velvetfiction: (Default)
[personal profile] velvetfiction
Title: Unexpected
Authort: [ profile] velvetmouse
Gift for: [ profile] turkeyish in the Spring 2009 [ profile] hp_spring_fling exchange
Character(s): Harry, Ginny, Lavender, Charlie
Rating: Only Naughty If You Squint (PGish)
Word-count: 5,651 sayeth Word
Warnings: Semi compliant with the Epilogue, but only in so far as Harry and Ginny are concerned.
Summary: She was the last person I ever expected to see there
Author's Notes: Thanks for giving me the chance to work with a combination of characters that I never ever would have thought of! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And thanks for posting that rec list on your lj so I know why you even thought of Charlie/Lavender in the first place! ;-)
Betas: the always amazing [ profile] sherylyn


She was the last person I ever expected to see there. Well, okay, maybe not the last. I mean, seeing one of the Malfoys, or Filch, or Umbit- er, Umbridge would have been rather shocking. But she was definitely high up on my "people I don't expect to see hiking up a mountain" list. And I sure as hell didn't expect to see her with the person she was with.

We ran into her towards the end of a long day. Harry had finally been allowed some time off and my season hadn't started yet, so we decided to take a proper holiday for once, our first since our honeymoon. Two weeks in the Greek islands had been wondrous, even though I tried to turn myself into a cooked lobster about every other day. Red hair and fair skin do not work well in the Mediterranean.

After that, we still had a week left, so we decided to head up to Romania, enjoy the mountains and maybe visit Charlie. We ensconced ourselves in the big resort in Predeal (it being off season, and hey, marrying into the Potter fortune does have its perks) and set ourselves to enjoy a week of good food, clean air and spectacular mountain views.

Which is how we found ourselves picnicking in an alpine meadow just outside of Busteni. We picked up lunch in the town and then hiked our way up until we both were hungry and found a likely looking spot. We could have Apparated up, I suppose, but really, what's the point? Neither Harry nor I are strangers to physical activity and we both enjoyed the walk up. Harry did add a Feather Light Charm to the backpack, though. We're athletic, not stupid.

After a leisurely lunch and some more pleasant activities (Privacy Charms are a grand invention) we decided to hike back down to Busteni and explore the town before dinner. We had seen a few other people on our hike, but not very many, so it was rather unexpected to round a corner on the trail and see a somewhat familiar form coming towards us. As it was, she recognized us first.

"Harry? Ginny?" the blonde form called out and began to jog towards us.

As she drew closer, Harry identified her first. "Lavender?" She greeted us both with a quick hug.

"What are you doing here?" I blurted out.

"Hiking," she replied dryly.

I stomped my foot. Childish, perhaps, but we were all smiling. "Lavender Brown, that is not a helpful answer! Try again!"

She laughed. It was not the girlish giggle that had permeated the Gryffindor common room, but a full-throated belly laugh. That, more than anything, caused me to take the proverbial step back and really look at her. I had only seen Lavender a few times since she left Hogwarts - she was at our wedding, of course, but I hardly remember anything about that day - and she had changed in the intervening five years. She hadn't changed much in height, but was leaner now, more refined. She had lost the last traces of childhood and clearly was taking care of her body. Her hair was longer than I remembered it being, and was pulled up into a high, plaited, ponytail. She looked perfectly comfortable in the Muggle clothing she wore, and her hiking boots, backpack and water bottle all showed obvious wear. That was the biggest surprise to me - I never would have guessed that the girl who could spend hours obsessing over a magazine and her nails would be an outdoorsy type.

She opened her mouth to respond but then stopped as she spotted someone else coming up the trail. "Hey!" she called out. "Look who I found!"

The other person hurried their steps, and shortly I was hurtling myself down the path at them.

"Charlie!" I squealed. Yes, squealed, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I hadn't seen my second oldest brother since the previous Christmas - one of the reasons we had chosen Romania as our second destination - and I was thrilled to have run into him here.

After a brief round of hellos, I looked back and forth between my brother and Lavender. "Wait a tick, you're here together? How do you even know each other?" Not the most tactful thing to say, I'll admit. Behind me, Harry chuckled. He's well acquainted with the Weasley ability to speak without thinking. I think he and Hermione have a private bet going over whether Ron or I will get ourselves in to bigger trouble first.

Charlie smirked and ruffled my hair. Honestly, sometimes I think he forgets that I'm almost 23 and married, for goodness sake! On second thought, he doesn't forget. He does it just to annoy me. "Who, her? I just picked her up along the way," he said and then promptly jumped out of the way of Lavender's smack.

