Chapter 5 : Dastardly Dishy Dexter
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Dastardly dishy chapter image by prospero (formerly arushi) at TDA!
“Good morning, Britain! It’s another glorious Monday” – I ignored James’ snort of disapproval – “so pull your heads out of your pillows and shake off your hangovers, because we’ve got lots of important stuff to talk about.”
“You have quite a complex,” said Tibbs. “You apparently didn’t get the memo that said everything we talk about is irrelevant rubbish.”
“Usually irrelevant, and oftentimes rubbish,” I agreed. “However, today is different, because our very first order of discussion is the extraordinarily attractive Deirdre Fortescue – ”
“Oi!” exclaimed Dex.
Bless him, he must have thought I’d forgotten the promise I made in my closing comments the previous Friday. Did he think I’d really pass up a chance to talk about his amazingly fit twin sister? Served him right, fancying my Aunt Ginny. Stupid berk.
It was so adorable, Dex trying to look angry. Rather like a kitten pretending to be a tiger. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, really. Ickle Hufflepuff.
“Fred,” said Raj, rubbing the spot between his eyes wearily, “let’s talk about something a little more mature…like that bloke in Surrey who got himself stuck inside his toilet.”
That was, indeed, the top story of the hour. The idiot had tried to fix his toilet using a combination of magic and Muggle plumbing techniques. The result: he now had a great deal in common with Moaning Myrtle, and we all agreed that it would be lovely if they went on a date. Myrtle really needed to get out more often.
We waited until about halfway through the show to announce the most important news of the day, the fundraising competition. We were still working out a catchy name for it, because calling it a “fundraising competition” or “charity fundraiser” made me want to smack my head against my desk repeatedly. Personally, I was standing strongly in favor of “Snappapalooza.”
I also wanted to circulate a petition to change the Snapper’s nickname to “The Tosser.” It seemed more fitting in general. But, sadly, genius such as mine often goes underappreciated.
James had shocked everyone when he’d arrived that morning (on time!) with verification that we would, in fact, have two Puddlemere tickets to give away as that week’s prize. Honestly, I wasn’t so shocked that he’d come through for us – but people didn’t always give James the credit he was due. I’m sure they all expected James to put off contacting his former manager for as long as possible, and spend the weekend moping around his flat instead.
I’ll be the first to admit that my cousin sometimes acted like a complete wally, but he still pulled through when you needed him. And yes, there was a time when all he did was lie around his flat feeling sorry for himself, but that era in his life was growing more distant with every passing day, as far as he let on. Really, I can’t say my behavior would have been any different if I’d had my arm destroyed by a Bludger. It’s a risky business, Quidditch – that’s why I didn’t play professionally.
Well…that, and the whole lack-of-talent thing.
The devil is in the details.
“James, tell us a little bit about this match and why someone would really want to get their hands on these tickets,” I prompted after I’d made the announcement.
“Well, like pretty much everything else in life that’s free, it’s total crap.”
“Wow, that’s exactly the response I was going for. Well done, you idiot.”
He laughed. “Sorry. It’s a match between Puddlemere and the Cannons, so it’s crap insofar as there will be nothing remotely surprising or anxiety-inducing. You can count on Puddlemere to win by more points than the Cannons have scored so far this entire season. But this actually counts as a positive, too, because who doesn’t enjoy watching the Cannons receive a sound thrashing?”
It was sad but true. The Cannons had only two remaining fans as far as I could tell: my very own Uncle Ron and Uncle Harry. It said something about their unwavering loyalty, I’m sure…or maybe just their complete lack of good sense. Either way, the Cannons sucked. They were so terrible that they didn’t even have fierce rivalries with other teams, since nobody could find it in their hearts to actually hate the Cannons. To hate the Cannons was a bit like kicking a defenseless puppy. And nobody liked a person who went ‘round kicking puppies.
“The Cannons have picked up a couple of good players this season, haven’t they?” I asked.
