An Entertaining Enterprise by xErised
George Weasley is a simple man.
He's content with his life — the shop is doing extremely well, he enjoys a pint every so often with his mates at the Leaky, the weekly visits back home for a proper Sunday roast, and the occasional night out with some witch that's caught his eye.
But he won't say no to a spot of entertainment.
A grinning George crouches on the winding staircase of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, concealing himself behind the banister. He glances down at Harry, who is lurking behind a shelf on the first storey of the shop, before lighting the miniature version of a Whizz Popper and lobbing it down a safe distance beside Harry.
It takes a few seconds for Harry to register the Popper; he can barely tear his gaze away from Malfoy, who is at the next aisle tidying up the WonderWitch display with his back turned to Harry. At the sizzling sound of the firework, Harry turns towards it, only to yelp and jump back, revealing himself.
Malfoy spins around and frowns at Harry. "Potter? What are you doing there, skulking around the pygmy puffs?"
"Nothing! Just thought I'd... er... stop by and say hi," Harry says, while stamping hard on the Popper to put it out. He tilts his head up, and after a quick scan of his surroundings, gives George a dirty look when he spots him. In return, George merely winks and gives him a thumbs-up. The last thing George hears before retreating to his office is Malfoy saying to Harry, "I heard you were back in town."
George snorts in amusement as he sits at his desk and pulls Malfoy's sketches towards him. So much for Malfoy acting casual in front of Harry about his return to London during the Quidditch off-season — Malfoy's been pestering George about his date of return.
George is halfway into editing Malfoy's ideas for their new product line when he's interrupted by a knock on his door. Harry enters the office and tosses the burnt-out Popper on his desk.
"Good to see you too, mate," George says with a sly grin.
"I was gonna approach him anyway," Harry mumbles. He takes a seat opposite George and nicks a biscuit from the tin on his desk.
"Oh yes? Before closing time? You were out there for at least fifteen minutes," George points out. He pushes away the sketches to give Harry his full attention, and they spend some time catching up — Harry asking after the business and the Weasleys, making plans with their friends at the Leaky and eventually Quidditch.
"Fantastic job on beating the Japanese at the last match, your Wronski Feint was brilliant," George says.
"Thanks," Harry replies, ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. He clears his throat and adds, "Did Malfoy watch the match too?"
Here it comes, George thinks. He shrugs. "I don't know. He didn't mention it."
"Oh," Harry says, his face falling.
"By the way, is it serious with you and Oliver? Because Malfoy was asking me about it."
Harry perks up at once, a delighted smile spreading slowly across his face. "He asked you about it?"
George suppresses a sigh at the memory of Malfoy's long rant Potter has absolutely no loyalty to his Quidditch team whatsoever, going out with someone from the opposing team! I thought you Gryffindors were all about loyalty and righteousness and all that!- about Oliver and Harry. "He's always bloody grumpy whenever the media announces updates about your love life."
He would hear muffled explosions coming from Malfoy's laboratory on the mornings after the wireless discussed Harry's love life or the Prophet printed photos of Harry and his love interests.
George didn't mind the explosions — as long as he didn't actually set anything on fire.
"No, it's not serious. We did go out a few times, but it didn't work out. I'm not seeing anyone," Harry says.
"Well, are you finally gonna ask him out then? Time's a-wasting," George says, raising his eyebrows and tapping on his watch.
"Why?" Harry remarks in alarm. "Is he seeing someone?"
George shakes his head. "Not that I know of, but he's not one to show what he feels, mind you."
Harry lets out a long sigh, deep with feeling.
This mutual pining between Harry and Malfoy had started a year ago, when Harry had visited the shop after his first stint of training with Puddlemere. Malfoy had been a fresh hire then, and even though Harry was surprised to see him, that hadn't stopped Harry from coming over more regularly.
"Because I'm an investor, George, that's why."
"Oh really? That's funny, because I've noticed that you visit more often when it's Malfoy's shift in the shop."
Since then, there has been no progress between them, except for longer conversations composed primarily of half-hearted insults, but George didn't miss the secret gazes they cast at each other when they thought no one was looking.
It had been a major source of amusement to George at the beginning, but he's starting to find the whole affair rather tedious. Whenever either of them asked him about the other, he felt like an owl.
"He's never given me any sort of hint, and I don't want to make things weird if he says no. We've just got comfortable with each other," Harry mumbles, more to his biscuit than to George. He looks up, worrying at his lower lip. "D'you think he'll say yes, with our history?"
