Chapter 2 : Whitespine Lodge
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Author's Note This may be my fastest update of all time! I'm feeling abominably motivated for this story. Well, that being said, enjoy! And, as always, review or don't, but I love hearing your opinions on this story. :)
Zooey Deschanel as Maddington "Mads" Hurschley
Eric Bana as Charlie Weasley
Keanu Reeves as Sir Patrick Marshal
Justin Bartha as Joseph "Joey" Gibbs
"Sorry?" I squeaked. His death stare was really something to be afraid of. It made Sauron look like Bambi. I kid you not. Only then had I noticed that I was completely disheveled, stank of sweat, and was still wearing my stiffly-dried pajamas. And life was going so well!
"Hmph." He grumbled, wrinkled his nose, and lumbered away. Discreetly I breathed into my palm. Oh, dodgery! Quickly I rushed off. My first encounter with Charlie - oh, my heart! Do not die on me now! - and I looked a fright. Barging into my room (would have to get that plaque changed, as I am nowhere near someone of the male gender named Frankie), I headed straight for the bathroom. Right. Shower first.
Bloody first days never go as planned.
But before anyone starts, there is one thing I must complain about. Yes, I whine. A lot. Get used to it, it's not leaving anytime soon.
The shower was freezing.
I mean, you're in Romania in January, there's snow and ice all around the bleeding back yard, and they can't even fix the pipes so that there's at least tepid water flowing? They are wizards. They really should know better. Wizards, unlike Muggles, do not adapt to temperatures.
I hopped around in the stall, trying desperately to soap myself up (that attempt completely failed, if you're interested) while keeping my body temperature above zero. Shampooing my hair was another defeat. My scalp must have exfoliated all by itself. Joy.
Quickly I jumped out of the shower. Brr. I'd see to it that that - that thing would warm up. Four years with freezing cold showers? Never. No matter how good it might be to tone my body or adjust myself to the icy exterior, I would not live with cold showers. I absolutely refuse to.
I wrapped a towel around myself and headed for my trunk. The snow had fallen off of it and had left a lovely soaked spot on the carpet. As if my day wasn't already hellish enough. Merlin. With a flick of my wand (yes, believe it or not, I am a competent witch), my trunk fell open. I pulled out the first outfit I could find, zipped myself into it, and headed out of my room.
There was absolutely no question as to which way I would go. When you see a godly man going in one direction, you trot on right after him. So there I went. Trot, trot, trot. It turned out he had headed for tunnel's staircase, so down I went. And immediately, my nose was assaulted with the stench of a dozen sweaty people, all headed my way.
"Excuse me!" I called. "Excuse me!"
Laughter. Loud laughter. I walked in the direction of the smell and the voices. Coming upon them, I spotted the dark hair and wide eyes of that snarky lobbyist.
"Mads!" I gasped. She looked at me as though I were insane.
"Kate," she answered, her voice that perfect drawl. I really would need to scribble down exactly how she got it, because I was having no such luck with sarcasm. At least, not vocally. "Marshal's been looking for you."
I wrinkled my nose and blushed sheepishly. "I slept in," I muttered, "and I woke Charlie."
The people swarming around Mads had already passed us.
"You didn't!" she gasped. Funnily enough, all trace of snark was now gone. "Kate, I told you not to! He's the only one allowed to wake up late, that's why everyone in Whitespine Lodge is begging to be moved to a house!"
"Well, don't act as if I knew that," I mumbled. "You weren't exactly generous with the details."
"Urgh!" she groaned, and grabbed my upper arm. "Come along, I'll take you to Marshal. Boy, is he going to be madder than a rabid grasshopper!"
So perhaps she wasn't wrong. So perhaps I should have listened to my mother when she told me to not screw up my life. So perhaps I didn't make the best impression possible on my new boss. But hey, I was still alive.
Marshal was frightening. I'll say that absolutely straight-up. He was terrifying. And he wasn't even a huge brawny man with fangs or something equally out of this world. He did that adult thing that adults do (to which I have not quite yet learned the trick). He sat me down in a chair opposite his desk, furrowed his brow, and said those two words (okay, one word and a contraction) that make every teenager tremble in fear.
He didn't even call me by my name. That was a disappointment (ha!), considering his offer of employment had been hand-written.
"I'm sorry, sir - I flew over four hours last night, I'm still on England's time zone, and things just got so hectic. I was waiting on the doorstep of the Welcome Cottage for what seemed like hours, and ..."
He frowned and looked at me again. I winced. Was he going to be one of those bosses who asked you to make them cupcakes in the morning and coffee in the afternoon and foot massages when the wife wasn't home? God, I hoped not.
He waved his hands at me, effectively stopping my narrative.
"No, no, no. I'm not disappointed about that. Ye gods, if that were the case, I'd have every new recruit hopping out of here like Mexican jumping beans."
I was confused. "Then what, sir?"
