Content Harry Potter
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Author Notes:

Thanks to Clell, zArkham, and the others who helped edit and commented on an earlier draft. A longer note at the end.

Canon questions of the day: (a) Why was it such a big deal for McGonagall to get Hermione a time turner so that she could take 12 classes, when Percy got 12 OWLs less than two years before? (b) How were the Twins able to find the time needed to create a new magical species and breed enough pairs to fill their shelves with Pygmy Puffs in time for the school rush?

Disclaimer:  Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.

The residual afterglow generated by spreading the good news about her son’s test scores (and accepting the return compliments) occupied Molly’s mind so completely that she failed to notice when the clock hand tied to a different son’s magic temporarily shifted from “Mortal Peril” to “In Transit.” That son tried to take advantage of her distracted state by quietly slipping from the floo connection out the Burrow’s back door in search of his fiancee.  He didn’t get very far.

“Oh…there you are, Bill,” Molly shouted from the stove, her voice carrying over the music playing on her radio.   “Be a dear and help Harry bring the table out into the back yard, will you?”

“Erm…sure thing, Mum,” he muttered, as he dropped his carry-all bag by the side of the door.  Bill then turned back towards the kitchen and gave both Harry and Hermione a smile.

“Hey, you two…what’s the occasion?”

Hermione snorted as she set salt and pepper shakers onto a tray and lifted it off of the now-cleared kitchen table.

“We got our OWL results this morning,” she said.  “Ron exceeded your Mum’s expectations.”

“More OWLs than Fred and George combined!” Molly loudly noted.  “And it’s not just Ron’s scores, Dear…you did well, too!”

Bill grinned as he grabbed the side of the table opposite Harry and lifted. “So?” he asked.

“Hermione’s results were brilliant,” Harry noted brightly, as they guided the table through the doorway leading to the backyard garden. “More than Ron and me combined.”

His Muggleborn friend glanced back over her shoulder and shook her head. “Oh, don’t exaggerate, Harry!”

“Okay, fine…she only got eleven OWLs.  Not bad, considering she was only taking ten classes this year…”

“You could have petitioned to sit for the Muggle Studies OWL exam and passed it just as easily as I did,” Hermione countered.

“Yeah, I probably could have gotten the OWL,” Harry reasoned.  “But gotten an Outstanding?  Just as easily as you did?  Don’t think so.”

Hermione shook her head again as she bit her tongue.  They had been down this road before, and she saw little gain in the rehashing of old arguments.

“So, Harry?” Bill asked, as they maneuvered the table onto the flat patch of lawn used whenever they dined al fresco.

“Seven…same as Ron,” he replied.

“Well done!”

“They’re not the same as Ron’s,” Hermione countered. “He didn’t get an O in DADA…you did.”

“Just the one though,” Harry noted.  “Not like I got ten Outstandings…or twelve, for that matter.”

Hermione looked down at the tray in her hand, trying hard not to dwell on the painful decision that she’d made at the end of her third year to give up her time-turner and drop Divination.

“Will you two spread out the table linen?” she asked, nodding towards the brightly-colored cloth that was tucked under her arm as she held the tray in her hands.

“Might need to enlarge the table first,” Harry noted.

“How big is the guest list?” Bill asked.

Hermione thought for a moment.  “George was pressed into coming home to help his brother clean their old room…they’re probably both staying for dinner. And I heard Molly floo your dad asking him to invite Auror Tonks…”

“When will she give up on her matchmaking?” Bill wondered.  “We better not start eating before Fleur can join us!”

“We aren’t,” Harry quipped.  “Ron specifically asked that she be at the party.”

“He did, did he?” Bill asked in a dangerous tone of voice.

“Don’t mind your brother,” said Hermione. “He’s still befuddled after she zapped him this morning.”

“And why in Merlin’s name did she do that?”

“Bit of a story there,” Hermione replied.

“Looking forward to hearing it,” Bill said firmly.  Putting the issue aside, he mentally counted heads, then declared, “Okay, so if that’s everyone, we’ll only need to fetch two extra table leaves.”

“Why don’t you just magically enlarge it?” asked Harry.

“For the same reason why we had to carry the table out here like this,” Bill countered.  “Mum had it made magically-resistant years ago.”

“Why would she do that?” asked Hermione.

“Cut down on the accidental magic and pranking.  Mum got tired of the veggies disappearing from plates and annoyed when litlle Ronnikins always managed an extra helping of pudding,” Bill replied. “Easier to charm one table than a dozen different plates, I guess.”

“Ah…makes sense,” Harry decided.

“Oi! Hermione!” someone shouted. “Mum wants you to give me a hand with hanging this banner.”

The three turned back towards the house and spotted Ron struggling with a Muggle stepladder along the back side of the house.

“Why doesn’t she just levitate it into place and use sticking charms?” Hermione called back. “Or have Bill do it?”

Ron shrugged.  “Why did we clean out Headquarters by hand?  It’s what Mum wants.”

The Muggleborn witch rolled her eyes.

“Speaking of giving up on her matchmaking,” she muttered.  Hermione then set her tray on the table and turned towards the other two.

“Think that Ginny will be sent out next with a job to share with you, Harry?”

The-Boy-Who-Lived shook his head.  “Not until Auror Tonks shows up to mind my liegeman,” he quipped.  “Wouldn’t want to free him up for a bit of muddling with Fleur, would we?”

“Sounds like a fine idea to me,” said Bill.

“William?” Molly shouted from inside the house. “Will you and Harry come fetch the benches?”

Harry chuckled, observing, “The matchmaker thinks otherwise.”

Bill rolled his eyes. “C’mon then, Milord.”

The-Boy-Who-Lived nodded, and, having picked up on his bushy-haired friend’s mood, waited until they were a few steps away from her to ask a question.

“Speaking of twelve OWLs…how the hell did you do it?”

The older wizard shrugged. “Hard work, careful planning, and a monastic lifestyle?”

 Harry snorted.  “Yeah, right.  I’m asking how you did it…not how Percy did it.”

“No, really,” Bill insisted.  “I would have never gotten twelve OWLs if Fleur and I had hooked up while I was still in school.”

This caused Harry to laugh out loud.  “I suppose that’s true enough, Old Man.  Fleur would have been, what…six-years old during your Fifth Year?”

“Nine,” Bill said defensively.

“Six, nine…same difference,” Harry declared. “Would have been hard to sit for twelve exams after you had been expelled for under-aged sex.”

Bill growled.  “Notes the man who really does have an eight-year old part-Veela who wants to sit on his hook?”

Harry winced as he followed his potential liegeman back inside the kitchen.  “Okay, okay…truce!” he hissed, not wishing Molly to pick up on the conversation as she stirred in front of the stove.

 Bill nodded his agreement and shrank down the two long wooden benches with a wave of his wand. “I’ll get the leaves if you can get these, then?”

“Sure,” Harry replied.  He picked up his line of questioning once they were back outside, and had walked past the argument that had already begun between Ron and Hermione over how best to hang the “Well done, Ron!” banner.

“So Bill, what I was really asking were you even able to fit twelve courses into your school schedule? Did McGonagall get you a time turner as well?”

The red-haired wizard squinted at Harry and cocked his head in confusion.

“So the rumor was true, then?”

“Which one?” Harry asked.

“The one where a third-year Muggleborn student was entrusted with a heavily-regulated magical object capable of destroying the time-space continuum just so that she could sit for all twelve classes at Hogwarts?”

“Erm...yeah, that one’s true enough,” Harry replied. “So I’m guessing you just sat for two extra exams, rather than one like Hermione did?”

Bill shook his head. “No, I sat for all twelve classes, and didn’t need a time turner to do it…same with Percy.”

“How, then?”

“The schedule allowed for it,” Bill admitted.

“Not when we had to sign up for electives,” Harry noted.

“That’s true as well,” Bill replied.  “They changed the schedule the year after Percy ran the table.”