And this is why, no matter how famous nineteen-year-old Harry Potter might be — because of his scar or his budding Quidditch career — George will always see him as that humble, endearing twelve-year-old boy in his striped pyjamas in the Burrow eating breakfast. Half of the British wizarding population would give anything to go out with him, yet here he is in George's office, mulling over his insecurities about Malfoy.
"Maybe it's not the right time," Harry continues. "I only see him when I'm home off-season. I should come over more often, help out with the shop, yeah?"
The last time Harry helped them with inventory, he triggered a box of Screaming Yo-yos, Decoy Detonators and Superduper Flash Crackers all at the same time.
Malfoy had done some screaming of his own, mostly directed towards Harry, who shouted back.
"It's your jeans, Malfoy! Why are they so bloody tight?"
"Oh, now you're blaming it on me, Potter? It's not my fault if you're not paying attention to the job at hand!"
George would've found the entire thing hilarious...
... if he hadn't been running around the shop trying to contain all the explosions.
George presses his lips together in determination when Harry sags against his chair and chews rather morosely on another biscuit.
If these two hopeless blokes won't do anything about it, then he will, bloody hell!
Potter is finally here, after being gone for two weeks.
Draco's hand, which is holding an uncapped vial of morning dew and hovering over a bubbling cauldron, jerks at the muffled sound of Potter's bright laughter in Weasley's office. Draco swears when five drops, instead of three, fall into the cauldron. He sighs in dismay when the potion turns a murky green.
Potter's presence shatters his concentration into pieces.
Draco puts the vial down and hangs his head when he catches himself wondering if Potter will pop by the lab. Despite himself, he has to admit that Potter livens things up in the shop.
I will breathe deeply and visualise calm.
After five slow and long breaths, Draco recovers his equilibrium and turns back to the potion. He picks up the remaining dew and ponders over the appropriate spell or ingredient to salvage the potion.
Three sharp raps on his door, and then Potter bursts into his lab like an over-excited Crup, complete with a cheery greeting and an electric grin that makes Draco's heart thud with longing.
Draco up-ends the entire vial of morning dew into the cauldron.
Swirls of black seep from the edges of the potion, and Draco groans in distress. Now, that is definitely not salvageable. His experiment with Canary Creams will just have to wait.
"Sorry, did I... interrupt something?" Potter asks, his smile morphing into a frown of uncertainty.
Draco briefly closes his eyes and exhales. "No, you didn't. Just give me some time to clean up." As he packs his ingredients and Vanishes the mess in his cauldron, he comes to an unsettling realisation: instead of being furious at Potter, he's actually pleased at seeing him after so long. He's vaguely annoyed at Potter for not knocking before entering, but Merlin, how could he be angry at someone wearing a tight white shirt that hugs all of his Quidditch-toned shoulders and muscles in just the right way? Or how his sparkling green eyes peer out from that messy tousle of black hair, tempting Draco to run his fingers through it?
I'm mad about him.
Draco could lose himself along this train of thought, but he turns his back towards Potter and scrubs the potion stains from his hands. He presses his cool palms on his cheeks to regain some semblance of control in this situation — Potter can never know how flustered Draco is. He spins around to face Potter and smiles politely.
"How may I help you today?"
Potter shrugs. "Just wanted to see what you're up to. There's always new stuff in your lab. Hey, what's this?" He reaches over to the demon box perched on top of the nearest cabinet, his fingers lingering inches away from the box. His eyes search out Draco's, seeking his permission.
Potter opens the box.
A faint scream emanates from the box, followed by a gust of wind strong enough to scatter a few sheets of parchment nearby. A large, midnight blue shadow emerges from the lid of the box, and Potter steps back and watches with wide eyes as the shadow shifts, forming a demon with an appearance similar to a Djinn.
The demon's gleaming silver eyes narrow when it spots Potter, and Potter's hand inches towards his wand. The demon's mouth stretches open into a silent roar, before it spreads its clawed hands, descends onto Potter...
...and hugs him.
Potter relaxes at once, and he laughs as he hugs the demon back. It leans its head on Potter's shoulder and nuzzles against him, its mouth turning up into a delighted grin and its eyes fluttering closed in bliss.
Salazar, Draco wants to be the one putting his head on Potter's broad shoulders instead.
Nudging that entirely pointless thought aside, Draco asks, "You do see the issue with this, don't you?"
