Chapter 1 : Welcome Cottage
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Author's Note Oh, I'm so excited about this story! Hopefully you'll have as much fun reading it as I did writing it! I've called Katie Kate in this story (yes, it is Katie Bell from HP canon) because I thought she might like to discard her younger nickname. :) Aside from that, I'd love to thank Rita (the_tofuubeaver/Llyralen) for helping me out with it! Keep an eye on her author page for her newest story, Such & Such! Without further ado, here's Kate in Real Life. I hope you enjoy it and I'd love it if you left a review!
Visual Aid Hehe, as per usual.
Zooey Deschanel as Maddington "Mads" Hurschley
Eric Bana as Charlie Weasley
NOTE! The cast lists mentioned above and throughout this fic are for imaginative pleasures alone. I have no contact with the actors and people mentioned above, nor do I mean to ever engage them to portray my characters.
How I, Kate Bell, Quidditch prodigy extraordinaire and Hogwarts alumnus, came to be on the doorstep of Welcome Cottage, Sadoveanu Reserve, Romania, I have no idea.
Actually, that's a lie. But the name of Welcome Cottage fitted the small house remarkably well - or ill, I suppose, depending on what exactly was your point of view. A wee thing, really, nestled away in the Fagaras Mountains. But it was anything but welcoming. My boots were already soaked through by the snow - I'd had the brilliant idea of waiting until January to come and take up the post.
But in any case. I shouldn't whinge like a lonely bitch (though I suspect ... that's kind of what I've been reduced to, innit? Bloody bastards), cos I suppose my situation wasn't too bad. I had a job. I had a shelter. I had a home in sodding Romania. Here's a quick description of the place:
Imagine cold. Good. Multiply that by a lot. There you go.
My fist was clenched about my broom (the tips were frosted, the poor thing! And they expected me to work in these fucking conditions. Oh, mercy) and I knocked again. Though you've got to say, arriving right in the middle of the night (sky conditions were, as I had guessed, bloody awful) did not immediately endear you to any of the personnel. Well, that was their own sodding fault, wasn't it? Wizards should be ever-alert! I'd had that mantra docked into my head for the full duration of my fifth year. I knocked harder.
Oh, fuck. They really weren't going to come until at least six in the morning, were they? Damn, damn, damn! Add one more and hey! I was Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady! Brilliant. Just absolutely brilliant.
My life was going absolutely swell right now. Frozen toes, probable frostbite on my fingers, rejection letters from the Chudley Cannons, the Wimbourne Wasps, and, believe it or not, Puddlemere United (I know! Even they had the gall to reject me!) in my pocket, and the little belongings I had in a snow-covered trunk next to me. Exactly six pairs of pants, nine shirts, eighteen pairs of socks, four scarves, eight pairs of gloves, and thirteen pairs of undergarments. And my Quidditch suit.
"Hey!" I shouted. With a shudder entirely unrelated to the cold (okay, lie), I noticed the wisp of steam that came out of my mouth. "Hello up there!" No one deigned answer me whatsoever.
So, grumbling, I pressed my frozen body against the door and fumbled for the knob. The damn thing had been completely iced over and I half-expected my fingers to go with it. But, no! Lo and behold, because I am Kate Bell, master of self-resolve and unfortunately not a blooming Ravenclaw, the door had been left open.
But. It wouldn't budge. The knob had turned in my grateful, cold hand, but the damned door was jammed. Fantastic. Bloody amazing. Just the cherry on top of my iced cake (ha!). Heaving myself back, I lunged at the door once more. And it shoved itself open just enough so that I might squeeze myself through. Hurrah! Eureka! Kate shall never be defeated!
Oomph. As I tried to slip through the meager opening that the ruddy door offered, my foot hit something. Something soft. And, because on foot I have less grace than a squatting penguin, I tripped over this something soft, and I went careening directly into the - warmth! final warmth! - darkened room.
"Oy!" shouted the something soft. "Look where you're going, you huge pineapple!"
Pineapple? Okay, then.
"Uh ... sorry?"
I squinted. Really, these people underestimate the value of a nice roaring fireplace. Roasted marshmallows, corn on the cob, nice French fondue ... oh, be still my stomach! But I had no time to rest my mind on the lovely dreams that food offered. The something soft was rising.
"Bloody right you're sorry. Kate, right?" it asked. The voice was distinctly feminine, if not questionably low for someone of the XX chromosome.
"That's me!" I answered in a tone all too jolly for the middle of a devil-damned night. "Kate Bell, at your service."
Something wet and cold trickled onto my left hand. I realized that, since it was so luxuriously warm in this little Welcome Cottage, the icicles were melting off of my broom. Wet and warm. Fabulous. Well, I guess it holds true that one really can't have their cake and eat it too. Unless you buy two cakes. That way you have a reserve one.
Reserve made me think of Quidditch, and that was never a happy train of thought. So I pasted on another merry grin and sauntered over to the something soft, who was now struggling with my trunk, trying to get it past the damned door.
"Sorry, I don't think I know you. I'm Kate, yes, we've gotten over that, but you are ...?"
"Maddington Hurschley," she drawled. "But call me Mads. Here, give me a hand, would you?"
