Chapter 5 : The Secret's Out
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“In ya go. Speak clearly, Ginny,” Mrs. Weasley urged as she shooed her daughter towards the fireplace.
“Mum, I got it,” the redhead sighed as she stepped into the soot filled crevice, reaching forward and sifting her hand into the pile of floo powder. “Diagon Alley. Elder’s Place. Apartment one hundred and twelve.”
A cloud of green smoke erupted out of Jamie’s fireplace as she paced back and forth impatiently. Ginny stepped out, dusting herself off and grumbling under her breath. Jamie’s mother looked up through her crescent-moon spectacles and Natalia, the youngest of the Miller family, stopped flipping through the latest muggle fashion magazine.
“S’a matter, Gin?” Jamie asked as she tried to mask her smirk.
“I haven’t the foggiest as to why Mum won’t let us apparate everywhere. I’m more than qualified!”
“Don’t worry, my mum wouldn’t let me apparate at first either. Once saw a boy splinched at the ankle, right mum?” Jamie turned to look at her mother as Molly Weasley appeared in the fireplace.
“Another time, darling,” her mother replied in a hushed tone as she rose from her seat and crossed the small room to embrace the other woman in a hug.
“Looking simply radiant, Victoria,” Mrs. Weasley cooed.
“I can say the same for you, Molly. It’s been too long. Our kids go off and graduate and I barely see a wink of you and the family. Arthur’s been keeping Edward up to date, but this whole mess must be fixed right quick!”
The two women were so predictable and chummy after long periods of not seeing one another. Jamie rolled her eyes in Ginny’s direction before picking the muggle magazine out of Natalia’s grip. The teenager made the most ghastly hissing sound, which the older of the two siblings simply brushed off with a shrug. Jamie was definitely used to her sister’s less than stellar manners. Then again, she hadn’t been the most enjoyable individual to be around her first few years of Hogwarts either.
“Come on, Natalia. The magazine isn’t going anywhere. Up ya go,” Mrs. Miller pushed in a demanding tone. The teen scowled up at the brunette woman, mumbling under her breath as she pushed herself up and off the couch reluctantly.
“Where’s Hermione?” Jamie asked offhand as the small group of women headed out the apartment door in a single file.
“Her and Ronald had plans prior to your emergency tea session,” Ginny commented. She nonchalantly brushed past Jamie, turning her head and nodding it forward. The brunette took note of the signal and quickened her pace, glancing only to look to see if Natalia was paying any attention.
“Wait ‘til your mum and mine get a bit more absorbed in the latest recipes and her new crochet pattern,” Ginny whispered.
Sighing, Jamie nodded and continued down the crowded street. Witches and wizards crossed the streets in every which direction. Shouting could be heard from every open door and window, little girls arguing over who had the best dress robes and mothers bickering over the last copy of a required text book for advanced Potions. There was excitement in the air, as there was every fall. The new year at Hogwarts was, after all, right around the corner.
“Now?” Jamie asked with impatience in her voice and curiosity glimmering in her eyes. Molly Weasley had her mother insnared in the latest cross-stitch pattern she had discovered whilst making Arthur a new sweater for the changing weather. There was no way they would overhear anything Ginny had to say.
“Now what?” Natalia butted in as she appeared around Jamie’s left shoulder.
“Go back into your coma.”
“Wow, Gin,” Jamie chuckled. Natalia grimaced before quickening her pace to keep up with the two older girls.
“I’m old enough to be let in on things. Stop leaving me out!” she whined.
“You’re like twelve,” the redhead reminded in a sarcastic tone.
“Fourteen, thank you very much.”
“Go.” Jamie narrowed her eyes in her sister’s direction. She adored her little sister. She really did but the girl was as nosey as Rita Skeeter. Natalia let out an exasperated groan before falling back quietly beside her mother and Mrs. Weasley. “So.”
“What do you want to know first?”
“You have more than one thing to tell me?!” Jamie’s eyes widened slightly. She had never known Ginny to be a girl to collect gossip, but apparently she had been wrong. Nodding, the redhead continued walking casually down the street. “Well, uhm. What did you have to say about Ron and Hermione?”
“Ron blubbered the ‘l’ word.”
“Pipe down, love. Mum doesn’t know. Hermione went white and Ron rushed out of the kitchen faster than a snitch on the loose.”
Jamie bit down on her lower lip, staring at the dusty cobblestones beneath her feet. Despite how exciting that news was, she was feeling annoyed. And jealous she thought with a roll of her eyes.
This jealousy thing really had to stop. It was eating away at her every nerve. Jamie wanted to join in on the excitement, but there was something making that nearly impossible. Except that something wasn’t a thing at all. It was a someone.