"No, not particularly. It's adorable! I think I'll name him Blueberry," Potter says with glee, his arms still wrapped around the demon in a cuddle.
"No one wants a friendly demon. It's too scary for the younger children and not scary enough for the older ones. Out of all the things I ended up creating..." Draco shakes his head.
Potter sighs with disappointment when the demon disappears after its lifespan of three minutes.
"Well, that was fun," he remarks. He wanders towards Draco's bench, and before Draco can react, he pops an unwrapped Canary Cream into his mouth.
"No!" Draco yelps.
"I've eaten Canary Creams before, so it's alright." Potter frowns. "Hey, why does this taste so—"
He barely has enough time to finish his sentence before he's engulfed in a puff of smoke, and at the spot where he was standing just seconds ago...
...is a life-sized, fat and fluffy canary flapping his purple and white feathers, along with a pair of round glasses perched on his face.
Potter's beady black eyes blink once, and his glasses tumble down to the floor. There's a lightning-shaped scar on the canary's forehead. Potter lifts up either wing and looks at the colour of his feathers, crooning in surprise. He breaks into a joyful song and waddles around the lab, his plump body swaying side to side, almost knocking over one of Draco's cauldrons.
Draco groans and buries his head in his hands.
"Potter, you great big bloody git!"
Potter stops in mid-song.
"Under normal circumstances, you will return your normal appearance after a minute, but this isn't a regular Canary Cream. I've tampered with this particular one, hence the purple and white feathers instead of the normal yellow, so I don't know what's going to happen to you!"
Potter chirps in alarm, and he plops down on the floor.
Two minutes pass, and Potter is still in canary form.
"Oh Merlin, I've turned the Golden Boy into a canary." Panicked, Draco begins to pace the lab as he frantically recalls the spells cast on the original Cream.
Malfoy looks up at Weasley when he enters the room.
Weasley glances at the canary, and his lips part into an easy smile. "Hey, Harry. Lookin' good, although I don't care much for the colours," he quips.
He turns to Draco, and apparently has put two and two together, for he says, "Calm down. Canary Creams were one of the first few products that Fred and I had worked on in Hogwarts, so I'm sure we can fix it. Just tell me what changes you made."
They spend the next fifteen minutes in deep discussion and casting various spells at Potter before they manage to turn him back to human form. Potter's face breaks into a relieved grin, and he pats himself down.
"Thanks—" Potter starts, but he's interrupted by Draco, who had worked up a good head of steam in the process.
Draco folds his arms across his chest and shoots Potter a withering look. "We wouldn't have to go through all of this if you had kept your hands to yourself! Now please leave, I've got work to do!"
With that, Draco promptly kicks both Weasley and Potter out of his lab, rolls up his sleeves and gets down to re-brewing the potion that he had been working on.
It's a long time before he's finally done — the sun has already set, and he hears a whistling Weasley lock up his office and his fading footsteps. Draco yawns and stretches out the kinks in his spine. Pleased with his progress, he puts his things aside, leaves his lab and descends the winding staircase — similar to the staircase at the Burrow — to the shopfront.
He waves at Verity — their shopkeeper, who is tidying up the day's receipts — and threads his way through the aisles to his most recent invention to hit the shelves. He picks it up and runs his fingers over the packaging, smiling with pride. It's exhilarating, letting his imagination run wild, shaping something in his head with his creativity and then moulding it into reality with his own two hands, and knowing that there's a market for it…
Still grinning, Draco places it back on the shelf and gazes around the shop. At first, he had regarded the trademark colours of purple and orange, along with the garish packaging of the products, with disdain. However, over the months, he had developed an unexpected fondness for the general lack of design sense of the shop, just like his relationship with George Weasley.
Draco had barely been employed two weeks before they had had their first disagreement: he had offered suggestions to improve the designs of the products, and perhaps even tweak some aspects of the shopfront, but Weasley wouldn't allow it.
"Fred and I came up with the designs, so I would appreciate it if you left the original style alone."
Draco wouldn't forget the way Weasley's smile had faded, along with the hard look entering his eyes, anytime soon.
Their relationship had been purely professional for the first few months, and it seemed like it was going to stay that way for a long time…
…until the first April Fool's Day after the war.
Draco had pretended not to notice Weasley's red-rimmed eyes throughout the day. He had left his lab at the normal time, but then returned after dinnertime to pick up some sketches he had been working on, only to hear Weasley crying in his office.
