Chapter 4 : Gods & Gentlemen
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Roger Davies – Hugh Dancy
Theodore Nott- Eddie Redmayne
Oliver Wood- James Franco
Neville Longbottom – Matthew Goode
Dennis Creevey – Ben Whishaw
Draco Malfoy –Alex Pettyfer
Blaise Zabini- David Agbodji
Harry Potter- Topher Grace
Gods & Gentlemen, by Drink Up Buttercup is this chapter's song for the Mixed Lovetape challenge!
The door to Diagon Alley crashed open with such force it rebounded and slammed against the hand of the woman standing in the doorway blocking the evening light. As she stomped forward, Padma recognised Daphne, and the look on her face caused Padma’s breath to catch. Daphne’s eyes were chips of blue fire and her full lips set in a thin hard line.
“You won’t believe what my bitch of a sister has done,” she spat. Padma looked at Susan, who had already acquired another shot of gillywater, at Lisa, who still was hovering by the bar beside her and then at Hannah, who ignoring the hag at table three gesturing for a refill of Firewhisky.
“I think I’m going to need that drink now,” Padma sighed, rubbing her forehead. It was going to be a long night.
The first round of drinks was on Hannah. The girls were still at the Leaky Cauldron at that stage, and Hannah was the natural choice, but she was glad of the chance to escape. Daphne had stalked in in such a dark mood Hannah was half-surprised a small cloud and miniature lightning weren’t hovering above her mop of red curls. When Daphne Greengrass got the flinty look currently glazing her eyes, sensible people made themselves scarce – quickly. Pansy Parkinson may have ruled the Slytherin girl tribes with an iron fist, but six years on it was Daphne Greengrass people knew to look out for – and hide from. Hannah was rather good at hiding from people she didn’t want to talk to. It was a skill that had kept her sane in Hufflepuff among her endlessly sympathetic housemates, who were carefully kind with her slowness. It was a skill that had then been honed to perfection by the War. It was also why Neville Longbottom had no idea she knew which coffee shop was his favourite, that he went there to drink tea instead of coffee, or that the number of time they had ‘accidently’ bumped into each other was no quirk of fate.
Forcing her thoughts from Neville with an effort, Hannah drummed her fingers against the plain wood of the bar top, frowning slightly. The Leaky had been essentially unchanged for the last fifty years, and while this was part of its charm, the rustic décor was one of the many things she would refine a little if Uncle Tom would listen to her. Since this was as likely as Neville Longbottom realising she was at least as pretty, if not as clever, as his current girlfriend Cho Chang, she stopped a sigh and ordered the drinks. She had been a barmaid long enough to have a comprehensive knowledge of spirits, but she decided tonight to go for straight shots of silverberry cordial. She had not indulged in such a sickly sweet confection since she was seventeen, almost seven years ago, but she remembered the rush that her first sip had given her at her coming of age party, the heady tingling that had flooded through her body. It was her last happy memory of a time before the War. It had been a time she wanted back again.
On her way back to the girls, she was interrupted as a hand caught her sleeve.
“I’ve finished my shift!” Hannah snapped, her attention fixed on not spilling the tray of drinks she was levitating with her wand.
“It’s just me,” a familiar voice said and then she nearly did drop the drinks.
The man standing before her had changed substantially from his Hogwarts days. His dark hair was longer now, almost brushing his shoulders. He was still slim, and never would be considered tall, but there was a darkness mixed with the innate sweetness in his eyes; a legacy of his loss.
“Dennis,” Hannah said faintly, controlling her expression as best she could as she met the eyes of young Creevey. “Whatever are you doing here? Isn’t the Leaky a bit boring for someone your age of a Friday night?”
Dennis’s full, sensitive lips thinned, as they always did when she reminded him there were a good three years between them.
“You know why I’m here,” he said quietly, not looking away from her face.
“I have to go,” she said abruptly, hoping her flush wasn’t visible in the dim lighting. “Daphne’s having some sort of meltdown, if she doesn’t get some alcohol in her system she may start chewing on people or the furniture.”
