The First Annual Weasley Brothers' Halloween Extravaganza, Chapter 2
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe belongs to J. K. Rowling.
A/N: Written for the Autumnfest challenge on LiveJournal. The requester wrote: I really enjoy get-them-together!fics, so perhaps something Post-Hogwarts AU (in that Harry and Ginny never got together during school)? Weasley antics! Hermione! And if Neville or Luna (or both) could be worked in there that would be awesome. Spotlights on friendships and close familial relationships would be more than welcome, as well.
Requested autumn/fall elements: Halloween parties, costumes, pumpkin carving, harvest festivals, sweaters, leaves.
Constructive criticism cheerfully accepted. Praise greatly enjoyed. Flames haughtily ignored. And, as always, thanks to my betas, rosiekatriona and sassyfrass_kerr, without whom the sun wouldn't shine, the stars wouldn't twinkle, and my life would be much emptier.
The party was going very well, Hermione saw. George was making sure all the drinks were spiked, and Fred was explaining, in no doubt exhaustive detail, why he had dressed up as a clown. Hermione wished she could be there for that discussion-clowns being relatively unknown in the magical world. But she'd get the full story later, no doubt, when Fred escorted her home that night.
Ron and Lavender were dancing, although it seemed like he hadn't picked up any more dance steps than he'd had when she and he had danced. She winced slightly as he trod very heavily on Lavender's foot. But Lavender didn't even flinch-she was probably using the protection charm Hermione had given her. Lavender wasn't nearly as dumb as people expected.
"Hey, Hermione!" It was Neville, following, as usual, Luna's path through the middle of the dance floor.
Hermione smiled at the couple. Neville and she had become fast friends from the very start, and she was happier than she could express that he'd been able to find the perfect girl to date. She wondered if they had ever talked about marriage; Neville's gran was rather strict regarding proper courting etiquette, and, while Neville had grown out of his seemingly perpetual stumblings, stammerings, and meekness, he still hadn't, as far as she knew, directly opposed Augusta in anything.
Right now it looked like Luna was in the mood to dance, as she was swaying slightly next to Hermione. Neville saw it too, and gently led her towards the other couples-not too close to anyone else, he'd figured that out long ago, when he had taken Luna to the Yule Ball during his fifth year. Here, with the guest list that Fred and George had selected, there probably wasn't anyone who'd take exception to Luna's more creative dance moves. But it paid to be on the alert anyway.
Hermione enjoyed reminiscing as she walked around the outside of the dancers, enjoying the atmosphere of happiness and freedom, so different from the years of the war. Thankfully she hadn't had to fight too much, and hopefully she wouldn't ever need to defend herself like that. She took a moment to send a silent prayer of gratitude to Harry Potter, wherever he was.
As she crossed the back of the hall, two arms came out of the darkness and wrapped around her. She squeaked, but almost immediately recognized Fred's familiar scent. She leaned back and laid her arms on top of his.
"Are you trying to scare me, Frederick Gideon Weasley?" she asked, but there was no bite in it. One of the things she liked most about her Weasley was that he had taught her to relax. She had long ago figured out that she had a very strong perfectionist streak in her. Granted, it helped her get great marks in school, but it also caused her to worry about things she couldn't change. Fred had blown into her life and turned her upside down. Of course, she had known him for quite some time before that had happened, but happen it did, and she could see the improvement in herself.
Fred squeezed her a little tighter and whispered in her ear, "Of course not, my dearest Hermione. I would never, ever, in a million years try to scare you."
Hermione scoffed, but before she could put her disbelief into words, he kissed her cheek and said, "Accidentally scare you, certainly. And I solemnly swear that I would never take advantage of your rather well-developed startle response."
Her second scoff was rather soft, and turned, halfway through, into a sigh as he kissed her neck, right below her ear.
After a suitable time of gently swaying to the music, Fred put on a serious face-well, as serious as he could, which wasn't very. "We should probably get the gang together. George set up the thingy to play at least four songs in a row, so all Lee has to do is start it once the Harry Potter Look-Alike contest is over. We should be able to get our business done before we're missed."