Draco had hovered for a few minutes outside the closed door, wringing his hands and considering the various ways to approach the situation without getting himself fired. He could just retrieve the sketches and leave, but…
He had taken a deep breath, knocked once and opened the door.
Weasley had been an absolute mess, hunched over his table and sobbing in the dark. Upon Draco's arrival, he had looked up and wiped his eyes and nose hurriedly. He gestured to the cake in front of him, explaining in halting words and stilted breaths.
"Every year, we'd fight over the flavour of the cake. I like vanilla, but he liked chocolate. Most of the time, he'd give in and we'd have something vanilla, but this year… this year…"
The only light glinting in the room was a candle studded on a single piece of chocolate cake.
Draco didn't offer words of condolences or comfort, because he knew that whatever he said would do nothing to soothe the grief and pain swamping Weasley. And so, he had simply pulled a chair beside Weasley and sat with him as he cried in the dark.
That night, Draco had saved Weasley from himself on the year that happy birthday to us became happy birthday to me.
The next morning, Weasley had greeted Draco with a mug of coffee and a bacon butty, Draco's favourite. They had exchanged tentative smiles, and that was one of the turning points in their deepening friendship.
A chime from the clock jolts Draco out of his recollections, and he begins to make his rounds to close up. He smiles with affection as he goes through the routine of disabling the spells on the Puking Pastilles dispenser and the empty cauldrons zipping back and forth on the tightrope hanging over the second storey of the shop. Weasley had asked him many times why he had wanted to work here.
Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, brimming with whimsical magical products and practical jokes, is a breath of fresh air from his upbringing. More importantly, Draco remembers hurrying along Diagon Alley during the height of the war, and seeing the shop as the only bright spot against a backdrop of fear, grimness and turmoil that he had been ensnared in. That image had stuck with him, because the shop represented laughter, happiness, a blatant disregard of the rules…
…and hope; a hope that Draco found himself clinging to desperately after the war, a hope that gave Draco the strength to survive the aftermath of the war.
Draco had not, and probably will never tell Weasley the truth.
George returns from lunch to a peculiar scene unfolding in Malfoy's lab: Malfoy in the middle of a heated rant, and a rather amused Harry leaning against the doorjamb, which was steadily getting wetter because of the small, artificial rain cloud hovering above his head.
Fighting to keep the smirk of triumph from spreading across his face, George passes his mug of tea over to his other hand and asks Malfoy in a casual tone, "What's going on?"
Malfoy swivels around to face him, red spots of colour apparent in his pale cheeks and his fists clenched in agitation. George has to take a step back — he hadn't expected Malfoy to be this upset.
"Potter over here nicked this from my lab!" Malfoy snatches up the aforementioned Weasley's Wet Weather and brandishes it in front of George's face.
His eyebrows furrowing in annoyance, Harry jerks away from the doorjamb and frowns at Malfoy. "I've told you that I didn't take it. I just found it in my bag and thought I'd open it to see what you're working on."
Well, that might have been George's doing, because he might have accidentally on purpose elbowed the Weasley's Wet Weather into Harry's Quidditch training bag during his last visit to Malfoy's lab.
Harry did mention before that he was interested to know more about Malfoy's inventions, so it's hardly George's fault if he was merely granting Harry's wish, wasn't it?
"And you just decided to ignore the warning?" Malfoy points out, gesturing to the red warning tag wrapped around the umbrella-shaped lid labelled Do Not Touch, Under Experimentation in Malfoy's neat handwriting.
He barely gives Harry a chance to rebut before powering on with his tirade. "Oh, why am I even surprised at your inability to follow handwritten instructions? And what about this label?" Malfoy turns the jar to the other side and jabs a finger at a sentence. "Read it for me, Potter!"
"Please do not open this indoors," Harry recites easily with a half-smile winking on his lips, and his eyes holding Malfoy's.
Malfoy slams the jar back on his bench. He folds his arms across his chest, tilts his head and fixes George with an expectant look. "Well?"
George inches away from Harry (the drizzle falling on Harry is getting heavier) and clears his throat.
"Well, at least you weren't working on a Tiny Twister."
Malfoy huffs and throws his arms up in exasperation. "I knew I wasn't going to get any sympathy from you, Weasley. Of course, it'll be up to me to fix things that need not have happened if people learnt how to follow instructions! Who knows, I might just leave it there," he grumbles, skewering Harry with a glare. He hurries towards his bookshelves, pulls out a folder with colour-coded parchment and flips through it, mumbling darkly to himself all the while.
