AN: Sorry about the long wait guys (the holidays and school interference), but I hope it was worth it!
I'd like to thank Adryana, Princess Shido, and Keira-House M.D. for the reviews and all those that Alerted.
Quick warning: I've never been to Harrods. All detailing comes from pictures on the home site.
Chapter Three: Let's Go Shopping!
"Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping."
The twins took in their surroundings. The people milling about had the same variety of style and dress as those from the subway, but something about the presentation screamed money. The casual wear seen on the younger population seemed too trendy to them though they were novices in the Muggle fashion world. Some seemed to be showing more skin then normally allowed in polite society while others had barely any showing at all. Some people had on hats that drew more attention than their clothing. They could see a progressivism inherent in the various styles present that was absent in the Wizarding world. Robes while varied were still robes. The quality and cut of the fabric demonstrated the separation in class. They had never seen anything like the people before them.
Refocusing their attention back to the structure itself, they couldn't help but gape.
"Bugger me," George mumbled.
"No thanks," Fred replied distractedly.
The building was huge. From the outside it looked big but inside was a world onto itself. The six stories of shopping centers unveiled themselves to the twins when they raised their heads. The skylights overhead poured in sunlight better than the manufactured bulbs littering the walls and ceilings.
A throat clearing redirected their attention back to Hermione. She looked significantly out of place with the orange stocking cap adorning her head.
Before she was able to begin whatever she was going to say, George got a good look at Tonks. "Your hair's black."
"Your hair is black."
"I changed it."
"When I noticed all of the stares on the Sud-way."
"Subway," Hermione corrected.
"Yeah, that. I figured I'd blend better. I'm an Auror and we, well, need to blend."
"But when did you do it?"
"In the subway."
"This is where I break off," said Hermione as she pointed towards a glass door with Urban Retreats on it and ultimately ending the conversation of George's lack of vigilance. "If you need anything, use the coins. They work by holding them in the palm of your hand and thinking about the message you want to appear. They give off a slight pulse when activated, so you'll know when there is a new message. I'll let you know when I'm finished and where we'll meet back up."
She looked at the three expectantly and received Fred and George's best rendition of an innocent face. She didn't buy it for a second. "I don't care what you do as long as you don't draw unnecessary attention to yourselves, got it?"
With three affirmative nods, Hermione straightened her shoulders and went to complete the first step of today's mission.
She entered the salon self-consciously. She knew she looked ridiculous but the orange hair was far worse than the orange hat. Walking up to the counter, she gave the girl at the front desk her name and the stylist she was.
Hermione hadn't even gotten settled before she heard, "Mon Cherie!" sound behind her.
John Paul Mitchell thought not the famous hair stylist prided himself in living up to the name. The tall, ebony skinned man had been working miracles on her mother's unmanageable hair for years. Her mother refuses to let anyone else touch her hair anymore and has been trying to persuade Hermione into converting to the stylish demands of John Paul. Until now, she had been reluctant to get anything but a trim from the man but today was different. Today she finally conceded to exchange the bird's nest for something more "normal."
"I can't believe you are finally going to let me experiment," John Paul gushed. "Now let's see what we have to work with."
Hermione reluctantly removed the stocking cap and watched in amusement as John Paul's excitement dropped into horror. Yes, she decided, it was definitely worth letting the twins' poor that potions on me for his reaction. Merlin, I wish I had a camera.
"What have you done," he exclaimed, drawing the attention of the surrounding stylists and customers.
Hermione slouched down into her chair in an attempt to get away from the gawking eyes. "Didn't Mum call you?"
"Yes, she explained what you were doing and why, but she never said that your hair was like…like…this!"
"You can fix it thought, right?"
John Paul gave Hermione a patronizing look. "Of course I fix it. I'm John Paul Mitchell."
"By the time I am finished with you, you will look like a star."
"I don't need anything fancy just a more manageable look."
"Your mother gave me the go ahead to do anything I thought was necessary and agreed to pay tomorrow when she comes in for her appointment. You will be absolutely ravishing by the time I am finished with you."
"Smashing," Hermione gritted out as John Paul left to gather his supplies. This was going to be a long day.
After breaking from Hermione, the trio decided to browse through the first set of shops. There first stop was to the Room of Luxury. The room was not exactly what the twins were imagining it would be.
