There was no sound in the shop. There were no signs of movement among the sea of people staring and gaping at Ron Weasley and Pansy Parkinson's entwined fingers.
But after two more seconds, all hell broke loose. And it all started from the deepest, darkest corner.
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN?" Harry, Ginny, Draco, and Hermione burst out at the same time.
"Now wait just one bloody second," Ginny demanded, standing up and grinning half-heartedly, as though she was making herself believe that all of this was just one bloody nightmare. "Ron. You are my brother."
"Yes… And you are my sister," Ron stated the obvious, confused on where this line was going.
"Are you sure you're Ron Bilius Weasley, then?" Ginny asked softly, the grin fading like a match being doused with water.
"Of course I am, Gin! How could you say that?"
Ginny transformed a vase on a nearby table to a rubber (but real-looking) spider with a flick of her wand, caught the toy on one rubber leg, and shoved it to her brother's face.
"Ah!" Ron screamed, swatting it away. "Ginny, what the heck do you think you're doing?"
Ginny sauntered off to the crammed table, sat down with a sigh, and said, "It's the real Ron."
"Damn," Draco muttered. "I hoped this was just a nightmare."
"What are you doing here, Ron?" Hermione asked gently, nothing hateful whatsoever in her tone.
"I'm here on my first date with Pansy," he replied, raising one eyebrow.
"Since when were you together?" Harry asked, astounded. If there was a nearby ketchup bottle, he would've passed out again.
Pansy looked at her watch. "Three minutes ago," she answered, smiling.
"When did the courtship begin?" Luna inquired, a hint of amusement in her voice.
"Five minutes ago," the happy couple said, grinning like idiots.
Ron looked around. "Well, I think this shop's full. What say you, Pans?"
"Yeah, we'll be back later. Let's go and look at some robes, hmm?" She snuggled into Ron.
"Anything for you, schnookums," Ron replied, rubbing his nose on hers. He raised a hand in farewell and called to the others, "See you, then!"
And they went out of the shop.
Somehow, suddenly, the ice cream didn't taste right anymore.
Minutes after (or hours, they really couldn't tell), Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Luna Scamander, and Kronos Lancer pushed their half-full bowls of melted ice cream farther from them and walked out the door, with Harry slamming Two Galleons on the table as a tip.
"Just what the hell is going on?" Ginny asked everyone as they arrived in the busy streets of Diagon Alley again.
"I remembered the name, sir," Kronos said to Harry. "It was Pansy."
"Yes, yes, good job." Harry didn't even look at his subordinate, for he was on his tiptoes, looking over the crowd for a sign of flaming red hair.
"Harry James Potter!" Hermione shrieked, pulling him down by the arm abruptly. "Explain. Right now."
Harry didn't dare argue, and he told them the conversation at the Ministry that morning. It took the best of half an hour, and by the time he was finished, the whole group, except for Luna and Kronos, had faces of shock.
"So he took a thestral to go to Parkinson's flat, eh?" Draco muttered, ruffling his hair in one nervous motion. "Jeez, he could've asked me or Blaise."
"You're not on speaking terms, remember?" Hermione reminded him.
"I SEE HIM!" Harry yelled as the telltale hair disappeared in a dark alley. The whole group followed, but stopped short.
Harry took out his Invisibility Cloak, saying, "All right. I only have barely enough room for me, Hermione, Draco, and Ginny here. Luna, Kronos – I think you'll be going with a Disillusionment Charm."
"On it," Luna piped, and she tapped Kronos' head sharply with her wand. Instantly, the intern's figure dissolved and he became a temporary human chameleon. Ginny, Harry, Hermione and Draco crouched down under the Cloak.
"Is this the real thing?" Draco asked Harry in a strangled whisper.
"Yeah," the other replied. "Why do you ask?"
"Nothing," he said, rubbing the silvery cloth in between his fingers. "So this was why I didn't see you when you were sending the dragon to Weasley's older brother."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yeah. Harry and I saw you getting a reprimand from McGonagall." She giggled at the memory.
"How do you remember that?" Draco asked, interested. "I thought you have amnesia?"
Hermione was thankful they were in the dark alley, or else the others would have seen her blushing from her slip-up. "Err… yeah, I have. Err… Ginny told me."