Bill shrugged.  “Mostly by lengthening class hours, from what I hear…and rearranging the class schedules to ensure that there would be conflicts between certain electives.”

“Why, though?”

“You’d have to ask Dumbledore and the Board of Governors,” said Bill.  “I think the stated rationale involved increasing the focus on core subjects.”

“So what was the unstated reason?  Saving money on staff?”

Bill nodded. “Students were signing up for all twelve courses just for the challenge of bagging all twelve.  Made for larger class sizes…but now that it is impossible to do all twelve OWLs, the enrollments in elective courses like Ancient Runes and Arithmancy have really dropped.  Those professors only teach part-time now, right?”

Harry shrugged.

“It also allows Dumbledore to keep a ghost on staff, salary-free,” Bill noted. “Most of the students shooting for twelve OWLs got tripped up on History…Binns doesn’t exactly teach to the test, what with all of the time he spends on the Goblin Wars. Parents were complaining.”

“With good reason,” said Harry.

Bill nodded. “Those weren’t the only complaints, though…the Board of Governors used to get all kinds of grief from the pureblood parents over Muggleborn curriculum bias.”

“Bias towards Muggleborns?” Harry asked incredulously.

“Yeah, I know…it sounds ridiculous,” Bill admitted.  “Pureblood students get a big head-start over Muggleborns just by growing up in the Magical world…”

“And get their other leg up by being able to practice magic in their Pureblood homes over holidays!”

“Not here,” Bill said defensively.

Harry nodded. “You know what I mean, though.”

“Sure I do, since it put me at the same disadvantage.”

“So how in Merlin’s name could the curriculum be biased towards Muggleborns?”

“Muggle Studies,” Bill replied.  “It’s essentially a free OWL for anyone raised in the Muggle world.  Pureblood parents argued that there wasn’t an equivalent ‘Easy O’ for their children that centered on the Wizarding World.”

“As long as you don’t count History of Magic, or Transfiguration, or Charms, or Care of Magical Creatures…”

“Fair enough,” Bill shot back, his hands held up defensively.

“And anyone who thinks that Muggleborns don’t have to revise for the Muggle Studies exam must be…I’d say crazy, but Pureblood is probably also applicable.”

“Because the curriculum is a little dated?” asked Bill.

Harry snorted. “A little dated? Try a hundred years out-of-date.  Hermione actually had to revise for the exam by reading Muggle history books on what life was like during the Victorian Era.”

Bill nodded in understanding, then changed the subject.

“So…decided on your coursework yet?”

Harry nodded. “Just the core five for NEWT level.  Caught a bit of a break on Potions…my E wouldn’t have been good enough to get into Snape’s NEWT-level potions.”

Bill chuckled.  “I’m sure that you’ll be paid back in spades in DADA, though.”

“No doubt,” whined Harry.

The two wizards finished getting the dinner table set up and dressed just about the time that Ron and Hermione got the banner hung, which was also when Arthur and Tonks stepped out of the floo, and Ginny finally emerged from her bedroom bruise-free, and Molly announced that the food was ready.   This all happened a full fifteen minutes before Fleur’s shift was done, and it was only Fred and George’s insistence that they only needed a few more minutes to finish in Harry’s bedroom that kept Bill and his mother from having a huge row over whether to wait for his fiancee…Fleur’s replacement popped out of the floo just as the Twins emerged from the stairwell with beads of sweat dripping from their brows and large bags slung over their shoulders.

Molly grudgingly dispatched Kingsley Shacklebolt to the ward line with a full plate of food.  She then insisted that everyone sit down according to her seating chart once Fleur arrived.  The chart was as predictable as it was obvious.  Ron at the head, with Hermione on his right and Harry on his left.  Ginny next to Harry, Bill next to Hermione with Tonks on his other side…and as many other bodies as possible separating the Gringotts employee from his fiancee’s place at the end of the table opposite Ron.  Those affected generally took the machinations in good humor, knowing them for what they were.

Harry and Hermione paid close attention to the food as it was passed around the table.  Bill and Fleur were just as diligent, although they all tried not to appear that way.  None of them wanted to touch anything that Molly had cooked until somebody else had tasted or sipped it first.  Ron’s lack of table manners made this a relatively easy task, and Fred helped out by quickly taste-testing whatever his younger brother didn’t immediately inhale.  That Molly and Ginny didn’t seem to be tracking who ate what (and in what order) caused Harry to wonder whether all of the concern over love potions was perhaps a bit overblown.

Ginny spent most of her time at the table pouting over just how beautiful Fleur looked despite spending a full day out in the sun on the ward line.  Her occasionally audible snarky comments were left unchallenged, though, with almost all of the dinner conversation centered around Ron’s OWL results.  The ill-mannered wizard winced each time that his mum repeated the fact that he’d been awarded more OWLs than his twin brothers had gotten behind…more from worry than embarrassment.  He didn’t at all like the way that Fred and George looked at him each time that Molly spouted off, and was therefore relieved when his brothers apologized for not having enough time to customize the fireworks display that they planned on setting off after cake.  The Twins, in turn, were relieved that Hermione had been keeping up her side of the truce, and hadn’t insisted that a couple of more plates be added to the table for Felicity and Verity.

It was towards the end of the meal that Fred and George tried to make amends with Ginny over the telescope incident.  She eyed the garishly wrapped box that they placed before her with a healthy (and justifiable) amount of suspicion.

“What’s this then?” she demanded.

“Just a little something to make amends,” said Fred.

“Although you really shouldn’t have been mucking around in our stuff in the first place,” George added.

“George!” Molly spat.

“Yes, Mum?”


“What, Mum?”

“This isn’t another one of your jokes, is it?”

“No, no…not at all!” he protested.

“So it’s not going to explode in my face if I open it?” Ginny asked warily.

“Promise!” Fred declared.

“Fine…then you open it!” said Ginny, as she rose and stepped back from the table.

Her older brother sighed.

“Is that level of distrust called for?” Fred asked.

“Yes!” Ginny and a number of others replied.

Molly took matters (and her wand) into her own hand and vanished the wrapping paper with a well-aimed Evanesco down the length of the table.  This revealed a small metal cage that held two balls of thick fur…one pink, and one purple.

“Oooh! They’re so cute!” Ginny squealed, as she snatched the cage away from her brother and took hold of its door latch.  But then she remembered who the gift-givers were, and pulled her hand back.

“They aren’t going to explode once I touch them, will they?”

“Of course not,” Fred scoffed.

Ginny’s curiosity overcame caution, and she quickly liberated the two living fur balls.

“Fred?  George?  What are they?” Molly demanded.

“They’re called ‘Tribbles’,” said George.

Hermione snorted out a loud laugh.

“Didn’t realize you two were Trekkies.”

“We’re what?” asked Fred.”

“Trekkies….Star Trek fans….?”

“Dunno what you’re talking about,” said George.  “That’s what we were told they are called.  Maybe it’s because it’s in French…hey Fleur, how do you say Lez Tribbles’ in Engish?”

The part-Veela shared some eye-contact with Hermione as they both giggled.

“Eet eez ze same een English,” the French witch noted.

“Well, then we’ll have to come up with a better name, then,” said George.

 “They look like baby puffskeins to me,” Bill noted.

“Actually, they’re full-sized adults,” countered Fred.  “At least we hope that they are…they are supposed to be a mating pair, after all.”

“A mating pair?” Arthur asked in a rising tone of voice.  He glanced nervously towards Tonks and added, “You two boys do know that there are laws against breeding new magical species, right?”

“Of course we do, Dad!” George protested.  “Do you think that Fred and I would blatantly disregard Ministry regulations?”

Amidst a table-full of guffaws, Arthur shook his head and replied, “No, you two are usually discreet in your disregard.”

Fred rolled his eyes. “Well, sorry to disappoint everyone.”

“We really should take it as a compliment, oh brother of mine!” said George.

