Disclaimer: I disclaim.
A/N: I'm on a roll.
Ginny was right about the magenta robes. They really did clash horribly with her hair, though her friend seemed to be in her natural element. Ginny was smiling and joking with each customer, happily ringing up their purchases, finding everything they asked for with ease, and even making appropriate suggestions for each prankster.
Hermione, on the other hand, was floundering.
The children seemed to know instinctively that she was a rule-abider, and to make matters worse, Hermione had little knowledge of the products she was supposed to be selling. Of course, she could identify a Canary Cream or a Skiving Snackbox with little difficulty. She even knew how to reverse the effects of most of the twin's wares, but Hermione's talents did not lie in pranking, or knowing how to carry out a good prank. She was great at flushing a prankster out, but helping the customers devise a perfectly executed prank using Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products… she failed miserably.
A boy who looked to be around thirteen years old asked her what she thought was the best way to get back at his little brother, who had turned his hair blue for an entire week.
"Oh, well," Hermione said, casting about for the appropriate answer. "We have Canary Creams."
The boy frowned at her, and said that Canary Creams were so last year.
Agitated by his attitude when she was just trying to help, for Merlin's sake, Hermione felt the need to explain herself, "Look, I only got detention once at Hogwarts. And that was for being out after curfew!"
"You never pranked anybody? What kind of a witch are you?"
Hermione huffed. "The prefect kind!"
The boy looked at her, torn between disbelief and fear. "I think I'll ask that other girl what she thinks. Thanks anyway." He hastily weaved over to Ginny who smiled, listened to his question and responded with a face that clearly said, "Oh sure, we've got just what you're looking for!"
Hermione sighed miserably at the sight.
And it wasn't just the pranksters she failed with. When trying to sell a young girl on some of the items in the Wonder Witch line, the witch had raised her eyebrow at Hermione skeptically and said, "You don't even know how to wear make-up, do you?"
To which Hermione had glared, slapped a Patented Daydream Charm into the girl's hand, and said, "Here. I've used this before. Works great." Then stalked to the back, and locked herself in the bathroom for ten minutes.
And that was just the morning.
Things only got worse from there, until George finally took pity on her (or, more likely, worried that she'd drive customers away) and put her behind the till to ring up purchases, and sent Verity to work on the floor.
During their lunch hour, they closed down the shop and owled out for sandwiches from the Leaky Cauldron. While the others ate in the back, George told Hermione to grab her sandwich and come with him into the shop. Hermione did what he asked, but dragged her feet. This was going horribly, and there was no way George hadn't noticed how awful she was.
"You're going to fire me, aren't you?"
"Why would I fire you?"
"Because I'm terrible at this! The kids hate me, and the older ones see right through me. I might as well be wearing my prefect badge and taking house points from them."
"Now, now," George chided gently. "You just don't have the right mindset yet. You're just thinking about how much trouble they're going to get into. Just turn it around and think about how you'd get away with it. I know you, love, and you've broken countless rules. You can do this, Hermione.
"It's our fault really. We just threw you into the deep end without training you up at all. I didn't even explain the system to you! No wonder you're so bad at this!"
"Okay, that's not helping."
"Sorry, love." He planted a kiss on her mouth, and led her slowly around the shop and explained their mysterious system. All of the prank items were organized in, what was to Hermione, a shockingly sophisticated manner. In the center of the shop was a large circular shelving structure, on top of which was a large bronze weasel with a mischievous look on its face. In one hand, the weasel held a dung bomb, while the other hand was behind its back hiding crossed fingers. On the shelves below the (slightly creepy, Hermione thought) weasel, was where the pranks for individuals were located. The products were arranged in order of intensity. The short-term pranks (such as the Snackboxes and Canary Creams) were grouped together, and as one walked around the dais, the pranks grew worse (or as George called it, more brilliant). The same system was repeated on the long shelf to the right, pranks for groups ("Such as the Slytherin Quidditch team," George explained.) And again on the shelves on the right hand wall, which was filled with items that had the ability to affect the entire school. Those were the big ticket items. Along the left hand wall the Wonder Witch items were located in all their pink glory, as well as a section of games, Muggle 'magic' tricks, and other miscellaneous products. It actually made sense to Hermione. At least now she would be able to direct customers to the correct part of the store.
