In Every Universe: The Burrow Brew
Muggle AU, Coffee shop AU, Modern AU, Prompt: "You do this sort of thing often?" and "Panicked/Accidental Confession"
Ship(s): Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione
A/N: Guys. GUYS. I started writing this March of 2015. Thanks to the prompts I recently received, I got back into it and finished just in time for Ginny's birthday. I've already done a bakery AU, so it seems I didn't stretch my imagination too far with this one. I hope you all enjoy it!
"One chocolate éclair and… no coffee?"
Harry looked up from his wallet, startled by the unexpectedly soft voice coming from the register. He met the warmest pair of brown eyes and stared into them, oddly transfixed.
"Er," was his eloquent reply.
"A small is just a pound when you buy a pastry," she informed him, throwing him an unusually bright smile for so early in the morning.
Harry didn't drink coffee, but this girl before him was a ray of sunshine, and didn't people drink coffee with sunshine?
"Okay," he said.
His answer seemed to please her, for her eyes crinkled as a genuine grin graced her pretty features. Harry felt a swooping sensation in his stomach.
She produced a small cup with a flourish and filled it with piping hot coffee. It smelled wonderful. If only it tasted so.
The girl rung him up rather slower than the bloke who usually worked the register did, though this was quite all right with him as the view had gotten exponentially better with the change. Harry took a moment to commit the sight of her to memory; glossy red hair pulled into a high ponytail, wispy strands flaring around the crown of her head, a button nose, and her bubblegum pink tongue darting out to moisten her lips. He almost dropped the couple of coins she placed into his open palm as she shut the drawer with her hip.
"Thanks, you too," he said automatically.
His cheeks instantly flared at his blunder, and the cashier- Ginny, her name tag read- giggled.
Harry left before he embarrassed himself any further.
He woke rather earlier than normal on Saturday and gazed up at his ceiling for ten solid minutes before coming to the conclusion that he had to do it, he had to go. He dressed quickly, brushed his teeth, yanked a comb through his hair, and hurried out of his flat. He made it to the little coffee shop faster than ever, a terribly patched together plan formed in his head.
The scent of sugar and percolating coffee filled his nostrils. He breathed it in, hoping the intoxicating aroma would calm his frayed nerves; it only served to set his stomach rumbling.
Harry ambled towards the glass pastry display, his eyes scanning the counter for the pretty girl he'd met yesterday. His heart sank when he did not see her there. He ordered his usual chocolate éclair from the same kind, red-haired gentleman as always and stepped over to the register.
A girl with straggly hair greeted him. "What's shakin', bacon?"
She tilted her head and regarded him with wide eyes. "Were you here yesterday?"
Thrown by the question, Harry responded slowly, "Yes. I was."
"And the day before?"
"I come here every day." It was a habit he needed to break, actually, as he'd gained half a stone since The Burrow Brew opened up at the beginning of the year just across from his office building.
"But not usually on Saturdays, right?"
"Right..." He paused, utterly perplexed by the blonde before him. "I'm sorry, have we met before?"
She shook her head, turned back to the register, and pressed several buttons in quick succession. "My friend made me swear to tell her if you showed up today."
"Would you like a coffee? A small is just a pound when you buy a pastry."
"No. No coffee for me, thanks." The subject change was so quick, he almost forgot what they'd been discussing just seconds before. "Er, so, who's your friend?" he asked as he momentarily dropped his gaze down to read her name tag.
Luna narrowed her eyes at him. "Don't you like coffee?"
He blinked. "Not particularly."
"But you bought one. Just yesterday. Didn't you?"
"Well, yes, but-"
A rather alarmingly large smile blossomed onto her face. "That'll be two-fifty, sir."
Harry paid and left, completely perplexed.
He did not visit the café the following morning, but he did tell Hermione about the bright-eyed girl he'd become besotted with over their usual Sunday lunch date.
"You met her two days ago?"
"And you've had what, one conversation with her?"
"I mean, if you want to call it a conversation. Sure. Yeah."
"And you're… in love with her?"
Frowning, Harry replied, "Not in love, no. But I can't get her out of my head."
With a look that read half exasperated, half amused, Hermione said, "You're such a boy."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he said, twirling thick strands of fettuccine around his fork.
"Well," said Hermione, rolling her eyes, "do you even know anything about her? Other than the fact that she's fit?"
He pointed his fork at her accusingly, half a dozen noodles plopping wetly back down onto his plate. "You're putting words in my mouth. I never said she was fit." He paused, grinned. "But, yeah, she really is."
Hermione stabbed at her salad, speared a crouton successfully, and waved it at him like a wand. "I've known you for a very long time, Harry, and the only girls you develop a crush on are pretty enough to be supermodels."
He scowled at her. "Is this the part where you mention what a disaster going out with Cho was?"
