FAGE 9: The Last Ride

Title: The Little Taboo

Written for: Addicted to Romione Bedward

Written By: Rebadams7

Rating: E for everyone

Hello everyone I need to thank Tammygrrl for the fabulous beta skills and Addicted to Romione Bedward for the imaginative prompts….see you at the bottom!

Summary The unattainable office romance blooms unexpectedly over a lost pet, and the supposedly deserted house across the street. This might need the idea that the world is a magical place after all.

The first day back on a job is always difficult after a fantastic holiday. It's doubled down when you are back from a wonderful wedding….of your two best friends, thought Harry as he opened up his computer and logged in. He was glad he had taken an extra day, but he still felt the loss of his partner; even in the short term, it had been odd to not begin the day discussing their world. As undercover liaisons representing Scotland Yard, it was a great comfort to discuss the weird and wonderful with a fellow fighter for justice. The necessity of cooperation since the declaration from the USA and MUSA (Magicals of the USA) had given him the opportunity of a lifetime. Ron had also benefited from his mother's appointment to the Board of Cooperation and Open Communication assistance or BOCOC. The happy couple was just thrilled that both his parents and almost all of the rest of the family was able to attend the wedding and festivities. Ginny was the only notable absence. He'd inquired with Mr. Weasley, but in the few moments they had to chat, he'd found he'd not gotten a straight reply.

He'd taken a few days to poke around his old haunts before heading back to town. There was a Quidditch match set for the Grand Canyon and he'd enjoyed it greatly. All the camaraderie with his former teammates from England only covered the growing gap in his chest. His cohorts seemed to be paring off, more weddings to attend in his future.

It bothered him that he could not get Ginny off of his mind, but it was stored up with all the other things that still sat on him, neatly categorized and boxed into a corner of his brain, awaiting a trip to the pensive. Until then, he would only open those mental boxes when he was sure he had the time and energy to devote to them properly.

For a Tuesday, it was rather busy. A few suspicious burglary reports that had magic all over them. A missing person's - well, missing service dog report and that was just the morning. Harry and Ron were well ready for lunch, as they were meeting Hermione to check in on how she was doing on her first day back. The diner was half way between the station and the dental practice she had joined. Her special skills were in great demand with the youngest patients. Her charges and their parents thought she was just magical…The very idea made both Ron and Harry smile. Once they had placed their orders, Harry began to reminisce about the food at Hogwarts. They all chimed in their favorites and kept the conversation light until the food arrived. Certain that they would not be interrupted, Hermione took on a serious tone as she began to speak.

"Darling, Harry, it's come to my attention that something is going on with pets in the area. Three of my first four cases were all upset over their missing dogs."

"Blimey, Hermione!" Harry exclaimed as he was awarded a hairy eyeball glance from the very lady. "I think you might be on to something. We took a report on a missing service dog this morning. What kind a of jerk takes a hearing dog?"

"Hearing dough" mumbled Ron as he bit into his Reuben and nodded his head. Hermione looked at the two of them as she shook her head. There was something truly off here and she felt a familiar tug as she watched her better half and her best friend ponder together what might be the first real adventure since taking up the liaison post in the states.

After lunch, the rest of the day moved quickly as Ron and Harry set out and interviewed a few of the folks that had made the reports earlier in the day. The neighborhoods were quiet, the people pleasant, but in all the interviews, Harry had the sneaking suspicion that he wasn't getting the whole story. Ron agreed that the town of Sterling, Virginia had its own layer of secrets. Magic masters they may well be, but knowledge of the US was not their forte. They broke into almost maniacal laughter as they passed the headquarters for the CIA in Langley. Oh well, it made an odd sort of sense for now.

That night, Harry observed the townhouse across the road from his own. It was mostly identical- the shutters, the column on the porch, the garage door there was a dusty black to his white with small windows. It sat, as it had for every day of the just over six months he'd lived there, dark and quiet, the lawn mowed by the common caretaker, but there were no flowers at all in the garden space, the blinds were shut tight and no light as the day grew dark. Harry felt it was waiting for something, but he could not put his finger on what that might be.

He went to bed, his one concession to his comfort over his cover was a very stately four poster bed with heavy curtains. He'd taken a certain comfort from his cozy perch at Hogwarts, and this made his nights more restful, at least it had until now.

Somewhere in the wee small hours of the morning, he woke and wasn't sure of what had thrown him off his Nimbus , the sensation of a hard landing had unsettled him and he decided a butterbeer might be the trick to soothing the unsettled feeling he couldn't seem to shake. He stood in his living room, bottle in hand, watching the moonlight dart in and out as the clouds chased across the sky. A flash of motion caught his eye, as a window opened on the second floor across the street. His eyes grew wide as one, then two and finally three puppies popped out onto the porch roof.