“Jay?” Jamie’s head snapped up quickly to take in Ginny’s slightly concerned expression. Her eyes averted down to the pale hand on her elbow and she offered a weak smile.
“Sorry, spaced out.”
“You do that quite a lot.”
Jamie rolled her eyes and nudged the girl with her elbow as they turned the corner, nearly crashing into someone in the process. Two strong hands caught her by the arms. The hands were calloused--Quidditch perhaps? The grip wasn’t rough, fingers only lightly pressing into her frail arms as she timidly looked up through her dark bangs.
“McLaggen,” Ginny said coldly.
Ever since Cormac had tried to swipe the keeper spot from Ron during his sixth year, Ginny and the rest of the Weasley family had some less than polite views on the McLaggen family. Jamie, however, had always thought he wasn’t that bad.
“Weasley,” he said, matching her tone before turning his soft blue gaze in Jamie’s direction. “Miss Miller.”
“Hello, Cormac,” Jamie replied with a slight smile on her lips.
He was quite attractive, definitely a good distraction from her current predicament. Shaking those thoughts from her head, she nodded to the boy beside him. He was Cormac’s shadow, Geoffrey something-rather. The boy was thin with greasy black hair falling in front of his dead gray eyes. His crooked nose protruded from his pale face, enhancing the look of his hallowed cheek bones. Time and time again Jamie had insisted that he was Snape’s son, but no one ever took the bait.
Ginny continued to scowl and Cormac continued to smirk, unfazed by the redhead’s attempts to intimidate the boy. Jamie looked over her shoulder for a quick moment. Mrs. Weasley, her mum, and her sister had yet to round the corner yet. It was a good thing too. A fight between the Weasley women and Cormac McLaggen was not in Jamie’s agenda.
“How rude of me,” Cormac finally spoke in his usual silky tone. “How’re you ladies today?”
“Right swell and yourselves?” Jamie cut in, shooting a glare at Ginny. The corner of the girl’s mouth twitched in irritation but she relaxed her shoulders and unfolded her arms.
“Better now that we’ve found ourselves in such charming company, isn’t that right, Geoffrey?”
“Of course,” he replied timidly, his voice as nasally as his appearance suggested it would be.
“Toss off, McLaggen.”
“Merlin, Ginny,” Jamie groaned, shoulders sinking as she sent an apologetic smile in the boys’ direction.
Cormac angled his chin down, his eyes holding a glimmer and lips curved in a mischievous smirk. He seemed to be enjoying Ginny’s fiery remarks. Boys and their games.
“Now who do we have here?”
Jamie closed her eyes and let out a heavy sigh as a hand was placed upon her shoulder and the overpowering scent of jasmine wafted around her. Jamie’s mother shifted from one foot to the next, her hazel eyes taking in the sight of the two boys before her through her half-moon spectacles. Cormac instantly straightened up and even the ghost of a boy beside him did his best to look presentable.
“Cormac McLaggen. You must be Jamie’s older sister. I can see the resemblance.”
“Oh, now, now,” Mrs. Miller laughed. Ginny grimaced, Jamie rolled her eyes, and Mrs. Weasley cleared her throat. “I’m her mum, but how sweet of you.”
Natalia stood there, eyes wide and intently fixated on Cormac’s face. Her eyes were glazed over and her thin lips were parted ever so slightly as she stared in awe. Jamie’s curled into an amused smile but she quickly wiped it off after Ginny shot her a nasty little look.
“We best get moving along Victoria. You know how busy Maison Bertaux gets on Saturday afternoon,” Mrs. Weasley reminded. It was easy to see that she was biting her tongue yet still trying to be polite in her approach. “I’m sure these two boys have plenty to do today.”
“Yes, plenty,” Ginny added in a snap.
“It was good seeing you Cormac,” Jamie said with a small nod.
“Not as good as it was seeing you. Perhaps another day we could go out for brunch. I’ll owl you,” he grinned. “Come on, Hooper.” Geoffrey nodded his head towards the group of women before quickening his pace to catch up with Cormac who had already headed down the sidewalk.
“He’s a down right gormless git,” Ginny hissed.
“Come off it, Gin,” Jamie sighed as she brought her fingertips to her throbbing head, massaging her temples as she shuffled with the group in the direction of The Leaky Cauldron. This was going to be a long day.
“And Harry and Ron were both offered positions at the Ministry. Something about Kingsley seeing grand potential in the two. If you ask me, Hermione’s the only level-headed one of the lot who should be in the Ministry,” Ginny commented as she raised the porcelain teacup to her lips and took a sip.
