Harry took a deep breath in, glanced down at his watch and then let out a discontented sigh.
Two minutes until he had to be at the office or Hermione's charm would notify her that he was late coming back from lunch, again. The fact that she'd had the gall to work out whatever arithmetic was needed to create it just to know whether he was on time for work was...annoyingly necessary.
Though Harry was a world-renowned healer, in both the magical and mundane worlds, he still had to suffer through the bane of his existence-clinic hours. It had been Hermione's brilliant idea. Start a jointly owned private clinic, and get the bloody hell away from the Ministry funded and poorly run St. Mungos.
After all, what was the point of being world-renowned if you got paid the exact same as Dorothy Humphries, a healer so old and infirm she could barely wield her wand, let alone actually treat patients. Someone who would just limp in and lie down on the beds until the day was done!
Thus, Hermione came to him with her fool-proof plan. A private magical clinic wouldn't draw enough revenue, even utilizing the Potter name. But a magical and mundane clinic? That had potential.
Skip a few years ahead and the Potter Institute for Magical and Mundane Pathologies, Lurgies and Endocrinology Clinic (or as Harry affectionately liked to refer to it: The PIMMPLE) was founded. Hermione's brainchild. Have muggle machinery but treat patients, primarily, with magic. And the muggles would be none the wiser.
The idea had done well for them, so far. Very well.
With Hermione specializing in Endocrinology and Harry transferring his Potter luck from defying death to curing the incurable, the place had taken off. Add to that her organizational skills and Harry's reputation in both worlds, and it had been nothing short of a smashing success. A smashing success with a single, spine-chilling drawback-clinic hours.
He was stuck between a bludger and a bat. They couldn't leverage his fame if Harry was never in the clinic, healing patients. So it was either do the clinic hours and make money, or avoid patients and watch their revenue tank.
Four days a week. 8:00 am sharp to 2:30 in the afternoon. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, Harry had to be at the clinic. That was the deal, the very best he could work out in order to see the least amount of walk-ins possible. Given today was Friday, he wasn't going to spend a single extra second there. Not that he would on any other day, given a choice in the matter, but still.
At precisely two seconds to one, Harry dissaparated and arrived back in his office.
"I see we're early again, today," a feminine voice remarked with faint amusement.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Tracey," he greeted, holding his arm out.
A mug of coffee was placed into his hand, and he took his first sip and 'ahhed' before smacking his lips together. The perfect drinking temperature. Not too hot, not too cold
"Perfect, as always, my dear." Harry's eyes met Tracey's and he gave her a wink.
"Not your dear," she said, Harry mouthing the words along with her.
She gave him an unimpressed look.
"So...any chance you can mark me down as sick?" He lifted his eyebrows and shot her the closest version of Lockhart's five-time winning Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile he could manage.
It had no effect on her.
Tracey was definitely paid too much to give him attitude-as he liked to remind her on several occasions. But she was also startlingly efficient and effective at her job-as she liked to remind him.
"Yeah, and deal with Hermione breathing down my neck about why Healer Potter was absent, yet again, under my watch? No, thank you." Tracey shook her head and produced three files from behind her back. "Besides, I need to be on her good side. I'm asking for time off in September when she gets back from her conference."
Harry pretended to gag in response.
"Oh, shut up," Tracey said, flapping the files for him to take. "One day, some unlucky girl is finally going to hold your interest, and you'll be saying 'Tracey said'."
He smiled pleasantly. "Those words would never leave my mouth."
She gave him a rude hand gesture before getting back to business. "Exam room one," she said in that flat voice that meant she was about to drain Harry of his will to live. "We've got a mother and son. Snotty nosed and with a Doctor Who figurine stuck up where the sun don't shine. I'll give you three guesses as to where, and the first two don't count."
Harry grimaced. The little blighter had either stuffed it up his nasal cavity or swallowed it. It wasn't until the teenage years when foreign objects started being shoved up holes meant for excretions and nothing else.
"Behind door number two, we've got a lovely elderly couple. They held hands, and he opened and closed all the doors for his wife."
The deadpan delivery didn't match the picture she was trying to paint, and it put Harry on edge.
"The patient behind door number three is one you might like. Blonde, large rack, but, unfortunately, with an attitude that curdles milk and a gut that is twice the size of the silicone bags they bolted onto her chest."
Harry took a sip of his coffee.
"And behind door four is an actual princess," Tracey said. "Probably twisted her ankle when she crashed back down to reality."
When she was finished, Tracey shoved the files towards him. Harry looked down at his mug and rocked back on his heels, placing his free hand behind his back and as far away from the files as possible. If he didn't take them he couldn't treat them. You couldn't see a patient without documentation, everybody knew that.
"Take your pick. I'm going back to the front." Tracey levitated the four files toward him this time, adding a sticking charm to boot.
Giving her an annoyed look, Harry peeled them off his chest and placed his mug of heaven onto his desk before readying himself for the monotony of dealing with patients who were severely lacking in IQ.
He walked out into the hall and momentarily debated which door to approach first. He hadn't even taken two steps toward the second room when Tracey popped her head back at the end of the hall and called out to him.
"Did I forget to tell you he was holding a box of viagra the whole time?" she said, her voice floating down the corridor, full of torturous amusement.
Harry sighed before opening the door.
As he strode inside, he saw that it was, indeed, an elderly couple, the box of viagra still clutched in the man's hand.
"I'm Doctor Potter, it's nice to meet you," Harry said, trying to feign any sort of interest while keeping the grimace off his face.
He took a closer look at the balding man before him, hair on either side of his head, the left cut short while the right had grown out to a ghastly length and had been combed over the rest of his hair. To what end, Harry wasn't sure. The thin strands were full of far too much hair product and did nothing to cover the top of his scalp.
Ignoring whatever inane greeting they'd responded with, Harry got to business. "What seems to be troubling you today?"
The man glanced at the woman whose smile was all teeth, white and perfectly aligned, obviously replacements. "Well, you see, her husband passed a little over a month ago, and she wanted to visit with me after visiting with many other widowed men."
This wasn't going in a direction that was even remotely acceptable for the first patient of the day. Merlin, how did Hermione keep him coming here still? No pay cheque was worth this!
"Since she introduced me to my...little blue friend, I've been standing at attention for hours!" The glee in Pill Popper's voice made Harry involuntary shudder. "She's been with Keith, David, Frederick, Richard and William, and I just want to make sure that I don't catch the same STDs as them."
Harry blinked. Then blinked again.
Five. There were five names, and if he'd heard correctly, that was only in the last five weeks!
"I know with the Herpes, we can't do anything down there until the symptoms go away, but can I still get it if she only uses her mouth on me?"
Harry's eyes slid over to the woman he'd just been told had an STD. Her wrinkled face didn't appear to be put out by any of this, and when he caught her eye she gave him a smile that was all gums.
"I wouldn't mind if you took a turn with her, Doctor, if you wanted it, that is. Between me and you, that mouth of hers is experienced and talented!" Pill Popper shot him a perverse grin, gave him an exaggerated wink and swung his arm up in a 'jolly good' motion.
Harry had gagged at the smile, but now he could taste the bile in the back of his mouth from the man's words. He hadn't even finished his coffee yet and this greasy old codger was pimping out a woman old enough to be his grandmother.
Gabrielle sighed as she squinted down at the sheet of paper in her hand before glancing back up at the building before her with her eyebrows furrowed.
The Potter Institute for Mundane Pathologies, Lurgies, and Endocrinology.
She waited a few seconds-per the illegible instructions on her slip of paper-before a second door appeared in the brick wall.
Gabrielle looked up once more to find the word 'Magical' slowly protruding from the bricks, nudging 'for' and 'Mundane' aside with an audible clink clink.
She took in a deep breath and pulled open the door.
The waiting room was relatively sparse when she entered, a clerk sitting behind the desk, head down and quill scratching furiously.
"Take a number."
Gabrielle's eyes flitted to her in surprise. "Pardon?"
The woman looked up and pointed to a small pad in front of her. "Take a number," she said slowly this time as though mocking her.
With a frown, Gabrielle ripped off a sheet of paper. "My name is-"
"Fill that out," the woman said, cutting her off.
Gabrielle turned to where she was pointing and saw a clipboard floating towards her. "Right," she said, feeling more annoyed by the second. "Thank you."
If this was how patients were treated at the top clinic in the country, Gabrielle shuddered to think of the poor souls at St. Mungos.
The door clicked shut behind him and Harry exhaled in relief as the horrid encounter was finally over. The Pill Popper pimp had been dealt with. Now it was Tracey's problem. She could fill their orders and take payment.
Should have included a side order for a twenty minute obliviation for himself, too, he mused.
Mentally debating between the remaining doors, Harry closed his eyes and tried to decide which patient would be less annoying. Silicone Chest or a snivelling little snot and his overbearing mother. There was no reason for either of them to be at his clinic.
He was the doctor people called upon when no other specialist could figure out what was bloody well wrong with you. But here he was instead, Healer Harry Potter, stuck fixing snivelling noses on wimpy little boys whose hovering mothers had already checked Dr. Google ahead of time and had determined that a tiny toy that had gone no deeper than the nasal cavity, had somehow, miraculously, led to cancer and three (three!) different auto-immune diseases!
Harry sighed and pushed open the door.
Slouching back against her chair, Gabby let her eyes wander around the waiting room. There were two other patients in line before her. A man, who by the looks of things, had been involved in a rather awful splinching accident-at least, she assumed that was the case considering his foot was in his lap rather than attached to the end of his leg.
And a young girl, Hogwarts age, legs crossed and foot bouncing in the air as she stared around the room.
Their eyes met for a moment, and Gabby smiled politely at her.
"Right, what's wrong with you, then?"
"Excuse me?" Silicone Chest said, sounding highly offended.
"You're excused." Glancing up from the clipboard where Tracey had drawn a crude stick figure with massive melons located at chest height, he asked again, "What's wrong with you, then?"
