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(A/N: Sorry for updating just now, but I had a busy life last year. Anyway, now here is the update. I'm thanking harrypotterfreak1414 for going through the chapter. I've revised it a bit, so if you find any mistakes, even if it's just a punctuation error, please let me know. Thank you.) :)




“They went to Harry’s study room.”

Francine’s gentle voice snapped Hermione out of her reverie. She didn’t realise she was still staring dejectedly at the closed door, where a short moment ago Harry and Ginny had both disappeared into. “While I will show you the kitchen,” Francine offered, flashing her pearl white teeth, and dragging Hermione on her arm.

They walked through the living room and further to the kitchen, which was practically just the continuation of the dining room. The kitchen was large with marble tiles, and a cooking station at the centre. Hermione recognised the many Muggle appliances that Francine must have bought, and wondered if the younger witch used magic at all.

“I feel it’s easier cooking in the Muggle way,” Francine said, shrugging, as though she read Hermione’s mind. “Do you think Ron’s fine? He seemed really upset when he left. He’s always been so cheerful and funny…but now... Poor Ron.”

Hermione had almost forgotten about Ron and their awful fight earlier. What a great friend she was! “Yes, I hope he didn’t get Splinched, though,” she replied, shaking her head in worry for him. “Number one rule of Apparation: You should never Apparate if you’re creating a mood associated with resentment or anger, or have drunken alcoholic beverages.”

“I’ll tell Harry to check on him later,” Francine offered, washing some carrots under the faucet.

“Your kitchen looks wonderful, by the way.” Hermione pushed away all thoughts of Ron to look around the room. She was amazed at the decorations only a devoted housewife would buy, and took the exotic kitchen in with wide eyes. “It was simply decorated when I’ve been here the last time, like…three or four years ago? There were many magical appliances though, and there was this stone oven right over there. Was it okay to Harry to have you change this house completely? I mean, after all, this was the only thing he inherited from his godfather.”

Francine bit on her lower lip, and threw a fleeting look towards the door. “Actually, it was Harry’s idea to have everything changed. He said he wants to have a new start and nothing should remind him of his past relationship,” she said in a low voice. She didn’t mention Ginny’s name on purpose like it was a taboo. “Since, coming from a small apartment, I had problems adjusting to such an immense place like this, he allowed me to re-decorate everything, to make myself feel more comfortable. He said I can have everything my heart desires, as long as that makes me happy.”

“He loves you,” Hermione stated, meaning it.

Francine strode to the boiling pot and threw chopped potatoes in it. Her voice sounded less enthusiastic than usual, rather gloomy. “He’s buying my affection, you know? He doesn’t realise he already owns it.”

“Why don’t you tell him that?”

“I did!” Francine exclaimed, eyes welling up with tears. “Yes, I-I did.” It seemed as though she had been holding these tears for so long, and was now relieved that she could talk to someone about her sorrows. “I told him so many times. I feel like I’ll always be overshadowed by his ex. I mean, blimey, was it coincidence that he picked me of all the girls who swooned for him, the Quidditch star, Harry Potter, me—an athlete, a brown-eyed redhead similar-looking to his perfect ex girlfriend? C’mon!” She was chopping the vegetables as though the carrots were the fingers on Ginny Weasley’s perfect hands.

With a wave of compassion, Hermione walked to her, and pulled her into her arms. Francine started sobbing instantly. “Harry loves you,” she repeated again, stroking Francine’s back. “He chose you for who you are and not to whom you are similar. Maybe Harry just clings to red-haired women, like others would go for blonde or brunette,” Hermione said soothingly into the younger witch’s hair, inhaling deeply her sweet, luscious scent.

“You think that’s all? I don't buy that,” Francine asked, unconvinced, and wiping her eyes dry.

Hermione nodded and pulled away reluctantly. “You’re beautiful,” she said, too late to realise she said it aloud. “I—I mean, I think that’s the reason why Harry is in love with you. And because you’re a nice, charming and generous person.”

