Chapter 16: Jules Loves Frank's Genius - Initially.

'But we can't do that! Not yet, anyway! It's too soon!'

They had been listening hard for half-an-hour, with one or two shushing moments, especially that point where they'd repeated the original clip that had got his Aunt Ginny so infuriated. They'd paused the playback of the recording – Frank had charmed the kitchen's magical radio to play the recording – because his Aunt, normally so in control, except at moments of great passion, had suddenly jumped up, told Jules to pause the playback and had then said not another word, as everyone sat still for an awkward five minute whilst she busied herself making a fresh pot of tea, placing fresh muffins on a large plate for everyone to pass around and also levitating a large, very delicious looking lemon drizzle cake on to the table. All of it done with a face se like obsidian.

No-one still said anything. The recording was only twenty minutes long and they were on the second playback as this all happened. The only one who seemed at ease was his Great Grandfather Arthur who just smiled slightly and watch Ginny busy with the things. Tracy, Frank and Jules however watched her all with a fearful fascination.

Finally, all done, muffin and cakes on plates with napkins and everyone's tea cup refreshed, his Aunt suddenly paused in her actions and looked out of the window.

'I cannot believe it!' she said, seemingly to herself, to the view out of the kitchen window but apparently not to them.

'Believe what?' said her father.

'What that tosspot of a spank-monkey of a brother of mine is doing being all bloody heroic?'

'Ginny, please,' remonstrated her father gently, 'we have guests.' And he indicated Tracy and Frank.

'Oh, it's absolutely fine, Mrs. Potter!' said Tracy. 'Hah! You should the chip shop after pub kicking out time!' she giggled. 'The air turns blue!'

'Turns blue?' asked Arthur

'Oh right, yes – it's a Muggle metaphor, Mr. Weasley: means lots of swearing – usually very strong!' supplied Tracy.

'Really?' said Arthur. 'Fascinating! You must tell me more!'

Yes! But not now please?' pleaded Ginny.

'Yes, sorry,' said Tracy.

Ginny had now sat down. Jules looked hard at her.

'Well? Aunt Ginny?' he said. Something was clearly getting to her.

Ginny took a huge slurp of her tea and grabbing a large slice of lemon drizzle cake, fairly demolished it in under five seconds. She took another great slurp of her tea. 'When I am this wound-up I need lots of food! Go back five minutes – yes, about that and – Frank, Tracy, have another muffin, please – and play it from where he talks about our visit being a bad time for Dolly.

Jules pointed his wand at the radio and flicked his wrist. It burst back into life.

'How the hell did he find us? We'd been so careful covering our tracks.'

'Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, you just can't hide anything but I think I know when.'

'You do? When?'

'That time the shipment got through and that young Auror ended up with my wand – remember? We had to obliviate him in the end but I'd stupidly forgotten they can trace a wand's core – what the Muggles call a residue – left when you use magic with a different wand.'

'Really!? They can do that?'

'Yes, of course – for at least the past one hundred years. It was an open secret amongst the Aurors that you could be trapped or traced with usage like it. In the War it was another way some of our lot were traced and trapped by Riddle's crew – you know, desperate, lost our wand, pick up anyone's you can and – well, never mind: the point is my Grandson and my sister know we are here – or at least I am.'

'You don't think they bought the whole memory loss or they must be mistaken thing?'

'Would you?'

'Now you ask me!? No, of course I bloody wouldn't – but then again this is me we're talking about – I barely trust my own shadow!'

'So, there you are then – plus they said they would come back. That means to me that they are on the scent and they won't back off – not if I know anything about my sister!'

'Ha! Yes, she'll be there to the end – a source of huge determination!'

'More like a huge pain in the arse!'

'Your grandson seemed a nice lad – presentable and – blow me backwards – the absolute bloody split of you!'

'Yes.'

'What?'

'I did a little digging about: he's an Auror.'

'Shit!'

'Yes, exactly.'

'Funny…'

'What is?'

'Well … and please do not take this personally or as in any way prejudicial against your bloody family honour but…'

'But what?'

'Doesn't look the type.'

'For what?'

'An Auror.'

'Really?'

