Chapter 1 : The Chapter in Which Rhian Wishes She Had Heat Vision
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“So the rent is 300 galleons a month for each of us, and we’ll each furnish our own bedrooms. I bought a couch, and you bought a television, and my parents are giving us their old coffee table, so the living room is set. Now, as for food,” Lily Evans said, holding a reporter’s notebook and pencil. She was sitting on a brown cardboard box in a medium-sized room with blank walls, empty except for a dozen other boxes. Her best friend and roommate, Rhian Clark, sat on a box across from her.
“We can switch off who does the shopping each week,” Rhian suggested.
“We’ll keep a list of standard, necessary items on the refrigerator, that way we spend the same amount each week, and if one of us needs something special, we can get it on our own,” said Lily. Very mature for eighteen years old, Lily was especially practical when it came to financial matters.
“And how about whoever does the shopping that week doesn’t do the cleaning? I mean we’ll each scourgify our own dishes, but the other person tidies up the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.” If an eavesdropper wasn’t paying particularly close attention, he or she might not notice anything strange about their conversation. However, Rhian and Lily were somewhat unusual. They were witches, with the ability to use magic, who had recently graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Before Rhian’s Auror training began in August, the girls had taken jobs in Diagon Alley, Rhian at Flourish & Blott’s because of her love of books, and Lily at the Apothecary because of her aptitude at potions. Their July would also be filled with meetings of the Order of the Phoenix, a group started by their old headmaster to fight the world’s most evil wizard. Lord Voldemort’s rampage of death and destruction had affected nearly every witch and wizard in Britain, especially Rhian. The monster had murdered her father, and she was determined to do everything in her power to stop him.
“Sounds like a good plan. Now, about the guys…” Lily paused. She and Rhian were currently dating James Potter and Sirius Black, wizards who were also best friends. Lily knew this conversation might be awkward, but knew the issue would come up eventually.
“How about no overnight visits?” Rhian suggested, knowing exactly why Lily brought the issue up.
“You’re okay with that?” Lily sounded surprised.
“Well, we have to share this space, and I don’t want things to become awkward. Plus, Sirius has his own flat, and…oh wait, James is still living with his parents. Do you want overnight visits, then?”
“No! I mean, not if you don’t. James and I haven’t…you know,” Lily insinuated.
“We’ll keep things simple and have a no-guys-after-midnight rule,” said Rhian decisively.
“Okay, the guy coming with the furniture and TV is supposed to show up before five, so one of us has to be here to sign for it all.”
Rhian glanced around at the skyscrapers of boxes. “I think we’ll both be here for a while.”
Lily laughed. “You’re probably right. James and Sirius said they’d stop by around four and help us out, then we can all go to the Order meeting together.”
“Sounds like a partay,” Rhian said almost sarcastically, grabbing a box cutter and opening the box she had been sitting on.
Rhian, Lily, and James Apparated in front of the Hog’s Head Inn in Hogsmeade Village. Dumbledore, the head of the Order of the Phoenix, had decided to hold meetings in one of the rooms above the bar.
“Why would our meetings be held at such a seedy place?” Rhian wondered out loud, shivering in the cool summer night air.
“Dumbledore’s brother is the bartender here,” Lily answered.
“He told me we wouldn’t be overheard,” said James, glancing around very unsurely.
A few second later, a popping noise told them that someone else had Apparated ten feet away.
“Has the meeting started yet?” Remus asked, checking his watch.
“We’re waiting for Padfoot and Wormtail,” James answered.
As if on cue, Sirius’s flying motorcycle descended out of the sky with a loud commotion. After landing, he parked it and came over to the group.
“Hey,” he said, quickly kissing Rhian. “Wormtail here yet?”
“Peter isn’t here yet,” said Lily.
“Why does he always run so damn late?” James grumbled. Just then, the door to the bar opened and a short, chubby guy poked his head out.
“The meeting’s started and we’re all waiting for you,” said Peter.
James was about to explode with frustration, but Lily gave him a knowing look that stopped him.
“I can’t believe we’re not allowed to go on missions!” Sirius complained loudly, slamming his glass of firewhiskey against the table. He was at the Leaky Cauldron with Rhian, James, Lily, and Remus after the Order meeting.
“Keep it down,” Rhian whispered harshly, “we don’t want to be overheard talking about Order business.” She hated when Sirius was drunk.
“Am I right Prongs? We’re all eighteen, aren’t we? If we want to kill ourselves saving the world then it’s our prerogative!” said Sirius roughly, putting his arm around Rhian’s shoulders. She rolled her eyes.
“Padfoot, we’re the youngest Order members, and Dumbledore doesn’t want us to die in battle because we’re not ready yet,” said Remus. He looked very tired and had dark circles under his eyes.
“We’ll be out there soon enough, buddy,” said James.
Rhian knew she’d never be out on the battlefield. Earlier that evening, in private, Dumbledore explained to her that because her Muggle identity no longer existed (due to being pronounced dead during the fiery car accident that killed her mother), she could be extremely valuable to both the Order and Ministry of Magic as a spy. Rhian wouldn’t be a double agent, or anything—she was much too recognizable as the daughter of a late Ministry official. However, her appearance could be altered and she could tail suspected Death Eaters, gaining entry into very secure locations under different aliases. Unfortunately, due to the importance of her role, Rhian couldn’t tell any of her friends of her missions. They thought she was just training to be an Auror and doing administrative work for the Order.
“Rhian, I need to go powder my nose,” said Lily, motioning towards the bathroom.
“And what is it with chicks and not being able to go to the bathroom alone?” Sirius said, taking a swig of his drink.
“Sirius, stay here and please try not to embarrass me too much,” said Rhian patronizingly, following Lily.