“Thank you, Hermione,” Francine said with an unconvinced smile. “It means a lot to me…coming from you.”
Then she closed the gap again between them, leaned forward and … in the last second extended her hand to grab the potholder from behind Hermione. Their bodies were so close that Hermione could feel Francine's well-formed chest against hers.
The sadness on Francine’s face faded into triumph as a sheepish smile formed on her face. “Isn’t that irony of faith, how we two keep on ending up in the kitchen while Harry and Ginny are in another room…together?” Francine whispered, her mouth moved close to Hermione’s ear, purring, “And do you remember what we did once, long time ago, when we were alone in the kitchen?”

Trying to block away the memories she had never shared to Ginny, or anyone else, Hermione gasped. She remembered. She remembered when she had been broken, when she had felt miserable about the situation that she was going to lose the one she loved to someone else, and that she couldn’t do anything about it. It was when Harry and Ginny had their bridal shower, a month before their wedding. It was the worse feeling Hermione had had after losing Ron. Maybe even worse.

Francine, who had shared the same anguished feelings as Hermione, and the only person who had understood her in that fateful moment, had consoled her in a way that would forever be unforgettable. They had shared a passionate kiss.

“I do,” Hermione said in shallow gasps, bringing her mind back to the present, “but it’s not going to happen again.”

Francine giggled slightly, ruefully, and backed away. She turned to the pot on the stove to stir its content with a wave of her wand. That must be the only time she was using magic while cooking.
“Relax, Hermione. I was only kidding.” Then her giggle changed to an impish smirk, and with her head tilted to the side, she told her with a wink, “I’d never seduce you to do anything you wouldn’t enjoy.”

---


The lilac liquid was starting to bubble when Ginny added a pinch of dragon horn powder. She stirred it five times counter-clockwise, and one time clockwise, and cooked it over medium heat.

On her list of orders, Ginny read two more names of customers that she had to get done this day; a hair-growing herbal essence for an old woman named Mrs. Heather Walsh for ten o’clock this morning, and a semi-permanent birth control potion for Mrs. Francine Potter, the sloppy second baffoon.

Ginny drew a little devil face with horns on the O of ‘Potter’, and smiled to herself about her infantile behaviour, when the bell from the antechamber made Ginny jump. She took off her rubber gloves, removed her dirty apron, and went to the counter. “Good morning,” she greeted the customer.

It was a young woman with a ponytail and a white cap that partly hid her face. She was dressed in an obviously expensive Quidditch jacket, light thistle-coloured, with thin pink stripes along the waist. And blazing on the chest was the badge of the Quiberon Quafflepunchers, a popular Quidditch team in Quiberon, France. She wore matching sport pants and leather rubber shoes.

The Quiberon Quafflepunchers were known for their Hawkskead Attacking Formation; also, they had won several games in the last year. Their robes were usually shocking-pink, but noticing the woman’s blazing red hair, Ginny figured, that pink wouldn’t match her hair colour.

Not that Ginny checked out other women, for she knew the only woman she had been attracted to was Hermione, but right this moment she was stunned by this woman’s physical appearance. She was exuding so much confidence and poise as if she owns the place, until Ginny recognised who it was, her face fell and she started to gag.

“Oh, you!” Ginny hissed under her breath, not caring about her rudeness and being unprofessional. The few people in the store looking for specific potions, even the other women with their children, were staring at the new customer with half-agape mouth at her gorgeousness.

“Your potion isn’t brewed yet, though I am working on it,” Ginny said by grasping a bunch of herbals from a nearby drawer to indicate that she was busy.

“Hi, Ginny, nice to see you, too,” the fabulous stunning room-stopping young woman said, smiling. “I’m not here for that potion, actually.”

Ginny added another word to her crossword puzzle on top of her clipboard, giving the impression to Francine that she was occupied with work, and therefore had no time for pleasantries. “And why did you grace me with your presence?” asked Ginny coldly.