"Aren't you going to introduce yourself?!"
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. "Do you have eyes?"
"Are they working?"
"Read the name tag," he said, tapping it with his finger, twice, "and then either tell me what's wrong with you or get out of my clinic. I've plenty of patients to treat who need something more from me than wasting my far-too-valuable-to-be-spent-on-the-likes-of-you time."
Gabby didn't know when or how it happened, but when she looked up from the magazine she'd been flipping through, she found the young girl had migrated over to the chair next to her.
"All right?" Gabby said, greeting her with a nod.
"Wonderful," the girl said with a bright smile. "You?"
"Er...I'm well, thanks," Gabby said, before looking back down at her magazine.
A few seconds of silence passed by.
"So, he's really in there, is he?"
Gabby looked up again. "Sorry, what?"
The girl bit her lip, a blush coloring her cheeks. "Harry Potter," she whispered loudly, leaning in to grab Gabby's arm. "Like the Harry Potter."
"The Harry Potter, indeed," Gabby said, flipping through another page.
"My friend Lucy claims she saw him in person once," the girl said, fingers biting quite painfully into Gabby's arm, now. "That he was even better looking than in the photographs-which, like, how, you know? And she got so jealous when I told her that I landed an appointment with him-which I totally need, by the way, that's not even a lie. Even though Mum and Dad totally thought I was lying, and it was so bloody hard to convince them, but like why would I lie about something like that, you know? Sometimes they can be so ridiculous. And don't even get me started on…"
"Are you this rude to all your patients?"
"Do you deliberately not answer questions?" Harry dryly retorted. "Or shall I just guess why you're in my office bothering me in the first place?"
"I'll be making a complaint to your manager about this," Silicone Chest said, vitriol in her voice as she flipped her hair out of her face.
Harry gave her a winning smile and withdrew a business card from his coat pocket. "This is my manager, Hermione Granger's, cell phone, home phone, work email and personal email. In total, there are seven ways of contacting her. Please be sure to try every single one of them."
He handed her the card and then proceeded to ask the same question for the fourth time, "Right, what's wrong with you, then?"
Silicone Chest rolled her eyes before inhaling deeply, as though preparing to assault Harry with a bout of verbal diarrhea. "So, it started like this...Jimmy got home after he'd been down at the pub with Johnny-the two-timing bastard who slept with Stephanie while he was still with Wanda-Wanda who's Stephanie's aunt's cousin's younger brother's former uni dormmate's best friend, innit? And anyway, so he comes back, yeah? And he calls me fat! Fat! Me! Can you bloody well believe that?!" Silicone Chest asked, clenching the sides of her protruding tummy.
Harry took a meaningful glance down at the woman's stomach rolls that were visible through her tight shirt.
"No!" she exclaimed, scandalized. "I'm bloody pregnant!"
"...and you wouldn't believe the story Lucy overheard Derek say while she was-"
Carla paused mid sentence and looked up to see the clerk holding out her clipboard. "Ooh, that's me!" she said, standing up like a spring.
Gabby said a silent prayer of relief.
"Wish me luck, Gabs," Carla said, giving her two thumbs up before glancing at her reflection in the window and fixing her hair a bit.
"Finkle!" the clerk practically shouted.
"You've tinkled on the stick, and it came back with two lines, then?"
"No, why would I need to? Have you seen me?" Silicone Chest asked, jutting out her chest and running her hand down her body as if she were showing off the latest super car. "I had lipo done last year, my lips are being done next month, and I already had my botox done this week!"
Harry placed the clipboard on the desk, dropped his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Will he be much longer, do you think?" the one-footed man asked aloud after several more minutes had passed.
Gabby frowned at him in sympathy.
"Only, it's, er...starting to hurt a bit again, isn't it?" the man said.
The clerk looked up at him with one eyebrow raised. "Perhaps you should have thought about that before apparating halfway across the continent like a bloody half-wit."
Gabby's mouth fell open as she stared between the two. "Oi!" she said. "You can't talk to him like that!"
"Oh, dear," the woman said, voice monotone. "However will I live with myself?"
"Huh, would you look at that…" Harry said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "If I ignored the ballerina get-up, you might actually look like a princess."
Princess Pansy glanced up at him shyly. "I twisted both my ankles and then sprained them last night. The trainer tried to fix me, but…" She gestured at her swollen ankles.
Harry frowned as he began to heal them. "Are those not natural cankles?"
She didn't respond. Whether it was out of annoyance or out of concentration on Harry's wand movements, he couldn't be sure.
"Must not be very good, those trainers of yours," he mused. "Only two-bit healers wouldn't be able to sort this out, themselves."
"I'm Natalia Pavlova, the starring performer for Madame Lacroi-"
Harry raised his free hand. "Don't care."
Pansy Princess glared at him, the effect of which was equivalent to glaring at a rock.
Harry finished fixing her up and turned to leave. "If you wanted to try and get me to show up at your little second-rate performance, yo-"
This time she cut him off. "That's not it, at al-"
"Again, don't care." Harry stepped out and shut the door.
Gabby watched a pretty brunette come out and pause to speak with the clerk before letting out a huff and walking towards the exit, as though changing her mind.
The clerk hadn't even bothered to look up from her work. But when the young woman walked past her, Gabrielle couldn't help but clasp her hand over her mouth.
That was Natalia Pavlova, the dancing phenom that had taken the ballet world by storm.
Gabby watched her step out the door before turning to see the clerk's head lifting up and watching Natalia leave as well.
"Another satisfied customer, I see," Gabby heard her murmur.
"And how can I help you today?"
"Not me. My son."
"Right, well…" Harry let his word hang and hoped he didn't have to continue, but of course he did. "What's wrong with him, then?"
"He doesn't listen," Overly Anxious remarked snidely, her upper lip curling.
"Is he as mute as he is deaf, then?" he asked, reaching forward and jabbing the end of his pen into the boy's thigh.
"Ow! Whatcha do that for?!"
"Not mute. Just deaf?" Harry looked back to Overly Anxious and tilted his head.
"He's not deaf, he just doesn't listen!" the woman exclaimed in outrage.
"Right, if it's not his hearing or his speech, then what's wrong with him?"
"It's all right," Gabby said, patting the man's knee in comfort. "I'm sure it won't be much longer."
"That's your hand on my foot," the man said, gesturing to where she'd just grazed his toe.
Gabby shot her arm back and giggled nervously before returning to her seat in a hurry.
Harry stood up from his seat and made his way over to a jar containing lollies for pediatric patients. He removed the lid and plucked one he'd been mentally debating eating since he came into the room.
"Are you even listening to me?!"
"No," Harry said. "But if you plan to answer my question and tell me what's wrong with your son, then I might."
He wouldn't. But Overly Anxious didn't need to know that. The diagnostic charm he performed while he had his back turned made it pretty clear that a toy was stuck so far up the boy's nose, the Doctor would have better luck finding Gallifrey.
"Ah, yes," the man said, raising his hand before attempting to stand up. He wobbled a bit on one foot, holding his other beneath his armpit so that the toes stuck out towards Gabby and wiggled at her as he made his way towards the front desk.
After having been irritated enough by Overly Anxious, Harry buggered off, making some excuse about needing to find longer pliers while simultaneously letting them stew over the fact that he needed to find longer pliers. That would be comeuppance enough for talking his ear off.
Tracey would have already filled both exam rooms, so he grabbed the chart off the wall and let out a contented breath that it was a magical patient. At least he could use his wand indiscriminately.
Harry pulled the door handle down and opened it. Upon seeing the preteen, Hogwarts-aged pubescent girl on the bed, however, he instantly grew worried.
Stepping through the door, his worst fears were confirmed.
"Squeeeeeeee! You're Harry P- P- P- Potter! Merlin and Morgana be blessed!" Fawning Fanny squealed, her hands clasping her face. "I've loved you ever since I was a little girl! I have your pictures everywhe-"
Harry slammed the door, locked it, and activated the portkey function, sending the girl to St. Mungos.
He shook his head. That was the third one this month, already.
"Well," Gabby heard the clerk mutter to herself. "That's that patient discharged."
After he'd crossed the hall, Harry had entered his second room. He hadn't needed a diagnostic charm to diagnose Monopod Man.
"Let me get this straight. You misplaced your wand after splinching yourself, and then walked on foot-without a foot-in order to come to this clinic?"
"Sounds like it, yeah."
Harry summoned a form from the desk and quickly filled out the appropriate boxes.
"Right, take this to the Ministry and see if they can sort you out."
"Thanks, Healer Potter," Monopod Moron said graciously, taking the form and giving it a quick perusal as he started walking out the door.
"Hey, you sent me to the wrong department!"
"Hmm?" Harry replied, not bothering to look up as he updated the patient chart.
"They only deal with magical creatures there, not proper wizards like me!" Monopod Moron cried out indignantly, holding the form up over his head.
"The Ministry still defines magical creatures as those with wizard intelligence but the inability to use a wand. I thought it fit you perfectly."
"Bloody wanker!" Gordan Ruggle said, storming towards the exit as best he could with one foot still detached from his body.
"Thank you for visiting PIMMPLE, we hope to never see you again soon," the woman at the front desk called behind him, face set in a sugary sweet smile.
Gabby pursed her lips, growing more and more weary by the second.
Harry brandished the extra long pliers and pointed them at Overly Anxious. "Right. You, out. Go to the waiting room while I pull you-know-Who from you-know-where."
After a few feeble protests, she made her way out.
The wandless compulsion charm may have had something to do with it.
Harry put one arm on Snivelling Snot while snapping his wand up into his opposite hand, quickly stunning him. Sleight of hand had been necessary while learning to treat muggles with magic.
Three charms would do the trick. One to summon the toy, one to repair the tissue damage, and one to cleanse old Doctor Who from his journey to Mucus Major.
Harry placed the ten inch pliers beside the Snivelling Snot's nose and woke him up.
The kid's eyes bulged comically. He tried to back away but ended up tumbling right off the table.
