It's always fairly terrifying—and, in a sense, horrifically fascinating—to observe Harry and Malfoy hard on task, down in the bowels of the Auror Potions Laboratories, Ginny decides. She shakes her head over her own work, a faint tendril of niggling anxiety snaking up her spine. Speaking of, it's been far too quiet this morning.
Until it isn't.
Wisely, she keeps her lips sealed against a startled gasp when a billowing plume of brilliantly scarlet sparks suddenly jets high atop the bubbling cauldron at their station and Malfoy spits out one terse word: "Merde!"
Whilst the both of them simultaneously leap sideways to avoid the descending sizzle. Athletically; they sport rather fit arses, the pair of them.
"Potter! What have I told you, asshat? And told you? And told you?"
"Bosh! It's fine, Draco. And here's that shaven hippogriff claw, then," Harry chirps in a larky sing-song voice, slinging the contents of a vial into the cauldron with a slipshod and quite splashy counter-stir as he dodges back to the shaking cauldron, nimbly avoiding the last of the inadvertent spark-shower. "One dram, as your Majesty commands. Have at it, you." He nods towards the magically heat-resistant glass rod he's caught up. "What's next? I'll go and fetch it."
"Fuck you, Potter," Malfoy snarls and lunges for the stirrer Harry's barely wielding. "Give that sodding thing here before you kill us all, will you? It's vinegar next, thank you very bloody much. Common white, one ounce." He shakes off stray ash from his robes with a toss of that unmistakable silver-pale head of his, all angry annoyance concentrated in the flounce of an artfully shorn fringe. "Merlin! No one sane stirs that way—ever!"
But Harry vouchsafes Malfoy no reply; he's already danced off in the direction of the capacious supply closet, no doubt seeking not only the vinegar but also some other arcane ingredient the poor downtrodden Auror department interns slave over preparing in their measly off-hours. Ginny smiles fondly for an instant as she glances over to the straggle of eager red-robed youth, all spotty and nervous as Harry draws nigh, recalling the semi-halcyon days gone by, when it was her and Harry and Malfoy and Longbottom who were the interns in question. Oh, the antics they'd gotten up to. Oh, how glad she is to be a fully fledged Auror now—excepting on designated Lab Days, that is.
"And don't you go forgetting the damned asphodel this time, either!" Malfoy shouts after Harry belatedly, his eyes very squinty and narrowed as they follow. "Idiot git," he hisses, turning back to tend their shared work-in-progress. "Likely forget his own head if it weren't attached to him. Or his arse."
"Erm," Ginny says to Malfoy, quietly sidling up alongside his non-stirring side so as not to startle the man. She peers discreetly, just 'happening' to notice the steamily viscous contents have gone a deep cerulean blue. Too, they smell…funny. Bad 'funny', like the insides of extremely elderly trainers. "Hullo, Malfoy. What is it you're brewing this time?" she asks, grimacing and hastily waving a hand under her offended nostrils. "If you don't mind my asking."
"Auror Weasley." Malfoy's sharpish upwards jerk of an acknowledging chin is not all that unpleasant. He even benefits her with a barest crack of a smile as he continues his task. "Good morning."
"Same to you, Malfoy," Ginny replies genially, helping herself to an another whiff of the now quietly simmering contents of the cauldron. Not just eau du antique trainers but also…crushed moth balls? And essence of lemon oil, maybe? "Um? Is that…is that actual yak hair I spy, Malfoy? What, not another Disappearing Potion? Please no!"
"Huh!" Malfoy scoffs, taking his hand off the stirring rod and trickling his fingers in the layer of air just over top of it. A whisper of "Arduo!" sets it to its task automatically. "No such luck. No," he sighs dramatically, heaving his shoulders discontentedly. "Potter's gone and dreamt up some newfangled Muggle-based recipe—all for the benefit of inspiring the bloody furnishings at crime scenes to give up their secrets! Which is bollocks."
"What? You must be joking!" Ginny staggers. Harry is now and again a mad fellow, what with his obstinate insistence all the Aurors include Muggle-style detection methods in their cases, but this! This goes too far, even for him. She shakes her head right along with Malfoy's doleful sigh. "That's—that's impossible, Malfoy!"