"Thingy? Fred, how many times have I told you, it's a record player!" Hermione just couldn't believe he'd forgotten the name of it-she'd told him, and told him, and told him-and then she recognized the glint in his eye. "You git," she said, and softly slapped his arm. "You know exactly what it's called!" She shook her head and backed up a bit so she could look at him properly. "All right, I'll go grab Neville and Luna. Where are we meeting?"
"Just outside this door, to the right, is a classroom, or coat closet, or something. Either way, it'll give us a good place to talk." He looked a question at her, and she nodded her understanding. "Okay then, I'll get Won-Won and Lavender. Five minutes?"
She gave him a quick good-bye kiss in response, and headed off at an angle to where Neville and Luna were discussing the refreshments.
"Luna, honey, I just don't think it's a good idea to drink anything at a party given by the Twins!" Neville was trying his best to persuade his girlfriend not to chance being turned into a bunny, or whatever George had slipped into the bowl. Last time it had taken him an hour and a half to get the fur out of his. . . well, out of himself, when he had turned into a panda.
Luna just smiled mysteriously, took one of the cups, and drank it. "Neville, dearest, thank you for taking such good care of me." She lowered her voice and looked around to make sure she wasn't in danger of being overheard. "What you didn't notice, though, is that I've added a sprig of oregano to the necklace." She nodded her head, as if she'd made a perfectly reasonable explanation, and drank the rest of the punch down in one go.
"Hey, Neville, Luna. Are you having fun?" Hermione asked as she reached them.
Luna nodded enthusiastically, and said, "The oregano helps!"
Hermione blinked, then smiled. "I'm glad, Luna. I assume you've been able to work out the correct spacings?"
Luna shook her head. "Well, yeah, almost. It's not perfect yet, but it's better than it was. I only had one side-effect this time." She turned to Neville. "You're right, Neville. I shouldn't have drunk that-the fluffy tail is rather uncomfortable, what with the knickers I'm wearing. But I had to test it."
Neville looked like he was trying his hardest to not think about fluffy tail and seized upon Hermione's presence to distract himself. "Is it time, Hermione?" he asked, and nobody would have noticed anything amiss, except that his voice broke half-way through her name.
Hermione stifled a giggle, and nodded. "Yes, Fred's gone for Ron and Lavender, so we should get going."
Luna nodded, and strode off across the floor, right through the middle of the dancers, who moved out of the way for her, then back into place without any complaint. Neville and Hermione chose the longer way, which gave Neville the opportunity to hiss, "Hermione, how do you know about the spacing? I never know enough to ask about things like that!"
Hermione shook her head. "Neville, I don't know anything about spacing for oregano on any type of item other than a garnish for Cornish game hens. But I finally decided that I'd just try my best to participate with her in whatever she's doing. She's one of my closest friends, and I wanted to make her happy. So what if I don't understand everything she says? I like talking with her, and that's just another part of her that makes her totally Luna."
Neville stopped, shocked. "You just made up a question that might fit into her idea?" Hermione nodded, and Neville gaped. "I never thought to do that-I've been trying really hard to understand her, and it just makes me so tired. . . Do you. . ." Strong, talented, confident Neville disappeared. "Do you mind if I do the same thing?" he asked, shyly.
"Of course not, Neville. I can see how much you love Luna, and I'll do whatever I can do to help out in your relationship. And," she whispered, "I think she probably knows that I'm not totally sure of what we're talking about. But she's never seemed to mind, and always smiles just that little bit more when I'm not trying to argue and analyze everything."
Neville was silent for a bit. Then he shook his head. "Brilliant! Just brilliant! Thanks, Hermione!" He hugged his friend, and they resumed their trek.
Ron didn't like dancing. Never had. But he'd learned to just go with it whenever Lavender wanted to. It worked out all right-he had to be out there making a fool of himself for part of the time, but the rest of the time he got to hold her close to him, and just rock back and forth, and that was not something to be lightly dismissed. And it was even better after she invented the toe protection charm. He smiled slightly, thinking about his brilliant girlfriend. She was just as smart as Hermione, she just didn't worry about being first in class. And she was certainly beautiful-half the guys at school had wanted to date her, but she'd chosen him! All in all, he felt pretty much invincible, which is just what a girl should do for her guy. In fact, in Ron's heart of hearts, he'd been thinking about perhaps making their relationship a little more formal; perhaps a promise ring.