"No, really. I'm not on duty this evening, so we decided to go for a hike since it was so nice out." He turned back to Lavender with raised eyebrows, and she shrugged, seemingly in agreement. I narrowed my eyes and resolved to keep a close eye on them. I'd seen that kind of non-verbal communication before, but outside of the twins, only from married couples. Something was definitely going on here.

Oblivious - or at least carrying on like he was oblivious, with Charlie you can never tell - my brother turned back to us. "You two want to hike back down with us and have dinner together?"

"Sure," Harry replied. "That sounds great."

"Don't think," I said as I fell into step with Charlie, "I didn't notice that you never answered my question. What in Merlin's name is going on with you and Lavender Brown?" But try as I might, I couldn't get an answer out of him. He blatantly ignored me, deftly deflected questions and otherwise kept our conversation firmly on other things for the entire hike down the mountain. He asked about the team and Harry's job and the rest of our family and told me stories from the dragon preserve. Meanwhile, Lav kept my husband similarly occupied. Classic divide and conquer routine; Harry and I had used it many times at Ministry gatherings. Something was definitely going on.

Several hours later we were holed up in a pub, steaming plates of food in front of everyone and locally brewed droughts in our hands.

I then fixed my dear, recalcitrant brother with a glare. "Talk." Charlie merely smirked and stuffed more food in his mouth to be prevented from answering. Lavender just rolled her eyes.

"Honestly, Ginny, it's no big deal. Charlie is just being a pain in the arse as usual."

"But how do you guys even know each other? It's not like you were at Hogwarts at the same time, and Charlie hasn't exactly been hanging around Diagon Alley..."

"Actually, we ran into each other for the first time on That Day," she replied. I could hear the capital letters in her voice and knew exactly what she was talking about. It's how most of us refer to it. The history books and newspapers may talk about it as the "Battle of Hogwarts" or some such rot, but for those of us who were there, who lived through it, it needs no other designation. "I had heard of him, of course, but that was the first time we'd ever met."


Debris littered the hallways, paintings were scratched and suits of armor had been blasted apart - all mute testament to the running battle that was being fought all over the school and grounds. She had been seeing the last of the students off to the Hufflepuff common room - the most secure place they could come up with to hide the younger years. Most of the older 'Puffs and some Ravenclaws had volunteered to stay behind with the little ones, leaving her free to go join the fight again.

She crept through the corridors as carefully as she could, mindful that there were still Death Eaters about. As she rounded one corner, she nearly ran smack into a solid shape coming around from the other way. She was about to go for her wand when a voice called out, "DUCK!" She did so, on a reflex trained into her first by Harry and then later by Neville - when someone screams “duck”, you do so first, ask questions later.

Above her a few spells flew by and then she heard " Stupefy! Petrificus Totalus! Incarcerous!" in rapid succession. She turned to see that a Death Eater, now Stunned and tied up, had been sneaking up behind her. She turned back to the other person in the corridor. A hand reached out to help her up off the floor, and she looked up to see red hair and freckles.

"Thanks," she said, accepting the hand. "You must be a Weasley. Charlie, right? I'm Lavender Brown."

Despite the seriousness of the situation, he gave a little half grin and Lavender felt her stomach flipflop. "Ah, you're the one who went out Ron for a while, right?"

Lavender blushed and tried to ignore the fact that an extremely good looking guy was still holding her hand. "Uh, yeah. We did. I did, that is. I hope you won't hold that against me," she replied with what she hoped was a flirtatious smile.

"Nah, everyone has bouts of temporary insanity." They smiled at each other and then both seemed to realize they were still holding hands; simultaneously, they pulled back with a jerk.

"Thanks, ah, for the help there. I should have been more careful," Lavender said, turning back to the bound body lying on the floor. "Expelliarmus!" A wand came flying towards her, which she deftly caught and calmly snapped in half. "No sense in leaving him armed, just in case someone on the other side comes along," she explained in response to Charlie's surprised look.

"Very practical."

Lavender grinned at him again and then forced herself to calm down. This was no place for flirting. "Come on, I think most people have made it outside at this point. Let's go see where we can help."


"We didn't see each other again until your wedding," Charlie added, having apparently decided to play nice for the moment. "We got to chat a bit then, and I discovered that Lav is really easy to talk to."