“They’ve got a couple of decent Beaters, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Beaters don’t win matches. Strategically speaking, they’re the least important position, although they do get a pretty raw deal because if they’re terrible they get a lot of the blame cast on them, but if they’re good they pretty much make no difference at all. Frankly, Beater is an easy position, and you only need someone halfway decent to maintain an environment in which the other players can perform their responsibilities that actually advance the play.”
I had definitely heard this lecture before. Our Uncle Fred was rolling in his grave at James’ words.
“Must be a pretty pointless existence, then, being a Beater for the Cannons,” I said.
“Yeah, basically one step up from working in radio.”
We all had a good laugh at that.
“Alright, dear listeners, you have several reasons already to donate to this cause. First, you might have a chance to watch the Cannons get routed by Puddlemere; second, you’ll get to help out a lot of Snapper victims who are in dire need of care; and third, you’ll help to ensure that we don’t go off the air for an entire week. So let’s take a few calls, since I’d like to hear your thoughts on all of this, and getting calls validates my existence. And heck, if you have any ideas for more excellent incentives we should give away, let’s hear them!”
We were apparently already getting calls on this matter, because I looked up and saw that Dex was talking to somebody over in his booth. A split second later, he tapped a screen in front of him with his wand, and the message Caller: Lisa appeared on the screen on my desk.
“Looks like we’ve got a caller already!” I announced. “Let’s see what she has to say. Lisa, you’re on the air. Tell me – think The Morning Waffle can pull through and win this one?”
“Definitely! You know, I think you’re all wonderful, I listen to you everyday. But this is my first time calling in – I’m so excited to finally talk to you!”
She sounded cute – you know, she had one of those voices that sound like sunshine and daisies and short skirts. The kind of voice that really fit girls have.
I stretched my arms and leaned forward into the mic, preparing to turn on the Weasley charm.
It exists. The Weasley charm, that is. Often elusive, but you just have to know how to tap into it and channel it properly. It’s lethal in large amounts – and by lethal, I mean effing amazing. Just look at Hugo, the lucky git.
“So,” I said to Lisa, “if you found yourself with a couple of Puddlemere tickets, who would you take to the match?”
“Well…I’m not really into Quidditch, to be perfectly honest…”
The cute girls are never into Quidditch. If there are any cute girls who like Quidditch, I believe they’re hiding in the deepest, darkest reaches of Antarctica.
“…but I had an idea for your competition, although I don’t know if you’ll think it’s total rubbish…”
“Lisa, you don’t sound like a girl who goes ‘round spouting total rubbish. I’d love to hear your idea.”
James pantomimed vomiting in an exaggerated manner so that I would be sure to see it. Alright, I may not have been as good as Hugo, but, by Merlin, I had a name to live up to!
“Well,” said Lisa, “you’re all single, right? Most of you, anyway?”
“We’re so single it’s depressing,” I replied. “Except for Raj, who’s so married it’s depressing.”
“Ever thought about offering dates to the listeners who donate the most?”
My jaw hit the floor. It was a brilliant idea. I really don’t know why we hadn’t thought of it before, but it was perfect. This girl was starting to redeem herself for the lack of interest in Quidditch.
“I think it’s…brilliant, Lisa, really brilliant! So let me get this straight: you would donate ten or twenty Galleons to go on a date with yours truly?”
“Actually, I’d probably donate a hundred Galleons to go out with Dexter.”
Excuse me, what?!
Tibbs choked on the water she was drinking and had a fit of unladylike coughing, while James’ laughter manifested itself in a series of unmanly giggles.
Dex was blushing deep red but looked indecently pleased about the whole thing.
It was a disturbing trend, Dex’s ability to get women. I don’t know how he did it – he was shy and quiet and…well, not like a normal twenty-something bloke, that’s for sure. Girls loved him, though; they loved the sensitivity and the politeness and the rampant Hufflepuffness that was Dexter Fortescue. He was the Nice Guy Holy Grail they all dreamed about.