Lavender smiled to herself. Ron had turned out to be a good fixer-upper project. Thank goodness he and Hermione had managed to date a little bit. It served to bury any ideas anyone at Hogwarts had harbored about their suitability for each other. And with Hermione out of the way, Lavender had her chance. And this way she could move in without causing friction with her dorm-mate. Lavender and Hermione had, surprisingly, ended up being good friends (and her poor toes thanked her every day for that). And with some sage counsel, they were able to put together a long, long, long-term plan for helping Ron become who he could be. Dancing was just one of the areas where she'd helped him. He'd also learned (finally) about holding doors for her, and paying attention to her, even when there was a Quidditch match being played. She sighed a bit, thinking about his eating manners, but then she'd only had him for a couple of years, there was still time.
"Hey, Won-Won!" came a most unwelcome intrusion.
Honestly, why couldn't they give up on that stupid nickname? She'd only called him that once, before realizing how stupid it sounded. Unfortunately, George had been within earshot, and that was that. "What do you want, Fred? In case you hadn't noticed, we're in the middle of a dance."
"Surprisingly, Lav, I knew that. The music was a dead giveaway. But that's okay, you two go ahead and keep dancing-I'm sure Hermione will fill you in on the details later. Bye now!" Fred walked off the dance floor, heading towards the back door.
Ron pulled Lavender back towards him, and started rocking back and forth again.
Lavender smacked his arm. "Ron! Didn't you hear your brother?"
Ron looked confused. "Yeah, he said we could keep dancing. Don't you want to?"
"Of course, Ron. But for right now, I think we better follow Fred. If they're having a meeting, then we should probably be there."
Ron reluctantly followed Lavender, moping ab it because she had refused to let him run and get some crisps to tide him over.
George was the last one into the room. After he entered, Hermione sealed the door and performed the anti-listening charms.
Surprisingly, it was Luna who spoke up first. "Did anyone see Ginny leave? I was watching her there, but after you announced the Harry Potter Look-a-Like contest, I lost her."
Neville looked surprised.
Lavender smiled and answered. "I think she left with that one guy-what was he, Hermione?"
"Batman, Lavender. And I think you're right. I haven't seen him for awhile either. Can anyone else corroborate?"
Ron looked confused, but Lavender whispered into his ear, "That means, can anyone confirm what they said."
"Oh, um. I didn't notice, guys. Sorry." Ron looked a little sheepish, but no-one really expected anything else, what with a fully-stocked refreshment table and a gorgeous girlfriend.
Fred took up the gavel, figuratively speaking. "Okay, so we think Ginny and Har . . . he, the Batman, went out together, right?" Everyone nodded, and he continued. "That's good. He was the one we were hoping to introduce Ginny to, so if they've wandered off together, then that's at least one major part of our plan that's working out."
"You know him? Who was it, Fred?" Neville asked.
"Well, we don't really want to say right now," answered George. "If it works out for them, then you'll know pretty soon. But if it doesn't, it wouldn't be very nice for him."
"Or Ginny, for that matter," continued Fred. "Although, I can't see it not working out-I mean, she's practically marr-"
"Shut up, Fred!" yelled George. "Just go ahead and tell them who it is, why don't you? Hermione's too smart to not figure it out-you're dating her, you should know!"
Unfortunately, Hermione really was that smart, at least in theorizing from scant data, and with George's assertion, she figured it out. But, also being somewhat smarter than the twins with regards to common sense, she didn't blurt it out. She did, however, grab her boyfriend by the ear and drag him off to a corner to have a furious discussion with him.
The rest of the conspirators didn't hear very much. There was an occasional "Ouch!", and they distinctly heard Hermione's "How do you know him?" But really, it wasn't much to go on. Finally the couple came out of the corner, Fred rubbing his earlobe, and Hermione looking like the pygmy puff that ate the snidget. Hermione sat down, and Fred stood behind her.
George looked over at Fred, and they had a silent conversation, conducted via shrugs, nods, and the mouthing of words. Finally, George broke the silence. "What Ginny doesn't know is that we planted one half of our Portable Extendable Ears on her."
"What?" shrieked Lavender. "You're planning on listening in on their conversation? That's just-"
"Brilliant!" Ron added, although he cowered back when Lavender turned and glared at him.