“Well, there’s something I wanted to ask you. I need professional consultation,” Francine, stepping to the counter while releasing her bun, brushed through her silky, long, red hair, completely unaware to Ginny’s aversion towards her. “I was thinking of a chestnut colour or gold-brown. What do you think?” she asked Ginny by batting her extended eyelashes.

Ginny stared at her for a moment as though Francine had completely lost her mind, and was simultaneously irritated by this woman’s eyes. “You want to dye your hair? Why?”

“Well, to surprise Harry with a new hair colour, of course.” She made Ginny feel stupid for even asking the question, but ignored it.

Ginny walked towards a shelf of little phials with powdery contents in varied colours. “You choose one from here. These are only testers. I’ll get the code of the colour and order the ingredients because I don’t have them all in my stock room, and brew the potion for you.”

Harry’s wife walked gracefully towards the shelf Ginny had referred to, and brushed her long fingers along the labels. Ginny eyed her sceptically. “Not that it’s any of my business why you want to do this, but…I’m curious. Does Harry not like the colour of your hair anymore? What’s wrong with red?”

Francine turned to her, an elfin smile on her face. “I just want to experiment with something new.” She ran her hand through the length of her hair. “It looks so ordinary, you know?”

“Ordinary,” Ginny mumbled, raising an eyebrow. She brushed her palm inconspicuously over her own ordinary red hair that was pulled up under a hairnet. “Whatever you want.” With a frown she took her clipboard again and added a devil’s tail on the O of ‘Potter’.

Dunce, she thought.

“I think bronze would suit me,” Francine said after a moment, holding up a phial labelled with ‘bronze’. “What do you think?”

Ginny took her wand and dipped the tip of it into the phial. “We can try to see how it looks. Don’t worry, it will be temporary. It’s for customers to try directly the colour in their hair.”

“Like you’d said—testers,” Francine commented. Ginny rolled her eyes.

A swing of her wand and Francine had suddenly bronze coloured hair. Ginny realised how it suited her perfectly, accentuating the different shades of her caramel-brown eyes and her flawless skin, and simultaneously cursed the creator of the human species who had gifted Francine with these genes.

Francine would probably even look like a runway model even if she had green hair with yellow highlights, or if she were completely bald at all. Like a light bulb had been switched on in her head, Ginny had an idea. A destructive, vicious, and totally mean idea. Would Harry still love Francine even if she were bald? It could happen like an accident—acidic ingredients mixed together and ruin the flawless scalp of Mrs. Potter.

Nah.

Ginny repressed a groan to compose herself and keep her professional competence. The idea was degrading her to the same level of an infantile, vengeful and silly bint, who detested the marvellous wife of her former fiancé. Even though Ginny didn’t love Harry anymore, she still couldn’t lay off her detestation for the young woman Harry had cheated with on Ginny over three years ago.

But who did she actually begrudge? Harry or Francine?

And, after all, Ginny had cheated on Harry, too.

‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’, Ginny remembered the quote Hermione once cited to her. For heavens, of all people, Ginny was the last ‘to cast a stone’.

“Ginny?” Francine’s voice pulled her back to reality. Ginny didn’t realise that she had been staring at the young, now bronze-haired witch in front of her. “How do I look?”

Nodding towards the mirror behind Francine, Ginny coughed in her hand, feeling embarrassed. “Check yourself. Do you like it? I’m not a hair stylist, but I think it flatters your complexion. You should just straighten your hair and trim the tip,” Ginny advised sincerely; she felt like justifying her previous evil plan of ruining her ex fiancé’s wife’s beauty on purpose. “You shouldn’t change your appearance just for your husband, you know? Or any other person for that matter. You should accept and like yourself…”

…With all your bewildering perfection and goddamn sex-appeal, Ginny added resentfully in her thought.

“Thank you, Ginny,” Francine said, sounding sincere.

Francine, admiring herself in the mirror and brushing her hand through her shiny, wavy hair, tilted her head to the side. “Even though I look awful? My hair’s a mess, and too dry with spliss,” she said after a moment. Ginny groaned inwardly.