'Yes, seemed fair too nice a bloke, to be honest: needs a good dose of your honest-to-goodness bastardness, if you don't mind me saying.'

'Cheeky sod! But you know the old law of Auror training: never judge a wand by its length… what are our options.'

'Well, the magic is holding currently – the wards on the parish boundaries are firm so Dolly cannot get in, if that's what worries you. Their being here does not necessarily upset the balance – as long as they don't stay long – but who knows? We've never really had to test the actual length the wards will hold if any of your family come here and stay for a really good length of time: then we might be fucked – if I may be so blunt!'

'I'll be fucked! I am grateful for everything you've ever done for me – '

'Oh, not this again, Ron! Look, any friend would have done – '

' - especially the last twenty years: you've really kept me in touch with the Uppers in The Ministry, Derek – you've kept a quiet eye on my family's affairs – at least from a distance – '

'Well, not totally successful, was it? I knew you had a grandson called Jules but I never even encountered him till the other day!'

'Nevertheless, you have – you've used your magic to help protect me from the curse … and in doing so, you've saved my family.'

'Are you finished? I'm blushing!'

'Yes, but that's my point: all that you've done out of friendship to me – but the curse still remains and if it comes to it, it should be me who faces the consequences -whether with my family, The Ministry – or Dolly.'

'Mmmm – piss on Dolly's desert as far as I am concerned! Enough! The curse is on you but we'll face it together – including to the death, if it comes to it!'

'You don't have to do – '

'Yes, I bloody well do, Ron! I made my choice years ago, Ron – well, Victoria made it for me by buggering off to Canada with the kids all those years ago, and I don't blame her! What do Muggles call it? Oh yes, 'atonement' – this is my atonement for being the biggest bloody fool when it came to my marriage … and you are my friend! It was no contest, really.'

'Thanks Derek.'

'Well, I am not the one who's lost out here, am I?'

'Don't! Please!'

'What!? You still think Dolly's cursed her name? The very mention of it?'

'Yes! And …'

'And what?'

'It just helps if I don't think about her, alright?'

'Alright… alright. Fine.'

'Good, thank you. Okay, options?'

'Well, as we have to see this to the very end, I know it's going to seem like a drastic step but what about letting them come then …'

'Then what?'

'Complete obliviation.'

'Agreed.'

'Let our readjustment charms work, they could find themselves back in their car? Sudden desire to be back home – then we set up permanent repelling charms – they'll hopefully never find us again.'

'Agreed. Drastic but necessary. Even if I am doing it to my own sister and grandson. And then we move the shipment over the parish boundary, out of the wards and Dolly is none the wiser.'

'But we can't do that! Not yet, anyway! It's too soon!'

'Okay, but soon. In the meantime, we'll have to stash the other parts here. Have you been to see the legal friends of yours? Have we got the permits?'

'Yes, they're being got ready – that's why I want you to wait. They can get them very soon – but parts of the process are … delicate – if we rush too much, people will start asking questions. So, I know you've always complained the wheels and gears of the law grind too slow but they do grind – okay? Give me a week, then I will check the progress… plus I don't want to be seen too much about.'

'Why?'

'What do you think the chances are more of your family knows about us?'

'Honestly?'

'Yes.'

'It's possible. If Gin and young Jules are involved perhaps … if it were bloody Harry, bless him, we'd be overrun by now!'

'Yes, Harry would be in like a whirlwind! But Ginny is here, too, now – she's a force of nature, eh? It's just, well, you know me.'

'Go on, something's got your wand all aquiver!'

'I bumped into your Dad the other week. Hadn't seen him for a bit – well, you know – everyone knows I am semi-retired and your Dad hasn't worked for what…? Seven years? Yes, I know he's there a bit, now and then but – well, coincidence? Same time period we're visited by Ginny and your grandson – looking for 'Reg Watkins'?'

Well, possibly…'

'And your grandson got a decent gleg at me – a really good look when we passed each other and in the foyer. I don't know … but you know what they say about meeting at The Ministry?'

'Yes.'

' ''You haven't seen me, right?'' – always made me laugh that - but it's true – no coincidences, someone is always out for something or meeting someone for some purpose or other! Anyway, I'll be careful.'

