where did you three come from, then? I was watching for you on Regent's Street."
"We've been here for about ten minutes or so, and we were indulging in a bit of window shopping," 'Uncle Albus' informed her.
"Fleur and I were doing some of the same, yesterday, just to get her out of St. Mungo's for a while, to tell you the truth. Anyway, I think I found a shop where we'll be able to purchase just the right tumblers."
"Excellent! In that case, lead the way, won't you, Hermione?"
"Of course. Oh, what's the matter with me! Hi, Harry. Hello, Draco. I didn't mean to ignore you two."
"Hey, 'mione." Harry gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Hello...Hermione." Draco looked at the girl he'd treated with utter contempt for six years and smiled tentatively at her. He needn't have worried; Hermione walked over to him, put her arm through his and kissed his cheek.
"Come on, Draco, let's go shopping."
He smiled back at her, genuinely this time and allowed himself to be steered off down the sidewalk, Harry and Dumbledore falling in step behind them, sharing a knowing look and smile.
"Here's the shop. It specializes in crystal and porcelain from Waterford, Lalique, Tiffany; that level of quality. I was in here yesterday and inquired about how long engraving would take and they can have our order ready by Monday." Hermione beamed.
"Monday! But how will I get them back to Hogwarts?" inquired Draco. "Muggle post doesn't deliver there, unless I've missed something."
"No, it's ok. I'll pick the package up and put it on the Express, after Mad -Eye and I put in the drops of Veritaserum and re-wrap everything, with a proper delivery tag on it. The house elves will take it to your common room and you can 'find' the package there, after the opening feast. No one will be any the wiser. You can say you did an owl order from your Mother's favorite shop. And you're innocent of any tampering, too."
Draco looked at Hermione and then turned to Harry.
"You know, Harry, I was starting to get used to your thought processes showing a definite devious bend, but Hermione, here, certainly is giving you a run for your money."
Harry grinned and nodded. "Just Hermione and her obsession with details, Draco; you'll get used to it."
"Excuse me for trying to help!" Hermione huffed, crossing her arms.
"No, no, don't misunderstand! I'm glad you did all of this preliminary research; saves us loads of time. I'm just not used to that much thought going into things," Draco was quick to reassure her.
"Except for pumpkin dumps," whispered Harry.
"Oh, well, that was the one glorious exception." Draco blushed at the thought of last year's Halloween feast 'surprise'.
"Let's go in, shall we," prodded Dumbledore, opening the door and holding it for the three teens, who proceeded into the elegantly appointed showroom.
It was a crystal cave; showcases and shelves held all types of glassware: picture frames, figurines, vases, candle sticks, goblets, glasses, pitchers and bowls of all sizes. The ceiling was hung with a dozen different chandeliers, reflecting light and rainbow colors over the displays below.
"Whoa!" Harry exclaimed.
"My sentiments exactly, Harry," agreed Dumbledore.
"Isn't it wonderful?" breathed Hermione. "I just love this place."
"You sure do know class when you see it, Gran... sorry, Hermione." Draco leaned over and whispered to her, "You've got good taste."
She smiled at him. "Why thank you for noticing. And so do you, Draco, so do you."
She looked around and then motioned the other three closer.
"I told the clerk we were buying gifts for the groomsmen in your brother's wedding party, Draco. He's away and pressed us into service in his stead."
"Good cover story, Miss Granger; makes sense, but what about the girls' names?" Albus asked, with a twinkle in his eye, sure she'd already thought of a reason.
"For their wives and/or significant other," Hermione responded, with a wink.
Draco leaned over and stage whispered to Harry, "See, Harry, I was right; devious to the core."
"Not devious, just...imaginative."
"Ah...I stand corrected."
"Pardon me. May I be of assistance?"
"OH!" Hermione spun around to face the sales clerk who had appeared at her elbow. "Is Mr. Kirk in the store? He was helping me yesterday, you see, and I told him I would be back today."
"Yes. I believe he's on a break, but I'm sure he'll come right out to assist you, Miss...?"
"Miss Granger. Excuse me while I go and tell him you have returned." The clerk bowed slightly and turned to go.
"Thank you, so much," replied Hermione, then she bestowed a glowing smile on the bald headed little man, who blushed and hurried away.
Turning, she saw the others were regarding her with smiles on their faces.
"I've just witnessed a pro in action," Draco replied. "Amazing."
"Yeah, had the poor bloke wrapped..." Harry held up his hand and wiggled his pinky.
"He was putty in your hands, Hermione." Dumbledore nodded agreement.
"Oh, be quiet, you lot!" She turned her back on them, but she was smiling, none the less.
Mr. Kirk came bustling from the back of the store.
"Ah, the lovely Miss Granger, how are you today?"
"Just fine, thank you, Mr. Kirk. Let me introduce you. This is my Great-Uncle, Albus Dumbledore."
"Sir." Mr. Kirk bowed, slightly.
"Mr. Kirk." Albus tilted his head.
"My brother, Harry and my cousin, Draco," she continued, indicating the two boys.
"Now, Miss Granger, you were looking for some crystal tumblers, if memory serves?"