George sips on his tea and edges a glance at Harry. He's gazing at a ranting Malfoy with half-lidded eyes and a dreamy smile on his face, complete with a floating rain cloud drenching him from head to toe.
Bloody hell, the man is absolutely, utterly smitten.
After a moment, Malfoy finds the spell to put an end to the cloud. Harry looks up.
"Thanks," he says, turning a heartbreaker smile onto Malfoy.
In return, Malfoy makes a strange wheezing sound. He eventually recovers his voice to ask, "Are you going to ban him from entering my lab?"
"No, I can't do that," George says. "Besides, I don't want to, because you like it when he's around."
Malfoy lifts his chin and stares at George, incredulous. "I absolutely do not! He is entirely distracting, makes a complete fool of himself and messes everything up!"
Harry's shoulders sag. He pushes his fingers through his wet hair, looks down sadly and says in a small voice, "I... I could go away if you don't want me around."
Malfoy's eyes widen and he looks down in the pretence of straightening out some quills on his bench. "I..." He clears his throat and darts a look at Harry, replying in an equally small voice. "I... er... didn't say that I wanted you to stop coming over."
George rolls his eyes and inwardly asks for the heavens to imbue him with the patience of a saint.
"Now that the dramatics of the day have ended, are you finished with the changes to the new product line?" he asks Malfoy.
Malfoy blinks — it's as if George's words have snapped him out of some sort of spell. He slips on his professionalism like a cloak.
"Of course," he says, after a pause. He opens a drawer and hands George a file. "I've also included some new ideas. Do let me know what you think."
"Brilliant. Thanks." George nods at Malfoy, waves to Harry and returns to his office. He spends some time perusing Malfoy's sketches, and is pleased to note that all of his requests have been incorporated into the new designs, along with a handful of refreshing ideas. George closes the file and taps his fingers on it, his eyes snagging on Malfoy's name printed on the cover.
Malfoy and he worked surprisingly well together — Malfoy was not afraid to argue with him for the good of the business if necessary, and he was much better at marketing and branding than George was. Although George was still the main inventor, Malfoy was able to contribute to his work, despite their different inventing styles. George liked to test spells out and go with the flow, depending on where the product and his experience led him. Malfoy was a lot more structured, preferring to read up on the theory before trying anything new.
When Malfoy first started at the shop, it was clear that he was putting a lot of effort into his designs, but the problem with them was that they were too safe and comfortable.
When George had realised this, he simply told Malfoy, "You can't invent by the books." In response, Malfoy's lips had thinned and he had politely thanked George for his advice before flipping another page of Charms for Inventing.
The next week, Malfoy had blown out a hole in the wall between their rooms.
George had turned to look at a horrified Malfoy, who was gaping at him through the jagged hole.
"Are you alright?" George had asked, jumping to his feet and leaping over the large, smoking hole to cross the threshold to Malfoy's lab.
"Yes…" Malfoy had said shakily, flicking plaster dust from his hair. "I was trying something out. Something that the books didn't mention. And… well…" Shooting George a helpless look, he had gestured to the ruins of his bench and the crumbling remains of the wall.
Many a time, Fred and George had caused explosions, to varying degrees of destruction and invoking varying degrees of fury from their mother, in their bedroom while inventing.
That was how they'd learnt.
George had merely given Malfoy a grin and a thumbs-up. "Brilliant work. Carry on."
With that, he had promptly stepped over the hole and returned to his office, leaving a flabbergasted Malfoy in his wake.
George pulls himself back to the present, although he's still caught up in his reminiscences about the turbulent relationship he had shared with Malfoy. He opens a drawer and fishes out a receipt from the Leaky Cauldron dated last Christmas Eve. He had been leaving the shop, only to see Malfoy hunched over his bench, working.
"It's Christmas Eve, Malfoy. Go home."
"It's not like I've got anyone to go home to. I'll lock up tonight."
"Malfoy… c'mon. Let's just have a pint, if you want to."
Their friendship was still a work in progress, but they had come a long way from their original antagonising relationship. A determined Malfoy had approached George multiple times when he had been advertising for help in the shop, and George had rejected him every single time.
"Why should I hire you? You know what you've done in the war!"