These were not your run of the mill cute balls of fur, well they were for a moment, and then in the moonlight, their true nature was revealed. Hagrid would have adored the little Grup pups, the forked tails wagging in the moonlight, when a delicate hand with a slender wrist, cloaked in the fuzziest pink bathrobe sleeve, stretched out onto the shingles and plucked the three up one at a time, and then shut the sash. Still there was no light in the windows. Harry wasn't sure it wasn't all a dream as he felt his limbs grow heavy while he watched the windows across the road. He trudged up his stairs and shut himself in his bed.

He dreamt of Ginny in a fuzzy pink robe with a hideous zipper sitting on a porch swing. He wondered if the American fare was getting to him.

Wednesday found his supervisor, an American police Captain by the name of Fraser, deep in conversation with someone sitting at the third desk in the configuration where he and Ron had been the sole occupants since their assignment. Ron looked a bit bemused as he approached, and he understood when the Captain turned, making his introductions.

"Detective Potter, this is our new behavioral specialist who will be working with you both on your cases. May I present Dr Ginny Beadsley"

Harry felt his heart drop to his feet. Ginny was as he'd remembered from school, but now the girl had transformed. Her smartly tailored suit, her hair in a very simple, yet very grown up style, her pumps, her bright lips and her shining eyes, all seemed thrilled to see him.

How could he date his best friends little sister? The thought leapt to the front of his mind before he could stop it. His own voice seemed to be under a spell as he nodded and spoke. "Dr Beardsly."

"It's Beadsley, detective. Like beads on a string."

"Oh. Sorry, Doctor. …Glad to have you on the team." Harry felt Ron's eyes before he'd looked into them. They conveyed a message of 'don't blow this' as clearly as if an owl had dropped the message cylinder on his head.

He only had to endure a few more comments from the Captain before they were left to commence their day.

Ron looked as deer in the headlights as Harry felt, he, however, had the brains to break the ice with a little humor.

"So Doctor Bead -sly, has anyone told you how much you remind me of my wee sister?"

"Knock it off Ron, I mean Detective Weasley. I'm sure you've heard a lot of things about me from MUSA. I'm here because someone has taken a liking to selling very special puppies, talented ones, and now we need to get them to the right homes."

"Wait. So that is what was so important that you couldn't come to my wedding?"

"Detective, we need to continue this train of investigation in a more secure location."

"Gin…Doctor Beadsly, are you fond of coffee Frappuccinos?" Harry felt he was falling down a rabbit hole and he needed to stop the fall and gain some answers.

Ten minutes later they were in one of the dozens of Starbucks that dotted the suburban DC landscape. Harry placed the drinks on the table as the silent conversation of the brother and sister seemed to come to a zenith.

After a long pull on her straw, Ginny began her tale.

She hadn't been able to come to the wedding because she was undercover in Las Vegas and had gotten to the inner circle of a corrupt wizard who was using mind control to force his victims to gamble for him. The case had only wrapped last week, and now she was here to lead the recovery of the misplaced pets

"You must be very dedicated to your posts?" Harry caught himself musing aloud.

"When you find one of your hopes unobtainable, you throw yourself into something else. Don't you have to do that to have a reason to get up in the morning?"

Harry didn't answer. He felt like a door had closed, one that he didn't realize had been open. He had seen himself in her words; he'd thrown himself into each assignment. He believed he had to make sure Ron wasn't in too much danger, because Hermione needed him. It wasn't always a direct need, but you could just see that the two of them, while fine individually, were so much more together. He knew the pain of loss, had seen it so clearly on everyone close to Cedric, and he would eat dragonfire to make sure he never saw it on either of those faces.

That was his reason, but he still had no idea about hers.

The days marched on, with no further sign of life across the street. No further discussion with Ron about having his sister undercover in their office. There didn't seem to be a reason. She was very focused. The smiling red head, who Harry now recalled as being in the stands for each of his Quidditch matches, had been replaced with the cool, collected Doctor. The girl who had giggled at many of his jokes when they found themselves around the Weasley dinner table seemed impossible to reconcile with the serious and contemplative form before him. It would take magic to uncork the Genie that was the Ginny he found himself longing to make laugh again.

For Ginny's part, she had a hard time untangling her heart from the last assignment. When a certain wizard was swept up after completing Hogwarts into the Auror's program, Ginny had never felt anything to compare to how light and happy she'd felt watching him on the field or those evenings he'd spent at his parent's home. She had longed to be at the wedding, to see what he was like now. Instead, she'd been using all her talents from her time in University and then the Auror's program to weasel her way close to the leader of the gang in Vegas.

When his hands were all over her, she would imagine it was Harry. The hold on her virtue and her sanity was thin, but intact. Her days were torture. She had kept it together to now find her greatest wish and fear occupied the other seat in the room. One tiny sign and she would crumble like a perfect scone.