"Gin would love this," declared Fred as he surveyed the room
"Mum too," added George.
And they were. The walls were covered top to bottom with designer bags of various sizes. The display cases contained even more handbags as well as accessories such as wallets and other various cases with odd zippers and snaps.
"How does this look?" Fred asked as he swung annoyingly bright yellow bag around his shoulder.
"Smashing, that bag goes great with that red top."
"Really," he asked with mock sincerity, "you don't think it clashes?"
If the elongated "No" George dragged out was not a clear enough answer, his turning to look at another counter was.
Fred glanced down at the price tag. "Is that right?"
George looked up from the display case of wallets to see the bulging eyes of his twin. His eyes reflected Fred when he too observed the price of the bag Fred had been playing with. "I don't know the exchange rate between Muggle money and galleons."
Fred slowly replaced the handbag to its shelf. "That's a lot of zeros for a bag to carry stuff in."
"We weren't including you Tonks."
"Yeah, you're an exception."
"So is 'Mione."
"So we aren't women?" Tonks emphasized her question by crossing her arms.
"No—" started Fred with the shake of his head.
"—That's not what we meant," continued George.
"You don't act all girly."
"Girly?" asked Tonks with the lift of her eyebrow.
"Ya know, fussing over your appearance and all."
"Course, you don't really have to…"
"And neither does 'Mione."
"Uh huh," said Tonks as she began to walk way.
Both of the twins sighed in relief. They did not need an offended Auror watching over them today.
"Now Cherie, do you have any ideas about the style you want," asked John Paul as he began washing Hermione's hair.
"I just need something that will be easily manageable," she replied.
John Paul sighed in exasperation. Ten years, he thought. Ten years I have tending her mother and never has this girl picked up the fine art of hair products. With a quick twist, he rang as much water out as he could and helped Hermione out of the reclined chair. He was going to give this girl a look that was going to make heads turn and guys fall over themselves to talk to her. Jane had given him free rein so he was going to make sure to use it.
"Let's get this makeover underway."
"Makeover?" Hermione's question was left unanswered as she was swept back into the hair dresser's chair.
"This is boring," declared Fred as he looked around the room full of perfumes and other smelly products. The room was designed much like the last with displays covering the walls as well as the center counters. The attendants here though seemed more eager to help than the other room, or at least they liked to share their products. Tonks had already received a face full of something that smelled too strongly of flowers for his taste.
"Nah," replied George.
"How so," asked Fred as he turned to look at his brother expectantly. What he was not expecting was a face full of sickly sweet perfume. "Guh! You sprayed that in my mouth…"
"I didn't mean too," said George as he hurriedly replaced the bottle back on its shelf.
"What were you doing?"
"I was aiming for your eyes."
"Right…" hedged Fred, not really sure if he believed his double.
"You smell nice by-the-way," soothed George
"I do, don't I," Fred stated pompously as he jerked on his imaginary lapels.
"Certainly," said a straight-faced George.
At the counter three ways down from the twins, the attendant asked, "Are they with you?"
Tonks looked up from the display and towards the rambunctious redheads. "Never seen them before in my life," she denied.
"Didn't they come in with…"
"No," interrupted Tonks
Tonks looked towards the twins in time to see George trying to shake of the smell Fred sprayed him with.
"Now you smell nice too," said Fred with a satisfied grin.
"I smell like Aunt Muriel."
"Revenge is mine."
"Do you have anything subtle yet alluring? Something that attracts attention perhaps but doesn't overpower say a very sensitive nose?" asked Tonks as she ignored the twins' shenanigans in favor of purchasing something to tempt a certain werewolf.
"What are you doing," questioned Hermione as she warily watched John Paul mix chemicals.
"I am going to straighten your hair."
"What about the chemicals that you've already put on them?"
"I know what I'm doing, Cherie. Just sit back and let the master work."
Hermione continued to watch John Paul with trepidation. She hoped that the potion the twins mixed in with their prank would prevent Muggle chemicals from frying her hair.
"There is tea everywhere," declared George as they entered the tea and coffee branch of the Food Hall.
"Do they not have smaller displays of anything?" asked Fred.
"Look at the candies." George pointed towards center display of chocolates of other sweets traditionally served with tea.