"Yes, exactly." Malfoy bobs his manly chin, satisfied his fellow Auror has come to the same conclusion he has: common-garden divans and beds and curtains have no physical ability to speak aloud their (possibly) grisly secrets, revealing much-needed clues to an investigative force, as obviously they've no tongues and mouths to employ, correct? "He's mad, is Potter. Barking. And, if you must know, that's fibres culled from our castoff shag carpet, that hideous beige one I've hated so. He dragged it out of the garden shed at arse o'clock this morning and insisted it might be useful. Though I can't say as I see just how, yet. Unless we Aurors have suddenly grown a great need to have a Diction Inducing Potion for Inanimate Objects made partly up of ancient Ogden's-flavoured vomit and kneazle hair. Faugh!"
"Ah." Ginny frowns as the scraps of muddy-brown disappear into the swirling liquid with a sickly gurgle. "Yes, I seem to remember that one carpet; so glad you're finally rid of it, Auror Malfoy. Hmm. Maybe…he's thinking…ah!" She taps a single fingernail against her chin. "Some sort of sympathetic magic, perhaps? But."
"Maybe. All I know is he's off on another tangent and it's more than I can do to stop him. Though I do wish he'd let us get back to the Invisibility potions. I was making a great deal of progress on those."
"Yes, sorry, Malfoy," Ginny offers readily enough, exchanging a sympathetic look with Malfoy even though she's secretly very happy they've stopped working with the Invisibility ones. It had been deucedly difficult to locate the interns after the last one, especially as Malfoy had added a muting ingredient to the mix. The poor little lambs had bleated about for hours before Ginny and the rest of their elders had found them. "But you know how Harry is."
"Oh, sod me, I do, yes."
"Ah. Right." She cocks an enquiring eyebrow at Malfoy's slightly pinkened cheeks. He and Harry have been at this experiment for hours now, bickering and sloshing and sometimes murmuring a variety of half-heard incantations, and generally with their heads in the rising steam the whole time. Malfoy looks a bit knackered, actually, red-rimmed of eye and perspiring. "Um. Shouldn't Harry be back already?"
"Hmm?" Malfoy lifts a brow, eyes shifting off over the room to track down his errant Harry. "What in Hades is keeping him?"
"Seriously, though? What's it in aid of this time?" Ginny persists, despite her casual joining of Malfoy in on the visual tracking of one missing Chief Auror Potter, Harry. "Your Potion. Oh! I see him, just there." She points. "You should pull the other; it's got bells on," she adds kindly.
"...What now?" Malfoy's distracted, it's clear.
Harry's now surfaced over by the staff's water cooler, having been captured in conversation by the spindliest of the pathetically young female interns and he seems to be gallantly attempting a brittle civility in the face of poor little Phoebe Yarnsworth's adoring-but-sadly-lisp-laden flood of compliments. Yarnsworth is competent enough, Ginny knows, and will make for an exceeding fine Auror one day but she's also a terrible fangirl, at least when it comes to the Hero of the Wizarding World. Who also happens to be her direct superior ion the workplace. She's been crushing hard on Malfoy's lover for months now, much to Harry's growing embarrassment—and the barely concealed amusement of everyone else. Poor Harry!
Ginny slants a weather eye at Malfoy's lips, thinned taut in temper and with the bottom one gone red from irritated biting.
For that matter, poor old Malfoy. He's not best pleased but then Draco always was the more possessive of the two of them. And he doesn't tend to forgive the trespasses of the purely foolish into his territory.