"I... I'm good at fixing things—"
"Yes, I bloody well know you're good at doing that! You fixed the Cabinet that let Death Eaters into the castle and attacked Bill, didn't you? And what your people did to Fred—"
"I'm here because I've got something to prove!"
Ultimately, George had hired him; perhaps to relish the idea of a Malfoy working for a Weasley.
It was a decision that George had never regretted. Nowadays, he treats Malfoy more of a partner than a subordinate.
The war, along with its consequences, is still something that they tiptoe around, an issue that they will not address overtly, at least not at this point in their friendship. George still averts his eyes from Malfoy's Dark Mark, and Malfoy still hides his left forearm behind his back whenever he catches George looking away.
And that's why George will never tell Malfoy that he saw him on that rainy day of Fred's funeral at the Burrow, standing at the back with his head bowed and a black hood covering his blond hair.
"Malfoy, Potter clean-up on aisle two!" George hollers against Malfoy's closed laboratory door.
"Feel free to take care of him yourself! He's your friend, and he brings chaos and calamity wherever he goes!" Malfoy howls back.
"He spilled First Love Beguiling Bubbles over himself. I hope none of our customers are going to take advantage of him when he's drenched in love potion," George says pointedly, his sentence escalating into a bout of smothered chuckles.
Well, it hadn't been Harry's fault in this case; it had been a well-placed Levitation charm.
There's the thud of something heavy against a hard surface in Malfoy's lab.
"I'll be there shortly," Malfoy grumps.
George punches the air with a triumphant fist and scampers off downstairs to his hiding place near the WonderWitch aisle. He doesn't have to wait long before Malfoy emerges from his lab, his grey eyes stormy and scowling in exasperation. Harry, who had been in the midst of siphoning the potion from his person, turns to face him.
"Potter, you simply can't look after—" Malfoy starts, but his words spiral into a yelp when he slips on the puddle of potion.
(Or that's what they think, because the truth is, George might have cast a mild Tripping Jinx).
Harry lunges forward at once, his wand clattering to the floor as he stretches his arms out to catch Malfoy around the waist. Malfoy falls neatly into the protective arch of Harry's arms, his own hands swinging up to wrap around Harry's neck.
Stunned, they stare at each other with wide eyes. Neither of them dares to breathe, let alone move; and they're frozen in place like a scene from one of those Hollywood movies.
A long moment passes, and George presses his lips together to contain his croon of delight when their faces move closer, their lips inching nearer and nearer...
George swears that somewhere high up in the heavens, a celestial choir must've hit a high note.
Harry's right arm wanders southwards, and his bicep flexes.
Malfoy bites back a groan and his hips give a tiny thrust upwards before he stills altogether.
"You're squeezing my bum," he says in a horrified whisper. He seems more aghast at his own reaction to Harry's bum-squeezing rather than the squeezing itself, George is amused to note.
Harry licks his lips, and Malfoy's eyes dip to trace the flick of Harry's tongue.
"You're wearing those tight jeans again. They're really tight. Especially when you bend over," Harry murmurs.
That's why George had to wait until today — the day when Malfoy finally wore Those Tight Jeans (honestly, if he had to see Harry drool over or mention those jeans again in a dreamy voice and starry eyes, he's going to have to box himself in the ears) to kick-start the final part of his plan.
George bites on a knuckle to stop his howl of laughter when Harry, unable to stop himself — ever the oblivious, impulsive bloke, bless him — inflicts another squeeze on Malfoy's bum.
With that, the spell shatters.
Furious, Malfoy straightens up, plants his palms on Harry's chest and pushes him away, colour rushing into his face. "What do you think you're doing, Potter?! Groping me in public, no, not just in public, but in my workplace, where I'm supposed to be—" He glances around wildly. "Weasley! Weasley, where in Salazar's name are you? Potter's sexually harassing your staff and engaging in indecent acts in the shop—"
"You liked those indecent acts, you twat!" Harry wails.
George doesn't know whether to bang his head against the nearest solid surface in frustration or to dissolve into fits of laughter. He quickly composes himself and strolls around the corner with a nonchalant air.
"You called, Malfoy?"
"I certainly did! Potter has just groped me! He... he..." At a loss for words, Malfoy mimics bum-grabbing actions with his hands.
"Is that what he did?" George says in the sternest voice that he can muster. He frowns at Harry, and Harry deflates in front of him.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, it's just that— I mean— the jeans—"
"Oh, it's alright, Harry." George changes tack, flapping a hand in the air in a dismissive gesture. Beside Harry, Malfoy's expression turns thunderous.
