A/N: First off, I'm not abandoning Servant of Death; it's challenging me and I'm enjoying writing it, I actually finally finished the outline of that story's arc, so it's going along well. But the other day I got a PM asking me if I'd ever write another AU rom/com in the style of In Case of Emergency. Until now, I've always thought that fic was a "one and done" - I didn't think I had another similar idea that would work for me. But then Harry and Ginny started talking in my head, which they haven't done in a long time, and in less than a day, I had a title, a general plot, and part of a first chapter. I have almost no idea where this is going; Emergency was originally intended to be just 2-3 chapters and look what happened there. But it's fun to write and it's a good way to take a break from SoD; I plan to go back and forth writing both stories, so wish me luck.
Ginny frowned at the crowd of witches loitering around the building's entrance. They seemed to have multiplied since her last trip upstairs, and now she had to weave around them just to approach the front door. "Are they always here like this?" she muttered to Hermione. Indeed, several looked to be nearly camping out on the street; Ginny saw blankets, a few folding chairs, and – Merlin – bunches of flowers and big glossy photographs apparently waiting for signatures. Ginny rolled her eyes when she caught sight of the newest poster; her mum had hung it right in the kitchen at the Burrow, as if having the real thing slouching in and out with her brother wasn't enough. And now they were going to be neighbors, and it seemed like Ginny was going to be forced to navigate a minefield of gushing witches every time she wanted to enter her own flat.
"Only when the team is in town," said Hermione. "If it bothers you that much, you should have taken a flat near me."
"You're too far from the Ministry; I like to be able to walk sometimes," Ginny said. She stepped over a box of chocolates that looked to have come from her brothers' shop and barely resisted the urge to kick it aside. "Besides, my mum likes it that I'm living close to Ron. Seems to think it will be safer or something." She approached the front door and pulled out her wand, trying to ignore the stirrings of interest from those watching. At least the wards were extremely secure – thanks to Bill – and wouldn't allow anyone in unless they had the right to be there. Of course, those same wards prevented anyone from Apparating directly inside, which was why Ginny had had to pass by the Arrows' fan club no less than seven times while she moved things into her new home. Sighing with relief that this was the final trip, Ginny opened the door and beckoned Hermione inside.
Inside, Ginny had to admit that the building was nice; professional Quidditch players wouldn't live anywhere shoddy. Her Auror trainee salary wouldn't have been enough to cover the rent on her flat – the smallest in the building – if not for the fact that Ron was living for free as Harry's roommate and making up the balance of Ginny's rent with his own trainee salary. It was irritating for sure, but there weren't many magical buildings within walking distance of the Ministry, and most of the others were dumps. Ginny had her pride, but she wasn't stupid. In a year she'd be making enough money to pay her own rent anyway; she could certainly manage a year beholden to her brother.
Unfortunately, that also meant admitting she was beholden to Harry as well.
It was that ire that had led her to turn down – politely – his offer to help her move her things into her flat, and which now caused her to assure Hermione – again politely – that she really just wanted to rest, and wasn't interested in walking down the hall to Ron and Harry's place for the supper her mum had sent over. Ginny couldn't begrudge Hermione's desire to spend time with her brother now that they were finally living in the same city; it had been a long year for both of them after the war. She just didn't particularly feel like spending her first night in her own place playing third wheel, either to Ron and Hermione or Ron and Harry. The fan-girls outside her building might think she was crazy for turning down supper with Harry Potter, but Ginny had spent her entire life holding her own against her many, teasing older brothers, and against their best-mates-who-acted-like-brothers. Now, she wanted a night alone to revel in the fact that there wasn't a brother or his best mate in sight. No taking the mickey, no enduring jokes about whom she might be dating, no listening to far to much bloke talk for her liking.
Did she have a chip on her shoulder about it? Sometimes, probably, Ginny admitted to herself. Bill had said as much at the last family dinner when it had taken only a single comment from Fred about the sight of Ginny's bare legs for her to stomp up to her bedroom to change out of her dress back into a pair of sweatpants – after hexing Fred first. She'd told Bill to bugger off, pointing out that after letting 99 comments roll off her back, she was entitled to let the 100th hack her off.