Ginny elbowed Hermione hard, and she emitted a faint squeak.
"O-oh yes! Harry told me some memories, too!" she said faintly, rubbing the spot where Ginny hit her.
"Hermione?" Ginny whispered. "Aren't you going to say something?"
Hermione hit her on the head. "Not now. There are too many people. And we have to follow Ron, remember?"
She chose to ignore Ginny's dark comment about her making up excuses, and led the group to eavesdrop on Ron and Pansy.
"Ow!" Ron Weasley shouted, rubbing the part where she hit him. "What was that for, banshee?"
"You rubbed your nose too hard!" Pansy Parkinson shrieked, feeling her pug-like nose tenderly. "Now it won't be upturned anymore."
Ron snorted disbelievingly, and she whirled around, glaring. "What did you say?"
Technically, I didn't say anything, so I'm safe. Isn't that right, dear?"
Pansy's hand smacked across his face, and he cradled his throbbing cheek, screaming, "Bloody hell, woman, just stop it already!" He scowled before continuing. "You think that because it was my idea that I liked having you as a faux girlfriend? Because, I tell you, I don't like this one bit."
"Whatever," she muttered, crossing her arms. Then, changing the subject, she said, "You think they bought it?"
"Bought it?" he repeated. "Did you see their faces when they saw us? We owned them. And it was freaking hilarious!"
She smirked. "Well, at least we showed them. Draco should be – "
"Yeah, I know. Malfoy should be yours, because you were the first one to see him, blah blah, yada yada, an all that crap."
"Not in hell, no," Pansy shrieked indignantly. "A Malfoy should be a bachelor until a family betroths someone to him. It's a bit of a tradition."
"Well, ferret boy's the type to break traditions, so you shouldn't be surprised by this."
Pansy grimaced. Then, with another twist in the conversation, she asked, "How often do we have to show them that we're… 'together'?"
Ron wrinkled his nose at the last word. "Maybe once every two or three weeks. We've got schedules, too, you know."
"Oh, good. Now I can finally get that spa week at Bora Bora," she cried blissfully, her eyes going glossy.
You don't need it, Ron wanted to say. No matter how expensive those machines are, they won't do anything to that pug-face. It wouldn't change a thing.
"Oh, by the way," she said suddenly. "When are we going to appear again? So I could ease up my schedule for my dates."
He pursed his lips, barely refraining himself to ask sarcastically if tomorrow's date was either a troll or a vampire. "I haven't tapped their calendars yet. I'll just Floo you."
"Floo in my room," she snapped, pulling the hood up her head. "Merlin knows my mother would have a heart attack to see a Weasley in her fireplace looking for her daughter."
Ron watched her go, eye twitching. He admit, he was getting good at keeping his trap shut. But it was bloody Parkinson, and it wouldn't be very convincing if they pretended while in reality they were at war. He sighed. Just a few more weeks, he said to himself, and she was going away, and Hermione will be in her place under his arm.
With that consoling thought on his head, he Apparated from the ally with a faint pop!
Under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry and Hermione were barely able to restrain Draco from going after Ron.
"That piece of shit!" he hissed, flailing. Harry grabbed his arm for dear life. "I'll get him! I'll get him!"
"Not now," Hermione said in his ear. "How about you do it later?"
He shook his head. "The sooner the better. How dare he even think that our relationship is collapsible!"
Ginny elbowed Hermione again, and this time she got the meaning painfully.
"Ah! O-of course not!" Hermione ignored Ginny fuming beside her and continued. "I-I'll talk to him later, all right? I'll be the one to handle this."
Harry intervened. "Oh, no you don't. Hermione, if you go to him, he would think that his plan is working, and he'll keep doing it until he makes you break up with Draco – "
"Well what other choice do I have?" she spat angrily. "I'm going to confront him, Harry! With words! Because I know that you two will get violent! And I don't want a scandal around us, all right?" She glared at each one of them, and they reluctantly nodded. She softened a bit. "Right… Yeah… I'll… best be going, then…"
Draco swept her into a hug, and gave a brief kiss on the forehead. "I wish I could go with you," he whispered.
She patted him on the cheek. "I'll be back," she said, smiling half-heartedly.
And she followed Ron to his flat in Muggle London with another, fainter pop!