“I’ll see you soon,” he assured her, looking unfazed by her embarrassment. Hannah hurried back to their table, plonked the tray down and drained her shot in one go. Life had gotten far too complicated recently.
“I still can’t believe it,” Padma was still saying when Hannah slipped back into her seat.
“She’s my sister,” Daphne spat again. “My flesh and blood! But you know, she’s always done this. Always. She’s the typical baby of the family, always gets exactly what she wants, and never mind what it takes for that to come about.”
Padma hummed soothingly and pushed a drink toward Daphne. She surveyed the shot with distaste ‘of course you order silverberry, like we’re back in bloody Hogwarts’ – but downed it.
“Another round,” Daphne demanded. “Something decent this time though, yeah?”
Lisa, the only one not hanging on to Daphne’s every word, ended up buying the second round of drinks. She knew all the women by face as well as name, but it did not feel quite right to be sitting there hearing the intimate details of the Greengrass family life. For the first time in her life, she wove her way towards the crowded bar, doing her best to look like she did this every week. She couldn’t help but wonder if it normally took this long; Hannah had seemed to be gone only a moment, but Lisa had been waiting for at least ten minutes. She doubted the four women huddled at the back of the Leaky, no longer whispering but cursing at a louder normal volume, would notice she was absent, people generally didn’t. As she hovered by the bar trying in vain to catch the eye of the bartender, she chided herself for wearing heels that morning. They were her only pair, and low in comparison to Daphne’s, or even Padma’s deadly stilettos, but the dull pain already spiking her feet did not bode well for the pleasant night she had envisioned when she accepted Padma’s demand for her company.
“Well, if someone like you can’t get served, there really is no hope for the rest of us,” a voice murmured beside her.
Lisa jumped, lifting wide blue eyes to the smiling ones of a wizard in his late twenties, also waiting impatiently for the glacial paced bartender to serve them.
“I’m sorry?” Lisa half whispered, knowing she was going pale, then red. It was the inheritance of her mother’s very fair skin and the bane of her existence.
The man smiled. He was very good looking, all twinkling blue eyes and broad shoulders in dragonskin leather, and he knew it. “Come on sweetheart, you must get that all the time!”
Lisa shrugged, acutely uncomfortable. She hated small talk as passionately as she wished she was capable of it, but she simply wasn’t. She had absolutely no idea what to say to the man, and from the surprised tilt of his eyebrows, that was written in her face. She wanted nothing more than for the bartender to give her the drinks and let her go – or better yet, for her to be able to go home and write up her interview notes as she was itching to – but there were now people lined up behind her as well as in front of her and she could not escape gracefully. Nor did she like the idea of explaining to Daphne why she had to wait longer for a drink. So Lisa waited in the line, wishing she could turn away and ignore the chatty man but far too polite to do so. Unable to look him directly in the eyes, she once again fixed her eyes on the bar. A small space had opened up, and before she knew it, someone had gently pushed forward to it.
“Get in while you can,” her companion said affably, sending her a friendly smile before turning his attentions to a buxom brunette also in line.
“Five –five – firewhiskies, please,” Lisa ordered the only drink she knew. The bartended rolled his eyes.
“Speak up!” he requested. “I can’t hear a whisper, you know!”
In the end she had to repeat herself three times, drop her purse twice and stop her eyes from bulging as she handed over almost half a week’s rent on five bottles that were glowing slightly. She did not trust her wandwork, and instead carefully carried a tray back to the other women.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have,” Hannah said as she got back, running a professional eye over the bottles.
“Oh, you should have,” Susan said thankfully, her previously glum expression brightening.
“You’re a darling,” Daphne said, uncharacteristically affectionate as she swigged down Firewhisky. “You wouldn’t steal your sister’s man.”
“I don’t have a sister,” Lisa said, cautiously sipping her own. It burned her throat and she bit back a cough with difficulty.
“From this day forth, neither do I,” Daphne said darkly.
Padma cleared her throat. “Dearest, don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little?”