Jamie and Ginny sat off in a corner of the quaint little cafe, talking in hushed voices and occasionally glancing over at the other three. Mrs. Weasley and Mrs. Miller were talking animatedly as Natalia sat there staring into her teacup.
“Harsh. I think Harry is more than qualified for the Ministry. I mean, he’s been through quite a bit. A job as an auror is quite fitting if you ask me.”
“If you say so, but what about Ron? Git if I ever did see one,” Ginny shrugged.
“You’re too hard on him, Gin. If one of the most brilliant witches of our time sees something in him, we should be able to as well, no?”
Ginny rolled her eyes as Jamie sipped at her tea. She smirked at the redhead as she set the cup down on the saucer, returning her hands to her lap as she exhaled.
“What’re you planning on doing?”
“Well, I’m just going to continue to go St Mungo’s and learn I suppose,” Jamie replied with a shrug. It was a good, respectable job that tested her but didn’t push her over the edge. “And you?”
“Well.” Ginny grew quite as she dropped her gaze to the teacup, running her slender, pale fingertips over the smooth porcelain cup. “I actually have a tryout with Holyhead.”
“Shhh. What is with you and bursting out like that?” Ginny asked, glancing over to see if any attention was drawn to them. One could never be too careful when in a muggle part of London. “Slughorn.”
It made sense. Horace Slughorn had been quite impressed with Ginny’s Bat-Bogey Hex on Zacharias Smith during her sixth year, and although Jamie hadn’t been impressive enough to be a part of the Slug Club, she had heard all about its happenings. Slughorn had a thing for famous former students and often boasted about getting free tickets from Gwenog Jones of the Holyhead Harpies according to Ginny.
“Impressive. When is it?”
“Next weekend. I just got a letter from Gwenog,” Ginny admitted as she slipped her hand into her jacket pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of parchment. “Do you think I should take it?”
“Are you kidding? Of course you should. An opportunity like that doesn’t come around often.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I can’t believe it though. Finally getting to play on the team I’ve always dreamed of under my idol? Talk about bloody brilliant.”
The two girls laughed softly amongst one another. Jamie was happy that the professional aspect of everyones’ life was going well. Natalia approached their table with an annoyed expression, brows knitted together and lips pursed tightly in a scowl.
“Mum and Mrs. Weasley were wondering when you wanted to talk about whatever is so important,” she muttered.
“Oh. Well, I guess now is as good of time as any,” Jamie replied hesitantly. She wasn’t sure how the four women were going to react to her predicament but it was worth a shot.
Ginny rose from her seat and Jamie followed suit, both carrying their cups of tea with them as they crossed the cafe and sat down in the empty chairs beside their mothers. The brunette sat there for a few moments with the others looking at her expectantly. How was one supposed to start such a conversation? It wasn’t as easy as saying she loved Fred but at the same time wanted to run her hands through George’s hair as he had her pressed against the counter at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. She mentally kicked herself for such thoughts before swallowing the lump in her throat.
“I think I might be ready to move on,” Jamie said timidly, biting her lower lip.
“It better not be McLoser or I’ll wring your neck, Jamie,” Ginny growled.
“Ginerva Weasley!” Mrs. Weasley reprimanded.
“What? He’s a tosser.”
“Language,” her mother added in a stern tone. Ginny muttered under her breath, looking down at her cup with knitted brows. “I’m happy for you, dear.”
“Oh I am going to have grandchildren after all!”
“Mum,” Jamie whimpered, not wanting to put such thoughts in her own head. It was hard enough to admit that she was attracted to someone else without her mother fueling the fire.
“Who’s the unfortunate bloke?” Natalia teased with a smug expression.
“Well, that’s the complicated part.”
“It is McLoser, isn’t it!”
“Don’t cross me, young lady,” Mrs. Weasley started again.
“It’s not Cormac, I promise you. I almost wish it was because even that would less complicated than this,” she sighed.
Mrs. Weasley placed her hand on Jamie’s back, patting it lightly as she gave the girl a concerned look. Her mother’s eyes were clouded with confusion and even Ginny looked to be a bit thrown off.
“You like George, don’t you?” Ginny asked quietly.
“Ugh, don’t say it like that. It’s awful, right awful I tell you. That blasted Angelina girl is always over and it’s just awful. Awful, awful, awful.”
“We get it, its awful,” Natalia commented as if she were bored out of her wits.
“Natalia, be nice,” her mother rebuked. “Jamie, it could be worse.” “How on earth could it be worse?!”