Mads was definitely ... not what I expected. I'd been told that the Sadoveanu reserve was a quiet, formal place for the most part, and then you had the dragons. Obviously, they had neglected to include lobbyists who slept on the inside doormat, preventing poor new recruits from entering in.
Those snowmen had looked awfully realistic ...
So I lugged my trunk into the Cottage. Straightening, I watched as Mads sent balls of light whirling across the room.
"So, I guess it's not particularly warm in these parts," I offered as a way of meager small talk. Mads grunted in response and pointed her wand at my trunk.
"Locomotor trunk," she intoned, and waved at me to follow her. "Nope, it's usually pretty cold round here, but up by Ridge Creek it gets pretty warm. Deathly so, in fact. Smoke and ashes, poisonous fumes. Dragons, you know?"
I must have looked positively shocked, because she rolled her eyes. Splendid! I'd not been here for an hour yet and already I was being pegged by the slumbering lobbyist as a total newbie. Well, maybe I was one! I didn't know a bleeding thing about dragons. Just that they spewed fire and that it's best to stay away from the Horntails and the Ridgebacks. When I'd received Sir Marshal's offer of employment, the only thing he stated was "flying skills required". Well, that was what I was best at, was it not!
Mads took me down a series of stairs. Underground tunnels, perhaps? No need to go up for air! I could stay nice and toasty warm down here, curling my feet by the fire, eating stolen Lindt chocolates. Perfection!
"Hurry up, Kate," Mads grumbled. I trotted forwards. Hm. No warmth. I shuddered and rubbed my arms. Following Mads down the winding passageway was harder than it looked: she was lithe and obviously wanted to get back to her doormat. Curious people, these dragon folk. Bah. I shuddered and followed her.
Finally, she took a left turn and led me again up a series of stairs into a nice, cozy-looking cottage. No wonder there had been no lampposts in the village. Or any groomed streets, for that matter. The roads were underground.
"This is Whitespine Lodge. You'll be sleeping in Frankie's old room." She pointed down the main corridor and to the right.
"What happened to Frankie?" I asked thoughtlessly. Mads fixed me with her unsettling blue stare.
"He quit. Couldn't handle it, I guess." She shrugged. "Round here, you either fail or flail, but at least the flailing helps you out a bit." She winked. "Our day starts at nine. Oh! And one last thing. In the morning, if you decide to get up early - don't make any noise. The worst thing you could do around here is wake up Charlie."
"...who's Charlie?" I whispered, but Mads had already left. Brr. This place was cold and chock-full of crazy people. But then again, what insane person would want to get up early after four hours of broomflight?
Not me, I'll tell you that.
I tiptoed down the corridor, trunk in front of me, and went into the room Mads had pointed out. It was simple, it was messy, but honestly, at this point, I didn't give a sodding shit. I put down my trunk, undressed, and put on my pajamas (they had little ducks on them! How cute!). I don't even remember falling on the bed. And so I slept.
Obviously, I had forgotten to factor in the fact that I was still set on GMT time. So when I woke up that morning at nine AM, I had obviously forgotten to factor in that Romania was two hours ahead of England and that it was eleven. And, by that calculation, I was blooming late.
Ruddy job! Ruddy time zones! Ruddy world!
I rushed out of bed - no time to shower - and into the corridor. Because of last night's confusion, I had forgotten to go exploring. The hallway was absolutely deserted, not a person in sight. Great. How had Mads gotten me to this - what was it called? Whitespine? - place? I wouldn't be able to remember even if I did try.
Warily I walked along the corridor, looking for someone who might point me in the right direction. I looked to the left. I looked to the right. I looked in front and behind me, and still no luck. Maybe if I started walking backwards? It was dumb logic (the kind that makes sense only to pancakes), but I tried it anyways. Perhaps someone was walking behind me that I hadn't seen.
No. No one was walking behind me. But - oomph!
Brilliant. Second time I run into someone in two days. I whirled around, determined to apologize for both my blunders. Instead, I gaped.
Imagine a guy. Good. Now imagine a Greek god. The kind that Olympus only sends down to make mad the poor mortal girls who live on this meager earth. This guy was romantic. Like Darcy.
Wait, no. Not like Darcy. Darcy was a ponce. Darcy did not wear leather. Darcy simply stood around in tailored coats and said flowery things (or rude ones) to the young ladies who milled about him. This guy - this god - was definitely not like Darcy.
First of all, he smelled like dragon kidskin. He was burly. He looked as though he might have a dog. German shepherd, maybe? I didn't care. I stood, gaping, because when a girl is faced with this kind of a guy, gape is all she does.
"Were you the one stomping around?" he asked. Meekly did I nod. Oh, Non-Darcy, sweep me away on a dragon or something!
"You woke me up," he grunted.
Well, that was bloody rude of him! All romantic thoughts of German shepherds and shih-tzus immediately disappeared. Wait - I woke him up? I woke him up?
Shit. I'd just met Charlie.
Author's Note, II Okay. So obviously I've never been to the mountains in Romania. But I looked up the area where I'd set the Reserve and it said it was the highest mountains of the chain (I can't quite recall the name). If you are from Romania or have been there, please don't hesitate to correct me! Right now, it's pretty much all trial and error. :)