The bell of the front door rang again, signalising that a new customer had entered. Saved by the bell, she thought. Ginny turned around to greet whoever saved her from the annoyingly self deprecating woman Harry was married to, when she realised that it was Hermione who came in.

“Oh, hi my love,” Ginny beamed. She leaned over the counter to give Hermione a peck on her lips. “Glad to see you.”

“Hello, Ginny,” Hermione greeted, adoration woven in her voice. How many times had Ginny asked herself if she really deserved someone so wonderful like Hermione? “Just finish your work, I’ll be waiting.”

“Hi, Hermione,” Francine said, and Hermione looked as though she didn’t recognise her.

“Oh…hi,” Hermione replied, “Francine? Goodness, what…oh, your hair.”

“Yeah, I thought of completely changing my hair style and all. What do you think of this colour?” Francine posed like a model, smiled, and let her hair flutter by tilting her head to the right angle of the light.

Merlin, that friggin’ bloody bint is flirting with my girlfriend, Ginny thought, indignant.

For a short, agonising moment, Hermione seemed stunned. “Well, you look…nice,” she finally said. “The colour looks nice on you.”

“Oh-kay,” Ginny grunted, slamming her clipboard on the counter. What a wonder-freakin’-ful day to kill Mrs. Francine Potter, she figured. She removed the colour of Francine’s hair by a wave of her wand, and didn’t care if she accidentally hit the woman’s nice head with it. “If you want to order this colour, I can get it brewed by tomorrow.”

“I’ll think about it,” Francine said, re-adjusting her cap on her head. Then her attention was suddenly on Hermione. “How are you doing, by the way? I do hope that you will visit Harry and me again and join us to another dinner party at our place. We had a great time last Saturday, hadn’t we? Especially Harry, he was delighted to see the two of you.”

“We will definitely repeat the dinner. Right, Ginny?” Hermione said without breaking eye contact with Francine.

“Yeah,” Ginny grumbled. “By the way, Hermione, I still have to get some orders done before this afternoon, so I won’t be able to have lunch with you. Luna is ill, so there’ll most probably be just my assistant and myself to run the shop today. Two orders have been sent to me this morning. I’m extremely sorry, love.”

“Oh, don’t be,” Hermione said sympathetically.

The backdoor opened, and Ginny’s assistant came to view. He was a gangly, blemish-faced teenager boy in the age of eighteen. Easy-going, tactless sometimes, but very hard-working. He wore an untidy apron over his simple shirt and washed-out jeans, and in his hand he carried a small box wrapped in pink and white flowered paper.

“Ms. Ginny, this just arrived. They’re from Mrs. Egan with best regards ‘cause your anti-aging potion seemed to have caused miracles on her crinkled face,” the boy croaked, grinning from ear to ear. “Prob’ly toffees again. Yummy. Oh, hi, Ms. Hermione.”

“Thank you, Kirk,” Ginny drawled. “Put them on the counter. You can have some in your break time.”

“Great, thanks a lot, Ms. Ginny,” Kirk said, beaming. He was about to disappear in the backroom again, until his eyes met one of Ginny’s companions, he froze on his spot. Ginny knew at once who the pubescent boy had spotted, and groaned inwardly. Kirk’s mouth fell in awe that he didn’t even have the decency to hide his astonishment.

“F-F-Francine P-Potter? Here? A Quafflepuncher!” Kirk squealed, clutching his chest as if preventing a heart attack. “I’d never have dreamed of meeting a Quiberon Quafflepuncher in person in my entire life. Holy Skrewt!”

“Hi, Kirk,” Francine said in a lovely voice. “Nice to meet you.”

“Hmmhmm,“ Kirk responded, his grin stretching wider than was humanly possible.

Hermione giggled behind her hand, seeming to be amused.

“C-can…I…a-autograph,” Kirk stammered without getting his sentence right.

Kirk,” Ginny huffed, stemming her fists on her hips. “I don’t pay you for ogling my customers. Will you be so kind and get back to work?”

“Y-yeah, yes, Ma’am.” When he turned around he bumped against the door frame, not watching his way.