After some more arguing, they finally took a vote. It was split perfectly down gender lines. Four "ayes" and three "nos".
They turned on the receiving half, and huddled around it, jockeying for position, until Hermione shook her head and cast a Sonorous on the Ear, so everyone could hear it easily. They were just in time to hear a masculine voice state, "I'm Harry Potter."
Ginny was stunned. She stood there, with mouth agape, as her brain tried to process this incredible piece of news. The man she'd been talking with, walking with, flirting with, and, possibly, falling into fancy with was none other than the famous hero, Harry Potter. She had dreamed of him, fantasized about him, and made up innumerable games involving him, most of which involved pretend marriages. None of these, unsurprisingly, prepared her for coming face-to-face with the actual person.
A significant fraction of her mind wanted to jump up and down, clap her hands to her face, and scream. That same fraction also put forward the idea of fainting, or perhaps throwing herself into his arms and declaring her undying. . . something. As those thoughts raced through her mind, they engendered other ideas-ideas more suited for the future. A small house with a white picket fence showed up. A bunch of smiling, happy people casting the soap-bubble charm at a wedding. Babies, making babies, cooking together, eating together, cheering each other on in Quidditch.
Thankfully, the fraction of her mind that was not tied up in visions of a possible future noticed that Harry (Harry Potter!) was staring at her, and that same fraction managed to send a message to her body saying, It's been too long since anyone talked! Do something! And for Merlin's sake, don't do all those other things my evil twin wants to do!
Ginny closed her mouth, blinked, and put out her hand. "Hello, Harry Potter. My name is Ginny Weasley." And she smiled.
The next thing she knew, she was being held tightly ("Wow, those are his real muscles!") in Harry's arms, and he was . . . he was . . . was he crying?
She experimented with putting her arms around him, and he held her tighter. One of her hands decided it wanted to gently stroke his back, and the shaking in his body slowed. Her head, well, her head decided to rest against his chest-not that it had much choice, but it managed to make things more comfortable by turning to the side.
Her mouth couldn't decide what to do either. Thankfully it was closed, but it kept wanting to open and say something. Finally, it did.
"Harry, are you okay?"
Harry sniffled a bit, and let her go. She, rather hesitantly, over-rode her arms' ideas, and let go also.
"Yeah, I am." He wiped his nose, sniffled once more, and smiled. "I'm sorry for crying all over you. I promise, I don't do that very often."
"What, you don't go around and sabotage girls' Halloween costumes by getting their hair all wet?" Ginny's eyes opened wide at what her mouth had said, and her brain sent out messages to all parts: Don't do anything unless I, the sane part, authorize it! You don't want him to think you're complaining about all this!
Harry snorted. "No, I don't. And your costume doesn't look very sabotaged. In fact, I think damp hair is what all the well-dressed Inferi are wearing nowadays."
Ginny laughed too, and the awkwardness passed.
"I am sorry for breaking down like that," Harry said, in a rather quiet voice.
Awkwardness came back for another go.
"Harry, please don't worry about it. I'm not one of those types of girls that believes men should never show emotion. Of course, if you keep doing it, then we might need to talk about you picking up some more manly habits to counteract it, but it's okay for right now."
Harry laughed at that, and reached out a hand. Taking Ginny's hand into his, he gently tugged her to start walking. "I think it's time we showed ourselves back there-we wouldn't want anyone to think I'd made off with you, or something."
Ginny cocked her head at him and grinned. "Ah, Mr. Potter. But what if I wanted you to make off with me, hmmm?"
Harry smiled and kept walking. "Well, we'll just have to see what happens, won't we?"
Silence reigned in the conspirators' room. At least for a little bit. Then pandemonium took its turn. The only quiet ones in the room were Fred and George, who were wishing fervently that the rest of them would shut up so they could hear what was going on.
Finally, the others had calmed enough to be able to hear the conversation between Harry, who was apparently The Harry Potter, and Ginny.
". . .I wanted you to make off with me, hmmm?"
Ron's face turned red. "What does Ginny think she's doing? She's making it sound like she wants him to take her and do. . . those things with her! He's Harry Potter! She can't just grab him and kiss him and . . . and. . . do that to him! He's a hero!"