“How so?”

“That they would think we are industrious enough, and devious enough, and clever enough to develop an entirely new breed of magical species in such a short period of time…on top of everything else that we are doing to get the shop ready for business.”

“I suppose so,” Fred agreed brightly.  He glanced around the table and added, “Just to be clear, when we bought these two little balls of fur they looked just the same as they do now.”

“You bought them as a gift, to make up for that stupid telescope?” asked Ginny.


“You’re forgiven,” the red-haired witch decided brightly.

“I’ve never seen anything like them before,” said Bill. “I can’t believe that you two went all the way to France to buy them.”

George shook his head.  “The bloke we bought them from was French, but we met him down on his boat off the coast…Isle of Wight, I think.”

“You can buy them on Wight, then?” asked Harry.

George sighed and shook his head.  “Only place in Britain that you’re supposed to be able to buy them was our store…at least, that’s what it said in our franchise agreement.”

Auror Tonks chose that moment to join the discussion.

“So let me get this straight,” she asked. “An unlicensed breeder smuggled these two pygmy-sized puffskeins into the country from France.  You bought the little fur balls and planned on breeding them so that you could sell the offspring in your new store?”

Fred and George locked eyes and held a silent, but extensive discussion.  Reaching a conclusion, they turned towards the Auror and shrugged.

“That’s a pretty good summary,” Fred admitted.

Tonks snorted.  “Do you know how many licenses and permits you need from the Ministry to do all that?”

“Why yes, actually,” said George.  “Seven.”

“And you have all of those licenses and permits?”

George scoffed at the accusation as he reached into the inside pocket of his robes and slammed a small stack of parchment down onto the table.  “Six of the seven, actually,” he said defensively.  “No sense bribing the official who would issue us the permit needed to sell them in our store until we actually have something to sell.”

“Huh,” Tonks snorted.  “Well okay, then.”

“Bribing officials?” Hermione asked.

“Erm…how else do you get things done at the Ministry?” asked George.

Hermione narrowed her gaze, then shifted it from the Twin to his father.  Arthur shrugged.

“It’s a fair question,” he admitted.  “Galleons get things done…not in my Department, of course…”

“Or in the DMLE,” Tonks was quick to add.  “But if you need a permit or license to open a shop, or import some exotic potion ingredients…you mean that it isn’t the same in the Muggle world?”

Hermione shook her head.  “Maybe in some countries, but not in Britain.”

Harry chuckled.  “As far as you know.”

The Muggleborn witch rolled her eyes. “Fine.  Can I at least say that if there are bribes being made that it’s not as commonly accepted a practice or as openly talked as it appears to be here in Magical Britain?”

The-Boy-Who-Lived shrugged. “Sure.”

Ron let out a deep breath and jumped in with what he thought was a more worthy topic of discussion.

“So why are you giving ‘em to Ginny?”

“Would you please lay off on the jealous git routine, Ron?” asked Bill.

Molly pursed her lips.  “It’s still a fair question, though, given all of the effort you spent getting them.”

“Erm…because we felt so bad about inadvertently pranking our little sister?”

“And?” Molly asked with a rising tone of voice.

“And because she’s obviously better suited for playing with the little puffs of fur than we are?” asked George.

“And……?” asked Ginny.

“And…we haven’t had any luck getting them to mate,” Fred said with a sigh. “Been following the translated care and feeding instructions, and done what you need to do in order for them to shag like bunnies…”

“Language!” Molly scolded.

“How do you know that they haven’t?” asked Harry.  “Maybe one of them is still pregnant, or something?”

“Supposed to pop out a litter every two weeks,” George replied.  “We’ve had them for three.”

“Are you sure that you bought a mating pair?” asked Harry, glancing down at the pint-sized pets who were licking food off of Ginny’s plate.  “You know…male and female?”

“Of course they bought one of each, Silly,” Ginny chided.  “The purple one is a boy, and the pink one is a girl.”

“How can you tell?” asked Ron.

George laughed.  “Well, little brother, the boy has the wand, and the girl has the wand holster…”

“Hush!” Molly hissed.

“Right,” said Fred.  “So we haven’t had much luck, and don’t have any more time available to figure out how to get them to mate….”

“Of course you wouldn’t,” Ginny scoffed. “You’re boys.”

Arthur cleared his throat.  “Should I wonder what you know about getting pets to mate, young lady?”

“Father!” Ginny whined.  “I’m not a little girl any more. And whose job is it to mind the chicken coop, and collect the eggs and to keep the rooster from fertilizing them unless we want chicks…”

“Alright, alright,” Arthur cut in, quickly backing down.

Harry smiled at the exchange.

“So what do you think it would take, Ginny?” he teased.  “Build them a little love nest in front of the Wireless and play some Celestina Warbeck tunes?”

“Oh, please, Harry!” the red-haired witch protested.

Bill snorted, and said something under his breath about his mother’s musical tastes that only Hermione and Tonks were close enough to hear.  They both broke out into giggles.

“What was that, William?” asked Molly.

“Nothing!” he quickly declared.

“So are you two giving up on breeding the fur balls?” asked Ron, “Or are you just fobbing off the work to Ginny?”

“They are presents,” George insisted.

“No strings attached,” his brother added.

“Although, if Gin-Gin was able to actually get the little buggers to boff…”

“We would be more than happy to take the offspring off of her hands…”

“Just so the Burrow isn’t overrun with the furry-little sprogs, of course.”

Harry laughed. “So you are fobbing off the work, aren’t you?”

Ginny frowned.  She loved the little creatures, but didn’t like the idea of her brothers taking advantage of her.

“Of course they aren’t going to fob off the work,” she insisted. “They’re going to pay me for it.”

“What?” asked George.

“You are asking me do breeding work for you two, aren’t you?” asked Ginny sweetly.  “And you are going to pay me a salary for that work, right?”

“Erm…but they’re a gift!” George insisted.

Fred’s eyes darted from his brother, to his sister, and then to his Mum.  Taking in their apparent attitudes, he made a command decision.

“We can’t afford to pay you a weekly salary right now, Little Sis,” he stated.  “But what we can offer is a pay-for-performance plan.”

“We can?” asked George.

“Yes, we can,” Fred replied firmly.  “If Ginny can get the fur balls to perform, then we can pay.”

“How much?” asked Ginny.

“Erm….five sickles a pup?”

“Only five?”

“Fred!” Molly shouted.

“Yes, Mum?”

“You will not take advantage of your sister!” she declared. “And you are not going to occupy her time this Summer with wild schemes and unreasonable demands on her time.”

“But Mum!” Ginny whined.  “You never let me get a summer job…this could be a way for me to earn some money.”

George arched an eyebrow and leaned across the table.

“Ten sickles, then?” he whispered loudly towards Ginny.

“Fifty,” she replied.

“Fifty sickles?”

“Fifty percent of the retail price,” Ginny replied.

“No!” Molly barked.  “You have more than enough chores to do while you are home, young lady!”

“But I’m not doing chores all of the time,” Ginny countered. “Why can’t I decide for myself how to spend the rest of the day?”

“You know perfectly well that you should be spending your free time with Harry,” Molly snapped.  Hearing somebody catch their breath, she quickly added, “And Hermione of course, and your brother Bill now that he’s back home…”

Arthur tried to defuse the situation by placing a hand on his wife’s arm and talking in a reasonable tone of voice.

“Now Molly, it’s not Ginny’s fault that she can’t venture out beyond the ward line to earn some spending money this Summer…”

“That doesn’t mean that…”

“And we’ve already established what chores the children are responsible for, correct?”

“Yes, but what if something comes up and I need her help?”

“Then it would be far better that she be earning money at home, rather than working outside the home on a fixed schedule, wouldn’t it?”  Arthur asked.  He turned towards the Twins and asked them, “These…Tribbles…will they require a large amount of Ginny’s time?”