Harry paid little attention to the fallen boy. His eyes drawn, instead, to the prize that had been left on the examination table. There, in all of its silver glory, was a Gameboy Advance SP.
Harry deftly plucked it off the bed and checked what game was set into it.
"Hey kid," he said over his shoulder. "How'd you like to make a crisp £20?"
The mention of money got the Snivelling Snot off the ground fast. "How?" he demanded, holding a hand over his nose, full attention on Harry.
"I've got…" Harry checked the watch on his wrist, "one hour and seven minutes until I'm off. You sit in here and let me play your Advance SP, and I'll slip you a cool £20."
"£100, you just stuck pliers up my nose!"
"£40, you're the one that shoved an action figure up there!"
"Yeah? What do you think got me that Super Mario 3 in the first place?" Snivelling Snot said, arms crossed. "I ain't stupid, you know. I did it on a dare for the game!"
Damn. Harry could respect that. "Fine," he said begrudgingly. "We'll call it £60."
"£100, or I scream and yell until Mum and everyone else in this place comes running back in here," Bad-Faith Bargainer countered.
"£80, and you can eat as many lollies as you want."
"£100! C'mon man, you're a doctor! I know you've got cash to burn."
Harry grumbled under his breath and checked his wallet. £100 it was. Stupid Bad-Faith Bargainer. "Fine. But you don't get a single pound of it if we get caught."
Gabby stared down at her watch and sighed.
"Eighteen minutes?! Five minutes slower than that fat bastard?! Not. Possible."
"Can you keep it down? I don't get paid if you shout and get us caught, remember?"
Harry glared at Snivelling Snot.
"Plus, I told you," the boy said through a mouthful of red lolly, "you were too slow at the start."
"Pardon," Gabrielle said, the word sounding more French to her ears than English.
Fleur always liked to joke when they were younger that it was the first sign of an impending Gabby-fit. And at twenty-four, she was slightly ashamed to admit she hadn't quite grown out of that habit yet.
"Oui?" the woman at the front desk responded, somehow managing to sound sarcastic even through a one-syllable word.
Gabby ignored her. "Will Healer Potter be much longer?" she said. "It's been about an hour now."
"Healer Potter is unfortunately very busy at the moment, but your name will be called when he's ready," the woman said as though reading from a script. "Please feel free to peruse the entertainment provided on the tables in the seating area. And thank you so much for your patience."
Gabby clenched her teeth. "J'en ai ras le bol," she muttered before returning to her seat.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, just have a seat Frenchie," the woman said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"Hah! Sixteen minutes! I'll catch you yet, Dudders!"
Sweet-Tooth Snot shushed Harry aggressively as he sucked on his ninth lolly, glancing at the door and hoping no one would come barging in looking for the man that was currently engrossed in playing his Gameboy.
"Right, this is getting ridiculous," Gabrielle said, planting herself in front of the clerk's desk with her arms crossed. "What kind of service is this? What if I were dying?"
Tracey Davis-Gabby had stared burning holes into the woman's nameplate for the past 15 minutes-looked up at her with one eyebrow raised.
"Dying?" Davis said.
Gabby spluttered for a moment. "Well I dunno, I could be!" she said. "I haven't seen a healer yet, have I? And what the hell is he even doing, this place is empty."
"There's a muggle entrance, as well."
She clicked her tongue but had no response to that.
"You know what? I'm leaving," Gabby said, grabbing her things in a huff. "And I'm taking my business to St. Mungo's."
"Oh, no," Davis said, elongating the word and pretending to look upset.
Gabby rolled her eyes and turned to open the door with all the strength she had, only to smack the metal of her purse against her forehead when the door wouldn't give.
"Merde," she said, wincing as she placed a hand against her head.
"It's a push," Davis said unhelpfully. "Not a pull."
With a glare in the woman's direction, Gabby pushed the door open and let it slam behind her.
Harry took a graceful step out of the floo and looked around to find an empty sitting room. It had been a few weeks since he'd made it to Sunday tea at the Burrow and Molly had threatened unspeakable things if he didn't show his face today. The fact that he'd been busy presenting the major advance he'd pioneered in diagnostic medicine in Tokyo, Chicago, and Johannesburg the previous three Sundays was of little importance.
But no matter. He hadn't had a good meal in ages and restaurant food, no matter how expensive, wasn't nearly as good as a home cooked meal.
"Harry? Is that you, dear?" Molly called, turning her head as he entered the kitchen.
"In the flesh," Harry said, wincing a bit as she drew him in for a rib-crushing hug.
She mercifully let go after a several seconds and held him at arms length to get a good look at him. "Even thinner than last time," she said, tutting quietly and shaking her head. "Go on out back, everyone's in the garden. Dinner will be out in a bit."
"Can I help?"
"With food, no. Showing up to Ginny's wedding and sitting with the family, yes."
Harry fought the urge to groan. "Wouldn't miss it for the world," he responded, smiling blandly. Or for the ICW committee meeting that he was chairing that he'd had booked for two years now. But that was fine. He'd rebook.
"Oh, I'm so glad to hear that, Harry. You know it'll mean the world to her," Molly said, with a warm smile.
Harry very much doubted that, but he returned the smile regardless.
"Now, go, go. Eat. Get out of my sight!" Molly said, nudging him out the door.
Harry stumbled out into the garden, the door closing behind him with a decisive click. He righted himself before stuffing his hands in his pockets and making his way over to the tables set up outside in the lovely weather.
Ginny's voice floated through the air, no doubt prattling on about her 'Wedding of the Century'. Superstar Holyhead Harpies Chaser, Ginny Weasley, and Bighead Boy. Or, Harry thought, perhaps Bighead Garçon-cédille included-would be more appropriate. The Frenchman always did look sensationally sumptuous.
"It was difficult enough picking the bridesmaid's dresses with all the different complexions and hair colours. We're having them hand-tailored in Spain with the material being imported from Italy. You're going to absolutely gush over them, they ar-"
"Afternoon, Weasleys," Harry said, flicking Ron behind the ear and tugging lightly on Ginny's ponytail, earning an elbow in the stomach and an 'arse!' in return.
"The man of the hour!" George said, spreading his arms wide, eyes dancing with mirth. "You picked a wonderful day to join us."
"Yes, let's all pay attention to Harry, now. What else is new?" Ginny muttered under her breath.
"Every day I join you is wonderful," Harry said, ignoring her as he took a seat.
"Is it, Harry? Is it?"
Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise as he turned to look at Fleur. Her face was set in an uncharacteristic scowl, eyes practically burning.
"Blimey...what's got your feathers ruffled?" Harry said, grabbing a roll off the table.
Bill set a calming hand on Fleur's arm that did absolutely nothing to soften the daggers she was shooting Harry's way.
"I had a word with Gabrielle yesterday," Fleur said, her jaw tight.
"Er…" Harry said, looking around the table to make sure she was addressing him. "Congratulations?"
She clicked her tongue loudly. "Mon Dieu...you don't even care, do you?" she said, a mix of wonder and disgust in her voice.
Harry looked around once again in confusion. He caught George's eye and was annoyed to find him biting back a laugh. "Sorry," he said to Fleur. "But...what exactly should I be caring about?"
Fleur smacked a hand against the table causing several others to jump. "My sister!" she said through a hiss. "The sister that came to you in need, but who you completely ignored because you are an absolute knot face!"
Harry scrunched his forehead in a frown. "A what, now?"
"Dickhead," Bill said while Fleur seethed beside him. "It...gets lost in translation a bit."
Harry nodded thoughtfully.
"That's what you got out of that?" Ginny said, raising an eyebrow at him. "Did you not hear her? You completely stood Gabby up at the clinic. She was waiting to be seen for hours, according to Fleur."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Harry said, putting his hands up in defense. "Not my fault. I can't control how many patients I'll be seeing in a day. If it was an emergency Tracey would have bumped her up the list."
"Oh, like you couldn't bump her up the list yourself," Fleur said, crossing her arms. "She's family. I thought that might mean something to you, but apparently I was wrong."
"I didn't even know she was in the waiting room!" Harry said.
"She said your clerk was completely unprofessional and rude! Passed right over her, on purpose, I bet!"
"Now that's unfair," Harry said, shaking his head at her. "Tracey's also efficient. She hates when people forget that."
Fleur let out a squawk of frustration. "Is this how you run a clinic?" she said, her accent getting thicker by the second. "What kind of healer-"
"Harry," said multiple voices at once.
"What?" Fleur said, staring around at all of them.
"You asked the question. And the answer is Harry. The answer is always Harry," Ron said with a tired expression.
Harry nodded in agreement.
"Why does Hermione have premature grey hairs?" Ron said.
"Harry," George said.
"Why did that woman leave the clinic in tears?"
"Harry," Ginny said.
"Why is that man swearing up a storm?"
"Harry," Bill said.
"I'm somewhat of an arse," Harry said.
Fleur pursed her lips in disapproval. "Well then you admit you're in the wrong here," she said. "You could have seen Gabby."
"I could've done a lot of things," Harry said with a nod. "Seeing Gabby would've been very far down on that list, I'm afraid-no offense intended-"
"But no matter," Harry said, ignoring her. "I'll tell you what. Send her over to my office on Monday, and I promise I'll make her my top priority."
"Take a number."
Gabrielle's eyes flitted to the same clerk she'd seen last time she was here.
"No, I'm here to see Harry Potter."
"Yeah, you and everyone else that walks through those doors." The woman gave her a condescending look. "Take a number," she repeated, pointing at the small pad in front of her.
With a frown, Gabrielle persisted. "No, you don't understand. I'm actually a friend of Harry's. My sister told me he'd see me."
"Oh, I don't doubt that," the woman placated her. "Just take a number, and you'll be able to see your brother's best friend soon enough."
"Sister's," Gabrielle said as she snatched a number, huffing a breath out her nose.
"Fill that out, too," the woman said, floating a clipboard to her so that it bumped into her shoulder.