Lavender reached over and pulled his wand out of his hand before he could think about what he wanted to do. Then she grabbed him by the ear and pulled him off to a corner to explain to him, once again, that Ginny was a big girl, and could take care of herself.
Neville was the one that went straight to the heart of the matter. "Fred," he said, in a quiet (and therefore more dangerous) voice. "Did you know that was Harry Potter that she went off with?"
Fred paled at the menacingly quiet tone. "Uh, err, yeah, I guess."
"You guess?" he shot back.
Fred scratched the back of his neck nervously. "I mean, yes, we knew that was Harry Potter."
"But," Neville questioned, "why would Harry Potter come to our party?"
Luna answered this. "Harry Potter is Harry Potter, Neville."
Neville blinked, then sat down.
George took it upon himself to give a rather more full-featured response to the question. "Well, we invited him, didn't we? And he said he'd try to make it, since it was a costume party, and nobody would know he was Harry Potter."
Ron and Lavender had returned to the group by now, with Ron trying his hardest to not open his mouth again. After glancing at Ron, making sure he wasn't going to do anything, Lavender said, "Why does it not surprise me that you two know Harry Potter? But how-how did you get to know the most Eligible Bachelor in England?"
Fred, after looking at Hermione for support, spoke up. "Well, you know how we were always creating things, prank supplies and such?" Everyone nodded. "Well, see, Remus Lupin came into our store one day and asked if we'd be willing to come to dinner, as he had a friend who really wanted to meet us."
George took up the tale. "And since we've always liked Lupin, we decided it was probably a good thing to do. So we closed up shop a little early, and used the portkey he had brought us."
"The portkey took us to their safehouse, and no, we won't tell you where it is. And who should be sitting there but Harry Potter. We did the usual 'Nice to meet you's' and he told us that he'd been following our exploits-"
"Let me tell you, that made us rather proud."
"Of course, and then he asked us to make some devices for the war against Voldemort."
"And that, as they say, was that."
Hermione shook her head. "Did he say how he knew about you? What did you make for him? How does he know Professor Lupin?"
"Hermione, hold on!" George exclaimed. "We can't just tell you all his secrets-that's for him to decide, isn't it? I can tell you that he's a great guy, and could very easily wipe the floor with both of us-in fact, he did it pretty regularly while the war went on."
"Yeah," Fred continued. "There at the end he was dueling the lot of us and winning."
"What?" exclaimed Hermione. "What did you do? Did you prank him? Fred, you idiot! He was training to defeat Voldemort, and you pranked him? How could you? Of all the incredibly stupid things-"
Fred had put a hand over her mouth. He knew that this kind of rant could go on for quite some time. "Hermione," he interjected. "He asked us if we would help in his training. He was already winning against Remus and . . . his other trainer. So he wanted the opportunity to duel four on one."
"And let me tell you," George added. "He's incredible. We rarely even got anything through his shield."
"And even then," Fred took up the tale, "he'd just dodge it and fight harder." The twins both shook their heads in admiration.
"Anyway, we got to be friends," George continued. "In fact, he invested in our shop, kind of helped us get started."
"But we noticed that he didn't really get to do anything normal, like have a girlfriend-"
"-so you figured you'd fix him up with Ginny?" Ron asked, an incredulous look on his face.
"Well, yeah," George answered, as if Ron were stupid for even asking the question.
"I think she'll be good for him," Luna interjected. "She has excellent kardadles."
Ron shook his head in confusion, but Neville said, "Luna's right, I think Ginny and he will be good for each other."
Luna turned and smiled brilliantly at Neville, who shot Hermione a look of great thanks.
Lavender spoke up, then. "Can you tell where they are? I mean, we haven't really been listening to the Ear for awhile-they might be off somewhere snogging or something."
Hermione was a little shocked at Lavender's comment. Didn't she know that Ron would blow a gasket at hearing something like that? But then Hermione noticed the glint in Lavender's eye, and the pieces fell into place. She was actually training Ron to not fly off the broomstick at every little thing. Looking at Lavender's hand, Hermione could see it tightened rather firmly on Ron's wrist, no doubt keeping him from going for his wand and running out to defend Ginny's, or maybe Harry's, virtue.
Lavender turned to see Hermione watching her very intently, and gave her a small smile. Hermione smiled back and nodded once, in silent recognition of the work that Lavender was putting in to help Ron mature.