“George could be d-”
“Now, now. It’s probably just a silly crush. He does look exactly like Fred, after all,” Mrs Weasley cut in, Natalia closing her mouth mid-sentence.
“I hope so,” Jamie whispered as she brought the cup to her lips and finished the last of the lukewarm tea. “Right silly to get all worked up over this.”
Despite hoping that she would feel better after admitting it out loud, she didn’t feel the least bit relieved. Jamie felt awkward more than anything as she sat there amongst the other four women. Part of her was concerned that Mrs. Weasley would slip up, or even worse Ginny would, and George would end up knowing how she felt about him. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
“Can we go yet?” Natalia butted in bluntly.
“Yes, we probably should be heading back. You, missy, have to finish packing for Hogwarts.”
“Mum,” she whined quietly.
“It’s worth it, Nat,” Ginny assured her with a shrug. “Jamie, would you like to come back to the Burrow. Mum’s making a big dinner. Fleur’s about to pop as it is and yet Mum insists to fill the girl up ‘til she can’t walk.”
“Uhm, yeah I’d love to. A bit tired of take-out,” Jamie admitted with a smirk.
The four girls rose from their seats and bid each other farewell. Jamie watched as her mother and sister trailed down the street, barely making out Natalia’s complaining as they turned the corner and disappeared.
“Remind me never to invite her anywhere,” Jamie commented as she walked beside Ginny. The redhead smirked as they stepped into The Leaky Cauldron.
“Trust me, will do.”
“Don’t touch that Ron.”
Laughter filled the crowded little kitchen as the residents and guests of The Burrow sat around the humble table in the center of the room. Ron’s ears turned a bright red as he retreated his hand from the pile of biscuits piled high on the table, muttering to himself as he looked down in embarrassment. Mrs. Weasley returned her attention to the task at hand, pulling the pumpkin pasties out of the oven and setting them on the counter as the bewitched spoon continued to stir the steaming onion soup on the stove.
“Ginny, are you excited avout ze Harpies?” Fleur asked curiously.
“Yeah, I really am. The more I think about it, the realer it gets.”
“Always knew my kid sister was gonna be big. I’m an eye for talent, I tell you,” Ron commented as he lifted his head.
“Of course you are, Ron,” Hermione grinned, reaching over and placing her hand on his knee and squeezing it.
“What? You don’t believe me?”
The table broke out into more laughter. The light atmosphere was carefully mending the damage created earlier by the tension in the tea shop. Everyone had a smile on their face, eyes twinkling with laughter as Ron continued to sit there and bumble.
“So Harry, how are you liking the Ministry?” Bill asked.
“I do. It’s a lot different than Hogwarts though,” he replied with a nod. “Hermione’s definitely helping Ron and I adjust.”
“Always the helpful one,” Mr. Weasley commented with a twinkle in his eye, causing Hermione’s cheeks to turn a soft rose color.
“I’d feel bad if I just let all my hard work go to waste. Got ‘em through Hogwarts, might as well keep them going in the Ministry,” she chuckled nervously.
Jamie couldn’t help but gaze at Hermione enviously. However it wasn’t her professional accomplishments or her feats at Hogwarts. Those were all quite impressive, but it wasn’t what was eating away at Jamie as she sat there across from her. It was the way Ron was looking at her. His light blue eyes were focused intently on her ivory face, his lower lip slightly parted from the top, both curved at the corners in an appreciative smile. His body was turned towards her slightly with his leg crossed over the other and his arm draped over the back of her chair. The closer she inspected the lovebirds, she noticed his fingertips lightly running over her arm.
She blinked as Hermione waved her hand in front of her face, her own cheeks turn a deep scarlet as she smiled bashfully.
That seemed to be her excuse a lot these days. Hermione gave her a strange look but returned to the discussion at hand. Jamie glanced away, but was met by the sight of Ginny and Harry in a similar position. Harry’s adoring gaze and Ginny’s coy glances, their hands linked and fingers laced--it was all quite nauseating.
Thank Merlin for Molly Weasley’s fine cooking. Pewter bowls filled with aromatic onion soup floated to each place setting as she carried the platter of pumpkin pasties to the table. Everything smelled so enticing and mouthwatering.
“Smells fantastic, Molly,” her husband praised as he reached forward to swipe a biscuit off the plate. “Best hurry there, Jamie. Wouldn’t want to miss out.”
“Oh, right,” Jamie replied slowly, grabbing a biscuit quietly.
Dinner was filled with more laughter and stories about the Harry and Ron’s adventures at the Ministry. Mr. Weasley was exceptionally chuffed about the praises the two had received from Kingsley. Hermione was further promoting S.P.E.W. and it was becoming a big hit with the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Bill was growing restless with his job at Gringotts and Fleur was weary of being cooped up in Shell Cottage all day long waiting for baby Victoire to arrive. Jamie even added in a bit of the latest St. Mungo’s news, but she wasn’t able to fully join in on the fun.