I still didn’t get it. I mean, I was a nice guy, as well, and I didn’t get nearly the amount of attention Dex got whenever we went out. He was stealthy about it, too – he’d sit there quietly, looking all precious and boyish, and then I’d turn around and he’d be chatting up three girls at once.
It was Dark Magic, I was convinced.
I thanked Lisa for calling in, cut the call off, and demanded, “Alright, I don’t get it, exactly what is this mysterious attraction Dexter holds for women? I think the rest of the country deserves to know.”
“Well, he is rather dishy,” laughed James.
“Yeah,” added Tibbs, her voice a bit husky from her fit of coughing, “he’s got beautiful, flaxen hair…”
“And gorgeous blue eyes,” continued Raj.
“Dexter, I could swim in your eyes,” said James.
“Okay,” I cut in, “can we all just stop swimming in Dex’s breathtaking eyes for a minute? It’s making me nauseous. The real question is, will his not-so-secret admirer actually follow through on her promise and donate a hundred Galleons for St. Mungo’s?”
“Probably not,” said Dex, “because when I screened her call I told her I’d get in touch after we wrap up the show and take her out this weekend.”
“Oh – ”
I said a very bad word that’s not allowed on the air, but Tibbs caught it and, with a flick of her wand, censored my voice with the sound of a foghorn. Tibbs knew me so well, sometimes I thought she knew what I was going to say before it actually came out of my mouth.
“ – are you serious?” I finished.
James was laughing again and gave Dex a standing ovation. “Dexter Fortescue, you’re my hero!”
What an unbelievably underhanded git. Chatting up female callers…before I had a chance to! Whose bleeding show was this, anyway?
Dex was smiling the signature Hufflepuff smile – the one that looks all modest and self-conscious but really means, I know I’ve just completely screwed you, but I did it with kindness. It’s the way they smile after they win a Quidditch match or the House Cup. I swear they’ve been perfecting it for centuries.
Kindness and fairness, my arse. It was lies, all lies!
“You, sir, are a disgrace to the badger,” I said.
If Dex had an ego at all, it was probably inflated to about a hundred times its original size over the next hour; it seemed that every other girl who called in to voice her support for our new plan, also expressed a desire to win a date with him. It occurred to me that, if we really wanted to win this competition, we should just auction Dex off every week. Even better if I could talk Hugo into participating as well.
Amazing. They were two of the last guys you’d expect to be ladies’ men: Dex was Mr. Sunshine, and Hugo…well, Hugo was Uncle Ron’s kid. Nothing in the world made sense anymore.
“Well, Dex, at least you’ll be able to die knowing you single-handedly raised enough money to run St. Mungo’s for the next five centuries,” I pointed out. “I might be lucky enough to raise enough money for a pillow or two. James, are you in for this? Maybe you’re worth a few clipboards.”
“Hell yes,” he replied with a grin.
“Raj?” I looked at my production manager expectantly.
He gave me a hard stare, and I grinned back, knowing I really shouldn’t tease him like this.
“Oh, yeah,” he said with his patented deadpan delivery. “My wife’s having a baby in a few months, and you’d like to know if I’m free to go on a date.”
Tibbs cocked her eyebrows in a teasing manner. “Wow, Raj. Way to be a team player.”
“Yeah,” I followed, “I think you should grab the nearest dictionary and look up the word brotherhood. Even Tibbs knows – ” A sudden thought occurred to me at that point. “Hey, speaking of the best sound technician on the face of the planet, let’s not forget the other half of our listeners! Let’s hear from some blokes who’d like a shot at a date with Lady Liberty here.”
“Geez, Tibbs,” said James with an evil glimmer in his eye, “when was the last time you went on a date?”
As stated before, my cousin could be a right git sometimes. I knew they weren’t the best of friends, but really, must he antagonize her so? I didn’t fret too much over it, however, because Tibbs knew how to hold her own. Just as I expected, she took it in stride.
“I don’t know, James,” she said lightly. Her voice was perfectly happy, but her eyes were full of unmasked annoyance. “Probably not as long ago as your last date.”