"Yes, for Draco's older brother. He's sent us on this little mission, as he'll be too pressed for time, when he returns just before the wedding, to do any proper shopping."
"Let me show you our selection of Waterford and also some excellent tumblers from several other firms, as I told you yesterday, Miss Granger."
Sweeping his hand, he ushered them into a side room, which had a table covered with a crisp white linen table cloth, on which various examples of the merchandise could be shown and discussed. The walls were lined with glass fronted display cases housing china and all sorts of crystal, from stemware to bowls.
"Please, have a seat and I'll bring some choices for your consideration." Mr. Kirk indicated the chairs ranged around the table and then left through another door.
The teens seated themselves. Hermione looked at Harry and Draco and noticed they were getting that 'how long is this going to take' look in their eyes.
'Boys; they just didn't get shopping' she thought, shaking her head.
Dumbledore was perusing some candlesticks in one case, but joined the others at the table when Mr. Kirk returned with a silver tray on which rested eight different tumblers.
"As per our discussion yesterday, Miss Granger, I took the liberty of selecting these for your consideration, as they all take engraving very well, being slightly thicker then the usual drinks tumbler."
Draco reached out and picked up a thick bottomed, four inch tall one, hefted it, turned it around and held it up to the light. He passed it to Harry, for his opinion. Harry turned it this way and that and set it down, shaking his head, no.
Harry then leaned forward, looking at all of the remaining choices and reached to pick up a square shaped one on the far side of the tray. Turning it over, he smiled and handed it to Draco.
"I like the swirl pattern on the bottom and the straight sides. Might be better for engraving the names, don't you think?"
Draco studied the glass and then handed it to Hermione.
"Ok, let's get the female view. Hermione, would you be comfortable with this, as far as the size and weight goes?"
She took the tumbler, turned it over, hefted it and checked the swirled cut pattern on the bottom.
"I think it's lovely; not too big or overly heavy, but substantial. Mr. Kirk, I believe you've found just what we need." Hermione handed the tumbler back to Draco.
"Yes, I agree," said Draco, then he turned to Mr. Kirk. "I understand from Hermione that you can have the engraving done by Monday?"
"Yes, sir. Do you have the list of names?"
"Thankfully, I did remember that."
Draco fished in his pants pocket and pulled out the roster of 7th year Slytherins he had prepared.
"There are ten names on the list, if I remember correctly, Draco," Albus spoke up. "Might I suggest purchasing two more tumblers, without any engraving, to make an even dozen? Hold those two in reserve, in case one of the engraved ones should become damaged."
"What a good idea, Uncle Albus." Hermione smiled brightly.
"Yes, indeed, an excellent idea, sir," enthused Mr. Kirk. "Now, the only discussion left is which style of lettering to be used. Here is a list with the different selections available." He handed Draco a piece of paper and excused himself for a few minutes, to give them time to discuss the matter. "I'll just go and prepare your bill."
Perhaps it's time for you to tell us about the news from Gringotts, Miss Granger," suggested Dumbledore.
"Oh, yes, I nearly forgot."
Digging in her purse, she pulled out three envelopes, addressed to Harry, Draco and the Headmaster. They opened them to find a piece of plastic and a letter.
"They're credit cards, from Gringotts. You can use them in the Muggle world, like money, Draco, Professor. And the amount will be taken from your vault to cover the purchase. That way you don't have to go to Gringotts to exchange money and all that bother."
"Where did Gringotts get the idea, if I might inquire?" asked the Headmaster, as he turned over the card and read his name on the front.
"From my Dad, actually; he remarked to Griphook, last year when he and Mother were with me shopping for school, that it might be of benefit to both Magical and Muggle worlds if the money exchange could be done electronically. He explained about credit cards and you could just see the wheels spinning in Griphook's eyes. It took the better part of a year to get it all organized, arranging with the Muggle bank that they use to obtain Muggle money and tie into their computers and everything," Hermione told them, breathlessly.
"My first credit card...Cool!" Harry pulled out his wallet and stuck his new card into a slot. "It looks a little lonesome, sitting there all by itself. I suppose I should get a drivers license. You never know, I might need one, one day."
"You don't own a car, Harry," Hermione pointed out.
"No, but Anna does." He wiggled his eyebrows.
"There's no way Anna's going to let you drive her Rolls!" Hermione laughed.
"Hermione," Draco interrupted, "excuse me, but are you saying I just give this to the clerk instead of money?"
"Yes, they run it through a machine that records the amount you spent and your account number. You sign your name and that's it; paid for, automatically deducted from your vault."
"And Muggles do this all the time?"
"A lot of the time, although we usually carry some money with us for small purchases. Most just use credit cards for costly items, rather than carrying large sums of money around."
"Ingenious, Hermione. I'm sure it will make for a little less work for the tellers at Gringotts, also," Dumbledore commented.
"Well, they had to learn about computers and spread sheets and statements, but that's pretty automatic, too. Oh, here," she said, taking a pen from her purse. "Sign your name on the back in that blank space. Oh, and sign that letter and I'll return them to Gringotts."
Harry pulled his card out, flipped it over, signed, signed his letter and handed the pen to Draco, who did the same and passed it on to Albus. Hermione collected the letters and envelopes and put them back in her purse.