“Not at all,” Fred replied.  “Supposed to be very low-maintenance…we wouldn’t have bothered with them otherwise.”

“There you go, then,” said Arthur.

“But Ginny doesn’t need to earn spending money, now that you’ve been promoted, Dear,” Molly countered.

“Which makes this an even better opportunity,” Arthur reasoned.  “If she wants to make this her pet project over holidays…”

“So to speak,” quipped Bill.

Arthur chuckled. “If Ginny can help her brothers and be adequately compensated for that help without shirking her duties around the Burrow, great.  And if it doesn’t work out, then…where’s the harm?

Molly scrunched her lips together in a way that puffed out both cheeks and jowls.

“I won’t have those fur balls cluttering up the house,” she declared.

“No worries, Mum…I’ll keep them in my room,” Ginny promised.

“Where?” asked Molly.  “You’ve already been complaining about sharing space with Fleur?”

“I’m sure that they won’t take up much room, Mum!”

The Weasley Matron sucked in a deep breath, and held it as she mulled how the request might be meshed within the weave of all of her other plans for the holidays.

“Alright, then,” she declared, expelling that deep held breath.  “Ginny, you will keep those animals in your room.”

Thanks, Mum!”


“Yes, Mrs. Weasley?”

“I would like you to share a room with Hermione.  That will give Ginny the room she needs for raising her pets.”

The part-Veela made eye-contact first with Hermione, and then with Bill.  Biting on the inside of her cheeks so as to avoid revealing her excitement with a wide smile, Fleur nodded solemnly and replied, “Eef you think zat eez best, Mrs. Weasley.”

Molly nodded, then turned to Hermione.  “Sharing a room with Fleur will take care of that other problem that you asked about earlier this afternoon, don’t you think?”

The Muggleborn witch caught her breath as she caught Harry’s eye.  He shrugged.  She nodded.

“Yes, Mrs. Weasley,” she replied quietly.

Ron might have wondered what this last exchange was all about, had he not more important things on his mind.

“Can we have cake now?”


Later that evening, Bill was cutting through their small orchard when he came across Harry reading a book with his back up against one of the plum trees.

“So what are you doing out here alone?” he asked, taking a seat on the ground next to the younger wizard.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Harry replied, placing a bookmark on the page and setting the text onto the ground next to him. “I have been waiting to hear all about my liegeman’s courtship stroll along the ward line with the lovely Miss Tonks.”

“Oh, sod off.”

Harry cleared his throat.

Bill rolled his eyes and tried again.

“Sod off...Milord?”

“That’s better,” said Harry.  “So where is the lovely Miss Tonks, then?”

“Stepped across the ward line once we made the circuit and apparated home.  Any particular reason why you are asking?”

Harry shrugged.  “Just curious.”

“So…really,” said Bill.  “Why are you out here by yourself?  Wouldn’t think that Mum would allow it.”

Harry shrugged.

“Your brothers are supposed to be keeping an eye on me,” he stated, pointing towards the backyard Quidditch Pitch.

“Obviously,” Bill said sarcastically, as he watched Fred and George gleefully pepper his youngest brother with Quaffles.  “Thought that they’d be back in their flat by now.”

“And miss the chance to hurl hard objects towards the boy who got more OWLs than both of them combined?” asked Harry.

Bill laughed. “Shame that you can’t be up there as well.”

“S’alright,” said Harry, picking his reading material off of the ground. “This book you brought back from the bank on estate management makes for interesting reading.”

“Really?” asked Bill.  “I kind of think that high finance accounting business is rather…unexciting.”

“Oh, I haven’t even skimmed those areas,” Harry replied. “I’m talking about the chapters that cover inheritance laws, magical guardians, and the training of scions within Ancient and Noble Houses.”

“Ah…so I was right in assuming that your magical guardian hadn’t made you aware of your rights and responsibilities, Milord?”

“Quite right.”

“So why are you so calm right now?” asked Bill.

Harry sighed.  “Spilt milk, water under bridges, and all that.  Plus, things are bound to be better now that I’ve got a liegeman in my corner, right?”

Bill didn’t understand the Muggle metaphor (a metaphor that Harry had heard far too many times on Privet Drive given his cousin’s boxing lessons), but guessed its meaning and nodded in agreement. 

“A very mature attitude, Milord.”

“I try,” Harry said with a smirk.  “But I also have to admit that it’s hard to stay angry about anything when there are so many more pleasant things to dwell on.  The last twenty-four hours have been rather…eventful.”

Bill chuckled, thinking that Harry was alluding to Hermione’s response to Fleur’s release the night before.  He then asked, “So where is everyone else?”

“Let’s see…your dad is puttering in his shed, and your Mum is doing a bit of brewing in the kitchen…healing potions, don’t you know?”

“Of course.”

“Ginny is in her room with the Pygmy Puffs…”

“So that’s what they finally decided on calling them?”

“Guess so.  I voted for ‘Tribbles’, but your Mum…well, as far as she knows ‘Tribbles’ is a French word, and she isn’t very fond of imports these days, is she?”

Bill sighed.  “Fleur and Hermione, then?”

“Sorting out their new room,” Harry replied.

The older wizard nodded. “What was that shared look between you and Hermione about when Mum decided on the switch?”

Harry sighed as he lamented a lost opportunity.  “You know that Hermione needs to practice low-level spells each day as part of her treatment regimen, right?”


“Well, she decided that she needed somebody other than Crookshanks to aim at, and asked Molly if I could be the target.”

“She wanted you alone in her bedroom, huh?” Bill asked.

“Not necessarily,” Harry quickly replied.  “She just needs somebody to help her practice spells.  Ron and Ginny aren’t supposed to know that she’s spellcasting over the hols, so that’s why she’s kept it in her room.”

“But you?”

Harry shrugged.  “You and Fleur aren’t around all the time, are you?” he asked.  “So that’s what the look was about.  Moving Fleur in with Hermione keeps me out of her bedroom…and allowed your Mum to draw that ward line.”

“What ward line?” Bill asked.

Harry snorted. “Oh, yeah…you were out courting Tonks when she did that….there’s a new ‘No boys allowed’ barrier across the doorway to Percy’s bedroom.”

“She didn’t!”

“Afraid so,” Harry replied.  “Which is why I’ve got a new roommate as well.”


“No…Crookshanks…poor guy got a heckuva shock when he tried to walk into Hermione’s bedroom tonight.”


“Not that I wouldn’t mind you bunking with me,” Harry was quick to add.

“Guess we’ll have to line up a summer project for Ron to make that happen,” Bill reasoned.

“We’re working on that, actually.”


Harry nodded, and proceeded to describe everything that had happened while Bill was at work.  Or almost everything…no mention was made of how his fiancee was able to comment with authority on Harry’s ‘dragon-sized’ bits.

“So that’s our grand plan, then,” Harry concluded.  “We want to do more than just sit around and play Exploding Snap all Summer.  Just need to do is convince your Mum that Fred and George’s shop will be more successful if we help them brew up some of their product line…maybe even do some spell work and help charm the shield hats and shield knickers.”

“It’s a decent idea,” Bill reasoned.  “Although at your age, you should be more worried about getting into a girl’s knickers than shielding them.”

Harry chuckled. “Yes, I suppose that once I get to be an old man like you that I won’t be so interested in that sort of thing.”

“Oh, no,” said Bill. “The interest is there…it’s just a little more focused.”

Harry laughed. “Yeah, I heard about your focused interests.  And about Fleur’s as well.”

Bill gave Harry a rather hard, closed-lip glare.

“Only indirectly, of course,” the younger wizard replied, realizing how his comment could be taken the wrong way.

“I’m listening.”

“Right, well…it’s actually something that I was hoping to ask you about,” Harry replied, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand.

“You want to ask me about Fleur’s taste in knickers?”

“No, no…not at all,” said Harry. “I’m talking about the catalogs she uses to buy her knickers.”