"Because the idea of talking furniture is outright absurd, you know, and we've all been desperately hoping you two aren't trying for that Broom Boost Emollient again," Ginny carries on gamely, partly genuinely hoping to distract Malfoy from the outrageous inept flirtation he's subject to but also shivering a little at the lurid memory of the Great Broom Disaster of Last May. The failed Emollient had been purple and gooey and aimed at ramping up broom speed to heights undreamt previously and Harry had actually convinced a skeptical Malfoy it would work like the proverbial Charm if they only just added enough emu oil. And turpentine. And Stilton. And it did work, after a fashion. It certainly sent a broom flying! It just also happened to explode after three-minutes direct contact with ordinary broom bristles, resulting in positive deluges of tiny painful splinters flying and gobs of steaming goop scattered over every single surface of the Lab's main workroom. Including all the Aurors' surfaces, unfortunately. Or at least those sods not fast enough at the art of ducking-and-taking-cover. Ginny scowled; she'd been one the latter group, sadly. "Took weeks and weeks of Vanishing spells to be rid of that crap—plus the stench! My poor hair, Malfoy. Please—tell me it's not that again."
"Yes, yes, all right," Malfoy allows, ripping his glittering gaze from a finally returning Harry and presenting Ginny with his full attention. "Enough already, Weasley. Everyone's entitled to their few small failures, now and again, and you can't honestly deny all the other potions we've made up haven't mostly worked out very well—to your personal gain, even, if I recall the details of last months' Prang Case, which I do, cheers—"
"Ginny! Good morning!" Happily, Harry arrives back at the work station just in time to interrupt the launch of Malfoy's familiar (and somewhat tired, frankly) monologue as to how he and Harry's experimental brewing efforts are all really incredibly beneficial to the whole department despite their being at times equally incredibly dangerous, simply by swooping up upon the two of them and immediately clasping Ginny into an enthusiastic bear hug. "Good morning, Gin! Didn't see you here earlier; where were you, by the way?" He babbles on, practically dancing them both in a little circling caper, whilst haphazardly shoving a flask over to a po-faced Malfoy in the meantime. "That case in Islington, wasn't it? I knew you'd nail that old bastard if you just kept it up, you and Nev. Good girl!"
"No, no!" Ginny laughs, giggling as she escapes her old friend's clutches. "Not been in Islington, not today. That was yesterday, remember?" Malfoy tips the contents of the flask into the cauldron neatly and gestures at the relentless rod to keep up its steady stirring. "It's Lab Day; I've been here all this while, you nitwit. Me and the whole crew, really." She flaps a hand 'round the room, indicating Longbottom and Finnegan, young Ellersbee and the gangling clot of interns. "You just haven't noticed, what with your head stuck down deep in your cauldron like that. Nice to see you finally surface, Chief."
"Oh," Harry flushes, stepping back to bump arms with a smirking Malfoy. "Er, sorry? Was I rude, before? I didn't mean to."
"No problem, Harry," Ginny smiles, stepping forward to point at the cauldron. "Forgiven. Now, what's this all about? Malfoy here says you're trying to make the furniture talk or some such rot. And, much more importantly? Is it likely to explode this time, this glop of yours? My hair is better ginger, Harry. I'm not wanting to dye it blue, not just before the weekend, at least. I've plans."
"Well, brilliant!" Harry beams, swiping off his specs to give them a quick rub of robe sleeve. "At last someone's asking proper questions!" He appears very chuffed at this; Ginny can't help by feel a little guilty. It's true enough; all the other Aurors tend to shy well away when Harry and Malfoy are at it, their experiments. Least said, the better. Though Malfoy does have a point, as more often than not they manage to be successful, at least partly. "Look, you know how we can examine a person's memories, right? Pop them into the thingamajig and go for a virtual stroll, right?"
"…Right," Ginny smiles uncertainly. "So?"
"We think—me and Draco," Harry rushes on, hardly noticing he's practically hanging off the sleeve of the Malfoy in question, and not noticing at all that Malfoy's mouthing the word 'thingamajig' as if it's the worst of all crudities. "That if we can only manage to come up with some sort of solution—possibly the spray-on sort; that seems most feasible—we can induce the crime scenes themselves to give us our evidence all that much more simply and rationally, as non-biased witnesses—and ever so quickly, saving us valuable time on the job, Gin! It's a radical idea, I know—Neville keeps on and on at me about how we need include natural and man-made ingredients, even the Muggle ones—"
"I'll say," Malfoy chimes in dryly. But softly, lips pursed. "Mad men. Both of you. Don't see why we even need his advice, anyway. He always takes up on your side, Potter."