Then George took her around again and pointed out their best sellers, which included the Canary Creams. Oh, that bratty little kid was such a liar, Hermione thought. He also grabbed a shopping bag and filled it with popular Wonder Witch products and then handed the bag to Hermione.
"What's all this?"
"Well, you can't very well talk up what you haven't used," he explained. "I doubt you'll ever use a Portable Swamp if I gave you one, but these you will. At least then you can explain the effects to the customers."
Hermione perused the little jars of make-up and potions, and wondered if Ginny would be up for helping her with them. Maybe they could have a girl's night at her new flat… it sounded like fun.
"I threw in a couple daydream charms as well," George said with a smirk. "I heard you say that you liked those."
She blushed and rolled her eyes.
He laughed and pulled her close for a kiss.
The afternoon went a bit better after that. A wary looking woman came trailing into the shop after her over-excited six year old, and Hermione was able to direct the child towards the mildest tricks she knew of. His mother realized what she was doing, and mouthed a grateful thank you over the child's head while he was delightedly waving around a toy wand, which shot out nothing more than gold confetti when waved in the right pattern. It was Hermione's first successful sale, and though Ginny laughed, Hermione was rather pleased with herself.
The shop closed at seven, and Verity flooed home as soon as Fred flipped the sign on the door. Ginny lingered as long as she could, but Mrs. Weasley eventually poked her head through the fire and ordered her to come home immediately.
"We open at ten," Fred told his sister. "Don't be late!"
"No worries, brother mine," Ginny said, and flooed away.
Fred eyed the fire and turned to George, "Did you see how she was flirting with all the customers today?"
"I know! I wanted to tell her to leave off, but those prats just kept buying more stuff."
"She wasn't flirting!" Hermione said. "She was being friendly."
"Well," George said sourly, "I'm rather glad you weren't being friendly. I'm a jealous bloke, you know."
Hermione didn't know how to respond to that, as she wasn't sure whether she should be offended for her own sake, Ginny's, or angry with George… though, for what she wasn't quite sure. So, she opted for the obvious.
"She was being nice! And helpful!" The twins weren't having it. Hermione rolled her eyes. "Fine. Be prats. I'm going home."
"Hermione, come on," George said. Fred turned to head up to their flat, and mumbled that he'd get the firewhiskey out.
"No. Ginny was great today, and she doesn't deserve you saying all that about her." Hermione shook her head. "This isn't even worth arguing about. I'll see you tomorrow."
George was wearing the same panicked look Ron wore when things were spiraling out of his control. She kissed his mouth lightly, and flooed to her flat. She threw her work clothes on the floor, including the god-awful magenta robes, and changed into a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. In the kitchen she realized that she hadn't yet gone to get groceries.
"Great," she muttered to herself. She pulled her jeans back on, grabbed the bag of Wonder Witch products, and flooed to the Burrow.
Ginny was eating her dinner alone at the table, and Hermione plopped down beside her.
"Long time no see," Ginny said.
"I haven't gone shopping."
Ginny summoned a plate from the kitchen, and Hermione served herself. Mrs. Weasley had made a mysterious looking casserole, but it turned out to be quite delicious.
"Ron has already gone up to bed," Ginny said. "Fetching coffee round the Ministry completely wore him out."
Hermione laughed and decided that she didn't feel sorry for Ron at all. There was nothing easy about working retail.
"So what's in the bag?" asked Ginny between bites.
"George gave me some Wonder Witch products to try out. Interested?"
Ginny grinned. "A night with my best friend pretending that we're the girliest of girls? Of course."
They trooped up to Ginny's room when they'd finished clearing up, and dumped the bag onto Ginny's bed.
"Merlin's pants," said Ginny. "He sure did give you a lot."
The violently pink packaging was making Hermione's eyes water and she had to look away. "All right," she said bravely, "let's try the make-up first, and then we can wash it off with the other stuff."