"Yes! It is! You didn't know a thing about her. You liked her solely for her looks. You managed to snog her once- congratulations to you for getting that far- but as soon as the two of you started to actually talk to one another, it all went downhill!" Harry grimaced, but did not correct her, because Hermione was right. She was always right. "How do you plan on getting on with this girl?"
Harry shrugged, deflated by Hermione's reprimand. "I dunno. I thought maybe you could… help me out?"
Hermione groaned around a mouthful of food. "Fine," she said. "Fine. But by god, if you don't listen to every word I say-!"
His grin was ear to ear. "You're fantastic, you are!"
She threw her cloth napkin at him. "And you've broccoli in your teeth."
Hermione fancied a walk after their meal. She went on and on about having eaten far too much garlic bread at the Italian restaurant they'd just vacated, so Harry acquiesced, mostly to shut her up but also thinking again about that damn half stone. It was only after they'd walked several blocks and turned a very familiar corner that Harry came to a complete stop in sudden realization.
"What?" she replied, donning an innocent look which Harry saw right through. "I heard about this coffee shop with the most decadent sweets-"
"No," he said at once. "No, we are not-"
"-and d'you know what sounds absolutely heavenly right now?" she cut in, smirking at him over her shoulder. Harry hurried to catch up to her. "That chocolate éclair you're always going on about."
He glared at her. "You were only just complaining about getting fat!"
Hermione continued on- humming now, the evil witch- and winked at him.
He grabbed her arm to stop her just before the café window. "She might not even be there."
"Harry, you only just saw her after all this time stopping in every single weekday for nearly half a year. She's obviously a new employee, and new employees always get the rotten shifts. It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon. She'll be there."
She pulled away from him, took a half-step forward, and peered through the window.
Harry felt sick with nerves.
"Well, is she?" he said, his voice doing a strange, prepubescent crackle he hadn't heard in about a decade.
But Hermione didn't answer him. She continued to stare through the window, almost mesmerized.
Curiosity got the better of him, and he too peeked through the shining glass front. It only took Harry a second to spot her. She- Ginny- was sweeping around the register with an old straw broom and conversing with a gangly red-haired man flipping chairs onto tabletops. She looked slightly flushed and entirely too perfect.
Just as Harry began to feel like he could do this, talk to the girl with the smiling eyes and glowing hair, he was yanked back, and his view was replaced with that of his best friend.
"We should go," Hermione said, a hint of panic in her voice.
"No, we should leave."
"What? Why? I thought you wanted a 'heavenly' chocolate éclair and to take the piss."
Hermione looked sheepish and for once didn't scold him on his language. "Yes, well, I've changed my mind."
Harry stared at her for a moment, then pressed his lips together to keep from laughing when it dawned on him. He leaned against the building and crossed his arms, surveying Hermione with a cocked eyebrow.
"It seems we both have a thing for gingers."
Hermione punched his arm.
They crossed the threshold of The Burrow Brew together, the little bell attached to the door jingling to announce their arrival. Harry felt a little weak-kneed when Ginny looked up at him and smiled radiantly.
"Hello," said Hermione politely, clenching Harry's forearm in a death grip as they gravitated automatically to the storefront.
"Hi," Ginny greeted quietly, her smile dropping considerably. She rested her broom against the back corner of the shop, twisted her apron in her hands and said, "Ron will be right with you."
Harry blinked as she disappeared behind a swinging scarlet door. The tall man they'd spied through the window came over, looking altogether bemused.
"'Lo," he said, settling behind the register and pushing his shirtsleeves farther up his forearms. "What'll it be?"
Hermione began to laugh uncontrollably.
"Er," said Harry, pulling away from Hermione as if she were diseased. "Two chocolate éclairs?"
Hermione continued to laugh. Ron blinked at her. "Alright?"
"Yes!" she managed to pull herself together enough to say.
Ron's eyebrows shot up his forehead, but he smiled in amusement and said, "Anything to drink?"
"Cappuccino," Hermione blurted. "Two. Please."
The man rung them up, took their money, then stuck his head through the back door. "Cappuccino order, Ginny!"
"You do it!" she shouted back at him, loud enough to carry through the empty shop.
Harry and Hermione exchanged a look.
"You know I don't know how to make one of those things," Ron bellowed. He glanced over at Harry and Hermione, held a finger up, then he too disappeared through the door.
"She thinks we're together," Hermione said as soon as the door shut behind Ron.
"What?" Harry squawked, hastily taking another step away from her.
Hermione glared. "I don't really care for cappuccinos, you know."
"Then why did you order them?"
"Because that man isn't a barista, couldn't you tell? I had to get your girl out of the backroom somehow."
Harry wanted to protest at the title she'd given Ginny, but he rather liked how it sounded. "Well, if you hadn't been holding on to me when we came in-"
"She would've thought we were together regardless!"
"-this wouldn't have gone tits up."