Bill glared at the younger wizard.

“Erm, yeah…doesn’t sound that much better, does it?” Harry asked nervously. “What I meant was…Hermione and I were talking about shorts and knickers this afternoon…”

“You and Hermione, huh?”

“It was a perfectly innocent conversation,” Harry replied. “We were doing the laundry.”

“Of course, it makes perfect sense…I always talked about knickers when I helped Mum do the laundry,” Bill quipped.

“Eeew! Don’t know if want to know the details, Mate.”

“Sod off…Milord.”

“Anyway,” Harry continued, “during the course of that conversation I let slip the fact that I only own one decent pair of boxer shorts.  Hermione said that she wanted to fix that situation, and noted that my birthday was coming up.”

“And what does this have to do with Fleur’s choice in knickers?”

“Her mail-order catalogs,” admitted Harry. “Hermione said that Fleur lent them to her…and that you and Fleur have…well…made use of them.”

“You’re putting me on!”

“No, really…that’s what Hermione said.”

“Oh, bugger me!” Bill hissed.

Harry snorted. “No thanks, I wouldn’t want to risk your fiancee’s fireballs.”

“Oh will you just…Merlin, I hope that she erased the images first.”

“What images?”

“The ones in the catalogs.”

Harry frowned.  “Kind of hard to know what to order if the pictures have been erased, isn’t it?”

“No, you don’t understand,” Bill insisted.  “They are magical mail-order clothes catalogs.”

“Okay…so they sell robes and pointy hats?”

“No, I mean the catalogs themselves are magical!” Bill snapped.  “They have a built in magical camera on the inside cover…and once you strip down and take a picture of yourself the catalog swaps your body for the manikins on both the cover and the inside pages.”

“Okay, sounds like a useful idea…”

Harry’s face paled when he realized the fuller implications.

“Unless it’s an underwear catalog that gets passed around after you’ve swapped your body,” he whispered.

“Exactly,” said Bill.  “No big deal if it’s just your girlfriend who is ogling at you wearing thongs in twelve different colors…even if you haven’t ever worn one in real life.  Shopping that way with Fleur turned out to be a very enjoyable…erm, experience.”

“When you two were shopping for you, or for her?”


“So…there’s this way to erase your image after you’re done shopping that keeps the next person from seeing a dozen different pictures of your thong-covered bits?”

“You make it sound like it’d be a painful experience.”

“And you make it sound as if my opinions matter when it comes to how you’d look in a thong!” Harry quipped.

“Don’t care about you seeing those pictures of me…it’s Hermione.  Or what if Mum got hold of that catalog?”

Harry chuckled.  “Reckon’ it depends on how naughty those catalog outfits get.”

Bill let out a loud sigh.  “Ever hear of something called a poser pouch?”

“Should I have?”

“Remember what Fleur had on last night?”

“Erm…yeah.  Vaguely.  Very vaguely.”

“Well imagine something that is a hundred times smaller and a hundred times naughtier, then imagine me wearing it.”

Harry shook his head. “Do you really want me imagine you wearing a black lace corset?”

Bill rolled his eyes.  “Guess you’ll be able to see for yourself…and see yourself, for that matter.”

“Guess so.”

A snort escaped from Bill’s nose.

“What?” asked Harry.


“Doesn’t sound like nothing.”

“I just remembered what you said earlier…that Hermione wanted to shop for birthday presents.  Guess she’ll get to see yourself for herself, then?”

“Oh, shit.”



“Yes, we’ve established the existence of excrement.”

“No, I just remembered…when she offered to help pick out new underwear for me, I teased her by saying that it would only be fair if I got to help pick out a few items from Fleur’s lingerie catalog for her.”


“And she agreed with me.”

“Right, well…that’s interesting, isn’t it?”

“Aren’t you going to worry about Fleur forgetting to erase her photographs before I get my hands on the lingerie catalog?” asked Harry.

“Not a problem.”

“You don’t care?”

“Of course I do,” Bill said.  “It’s not a problem because it wouldn’t happen.”

Harry frowned as he balanced Bill’s confidence against the glimpse that Fleur had provided the night before.

“Think so?”

“Of course,” the older wizard replied. “If Hermione is going to let you help pick out some lingerie for her to wear, it’s going to be her barely-covered bits displayed in the catalog, not my fiancee’s.”

“Oh. Right. So that’s….that’s better then,” Harry reasoned.

“I think so,” Bill replied with a grin. “So you…and Hermione…?”

“What?” Harry asked.  “Do you think that we are….”

“Doesn’t matter what I think. I’ll just say that it’s a pretty brave step for you two to be taking if you aren’t more than just good friends.”

“Well, we are Gryffindors.”

“So is McGonagall…plan on swapping nudie pics with her?”


“Dumbledore, then?”

“No!” Harry protested.  He took in a few large breaths as he gathered his wits, then asked, “Will we really be swapping nudie pics?”

Bill chuckled and shook his head.  “No I was just teasing you a bit.  She won’t get to see your dangly bits dangle…much.”

“Well that’s good.”

“You think so?” Bill asked.  He shrugged his shoulders.  “Of course, the other way to look at it is that you have to give something to get something.  The catalogs work the same way…so if she got to see all of you, you would be able to see all of her.”

“Yes, well…I’m not sure that we’re ready for something like that,” said Harry.

“Fair enough...nice pronoun, by the way.”

“Which one?”

“The ‘we,’ that are taking shared steps towards a shared display of bare bits,” Bill quipped.

“Oh, sod off!” Harry hissed.

“Yes, Milord.”

Harry rolled his eyes and sighed.   He was halfway to mentally composing better answer when Molly interrupted his train of thought with a Sonorus-aided shout out the Burrow’s back door.

“Time to come inside!”

Bill shook his head.  “That’s my mum,” he sighed. “So when does the fashion show start, Milord?”

Harry shook his head as he stood up and brushed the dirt and leaves off of his trousers. “Might be never,” he replied. “We didn’t discuss the details, and with the way that all of us are being monitored by Matchmaker Molly…how do you suppose she’d even be able to get the catalog to me?”

The older wizard chuckled as he patted Harry on the back.  “Where there is a will, there’s a way Milord.  If she wants you bad enough…”

“You mean if she wants to see me bad enough?”

“That too.”


The strong smell of a simmering potion hit Bill and Harry’s olfactory senses as they followed Ron and the Twins inside. The curse-breaker arched an eyebrow and drifted towards the stove.

“That really is a healing potion, isn’t it?” he asked, with a touch of surprise in his voice.

“What did you think it was?” Molly quickly replied. “If you’re looking for something to eat, there’s leftovers in the cold box.”

“Excellent!” Ron declared, making a beeline towards the roast beef.

Fred and George saw their chance and said their good-byes.  The smiles on their faces as they called out their floo address and disappeared into the flames were a little disconcerting to Harry.  The twins were either up to something (and they were always up to something), or they were just really happy to be escaping their mother’s purview.  Or maybe they were just anticipating getting back to the flat they shared with their female employees.  Those two last possibilities would have definitely put a smile on Harry’s face so he shrugged it off.

Molly suggested that Bill, Harry and Ron play a game of gobstones in the sitting room.  Bill reminded his mum that he was twenty-five years old, and not five, but she didn’t care.  She did, however, yell up the stairs for Ginny and Hermione to come down and join “the other children” to play the game.

If Harry weren’t so distracted, he would have laughed out loud.

It was torture for him…the pervy thoughts about unsupervised activities in flats shared with girlfriends just amplified the worrying and wondering about what might happen that evening with the catalogs.  Fleur and Hermione only made it worse when they came downstairs full of smiles and conspiratorial winks that were suitable for opened-ended interpretations.  Ginny was right behind the other two witches with a Pygmy Puff perched on each shoulder.  She quickly slipped into the sitting room before her mum noticed, pulled a deck of Exploding Snap cards out of her pocket, and pushed the coffee table to one side of the room.