The bell above the shop door tinkled, and in the back room, Lavender swore under her breath. She was so close to being able to go home early. Out front, she heard Marielle greeting whomever had just come in. Maybe if she could just finish up the hem of this robe, she could sneak out the back way.

"Lav, got another for the Weasley/Potter wedding," Marielle called out. No such luck.

Swearing silently to herself again, Lavender replied, "Send them into the leftside, I'll be there in a sec."

"Right this way, sir," she heard Marielle directing the customer. She finished up her hem as quickly as she dared, and then dug around for the rolls of parchment that held all the information about her friends' wedding. It seemed like half the Wizarding world was invited, and a third of them were somehow in the wedding party itself. She glanced through the list of people who had yet to come in for a fitting - there weren't very many, a week before the event - and wondered who she would be fitting.

"Good evening, sir, and welcome to Madam Roques. My name is Lavender and I'll be -" she looked up to see a familiar form lounging bonelessly in the chair. "Charlie!"

"Heya, Lavender. How are you? I didn't know you worked here."

"For a few years now. I was lucky, Madam Roques doesn't care who she hires as long as you're good with a needle and have some ideas she likes."

"Muggle-born then?" Charlie asked with a raised eyebrow. Everyone who went to Hogwarts knew of the trouble some Muggle-borns had, trying to get jobs in the Wizarding world. Each year, some of them eventually gave up and went to uni or took a Muggle job.

Lavender shrugged, but didn't deny the statement. "All right, stand up and lose the shirt. I can't fit you properly otherwise," she commanded with a grin. Charlie complied with a bemused look and Lavender gulped audibly. She knew Charlie was built similarly to the twins - or rather, they were built similarly to him - but hadn't really thought about what that implied. Now, confronted with his broad, well-muscled chest, she stared unabashedly, trying to fight down the blush that was making her cheeks hot. Charlie, too, was blushing, but he also smirked at her as he stepped up onto the fitting pedestal.

"So what do you like best about working here?" he asked, as Lavender set several tape-measures flying around him with a flick of her wrist. Lavender was used to customers humoring her as she took their measurements, but a quick glance up - past the chest, thank you - told her that he was genuinely interested in her answer.

"Designing," she replied honestly. "I'm decent with a needle, but nothing spectacular. I'll never be a really great seamstress, even with magic. I love designing clothes, though, seeing how to improve on traditional designs, coming up with new ones, figuring out what fabrics work best with what styles." She chuckled slightly, mostly to herself. "When I was little, I always had a sketch book with me, even when I was camping with my parents. I'd climb a tree and spend hours drawing dresses."

"That's amazing," Charlie commented. "I've never been any good at visual arts. I get pictures in my head, sometimes, like of how the dragons move. But I don't have the skill to get them out of my head and into a form where someone else could see them too. Have you ever had a chance to actually make one of the things you designed?"

"Can you keep a secret?" Lavender asked slyly. Charlie nodded solemnly and drew a cross-mark over his heart. "I actually designed all of the robes for Harry and Ginny's wedding. But we're not telling anyone, not even Ginny. Normally, for such a large and high profile order, Madam Roques herself would design and oversee everything. But Harry tracked me down and specifically asked that I do them, and..."

"Whatever Harry wants, Harry usually gets," concluded Charlie. "That's fantastic. Ginny showed me her robes last night, they're amazing. Do you think you'll ever be able to tell anyone?"

"Maybe in fifteen or twenty years when I'm a world-famous designer," she replied with a grin. "But it doesn't really matter to me. Working on this was an amazing experience, and Madam Roques only had a few changes and suggestions to make. She seemed really pleased with what I had come up with. That alone is the most valuable thing I could get out of this." She paused and checked the parchment. "You're all set. I'll need you to come back on - hmm, Wednesday? - to try on the robe so we can do any alterations necessary."

Charlie nodded amiably and proceeded to - with what to Lavender was excruciating slowness - put his shirt back on. He turned to leave, but paused once.

"Lavender? Save a dance for me at the wedding, will you?"

Lavender nodded, grinning broadly. But she, heroically, refrained from squealing in pleasure. At least until she had retreated to the back room and thrown up a few hasty Silencing Charms.


"So after the wedding we started writing to each other, every so often at first, when one of us had a story we were sure the other would appreciate, and then more and more often. Poor Miranda nearly wore out her wings. So finally we started getting together for dinner, or hikes, or matches, despite the distance. It just became so easy to spend time together that we kept finding ways to do it. I don't think it ever occurred to either of us to stop," Lavender continued.


