Chapter 1 : ONE
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Author's Note I would love to give a great, great hug to Enya (Mercury on TDA) for her support with me writing this fic, and her lovely help in researching certain things on the Lexicon and all that jazz. SHE IS AMAZING. Love on her. Alsooooo, I'd love to hear any feedback that you have on this story! XOXO, Kalina.
Louis Garrel as Henry Waters
Woody Allen as Bernie "Mac" McIntosh
Tamsin Egerton as Everleigh St. Clair
Henry sniggered, and Theodore R. Lupin, twenty, unemployed, Squib, shot him a withering glance. Henry held up both palms, shoulders high. Symbol of surrender.
"Hey, man, at least you tried."
It was just what Teddy didn't need to hear. Just what he'd heard so many times before. Oh, yeah. Sure. Teddy tried. That was all Teddy ever did, was try. His grandmother'd tried for ages to get him to cast a spell, but it all came down to nothing. Fuck indeed. And here he was, on the outskirts of Stirling, smoking a joint with Henry P. Cohen, twenty-three, unemployed, Muggle.
Ted wanted to bash his head into the wall, but - oh, fantastic. There wasn't even a wall handy for that. Really, everything in Ted's life was so, so goddamn against him. His romance with Victoire, brief though it was, had come to a close an entire month before its projected ending. And why? Because Victoire had suddenly decided that if the only men she could catch were twenty-year-old, unemployed shapeshifting Squibs, she might as well try the ladies. So now Victoire was very happy with her girlfriend, Agnes, who was also, as it turned out, one of Teddy's exes.
He figured he ought to just throw in the towel. But as it were, musing over a joint with Henry didn't always lead to the best and the most wholesome of thoughts. Ted flopped back down on the hill, dry grass prickling his bare back, and stared heavenward.
"Your shit's shit," he declared eventually. A rueful smile crept across his features when Henry leaned across him to grab the joint, cradling it gently. Ted rolled onto his stomach. "It's fuckin' Stirling, man. Gotta be something to do for a pair of good-for-nuffin's like us."
Henry shrugged, his curly-haired head wreathed in smoke. "This cracky old man I know's always lookin' for people to clean his attic, but I heard the whole house's getting' renovated, so …"
"You said it, man."
Ted plucked at dead strands of grass and arched his back, rubbing a hand over his pale skin. "Seriously. We outta check the papers."
Henry glared. "Man, you outta check the papers! I don't wanna do no fuckin' work! It's summer!"
"Jesus." Teddy rolled his eyes. "Calm the fuck down." He swatted at mosquitoes hanging limply in the hot evening air. "You can still give me a hand."
"Yeah, all right." Henry exhaled. A few minutes passed, only broken by the constant chirping of crickets and the sound of Stirling's traffic in the far away distance. In the lull, Teddy thought about his grandmother Andromeda, last remnant of a very long wizarding dynasty. Apparently Ted had inherited his far relation Marius's genes, what with being born a Squib. And really - Ted didn't mind being a Squib, if only everyone would just dispense with the pity. He was always served more than anyone else at the Potter-Weasley dinners because he, of course, had no means of replicating his food. Molly always tried to hold his hand to go through the wall to reach Platform 9 3/4, because otherwise it was impregnable to him. And Ted was sick of it all. Andromeda, though, she was much more relaxed. She treated him just the same as anyone else: a little coldly, but she was blunt and Ted appreciated that. His ego didn't, but somewhere deep within him Teddy knew that Andromeda was the best thing in his life.
Little did he know that -
"Oy." Henry's voice cut across his thoughts. "I've got it. Mac's sure to give you a job, what with you bein' an orphan and all. He loves fuck-ups."
"Thanks," Teddy told him drily. "Who the hell is Mac?"
"Nutter round the corner from Caroline's. Runs an antique gizmo shop. Bet you'll just have to mop the floor, you lucky fucking blighter."
"That's fuckin' degradin'."
Henry lifted his shoulders. "Beats queuin' at the soup kitchen, though, dunnit? Though I guess y'could always shack up with your uncle."
"Like in the movie? Shit!"
For a minute Ted stared at Henry, his eyes fixed on this Ukrainian-Israeli mix of a man. Henry stared right back. And then Ted burst into laughter. Henry's face colored vividly, but he didn't step back or stop the other boy. Because it was a good sound, a rare sound, the sound of Teddy Lupin laughing.
Elsewhere in Stirling, a little bit off of Laurel Street, Bernie McIntosh, better known to Stirling's dense population of losers as "Mac", sat at a dimly-lit desk, tinkering. His granddaughter, Everleigh St. Clair, was reading some unattractive sort of gossip rag magazine, whose cover proclaimed to unearth all the "naughty, dirty, saucy" secrets that Dominique Weasley had been hiding these past few months.