"It almost gives Honeyduke's a run for its money."
"Yeah, all it needs is a wall of this stuff—"
"—And screaming hyperactive kids."
"Well, according to the map Hermione gave us, this place actually has a candy shop," said George as he flipped through the brochure.
Before George could answer, Tonks displayed her usual grace by tripping.
"These look great…umph." The casualty was a display of various herbal teas occupying one of the center shelves.
"Sorry, sorry, I slipped." Tonks blushed as she looked at the mess she caused and then towards the attendants attempting to reestablish their orderly shelves. "Let me help," she asked but was rebuffed. It was always better to leave the scene after an embarrassment anyway. Tonks grabbed hold of an arm from both redheads and scrambled to exit without further incident.
"Woah," panicked Hermione as she saw how much length John Paul wanted to remove.
"Trust me," he said as he hedged the scissors closer.
"That is shorter than I have ever had it."
"You'll be glad once the weight is off of your head," was all he said as he cut the strand. There was no backing out now.
"I hope your right," said Hermione in a resigned tone. She could always make a Regrowth Potion when term starts if it looks bad. With eyes closed, Hermione allowed John Paul to do his worst.
"What is this?"
"Some kind of moving stair case?"
"I don't know," replied Tonks as she too looked questioning at the piece of Muggle technology before her.
"The people are gliding somewhat," stated Fred.
"It looks safe enough," said George as he tried to catch one of the moving stairs. Finally succeeding, he grabbed onto the railing to keep from falling backwards. "See," he said as he turned to look at his companions. "There's nothing to it."
Fred took Tonks' arm after watching George almost fall and together they carefully stepped onto the step forming under their feet.
"That was fun," declared George once he hopped off at the top.
"Yeah, let's go again," said Fred. Before he could make it to the down escalator, Tonks reclaimed his arm.
"How about we continue our exploration? We want to see more than just two rooms before Hermione's finished, right?"
"You're right," pouted Fred.
"Let's see what else we can find," said George as he led the way towards their next destination.
Hermione took in her new appearance and could hardly believe her eyes. "I look nothing like me," she said in amazement. "How did you get my hair to stay straight?"
"I told you Cherie," started John Paul with a satisfied smile, "I am a master at my craft. Now," he clapped his hands together, "Let's get started on the second phase of this plan of yours, yes?"
With one last look in the mirror, Hermione gave a decisive nod. Yes, on to Phase Two.
The display in front of them caught all three adventurers off guard. Tonks frowned at the necessity of it while George pondered its effectiveness. Fred simply sulked.
"If I had known there was a cobra here*," he pouted, "I would have gotten Harry to come with."
The clear display case before them contained two things: a pair of jewel-encrusted red high-heel shoes and a live Egyptian cobra.
Rolling his eyes, George nudged his brother in the side. "Why did we come?"
"For 'Mione," was Fred's deadpan reply.
"Not to what?"
"And that includes?"
"Playing with snakes," pouted Fred again.
"Correct," said George with a smile. "Now, what I want to know is if you can really charm one."
Fred took in George's devilish grin and then echoed it. "Why not find out?"
"Why not indeed."
"I didn't plan on this," said Hermione as she took in the extravagance of The White Hall. The assorted bouquets of yellow and pale pink flowers contrasted nicely against the crisp white walls of the room. Each station housed different types of make-up for various skin tones.
"I think with a new hair style you need a new look to accompany it," said John Paul.
"Don't you have to go back to the boutique?"
"I'm on break," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Now you sit down here and let Jessica fix you up."
Knowing she had been outmaneuvered again, Hermione decided to momentarily postpone Phase Two of her plan and continue her role as Barbie doll for the day.
"Look at all this Christmas stuff," Fred said with wonder lighting his voice.
"But it's August," George declared with confusion.
"Everything you could need is here." It was a true declaration. Like all of the other rooms they had visited, this one was completely covered with the items of choice, and in this instance, that was Christmas.
"It's summer," continued George.
"None of this stuff moves like ours though," said Fred as he ignored his twin's growing exasperation.
"Christmas is still four months away."
"This is boring," declared Fred as he picked up an ordinary box of tree lights. "Look at it. Where are the enchantments?"