She was eighteen years old now, dammit. A graduate of Hogwarts with more Newts than most of her brothers ever got, a job, a flat, a grown-up life. She was no longer the naïve first year who needed to be rescued from the Chamber by her brother and his best friend, no longer the annoying little sister everyone still thought needed to be child-minded every second (okay, she could admit that was an exaggeration, but the nice thing about being alone was that no one could call her on it).
She'd visit Harry and Ron tomorrow, thank Harry again for his offer of help, and probably snag some of her mum's leftovers, if Ron had left any. Tonight, she wanted to sit alone with a glass of wine and just . . . be.
Her moment of peace lasted only twenty minutes before there was a pounding on her door.
Cursing to herself, Ginny put down the vase she'd been unwrapping from its packing paper and went to the door. No use trying to pretend she wasn't home; this was a magical building and anyone on the other side of the door wouldn't be fooled. It was probably Ron anyway, coming to check up on her.
Instead, a sea of maleness, all broad shoulders, and fitted jerseys, and carefully messy hair pulled back to be clear of bright eyes, greeted her. Apparently, the Arsenal Arrows Quidditch team had styled itself the building's welcoming committee.
Ginny couldn't miss the murmurs of appreciation from the group, and she tried not to blush. She was not a fan-girl, not at all, but she also wasn't dead, and several of the men standing before her were undeniably attractive.
A tall blonde in front held out his hand. "You're Ron's sister Ginny, aren't you? Welcome to the building. I'm . . ."
"Damacles Clarke, I know," said Ginny coolly. She definitely wasn't the type to play dumb just to keep a bloke talking to her. 'Dam Clarke,' as he was known, was the starting Keeper and captain of the Arrows – and a notorious ladies man. Ginny looked at the other men standing in her doorway. "And that's Adam Ramsey, Kipling Cross, and Wilder Rich, your Chasers, and the Beaters, Coelus and Sors Vincenti." Ginny raised her eyebrows at Dam and he smirked back at her.
"Impressive, Miss Weasley. But you forgot our newest starter." Dam moved to the side. "You must know our Seeker, Harry Potter. He lives with your brother, after all." Dam raised his eyebrows.
Harry looked more or less the same as the last time Ginny had seen him, at that same family dinner where she'd hexed Fred. His hair was a bit shorter over his eyes; Quidditch players needed to be able to see after all, and he was wearing an Arsenal's hoodie that one of the witches outside probably would have paid Galleons just to touch.
"Hey, Ginny," he said. He peered around her into the flat. "Looks like you managed to get yourself moved in on your own. Did the witches out front give you much trouble?" He turned to his teammates. "Don't underestimate Ginny. She insisted on moving into her flat without using the private back entrance." He grinned. "Probably wanted to size up the competition outside, ehh Gin?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. Of course, Harry was already teasing her, that was all anyone in her family had done as soon as she'd decided to move into this building, as if the presence of a bunch of professional Quidditch players was the big draw, and not its proximity to work and her mum's preference. Not that Ginny had chosen this flat simply to make her mum happy either. It had been her own, thoughtful decision, no matter what anyone else assumed. She didn't say any of this, of course, but focused instead on something else Harry had said.
"Private back entrance? No one told me about a private back entrance." Honestly, what was wrong with Ron and Harry?
"It's a secure Apparition point inside the wards off the alley behind the building," Adam Ramsey supplied helpfully. He seemed rather eager to insert himself into the conversation and Ginny saw Dam's mouth tighten in amusement. He interrupted the Chaser.
"But you won't be cleared to use it until you've lived here for six weeks. It's a security measure to make sure no one living here has . . . nefarious intentions." He raised his eyebrows at her, as if to suggest that he might have some nefarious intentions of his own, and that they could involve Ginny, if she was willing.
Adam seemed oblivious to his captain's innuendo. "Yeah, like stealing our things from the laundry and trying to sell them for profit or slipping love potions into the water supply." He shook his head. "Those witches can be crazy."
"Wizards too," added Kipling with a grin. "And a few of them are hot."