“Overreacting?” Daphne screeched.
“You never took notice of Malfoy until now,” Susan pointed nastily. “Wasn’t Zabini more your style?”
Three simultaneous intakes of breath heralded a furious stare off across the table. Susan seemed aware she had crossed a line and her cool gaze challenged Daphne to retaliate. Before Daphne quite exploded with rage, Padma regained control of her faculties, bundled up the lot of them and had them mass Floo’d away. She had hoped to take them home, but since Lisa was the only one amenable to the suggestion and the only one Padma didn’t want tucked in bed by 10, Padma reluctantly towed her hissing, sniping, stumbling coterie to the Hippogriff Lodge in the hopes the excellent food might appease the gods of their temperaments. What she had not counted on was it being Ladies Night, and every meal coming with complimentary champagne, which caused only more recounting of woe.
“They have champagne at weddings,” Susan said bleakly, toying with her glass. “I’ve been to a lot of weddings recently. Haven’t there been a lot of weddings?”
“My little sister is getting married. My baby sister, who is just out Hogwarts,” Daphne moaned.
“But you don’t want to get married,” Padma reminded Daphne. “You think it’s archaic, you tell me every time I even look at a bridal mag.”
“There will be gallons of champagne at the engagement party,” Daphne said, ignoring Padma. “I doubt I’ll be asked to make a toast, since I was only even informed of it via the post.”
Padma was torn between a desire to soothe her friend and extract all the possible gossip.
“But how could you not have known they were seeing each other? Pureblood courtship takes months at least!” she remembered.
“I haven’t gone to a single family function all year,” Daphne admitted grudgingly. “Everytime it was blah blah propriety, blah blah disgrace to the family.”
“I’ve seen them together,” Susan said quietly. As four pairs of eyes swung to her face, she tried to smile. “Remember, I was at all the pureblood parties this year,” she reminded them, keeping her voice neutral. “It’s been an unspoken fact for some time that Malfoy was going to offer for Astoria.”
Daphne’s jaw dropped. “Theodore never said a word to me,” she said. “He would tell me, if that was the case.”
Susan shrugged. “He probably thought you knew,” she said dismissively, getting up and walking away. She ended up buying the third round of drinks, not out of an innate sense of generosity, but more because the numbness she had wrapped herself in with several shots of Gillywater was wearing off. Susan needed to fix that, but she was in no mood to pretend to care about Daphne Greengrass’s problems. Susan had enough of her own. She spent the days talking to witches with eating disorders, depressed teenagers and suicidal adults, and then at night she had to face the fact that her best friend was well her way to becoming a stalker. She did not have room to care about anyone else. And damn, damn, damn Theodore Nott to hell for crumpling up her life like this. She was a sensible witch. She had reasons for a lifetime and beyond to stay away from alcohol. And she did not need a stupid pointy face, with a stupid, endearingly awkward smile engraved behind her eyelids. Susan Bones was better than this!
“Hi,” a male voice came from behind her as she tapped her foot and waited for the bartender to take her order. The baritone was not confident, in fact it wavered more than a bit, and when she deigned to turn and survey the tall stranger behind her, she was meet with a sheepish expression. Even he knew that hadn’t sounded particularly smooth.
“Hi?” she repeated incredulously. “Seriously, that’s the best you could come up with? You see a girl standing by the bar and think ‘Hi’ will be all you need to win her over?”
The stranger looked taken aback. He was a plain featured young man in his early twenties at best, and he flushed slightly as the girl behind him snickered.
“I –I was just making s-small talk,” he stuttered.
Susan rolled her eyes. “Don’t,” she said firmly. “I mean what is with men these days? Do you just all think post sexual revolution you don’t have to make any effort whatsoever because you can get the milk without buying the cow?”
“I’m sorry?” the young man said blankly. “I don’t have a cow, I’m an Obliviator from Essex!”
“You’re the last bastion of patriarchal poor taste,” Susan told him, really hitting into her stride. She drew herself up to her full five feet and three inches of height to begin to explain to him just how offensive she found his lack of originality when she was rudely interrupted.