The next Monday was a grey morning, punctuated only by the fact that Harry had been stopped by his next door neighbor, a shapely and slightly flirtatious blonde, Nancy Brule. She was all flash and no fire except for her large, USMC Captain husband, Jacob. They had that ideal family, a bright little boy and a bubbly daughter. Nancy held the little girls hand as they caught him backing out of his drive. They had waved him over with a frantic energy.

"Dectector Potter" The tiny girl, Julie, had done the traditional tug on his sleeve as she spoke. "Daddy and mommy got me a puppy but she's gone. I sawded the lady take her."

"A lady took her? Tell me what she looked like?"

"She had on a pink bathrobe. She said something and Puff just jumped into her arms. I was good with Puff, I promise!" She finished as a little tear ran over her cheeks.

"Puff?"

"From Puff the Magic Dragon. She had a sparkly collar and was a great puppy for 12 weeks old. We found her at the shelter." Nancy texted a photo to Harry and he promised he'd look right into the situation. He was halfway to the station when he realized where he'd run into a pink bathrobe before. It was time to get information on the place across the street.

Harry and Ron were not joined by the good doctor that morning as they stood before Judge McNulty. She had two dogs, a breed she called Hines 57 and a dachshund mix, so the warrant was issued in record time.

When Ron and Harry tried to step on the porch, they realized the house was warded. Another type of warrant would be necessary if they were going to see inside. Before they were in their car, Ginny came around the back of the car, through the now open Garage door.

"What in blazing cauldrons are you two doing here?"

"I should ask the same of you" Shouted Ron, red-faced and irritated beyond reason.

"Wait, Ron, counter spell yourself. It's the wards. Ginny put them up didn't you?"

"Harry, Ron; yes it was me. I have gathered up a few other of the interesting creatures and the very special dogs… I've been keeping them here while verifying their status and sending them to safer places via a port-key inside."

"Wards?"

"Just to discourage the curious. I'm sorry I wasn't allowed to fill you both in, we think we have a leak, and until proven, I have to assume anyone could be under compulsion."

"How could you think it was one of us?" Harry and Ron stated in a flat unison.

"Because I've seen it before. It's not pleasant, for either the one found under the compulsion, or the one who has to prove it to them."

"So you've been under my nose, well, across the street, all this time?"

"Yes" came out as almost a whisper.

As liaisons, they had to report what they knew to the board, and it was the board that decided the owners of the "mislabeled" dogs would be helped to forget a bit about the original dogs, and have them replaced with proper muggle mutts. All except for two. The Hearing dog was devoted to her owner, and Puff was enchanted to the point he was safe to go back to Julie.

This did not solve the problem of the wizard who had perpetuated all the mischief in the first place. They were still out there, and there would be no breaking up of the team for the foreseeable future.

The next afternoon, Ron had stepped out to gather some items he claimed he needed to keep himself out of the doghouse at home.

Harry took the moment of quiet to make a decision. Ron was happy. Ron was his friend and wanted him and Ginny to be happy. At least he should want that. He closed his computer and looked over where Ginny sat, typing away.

"Wish you could magic the memo's and reports sometimes?"

"You really going to talk to me about work, Harry?"

"No, no I'm not. I'm going to tell you about a girl who'd stayed at the edge of my mind for years now. Only she's not just a girl, and she's at the forefront of my mind. Even appears in my dreams in a horrid fuzzy pink bathrobe with a long zipper."

"A horrid pink bathrobe with a zipper….hmmm"

"Not the…beauty in the robe."

By now they were nose to nose over the desk. "What are you doing Harry?"

"Looking at her. Wondering if she'd have dinner with me?"

"Wondering isn't asking"

"Ginny, …"

"Yes, and maybe…"

"Maybe what?"

"Maybe I'll let you see if that bathrobe is really horrible"

The spell was broken by Ron's return and his chuckle.

"Took you two long enough."

"I thought.." Harry and Ginny chimed out as Ron raised his hand.

"Blimey, I'd be a dork for trying to put you two together and I'd never see the inside of my flat if I stood in your way. You're both full fledged wizards now, so just don't set the flat afire. Now shoo!"

With a twinkle in his eye, Harry stood and took Ginny's hand. "Shall we, Doctor?"

"I'd be delight….."

Her response was cut off by an impromptu kiss.

Ron noticed the captain was on his way over, so he gave the pair a shove toward the door. "Now go have fun and keep me out of the doghouse!"

Just then, Ron's mobile rang "Yes, love, they figured it out….Yes, love, Harry thought it was a little taboo….. home soon!"

~Fin~

Author's note - thanks again for everyone who helped write and organize and read! Hope you have a comfortable perch and good light! I do promise to answer each review!