'Okay, hold it there!' said Aunt Ginny. 'That's the crucial part.'

'What is?' asked Frank.

'This discussion of the curse and whoever the hell this 'Dolly' is. Can't you see it?' Ginny expounded.

'I'm not sure I follow, Aunt Ginny.'

Tracy and Frank looked to Jules – neither seemed to get what she meant. Arthur Weasley seemed none the wiser either.

'No, I don't follow either, Ginny.'

His Aunt placed both hands on the table and spoke clearly. 'One of the greatest fears that Aurors have is what Muggles call collateral damage – another phrase might be personal infection or personal collateral damage – I remember Harry used to worry constantly about it.'

'Alright, explain,' said her father.

'No, she's right; we had it in training,' said Jules, 'it's the fear that not only will you be hurt or damaged in some way doing your duty but there will be 'damage' to your family, friends – you might suffer physical or mental damage due to magic but it could also affect your family.'

'Exactly, Jules – exactly,' said his Aunt Ginny. 'We had huge rows, your Great Uncle and I about what he would do if he ever inadvertently caused harm to me or the kids or the family generally or his friends.'

Frank spoke up. 'So you think Jules' grandad has suffering in some way from a kind of personal collateral damage – this 'curse'? And this 'Dolly' person – well, that's got to be a nickname or an alias, surely – is something to do with it?'

'Yes, I think Frank is right and didn't – who is the other man, Derek Bond?' interjected Tracy. 'Didn't Jules' grandfather say that the 'curse' didn't include this man but it affected him? And yes! You must be right because he talks about family being too close do the 'curse' being affected. What do you think, Frank? That sounds like a curse – in fact, it sounds like a location curse? What do you think, Frank?'

'Yes, of course, it's obvious, you're right, Tracy,' Frank said, smiling at her. Jules looked past them and saw his great grandfather wink at is Aunt Ginny; she just raised her eyebrows in resignation.

'You mean the old idea of a curse being located not on a place – but on a person?' asked Jules.

'Yes, exactly!' enthused Frank. 'You see, the evidence is that they've set wards up on the old parish boundaries – that's an ancient warding technique; they plainly aren't suffering under the effects of the 'curse' within the parish of Vobster and Coleford but – it seems your Grandfather cannot leave the parish without the 'curse' affecting him – so therefore, it's located on him – Derek Bond has been his friend for decades and is plainly in cahoots with him for as long as this has been going on but he is not affected. He can travel freely, Ron Weasley cannot.'

'Hence his disappearance?' asked Arthur Weasley.

'Yes,' said Frank.

'But the personal collateral damage?' asked Jules.

'Again, it's in what they said,' answered Frank.

'He didn't want Derek to use her name, remember?' said Tracy.

'Yes, exactly!' said Frank. 'Fearing it was jinxed in some way – seriously, powerfully jinxed – enough to – I don't know – break the wards' resistance? Or reveal his location?' Frank paused, thinking, pursing his lips. 'I mean, that's how they work, don't they? For example, when Riddle had his name Voldemort magicked as a trace. But of course, the name, like that example, has to have some very powerful significance or the trace won't really stick.'

'Explain that, please, Frank,' asked Arthur. 'I completely understand the power of Riddle's use-name but with Ron?'

'Oh, that's straightforward,' said Tracy. 'We use its opposite when we do personalised orders for wizards out of the town. There's a particular wand stroke or movement that we have for each family but the clever part is they are based on something personal to them – let's see, yes, the Barker family – they have a family joke about 'barking', you know, like a dog, so our wand movement to magic their order is two flicks and a point to make a kind of dog head shape – and off it goes. It's personalised between us and them and because it has significance to them – however silly or slight, as long as it matters, it will carry power and wherever they are in the world – if they order it, we'll send them the fish and chip order and it will arrive!'

'So, this 'curse' is not only attached to my Grandfather and wherever he is but if his family or anyone dear to him, anyone who matters to him comes into contact with him – then the 'curse' begins to work?' said Jules.

'Yes, like my fish and chip order but kind of in reverse – you don't want the fish and chips and you don't want them to make the personal charm,' answered Tracy.

'Well, it's Hermione, isn't it?' said Ginny quietly.