"Is this always here?" George couldn't help but wonder aloud.
"The music's different too," pointed out Fred.
"Do they actually make sells year 'round?"
"Maybe we should buy some stuff."
The question knocked George out of his ruminations about the bazaar fascination Muggles seemed to have for this particular holiday of they bought items year around. "What? Why?"
"It's a Christmas story…"
"We can get a head start on our holiday stock," said Fred with an encouraging smile. "Every consumer store has to have a holiday stock."
"True," George admitted.
"And this stuff without magic inherent in its creation will give up more room to experiment."
Intrigued, George asked, "What are you thinking?"
"Mistletoe to start."
Catching onto the idea, George said, "That forces people to remain underneath until they're kissed."
"Yeah," agreed Fred, "and maybe some ordainments…"
"That move around the tree?"
"Maybe," said Fred. "Let's pick out a few basic things to tamper with and see what happens."
"We might even be able to convince Hermione to help with some of the Charms…"
"Can we go pick up the other items I need now?"
John Paul looked up from the display case of Clinique products he was perusing to the transformed youth tapping her foot impatiently beside him. "Don't you want…"
"No," Hermione interrupted. "I want to get the clothes and other supplies I ordered ahead of time." Relaxing her stance, Hermione begged, "Please. I didn't expect this to take so long. I have people waiting for me."
Deciding to show her a bit of mercy, John Paul wordlessly headed towards the exit.
"Thank you," Hermione beamed as she told John Paul exactly where she needed to go next.
"Look, they have beds here." The twins took in the various bed spreads adorning different beds around them.
"Fancy a lie down?"
Fred shrugged, "Why not?"
"After you Gred," said George with a slight bow.
"Thank you, Forge."
"Boy," began Tonks.
"Come on Tonks," said George. "Just for a moment?"
"Please," begged Fred.
"Fine," she huffed. "You better not get use in trouble with another security guard. I might not rescue you a second time."
Looking up from his prone position on a black and white bed set, Fred asked, "What did you say to that guard anyway?"
Tonks just gave him a wicked smirk and laid down on a neighboring paisley printed bed spread with blue tones.
"I think that's it," sighed Hermione as she grabbed the last of her bags from the counter.
"Do you need a hand," asked John Paul.
"No," she said. "I have friends to help me with these." She sat her purchases at her feet and gave John Paul a tight hug. "Thank you so much for today. I know I was difficult and seemed unappreciative at times, but I really do love my new look. Thank you for taking the time to help me."
Giving Hermione another squeeze, John Paul said, "Not a problem Cherie. I have been wanting to change your hair for quite some time anyway; you just gave me the perfect opportunity." Separating from the young girl, he added, "Now if you follow the steps I told you, everything should work out great."
With a last kiss to her cheek, John Paul headed back to work while Hermione pulled out a coin from her pocket.
"Something is vibrating in my pants."
"No, I don't think so."
"Don't be crass."
"I would never…"
Meeting up with Hermione was a bit trickier than they previously expected. Not only was she back on the ground level, neither the twins nor Tonks remember the exact route they took to get to the third floor to start with. After several attempts and a few backtracking efforts, the trio conceded that they were lost and just decided to let Hermione know where they were so she could come to them.
"Did you have fun," was the first thing Hermione asked as she came across her companions in the café they decided to wait at.
The three shared a look. "It was an adventure," said Tonks.
"But we need to get crankin'—"
"—And pop on back to the Burrow—"
"—Before Mum has a fit."
Agree with their assessment, Hermione turned on her heels and lead the group back toward the main entrance while she listened to their take of the Muggle shopping center and all the thing they found interesting.
Once they were outside in a secluded area, a loud crack was all that remained of the Wizarding individuals as they left London behind.
*The cobra isn't actually still in the display at Harrods. The Egyptian cobra was acquired for the September 10, 2007 release of the Rene Caovilla shoes (which were £62,000 or $120,000), but I thought it would be funny, so...I added it in anyway.
This officially ends the Operation saga. I want to thank all of you for joining me on this journey. You have no idea how I love and appreciate all of your encouraging comments.
I might slip a few one-shots into this universe later on, but I want to get a foothold in Disenchanting Illusions first.
Again, thank you for reading!
Like it? Hate it? Let me know.