Gabrielle turned to see a very familiar form. "I filled this out last time, can't you just use that?"
"No," the woman responded without even looking up from her work.
Gabby clenched and then unclenched her fist. Fleur promised her that Harry would see her this time. So she'd just have to grin and bear this indignity.
Throwing one last glare at the clerk, Gabby turned and stomped over to take a seat. She proceeded to fill out the same form as last time. She would complete it and then keep her head down until her name was called.
The door of the patient room Gabby had finally been called into opened.
Messy black hair, piercing green eyes and a white coat left no room for doubt that this was the man she'd been waiting to see.
"Right, what's wrong with you then?" he asked, not even glancing up at her.
"Hi, Harry," Gabrielle said softly. It'd been a long time since they'd last seen each other. If it weren't for the fact that he was possibly the only healer who could help her, who knew how much time would have passed before they'd run into each other again.
Harry looked up at her and then glanced back down at her file. "Delacour...Gabrielle." He looked up at her, once again, and then blinked, twice. "Right. Fleur had mentioned you might come in."
"I came in once last week, but the clinic closed before I had a chance to see you."
Harry shrugged. "That happens."
He clearly wasn't bothered by how things were run here.
"Well, it's been some time since that blasted tournament," Harry said.
"It has been, yeah," she said, a bit awkwardly. "There was also Bill and Fleur's wedding."
Harry hummed in response. "I was polyjuiced for that."
"We arrived at the Burrow a few days earlier, though. I saw you, then," Gabby said before mentally cursing herself for sounding like a stalker.
She'd had a bit of crush, all right? She wasn't too big to admit that. And though Harry had only grown more attractive with age, she wasn't the same fawning little girl she used to be.
"Well, what brings you across the Channel?"
Gabrielle shifted her gaze away from him, absently playing with a strand of her hair. "Right, so, erm….well, it sounds like nothing, but-look, just please, hear me out."
She looked back up to find Harry's piercing eyes already on her. And after what felt like a minute, but could have only been a few seconds, he gave her a slight nod.
Harry placed the file down on the desk then, giving her his full attention.
"Just relax. Take a breath and then try again," Harry said in a gentle voice, attempting to reassure her.
Gabby dropped her head and stared into her lap. It was never easy bringing up something like this. Especially considering the various negative reactions she'd received in the past.
"Look, if your problems are down there," he said, his eyes shifting down her body, "I can have Hermione see you, and I'll just consult."
Mortified, Gabby felt her face heat up. She spluttered out a quick denial, "No! It's not that!" she said, embarrassed at the notion. "I've never even done that."
"Oh," Harry said. "Saving yourself for someone special then, eh? Not the way I'd go, but I can respect that."
She froze at his words, feeling her eyes grow wide. "No, no! It's not like that either, it's-argh!" She couldn't stand it any longer. Years of frustration were finally boiling over. "Look, I've tried, okay? But I c-can't! Every time I go to...start things...something happens!"
Harry nodded slowly. "While I am a Healer, I specialize in diagnostic medicine. If you're not sure you like men, you can try women. Our culture has progressed these last few decades, you know…perhaps talk to Fleur or your mum about it?"
"I'm not gay!" she burst out, glaring at him to make herself abundantly clear. "I. Like. Men."
Harry shrugged and gave her an apathetic look. "You like men and you're gorgeous. I'm not sure I understand what you need from me. If your parents didn't give you the little witches and wizards chat, then I'm sure Fleur could-or, Merlin forbid, Molly..."
Gabby didn't even want to picture that horrific scenario. Instead, her glare intensified. "I know how to do it. Just, every time I try... something happens."
"Well...yes. Something is supposed to happen," Harry said. "That's sort of the point, isn't it?"
"No, I meant-" Gabby said before cutting off and letting out a small groan. "Nothing happens because of something."
Harry lifted his eyebrows, idly tapping his foot, but remaining otherwise silent. Then he paused and spoke again. "Well, if the problem is more between the ears, then seeing someone that specializes in mind healing would be your best bet, not me," Harry said in that same gentle tone he'd used earlier.
She let out a withering sigh. "It's not that either. It's...just...look, I'll tell you what happened, okay?"
Harry held her stare and then indicated she should do so.
"Right, so the first time I tried to...you know...we were in my private room. We'd never really done anything before, but I was about to graduate and it just seemed like the right time to lose… it." She couldn't help the blush that came over her face. Harry might be a healer, but he was still Harry Potter. There probably wasn't a girl in her age group that hadn't fantasized about him at some point, and he hadn't saved any of them from dark black lakes when they were children. Sure, she was never actually in danger, but...still.
"I told him to take my dress off," Gabby said before pausing. Merde, this was so embarrassing to retell again, but she steeled herself, anyway. This was her best shot at getting whatever was wrong with her fixed. "I'm not sure exactly what happened…but I heard a crash and, somehow, he'd tripped while getting undressed and managed to knock himself out by crashing his head into the bedpost." It had been terrible. She'd been all hot and bothered, ready to become a woman, and her boyfriend was lying on the floor, bleeding from his head.
Harry, the consummate professional, merely dipped his chin in acknowledgement of her words. He didn't laugh at her like all her friends and family had when she'd eventually confessed her story to them while drinking. And she was grateful to him for that. It spurred her on to continue.
"The second time I tried to give it a go, my date was unbuttoning my top, and-Merlin, you won't believe this," she said, hiding her face in her hands for a couple seconds. "He, uhm, was too eager, I guess. And, somehow, a button popped off my shirt and flew right into his gaping mouth…"
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Well, that shouldn't have put a stop to things, surely? He could have just spat it out," he said rationally, echoing a similar sentiment that had been shared by Fleur when she'd heard the story.
Gabby shook her head vigorously. "When I say it flew into his mouth, I mean it shot down his throat and got stuck there. He had to be rushed to hospital."
"And there are more stories like this?" Harry asked patiently, giving Gabby hope that he might actually believe her.
"Yes. One time I was running up the stairs of my family's home, racing ahead of the guy I was with. I slipped my bra off and threw it behind me...I was only trying to entice him! I thought he might catch it or at the very least step around it…but, somehow, he didn't even see it." At this point, she let out a shaky breath. So many close calls with nothing to show for them. She dropped her head into her hands again. "He ended up stepping on it which caused him to lose his footing and tumble down two flights of marble stairs."
She lifted her still blushing face up and looked at Harry, his own expression stoic.
"And this happens, every time?" he asked.
Gabrielle heard what she thought was mild skepticism creeping into his voice.
Yes!" She crossed her arms over her chest. "From seventeen to twenty-four! No matter who I've tried to do the deed with, or how I've gone about it, I just can't lose my virginity!"
Gabby could feel her heart beating in her chest, her breathing becoming slightly elevated. It was all so infuriating! She felt like she was going crazy!
She watched as Harry tapped his forefinger to his stubble-less chin. "It sounds like you've been cursed," he said. "Or given something that was cursed."
"Non. Bill and Fleur have already checked. They've spent hours, days, weeks, on and off for the past few years, trying to help me put an end to this."
Harry pursed his lips in thought. "Just so we're clear-and I don't think this is the case, but you can never be sure when you're a friend of George-if this is a prank, I want you to know that my vengeance will be swift and brutal."
Gabrielle couldn't help the shiver that went down her spine. For just a moment she'd been able to see a glimpse of the man that had ended an entire war at seventeen.
"I- It's not."
"I didn't think so, but it definitely sounds like something a Weasley might come up with," Harry said, his tone returning back to normal.
"I'm not making this up, nobody's putting me up to this. I...I just want it to stop."
She'd reached the end of her line, having gone through so much already to try and find an answer. Harry was the last option she had.
She only hoped he'd come through and be the one to save her once again.
"I'll have to write this all down in your chart," Harry said, picking it up. "Including my initial conclusions from our first diagnostic interview."
She narrowed her eyes at him, almost cringing at the hope blossoming in her chest. "And what have you concluded?"
If she hadn't been watching him so closely she might have missed the fraction of a second that the corners of his mouth twitched. "That you want me to help you get laid."
It was a bright August day, the weather mild, the sky clear, the Quidditch conditions absolutely perfect. Harry settled into his seat and threw his legs up on the bar in front of him, turning to flash a smile at his date.
"I wouldn't have pegged you for a Harpies fan," she said.
"M'not," he said with a shrug, taking a bite out of his meat pie. "I don't follow anyone. Not worth my time."
His date raised an eyebrow at him.
Kristen, Kirsten, Crystal, Krista.
The woman had abnormally long fingers.
Great teeth, as well. But unfortunately that moniker had already been assigned to Great Teeth who'd dumped him last week after he'd accidentally revealed her false parentage to her. As though it were his fault she'd brought up the topic of blood types on their first date.
Two O's with an AB child? A five year old could've worked that Punnett Square out.
"Then why'd you pick this match?" Long Fingers said, bringing him back to the present.
Harry held up a finger of his own as he swallowed. "Got a friend on the team," he said. "She owed me a favour."
Long Fingers raised her eyebrow even higher. "Right, like Harry Potter can't get tickets on his own?"
"Ginny doesn't like me at the matches," Harry said. "Claims I steal the attention away from everyone."
Which was fair enough.
"And if I'm going to come to a Quidditch match, it's going to be in the family box. Best seats in the stadium," he said. "You can practically see the Snitch yourself-have done once, actually. Could have reached out and caught it, too, but that may have fallen under the category of 'stealing attention'."
Long Fingers gave him a look of mild amusement.
"Any other questions?" Harry said.
"Oh," she said. "I didn't mean to pry…"
"No, no," he said. "Ask away. I always appreciate a curious mind."
She licked her lips and tried to hide a smile.
Harry grinned. This was definitely going well.
A rustle towards the entrance of the box cut off any further conversation, and Harry and Long Fingers turned their heads to see who'd just arrived.
"Gabrielle?" Harry said in confusion.
