Chapter 1 : Prologue: Another Show, Another Sickle
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Anyway, I digress. What’s important is that it was one of those days when I wondered why I even bothered getting out of bed and coming to work – at five o’clock in the morning, no less! No matter how long you’ve been doing it, there is no good feeling that comes from waking up before five.
At least she didn’t call me quite that early. I wouldn’t have put it past her, though.
“Hello, Molly, you’re on the air.”
“Freddie, dear, is that you?”
“Gran!” I exclaimed in shock. I looked wildly around the booth, trying to determine whether my crew had any idea why my grandmother was calling in to my radio show. Apparently, none of them did. James looked like a deer caught in the wandlight - although, to be fair, that was his normal expression half the time. Too much Quidditch, I always said. Raj looked wholly amused. And Tabitha had broken into such a fit of giggles that she had to mute her mic to make sure her laughter at Gran’s call couldn’t be heard over the air.
Fantastic. My faithful crew, throwing me to the dragons. Here, have some Chocolate Frogs while you watch me die for entertainment.
But they call it "dead" air time for a reason, so I had no choice but to keep things moving along. “So, Gran, welcome to the best show on Station Seventy-Eight.” Take that, Stan Sod-Face Bollingsworth. “What’s on your mind?”
“Well, dear, it’s just been so long since you’ve come over, and you hardly ever write. You know, we’re having everyone over for supper this Saturday, and I was rather worried you’d forgotten.”
Breaking Weasley news flash. She’d called me at work – on the air – to tell me this?
“How could I forget? It’s your birthday next week, isn’t it? The big eight-zero?”
“Good heavens, Fred, the whole country doesn’t need to know that!”
“But you look marvelous for your age, you know.” I grinned.
“Oh, stop it. Now, you are going to come, aren’t you?”
I sighed. “Yes, Gran.”
“Are you taking care of yourself? Eating well and everything? You know, you were never a very good cook.”
“Yes, Gran.” I rubbed my temples with both hands. There would be no stopping her now. For such an old bird, she had a lot of energy – and most of it was devoted to talking…and talking…and talking. Not that I was opposed to talking. It was, after all, what they paid me to do. Stupid idea on somebody’s part, really. Boy, did they get ripped off.
Tabitha was now covering her mouth with both hands and shaking with silent laughter. Raj had spun his chair around to face the back of his cubicle, which usually meant he was trying to compose himself. Normally, laughing on the air wasn’t a problem – in fact, it was encouraged – but I think they didn’t want Gran to feel she was being laughed at.
“Is James there? Can you put him on?”
I looked over at my cousin, who was shaking his head frantically and waving his arms in front of him.
“Um, no, Gran, I’m afraid he’s not here.”
“Why not? Is he ill? Should I owl him at home?”
“No, no, Gran, it’s just…he’s off getting my coffee, see…”
I flashed a grin at James, who made an uncivil hand gesture through the window.
“Hate to cut it short,” I interrupted as Gran started to say something else, “but we’ve actually got to cut to commercial now.” Best to nip it in the bud before our listeners fell asleep and our ratings took a dive.
Oh, bugger it. Our listeners were probably having the time of their lives, listening to my Gran harass me on the air. But I’ll be damned if I was going to let all of Britain hear about how awful Gran thought my haircut was.
Raj had his chair facing the proper direction again, and I gave him a look that was meant to convey the message, We’re going to commercial right now, and I don’t give a flying Skrewt if it’s five minutes early. Apparently the message went through, because he nodded at Cristine and Miles, who scrambled for their scripts and returned a thumbs-up.
“Thanks for the call, Gran!” I cut the call off with a flick of my wand. “This is Fred Weasley, and you’re listening to The Morning Waffle. We’ll be right back.”
As Cristine and Miles started reading the advertisements, I silenced my mic and lifted the Imperturbable Charm from every wall of my booth except the one that bordered Cristine and Miles’ cubicle. I then ripped off my earphones and flung them to the ground dramatically – God, I had always wanted to do that! It made me feel quite impressive.
“Alright, what bloody stupid effing tosser sod-face decided to let a call from my Gran come through screening?”