The rest of the group had quieted down at Lavender's question, but the Ear was only echoing the music coming from the dance floor.
"I guess they've gone back inside," Neville commented. "Should we go in and see what's going on?"
Fred and George nodded, and turned off the Ear, while Hermione took down the privacy charms, which meant that they could again hear the music, only much more muted than they had been hearing it through the Ear. As Neville and Luna headed toward the door, Hermione stopped them.
"Hold on, guys. We can't all go in at once; that'd look really suspicious, and Ginny's not dumb. We need to kind of go in one or two at a time, and head to different sections of the floor, not searching around the room for Ginny. Neville and Luna, why don't you go around to the other door and come in." She got a small, wicked smiled. "Maybe you can figure out how to make it look like you've gone off for a snogging session."
Neville turned red at that comment, but Luna flashed her dazzling smile at Hermione. "Thank you, Hermione. I'll make sure to spread some of the thwistles to both of us." Then she dragged her boyfriend out the door to, presumably, ensure he had enough thwistles.
Fred wrapped an arm around Hermione. "That was brilliant, love. Although I'm not sure they'll ever make it back in to the party."
Hermione just shrugged and smiled. "No problem there, I think Luna's hoping Neville will propose soon, and snogging will at least give them some privacy to talk." She turned to Ron and Lavender. "Why don't you two go ahead and head over to the refreshment table." The remaining three, plus Lavender, sniggered as Ron jumped up and started pulling her out the door.
After the couple left, Hermione let out a sigh. Fred looked at her in concern, and she grimaced at him. "I'm okay, Fred. I'm just a little worried about Ginny finding out about our conspiracy. She's fought so hard to be her own person, and force us to treat her as an equal, that I'm afraid of what she'd do if she found out about us."
George came over and sat down next to the couple. "I'm worried too, Hermione. She's always been rather quick with her wand, and even with us three together, I'm not sure she wouldn't be able to beat us."
"But we all know how lonely she's been," said Fred. "I mean, she rarely dates, and even then it's only 'cause she needs an escort. I'm sure the only person she's ever been gone out with more than once was Neville, and that was only because Luna got sick for that one dinner. She's just-"
"-picky. Yeah, I know. Trust me, I know," interjected Hermione. "But she wouldn't say it's that, really. She's told me time and time again that she knows what she's looking for, and when she finds it, or him, I guess, she's going to make up for lost time." She frowned. "Maybe it was wrong of us to try to set her up like this. I just didn't know what else we could do."
Fred kissed her quickly. "Well, it seems to be working out. Harry's a great guy, he really is. And we were rather worried about him, too."
"Yeah," continued George. "We even asked him once if he preferred guys." Both he and Fred shuddered. "I think that was the time he whipped us both in about 15 seconds. He was really motivated that time."
Hermione giggled a bit at the image the twins had conveyed. "Well, I guess what's done is done, for good or ill. I just hope that whatever happens, she's happy. Or at least happy enough to not make her revenge too painful." She paused, then continued, "We should probably head on out there now. The music seems to have stopped, and they'll be wanting you to fix that. George, do you want to go first?"
George nodded, and headed out the door.
As soon as the door shut, Hermione pulled Fred around to face her. "Now I've got you alone, Sweetheart, and I think I'm going to take advantage of the fact." She leaned in close to him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pulled him down to her waiting lips.
Ten minutes later, the door to their private snogging parlor slammed open, and two red spells shot across the room, stunning the lovebirds before they had any chance to react.
Hermione woke up with a start. Somebody had tied her to a chair, and it felt as if she had been Rennervated. She looked to the side, and saw Fred there, in the same situation. What worried her even more was that she also saw all the other members of the unofficially-named Get Ginny a Boyfriend conspiracy tied up and looking worried.
A voice from behind her spoke softly, yet piercingly. "Is this all of you?"
Hermione turned as far as she could, and saw something that made her heart sink. Ginny Weasley was standing there, wand in her hand, with an evil grin on her face.
But the voice continued, and it wasn't Ginny's. "Gin, do you think this is all of them? Nobody seems to want to talk."