Coming from anyone other than James, that comment wouldn’t have fazed Tibbs one bit. In fact, I might have made the comment myself, if James hadn’t beat me to it. But anyone who knew about the strained relationship between those two, would recognize his remark for what it really was: a thinly veiled insult.
Our listeners would never notice anything hostile underlying this exchange of seemingly friendly banter. When you worked in radio, you learned how to keep your voice from reflecting emotions you didn’t want to convey. So while most of Britain probably assumed that James and Tibbs were perfect chums, the reality of the situation was that they were like two small children poking each other repeatedly with sticks, just for the satisfaction of aggravating one another.
I knew what Tibbs’ problem with James was – it centered largely around what she perceived as his excessive Quidditch angst. I wasn’t completely sure why James was so irritated in return – but, really, who knew what was going on in James’ head most of the time? I assumed it had a lot to do with Snitches and how much he’d like to kill the bloke who replaced him as Seeker for Puddlemere.
At any rate, I could only picture this scenario ending one way: with someone overheating and getting so hacked off that something exploded nearby. Like the time, when I was a kid, that I bothered my sister so much she made an entire shepherd’s pie explode all over the kitchen.
“You know what?” I interjected. “We’ve got three guys and only one girl – that hardly seems fair to all the men out there. Let’s plug Cristine and Miles into this – I want to discuss something.”
The two advertising kids tapped their mics and greeted me on air, and I asked them what they thought of participating in our little scheme.
“Can’t, mate,” sighed Miles. “I’ve got a girlfriend, remember?”
“Ugh, that’s right – I forgot, you’re afflicted with the same disorder as Raj.”
Raj raised an imaginary glass to Miles. “Cheers.”
“You might want to keep an eye on that, Miles,” said James. “Dating can often lead to marriage if you’re not vigilant about it.”
“Not that James has ever been remotely close to marriage with anybody,” I clarified.
“Well, one time I did dream that I was married to Madam Pomfrey.”
“There are several statements you should never make in public,” I said, “and that is one of them. Now, moving along from James’ sick and twisted fantasies…you’re in, right, Cristine?”
“Absolutely! Can’t very well leave Tibbs all alone in this, can I?”
Oh, I did not envy the blokes who got to go out with Tibbs and Cristine. Don’t get me wrong, they were great girls…but they were a cauldronful of trouble for the male species. Cristine radiated attitude, and if you didn’t do things her way, you were in a world of shit. I remember when she’d first interviewed for her job with The Morning Waffle – I was one of the interviewers, and halfway through the damn thing I felt an inexplicable urge to fetch her coffee – that’s how commanding her presence was.
Tibbs was quite a skeptic when it came to dating; she simply had an uncanny ability to see through everyone else’s crap. See, men are very unoriginal creatures, and Tibbs required originality. She was impervious to even the most trusted lines. Where scores of women had fallen, Tibbs didn’t even bat an eyelash, except perhaps in sardonic amusement. Some people found this behavior frigid; I found it funny as all hell.
“So, gents,” I announced, “you have the coveted opportunity to go on a date with our Aphrodite of Advertising or our Sensational Sound Seductress – ”
“And God help you,” added Raj. I knew he was having the exact same thoughts as I was.
“And ladies,” I continued with a grin, “you might very well find yourself on a date with Dexter the Wonderpuff; or James Potter, who’s my cousin so obviously you know he’s dishy; and, of course – ”
“That leaves us with Fred,” James concluded, “who really hasn’t got anything to show for himself except that he can talk. A lot.”
“Well, women like men who talk, don’t they?” I argued. “Therefore, I’m quite a catch.”
“They like men who talk about…I dunno…shoes.”
“I can talk about shoes,” I insisted. “Like right now, these shoes I’m wearing are…erm…well, they’re…brown. Brownish. And they’ve got…laces. Brown with laces.”