“You’re awful quiet,” Ginny commented as she joined Jamie in the cozy living room after dinner.
“Really? I wasn’t trying to be,” Jamie lied as she looked over.
“What’re you ladies talking about?” Harry asked as he entered the room, sitting beside Ginny and looking over curiously at Jamie. The frames of glasses were a smidgen crooked, which his redheaded girlfriend thought quite amusing.
“Just how awful these ruddy things are,” Ginny teased as she pressed her fingertip against the metal between the two circular lenses, pushing them up to sit straight on the bridge of his nose.
“I think I’m gonna head home,” Jamie announced abruptly.
“You....are?” The words came out of Ginny’s lips awkwardly.
“Yeah, I really need some rest. It’s been a long day. I’ll see you later though?”
“Yeah, everyone’s always here,” Ginny smiled, glancing sweetly in Harry’s direction.
“Second home,” he added.
“All right, well you guys have a lovely evening. Tell your mum and the rest of the lot I said bye.” Jamie waved at the two before focusing on the steps of her apartment. The familiar tug in her stomach appeared and before she knew it she was standing underneath a street post in front of Elder’s Place.
The slender brunette let out a heavy sigh as she lifted her gaze and peered through dark lashes at George’s apartment window. As she stood there she could see him pace back and forth every few seconds, probably trying to concoct the latest Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes product.
“Jamie?” came a silky smooth voice from behind.
“Cormac, what are you doing here so late?”
“Geoffrey’s apartment is right down the street and I was just heading home,” he replied as he raked his hand through his sandy blonde locks. His signature smirk was in place and the heavy blue gaze was almost intimidating in the dark. “Are you headed in or would you care to join me for a walk?”
Jamie glanced back up at the window. The soft orange glow that had once been up there was out and there was no trace of George.
“Sure, why not? A walk couldn’t hurt.”
With a smile, Jamie stepped in sync with Cormac as he started down the street. Diagon Alley wasn’t desolate, but the shops were finally starting to close for the evening. There were a few kids running about laughing, tossing pebbles at one another and having a good time.
“So how was tea with Weasley?”
“Tea with Ginny was fine. How was whatever you did with Geoffrey?”
“Fine. My uncle Tiberius is trying to get me a job at the Ministry and Hooper a job at Gringotts.”
“Oh connections, eh?” Jamie teased as she nudged him lightly with her elbow.
“Well, what can I say? It does come in handy,” Cormac chuckled lightly.
Jamie seemed to know a great number of witches and wizards with connections. Befriending the brothers of the best friend of the Boy Who Lived and in turn that very person who had worldwide fame had surprisingly never daunted or affected her. She had worked her way through Hogwarts, received good marks on her O.W.L.S and N.E.W.T.S, and made it through the strenuous application process to be accepted into St. Mungo’s.
“So what does the great Cormac McLaggen want to do in the Ministry?” she inquired, raising a brow in his direction as they strolled and rounded the bend of the cobblestone street.
“The Department of Mysteries has always been something I’d fancy to head. Minister of Magic wouldn’t be bad either.”
“Aiming a bit high aren’t we?”
“Wouldn’t be me if I did it any other way.”
“Very true,” she admitted.
Silence settled over the two again. It was a comfortable silence which allowed her to think. The stars were twinkling in the royal blue sky and a light breeze whipped through the narrow street. The peaceful atmosphere was mending at the last little tears created by the frenzy and uncomfortableness of admitting she fancied George.
“Tired is more like it. I should probably head back to my apartment soon,” Jamie replied. “It’s been a lovely evening though.”
“Expect an owl from me within the next few days. Still holding you to lunch,” Cormac grinned.
“I’ll be waiting for it then.”
“M’lady, have a pleasant evening,” he said smoothly, taking her hand and placing a kiss on top of it.
Jamie quickened her pace and within minutes was ascending the stair case to the second floor of Elder’s Place. She reached into her jacket and pulled out the ring of keys, opening the apartment and stepping inside. The thin slivers of moonlight slipping through the drapery created a path through the dark living room, allowing Jamie to finally reach her bedroom. She didn’t bother to do much except kick off her shoes and crawl into bed.
There was someone else she needed to talk to now.
Author's Note: So I know these past few chapters have been mostly tension filled and background information, but rest assured. Drama is on the way! Thanks to every who has read and reviewed. Hope you enjoy this chapter!
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