When the girls were finally alone in the bathroom, Lily said, “You looked a bit pained in there.”
“Well, you know how it is,” Rhian stammered. “Sirius just had a little too much to drink.”
“Yeah,” said Lily distantly, clearly not believing that Rhian was okay. “This is going to sound stupid, but can I ask your advice on something?”
“James invited me back to his house tonight.”
“Ooh la la, Lily. Sounds like James wants a little sumthin’ sumthin’,” Rhian joked.
“Now remember, you always have to power to say no. Plus, there are many alternatives to vaginal intercourse,” Rhian continued.
“It’s not just that, he lives with his parents!”
“Then I’d warn them that if they hear any moaning, they don’t need to check on you.”
“I’m going to ignore your comments,” said Lily, “but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but…”
“I’d be honest, Lils,” said Rhian frankly. “If you make up an excuse, he’ll ask you again.”
Lily exhaled. “Alright then. You don’t think he’ll be mad at me?”
“Just put it delicately. Hm, we should probably head back,” said Rhian, checking her watch.
When the girls returned to the table, the guys were paying the bill.
“Gotcha covered, mamasita,” said Sirius to Rhian, standing up and wobbling.
“Er, thanks,” she replied.
“See you all later,” said Lily, taking James’s hand and exiting the pub.
“When does your Auror training begin?” Remus asked.
“In a month,” said Rhian, walking with Remus out of the Leaky Cauldron, “but I’m a bit nervous.”
“Oh, you’ll do fine. You always had one of the best grades in Defense Against the Dark Arts,” said Remus.
“Yeah, I hope so,” said Rhian.
“Mustn’t dawdle!” shouted Sirius, running up from behind and grabbing Rhian’s arm.
“Ow!” she interjected.
“Guess I’ll see you guys at the next meeting,” said Remus, Disapparating.
“You’re really hurting me!” Rhian said.
“Come ON, let’s go!” Sirius hopped on his motorcycle.
“You can’t fly home this wasted.” Rhian crossed her arms.
“Since when’d you turn into Moony?”
“You’ll hurt yourself, or, worse, me, if you fly that thing,” said Rhian harshly.
“Geez, I didn’t realize how much you hated my motorcycle.”
“God, I don’t hate your stupid motorbike! Argh, move over and I’ll drive you home.”
“It’s MY motorcycle and I’m not letting you drive it!”
“Why are you acting so childish?”
Sirius stuck his tongue out.
“Fine, then,” said Rhian, “I’ll Apparate you home, like a two-year-old. Tom can watch it for you until tomorrow.”
“Mummy, can we stop and buy candy on the way?” Sirius latched on to Rhian’s arm.
Rhian sighed. “Don’t let go,” she commanded him, concentrating and remembering the three Ds of Apparition.
“Wheee!” Sirius exclaimed, as they materialized in his flat. “Do it again, Mummy!”
“Stop calling me your mother,” Rhian said through gritted teeth, dragging Sirius to his bedroom.
“Aw, why’re you down in the grumps?” he said, collapsing on his bed.
Rhian took out her wand. “Here, I’m conjuring you a bowl to vomit in and a few aspirin. You’re going to need it.”
“Aw, come on, babe,” said Sirius, pulling Rhian onto the bed with him, “tell papa your troubles.”
“Sirius, it’s late, I need to get some sleep before work tomorrow.”
“Chill out, for once,” he mumbled, grabbing her and awkwardly kissing her. Rhian tried to relax and get in the mood, but Sirius was too aggressive, pushing her down on the bed and straddling her.
“I have to go,” Rhian objected, but Sirius wouldn’t stop. “Get off of me, NOW!” she shouted, pushing him off of her. She grabbed her wand and purse and Apparated without looking at him or saying goodbye.
“Watch it, buddy!” Rhian shouted abrasively, running across the busy street. She was late for work the following morning and wasn’t going to let the fact that a car was heading straight toward her slow her down. “Why the hell did I forget to buy coffee?” she mumbled to herself, opening the door of the small café across the street from her building. Having been raised by her mother, a Muggle, it didn’t even occur to Rhian to conjure some coffee, not that she knew the spell, anyway.
Rhian hurried to the counter and almost collapsed from exhaustion. She hadn’t slept well the previous night. “Coffee please,” she told the cashier.
“Original blend?” he asked.
“I don’t care. Put lots of caffeine in it.”
“Small, medium, or large?”
“Enough to fill a swimming pool.” Rhian stared at the cashier, her eyes wide and bloodshot. She just wanted coffee, dammit!
“Sorry, but I have to ask you one more question,” the cashier said. “Would you like a fresh baked pastry to accompany your beverage?”
At this point, Rhian wished she had heat vision, or could somehow cause this guy bodily harm by staring at him. It would be a shame, too, because he was rather good-looking, with curly brown hair and bright blue eyes.
“I have to ask that crap, it’s company policy,” he explained, grinning. He turned around to get her coffee, and she felt a little sorry that she had been so rude.
“There you are,” the cashier presented her with a Styrofoam cup and small paper bag. “It comes to two-fifty.”
“What’s in the bag?” Rhian asked.
“You look like you could use a muffin today. And this batch is particularly delicious. I’ve already had four,” he smiled.
“But wait, you’re not charging me?”
“Eh, you look a bit distressed,” he winked.
Rhian actually felt her lips curl into a grin. “And is it ‘company policy’ to give free muffins to damsels in distress?”
“That’s Will’s policy.” Will pointed to his nametag.
“Oh, I see. And I’m Rhian, by the way,” she said, paying for her coffee.
“Well Rhian, have a wonderful day and come back and see us soon,” Will said, obviously reciting a script.
“I think I will,” she smiled back, and exited the coffee shop.
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