Charlie looked down at the scrap of parchment in his hand, double checking the address. He and Lavender had been planning all week to go out on Friday night, but they had dithered back and forth over what they wanted to do. Finally, last night he had received a quick note bearing a time, address and a simple phrase: "Dress Muggle." He was no stranger to the Muggle world, and what little discomfort he might have had with it had been erased by the previous six months.

Lavender, as he had suspected, was Muggle-born, and was desperately trying to balance the two worlds she knew. As they had started to spend more and more time together, Charlie found himself in the Muggle world as often as the Wizard. Quidditch and football matches were attended with equal regularity, and they were as likely to spend a day at a Muggle zoo as they were wandering around a Wizard shopping district.

Tonight was different, though. There was a charge between them that hadn't been present a few months ago. They were finding more and more excuses to see each other - at least once on weekends and often, these days, at least once during the week. They touched each other more too; hugs lingered a moment or two longer than they did before, a hand placed on the back or arm for guidance remained for an extra second. Something was building between them. Charlie only hoped that Lavender felt it too.

Rechecking the address and time one last time, Charlie strode confidently into the restaurant. He was glad he had chosen to wear nice trousers and a button-down shirt, rather than jeans. This restaurant was nice. A brief exchange with the maitre'd informed Charlie that his companion had not yet arrived, so he took a seat at the bar. Thus, he was in a perfect position to see Lavender when she walked in. She searched for a moment and then spotted him, her face lighting up in a brilliant smile. Charlie's heart skipped and then began to beat a tattoo in his chest, double time.

"You look... amazing," he said, trying not to stutter. She smiled and blushed lightly, taking his hand as they made their way over to the maitre'd.

Later, Charlie couldn't say what they had talked about over dinner, nor what he ate. What he did remember was the stray curl that had escaped down Lavender's neck, just begging to be played with; the way the pale blue of her dress set off the creamy white of her skin and the yellow of her hair; the way her eyes danced and sparkled.

Moments later, it seemed, Charlie found himself standing on the pavement outside the restaurant again.

"Where to now, fair lady?" he asked. With a shy smile, Lavender took his hand and laced her fingers through his. Charlie held back an audible sigh, marveling at how right it felt.

"I thought we might take a walk and then go dance off the rest of that meal."

Charlie gave a concerned glance downwards. "Are you sure you'll be okay with that?" he asked with a look at the strappy, high-heeled sandals Lavender was wearing.

She grinned at him and lowered her voice. "They're a Patil special - Parv pitched a fit one day when she couldn't find any shoes that were both comfortable enough to dance in and looked good with the dress she was wearing. Shortly after that, she and Padma sat down and worked out the charms. These babies are as comfortable as my trainers and are charmed so that I'll never break the heel or turn an ankle."

"They could make a fortune with that!"

"I know, I've already got them an appointment with Madam Roques. Consider this a trial run of the product."

"We'll have to make sure to give them a thorough testing, then."

An hour later, Charlie was in heaven. The other-worldly feel of the nightclub's dance floor was only enhanced by the women he held in his arms. Smoke curled through the air, making the dim lighting a tangible substance. The beat of the music reverberated through the floor, up his legs and merged with the beat of his heart thumping in his chest.

The music ended, pausing briefly before moving onto the next set but Charlie and Lavender remained frozen for an instant. Holding his breath, Charlie reached a hand behind her neck only to find she was reaching up to draw him closer. Their lips touched and they were lost for the rest of the night.

Marveling at how well they fit together, Charlie finally understood what all the fuss was about.


"But what could you guys possibly find to talk about?" I was thoroughly mystified now.

"Ginny," Lavender said gently, "how much do you know about my family?"

I opened my mouth to answer, but then shut it and thought furiously back through all my conversations with her, anything I might have overheard in the common room or their dormitory, anything that Hermione might have mentioned. Nothing.

"You never mentioned anything," Harry replied quietly. "You seemed to be best friends with Parvati from the beginning so everyone assumed you already knew each other, and therefore had grown up in the Wizarding world. But you didn't, did you?"

Lavender shook her head. "I'm as Muggle-born as you get. My parents are both zoologists."

"Muggle version of a Mastery in Creature Studies," Charlie clarified, seeing my confused look.


Charlie fidgeted with the collar of his shirt for the fifth time in as many minutes, and Lavender rolled her eyes.

"Honestly, you look fine, luv. Just relax, my parents are going to love you."