"Right, now quick, pick out the lettering style, Draco, and when Mr. Kirk returns with the bill, just hand him your card and he'll take it and run it and bring you the slip to sign. He'll give you a copy; just put it in your pocket with your credit card, like you do this sort of thing all the time."
"Right, let me see that paper. Ahhh...ummm...I think this one... bold but not too blocky. What do you think, Harry?"
"Yeah, I like that one, too. Hermione?"
"Yes, it goes with the square shape of the glass, anything too flowing would look odd." She turned and handed the paper to Dumbledore. 'What do you think, Uncle Albus?" She batted her eyelashes at him, and giggled.
"Excellent choice, Draco. I'm sure your brother will be pleased," he replied, straight faced. They all snickered.
"Shhh, you lot, here comes Mr. Kirk," warned Harry.
"Here you are," said Mr. Kirk, as he handed the bill to Draco, who took a quick look, nodded his head and returned the paper, with his credit card on top.
"Have you made a decision about the lettering?"
"Yes, I've.../we've/ decided on this one," Draco told him, pointing to their choice.
"Very good, sir. I'll be right back." Mr. Kirk bowed and went off again.
I still have to get something for Bill and Fleur's wedding," Harry stated, looking to Hermione. "Any ideas?"
"Yes; we'll stop at another shop where Fleur showed me several things she'd like to have. You can pick one."
"Wait a minute." Draco turned to Hermione. "Where's the weas...where's Ron? I thought you two were joined at the hip?"
"Oh, well, he would be here, but he had to go to the Ministry and give his official statement about the attack. Ginny and I were interviewed yesterday morning."
"Did you decide to take my suggestion, Hermione," asked Dumbledore.
"Yes, we didn't mention the slingshots, Just that we saw the attack starting, that Bill went to fight Fenrir and that Ron Apparated into the house and came out with his wand drawn, behind the two Death Eaters. Then Ginny and I ran across the yard, wands out, etc, etc."
"Good, then there's been no word leaked about your 'alternative' weapons." The Headmaster's eyes were twinkling. "Splendid. You didn't give false testimony, just omitted some details."
They all laughed at that justification. Mr. Kirk returned, Draco signed and then took his card and receipt.
"Now; one last thing, Mr. Kirk. Do you have gift wrapping?" inquired Hermione, smiling sweetly.
"Of course, Miss Granger."
"Excellent. Could you do the boxes in a plain silver paper, with green ribbon, individually, with a small tag indicating the name that appears on that tumbler?"
"Certainly and there is no charge for the wrapping, of course."
"Thank you so much for all your help, Mr. Kirk." Dumbledore stood and extended his hand. "I'm going to recommend this fine establishment to all of my friends and acquaintances and inform them to ask for you, personally."
"Why, thank you, sir. That's most gratifying. It's been my pleasure to serve you. And give your brother and his fiancÃ© my best wishes, won't you?" he added, turning to Draco.
"I will do that. Thank you for all your help." Draco shook the man's hand.
"Yes, it's been a very pleasant experience, Mr. Kirk." Hermione gave him a dazzling smile.
"Nice meeting you, Mr. Kirk." Harry added.
"Thank you all for putting you confidence in our establishment. The tumblers will be ready by Monday at noon, Mr. Malfoy."
"Hermione will be picking them up for me, Mr. Kirk, as I'll be out of the city, if that's alright?"
"Well, let's toddle on, shall we?" Dumbledore said cheerily, as he turned toward the door. "Mr. Kirk, could you recommend a nearby eating establishment? It's time for a luncheon nosh."
"Certainly, sir, let me accompany you to the front door and I'll point you in the right direction."
"Superb! Come along, kiddies, Uncle Albus is treating!"
"Aren't you the old sweetie?" Hermione hooked her arm in his and they led the way to the front door.
"We're making good time, even though we had to take the detour for the road construction on the A64, lads," reported Neville, checking his watch. "We'll come back out to it on the other side of York."
"The traffic's not too bad, but the timing on these lights could do with a bit of fixing," commented Seamus as he stopped at yet another intersection and a red signal.
"Whoa/, now /there's a good looking bird." Dean pointed to the sidewalk on Neville's side, where a red headed woman in skin tight blue jeans was wheeling a hand trolley, loaded with four big boxes, toward the curb.
Neville glanced up from his map and then back down. Then his eyes got wide and his head snapped up.
"It can't be! She's blond, not ginger." Neville frowned, wishing the woman would turn their way, but she was looking in the other direction, checking for traffic.
"Who's a blond?" asked Dean.
"Gwen Jones," he replied.
"Anna's Gwen?" Seamus looked over at Neville and then at the woman, as she started across the street.
"Yeah, that lady is the spitting image of her, except her hair's the wrong color." Neville explained, thoroughly perplexed, staring at the woman as she walked in front of them.
Just then, Tut swiveled his headlamp up and, HONK! his horn sounded.
"Are you daft?" Dean punched Seamus.
"I didn't do that!"
The woman turned her head toward them, her eyes opened wide in surprise and she skidded to a stop.