"Oh, don't worry, Harry. I'll get them to confess. Isn't that right, Fred?" and she walked around so she was standing in front of them. "Now, you're going to tell me what you were doing, and who was involved, or I might just have to see how many different places Bat Bogeys can come from."
Fred's face went white at the threat, and he immediately started telling everything he knew. Harry and Ginny both learned a lot about the thinking and planning that went on behind their backs. One part, in particular, really interested Ginny. "And we warned all the guys here to not show too much interest in you-we couldn't have you spending so much time on the dance floor that Harry never had the opportunity to talk to you, right?"
Ginny frowned. "Well, that explains why the party felt so wrong. Everywhere I went people all of a sudden needed a drink, or to use the loo. I thought that maybe something was wrong with my costume. It's nice to know that wasn't it."
George nodded enthusiastically at this, but his hopes for Ginny's forgiveness were short-lived, as Ginny shot him a look. "Don't think I'm happy about it, you two. And don't try this again, okay?"
Both twins agreed, hoping that their agreement would buy them an escape from Ginny's proposed experiment.
"Well, Harry, what do you think?" Ginny asked.
"I think they're telling the truth, Gin. I've never known them to lie to me, and can't think they'd start now, especially with you standing there." Harry walked around the group and came to stand next to Ginny, automatically reaching out and taking her hand in his. "The real question is, what do we do with them?"
Ginny smiled, and George shuddered a bit, recognizing that look. "Well, I guess I'm not really too angry with them. After all, it let me find you, and I can't be upset about that. So, perhaps just a little public humiliation?"
Harry nodded. "I think that's a good compromise. No real pain for meddling, but some embarrassment to show them that they're not as stealthy as we are? Some future insurance against any other cockamamie plan they might come up with." He thought for a moment, then whispered in Ginny's ear.
Ginny laughed at Harry's idea, and they backed away so they could see all their prisoners at once. As one, they incanted Frensa Auritula and stood back to watch the results. As one, the seven people started glowing-their skin now seemed to emit light, even through their clothing. They looked at each other in horror, although they were happy to note that the light was not dimmed or brightened by anyone's clothing, or lack thereof, so that at least they could retain their modesty, if not their dignity.
Harry and Ginny smiled at them, then turned to leave.
"Wait!" called Ron. "Aren't you going to untie us?" The others nodded their approval of that plan, and tried to put a beseeching look on their faces.
"Don't worry," Harry said, as he and Ginny opened the door to leave. "The ropes will fall off in about five minutes, at which time you can go back to the party."
"Why does it sound like you're not going back to the party?" Neville asked.
"Because we're not," Ginny answered. "After all, Harry does need to fulfill his nefarious plan to, what was it, Harry?"
"I think I was planning on making off with you," he answered. "Bye-bye, now, oh fearless conspirators. May you enjoy the rest of your evening, wondering what all I plan on doing to your sister and friend." With an evil wink, he wrapped his arm around the girl in question, and they exited.
The seven sat there in silence, until Luna spoke up. "I didn't see too many thwistles on them, so maybe they're just heading off to procure some more."
Neville gaped at his girlfriend, but thought quickly. "Maybe so, Luna. They do look happy together, don't they?"
Everyone agreed, except for Ron, who was too busy trying to get out of his ropes. When Lavender asked him why, he turned bright red, and looked down at the floor. "It's just, I drank a LOT of butterbeer before our meeting, and didn't have a chance to get to the loo before Harry and Ginny captured us."
The room rang with laughter, although it should be noted that Ron wasn't the only one hurrying to the loo after the allotted time elapsed.
A couple, one with black hair and the remains of a Batman costume, one a red-head looking as beautiful as an Inferius can, walked out of the building, laughing, talking, and stealing kisses. The decided to go to the Burrow, to give Harry the opportunity to meet her parents, but before they could leave she stopped him for a moment. "Harry?" she said, in a quiet voice. "I know it didn't start out very well, but did you end up having a good evening?"
Harry took both of her hands in his, and looked into her eyes. "I really did, Ginny. In fact, it's enough to make up for all the bad things that have happened on Halloween throughout my life. Although," he paused, and Ginny looked worried. "I am really hoping that the evening isn't over yet."
The hopeful look in his eyes gave Ginny chills, and it was all she could do not to blurt out "I love you." In the end, she just winked and said, "I hope so too."