'Sorry, what?' said Frank.

'The name that is jinxed or a fish and chip order in reverse or whatever – the 'curse' operates against Ron being with Hermione and his family and us and nearly everyone he holds dear – but Hermione above all others.' Ginny finished, took a sip from her tea and looked at the table.

'Yes.'

Jules looked to his right at his Great Grandfather. 'Great grandad?'

Arthur Weasley had been looking silently at his daughter. Jules thought he'd never seen him look so sad. 'I said yes, as in your Aunt Ginny is right.'

The moment probably only lasted a few seconds but it felt, in its own small way, like a lifetime. Jules looked between his Aunt gazing at the table top and his Great Grandfather staring at her, both clearly deeply moved and Frank and Tracy trying to be sensitive and say nothing, remaining very still.

Something seemed to snap in Jules. Something so wound up that it just seemed to go crack and it was gone. Whatever fears he was building just seemed to go, vanish – and be replaced by a cold, happy, furious, joyous determination – Jules tried to work it out – to just fucking well fix this – now!

Jules couldn't say how but the sound of his own voice shocked him. 'Right, well – we've done enough with this for today – I say it's time for a bit of action!' Everyone looked at him in slight shock!

'Frank, we heard what they said about the length of time they thought a family member or someone dear to them could be within the parish wards.'

'Yes, several hours,' said Frank. 'Better be on the safe side – let's call it three.'

'Excellent!' said Jules. 'Right, let's put that bloody invisibility charm potion of yours to the test, eh? You said it would last about seven hours and it's undetectable – so let's go for it. We'll go for a little reconnaissance mission around my Grandad's place of work.'

'Jules,' interrupted his Aunt Ginny. 'Do you think that's a good idea?' But Jules was already on his feet.

'Yes, Aunt Ginny, I do,' he replied firmly, 'we need to go on the offensive here a bit and we need more information – we are just going to observe; the invisibility potion gives us a big advantage – and I will be honest, I want to see more of my Grandfather – see what he's up to on a daily basis – and if possible perhaps find out more about this elusive 'Dolly'.

'Happy days, eh?' said Frank cheerfully to Tracy who smiled back.

'Blimey, Frank, you're like a kid with a new toy,' she joked.

'And Tracy?' interrupted Jules.

She turned to him, surprised. 'Yes, Jules?'

'We're going to need you.'

'You are?'

'Oh yes! I want a lovely fish and chip diversion,' said Jules, feeling more inspired by the second, 'and you, my lovely lady of chips and peas sloppy, are going to provide it.'

Frank just looked surprised but Jules was actually not surprised by Tracy's reaction.

'Yes!' she exclaimed and fist punched the air. 'Get in!'

'Get in?' said a very puzzled Frank. Tracy just giggled and leaning over kissed him on the cheek. Frank didn't say anything but the heat from the resultant blush could have warmed cold soup.

Shut him up, thought Jules. Might have to try that one myself, he thought. But only if I am desperate, he added.

'Actually, Tracy, give him another one from me.' Jules laughed. She promptly did as requested. The blush if anything intensified. 'Great! That's for being a genius, Frank – so far!'

'So, you like the kit then?' asked Frank, a pleased look on his face.

'Yes, I do and you'd better keep the ideas coming if we are going to outsmart my Grandfather and Derek Bond!'

'Yes, Sir!' exclaimed Frank and mock-muggle saluted. 'No time like the present then, eh? Shall we go?'

'Yes,' said Jules. 'We'll go today, as soon as possible. Aunt Ginny, Great Granddad? Can you let Great Grandma Molly know what we have decided? We'll keep you posted.' And Jules stayed on his feet, sliding his chair under the table.

'Alright, Jules – as long as you are sure?' asked Arthur Weasley.

'Yes, absolutely – we'll be careful but we need to put my Grandfather on the back foot and it sounds like we have unintentionally rumbled them a little so we need to move fast: at the end of the day, what's our objective? To find Ron Weasley and bring him home.' He looked around at all of them.

'Well, it seems my grandfather has got himself into a dire situation and we are going to rescue him from it – whether he likes it or not.' he concluded.