“Let’s play on the floor,” she decided, as she sat down on the carpet and leaned her back against the front of the sofa. “Easier for us to relax and spread out that way.”

The-Boy-Who-Lived coughed up a bit of spittle as his eyes darted towards Hermione in search of a reaction.  She arched an eyebrow.

“Something wrong, Harry?”

“No, I’m fine…thanks,” he wheezed, trying desperately not to react physically to the mental image of Hermione “spreading herself out” and playing in that very same room the night before.

Ginny ignored the exchange.  “Come sit next to me, Harry,” she asked. “Arnold wants to say hello.”


“The boy pygmy puff,” Ginny replied, nodding towards the purple fur ball on her left shoulder.

Harry started to worry when he noticed just how close the spot that Ginny was patting on the carpet was to her hip.   Crookshanks came to the rescue, though, when he curled his tail around Harry’s leg and began staring at the Pygmy Puffs the same way that Ron stared down his supper.

“My new bunk-mate and I should probably sit across from you Ginny,” Harry said. “Just in case.”

The red-haired witch looked disappointed, but quickly recovered and nodded as she began to calculate just how far forward she could bend without the others realizing she was offering Harry a view of her relatively modest cleavage.

Fleur gave Hermione a little push towards Harry’s left side as she dropped down onto her knees on his right.  Ron claimed the spot next to Hermione, Bill sat in between his sister and his fiancee, and the places (and stage) were set.

Harry proceeded to play his worst game of Exploding Snap ever, losing every other hand with a loud bang.  It was just too hard for him to focus, given his musings about Hermione’s rubbing the night before, and her potential modeling later that night.  Ron was quick to tease Harry about his string of bad hands, but was equally slow to pick up on the reasons behind it.  Ginny, of course, thought that she was the distraction.  The other three either knew or strongly suspected the real reasons, but hid their assumptions well.

There was more to the-Boy-Who-Lived’s poor game play than just his pervy imagination, though.  He was certain to be chaperoned the entire night, by either Ron, Ginny or Molly.  There wouldn’t be an easy way for Hermione and him to steal any private time that would allow for catalogs and plans to be shared.  But like Bill had said, Hermione was a clever girl, and if she wanted to convey a secret message or pass contraband right under their minders’ noses, she would find a way.  And since this way might involve hidden code words or other clues that only he could decipher, he paid close attention to everything except his cards.  Every innocent comment made by Fleur was scrutinized just as thoroughly, since Harry couldn’t discount the possibility of her acting as a co-conspirator.

But there was nothing.  Or at least, he couldn’t find anything, which meant that he was either too dense to pick up on the offered clues, or that she might have changed her mind, or gotten scared off. Not knowing which was the case was annoying…but not half as annoying as the wry grin that was glued to Bill’s face.  The older wizard claimed that he was just happy to be playing a game that he hadn’t played in years, but Harry knew better…he knew that the older wizard was mentally laughing like hell at his future liegelord’s predicament. 

Molly had called them into the house at dusk, and given the time of year and Devon’s latitude that was fairly late in the evening.  So it was only an hour or so before the Weasley Matriarch walked into the sitting room and announced that it was bedtime.  Harry accepted this directive with a mixture of angsty disappointment and relief, and hoped that there would be opportunity during the next day for a private chat with his bushy-haired friend.

Travel to individual bedrooms and between bedrooms and baths was closely monitored…if not directly by Molly, then indirectly by her magic (or so it was assumed).  Harry was vigilant for any last-minute signals as Hermione gave him a loose hug in the hallway and wished him a good night, which led to even more disappointment when he failed to recognize any.

Unless there was something to be read into the Cheshire-like grin on her face as she picked up Crookshanks, gave him a tight hug, then transferred him into Harry’s arms and headed down the hallway to her bedroom.

“Well, okay, then,” Harry muttered as he turned and balanced Crookshanks in one arm so that he could open his bedroom door with the other.

The tinkling bell above the door was the first indication that something was off.  He cautiously opened the doorway.

“Effing Twins!”

“Language, Harry!”

The-Boy-Who-Was-Pranked looked over his shoulder and glared at a grinning Hermione, who had suspiciously only travelled halfway down the hall.

“Did you have a hand in all this?” he hissed.

“Not me,” the Muggleborn witch quipped, as she walked up to Harry and peeked inside his room.  “I’m restricted to first-year spells, remember?”

“Did you know about this, then?”

Hermione giggled.  “Maybe.”

Ron and Bill popped their heads out of their shared bedroom to find out what all the fuss was about.  They too walked down towards Harry’s bedroom door and glanced inside.

And then they all had a good laugh…all but Harry, that is.  He didn’t think the joke was very funny.

Fred and George had done what their mum had ordered them to do and removed all of the crates and half-opened boxes of joke-related stuff from their old bedroom.   But that task obviously hadn’t taken all afternoon to complete, which allowed them to do a little redecorating…borrowing interior design cues from Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop.

Crookshanks jumped from Harry’s arms into the bedroom.  He landed on peach-colored wall-to-wall shag carpeting, then bounced up onto the lace-trimmed pink duvet that now covered the bed.  Harry sighed as his gaze shifted from the half-kneazle to the mass of heart-shaped pillows that were stacked against the headboard.

“Well if Crooks didn’t trip anything it’s probably safe to go inside, right?” Hermione glibly suggested.

“Unless we’re attacked by killer kitsch,” Harry replied, as he followed his friend into the room.

It was overwhelming.  The walls were painted two shades of pink, and the windows were trimmed with pink polka-dotted drapes.  A white bear-skinned rug was spread out in front of a fireplace whose bricks were now dripping in fuscia.  Red and pink ribbons were wrapped around the pole that supported Hedwig’s roost.  Frilly white lace and cherubs and hearts were to be found wherever you looked…unless you were looking at the “Heartthrob Harry Potter” posters that now hung on the walls.

“It’s so you, Harry!” Bill quipped, as he walked into the room.

“It’s something, alright,” the raven-haired wizard replied.

“What’s going on?” Molly demanded, as she pushed past Ron and Hermione.  She stopped, made one full turn around, then began to laugh.

“Oh, those two…” she said.  “Although, this would be perfect for Ginny’s room.”

“She can have it,” Harry muttered.  “Plenty of room for her and those two critters of hers.”

“That’s not a bad idea, actually,” offered Bill. “After all, this is the right sort of decor if you want to encourage mating.”

The smile disappeared from Molly’s face.  “No, Ginny will not be moving into this room.  I’ll have Fred and George back here in the morning to set things straight.”

“Tomorrow?” asked Harry.  “Could you and Bill change this all back now?”

Molly shook her head. “I’m sorry dear, but their pranks have an annoying tendency to trigger a secondary effect whenever somebody tries to cancel out the magic.  It’s best if they are…encouraged…to do the work themselves.”

“Erm…yeah.  Good point,” Harry replied.  He looked around the room and shuddered.

“Can I sleep downstairs on the sitting room sofa, then?” he asked.

“You’ll be fine here, Harry…it’s only going to be for the one night,” said Molly.

By this point, Fleur had finished her shower and left the bathroom.  She wandered into Harry’s room and began to giggle.  This, of course, drew attention to her…and to the damp clingy bathrobe that she was wearing.

“Okay, then, Fleur’s here…so where’s Ginny?” Harry asked, shaking his head. “And Arthur?  Might as well let everyone enjoy the joke.”

“Oh, don’t be such a poor sport,” said Hermione, frowning at the way that Ron was staring wide-eyed at her new roommate.

“They can see it in the morning,” declared a disapproving mother.  “Everyone back to your rooms.  The show is over.”

Ron didn’t think so, of course, and had to be literally dragged out of the room by Hermione.

Harry sighed as he watched his friends and adopted family shuffle out of the room.  Bill hung back just long enough to whisper a quick comment.

“Hey look at the bright side, Harry.”