“Amusing boy this Kirk,” Hermione giggled again. Propping her elbows on the counter, she glanced back to Francine. “Please enlighten me, how does it feel like being a celebrated and successful Quidditch player? I know I have asked this Harry before, too, or my first boyfriend, Viktor Krum. But I don’t have any famous female friends.”

“That almost sounds like you think I am that famous. But that’s not true, Hermione. People recognise me not because I’m a Quidditch player, but because I’m Harry Potter’s wife,” Francine explained. “I’d rather not want people to recognise me, to be honest.”

“Ah, that explains why you couldn’t be more conspicuous by wearing your Quidditch outfit, with a shiny badge emblazing the famous symbol of your team?” Ginny mocked in theatrical surprise. “While a twenty-five carat diamond ring was stuck to your ring finger that only a wealthy Potter can afford.”

“Ginny,” Hermione warned. “Be nice.”

To Ginny’s own bafflement, Francine started to laugh. “I’m wearing this outfit because I’ll be leaving for training this afternoon. It’s all going to be stressful because I have an interview with a reporter and a photo shooting for the Quidditch magazine then, which, by the way, requires this outfit since, as a captain, I’m representing my team,” Francine explained in one breath. She dropped her head to her hand. “And about the ring…well, it’s my wedding band, and I can’t put it off.”

“Ginny was only teasing you.” Hermione threw Ginny a look, which Ginny countered by pulling a disgusted face. “Speaking of, you didn’t mention you were leaving for training when we were at your dinner party,” added Hermione to divert the conversation to a lighter topic. “How long are you going to be away?”

“Two weeks, maybe,” Francine said. Then her face lit up. “But, hey, why don’t you join me for breakfast now? It seems like since Ginny…I mean…if you don’t mind.”

Hermione threw Ginny an expectant look. “I’m not sure…well, Ginny, is that okay? But I could stay, of course. I don’t have meetings this morning, so I could stay with you.”

Ginny bit her lower lip, tempted to crash their plan for a breakfast together, but she couldn’t. Hermione was only friends with Francine. There was nothing wrong with it. Nothing to worry about.

“No, just go, have fun,” Ginny said, forcing herself to smile. “I’m going to be busy all day, and it will only bore you to death if you’d stay here. Really.”

Hermione walked around the counter to pull Ginny into a hug, and then she leaned her forehead against Ginny’s. “That’s nice of you. But promise me to knock off work earlier this evening. Okay? I love you.” She kissed Ginny’s cheek.

Just to taunt Francine, Ginny’s favourite habit to do, she pulled Hermione back into her arms to steal another kiss—a long, passionate and fervent kiss.

Merlin, Ginny,” Hermione giggled like a teenager, her cheeks flushing. “You’re at work. What would your customers say?”

Ginny glanced around briefly. “No one’s even looking.”

“I am someone,” Francine said, hustling nervously.

“As I’ve said, no one’s looking,” Ginny repeated.

“Really, girls. Get a room or something,” Francine said. “That’s gross.”

“If you’ve ever kissed Hermione before, you wouldn’t say that,” Ginny snapped, draping her arms provocatively around her girlfriend’s shoulders. She was being obnoxious; she was aware of that. She couldn’t change that if it came to Francine Potter.

“I know what you mean.” Francine found the audacity to smirk, which Ginny found irritating.

“I think we need to get going, Francine,” Hermione said, perturbed all of a sudden. She kissed Ginny quickly, and moved around the counter to drag harshly the younger woman along with her. “Tiffany’s pancakes are the best, and if we want to get a vacant table there, we need to hurry. Are you coming?”

“Bye, Ginny,” Francine said over her shoulder, the smirk on her face never leaving. “I’ll see you in two weeks.”




(A/N: So, what do you think? Can you see why Francine wants to dye her hair? It has a more significant meaning, of course. lol. Why Ginny detests her? Do you still remember what Hermione's greatest wish was? >Read first chapter. :)

Anywhoo... Thanks for reading...)

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