Gabby's head snapped up at the sound of his voice and the colour seemed to drain from her face as she took in the scene before her. "Harry?" she said, her voice slightly higher in pitch than he remembered. "What are you-I-how-?"
"Is everything all right?" said a new voice.
Harry leaned back past Long Fingers's head to see a tall, lanky bloke walk in behind Gabby. He seemed to have a permanently lost look on his face, hair parted straight down the middle like an imbecile.
Harry shook his head before addressing Gabby. "Are you following me?" he said, genuinely curious.
It wouldn't be the first time, to be fair. Well-not with Gabby, specifically. But other women. A man, once. There was also Nullarbor Nymph in Eucla, but Harry preferred not to think about that.
Gabby scoffed and folded her arms tight to her chest. "Maybe you're following me."
"But...we got here after them," Middle Part said quietly.
Gabby glared at him before turning to look at Harry. "Can I have a word?" she said.
"What's going on?" Long Fingers interjected, staring around at everyone.
"Nothing, Long-er. Nothing," Harry said, patting her hand.
"A word?" Gabby said again, her tone leaving no room for argument.
Harry shrugged and stood up. "I'll just be a moment," he told Long Fingers, earning a look of displeasure. "Why not get acquainted with Middle Part, over there."
"Who?" Middle Part said.
Gabby rolled her eyes before leading him out into the corridor. She looked rather lovely despite the scowl on her face. Clearly more effort was put into her appearance than usual, if her usual was what he saw in his office the other day.
But even that was, well...lovely.
"Right. You're angry at me, and I don't understand why," Harry said, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Usually when someone is angry at me, the reasoning is rather clear."
She stared at him for a moment before letting out a long sigh. "I'm not angry, I just…" she said, rubbing a hand over her face. "Look, my dates already end horribly enough-as you know-and I was sort of hoping this one didn't have to start horribly, as well."
Harry frowned in thought. "Two questions," he said, holding up two fingers. "First, what does me being here have to do with your horrible date? And two...do you honestly believe Mr. Middle Part back there is going to be the answer to your little problem?"
Gabby clicked her tongue. "Would you stop calling him that," she said, throwing her hands up in the air. "He's got a name."
"I'm sure he does," Harry said in a soothing tone. "But back to my questions."
"Do I really need to explain why I don't want you here? You're the genius, Harry, I'm sure you could figure it out," Gabby said through a hiss. "You're rude, you're condescending, you call people stupid names, and you know more about me at this point than any person should have the right to. How can I trust you not to go blurting things out about my sex life? Or lack thereof!"
At this, Harry straightened up and leveled her with a serious look. "I won't argue any of the points you made about my personality. And while I've done a great many things, I can assure you I would never break patient confidentiality," he said, all humour gone. "But more important than that...I would never hurt a friend."
Gabby's lips parted. "Harry…"
But he turned around before she could get another word out.
"Everything all right?" Long Fingers said when he returned to his seat in the box.
"Everything's lovely," Harry said, forcing a smile. "Has the match started, then?"
"Only just," she said, shifting a bit closer to him and taking his hand in hers.
Harry stared at her fingers for a moment, entranced. Merlin, they really were a sight to behold.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Gabby return to her seat as well, Middle Part fawning over her and making sure everything was all right. As though Harry had just done her some grave injustice.
But he wasn't going to think about that right now. He was going to enjoy the match with his pleasant date and pay no mind to the flirtatious noises happening behind him.
Or at least, that's what he'd planned on doing. Fate had other things in mind.
It all started with a kiss.
More specifically, it started with Middle Part laying a wet one on Gabby, letting out a sound so loud and so obnoxious that Harry couldn't help but cringe.
And then several things happened at once.
A loud whoosh of air.
A Bludger's bat hurtling towards their box and heading straight for-
"OH MY GOD! Martin! Martin!"
"Help! Somebody help!"
Harry whipped his head around and saw Gabby's date crumple to the floor, the wooden bat rolling silently away from his limp body.
"It smacked him right in the head!" Gabby yelled.
"He literally got knocked out..." Long Fingers said, eyes wide.
Harry walked over to the body and tilted his head to the side as he surveyed the damage. "How curious…" he said, looking between Gabby and the bloke at his feet and back to Gabby several times.
"What?" Gabby said, grabbing onto Harry's arm. "Is it bad?"
"Hmm?" he said, glancing back up at her. "Oh, yes. Definitely. But that's not what I was referring to..."
"Then what the hell were you referring to?" she said, yelling right into Harry's ear.
He winced slightly and turned to face her, his shoe accidentally bumping Middle Part in the nose.
"Oh, pardon," he murmured to him before meeting Gabby's eyes. "I was referring to your-oh, just a moment-" Harry took out his wand and cast a Muffliato, Long Fingers looking between them and the Quidditch pitch where it seemed like chaos had started to ensue.
"I was referring to your sex problem," he said.
Gabby's eyes widened, and she looked around quickly as though someone might overhear.
"Don't worry, I've muffled our conversation," Harry said.
"What the hell does my-that have to do with this?" Gabby said, gesturing towards the man on the floor.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows. "Well, it's got everything to do with it. Isn't this why you came to me in the first place?" he said, wondering if she was being thick on purpose. "What's curious, though, is that you two were nowhere near having intercourse just now..."
Gabby's mouth popped open.
"I should hope not, anyway," Harry said.
"Of course we weren't!" she said, looking scandalized.
"Which begs the question…" Harry said, rubbing his chin with his fingers. "Why would a man fall victim to your sex problem if you two weren't in the process of having sex?"
"Could you please stop calling it a sex problem?" Gabby said through gritted teeth.
But before Harry could respond several loud pops of apparation erupted inside their box. They looked around to find a team of medics rushing over to Middle Part who still lay immobile on the floor.
"You call this a rapid response team?" Harry said, eyebrow raised. He shook his head and turned to Long Fingers to apologize for their ruined date-and with any luck, schedule a new one-but she was annoyingly nowhere to be found.
"Long-fin-! Damn…" Harry said, placing his hands at his waist and biting his bottom lip in thought. "Krista…? Kristen, where are you? Crystal…?"
Harry snapped his head around and saw Gabby looking out over the box, hands over her mouth and eyes wide.
He rushed towards her and followed her line of sight. "Well, I'll be damned…" he whispered. Long Fingers was hanging off the box's edge, swaying back and forth with terror in her eyes, but an unsurprisingly firm grip. Who knew hands like that could come in so...well...handy?
Harry chuckled to himself.
"Harry!" Long Fingers screamed, cutting into his thoughts.
"I'm here, I'm here," he yelled back. "Can you tell me how this happened?"
Gabby made a noise of disbelief as she turned to him. "Are you kidding me right now?" she practically screeched. "Help her first and ask your bloody questions later!"
But Harry only frowned as he let his eyes scan their surroundings, watching as the rapid response team took Middle Part away on a stretcher.
"Of course," he said to himself, shaking his head with a small smile. "The protective barrier must have been deactivated when the response team apparated in. Long Fingers had her nose practically pressed against it, surely she'd tip over. But then...two accidents in one sitting? Ehh, could be a coincidence. Or it could be something else…"
"OUT OF THE WAY, PLEASE!" someone said, shoving Harry aside as they rushed towards the edge of the box. "Miss, on the count of three we're going to levitate you up! One...two…"
Harry turned around and walked back to their seats where Gabby was already sitting, eyes wide, mouth open, expression frozen like she'd just seen a ghost. "Hey, what's wrong?" he said, concerned.
She turned to stare at him with a somewhat dazed look in her eyes.
"Listen," Harry said, placing a comforting hand on her arm. "I'm thinking you should stop by my office again this week. Whatever happened today was...odd. And we definitely need to look into it further."
"Odd?" she said, sounding a bit hysterical.
Harry knitted his eyebrows. "Yeah," he said. "Did you not think it was?"
Gabby blinked a few times. "I think I should go-alone." She added the last word quickly as Harry stood up with her. "I think it's best if we avoid each other as much as possible, Harry. But, er, I'll...definitely stop by the clinic again this week."
"Oh," Harry said, ignoring the small weight that settled in his gut. "Right. Yes. Okay."
"Bye," she said, before rushing out of the box.
Harry stood there for a moment, and then turned to face the pitch. The match had resumed sometime during their conversation but several reporters had clambered their way into Harry's box instead, all their cameras and their Quick-Quotes Quills being shoved in his face, questions being thrown at him that he frustratingly did not have answers to.
He could definitely see now what Ginny meant when she said he always stole too much attention.
To be fair though, he didn't think it was his fault this time.
Harry looked up and blinked a few times, his mind having wandered so far away he'd nearly forgotten where he was. "Pardon?"
The woman smiled.
She had one of those happy smiles that took over her entire face, blue eyes crinkling at the sides. "Do you want a refill on your coffee?"
Harry shook his head. "No," he said.
The woman shrugged and walked away.
"Actually," he said. "Er...hey! Crinkly Eyes!"
The woman paused in her step and turned around, looking from side to side as though unsure if he'd been talking to her. "Did you just call me...Crinkly Eyes?"
Harry cleared his throat. "Right, sorry. Erm...Miss Waitress…?"
"It's Abby," the woman said, pointing to her name tag. She raised an eyebrow at him, looking him up and down. "How can I help you, Defeated Posture?"
Right. He supposed he deserved that.
"I'll have a treacle tart, please."
She gave him a nod. "Coming right up."
"Thank you," he added quickly. "Er...Abby."
The happy smile came back then, crinkly eyes and all, and Harry settled back into his chair in relief.
For now at least.
There was, of course, still the matter of...everything else.
"Take a number."
Gabrielle's eyes rolled the second she heard that all-too-familiar refrain. She took a number before the clerk could tap the pad and went to go sit down.
The second her back was turned, however, she felt something bump up behind her.
"Fill that out."
Gabby looked over her shoulder. Ah, yes. How could she have forgotten the most necessary part? With a sigh, she grabbed it and proceeded to fill it out.
"Hi, Harry," she greeted as he walked through the door.