Ginny shook her head in annoyance. "I've only lived here a day, I couldn't have used that entrance anyway."
"I could have taken all your stuff that way, and you could have met me from the front," said Harry calmly. "Or I'm sure Bill could have given you temporary access. He set up all the security here, you know."
Ginny hated Harry's patronizing tone, the same one her brothers used whenever she made something difficult for herself, just to prove a point. She rounded on him. "Why didn't you tell me that before I practically broke a leg trying to weave through a maze of love-crazed witches and all their crap?" She remembered something. "Watch out - at least one of them had a box of Fred and George's love potion chocolates."
Harry nodded. "We know, the wards are set to neutralize anything from their shop. And, I did tell you, when I asked if you needed help moving in, remember?" His voice was overly patient.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ginny saw the twin Beaters watching them and whispering to each other. Honestly, were professional Quidditch players any better than their fans?
"You just asked if I wanted help; you didn't say anything about a back entrance." Ginny knew she was being petulant, but she couldn't stop herself.
Harry raised his hands in supplication. "Sorry, Gin. Next time I'll make sure I'm more explicit with my offers." He grinned suddenly. "But, aren't you going to invite us in for a drink, while we welcome you to the building?"
Seven large men would take up nearly all the open space in Ginny's small flat; she didn't even have enough places for that many people to sit. She shook her head. "I'm still unpacking," she said. "Besides, I don't have anything to offer you."
"Oh, I doubt that," said Damacles. He waved his wand, and a bottle and eight cups appeared. "But no worries, we brought the Firewhiskey. And you look like you could use a break anyway."
"Yeah, and I don't want to go back to my place just yet," added Harry. "Ron and Hermione have been apart for a long time, and he's pants at Silencing Charms."
"Too much information, Harry," said Ginny with a sigh. She stepped back from her doorway and gestured the team inside. "Please try not to step on anything."
Harry ruffled Ginny's hair as he passed and Ginny bit down her irritation. At least the Firewhiskey looked expensive. She shut the door. "I get the first shot."
Ginny's lack of seating didn't seem to deter anyone from getting comfortable; those Arrows players who didn't fit on the sofa or in one of her two kitchen chairs plopped down on the floor, leaving Ginny to remove the carefully folded pile of linens from her overstuffed chair and sit herself there. She didn't mind; it was the most comfortable piece of furniture she owned. But then Harry walked over and nudged her arm.
"Hey, scoot over, the floor's hard."
Ginny glared at him. "Not my problem." She made a show of spreading out.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Come on, Ginny, move over. You know there's enough room."
Unfortunately, Ginny did know this; the chair's identical twin sat in the Burrow's sitting room, and Ginny herself had forced one brother or another to share on more than one occasion. It was a little cramped, but doable. She shrugged. "My chair, my rules," she said. Better to establish these things early on, or soon she'd find her flat overrun with overgrown boys looking for food, clean towels, or a place to crash while a roommate got busy.
Harry shrugged, and then made a show of sitting down on the floor right in front of the chair and leaning back against it.
Ginny debated kicking him; if they'd been at the Burrow she would have. But his teammates were all watching them with a little too much avid interest, so she leaned back instead, determined to ignore Harry for a while. Instead, she looked at Dam. "I think you offered me a drink?"
Dam grinned and poured Ginny a healthy shot before passing the bottle around. Once the room was a little fuzzy around the edges from the smoke pouring out of various ears and mouths, the captain leaned forward.
"So, Ginny, I assume it's a good guess that you're familiar with Quidditch? Or does your familiarity only extend to attractive Quidditch players?" He waggled his eyebrows at her and she groaned.
"I've followed the sport since I was a baby, and I played on my house team at Hogwarts. We won the Quidditch Cup my Fifth Year." She didn't mention that there had been interest from the Holyhead Harpies after she graduated; even her parents didn't know about the meeting with Gwenog Jones. Her family would have been just as surprised to hear Ginny was going to become a professional Quidditch player as they'd been to learn she was joining the Aurors; it was another secret she'd harbored, this one going back to her rescue from the Chamber. Better to let everyone think it was a decision born of her experiences during the war.
