Written for: The As Summer Ends challenge on the LiveJournal community, first_order.
Prompts: Hestia Jones; A handful of coins
Her First Order Meeting
"Can someone get that?" Molly called down from somewhere up the Burrow's twisted stairwell. Her voice was even shriller than usual. "Ron's just made a huge mess in his cot and-- Boys!" she shrieked, followed by a house-shaking thump and the sound of one of the older boys crying – probably Percy.
"Got it, Molls," Gideon shouted back, already on his way to the door. It was probably the takeout service; much as Molly loved to play hostess to the Order, with three still in diapers and her about to drop another one, she'd agreed to order the refreshments for tonight's meeting from a little Chinese place one of Gideon and Fabian's friends had just opened up off of Diagon Alley. Although why they didn't use the Floo like they'd agreed on...
Gideon dug in the pocket of his robes for his coin purse and yanked the door open.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for..." The delivery boy, a newsman's cap pulled low over his curly black hair, uncrumpled a scrap of parchment while trying to juggle both his broom and a lumpy burlap bag.
"Did Sean forget the Floo address?" Gideon asked incredulously. "This stuff'll be frozen, flying it all the way from London!" He grabbed the bag and stuffed several coins into the astonished boy's now empty hand. Er... girl. The cap had obscured the face, and the slender body under loose clothing had looked for all the world like gangly teenage boy, but now that she had focused her wide brown eyes on him, there was no mistaking the female aspect. She was still young, though, couldn't be more than about sixteen. Maybe seventeen at a stretch; he didn't think Sean would have hired a minor, much less sent them halfway across the county on a broomstick, alone.
She just stood there, stupidly, her mouth halfway open, and Gideon wondered what kind of idiots Sean was employing.
"It's all there, and you can keep the change," Gideon said, pointing at the money he'd just handed her, and thinking himself rather generous to boot, for this kind of service.
The girl blinked and opened her fist to look at the clinking golden coins. She seemed incapable of speech.
"Well, cheers, then," Gideon said, aware of the hungry mob already assembled in the kitchen, and impatient to have the transaction over with. It seemed rude to just close the door in the girl's face, but he finally did just that.
Not two seconds later, the doorbell rang again. Taking a deep breath, he turned around and opened the door. It was the girl. Of course.
"Yes?" he asked, allowing a bit of impatience to sound through.
"You took my things!" Apparently, she had regained her voice. She still had that dumb look on her face, though.
Gideon held up the bag. "You mean this?" He shook it slightly. It clanked. He frowned and looked at it. Odd sound for Chinese food to make.
"Yes. This is the Burrow, isn't it?" She consulted her parchment again and looked up at the oddly-shaped building as if hoping to find a sign announcing the name.
Gideon had to laugh. "It had better be, or the owners are going to be awfully upset when they get home," he joked, thinking of the myriad messes his little nephews deposited daily around the house. "Look," he said, taking pity on the poor confused thing. "Is there something wrong? You got the right place, and you got your money. I'm Gideon, Sean's friend, by the way." He held out his hand.
The girl tucked her broom under one arm and shook his hand. Hers felt soft and fragile, and he made a point of not squeezing too hard.
"Hestia," she said, now with something that sounded like relief.
"Gid!" He heard his brother approaching from behind him. "Have you got the money for the food? It's just come through the Floo—" Fabian stopped short as he caught sight of Gideon and Hestia.
"Why hello there," he said, grinning and shoving Gideon aside. "Who have we here, Gid?"
"Hestia," the girl said again, "Hestia Jones. I'm not quite sure what's going on here—"
"Did you say the food's come through the Floo?" Gideon had just realized what Fabian had said.
"Yes, and they're waiting for their money. Go on then, I'll take care of this." He hadn't taken his eyes off of Hestia for one moment.
Gideon opened the bag he was holding and looked in. Far from containing the hoped-for cartons of Chinese food, it appeared to hold an assortment of odd-looking instruments and scruffy, aged cases.
He gaped at Hestia, feeling the red creeping up his neck. "So you're not—"
"I'm Hestia Jones, Dumbledore asked me to come tonight. Wanted me to demonstrate something for a group of his associates, he said." She looked hesitantly between Fabian and Gideon, unsure how much to say.
Gideon threw back his head and started roaring with laughter. Fabian soon joined in, and Hestia giggled nervously along with them.
"I thought—" Gideon said, when he was able to catch his breath. "I thought you were the delivery boy from the Gilded Goose!"
This sent Fabian off into a real paroxysm, now that he'd understood as well.
"Wh— The Gilded Goose?" Hestia didn't appear any less confused than before.
"Never mind," Gideon assured her, now pulling Fabian back from the door so that Hestia could come in. "We're in the back, come on in. Oh, and sorry about taking your bag." He handed it back to her. "I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do with all that. Must be pretty impressive if Dumbledore's interested."
"Oh, it is." Hestia nodded enthusiastically. "It's actually quite an old art, but it's fallen into disuse in this century. My grandmother—"
"Isn't anyone going to pay for this food then?" Sirius Black stuck his head out of the kitchen door. "I'm starving, but the chap won't give it up until he sees gold on his palm!"
"Be right there," Gideon said, slinging his arm around Hestia. "Come on then. Tonight, dinner's on you!"