A grunt was the response she received. Harry didn't look at her until after he'd placed the file down and sat on the floating stool.
"Don't mind all the equipment setup. Most of it is for monitoring your magic."
Gabrielle felt a bit apprehensive. There were a few doo-dads she recognized from her past experiences with healers but many others that she didn't. A three foot sphere that was going through rotating patterns of black and white, for instance.
"I'll need you to put these stickers on your cheeks." Harry held out his hand where two fruit stickers were lying on his open palm.
"You...want me to put an apple and banana sticker on my cheeks?"
"That is what I just said, yes."
"They're made of magical runes. Disguised to entertain children and trick muggles. Multipurpose, if you will," he said, wiggling his fingers at her to take them.
"Oh...okay." She peeled the backs off and put them on her cheeks, feeling a bit silly.
"And you'll need to hold this orange in your teeth, too."
She took it from him and slowly brought it towards her mouth. "I need to do this to monitor my magic?" she said, highly skeptical about this.
"Of course," Harry absently replied, "and don't bite too hard or you'll damage the sensitive runic array inside."
Gabby put the fruit in her mouth, her tongue tasting the bitter peel; it seemed to match her feelings about these derisory directions, perfectly.
"No fruit today?" Gabby questioned as Harry settled on his stool the following visit.
She sure hoped not anyway. Her jaw had been aching from holding an orange in her mouth for so long.
"Fruit?" Harry said, confusion flitting over his face for a second before shifting to an amused grin. "The barista gave me the stickers when I got my coffee that morning. Not sure about the orange, though, might have stolen that from Tracey, actually"
Gabby's mouth popped open. "But you said they had runes in them!"
A smug look came over his face. "I did, didn't I?"
"You're an arse," she said.
She watched him pull out a jester's hat, complete with rainbow colouration and bells at the peaks.
"I'm going to need you to put this on," he said.
Though he was being perfectly professional Gabby had the distinct impression he was messing with her again. And thoroughly enjoying it.
"Are there runes in this one, too?" She bit out sarcastically.
"No, this is for recording your baseline magic. There are sensors hidden in the hat that need to be spaced evenly along your scalp."
Even though she doubted the sincerity of the motivation she put the hat on, its bells tinkling with every slight movement of her body. Gabby would just have to resign herself to this.
"Okay, I'm going to need you to hold this rubber chicken too," Harry said, seeming to have pulled it out of thin air. "It used to be a wand but it got transformed into a chicken."
There was no point in questioning this, either. He would make up some intelligent-sounding reason even if there wasn't one, and she'd be forced to follow his directions.
She plucked the rubber chicken from his grasp using more force than necessary and held onto it. "Is this fine?" she asked.
"No, you need to lift it up over your head for it to work properly."
Gabby rolled her eyes, something she found herself doing a lot around him, and lifted it up over her head, hitting her ridiculous hat in the process and making it jingle. Repeatedly.
She doubted the ghost of a smirk on Harry's lips was only in her imagination.
With a sigh, she kept holding the chicken up over her head. If any of this made its way back to Fleur, she was going to kill him.
"What's the plan today? Clown nose and giant shoes? Flippers on my feet? Cat ears with whiskers on my cheeks?"
Between grabbing a number-even though she was his first patient every day-filling out the same form with the exact same information on that damn clipboard, and following Harry's ridiculous requests, Gabby was growing more than a little annoyed.
Harry only blinked at her in response, an oddly intense look on his face that made her blush slightly.
"No," he said. "I was thinking it was time to get your shirt off."
Gabby wasn't sure she'd heard right. "Pardon?" she said, eyebrows raised in surprise.
"We've done all the baseline testing, and I no longer need to dress you like a goof for entertainment."
"For entertainment?" she said her fists clenching.
"All the equipment is hidden in the walls," he said, gesturing vaguely around him as he flipped through her file. "But I figured if I needed to sit and monitor you for an hour I might as well entertain myself."
He said this all with an air of casualness that made Gabby assume she hadn't been the first patient of his to suffer this same indignity.
"Figured that, did you?" she said.
"Mmm," he said distractedly. "Though, I must say you do a wonderful troll impression. One of the best I've seen, actually."
Gabby chose not to dignify that with a response.
"Anyway," Harry said, snapping her file shut. "Shirt?"
She swallowed hard. "J- just take it off?"
"That's right. You said every time you try and expose yourself to a man something happens, correct? With all the sensors in here, if anything does happen, it'll give me some leads."
Gabrielle didn't try to respond verbally. Though this was a professional setting, and Harry wouldn't be leering at her, this was, potentially, the first time any man would see her bare chest. She took a deep breath and gripped the bottom of her shirt. In a single fluid motion, she pulled it over her head.
She suddenly wished she'd thought to put a different bra on than the lavender one she'd purchased on a shopping trip with Fleur to enhance her bust.
Gabby glanced up at Harry and saw that his attention was fixed on a magical monitor that hadn't been there before.
"Bra too?" she managed to ask without faltering.
With another deep breath in, she reached behind her back and pulsed a little magic into the clasp before slipping off the final garment covering her upper body. She fought the impulse to cover herself with her hands and arms. Though she was sure her chest was as red as her blushed cheeks. She was doing her best to keep calm and cool, even if it wasn't really working.
"Huh, not...what I was expecting."
That was about the last thing she wanted to hear when a man's eyes were on her exposed breasts for the first time. Were they larger or smaller than he expected? Were they not to his liking?
It took all of her self control to keep her face as neutral as she could manage and not break into tears. "Why's that?" she asked, her voice sounding fragile to her own ears.
She knew she'd scoff at herself for reacting like this later. But right now, she'd prefer if the floor could open up and swallow her.
Harry frowned. "See, I cleared the room of any item that might have potential to cause injury, but I still figured your magic would have some sort of negative reaction," he said, scratching the back of his head.
Gabby let out a shaky breath and felt her shoulders slump, feeling utterly embarrassed at how she'd misread his remark. "Can I cover myself, again?" she said in a tired voice.
Harry was staring off in space, appearing to be deep in thought. "What?" he said, as though just registering her words. "Oh, yeah, that's fine."
"So what's the plan today?"
Gabby was trying to be upbeat about this. She'd talked with Fleur and the fact that Gabby had been able to bare her upper body without any consequence was a vast improvement in both their books. Sure, it was nowhere near ideal, yet, but she was getting there.
"I don't see any fruit or clown costumes, am I going to be taking my top off again today?" she asked dryly.
"Yes, that's the plan."
"But let me call Tracey first, we'll see if she can get a reaction from your magic."
"Er-what?" Gabby said.
But Harry had already moved back to the door and poked his head out. "Oi, Tracey, get in here!"
Gabby wasn't so sure about this. Stripping in front of a random person was bad enough, but in front of the current bane of her existence? Highly unappealing.
"What now, Harry?" Tracey said, appearing in the doorway.
"You're a lesbian, right?"
The blunt question didn't even phase her. "No, I'm not."
"Bi then, at least?"
Tracey's lips thinned. "You met my boyfriend at Yule." With that she turned on the spot and stalked out.
Harry looked back at Gabby. "Well, thanks for coming. My plan won't work if Tracey can't leer at you." He shrugged indifferently and added, "I'll see you next week, then."
Gabby watched him stand and walk out the door. She woke up early, came to the clinic, took a number, filled out the form and the whole plan was for her to take off her top and get leered at by a woman?!
She grit her teeth and stormed out.
Gabby refused to wear the ridiculous contraptions that Harry had brought out today.
"I get saying no to the clown nose and collar, but what about the jester hat again? The bells take it from mildly amusing to spectacularly comical." Harry brought the top of the hat up to tickle her nose, bells jingling loudly, but she pushed it aside.
"No. No more wearing stupid clothes for your own amusement and no more taking off my shirt for your clerk."
"What about a random bloke from the waiting room?"
She rolled her eyes at him, not for the first time today. "Would it help if I scaled Big Ben and then stripped naked?"
Harry tapped his finger on his chin. "No...that won't do. Too many lurking variables to contend with, and the testing is too broad to achieve any real results of value.
If he'd been close enough she would've slapped his shoulder for that comment. "Are you making any progress?"
She sighed, knowing he wasn't going to give any more information without being prompted. He was just like that. The more time she spent with him, the more she learned his stupid quirks.
Like the way he rubbed his chin whenever he was thinking, or walked in exactly six minutes late to every scheduled appointment, or drank more coffee than was probably healthy for him. Not to mention the ridiculous names he came up with for every person he met. She'd asked him once what her nickname would've been if he'd never met her, but he'd refused to answer because of course he had to be difficult.
But then when she'd asked him why he'd simply shrugged and said, "I only call my friends by their real names."
That shouldn't have made her heart skip the way it did.
She blamed the way the light was catching the colour in his eyes.
Gabby cleared her throat softly and focused back on the present. "Do you even have a diagnosis yet?"
Harry didn't respond, at first. He finished whatever he was doing and then spun on his stool so abruptly Gabby felt her heart jump to her throat. "I do. The most likely diagnosis is a malfunctioning Veela Bond."
"It can't be that," she said with adamance. She'd already seen Veela Healers and they'd researched and tested her ad nauseum. She'd seen them on and off for years.
"It couldn't be a normal Veela Bond, I concur."
"The Veela Healers have exhausted that avenue, trust me," she said. "It's not a Veela Bond."
"Yes, yes, a normal bond has your Veela magic 'mark' the male by affecting him at an emotional level."
"And I haven't done that! Consciously or unconsciously! They checked. Multiple times! There isn't even a sliver of my Veela magic missing." She could feel her hope beginning to diminish within her. Almost every healer had thought it was because she was a part-Veela. A very small part-Veela, she might add.
It was something to do with her magic, she just knew it.
"If you'd allow me to finish...I can explain my theory."
Gabby hid the cringe she'd felt; the comment had made her feel like she was fourteen instead of twenty-four.