Actually, I knew exactly which bloody stupid effing tosser sod-face it had been. It was an easy determination, as there was only one person in charge of screening our callers.
Dexter smiled sheepishly from his booth.
“Come on, Fred, I’m supposed to turn away your grandmother, for Merlin’s sake? And besides…she bribed me with biscuits!”
“Dex, if you want biscuits, I’ll bake you some. I can’t believe you sold me out for a bit of sugar and chocolate.”
“Dex shouldn’t eat anything that you cook unless he’s feeling suicidal,” quipped Tabitha.
“Fine, Tibbs,” I sighed. We rarely called Tabitha by her proper name. “You can make him some biscuits.”
“Er…I think I’d rather take my chances with Fred’s cooking,” said Dex. Tibbs stuck her tongue out at him.
I swiveled my chair around to face James. “You know, Aunt Hermione was brilliant and all when she introduced the telephone to the wizarding masses, but someone should’ve restricted Gran’s access to one. She’s a menace.”
The telephone still wasn’t as widespread as the Floo Network or the use of owls in the wizarding world, but it was a convenient thing to have with you, in case you didn’t have a fireplace handy. And it had revolutionized the Wizarding Wireless Network.
“At least it wasn’t Grandad,” replied James. “He still thinks you’ve got to shout into the damn thing.”
We both snickered at the thought of our grandfather’s wheezy voice bellowing at me on the air.
“Fred!” Raj interrupted us. “You’re back on in twenty! And you’ll have to stretch this segment out a bit longer so we can keep the regular commercial slots – I don’t care if every leaf on your family tree calls in.”
I glanced at the clock above Raj's booth. It wasn't like an ordinary clock - it had only one hand, and instead of numbers around the edge it had markings indicating the beginning and end of each segment of air time and the advertisement slots. Supposedly, Raj was the only one who could make changes to it, but Tibbs bewitched it once so that, towards the end of one of my longer segments, the clock screamed, "Merlin, Agrippa, and all the Prophets! Are you still talking, you pretentious bastard?" Rather than interrupting me, as Tibbs had intended, the clock interrupted a Ministry representative who had called in to discuss some inconsequential piece of rubbish Ministry policy. The listeners loved it, and I know for a fact Raj thought it was funny, but he also tightened the controls over his precious clock, so nobody has messed with it since. Who knows what kind of curses he put on it. I don't touch the damn thing, that's for sure.
According to Raj's demon clock, I had to stretch out the next segment for an extra five minutes or so. Like that would ever be a problem. I could talk the pink off a pygmy puff.
I jammed my headset back on, cast the Imperturbable Charm, and flipped on my mic.
“Fred Weasley here with The Morning Waffle, where we talk about absolutely nothing and absolutely everything. If you’re joining us for the first time ever, congratulations on pulling your head out from wherever you’ve been sticking it and figuring out who the cool kids are. Before we move on, I want to issue a few clarifications: yes, that was my grandmother on the line before the break; yes, my family is quite insane; and yes, James Potter is, in fact, my personal assistant – we only let him think he’s in charge of the Quidditch segment.”
James leaned forward and spoke into his mic. “And, of course, by ‘personal assistant,’ you mean the only reason your life has any meaning, and without whom you would never be able to get any women to date you.”
I grinned. “I bloody well do not! Let’s take the next caller while Jamesie does my laundry.” The caller’s name flashed on the screen in front of me. “Hello, Adam, you’re on the air – who’s the maddest member of your family?”
I have to retract some of my earlier statements. It was an excellent day. All in all, another normal day at work, after which I would go home laughing about how much better I had it than anyone else.
Damn, I love my job.
A/N: Welcome to The Morning Waffle, and thanks for taking a peek at this story! This is written in response to redherring's World of Work Challenge, in which I was assigned to write a fic about a host of a show on the Wizarding Wireless Network.
This chapter has been beta'd by the lovely and brilliant Mistress. If you haven't ever read any of her fics, you should. Like right now.
Please let me know your thoughts, comments, questions, favorite quotes, anything, in a review! And I hope you'll tune in for the next chapter, to get better acquainted with Fred and his crew.
RGF, signing off for now. :-)
(Chapter revised July 17, 2009)
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