5. In Which W.W.W. is the Best
Buffy had been itching to do something. She didn’t start at St. Mungo’s until Monday and it was Thursday. She had given herself extra time to set her apartment up and get settled in. There was only so much she could do without going out of her mind though. Luckily her landlady was a witch and her fireplace was connected to the floo network. This allowed her to floo straight to Diagon Alley saving her the long walk. There would be plenty of time for walking as she explored Diagon Alley.
As Buffy found herself in Diagon Alley she grew excited. This was not the first time she had been here, but it was the first time she could take her time and really explore it. The first time she was in London Buffy was overwhelmed by all of the new sights. Now that she was familiar with her surroundings she could delve into them. She was most interested in Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions. She wanted to see if British wizarding fashion was the same as its American counterpart. Buffy also had to stop in sometime before Monday to pick up her robes. She was definitely not excited about the lime green color. As a new healer she couldn’t complain but Buffy decided if she was going to stick around she definitely had to do something about the uniform color.
Buffy was tired. It had been a very productive day so far. To her delight it seemed that wizard wear here was very much the same as at home. Not that it really mattered. Buffy preferred muggle clothes, but on occasion she would don robes. If not for the fact that she drew less stares in wizarding locations such as Diagon Alley. She was a bit miffed when Madam Malkin tried to show her some fattening robes. Why was it that everyone thought she was too skinny? Must be an older woman thing Buffy thought.
Buffy thought to the advertisement she had seen in the Terrortours window. It was for Transylvanian castle rentals complete with a vampire host. Buffy almost snorted at that. Why would I want to willingly see a vampire? She thought. That was one of the perks of this world. The vampires were not hers to deal with. These were the times when Buffy was reminded that this was not the place she was born to. The only vampire she would willingly meet in her old world would have been Angel. Looking back on it now Buffy could appreciate her puppy love crush for what it was, a simple crush. It probably wouldn’t have done her any good to get hung up on him. He was a vampire who would not age and she was a slayer who had an expiration date. Before Buffy could get completely lost in her thoughts a sign caught her attention, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Mmmmm, she thought, I could go for some ice cream about now.
Buffy headed straight for it. She was now on a mission. She wanted ice cream and as anybody knows one does not get in the way of a woman and her ice cream. As Buffy perused the ice cream flavors she simply laughed at most of them. One of the perks of the wizarding world was the limitless amount of obscure flavors. She shivered as she thought back to some particularly horrendous Bertie Bott’s Beans. Buffy settled for chocolate. It was a classic flavor and always a safe bet. When she turned to the seating area to give her feet a break she found it extremely crowded. After a frantic overview of the seats she spotted an open one and headed for it without delay. Then she noticed the man in the seat next to the open one. It was the red head she had bumped into at the ministry.
“Is this seat open or is someone sitting here?” She asked him. Seeming to shock him out of a deep thought as he absentmindedly licked his ice cream.
“Oh, um. No! It’s all yours.” He finished with a sweeping arm gesture to the chair in question.
“Thank you.” Buffy took her seat and set about enjoying her delicious afternoon treat. Licking her ice cream she studied the man next to her. He was wearing the same magenta robes from when she bumped into him at the ministry. Looking up at his face his brown eyes seemed to be somewhere else. Then she noticed that where one of his ears should have been was a dark, gaping hole. Buffy was transfixed.
“Something caught your eye?” A darkly amused voice asked startling her mid lick.
“Hmmm?” She questioned wordlessly.
“You seemed to be staring at me in thought.”
“I was wondering what the deal was with your magenta robes?” Buffy blurted out the first thing that came to her mind that didn’t have to do with his lack of ear.
“Oh.” He said with a grin. “It’s my work uniform.”
“What’s with uniforms being such awful colors? First it’s lime green and now it’s magenta. What next, Puce?” His grin widened at that.
“Been to Mungo’s I take it? Well I work at a joke shop. And besides, Puce isn’t a bad color. It just sounds awful.”
“I will ignore that last bit and actually I start work at St. Mungo’s on Monday.”
“Well then I’ll just have to have more accidents that land me in Mungo’s in order to see your pretty face again.”
Buffy could feel her face become heated at his statement and hurried to change the subject. “So do you work at Gambol and Japes? One of my friends back home told me to go there for some good fireworks.”
“Of course I don’t work there. The very idea!” He answered in an outrage. Banging his fist that wasn’t holding ice cream on the table.
“Ok, so mark Gambol and Japes as a no then.”
“I’m only having it on you. When was the last time you’ve been to Diagon Alley?”