Hermione hissed at his word choice just as the two employees stepped out of the backroom. Ginny went straight to a large machine behind the register and proceeded to slam a cup upon it. Ron winced at them apologetically from behind the glass case of baked goods while slipping on a plastic glove.
"So, did you make these all yourself?" Hermione started up conversationally. She threw Harry a subtle, yet pointed look, then one at Ginny's back, as Ron bent double to fetch their order.
"Our mum does, actually. 'Course, we all help out, in a way. It's a family business, if you hadn't already guessed..."
Harry slid up to the serving bar, the rich smell of coffee strong here, and asked Ginny quietly, "Do you like it? Working here?"
She looked over at him, then back down at a small, stainless steel pitcher she held in her hands. "I just started. Not sure yet."
"Oh," said Harry. "What were you doing? Before?"
Harry racked his brain for something clever to say, to ask her. Blimey, he was shite at pulling. "So, er, how'd you do?"
Ginny did not answer him for a moment, busy as she was pouring steaming milk and foam into a ceramic mug. She placed it before him on the serving counter, and said simply, "I quit."
"Er," said Harry, starting to sweat.
"It was a drag, and one of my brother's recently… never mind. I'll have the other cappuccino up in a minute."
Harry reached for the little cup for something to do and looked down at it miserably. Through the foam and warm brown liquid was the shape of a broken heart.
"What… um… what were you studying?" He was grasping at straws now. She was probably humoring him to be nice, to keep his business. "Before you quit?"
"Sports Medicine," she said so quietly he could barely hear her over the searing espresso maker. "My parents and I compromised. I wanted to play. Football, I mean. But…"
Ginny waved her hand in the air. He wasn't sure what she meant exactly, or if she was just indicating the shop in general, but her lips were drawn in a frown, and she looked terribly sad.
"I'm sorry it didn't work out."
She tilted her face away, so that he could not further examine her expression, but he could have sworn he caught her grimacing. "Yeah, me, too."
"Listen," he said, when she placed the second cup between them. "I'm sorry if I upset you or-"
She shook her head at him hastily. "Don't be- you didn't-"
"Let me… I dunno. Take you out or something. Cheer you up." His voice shook and went a little high on the last word.
Ginny went completely still. "What?"
Harry would've pulled out his hair from nerves if he wasn't clutching his untouched cappuccino.
"You know, for a meal. Maybe? Sometime? If you're interested."
"You do this sort of thing often?" she said, eyes darting over to Hermione. "Ask a girl out when your bloody girlfriend is just feet away?"
Harry held back a snort. "If Hermione was my girlfriend, I think I'd be in a bit of a rage right about now."
Ginny's eyebrows furrowed. "I don't understand."
"Well, she's blatantly hitting on your brother, for one," he said, tipping his head to his left.
They glanced over at Hermione and Ron, who were leaning towards each other over the counter, talking animatedly. Hermione's arms were gesticulating wildly, and Ron was smiling at her, nodding, with a dazed sort of expression on his face.
"Oh," said Ginny, turning back to him, a hint of red gracing her neck.
Harry set his cappuccino back on the serving bar and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Look, I don't even like coffee," he blurted.
Ginny stared at him, her lips parting open in surprise. "But-"
"Hate it, actually," he confessed, heart hammering away in his chest. He was surprised it hadn't broken loose of its cage and wrapped its strings around Ginny to beg her for a chance.
"But Friday morning, during the rush... you ordered one."
Harry looked down at his feet, pressed the toe of his shoe into the grouting of a tile. "It gave me an excuse to look at you a little longer."
"And the cappuccino?" she said in a breath.
"Hermione's idea, to get you out of the back room, so I could talk to you."
Several seconds of silence passed before Harry looked up at her again. Ginny was worrying her bottom lip between her teeth, looking altogether unsure.
"Luna- my friend- she mentioned that maybe you were as interested in me as much as I was interested in you."
Her cheeks were burning, and Harry's heart skittered up to his throat at her revelation. "Yeah?" he choked.
"You didn't order a coffee that day, with her."
"No, I didn't."
There was a pregnant pause, then Ginny said, "What did you do? With the first coffee, I mean?"
"Gave it to a homeless man sat on the corner that day."
She smiled at him, and Harry felt warm all over. "Of course you did."
"Are you off again, next Saturday?" he said, bolstered now.
They set about exchanging numbers, planning a time and place on which to meet.
"I'll see you again, though, before then," she said, tucking her mobile back into her jeans pocket.
"I asked around. Seems you stop by every weekday morning."
"That's true," he said. "Are your éclairs laced with cocaine?"
Ginny laughed, and Harry was light as a feather.
"I should hope not," she said. "But anyway, I'll be here, at least for the next week. Every single bloody morning."
Harry laughed. "Is that right?"
She shrugged, eyes twinkling. "I probably hate mornings as much as you hate coffee, but there are some things worth losing sleep over."