"But what if they don't, what if they think I'm too old for you or - "

"They won't. I told you before, I've tried to be pretty open with them about the way the Wizarding world works. They understand that my life expectancy is suddenly nearly double what theirs is, and so a seven-year age difference really isn't that much."

"But what if I say something really stupid?" Charlie asked plaintively.

Lavender kissed him on the cheek and tried not to laugh. "You won't. You spend nearly as much time in the Muggle world as I do these days. And you can always ask. They'll be asking you questions, too. Now, enough stalling, they're expecting us."

With a final squeeze of her boyfriend's hand, she turned to the mantel and grabbed a pinch of Floo Powder.

"Brown Menagerie," she stated and stepped into the green flames.

Despite his nerves, Charlie smiled. The first time Lavender had told him the Floo address of her parents’ house, he'd burst out laughing. After whacking him across the head, she'd explained that even in the Wizarding world, "Brown" was a fairly common family name, and so she'd had to do something to make their address unique.

Now, he followed his girlfriend through and tried to prepare himself for that most dreaded of tasks, Meeting the Parents. He appeared in a comfortable looking living room and cleaned himself of any residual soot with a quick wave of his wand.

Lavender reached out and took his hand. "Charlie, this is my father, Thomas. My mum, Anne, is still in the kitchen, she'll be along shortly. And, Daddy, this is my boyfriend, Charlie."

Charlie reached out to shake Thomas's hand. "Pleased to meet you, sir. I hear we have a profession in common."

"Oh? Lavender didn't mention. What do you do?"

"I work on a wildlife conservation, in Romania." A twinkle in the redhead's eyes caused the older man to lift his eyebrows.

"Conserving what, exactly?"



"I met Padma and Parv on the platform," she continued, "and we just clicked right away. The Patils might be pure-bloods, but their family has had dealings in the Muggle world for decades, so they didn't look at me like I was nutters when I talked about telephones and microwaves. They, more than anything, helped me adjust to the Wizarding world."

"You never said anything," Harry said tentatively and Lavender shook her head.

"I didn't want to stand out. I saw how everyone looked at Hermione, when she went on and on about being the first witch in her family. I didn't want that kind of attention; I just wanted to fit in. And, I suppose, I wanted to try being someone totally different than I was at home."

Now I was totally confused. The Lavender I knew at Hogwarts wasn't the real person? Or she was, but there was another whole side to her?

"Growing up, she was a bit of a tomboy," Charlie explained. "She'd spend her summers tromping through Exmoor with her father, who is a conservation researcher for the park. It's a lot like what I do, only he works with the whole ecosystem, not just one species. Her mum is one of the reptile keepers at the Colchester Zoo."

Lavender laughed. "In primary school, I was the only girl who didn't scream when they found a garden snake in the playground one day. Mama is forever bringing home snakes and lizards that need 'just a little bit of extra love' to get back to health."

"But, but, but," I spluttered. "You were so different! So-so-"

"Girly? Yeah, I know. Like I said, I wanted to be someone totally different. And Parv was in to all of that stuff, so it was easy. And it's not like I don't enjoy it; I really do. But that isn't all there is to me. Every summer when I got home, I'd wash all the makeup off, throw on my rattiest pair of shorts and run up to the moor and spend a week camping with my parents. I loved being at Hogwarts, but sometimes it was tough being such a different person."

"It wasn't until we had a couple of long conversations that I convinced her –"

"Beat me over the head with it, you mean," Lavender interrupted.

"Well, that too," Charlie replied with a grin. "Anyway, I finally convinced her that she didn't need to hide so much from the Wizarding world - working as a fashion designer and hiking up a mountain or screaming your head off at a football match aren't exactly mutually exclusive pursuits. So I've been trying to get her to loosen up a little bit, and just be the amazingly cool person that she is."

"And that's when I realized that Charlie was probably the best friend I could ever have."

"What about Parvati? You two were inseparable!" I asked. I supposed it didn't really matter, but I was curious just how much the Lavender I thought I knew had changed. It was hard to imagine any girl being best friends with Charlie, let alone one that had spent two hours a day on hair and makeup at Hogwarts.

"We're still pretty close, and I love her to pieces, but, well. People change, Ginny. Parv is great for a girl's night out or a weekend at a spa, but these days I'd rather have a long conversation with Padma. I might work in a clothing store, but that doesn't mean it's all I think about."