It was a strange sight, this one. The contrast between grandfather and granddaughter was as stark as night and day. The old man busied himself by smoothing the feathers of a stuffed duck; Everleigh lazily turned pages. Word ran around the block that she had to stick around with him during the summer because her father, Billy McIntosh, had too much work to do at the Ministry and really didn't want to take care of his capricious, already once-divorced daughter. What eluded Stirling's gossipmongers, however, was the fact that despite appearing not to give half a shit about Mac or his experiments, Everleigh was, in fact, quite fond of the old man.
Over the summers spent at Mac's, Everleigh had grown accustomed to the nearly Spartan style of her grandfather's living. He satisfied himself with precious little - in his house, there was no wifi, no ornamental furniture, no games. Nothing to divert Everleigh's easily bored person, except endless clutter. From cellar to attic, Mac's home and shop (one could rarely tell when shop ended and house began) were crammed with seemingly useless things - items that one might find in a junkyard, perhaps, or a dubious-looking pawn shop. When Everleigh was younger, the dilapidated aspect of the house nearly brought her to tears. Now, she restricted herself to a contemptuous sniff.
Indeed, Everleigh regretted a great many things about Mac's home. Not least of which was MAc's decision - prompted (though she was ashamed to remember it) by some stray remark of her own - to take in young persons, wizards, who were going to "nowhere on a highway" and thereafter "rehabilitate" them as workers in his shop. Countless such young wizards had come to Mac's way, with a fair few Muggles as well. Everleigh scrupulously avoided them all. Bitterly remembering it, she wished Mac had understood what she'd meant. But of course, there was always the distinct possibility that Mac had purposefully twisted the meaning of her words.
"Look at all this clutter," she'd sighed, idly kicking a stuffed teddybear with glass eyes. Mac had barely looked up: he was used by then to Everleigh's constant complaints, and they only served to amuse him. Everleigh, though, had charged on. "If only you paid a little bit of attention to this shithole, Gramps! Anyone could clear this mess up - the hobo on the street corner could clear this mess up - but no, never, somehow ships in glass bottles are more important than sanitation."
At her words, Mac had giggled, pulling up the mast from within the bottle with a touch of his wand. "Don't let your OCD be getting the better of you, now, Everleigh," he'd cautioned her merrily. "Won't do you a lick of good."
Everleigh had thought that had been the end of the conversation, but the next morning, as she'd stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen, Mac had been entertaining a young and rather malodorous young man whom she soon found out Mac had just plucked off of a drugstore's doorstep. His name was Evan, and his teeth were yellow.
Looking back on those memories, Everleigh felt a strange blend of wistfulness and pride wash over her. Pride - because at least she'd managed to hone Mac's taste in charity cases from the desperately disgusting to only the mildly loserish, and wistfulness because Mac's kindness towards these people, so genuine at first, seemed now almost rote. The two currently working in the shop - a curvaceous girl called Tink and a rather gangly fellow named Todd - only stayed during daylight hours. Gone were the evening teas, the nights spent stargazing with Mac, the offer of a place to crash. Sure, Mac's was a haven for the dumb and distraught. As long as the sun was up.
Sighing to ward off the strange pangs of nostalgia, Everleigh turned her attention to the magazine spree din her lap - and immediately snapped it closed with a grunt of barely concealed rage. For on the page she'd just looked at was a lengthy article and various paparazzi's pictures of her ex-husband, Tommy St. Clair, at his wedding. Everleigh wouldn't degrade herself by lying and saying she hated the slimy vermin's guts - besides, she had no justification to back it up. In their story, she had committed the crime, she had done Tommy ill, and, damn it, she would very well have to suck up the fact that Tommy had moved on with his life.
Discretion, however, was never Everleigh's forte.
She snuck another look at the article, trying to catch a glimpse of the whore (of course the girl was a whore; Tommy, with the exception of she, Everleigh, very much liked whores) who had replaced her. Everleigh's curiosity was met with a wide-eyed, innocent gaze, curtains of blonde hair, and a Bond girl body. Damn Tommy! She cringed, blushing redder than a Weasley. And - to top it all off! - the girl's name was Violetta. No, not even Violet. Violetta. Everleigh thought she would die of shame.
It was then, of course, that she noticed Mac was staring at her rather oddly from behind his spectacles. Embarrassed at being caught thus, Everleigh sunk lower into her chair, crumpling the magazine in one fist. Fuck Tommy. Fuck Violetta. Fuck Mac's losers and fuck Mac's house. But most of all, fuck Everleigh's entire fucked-up life.