At that, everyone was up; Frank and Tracy shook hands with his Aunt and Great Grandfather and then Jules hugged them both before leaving with Frank and Tracy and heading for Jules's car.

They drove for about half an hour north east from The Burrow, Frank and Tracy talking animatedly about Muggle television. Jules enjoyed the conversational to and fro between Frank in the front passenger seat and Tracy sitting behind Jules but he said little, his mind beginning to focus on the task ahead.

They turned off the main road on to a small B road and then shortly took a left off that and drove into a small copse of ash, down a tarmacked track. Jules pulled the car smoothly to a halt.

'Okay, we've still got quite a way to drive to Vobster and Coleford so we are going to use this spot to apparate there instead – it looks quiet enough; it'll be quicker and I'll shrink the car. Have you got the potion now or do we need to apparate to London first to get some?'

'No,' said Frank, 'right here,' and he patted a top pocket on his leather jacket.

'Great! Okay. I'll shrink the car, we'll apparate back to Vobster – can I suggest something we can all visualise easily - the point by that feature they call The Mells Oak? Just on the edge of the parish – we'll be outside the wards – we might meet the odd dog walker so I'll set up muggle repelling immediately before we apparate, okay? Auror-charm, should be good. It's only a fifteen-minute walk into the village and that will give you time to create our fish and chip diversion, Tracy.'

'You think they will know we are there if we apparate inside the parish wards?' asked Frank.

'Well, he didn't seem unprepared when I first entered the parish – nor the two times I have been with Ginny and you – who knows? Better to be safe, agreed?'

'Agreed,' said Frank. 'There's definitely something about the wards on that parish, not sure what it is yet but I will work it out. So yes, safer than sorry.'

'Okay, out we get and I'll shrink the car.' Out they got and it was a moment's work and there was a small toy-sized vehicle sitting amongst the tree debris, soil and leaves.

'Ha! Love it!' said Tracy, 'just like a Dinky Toy!'

'Dinky Toy?' asked Frank intrigued.

Tracy winked at him and kissed his cheek again. 'Not now – will tell you later, promise!'

'I'll hold you to that!' chuckled Frank and looked at her in what could only be described as fondly.

'Okay, ready to apparate?' asked Jules, clearing his throat.

'Yes,' coughed Frank, blushing and looking at Tracy.

'Hang on!' said Tracy suddenly.

'What?' asked Jules; he was just about to turn on the spot.

'You go to The Mells Oak, okay? It will be quicker if I apparate straight to our house and get the meal sorted. Then I'll head straight to the care home. By the time you've walked from the Oak I'll be waiting.'

'Sounds good,' said Frank.

'Okay, agreed – see you there as soon as possible,' said Jules and turned on the spot.

The familiar, slightly queasy feeling of apparation and he was stood behind a resplendent full-leafed oak tree of great age – it surprised him every time he saw it; it wouldn't look out of place in The Forbidden Forest, thought Jules. Next second, Frank soundlessly appeared.

'It's a good tree, isn't it?' said Frank, noticing Jules looking hard at the wonderful oak. 'Glad you picked this point – remembered it easily from when we came with your Aunt Ginny - beautiful thing. Right, let's go!' and they set off towards Vobster, the spire of the church tower showing the general direction as it peeped over the top of a distant hedge line.

They made good time and only stopped once – as they passed over the wards into the parish. Jules reckoned they wouldn't have noticed but Frank, muttering something like 'Just about here, I reckon…', produced a very small hand held device, a little like a muggle Geiger counter but only about the size of a pocket watch and watched it closely as it made various noises, clicks, pings and bell-like clatters and its main dial went slowly haywire.

'Yes, it's here,' Frank said with quiet triumph. 'Been following the contours of the landscape as we approached the actual muggle parish boundary and they fit – this is where we cross over.'

'Okay – well, I feel a little trepidation, Frank, I don't mind saying but sod it, let's go.'

'Hang on – here.' Frank dug into his top left jacket pocket and produced what looked like a tiny, thin version of a trunk, about the size of a small muggle match box. He tapped it once and it flew quickly into the air then settled down, landing silently on to the path they were on. Quick as lightening, it had expanded and was now the size of typical big Hogwarts chest, used by millions of pupils down the years. Frank had opened it quickly as he looked around, checking their surroundings for anyone else and then took out two small vials.