"But I'm convinced we can do it!" Harry actually jumps a little in his excitement, flashing a grin at his partner-in-crime, almost overbalancing. "And so's Draco, no matter what he says to the contrary." Malfoy instantly goes to steady him, a hand settling firmly on Harry's flapping elbow. "We just have to stimulate all the residue of the human memories buried in the materials that make up the surroundings of the crime scene and we'll have it, Ginny! Practically handed to us on a fucking platter! Everything we need know about a murder or a robbery—or a kidnapping, even! We'll be so much more efficient!"
"Ah…hah." Ginny falls back cautiously, retreating a step. Harry on a roll tends to set his immediate environment to shaking and sometimes things even fall down or go flying. Or explode, which is worse. "Yes, well. Efficient, is it? That's…good. Right, then. Best of luck, Harry." She nods at Malfoy politely. "I'll just be off then--"
"Thanks! But, wait! What do you think, Gin?" Harry demands eagerly, reaching forward to capture her wrist, cutting off her escape entirely. "I mean, you're no slouch with the Potions go-round yourself; old Slug always did say so. You were in the Club, even. Do you think we've a decent chance with this one? 'Cause we're using all the proper ingredients and Draco's gone over the incantations with a fine-tooth comb; he's even doing it in his sleep now, if you believe it!"
"Oh, I do," Ginny replies, bland as porridge as Malfoy tips a glare her way, silently daring her to comment. "Yes, of course I do, Harry. And I'm sure you'll both be successful. Er. This time."
"And—and?" Harry pushes. "Okay, then! That's brilliant, but? Are you willing to try it out for us? Be our co-tester? I've just been told I've a really brutal meeting slotted my schedule this afternoon that I can't get out of—fucking Finance—and I don't want Draco here going it alone, not if I can help it. Can you manage to spare us an hour? I'll buy you lunch, Gin. That Thai place, even."
"What? No!" Malfoy halts the stirring rod with a jerk of a gesture, spinning on a heel to face Harry head on. He grabs at Harry's shoulders with both hands and scowls, brow like thunder, eyes flashing mercury. "You are not—not—dragging poor Weasley into this, Potter. You. Are. Not. We'll table the damned testing till next week, is what, when we can both be here and you'll not argue with me, not even a little, not even one word, you stubborn short-shanked git. That's final."
"No, Harry," Malfoy shoots back instantly, his gaze softening under the full brunt of Harry's great green-eyed puppy-dog plea. Ginny takes this as her cue to edge away. Rapidly. "No. Be reasonable. It's not safe and you know it. I know it. We'll do this together or not at all. I want everyone in one piece at the end of the day, Harry. Even you, moron. So no more. Just accept it. Please."
Making towards the exit, Ginny frantically beckons to the other Aurors and the interns, indicating they should abandon ship and move it along posthaste. It's nearly lunch time anyway and the Lab is about to become a very exciting place to be, within very short order. But it's best if there are no witnesses. Especially not a herd of already nerve-wracked Aurors. One never knows what sort of Vision Shielding Spell Nev might fire off if he's startled and there's no need to take stupid chances. Ginny, for one, has had enough temporary blindness bouts and emergency visits to St Mungo's to last her a lifetime—maybe two.
"Mmm…must I? Draco?"
"Yes. Yes. Now open your mouth and shut the fuck up, Harry." Behind her, the two men are speaking softly, and Malfoy's caught up the Chief in a white-knuckled grasp there's clearly no escaping easily. Not that Harry's trying. "And come here. We've fifteen minutes yet."
"Oh…oh! I get it—mmph!"
Ginny rushes to the door as if pursued by the very Devil himself, kindly pausing to hold it open as the last Auror scarpers on through. As this is the 'horrifically fascinating' bit, bearing down upon them all if they don't make tracks and disappear discreetly—right now, this instant. For not all of Harry and Malfoy's customary-and-alarmingly regular explosions in the Department's Potions lab are actually potions-based.
Sometimes they involve other fluids.