“Do I have a choice?” he asked. “It’s bright everywhere that I look.”

“Yes, but…did you notice who also got a close look?”

Harry thought for a moment, then shrugged.

“So there’s no ward line across my threshold that keeps girls out,” he realized. “Same kind of logic used in Gryffindor Tower.”

“You make it sound as if that’s a bad thing.”

Harry rolled his eyes as he pushed the older wizard out the door.

“Good night, Bill,” he said, as he shut the door behind the older wizard.

The-Boy-Who-Was-Pranked groaned as he made his way over to the bed and pulled back the garishly covered duvet.  He ran his hand across the pile of heart-shaped pillows, hoping to find one that was more fluffy than frilly. Once his selection was made, Harry climbed onto the bed, slipped his feet under the covers, and pulled them back over his torso as he dropped his head backwards onto the pillow.  This gave him his first view of the ceiling.  It was (predictably) mirrored.

Harry shook his head and shifted his gaze from his reflection to Crookshanks's reflection further down the length of the bed.

“Good night, Crooks,” he said.


“Yeah, you and me both.”


“Oh, relax, Crooks.  It was just a joke.”

Harry shook his head as he reached over to dim his nightstand light, not really believing that he was beginning to understand Hermione’s familiar in the same way that he could converse with Hedwig.  He sighed in relief as his head fell back onto the pillow; the darkness was definitely was less distracting. But that only allowed slightly older distractions to push into the front of his mind.

The catalogs.

“Right,” he decided during a deep yawn.  “Worry about that in the morning.”

Harry closed his eyes.  It had been such a long and eventful day, and he felt so tired.  He was quite certain that he would quickly fall asleep.  But pushing the issue of underwear modeling to the side only allowed an even older distraction to rise to the surface.

Harry’s eyes shot open as he caught his breath.

“Meow?” asked his curled-up bedmate.

“Sorry, Crooks…just thought of something.”


“Yes, I do have thoughts occasionally,” Harry protested. “Merlin, Crooks, it might just as well be Hermione sharing my bed, the way that you’re mimicking her.”


“Never mind,” said Harry, as he pulled off the covers, rolled off of the bed, and dropped onto his knees.  He thought about groping around in the dark, but then remembered he had just been pranked by the Twins.  Harry could only imagine what would happen if he blindly slipped his hand underneath the mattress.

Crookshanks protested when the lights were turned back on and his perch was upended.

Harry shook his head as he peeked underneath.  “This will just take a second…” he explained. “Ha!”


“Sorry Crooks…just found what was making the mattress so lumpy.”

It wasn’t quite what he expected…instead of a vibrating rubber chicken Harry was now staring at a thin package wrapped in brown paper.


Harry reached for his glasses, which had been sitting on the nightstand, then looked over his shoulder towards the door.  Seemingly alone (except, of course, for his feline bedmate), he pulled out his wand and cast a detection spell on the package.  He swore quietly when the wrapping paper glowed blue.

“So it’s either a prank that will be triggered when I touch it…or a security charm,” he mused.  Harry knew that pranking the wrapping paper was beyond the first-year spell list, but also knew that Fleur could have easily helped Hermione.  He looked around the room, and spotted a wrought-iron poker leaning against the side of the fireplace.  Ignoring the heart-shaped handle for a moment, Harry retrieved the poker and used it to slide the wrapped package out from under the mattress, and onto the shag carpeting.

There was a large Muggle post-it note fixed to the top of the package, adding weight to the possibility that this had been Hermione’s doing, particularly once Harry noticed that the message left on this note was written in her handwriting with a Muggle felt-tip marker.

“Were you expecting something that clucks?” the message read.

Harry rolled his eyes as he lifted the unsecured edge of the note with the fireplace poker.  This revealed a small map that had been hand-drawn on the wrapping paper.  A closer look at this map revealed two large dots labeled “Little Whinging” and “Weybridge”  (which he knew was Hermione’s hometown).  These dots were connected with marked lines, apparently identifying all of the roads and motor routes one would take if they were to travel from one place to the other.

A snort escaped from Harry’s nose as he used the fireplace poker to turn the wrapped package over.  He didn’t find any seams or bits of cellophane strip to cut through.

“So it’s charmed wrapping paper,” he mused, turning the package back over.  He cast an Alohamora spell on the package.  Nothing happened.

“Maybe the map is a clue on how to get inside….?”

Harry touched his wand tip to the dot marked “Little Whinging.”  Nothing happened.  He went through a series of simple commands (e.g. Open!) without success.  He did the same thing with his wand tip touching Weybridge, and then he traced the route from one place to the other.

Still no success.

The raven-haired wizard thought about sticking to his earlier plan…to wait until the morning to sort things out.  But this was a challenge…a challenge that he was wagering Hermione had set for him, and he wasn’t about to give up on something like that.

Harry glanced over at Hermione’s familiar, who was watching with almost a bemused look on his face.

“So Crookshanks, if this goes bad and I need medical attention…should I crack open the door now, or can you howl loud enough to call for help from here?


“I’ll take that as a yes,” Harry replied, as he cautiously reached down and touched the wrapping paper with his bare finger.  He sighed in relief when nothing bad happened.  But then, having gone through all of his previous steps using a finger tip instead of his wand tip, he sighed in frustration.

“What the devil do I need to do in order to…oh, I am such an idiot!”


“You didn’t have to agree so readily, you know,” Harry informed the half-kneazle.  Then he grabbed his wand and touched it against the map.

“I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.”

Harry let out a little cheer as a seam magically grew down the length of the wrapping paper and the two sides opened up like French doors.

Underneath the paper was a mail-order catalog whose cover was labeled “Fredrick’s of West Hollywood.”  A small piece of parchment obscured the rest of the page.  The handwritten note read:

Dear Harry,

To help cut down on the back and forth, I decided to give you both catalogs.  I’m trusting that you won’t abuse my trust.  You can keep the lingerie catalog overnight if you think you’ll need more than one night to make your selections. But since you’re such a thoughtful boy…you will be sure to allow me the same amount of time to mull over your poses, right?



Harry’s heart rate progressively quickened as he read the note, then jumped when he shifted his attention from the message back down to the catalog.  Underneath the store’s name was a moving picture of a Muggle manikin…an anatomically correct male manikin, judging from the bulge in the fringed leather thong it was wearing.  It was some sort of cowboy-themed costume inspired from the American Wild West…although Harry doubted that real cowboys would ride bare-arsed in their saddles.  And you could definitely tell that the manikin’s thong was baring its arse by the way that it pranced and spun about, clicking the heels of its cowboy boots, and waving a cowboy hat in its hand.

Wondering if all of the other mail-order outfits were just as silly or just as revealing, Harry reached for the catalog with the intention of flipping through its pages.  But he didn’t make it past the cover page, as his full attention was drawn to the cover of the second mail-order catalog than had been underneath.

On that cover was a moving picture of his belly-dancing best friend, swaying seductively under the words “Fredrick’s of Salem.”  At least Harry assumed it was Hermione…the bushy-haired dancing figure was wearing a veil that covered the bottom half of her face.  And as for the dancing girl’s bottom…it was only half-covered as well, with a pair of silky harem pants that exposed a bum cleft almost as deep as the cleavage on display with the gauzy cropped top.

“I love magic!” Harry whispered, as he reached down and pressed the heel of his palm against the bulge in his pajama bottoms.


Harry glanced over at the bed.

“Oh give me a break, Crookshanks.  You’re a guy, right?  And you think she would expect me to act any differently?”

The half-kneazle shook its head, jumped off of the bed, and walked over towards Harry.  It stopped in front of the lingerie catalog, looked up at the wizard, then sat down on its cover, blocking his view.


Harry stared at the half-kneazle in disbelief.

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake…so you’re in on this scheme to?”

“Meow,” the familiar replied, as it reached up and pawed at the catalog held in Harry’s hands.