'Swallow this quick.' He said.

Jules looked at the liquid inside his vial – it looked remarkably like piss.

'Err, Frank …'

'Just chug it, you nonce, yeah?' said Frank and popping the cork off, threw it down his throat. 'Mmmm – apple? And yours?'

Jules eyed it nervously, then a deep breath, put it to his lips and swallowed quickly. He gagged slightly – purely on reflex but that was all – because it was delicious!

'Lemon and lime!' he exclaimed.

'Told you!' smirked Frank, quickly taking Jules's vial from him and depositing them in the trunk which he shut, shrunk and picked up from the ground and placed in his top pocket again, all in one quick fluid movement.

'Okay,' he said and bowing low, gestured with his left arm for Jules to go first. 'After you, good sir!'

'What will happen?' asked Jules warily.

'You'll see,' replied Frank and added quickly, 'nothing bad, ya stupid dollop, trust me! Just go.'

'Oh, fuck it,' said Jules and stepped over the imaginary parish boundary line. He could hear Frank follow him. He carried on walking for a few paces; he felt fine. He stopped for a moment and looked back.

Where the crap was Frank!?

'I am right here, ya daft pillock; I know – a bit of a shock at first if you're not quite expecting it - that was the invisibility potion we just took – it's keyed into this parish or anywhere else I set it to so we just went into stealth mode, baby!' he shouted the last part in the style of some American muggle movie he'd remembered watching with his mother.

Jules couldn't help laughing. 'Please for the love of all that's small and furry never do an impression like that again!'

'Yes, sir, Captain,' replied Frank, doing the exact same American impression.

'Somebody, anybody – give me strength!' muttered Jules.

'Hey, I heard that!' said Frank indignantly.

'What do you reckon, Frank?' asked Jules. 'We've gone invisible – do you think the wards were alerted though – do you think they know we are coming?'

'I can't be sure, to be honest,' replied Frank. 'Let's go and get there and see what happens.'

They marched on.

'One point,' said Jules.

'What?'

'I can't see you?'

No worries, keep walking.'

Jules carried on as he was asked but almost immediately felt a warm tingling come over him. He didn't stop but kept moving down the path towards the direction of the church tower. 'What did you do, Frank?' he called.

'Little adjustment to the potion I thought of; means we can see each other BUT it should be invisible to others. Look down a little as you walk.'

'Still invisible.'

'Yes, now stop and turn around.'

Jules did just that. 'What the bloody hell, Frank!?' He couldn't believe his eyes. Oh my … he looks like … what? Hard as he tried, he could only swear Frank looked like …?

'Fleegle!? From the fucking Banana Splits!?' Jules was stunned. He knew this extraordinary fact because he and Frank and a few other friends had watched an old DVD copy of the show once at his Great Grandparents' Grangers. He'd liked the show's anarchy and fun and so had Frank but even so … 'Oh shit! If you're Fleegle, what the hell am I? Who'd you pick?'

'Hey, calm your beans, or whatever they say! We can only see them! Anyway, I didn't pick them, the potion does that for you.'

'Really!?'

'Yes, it adapts to something that has left a recognisable impression on you – all I did was activate the charm: clearly we liked that old show,' finished Frank cheerfully.

'So, who am I?' Silence. 'Frank.'

'Snorky.'

'Snorky!?'

'Hey, blame the potion, not me.'

'You created the bloody thing, you twit.'

Frank just laughed.

'Oh, come on.'

They trudged on. They now made quick time and came down past the church into the village and without waiting to check for anything else but as agreed walked straight up to the retirement home and walked into the lobby.

It seemed busy. Lunchtime was imminent and residents were ambling about, chatting to each other, saying goodbye or hello to family and friends who were either leaving for the day or just arriving to enjoy lunch with their family.

He looked to the left. Tracy was stood by the large potted plant he'd seen the other day. He and Frank walked over to her, skirting the glass at the front, managing to dodge the passing people and quietly joined Tracy – whose eyes were already wide for a second or two.

'Psst, it's us,' said Jules quietly.