Fifteen minutes later, Ginny had blue eyelids, outrageously long lashes, and pink 'highly kissable' lips, and Hermione looked much the same. They were both clutching stitches in their sides.
"Blue eye shadow! What are they thinking?!" said Hermione.
"Your eyelashes have to be an inch and a half long!"
It wasn't as funny later when the gunk they'd put on their faces wouldn't wash off.
"Oh, gods," Hermione groaned, "we're going to look like this at work tomorrow!"
"I think Harry's upstairs, Hermione! I can't let him see me looking like a two sickle whore!"
When all of the scrubs and soaps in the bag failed to solve their problem, Hermione finally read the instructions on the packaging. "Oh, for Gods sake!"
"What? What is it?"
Hermione pointed her wand at Ginny's face and said, "Finite." The make-up disappeared. "It's all long wear make-up, charmed to never smudge. You have to charm it off."
"Oh." Ginny eyed the tube of lipstick appreciatively. "That's rather nice, isn't it?"
"I suppose so," Hermione said grudgingly, turning her wand on her own face.
"Can I keep this?"
"Sure," Hermione shrugged. "It's not my color."
Ginny tossed the lipstick onto her dresser, and turned with her hands on her hips to face Hermione. "Okay, now spill."
"One, you've been acting like you and Ron just had a fight, and two, I fully expected you to be snogging my brother's brains out tonight. So what's going on?"
Ginny had always been hyper-perceptive, though this wasn't one of those times when Hermione appreciated it. "I argued with your brother's a bit before I left."
"Over?" Ginny asked leadingly.
Hermione scoffed a bit to let Ginny know that she thought the whole thing was ridiculous. "They were going on and on about how you were flirting with all the customers today, and I said that you were just being friendly and helpful. And things just went from there."
"Oh," Ginny said slowly. She bit her lip. "You know, Hermione, I was flirting a little."
"Well, just a little!" Ginny said defensively. "You know how boys are. A little smile and a giggle here and there… well, they'll buy just about anything."
"It's not a big deal, Hermione. It's harmless, really. I mean, look at it this way, they're giving us something so we give a little back, and if it's just a smile and laughing at their masterful prank plans, so much the better."
"Just give it a shot tomorrow. Just once. Just one little giggle."
Ginny sounded like she was plotting the downfall of Draco Malfoy, and was so deadly serious that Hermione had to laugh. "Sure, Gin."
"Okay, fine, but you'll change your tune and you won't even realize you're doing it."
"Oh, I'm so sure." Hermione tossed the Wonder Witch products back into the bag. "I'm going to go home now."
"I didn't make you angry, did I?"
"No, you've got a point… even if I completely disagree with you, it is harmless enough. Of course now I have to apologize to your brothers."
"Well, that I am sorry for, but thank you for sticking up for me. Even though I didn't deserve it."
Ginny reapplied her lipstick and said, "Well, I think I'm going to go find Harry. We'll see if this stuff really is smudge-proof." She made a kissing noise, which really wasn't necessary, and smiled happily.
Hermione just laughed at her friend. "Goodnight, Ginny. Have fun."
George was on sitting on her sofa when Hermione arrived at her flat. He eyed her apprehensively and didn't say a word.
Hermione dropped the bag and took a deep breath. "You and Fred were right. I was wrong. Your sister is a little flirt."
George struggled to hide a smile, and failed. "Well, I suppose I forgive you."
"Forgive me? I was just defending Ginny."
He could obviously feel that the ground he was treading on was very thin indeed, and said slowly, "Then I suppose I don't forgive you?"
She hugged him. "Thank you."
George let out a long, relieved breath. "You are the strangest girl."
Hermione curled up next to him, leaned her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. Sleep was going to be glorious tonight. George combed his fingers through her hair. "So," he said, "was this our first fight?"
"Oh please," Hermione scoffed. "This was nothing."
"Nothing?" his voice broke.
Hermione, unconcerned, brought her mouth to his, and George forgot to be worried about the time when they would have a fight that was something.
A/N: Review. Please.