"One of the first conversations we ever had, remember that one, Lav? We were up until about three in the morning, talking about everything from endangered species protection to the state of the Ministry to the Wasps' chances that season. And that's when I proved that I am my mother's son and make a mean apple pie."

Lavender laughed again, that big, free laugh that I was beginning to associate with this new person I was discovering. It was hard to think of her as the same person I had known at Hogwarts, so I resolved then and there to simply treat her as someone I was meeting for the first time - my brother's best friend. And probably something more, if my instincts were correct. But it doesn't matter, I guess. They'll tell us when they're ready, and then I can tease the living daylights out of them. Until then, I'll just enjoy my dinner, the beer, and the company of some good friends.


In a small cabin in a remote part of the mountains, two people prepared for bed.

"Think we fooled them?" the redhead asked.

"Not a chance," replied the blonde. "Harry might have missed it, although he has got more observant. But not much gets by your sister. She probably had it figured out within the first five minutes." She hesitated for a moment, pausing in front of the mirror where she was brushing out her hair. She looked into it, past her own reflection, into the eyes of her partner. "Charlie, why are we still hiding it?" Old doubt crept into her voice.

The man behind her sighed. "Because as soon as any member of my family gets the slightest hint that we're together, we will immediately be subjected to a Howler from Mum, screaming at us for not telling her sooner. That will then quickly be followed by incessant badgering about when we will be getting married. I don't want to subject you to that. Or me," he added wryly.

Lavender gave a little half smile but then looked down at her hands. "What if - what if we did want to get married, though? It wouldn't be so bad then, right? Because we could actually give her an answer."

Charlie stood stock still for a moment and then flew to her side and crouched down beside her. "Do you really mean that? You want to get married?" He tried to keep his voice level, but hope and anticipation came through.

"Not - not right away. But I think maybe we could start thinking about it. We've been together for almost three years now, and I can't imagine being with anyone else..." Finally, she looked up at Charlie. With a whoop, he picked her up, spun her around and kissed her soundly.

"This is great!" he said a little breathlessly. "But we can't tell Mum right away or we'll never have any peace and I don't want to go through what Bill and Fleur did and I know we have a lot of details to work out and I'm not sure where we're going to live because I really don't want to leave here but that makes it awfully long for you to Apparate every day and… oh, we'll have to find you a ring, do you want to come with me or do you want me to surprise you and -"

Laughing at the flood of words pouring forth, Lavender finally ended it by the simple expedient of kissing him again.

Sometime later, when they finally came up for air, Lavender propped her head up on one hand and stretch out on the bed, where they somehow had found themselves.

"Now, to answer some of those questions you had, I would love a proper ring and I would love to help you pick it out. But I think we should probably ’officially’ introduce me to your family before we do that. I can't imagine your parents would react very well if we just showed up one day and I had a ring on. Mine will be thrilled, though. They've been so good about not pestering me, but I can tell Mama has been dying to ask if we're ever going to get married. As for where we'll live, well, I wanted to talk to you about that anyway..."


"I told you that Madam Roques wants me to start taking a greater role in the shop. I think she's just given up trying to teach me how to stitch evenly, even with magic. Anyway, she wants me to concentrate more on design and let the other girls handle the fittings. But she also wants me to start doing a lot more of the buying for the shop. She says I have a good eye for fabric and enough backbone not to let the suppliers take advantage of me."

"That's great, but what does that have to do with where we're living?"

"Because," she explained patiently, "it means I'll be traveling a lot. So Madam Roques is going to get me a Portkey Creation license, under the Small Business Provision."

"Oh. Oh! OH."

"Yes, oh." Lavender smiled at Charlie's growing comprehension. With unlimited Portkeys at their disposal, it wouldn't matter where they lived. "So I was thinking, we give our families maybe six months to get used to the idea, and then maybe we can start looking around for a place to move in together. I know you'll probably want to stay around here, and that's fine with me."

"I think that sounds like a brilliant idea." He started to kiss her again seriously, but suddenly pulled back and groaned, and not in pleasure.

"What? What's wrong?"

"My sister is going to kill me. We just spent an evening telling her that we were best friends, and now we're going to turn around and announce that we're not only dating, but eventually getting married? I'm so dead."

Lavender giggled and kissed the consternation off of Charlie's face. "Ginny will get over it and Harry will prevent any fratricide. He wouldn't want to do the paperwork it would cause. Besides," she added as an after thought, "we didn't really lie to them. We are best friends, after all. And who better to spend the rest of my life with than my best friend?"


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