Tracy looked straight at him. 'Yes, I know – I can see you – I think.' She furrowed her brow as she looked. 'Am I seeing things or do you two look like characters from the Banana Splits?' she asked quietly.

'How do you know about the Banana Splits?' asked Frank.

'Well, 'Fleegle',' she quickly responded to Frank, smiling, 'that's a state secret but I might tell you later. In the meantime, here's the fish and chips,' and she produced a packet wrapped closely and obviously charmed in its paper layers. 'What do you want me to do now – go straight and find your grandfather or go to the desk and ask for him?'

'Jules thought for a moment. 'Finding him directly would be best but he could be anywhere so you could waste time; tell you what, go to reception, ask the desk to put a call out for him and then engage him as long as you can at the desk – just stall him whilst we have a good look around – and remember, he's 'Reg' still.'

'Understood, Jules. Right, here goes. I'll see you two as soon as; be safe, okay?'

'Yes, promise,' said Jules.

'Are you listening, Frank?' she repeated and smiled at a pretty besotted 'Fleegle' in Jules' opinion.

'Yes. Of course, I'll be careful. Promise.'

'Good,' she said quietly as she began moving off, 'if you are a good boy, might show you my tatoo.'

Jules had to shush Frank who had some strange coughing fit as a slightly smirking Tracy walked through foyer bustle and made her way over to the reception desk. He and Frank stood still and watched as she arrived at the brown wood frontage and pinged the customer bell, once and with confidence.

And then Jules froze.

Why hadn't he thought she'd be here. And … wow! She was dressed like … a goddess… Goddess!? What the hell was he thinking? But she looked … ravishing – she really did; it was like a beauty of form had descended from Heaven itself and was currently chatting in very friendly fashion to Tracy. Okay. Did they know each other?

And what was she wearing!? She'd looked amazing last time he'd seen her. Bloody idiot! Why hadn't he phoned her already, what the fuck was the matter with him. Had she had a promotion? She certainly looked like it. Last time, she'd looked like an extremely attractive general factotum: clean, answer phone, wipe a table, meet a new guest – now, she looked like the chief officer of a major magical company. The lovely black skirt, the tasteful shoes which matched and with a little bit of heel – and the blouse… it hugged, it really hugged and she had beautiful, beautiful … he so wanted reach out and … And, oh sweet something moist of Merlin what had she done to her hair, tied up in a slightly loose bun on her head with just those wisps and odd strand left hanging out, all suggesting she's together and with it BUT not too much – wisps of beautiful brunette just urging you to twirl then gently round a finger or place tenderly behind a shapely ear by the gorgeous line of her … neck … needs to be caressed, kissed … nuzzled … needs to be – '

'Jules!?'

It was like coming to. He just stared. Then he was aware of Frank moving close up behind him and giving him a decent nudge from behind.

'Hello, Jules; Banana Splits calling Jules – it's Fleegle here, come in, Snorky!' stopped and followed Jules' gaze. 'Hey, who's the young lady with Tracy?'

Jules tried snapping out of whatever had come over him but he suddenly felt that rush of emotion he had earlier at The Burrow. He was going to do things! He was going to damn well succeed! And when this whole damned messy business was over, he was going to ask out Jayne … perhaps he'd phone her later, get a date going with her, show her his clear interest! Yes! Yes! That's what he' do and then – '

'Oi, Snorky!' said Frank with a slight hint of bemused impatience. 'Your trunks gone stiff!'

Shit! What!? That worked. Jules was definitely back in the room as he turned to 'Frank/Fleegle' who had a look on his face that clearly said I know what you've been thinking …

'What?' said Jules quickly. Frank's expression didn't change. 'I don't know what you're talking about!'

'Frank/Fleegle' didn't look convinced at all. 'Oh yes – really? Know the young lady, do we?' asked Frank, getting too close for Jules' desire to avoid any major quick piss-taking from his friend.

He was just about to tell Frank to do one, when Frank's expression changed from bemusement to dead seriousness. 'Look!' he said, looking past Jules over his shoulder.

In, through the front doors, walking with a confident air as if he owned the retirement home, dressed in work clothes, came his Grandfather, Ron Weasley.