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If your work isn't what you love, then something isn't right.
Thursday, January 12 || Late afternoon

There was nothing quite as comforting as a bustling pub on a cold afternoon.

Groups of men discussed the weather. Couples sat across from each other, holding hands and smiling. A belligerent old man huddled in front of the fruit machine, going for the next big win and daring anyone to take his place.

Old Granny Waterdown sat at one end of the bar, allowing herself the customary single sip of firewhiskey as she finished each row of knitting.

Molly, behind the bar, ran her fiefdom like a queen, keeping a close eye both on her customers and the servers.

Slightly apart from it all, Remus sat in a corner and watched the crowd slowly move, listening to conversations and generally allowing himself to belong as a part of humanity.
Opening the door to the Three Broomsticks, Harry waved a greeting to Molly and started looking around for Remus. He didn't see him at first and wondered if he'd missed him. Harry had gone to Hogwarts first and had been told where he was.

Ah, there he is.

Harry snagged an ale and a new one of whatever Remus was drinking from Molly on the way to the table. Sniffing at it, his eyebrows rose.

Irish Coffee, huh? Doesn't smell half bad. I'll have to try one some time.

Setting it down in front of Remus, Harry grinned at him and slid into the chair opposite.

"You're a hard man to track down sometimes."
Remus' eyes lit up as Harry approached.

"Just as it should be."

He nodded in acknowledgement of the drink.

"Perfect timing, too — my last was getting cold."
Harry wished he could laugh at the expression on Remus' face and make a joke of it, but with the recent events he didn't know how he would react.

"Draco is going to be one of the instructors. He's... got a few strange requirements, but I'm not really worried about your reaction to him. It's one of the people that's considering joining us that you might have problems with. Snape," he advised and waited to see just how much if any problems that might give the other man.
Neville Longbottom stepped into the Three Broomsticks hesitantly. He'd had no time to go out for drinks since he'd started advancing in the mediwizard and then Healer programs, and he was afraid he'd almost lost the knack.

Perhaps best to ease himself back into it.

Maybe a sit at a table, and then eventually a butterbeer before doing anything alcoholic. Which certainly wouldn't happen today. He was most likely going to be paged in a few hours.

Taking a seat at a table off to the side, he shook his head ruefully. Some of the other Healers had found out that he was thinking of leaving St. Mungo's Emergency Ward, and had decided to take their 'sick days' while they could.

Neville, of course, being the hard-working, quick-advancing, get-all-the-experience-he-could type of wizard that others took almost shameful advantage of, was usually the one called in.

Neville had come to suspect something was wrong with this.
Ginny walked out from the kitchen, tray of now clean glasses in hand, this being one of her afternoons promised to help around The Broomsticks. Her shoulder seemed to be feeling better, almost no ache left at all, so she figured it was time to start working off some of that famous Weasley guilt. In regards to Molly, that meant Ginny spending as much time as possible in her sight and lending a hand, with no arguement.

She had already started putting them away behind the bar before she looked up and recognized Harry and Remus across the room. A warm greeting already on its way out of her mouth, her words stuck as she caught sight of someone else that sparked recognition. Her eyes narrowed as she fought the doubt running through her mind.

He's much too tall to be him, and quite a bit thinner, but that face...no, it can't be...can it?

Leaving the remainder of the glasses atop it, she rounded the bar and approached the table where the man sat.

Again, huh? So he does remember.

Ginny shot him a glance filled with all the sarcastic remarks she thought better than to speak out loud.

"Not much of a life, huh? Well, we'll have to fix that right about now." Grabbing Neville by the wrist, she dragged him across the room to where Harry and Remus were seated. She tapped Harry on the shoulder.

"Hey Harry, look what I found."
Glancing up at Ginny, he twisted forward to see the man behind her. A grin flew over his face and he stood up and held out a hand.

"Neville! It's good to see you. I was hoping you would have been at the reunion, but this is much better - not as many people."
Harry had seen and met a lot of gay men during his forays into Muggle London and he could honestly say that one of his best friends was gay, but he wasn't as well acquainted with someone who liked both.

Well, I am now, he decided as his eyes flicked back and forth between Vera and Neville, holding back a chuckle as he drank some more of the Irish Coffee.

"Remus? Why is this lovely lady still being bothered by the likes of Slughorn? I'm ashamed of you," he advised with a wink in Vera's direction.
Don't poke the tiger, Harry. She was at least semi-joking with Neville about the situation at the moment. That was some progress.

"He knows he's not going to get anywhere — he's just trying to ..."

Merlin, he almost said "get a rise out of her." That wouldn't have gone over well.

"To annoy her, because he thinks it's funny. You've just got to freeze him out, Vera."

Remus was willing to go talk with the man himself — for the next couple of days he'd be in a prime mood to take on Slughorn — he but knew that suggesting Vera couldn't handle it herself was not going to be received well.
Freeze him out? Yes, I should be the all-time queen at that by now.

"You try to ignore the man. He hasn't done anything actionable, like inviting me upstairs to 'join a special version of the Slug Club.' He just ... looks. And occasionally licks his lips."

She shuddered. ... Where was that firewhiskey?

"I'll give it a few more days, but if he doesn't accept that the joke's gone south by then, I'm going to McGonagall."
Neville returned from the loo just in time to see Ginny throw herself at Harry, then return to her seat. Apparently Neville wasn't the only one getting Ginny hugs today, and he wondered if Ginny was with Harry now. He'd missed so much being out of the loop, working hard.

Sure, he was probably the youngest fully liscened Healer in three or four years, but he'd lost a lot of his contacts, and that was going to make getting out of the Emergency Ward a little harder.

"So," he started, working his way awkwardly back into the conversation, "I noticed Hogsmead has grown a little, expanded. Does anyone know of any buildings that aren't taken right now?"
Ginny smiled as Neville came back to the table.

"Oh, wow. I'm not the person to answer that. I think there are, but I haven't been back for too long."

Ginny took the last sip of her wine and noticed hers was not the only empty glass. She looked around, but none of the waitstaff seemed to be worrying about their table. Apparently getting the afternoon off meant you still had to wait on yourself and your friends.

Scooting out from the table, Ginny stood and started collecting the glasses. "Anyone want to lend a hand getting the refills?"
"Were you looking for a place to live or something else, Neville?" Harry asked pointedly ignoring the little witch that had just moved an art class into his school. "I just spent a lot of time checking a few out."
With the exception of clanging glasses and pouring liquid, there was silence between Harry and Ginny the entire time they were getting the drinks. Typically, Ginny would have tore into him as soon as they were out of sight of the others, but moving only put them in better sight of Molly.

The delay actually made Ginny calm down - a bit.

Merlin, we just got over so much, studio space isn't worth this.

Walking back to the table, she smiled, apologetically, as she stopped him and took the tray of drinks.

"Listen, Harry, if you're that upset about this - I can find some place else to use. I'm just feeling a bit useless right now and need something. But, it's not worth it if it means you're going to be angry with me - or that it's going to interfere with your school."

She smiled again, winking at him. "Brilliant idea, by the way - A DADA school."
She did it again. Sunken with one sure shot and when in the hell am I going to be able to tell her no?

Probably the day she doesn't smile or make that little face or quit being Ginny.


Harry sent her a gentle smile.

"It's fine. As long as your mum doesn't start making noises about holding a knitting class or Arthur starts talking about moving his Muggle things in to explain them to people."