"Good. Now, while a Veela Bond is characterized by Veela Magic 'marking' a mate, my conclusion is that your magic believes you've 'marked' someone. It's acting in defense by protecting you from having sex with anyone other than your 'mated' partner."
Gabby's eyes widened at the explanation. That…made... sense...
She squeezed her eyes shut and scrunched up her nose. Maybe every time she'd had issues in the past it hadn't been 'bad luck' or fate playing tricks on her. Maybe there'd been a plausible explanation all along!
"C- can you...treat that?" She asked, feeling a bit of relief for the first time in a very long time.
Harry gave a characteristically casual shrug of his shoulders. "If my theory is correct then it would be the first documented case of such a thing occurring. And any treatment would be pioneering by its very nature."
Gabrielle nodded, showing she was following his words closely. But when Harry paused for a moment, a sudden thought struck her. "Well...what about when I was able to take my shirt off with you, though? Shouldn't my magic have reacted then?"
"It's a possibility," he said, nodding, "and I like the way you're thinking. Though a colleague of mine, Daphne Greengrass, once did a study on the Importance of Intent in relation to magic. And I believe it applies here. You see, you weren't trying to seduce me. If anything, it was the opposite. Entirely non-sexual."
That was true. It wasn't like they would have done it in the examination room. Though, Gabby held herself back from admitting that it might not have been entirely so in a different sort of context.
Either way, the theory made sense.
"Your Veela Magic will have to be 'reset' so that it stops acting to keep you faithful to your non-existent mate; or, I'll have to find a way to subdue it until you select a mate on your own.
"You can cure me?" she blurted out the words, unable to keep the deep yearning out of her voice as a sudden rush of raw emotion overcame her. She was embarrassed to feel her eyes begin to water, so she looked away from Harry, feeling more vulnerable now than when she'd bared her chest to him. She didn't know if she could handle being let down at this point.
Gabby jumped a bit when she felt Harry's hand patting her on the shoulder.
"Sorry," he said at once, withdrawing it.
"No, it's fine," she said, wiping her eyes surreptitiously before turning to look at him. "I'm just so grateful that you've found a possible answer to all this. I can't thank you enough for not giving up on me."
Harry chuckled, "It's what I do, Miss Delacour; it's what I do."
Gabby let out a long breath. "Well, is there anything I can do?"
"Yeah," he said. "If you care about your significant other you might want to avoid trying to get laid. For now, at least."
She rolled her eyes. "I'll do that," she said, before adding, "unless I'm mad at him."
"And now, it's time for the Bride and Groom to..."
Whatever else the Master of Ceremony at this overly lavish wedding was announcing got tuned out by Harry. He'd gotten the gist of it. They'd sat through the speeches, pretending to care as various people droned on, and on, and on, and on, and then on, some more, about the newlyweds without even a drop of liquor being on hand.
But now it was finally, finally, time for the guests to get their arses out of their seats without being rude.
Ginny's wedding was such an affair that Harry doubted any fuss would be made about him being present. There were so many important and distinguished guests that he'd been more than happy to get lost in the sea of redheads that had made up the familial side for the bride.
As he trudged towards the bar to find Perfectly Symmetrical's drink of preference, he scowled at the line. The only way this extravaganza of a wedding could have been any larger was if they'd recreated the Quidditch World Cup Stadium.
Harry would have gladly skipped this whole ordeal, but unfortunately Ginny's famed Gryffindor courage had faltered when trying to convince her mother that Harry Potter, the adopted Weasley, shouldn't be in attendance. And Harry had known better than to disappoint Molly Weasley.
"Harry, mate, how are you?"
A hand clapped his shoulder, and he turned to see Neville smiling back at him.
"All right, and you? Been a while, eh? I've not seen you since…" Harry struggled to recall the last time they'd run into each other. A conference of some sort, to be sure, but the where and when was escaping him.
"Brazil," Neville supplied for him.
"Ahh, Brazilia," Harry recalled fondly. "I remember now. We had breakfast together, out on the patio, drinking orange juice." There really was nothing better in the world than a crisp glass of OJ in the morning.
Harry's earlier scowl had now curved into a smile at the memory.
"Yeah, orange juice and a hearty breakfast to get the day started off right before heading out on a long day at the convention," Neville said with a matching wistful smile.
Neville understood the importance of starting the day off right. Good man, that Nev.
"Yeah, so, what's new with you?" Neville asked, snapping back to reality. "Settled down yet, or are you here with another Generous Hips or Luscious Locks?"
Harry tilted his head as he remembered both Generous Hips and Luscious Locks. Both were trainwrecks waiting to happen, if he were being honest. "I'm with Perfectly Symmetrical tonight."
"Where's she symmetrical?" Neville asked, cupping his hands at chest height.
"No, no not like that," Harry said. "She's actually got these two moles. Right at the spot where the chin bone and cheek meet, exactly the same position on either side. It's bizarre and utterly fascinating."
Neville pressed his lips together, clearly holding back a smile. "Only you, Harry," he said, "only you. I mean, why date a girl unless there's something medically fascinating about her body, right?"
"Exactly," Harry said, glad that they were on the same page. "Anyway, what about you? Hannah and the kids doing well?"
"Of course! The little man is growing like a weed and my princess looks just as adorable as her mother was at that age, pigtails and all." The grin plastered to his face said more than enough, but Harry couldn't help but feel a bit envious at how his eyes lit up with just a momentary mention of family.
"You know, soon you'll have to be careful," Neville said, breaking Harry out of his thoughts.
"Oh? How so?"
"Now that you've turned the big three-zero, you'll have to start checking every girl for a ring or ring tan. Asking if she has kids or is recently divorced might not go amiss either."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm not that old. I'll find someone to settle down with."
"I'm sure you will, Harry. But, you know, we all thought it was going to be the woman wearing white today."
Harry shrugged. "Molly would have given anything to see that, but our lives went in different directions. Her to quidditch stardom and living in the spotlight, and-"
"You to doing everything you could to stay away from it. Yeah, we know, Harry," he said. "Though it'd be easier on the few of us that actually know you well if you weren't such an arse to everyone you met."
"It works to keep people away, and I don't see why I'd consider changing that. Being nice and letting everyone treat me like a commodity was a whole lot less enjoyable." It wasn't even just that. It seemed no matter how much he avoided the public eye, people still refused to let his private life be just that-private.
Harry tried not to think of the arsehole who'd visited him at the clinic the other day. Faked an injury just so he could not-so-subtly ask Tracey about her experience working under Harry Potter-the emphasis on 'under' not lost on anyone in the waiting room, including Harry who'd walked in at that very moment.
Tracey had swiftly dealt with the bastard herself while Harry stalked to his office, practically seething. It was Gabby who'd turned his mood around, having witnessed the scene that morning, as well. She'd offered to wear his entire wardrobe of ridiculous attire just to amuse him.
He smiled softly at the thought.
"Don't be a stranger, Harry," Neville said, bringing him back to the present. "Hannah'd love to have you round, the kids too."
"Sure thing, Nev. Sure thing." He dipped his head and then looked towards the table he was about to head back to.
"Oh, and don't forget what I said on the patio in Brazil while we were sipping orange juice," Neville called back. "If you're an arse to every girl you meet, you might just drive away Mrs. Right."
Gabrielle was bored.
Non. She was half-asleep.
The man next to her had been droning on for the last half hour about a muggle sport he'd recently got into that sounded about as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall.
"It's one of the most physically demanding sports a person could play," Charles said, puffing out his chest a bit. "I don't think you're truly grasping just how great the potential for bodily harm is."
Gabby propped her head up with her hand, blinking tiredly. "No, no, I get it," she said for the fourth time that night.
"No, but, like...it gets truly violent," Charles said, using aggressively wide hand gestures. "Here, let me explain using the centerpieces as props…"
Gabby sighed and let her mind wander as Charles continued to prattle on.
She was very much regretting asking Mr. Water Polo over here to be her date for this wedding. She'd met him through a mutual friend of Fleur's and Gabby was trying very hard now to not judge any of Fleur's friends because of it.
Merlin. Mr. Water Polo. She'd been spending so much time with Harry lately, she was starting to sound like him.
Gabby shook her head in amusement and let her eyes wander around the guests. She wondered briefly if Harry was even here. From the little she knew about him she was certain he would hate an event like this. Hundreds of people stuffed together in one place, rubbing elbows with each other and exchanging bland pleasantries. She wouldn't be surprised if he'd found himself a corner to hide in.
No. Harry wasn't like anyone here. Harry wasn't like anyone, anywhere, to be honest. Rude, yes. Condescending, yes. Impatient, very much yes. But not to his friends. Never to his friends.
Not even to her.
For weeks now he'd jumped through every hoop trying to find the answer that nobody could give her. To a question that was honestly too embarrassing to even think about. But he'd never laughed. Never made her feel shallow and shameless as so many other healers had done in the past. A woman desperate to lose her virginity? How utterly scandalous.
No, Harry was different. In so many ways, but especially the ways that counted most.
And he most definitely would have brought Mr. Water Polo down several pegs by now.
Gabby stared at the man in question for a moment. Why was she even putting up with this? Why hadn't she just feigned an illness and ended this disastrous date already?
With a sudden burst of inspiration, she placed her hand on his-the one obnoxiously using the candle as a makeshift defense. "Charles, I'm not feeling well, I need to go." Avoiding a scene was the best bet.
"We're on a date, Gabrielle. Don't leave and make a scene."
"A date? Really? You call this a date? All you've done so far is talk about how great you and your ruddy sport are!"
He gave her an affronted look. "Yeah? And what about you?" he said, suddenly defensive. "I had to be talked into this, you know. Word is you never put out and are as stiff as a board."
Gabby's hand shot to her mouth as she abruptly stood up. "Well, word is blokes that play water polo aren't any good with their legs." She pushed in her chair roughly. "The petit one especially," she hissed.
And with that, Gabby turned on her heel and stalked off.
