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Fiery Redhead

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“Let me speak to your manager!”

That question, spoken in a high-pitched infuriated tone, was the first thing Hermione heard when she walked through the staff entrance of the cafe she owned. They were a tiny business, a hole in the wall type of shop that served good coffee, tea, and pastries. None of the locals would ever try and speak to a manager. They always asked for Hermione if they needed something.

Sighing-because really, why couldn’t a customer let the employee try to fix their problem before running up the chain?-Hermione gave a quick wave to her baker before exiting the double doors that led to the front part of the shop. With any luck, she could satisfy the woman with a free drink and cookie.

The first thing she noticed was her hair; fire-engine red and flowing like fire down her back. She would never be mistaken for a local with her designer clothes, and pretty handbag. Her face, flushed with anger, was one of the prettiest Hermione had ever seen. She was also on the verge of punching her best worker if her clenched fists were anything to go by.

Hermione was stepping in to intervene when her eyes landed on the redhead's arm. Hives of different sizes decorated her delicate skin, the irritated bumps starting at her wrist and disappearing under the woman’s shirt. Her eyes jumped to the other arm, noticing the same pattern, before creeping up to her neck and seeing the skin redden with each passing second.

Oh dear.

Concerned, Hermione inserted herself between the woman and her barista. “Ma’am! Are you-”

The woman cut her off with a wave of her hand. “I asked for the manager, not...whatever you are.”

The barista gulped, slanting a glance at Hermione. “Uh… I don't think you realize-”

Hermione stopped the words with a look, her eyes blazing at the dismissive tone. All thoughts of how beautiful her irate customer was flew out the window. She put on her best company smile. “Lucky for you, I'm the owner. Why don't you come into my office, and we can discuss your problem.” And get you some medicine.

Hermione gave the barista a reassuring nod before leading the woman to a door labeled ’office.’ She went straight to her desk, opening a drawer and pulling out her emergency Benadryl. She handed the bottle over. “Here.”

“Thank Christ, ” the woman muttered in relief. She unscrewed the bottle, downing two pills before Hermione could offer her some water.

Hermione said, “I’m sorry about my barista. Normally, we're excellent about cross-contamination and food allergies.”

“Oh…” The woman cleared her throat. “No, this wasn't caused by the cafe. I'm allergic to pollen, and it's everywhere right now.”

Hermione was confused. “If that wasn't the case, why do you need a manager?”

“Ginny Weasley.” She shot her hand out in invitation.

Hermione recognized the name, raising her brows as she shook her hand. “Hermione Granger. Holyhead Harpies, right? To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Right. You see, last month, you came out with a drink labeled the Fiery Redhead.”

Hermione instantly knew what she was talking about; the cinnamon concoction had been a huge hit with the locals and tourists. “Yes.”

“The Harpies just signed a merchandising contract.” Ginny leaned forward, her eyes sparking with excitement. “Fiery Redhead is about to be seen on any goods related to me.”

“Not very original if you ask me,” Hermione mused.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “I know, but merchandise!” She frowned. “Only, before they could move forward, the lawyers informed them of your own trademark on the name. We’ve tried contacting you, but all attempts to communicate have failed.” She bit her lip. “I decided to come see you myself, hoping your manager would know how best to reach you.”

“And you needed to berate my poor employee, why?”

She sighed, “I have a temper. It’s why the nickname fits.”

Hermione snorted, “Okay. So what would you have me do?”

“Give up the rights to the name?”

Hermione barked out a startled laugh. She couldn’t be serious. “Not bloody likely.”

Ginny clapped her hands together, bringing them in front of her in a begging motion. “Please! We would change it ourselves, but production for items has already started.”

She shrugged. “Guess it better stop then.”

Ginny threw her hands in the air. “What can I do to convince you?”

“Take me to dinner,” Hermione said. The words were out of her mouth before her brain had fully formed them. She instantly regretted it. Why give the woman hope when Hermione was not going to change her mind?

Ginny stood up straighter, shock clear on her face. “What…” Then she grinned. “Really? Sure, I’ll take you out.” She paused. “You do mean a date, right? I’m not misreading this?”

Hermione chuckled, “You’re correct.”

She brightened. “Sweet! I mean, I would have asked you out regardless, but two birds with one stone, yeah?”