Marshal looked surprised. "You woke up Charlie."
Charlie. Butterflies filled my stomach. Oh, that handsome, handsome man!
"Yes, well, I'd hardly say we got on the right foot, but does this warrant disappointment?" I asked bluntly. I met Marshal's eye, but his steel gaze was so strong that I immediately dropped it. Oh, wow. I hadn't noticed his desk. It looked like a goddamn rat's nest. Do rats have nests?
"Where do you think the Hogwarts motto came from, Kate?"
Oh, so he did know my first name! Well, that was a relief.
Wait - hold the phone.
"You mean that 'never tickle a sleeping dragon' is in relation to Charlie?"
He guffawed. I hate it when men guffaw. It always gives them a nastier look. So I sniffed airily. Marshal bent his head, looking at me again.
"No, just the Weasleys in general. They're the crankiest people on the planet when they wake up before - shall we say - their time."
Oh, sweet Merlin. I stared at this man, whose bulging biceps (I take back what I said about brawn) threatened to crack through his shirt. And I decided - I really did not like Marshal at all. Not one little bit.
The guy's office was a mess (the desk particularly), so how can you respect someone who has old copies of the Daily Prophet littering the floor? Ugh. My mother would certainly not approve. And he had the swarthy look of someone who had been too long in the sun - though what sun or warmth existed here, I really could not tell you.
"Ah," I answered. He looked at me with an eyebrow lifted above the other (damn bastard could do it!) and smiled benignly.
"So, Kate, are you ready for a briefing?" he asked. I nodded my head, and he rose from his leather armchair. There were crumbs littering its seat. Ew.
As he led me out of his office, he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his breast pocket.
"You don't mind if I smoke, do you, Kate?" he asked, and I shook my head no. Merlin, nicotine! My fingers itched to grab the pack from his hands. But the ruddy son of a bitch didn't even offer me one. He probably guessed that, being an almost-professional Quidditch player, smoking would ruin my lungs or something. Well, he was wrong. Even Mursen smoked, and he was the greatest Chaser of all times.
We approached yet another unknown building and went straight up the staircase into a large conference room. Wizards in Muggle scrubs were milling about, some with blood on their shirts, others with scars running down their face. And then there was, at the back of the room, in his leather glory, Charlie.
My heart became quickly acquainted with the merengue.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" Marshal boomed, and the crowd of people laughed heartily. Marshal winked at me and bade me sit at his side. Nerves a little ransacked from ill-sleep and, well, nerves, I did so.
"Settle down, kids," Marshal said sternly, and the wizards took their places. I had been seated next to a young man with a flop of brown hair. Cute. But no Charlie. Marshal stayed up, his hands folded behind his broad, broad back as he marched in front of us. The cigarette smoke curled upwards and he took another drag.
"So, wee ones," he started, "last night we received - unbeknownst to the most of you - a new staff member. She's a bright young lady with a promising future -" everyone laughed, though I didn't see the joke, "- and exceptional Quidditch talents. Kate, stand up."
Eh, did I really have to? The expression in his eyes told me quite clearly. Yes, I did. I stood up. I gave a small wave. And I sat myself right back down.
"That's enough for formalities," Marshal growled. "Let's get down to business."
As if conjured (which, no doubt, it was), a sterile whiteboard appeared behind him. Marshal uncapped a felt pen (Muggle things! And he was actually writing!) and began drawing a plan. It looked something like the map of the Reserve I had gotten with his offer of employment, though much less neatly drawn. There was the Ridgeback's cave, the Horntails' forest, the Whitespine's lake, and even the Chinese Fireball had its own snow-capped peak.
"Right," Marshal said. "Charlie, get your feet off of the table."
I whipped my head around. Charlie was seated at the other end of the table, his hiking boot-clad feet propped up on the strong wood. With a groan, he pulled his legs down.
"Happy now?" he grumbled. Marshal grunted.
"Better. Joey!" he barked. The lad next to me looked up, bright blue eyes alert. "You'll be taking Kate up to Tammie's lake, get her acquainted with herding tactics."
Joey nodded. Marshal looked at the board again and tapped it with his wand.
"Laura, Dave, you're on Norberta. It's mating season, so be careful when you milk her. Lay her food out in front of the cave, not above, not below. Mads, you've got Helmsley. Sam, the baby Green -" There was suddenly a collective groan from those whose names had not been mentioned. Marshal looked up. "Hey! Did I tell anyone to get sentimental with the baby? No! So be quiet, you'll get your turns. Becca, get Stork. Watch her, she's gonna lay eggs soon. The rest of you, telephone jobs."
The general scraping of chairs was agony to my ears. I felt worse than a centaur with a hangover. Joey looked at me and stretched his arms. His large ears stuck out and he had a goofy grin on his face. Okay. I could deal with a goofy partner.
"You ready, Kate?" he asked.
No. "Yup!" I answered cheerfully. "Let's do this!"
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