“Wow.” Raj looked amused. “And we’re counting on people to donate a load of money in the hopes of winning a date with you? I think we’re screwed.”
Screwed was a good word for it. We were going to lose, Bollingsworth was going to steal my air time and ruin my career – nay, my empire! – and Dexter, of all people, was better at getting girls than I was.
Life: 1; Fred Weasley: 0.
Oh, and my sister was still hacked off at me for what I’d done that weekend. It therefore seemed like the perfect time to call and harass her.
I waited until evening, when I was sure she’d be finished working at the apothecary in Diagon Alley, and picked up the phone. As Roxy was twenty-three years old and lived with her boyfriend, Flooing was definitely not an option.
Ugh. Out, horrifying thoughts! Out!
A deep, faintly Irish male voice answered the phone. “Weasley and Finnegan residence.”
“Denis, you’re a wanker,” I shot automatically.
I couldn’t help it. Denis was a decent guy, and I liked him. But really? Weasley and Finnegan residence? It made me cringe.
He laughed. “Well, I heard you outed me at the party this weekend, so I reckoned I didn’t have anything to lose.”
“Yeah, sorry about that, mate.”
“Ah, it’s alright, your dad loves me, anyway.”
“Be reasonable. You know as well as I do that my dad wants to kill you.”
“Now, is my sweet-tempered sister available to talk?”
“In fact, she is. I warn you, though, she had a rubbish day at work.”
“Oh, I can’t even begin to fathom the emotional and psychological horrors that must lie in wait for an apothecary’s assistant,” I scoffed.
“On your own head, then,” he said in a cheerful manner. “Roxy! It’s Fred!”
I heard the phone being jumbled around a bit, and I could have sworn I heard some kind of feral snarl before Roxy’s voice demanded, “What do you want?”
She was far too much fun to taunt when she was in a state like this.
“Well,” I began, “I was wondering, do you have any idea how I could go about making myself more attractive to women?”
“Yeah. Be somebody else.”
“Brilliant. And, um…because you’re my sister and you love me, you do plan on donating to the Snapper victims as part of this competition my show is engaged in, yes?”
“Even if I were making more than an apothecary’s salary, no.”
Right. Apothecary’s salary. As if I didn’t know that Daddy’s little girl was still getting loads of Galleons every week from our dad simply for being his adorable daughter.
Wish I were as cute as Roxy.
“Look,” I said, trying to force myself into some semblance of seriousness, “I’m sorry for what happened on Saturday. I didn’t actually mean for Dad to hear.”
“Roxieee,” I pouted.
“You’re a huge pain in my arse, Fred.”
“What are brothers for?”
“Nothing good,” she replied, although her voice sounded a bit softer. “Anything else you want to bother me about?”
I decided to ask her one last thing, because every opinion counted, and I really needed to get to the bottom of this baffling phenomenon.
“As a matter of fact, yes. What do you think of Dexter Fortescue?”
She paused for a moment before asking, “Why, is he interested?”
There were several reasons why I did not approve of the tone with which she asked that question.
“No, he’s bleeding well not interested! And boys have got the lurgy, so you should stay away from all of them. Denis sodding Finnegan included.”
“Bugger off and die.”
Our family was so…what was the word? Oh, yes…
A/N: This chapter title was inspired by Jeff Lindsay's Dexter novels, all of which have titles such as Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter, etc. No copyright infringement is intended whatsoever, and I most definitely do not own the Dexter series.
Also, you may have noticed that I added a slash warning to this story, and I feel it requires some explanation. The slashiness will come in a later chapter, but I thought I should give you all a heads-up. It won't be a prominent relationship in the story, nor does it involve what I would consider to be a true, full-fledged slash relationship, but it does involve enough slashiness to warrant the warning. Unfortunately, that's all I can tell you right now, because I don't want to reveal all of my cards. ^_^ But even if you don't normally like to read slash, I do hope that you'll continue reading.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading (and reviewing!) this story. Your readership is so valued and appreciated, I can't even begin to tell you!
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