Harry was heading back with his drink as his mind wandered back to Gabby. The malfunctioning Veela Bond was a solid diagnosis but there had been no progress on suppressing the magic, thus far.
Every time they successfully thought they'd had it blocked off, Gabby would test it out with no positive results.
The only sort of progress they'd had, beyond the extensive magical tests completed, was getting her shirt off in a professional setting. At this point the closest he was to assisting her in having sex was by doing the deed himself in the exam room.
Harry made his way back to his table, spotting Gabby sitting a bit of a distance away from him. She was on a date, apparently. He observed her for a moment, watching as she argued with the man next to her whose receding hairline could be seen from space.
Harry took a sip of his drink and continued watching as she stood up suddenly and turned to walk away. But before she could take a step in the opposite direction, Follically Challenged dared to place a hand on her arm, trying to hold her back.
If Harry hadn't been paying attention he might have missed what happened next. Almost instantly, the waiter clearing tables next to them slipped and fell. The tray launched forward and all but a single large knife went plunging to the floor. As the waiter crashed, his flinging arm made contact with the butt end of the knife and it shot forward, stabbing the closest person in the chest.
It was magical to behold.
He had just beheld Gabby's magic taking care of Follically Challenged the second he'd grabbed her.
Before Harry could examine this incident any further, though, he was startled by a scream. He blinked and looked to his left.
And blinked again.
"What's just happened?" he asked aloud.
Perfectly Symmetrical was currently writhing on the floor with an almost identical steak knife protruding from her arm.
Several wedding-goers quickly gathered round, various expressions of shock on their faces.
"Merlin, somebody help her!" a voice screamed.
"Is there a healer in attendance?!"
Harry furrowed his eyebrows, shifting his gaze between Perfectly Symmetrical and Follicly Challenged multiple times, his mind rushing about a mile a minute.
That was twice now a date of his met a gruesome fate in the space of a month. Long Fingers at the Quidditch match...and now Perfectly Symmetrical.
Harry was many things, but he was not a bad date. He was certainly not a cursed one, either. Could it really be Gabby's magic affecting him, now?
But why him? Of the infinite amount of people at this wedding, some of whom had surely spent more time with her than he'd ever done, why would Harry be the one affected by her Veela magic?
It couldn't be…
Unless... the Veela magic was only a symptom, not the cause.
Gabby had been too far away, he doubted she had even seen him. What had happened to his date couldn't have been caused by her magic.
"Merde," he whispered to himself, stumbling over Perfectly Symmetrical, and accidentally stepping on the steak knife in her arm before making his way toward Gabby.
She was ten tables away and staring at Follically Challenged, but Harry's mind was reeling.
If this was what he thought it was, something of the like hadn't happened since Wizarding kind had kept historical records orally. The topic had only been something he'd read in passing. Theoretical possibilities of cases that came millenia before antiquity.
Harry racked his mind for anything that could provide confirmation of his theory but nothing was coming to mind.
How could he confirm it?
Ideas flew in and out of his head. He was practically jogging toward Gabby when the exact method to test it out popped into his head.
Onlookers were making way for him, everyone knowing of Healer Potter's prowess, the Red Sea parted so he could make it to the emergency.
His stare was sharp and his jaw was set, hard. He meant business.
Harry arrived at the scene. Instead of stopping like everyone expected, he stepped right around the blood pooling from Follically Challenged and grabbed Gabby by the shoulders.
"If you could, would you have sex with me tonight?"
The sheer seriousness of his question quieted all those who heard it, most were watching the scene entirely dumbfounded.
"W- would I have sex with you if I could?" Gabrielle parroted his question.
He'd forgive her for the small blunder. It was a high-stakes moment.
"Yes. Would you?" Harry asked, softly shaking her by her shoulders, trying to jolt her out of her shock.
"Not good enough. Yes or no. Will you have sex with me tonight?"
Gabby blinked and opened her mouth. No words came out. She shut it.
Harry shook her one more time. "Focus, there is nothing more critical happening, right now. Yes or no."
"Yes," she squeaked out, her eyes darting around as several people started slow-clapping.
That was good enough for Harry. He shifted his right hand up off her shoulder and slid it behind her head. Then before Gabby could let out another word, he leaned in and pressed his mouth to hers.
The kiss went on for several seconds before Gabby began to move her lips against his, and for a moment Harry was completely lost in it.
Gorgeous Hips didn't compare to this. Luscious Lips didn't compare to this. Perfectly Symmetrical never even had a chance.
Blimey, is this what everyone meant when they talked about fireworks? He could feel them vibrating in his chest, practically hear them going off around him.
He could hear them going off around him.
Harry separated from Gabby and looked around at the sky where several Weasley Wildfire Whizbangs were being set off at once.
"What's going on? What is the meaning of this?"
He turned to see Ginny rushing towards them, eyeing both bodies on the ground before looking at Harry and Gabby.
"You," Ginny hissed, reaching out to grab Harry by the shirt.
Harry held his hands up in defense. "I can explain."
"You'd better start!"
"Everyone thought it was a Veela Bond, that Gabby's Veela magic was the problem. And it was...but it wasn't."
"I said explain, not talk in circles."
Harry gave a dismissive wave of his hand. "It won't make sense if you don't know the background." He barely noticed the intensified glare from the Bride. "She never had a chance to pick a mate. Her magic, her witch magic, already had something so much greater for her."
"Quit with the theatrics. This is my wedding!" Ginny bit out at him, eyes narrowed dangerously.
Harry merely focused on Gabrielle, green eyes meeting blue. "Your Veela magic acted out because you have a soul mate, Gabby," he said, taking her hands in his. "And that soul mate...is me."
Any and all conversations instantly died. The entire, much too large guest list, wasn't making a single sound. A pin drop could be heard.
"A soul mate?"
Harry nodded. "There's never been a part-Veela with a Soul Bond before. It's why no one had any idea what was happening to you."
Other people were now making noise, discussing the scene playing out before them, all thoughts of wedding celebration gone. But Harry only focused on his Bonded.
"Long Fingers and Middle Part were both taken out at the quidditch game. I thought it was a coincidence until Perfectly Symmetrical got stabbed at the same time as Follically Challenged," he explained, still holding her hands in his. "And then you said you'd have sex with me, and I initiated the physical intimacy. If that's not proof enough, I don't know what is." Harry chuckled after finishing his explanation, feeling simultaneously relieved and elated.
"And what about the fireworks?" Ginny piped up, dropping one of the left over fuses that had been scattered on the floor onto the still floundering Follicly Challenged.
"Oh, that's on me," George said, stepping out of the crowd with his hand raised.
Ginny whirled around to face him. "Why? Why did you bring fireworks, I never requested fireworks!" she said.
George shrugged. "Figured it was a safe bet," he said. "Harry showing his face in public? At your wedding? He was bound to upstage you at some point. Thought I might as well add a bit of flair."
Harry nodded in understanding while Ginny let out a loud cry of frustration.
She whipped around, digging her heel into Follically Challenged's hand in the process, before throwing her bouquet at Gabby's face and walking away.
"Harry, is it really true?" Gabby said, tossing the bouquet behind her.
Harry heard a grunt, and they both turned to see that it had landed on the knife still lodged in Follicly Challenged's chest.
"Yeah. It is," Harry said, looking back at Gabrielle with a grin. "First Soul Bond since history has been recorded."
"Huh, well...I guess you were right, then," Gabby said. "I did just want you to help me get laid in the end."
Several awws sounded throughout the crowd as wedding goers stood up and cheered while the couple kissed.
"No, he's much more of a Bulbous Weenus, you see noses like that far too often."
"Ah, makes sense," Gabrielle Potter said, leaning against Harry as they sat on the outdoor patio-the same patio Neville and Harry had enjoyed, years ago, in Brazil.
"Try that woman, over there," Harry said, giving a covert gesture towards the woman walking along the sidewalk a few feet off the fenced patio.
"Boxy Lips?" Gabby tried again.
Harry sipped his glorious orange juice. "No, she's more of a Glaring Glabella."
"You're too good at this," Gabby said with a sigh.
"It's the orange juice. Wakes you up and gives you that necessary dose of vitamin C."
Gabby shrugged and took a sip from Harry's cup. "All right, all right, one more time," she said, spotting a man helping a little old lady cross the street. "Overly Helpful?"
Harry shook his head, "No, that's Bruno, the guy that suggested we visit here in the first place."
"Oh, right, I liked him," Gabby said with a pleasant smile. "Bit weird that he offered to clean up after us though, seeing as he's not a member of the hotel staff."
Harry shrugged, "That's Brazilian Beta for ya, he was like that when Nev and I visited too.
Gabby frowned, but shrugged as well before taking another sip of the delightful drink that was rapidly growing on her. "Well, I'm happy to give orange juice a try. But as long as I have my soul mate by my side I know I'll be happy forever."
Harry raised his glass, "Here's to the first ten. May we find a way to upstage Ginny and Bighead Garçon at their ten year anniversary."
Gabby smiled at her new husband, her Bonded, her Soulmate and the love of her life. "Cheers, I'll drink to that."
Author's Note: This story is dedicated to the 332 brave Sal-Tal Studios representatives of the Eucla, Australia Headquarters who tragically perished in the annual Sal-Tal team-building Battle Royale/Luau. #GoneButNeverForgotten
We would also like to blame Baba Yetu who discovered our Saliient91/Taliesin19 anagram much earlier than it was meant to go public. We were planning on spending the next few years developing this story into a multi-fic masterpiece following the completion of our current projects GYWM and HP&ITT, but we were found out. So, now you get a one-shot.
Next, we would like to thank Petrificus Somewhatus for joining the Troll-Fic Conspirators and for his contributions as beta for the fic as well as abetting the building of the HYPE. Thanked, but your pay is still docked, probation continues through 2035.
And finally, we would like to thank Nauze for delaying the release date of this fic. But also blame Nauze for ending all the cases of Scurvy in Eucla, Australia by mandating all employees at Sal-Tal Studios start their day with a crisp glass of OJ.