"What Ginny isn't telling you is that, although she's regularly a Chaser, she played Seeker in the championship game," said Harry. "Took my place while I was in detention."
The room erupted in laughs and good-natured ribbing of Harry, and Ginny stifled another throb of irritation. She'd never understood why her family thought it so amusing that she had played Seeker in Harry's place during that game, but the story seemed to come up rather often.
Damocles gave her an appraising look.
"You are quite multi-talented, Miss Weasley." He picked up her brand-new training manual from a pile of books on the floor. "And an Auror too?"
"Auror trainee," she corrected him. "I'm starting in the same class as my brother Ron since the department wasn't ready for new recruits before now."
"Harry, you worked your arse off getting it ready, didn't you though?" Kipling Cross was brandishing a second shimmering bottle and began levitating it around the room pouring refills. He took a healthy drink. "No wonder you traded that in for the much better option of playing professional Quidditch."
"No dark wizards here," added Coelus Vincenti. "That's right, just crazy fans," added his brother Sors.
Harry smiled good-naturedly; he'd apparently heard this all before. "I think I can handle a few overly enthusiastic witches," he said. He nudged Ginny. "Should be a breeze, after Romilda, right?"
Ginny grinned "As long as we keep my brother away from strange boxes of chocolate." The second drink had relaxed her, and she felt her annoyance fade. She looked around the room. "Are those witches outside ever a real problem?"
"Nah, not usually," said Dam. "Sometimes we'll have one try to sneak into the building disguised as a delivery person or something, but the wards always catch 'em."
"They can get handsy, though, if we ever have to use the front entrance." Chaser Wilder Rich had been quiet until now. Harry barked a laugh.
"Ahh, Dam, so that's why you always like the front door – it's a chance to get some action!" The room exploded again and Dam threw a pillow at Harry. "Watch it, newbie, you haven't had your initiation night yet." He looked around "Do we have a date for that?"
Adam Ramsey answered. "After our next road trip, a week from Saturday."
Dam nodded. "Good, that will give you all of Sunday to recover, Potter. And you're going to need it."
Harry shrugged. "I'm sure Ginny here will look out for me afterwards." He nudged her leg. "Right Gin?"
This time, she really did kick him. "What makes you assume I'd want to do that?"
Harry shrugged again. "Isn't that what little sisters do? You've taken care of everyone else, one time or another." He ticked names off on his hand. "Bill after his stag night, Charlie, after Bill's stag night, each of the twins, I think even Ron, last Christmas, right? Only Percy and I are left, and I wouldn't hold out for Percy." He gave her an expectant look.
"I've minded Charlie twice," Ginny muttered. "It wasn't pretty." She sighed. "I'll think about it, if I'm not busy that night." She didn't bother pointing out that he wasn't really her brother.
"Thatta girl," said Harry, just as Dam smirked and said "I'm sure I can find something to keep you busy instead." Harry snorted and reached up to give Dam a high five, and Ginny had enough. She waved her wand and shot sparks out of the end with a bang.
"All right, party's over. I really do need to finish unpacking." She tried to make herself sound authoritative.
No one paid her any mind at first, and she huffed to herself before lifting her wand again. Harry saw her and jumped up quickly. "Let's go, everyone, Ginny's about to use her wand on us, and trust me, you don't want her to have to do that. She's scarier than she looks."
Ginny tried not to be annoyed that the team listened to Harry; at least they were all leaving. He was the last one out the door. "Thanks," she muttered. "Hope it's safe for you to go back home."
"Trust me, Ron finished ages ago," he said with a laugh, "although I'm sure you don't want to know that."
"I don't," Ginny agreed. "I just want some peace and quiet."
"We're leaving for a road trip tomorrow afternoon; it will be nice and quiet for a while," said Harry. He ruffled her hair again. "Good luck with training . . . it's going to be tough, but I know you can handle it." He looked like he wanted to say something else, but after a second gave a tiny shake to his head. "Don't let Ron blow himself up, at least not the first day," he finished.
Ginny nodded. "I won't. Not the first day." She gave him a real smile. "Good night, Harry."
He smiled back. "Night, Ginny."