AUTHOR'S NOTE This is it! It's done! Michelle's story here finally comes to a close. There will be one more chapter, containing the story's theme song. I hope you've all enjoyed yourselves reading my story!
Here's one last thanks to Emica and Lauren – my great betas who put up with everything and never hesitated to tell me if a chapter sucked.
DISCLAIMER I don't own Rowling's characters, but I do own Michelle and her family.
Michelle stepped into the fireplace of her sister's apartment. Her emerald green cloak swished softly around her as she took a handful of the fine gray Floo Powder.
"Diagon Alley," she said in a clear voice. With a burst of green flame, she was gone.
The trip took only a minute and Michelle emerged from a niche in the wall onto the busy main street in Diagon Alley. She leisurely made her way to the bookstore, searching for a new charms book that Professor Flitwick had told her about after graduation.
As she stood in line to pay for the book, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned her head to see a very familiar face.
"Seamus!" she cried, giving him a hug. "How have you been?"
"Wonderful. The wizarding towns in Ireland are suiting me just fine. What about you? Congratulations on graduating! Look at you, a full grown witch!"
Michelle blushed. "Thank you."
Seamus took her arm as she paid for the book and they left the store. "So what have you been up to since leaving dear old Hogwarts?"
"I've been intensely studying charms since first year. Professor Flitwick asked me to come back next fall and be his assistant."
Michelle nodded. "I hope to become a professor eventually. But, I may move to France in a few years to visit my mother's family."
"So you'd teach at Beauxbatons."
"Exactly. But right now I'm spending the summer with Diana. She and Oliver have an apartment in Hogsmeade."
Seamus looked surprised. "I never thought Wood could settle down with anyone or anything not called Quidditch."
Michelle laughed and shook her head. "He hasn't given it up by any means. You should see their apartment."
"I can only imagine."
The streets of Diagon Alley were bustling as usual and Michelle and Seamus joined the crowd. They walked for a while, talking and catching up on old friends.
A sudden bang interrupted their reminiscing and smoke rolled out of a nearby storefront. Not even stopping to see the name, Michelle ran into the store to make sure no one was hurt.
Naturally, she was surprised to see that the customers in the shop were all jovial and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Michelle looked around, confused.
Seamus came up behind her with an amused and admiring look on his face. "You really were meant to be in Gryffindor," he told her.
"What do you mean?"
"You run into a smoking building without any thought of your own safety? That's true courage. Gryffindor courage."
Michelle just blushed and mumbled thanks. "What's going on?" she asked. "Where'd all the smoke come from?"
"From an exploding spell book!" boomed a voice behind them. "Our wonderful new invention! Hello Master Finnigan," the man added with a smile.
"Master Weasley," Seamus replied.
Fred Weasley laughed. "How've you been, Seamus?"
The two old friends talked for a while, laughing and joking over old times. But Michelle had frozen. Fred Weasley. She hadn't looked at the sign when she ran into the store, but she knew where she was: the Weasley twins' joke shop.
Hearing her name, Michelle jumped back to reality. "Hello Fred," she said shyly.
"Bloody Hell!" the redhead cried, taking Michelle's hands. "Look at you!"
She blushed. "Well it's been quite a few years, Fred."
"I know, but I remember you as," he paused. "Well, as a first year." He let her hands drop and his face took on a look of embarrassment, more for her than himself.
Years ago, tears would have threatened if those memories surfaced, but no more. As she grew older, Michelle had never repressed her experiences and fought a long battle against her inner demons Malfoy's abuse had created. Now, 18 years old, Michelle could finally think about her year of hell without breaking down.
Her blush deepened, not from flattery, but from shame. "I'm sorry for that. It got easier after that year. I'm sorry you had to remember me that way."
Fred just looked at Seamus slyly. "I wouldn't be so sure that we just forgot about you. Me 'n George had our ways of making sure you were still okay."
Michelle started at her Irish friend, who was intently studying the ceiling. When he finally looked back at her, he just smiled innocently. "What?"
"Blood little sneak!" she said, laughing. "You helped them spy on me!" Seamus raised his arms to deflect her playful blows.
"It was for your own good!" Seamus cried in his own defense.
"Hmph," Michelle snorted, a teasing glint in her eye.