“Well, not too long ago, but today’s the first day I’ve really had time to explore. I’ve just moved from the States. My friend from home used to live here but she moved to the States about six years back.”
“That explains it then.” He stated while he stood up stretching out his arms. “Let me formally welcome you to the merry land of England and tell you that the best joke shop in this wonderful alley is Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. I guess I’ll have to stop by sometime. I have already deduced that Fortescue’s has the best ice cream next I will judge joke shops.” Buffy finished with a joking grin.
“You should have had some of Fortescue’s ice cream while Florean was still around. It’s not the same without him.” He finished sitting down with a faraway look on his face. It looked like he had more than ice cream on his mind.
Feeling awkward and not sure how to break the growing somber mood Buffy quickly asked, “What time is it?”
“Oh, blimey! It’s 4:30 I’ve got to get back to the shop my break is about over.” He exclaimed looking at his watch. As Buffy watched he finished off his ice cream cone in two quick bites and then ran off.
“Hey!” Buffy pitifully called after him. “I didn’t even get your name.” She finished to herself. You’re doing well, she thought. Only talked to him for a bit before running him off. Where was her Summer’s charm? It got turned into a pale Winters, Buffy told herself as she finished her ice cream. Once she was done she decided it was time to head back to her apartment. As Buffy apparated home to her apartment to avoid the ashy floo system she wondered if she’d ever see the red haired man in magenta robes again.
George had a soft smile on his face as he opened the shop for the day. He was thinking of the girl he had seen at the Ministry when he had gone to visit his father for lunch. George found her expression as she took in the sight of him while trying not to lose her stack of papers quite amusing. He wondered if he would ever see her again. Probably not, George thought, it’s not as if he was a regular at the ministry and the only places he could usually be found at these days were his shop, his flat and the Burrow. The only reason he was at the ministry was because Ron had been nagging him about getting out more. George opted for lunch with his dad. The ministry for lunch probably wasn’t what Ron was going for but it would get him off his case for a bit. George had been beyond thrilled when he had bumped into the girl at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream stand. He had been indulging his sweet tooth on a break when to his delight she sat down next to him.
As George spent the day assisting young pranksters he had quite forgotten about the girl he had been thinking of all night. That is until she walked into his shop. He couldn’t believe his luck as he stared at the blonde pixie. The young boy who George had been assisting at the time had to yank on his robes to get his attention. George finished helping him as quick as he could before dashing over to greet the blonde.
“And what brings you to this fine establishment today?” George asked her breaking her intense stare at the tiny Pygmy Puffs.
“Well someone told me this was the best joke shop around and I came to judge. Plus I don’t really have much to do until I start work.”
“Well of course it’s the best. Anyone who says it isn’t is just plain off his broom. And you’ve come to the perfect place to cure your boredom. I also want to apologize for running off on you yesterday. And as we happen to be running into each other so much we should at least share names.” George said winking.
“Elizabeth Winters. But you can call me Buffy. The only one who called me Elizabeth was my great aunt.” Buffy introduced herself glad that her name didn’t twitch as many brows in the wizarding world.
“George Weasley at you service.” George gallantly answered with a sweeping bow. Buffy froze for a second.
“You wouldn’t happen to be related to the Weasley in Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes?”
“I am in fact co-founder and owner of this fine pranking establishment.” George answered her. Buffy noted the lack of co on the owner but tactfully decided not to say anything.
“Now I’m embarrassed. I asked the owner of a joke shop if he worked a rivals.”
“I’ll pretend it didn’t happen. As long as you always tell me that my shop is the best.”
“As long as I’m not expected to always tell the truth.” Buffy retorted and George grinned.
“Well you’re a cheeky one. I like it.”
“You’re cheeky! … Whatever that means. It’s not fair to use your British words on me.”
“Don’t worry I couldn’t say anything bad about you. At least not yet.” He finished with his patented grin.
Before Buffy could reply a harried witch in the shop’s magenta uniform ran up to them. “Mr. Weasley! A couple of the boys had a bit of an accident in the back room and we need you.”
“Alright Verity. I’ll be there in a jiffy.” He told the witch as she hurried of to the presumed back room.
“I’m sorry to run off again but well, it’s never dull in a joke shop. Please stay and browse, I’ll be back out after I fix this problem. George told Buffy before he hurried after Verity.
A couple of the usual sticky fingered boys had broken open some basic blaze boxes and were hiding behind the display of shield cloaks. After George dealt with the fireworks and delivered the temporary ban on the boys from the shop he hurried back out to the front to look for Buffy. It seemed he was too late though, for she was nowhere to be found. As George went back to make sure he didn’t have any damaged stock in the backroom he hoped that he would see Buffy again.