Harry snorted.

“You are one loyal familiar, aren’t you?”


The-Boy-Who-Lived got up onto his feet, feeling the need to both stretch his legs and (more importantly) readjust the front of his pants.  Once the pressure was relieved he began flipping through the male underwear catalog’s pages.  The same anonymous manikin served as the model for all of the outfits on display.  Harry shook his head as he turned each page…the first few pictures were relatively tame, but things got hotter (and barer) beyond that point.

He was sweating by the time he reached the back cover.  The amount of skin that he’d be showing his best friend if the catalog worked as advertised would be huge.  Harry flipped back to the inside cover and examined the camera lens that had grown out of the page like the pop-up display in a Muggle children’s book.  Then he read the instructions…twice.

It seemed straight forward enough.  But did he dare to bare?

Harry looked down at Crookshanks and snorted.  Hermione lived up to her house’s reputation.

He walked over to the nightstand, propped the opened catalog up against the wall, and stepped in front of the lens.


Hermione was gossiping with the part-Veela on her bed when Harry’s familiar flew through their opened window (although if anyone had challenged her, she would have claimed that she was just practicing her colloquial French).

“Zee moment of truth?” Fleur teased, as the Muggleborn witch quickly untied the brown paper package from the owl’s leg.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Hermione pronounced.

“Maybe more so once you see zee pictures, no?”

“Hush!” hissed Hermione. And then she gasped in delight as she watched Cowboy!Harry wave his hat and shake his bare bum.

“That’s my boy!” she exclaimed.

“Your very big boy, no?” Fleur teased, as she glanced over the younger witch’s shoulder.

“Not like you didn’t already know that after this morning.”


“You were right about zee scars.”

“I told you that he wouldn’t care enough to use the magical airbrush.”

“He was probably een too much of a rush to send eet off.”


“I still think zat you should have done zee same and not done zee retouching on your scar,” said Fleur.

Hermione shook her head.  “It’s not that I ashamed of it...I just knew that Harry would only focus on the scar and feel guilty.”

“Rather zen focus on your breasts and feel...’ow do you say eet....’orny?”

“Yes, horny,” Hermione agreed. “And yes, I’d rather he look at the rest of me.”  She patted the bed next to her and asked, “Have a seat?”

“Eet ees okay?”

The Muggleborn witch nodded as she opened the catalog.

“Fair is fair…you let me look at this catalog when Bill was still the model.”

Fleur smiled.  “Shush….eet ees our leetle secret, no?”

“Just like this will be?” asked Hermione, as she flipped past the few pages in order to get to the good stuff.

“No…you should have zee first chance to enjoy zee catalog by yourself.”

“Are you sure?”

Fleur nodded. “You can consult wiz me on potential presents een zee morning, no?”

Hermione snorted. “True enough…since Harry decided to hold onto the other catalog overnight.”

“I am so ‘appy for you, ‘Ermione,” Fleur gushed, pulling the other witch into a one-armed hug.

“Thanks,” the Muggleborn said with a blush.  She turned a page and squeezed her thighs together at the sight of Harry wearing nothing more than a smile and sheer black shorts.

“Oh, my!” she hissed.

Fleur giggled at Hermione’s reaction.

“Zees catalog…eet’s effect ees just as strong as my allure was last night, no?”

Hermione gasped and slammed the catalog shut.


“Do I ‘ave zee Veela blood een me?”

“Yes,” Hermione sighed, understanding the question’s underlying premise.

Fleur smiled as she patted the other witch’s leg.

“I suspect zat zee other catalog ees ‘aving zee same effect on your Harry.”

A giggle escaped from Hermione’s lips.

“Oh, I know for a fact that it’s having the same effect,” she declared, as she opened the catalog back up and searched for where she had left off.

“Based on past experience?” Fleur teased.

Hermione shook her head.  “Based on the emotions that Crookshanks is broadcasting right now.”

“Your familiar ees excited sexually by zee pictures of you?” Fleur asked.

Hermione caught her breath as she considered the question.  Then she relaxed and shook her head.

“He’s never acted like that before when he’s seen me nude,” the witch reasoned. “Crooks must be picking up on Harry’s emotional state right now.”

“But he ees your familiar?  ‘Ow could he do zat?”

The Muggleborn witch smiled.  “Maybe the two of us are somehow bonding with each other’s familiars?”

“Eet would be better eef you two bonded with each other first, I zink.”

“No argument here,” Hermione said coyly, as she looked down at the catalog and flipped another page.

“Merde!” Fleur exclaimed, as a new wave of pheromones assaulted her Veela-enhanced senses.

“Yes, I agree,” Hermione replied, using a very sultry tone of voice.  She bent the page corner over and declared, “I definitely want to order that one.”

“Eet was you zat I was responding to,” the French witch stated.  She looked towards Harry’s familiar, who had been perched the whole time on Hermione’s headboard,.

“Did you feel zat as well, ‘Edwig?”


Hermione let out a little gasp.  “So she’s probably broadcasting back to Harry?”

“Ees zat a problem?” asked Fleur.

The Muggleborn witch looked away from the catalog page for a moment, hoping that she could both “listen” to her familiar’s broadcast and compose her own thoughts.

The first task made the second task very difficult.

“I’ll muddle through somehow,” she said slyly.

Fleur laughed brightly, and let out a torrent of French that Hermione could barely follow.  The general sentiment was clear enough, though.  

“We’ll see,” the Muggleborn giggled.

“Alors, I will now give you zee alone time for fluffing ze muffin,”  Fleur teased, as she rose from Hermione’s bed, pulled out her wand and transfigured it into a four-poster model with thick curtains.

Hermione rolled her eyes.  “Isn’t it a little late for me to worry about privacy after you monitored the sitting room last night?”

“So you do not wish me to cast zee privacy and silencing charms on your bed?”

The bushy-haired witch shook her head as she reached up to the nearest bedpost and untied the curtain sash.

“I might be up late,” she said, waggling her eyebrows. “Wouldn’t want to interfere with you having a good night’s sleep.”

Fleur giggled as she looked up at Hedwig.

“And are you going to allow ‘Edwig to broadcast while you...?” she asked.

Hermione snorted as she turned towards Harry’s familiar.

“Wouldn’t you rather be out on your own hunt for a mate?”

“Brek!” the owl replied, as she launched off of the headboard and flew out the window.

“I guess the broadcasts are over,” Hermione quipped.

“Een both directions?” asked Fleur.

Hermione concentrated for a moment, then nodded.

“I think he’s fallen asleep.”


“No.  Harry.”

Fleur giggled.

“Bill usually does too, afterwards,” she admitted.

“Oh, that’s terrible!” Hermione laughed.

“Yes, eet ees, but I ‘ave not finished Bill’s training, so zere ees still ‘ope.”

Hermione rolled her eyes as she pulled the older witch into a hug.

“I think that I am going to enjoy sharing a room with you this summer.”

“Me too,” Fleur replied, as she kissed each of Hermione’s cheeks, stepped away from the bed, and held out her wand.

“Oh, just a second!” said Hermione, as she swung her feet off the bed and stood up.

Fleur grinned from ear-to-ear as she watched her new roommate slip her hand under the mattress and retrieve a rubber chicken.

“Now you ‘ave everything?” she asked.

Hermione smiled as she looked down at the adult toy in her hand.

“Not yet,” she replied. “But it will do for tonight.”

Fleur nodded knowingly as she said good night, then cast the strongest silencing charms that she knew on her roommate’s bed curtains.


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Author Notes:

A/N:   In the five month’s time between updates for this story, Chem Prof published a story entitled "I Need You" (   There was a scene in that story where Hermione shops for a ball gown with the help of a manikin that magically adopts her body shape in excruciating (and intimate) detail.   I had the similar (and independent) idea of the catalog models before that story was published (even foreshadowed sharing catalogs in a previous chapter), but I want to acknowledge the similarity.