George grins at Harry. "A happy working environment makes for a good profit, that's what I like to say! Harass away, Harry!"
"You've never said anything like that before in your life!" Malfoy squawks. He turns back to Harry and glares at him, while Harry's expression morphs from amused to apologetic.
George doesn't think he can take it anymore if Harry's going to spend the next few days mooching about the place like a funeral on legs, and Malfoy might actually set something on fire in his lab this time. Also, he's running out of matchmaking ideas.
His patience fraying, George huffs out a sigh of abject suffering and points to Malfoy.
"You fancy him, and don't you dare deny it any longer, for Merlin's sake! Always asking me things about Harry," George pitches his voice up and pulls on a simpering face, "Oh, when will Harry be home, will he be visiting the shop, is he serious with Wood and the others, did you see his last match, wasn't he wonderful?"
"I don't say things like he's wonderful," Malfoy mumbles, edging an embarrassed glance at Harry.
"And you! What are you looking so happy about?" George snaps at Harry, effectively wiping the delight off Harry's features. "Yes, Malfoy does have an excellent arse, and I say this not because I've been staring at it, bloody hell, but because according to you, it's Merlin's gift to mankind! No, I don't think he's seeing anyone, and if you want to know his work schedule all the time, I should just post it up on my office door, yeah?"
George throws his arms up in exasperation.
"You're two grown men who've been acting like pygmy puffs! Go out for dinner, a drink, or even a shag if that's what you want. Just sort it out, alright?" he says, jabbing at them with a finger. He exhales heavily and leaves the scene, not to return to his office, but to visit the Extendable Ears aisle and grab one for his own use.
He positions himself a few shelves away from them and unrolls the Ears in their direction.
Malfoy clears his throat. "For the record, I've never told Weasley that you're wonderful. But I did see the last match of the season, and well... good Feint."
"Thanks," Harry replies, and George can almost hear his smile in that single word.
There's a moment of silence before Harry revives the conversation.
"And... I know the Prophet always has photos of me, and some of them are dates, but for now, I'm not seeing anyone. Although... well..." He chuckles. "If I had my way, perhaps that might change?"
George isn't sure what's happening, but there's a gasp from Malfoy.
He hopes they're not snogging, because he really doesn't want to hear any of that.
"Are you working this Saturday night? Because I... I would like to take you out for dinner," Harry says.
A disappointed sound from Malfoy. "I'd like that, but I'm working on Saturday."
George perks up.
"Go ahead, Malfoy, accept! I'll take Saturday instead, and you can do Sunday. Wouldn't want to stand in the way of true love and all that!" he yells from his corner as he quickly withdraws the Ears.
A pause — Malfoy must be hunting for any sign of the Ears.
"You're on those blasted Ears again, aren't you?" Malfoy shouts back, annoyed.
"You know I am!" George says, laughing. "I'll be in my office if you'd like to show your gratitude!"
He's still chuckling to himself as he saunters towards his office. He's working on a prototype when Harry and Malfoy appear. There's a sheepish expression on Harry's face, and Malfoy's chin juts in resolve when he grabs Harry's hand, as if daring George to say something.
"You'll be glad to know that we've sorted it out," Malfoy says.
George leans back on his chair, pleased. He raises his arms and splays his fingers out in the air in a dramatic gesture. "The day when Malfoy literally fell for Harry," he says in a theatrical tone, complete with a jubilant beam.
Malfoy rolls his eyes without malice. "I'll be in my lab if you need me," he says in a curt voice, although something in his expression softens when his gaze falls on Harry. With that, he turns on his heel and leaves.
"I'm seeing Ron, Hermione and you tonight at the Leaky, yeah?" Harry asks.
George agrees, and Harry is just about to leave, but he turns back and grins. "Thanks, George."
George nods in return, and he's left alone. He laces his fingers together and tilts his head at the spot where they had occupied seconds ago. Putting Harry and Malfoy together has always been similar to lighting a match around dynamite, and there's already enough explosives in the shop. He smirks when he looks at the Weasley Mega Boxes and Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs stacked in his office.
He pulls the prototype towards him and continues from where he had left off, although he's still mulling over the sort of relationship Harry and Malfoy will have.
At least this time, the fireworks will be of a different kind, and his life is going to be even more entertaining.
George grins mischievously to himself.
And he never says no to a spot of good entertainment.