"If it helps at all," Fred broke in, "you didn't need our help." He smiled warmly. "You were fine on your own."
He looked so much like George when he looked at her like that. Michelle had managed to focus on talking only with Fred up until now, but thoughts of the other twin were slowly forcing their way into her carefully guarded mind.
"Thank you," she said softly.
Seamus, in a moment of perception, realized the awkwardness of the direction of the conversation. "So Fred," he started cheerily. "How is the shop running?"
Fred grinned. "It's wonderful!" Off he went on the finer art of running a store. Seamus seemed genuinely interested in the logistics of such an endeavor, so Michelle decided to look around.
The store was much bigger than she expected, though she didn't recall really expecting anything. A very large section was devoted to bewitched candies and Michelle had to smile when she remembered the havoc those candies had caused while the twins were still at Hogwarts.
A sign over a tall set of shelves caught Michelle's eye: "Make Quidditch Practice FUN!" She sighed in amusement, knowing full well that the sign was derived from the harsh, often early morning practices conducted by Oliver Wood. But, from spending part of the summer with Diana and Oliver, Michelle had become relatively knowledgeable about Quidditch and was curious as to how exactly Fred and George would make practice "fun."
A large display caught her eye: "Bewitched Broomstick – Guaranteed to Improve Your Riding Skills!" Underneath the lettering was an animated illustration of a Quidditch player trying to hold onto a wildly bucking broomstick. Michelle picked up one of the brooms to read the tag attached.
"Just trying to ride this broom will enhance your skills! We were gifted with this idea many years ago when the famous Harry Potter's broom was bewitched in such a way. But we must warn you, before you use this
product, make sure you are very good at self-casting Wingardium Leviosa!
Gred and Forge"
She laughed softly. Only the Weasley twins would turn an attempt on Harry Potter's life by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named into a joke. The broom jumped in her hand, seemingly begging her for a ride.
"One of our newest inventions!"
Michelle's heard skipped a beat. She didn't turn around to see who was behind her – she knew. Identical twins or not, George's voice was different than Fred's and she'd learned to tell them apart.
"Do you play Quidditch, miss?" George asked, still not able to see the girl's face.
"No," she said softly. "But I used to watch games all the time."
"So you're just a fan."
Michelle half-smiled at the broom. "More a fan of the players than the actual game really."
George sounded confused. "Oh. I see." He craned his neck trying to see who she was. She kept turning away.
"My ex-boyfriend was a Seeker when we were in school. But the boy I had true feelings for – he was a Beater."
That perked George up. "I played Beater. George Weasley, miss, at your service." He bowed with a grin on his face. "Perhaps I know this lucky boy who captured your affection!"
She couldn't stand it anymore. She turned around and looked into George's eyes. "Hello George."
He just stared back at her in a moment of silence. "Michelle," he whispered. He blinked after another moment and blushed deeply. "How, uh, what have you been up to?"
She laughed to herself, put at ease by the fact that he seemed as nervous as she felt. "I've been busy. I graduated Hogwarts this spring."
"Congratulations!" George said and, to Michelle's surprise, wrapped her in a warm hug.
"Thank you!" she replied, grinning. "I've been spending a lot of time with Diana this summer."
"How is Diana?"
Michelle laughed. "She's living with Oliver outside of Hogsmeade. I think the Quidditch madness is getting to her."
They laughed together. "You know," George said with a small smile. "We have a lot of catching up to do."
"It's almost lunch time."
"I'm sure Fred could handle the store for awhile."
Michelle smiled. "I'm sure he could."
George took her arm and the started toward the door. Fred and Seamus, still chatting about the store, didn't notice the couple until George tapped his twin on the shoulder.
"We're going out for awhile, Fred."
Seamus looked at Michelle and grinned. Fred cocked his eyebrow at his brother and Michelle. "I guess the shop will be okay with just me." Then he grinned and winked at George. "Have fun, kids!"
George just grinned. Michelle was glad to see that after all these years, the twins had pretty much the same relationship as when she'd first met them.
"Michelle," Seamus called. She turned around again. "I'll catch up with you later?"
She nodded. George opened the front door to the shop. A small bell rang as the door closed again and they stepped out into the sun.
I want to give a big shout out to all my reviewers: thank you guys so much! I hope you enjoyed!