“Susan, leave the nice young chap alone,” suggested Padma, squeezing around him to place a gentle hand on Susan’s bare arm. “Where’s the sangria? You’ve been gone ages!”
Susan shook her off her hand, but turned her attention to the bartender as Padma flashed an apologetic smile at the youth. Despite everything that had happened to them, Padma was under the illusion that the world was a nice place, where a smile and charm could go a long way. It was understandable – she’d been sheltered by her parents, and then lucky enough to land one of the most decent blokes Hogwarts had ever produced, but Susan knew better. Nice young men who said ‘Hi’ in failing accents to girls in bars then went on to intertwine themselves with every part of your life and refused to remove their snooty, melodramatic persons from your brain. Even if they were prats who -
Snatching the jugs of sangria from the bartender, Susan weaved her way as steadily as she could back to the table where Daphne was still hissing and spitting and Hannah and Lisa making the appropriate soothing noises. She only spilled a little and after putting the jugs on their table, she hoisted herself up into the high metal chairs to view the club with disfavour. It had been Padma’s idea to come here – according to her twin, this club was all the rage– but its popularity irritated Susan further. Everywhere she could look, there were couples dancing close together, snogging in corners, singles were flirting like tomorrow was the Battle of Hogwarts. It wasn’t a bad idea really, and perhaps–
“Remember Ernest,” hissed Hannah beside her. Susan glared sullenly at her best friend, whose lips were twitching suspiciously, and poured herself another glass of sangria. She was a therapist. She could give herself therapy in the morning for binge drinking. Among other things. Susan drained her glass in one go. Try as she might, she still couldn’t erase Theodore Nott’s hideous face from behind her eyelids.
Padma bought the fourth round much against her better judgement. She thought her girls had had quite enough to drink; Susan was already dancing far too closely with a slim blond youth with a moustache to rival Clark Gable. He looked stunned at his good fortune, unlike a teary Hannah, who was explaining to a sleepy Lisa just what a horrid cow Cho Chang was, with her glossy hair and wonderful skin and her Neville. As for Daphne, she had bitten her perfectly manicured nails to shreds, sent abusive owls to her sister when Padma went to the ladies room and kissed an Italian who claimed to be a artist just because she could. It was possibly –definitely- not the best idea to buy another round, but Daph swore it would be her last and Merlin knew Padma needed something to calm herself down. She thrived on looking after people, but it was not easy, and it was just an added stress when you weren’t quite sure where your own boyfriend had gone.. it wasn’t that she didn't trust him, but the environment of those Quidditch boys clubs.. the girls who threw themselves at the players..
“Elderflower wine,” Padma snapped at the bartender. The woman shot Padma a startled glance, accustomed as she probably was to her friendlier twin. “Make that two bottles. No, three.”
To hell with being sensible. The girls were in fact women, they could look after themselves this once. When did she ever get to let her hair down and have fun? Roger was probably having fun right now. Everyone in the club was having fun – in fact the man who decided to step firmly in her path had clearly had a bit too much fun. He was short and round, with flushed chubby cheeks and the slightest paunch visible underneath expensive purple robes.
“Are - you – I-Indian?” he asked, wide eyed. Padma rolled her eyes and resisted the urge to hex him to next week. Without fail, every single time Parvati had convinced her clubbing could possibly be a good idea, that dancing in too high heels and uncomfortable dresses was fun, they were asked this question. Was there some property of alchohol that sapped the ability to note the obvious? Padma was ready to dismiss the man for another tiresome boor, the type Parvati and she usually puzzled by answering “No, Viking,” when he did something no other lothario had tried; he pointed to the metallic headband perched on her head and asked with awe “Princess?”.
Padma bit back a howl of laughter and fled. She waved one wine bottle across the dancefloor at Susan, prompting her to abandon her moustached man, and dragged Daphne away from her Italian. Exotic foreigners were all well and good, but there was wine to be had and a side splitting story to tell.
“You always were a freak magnet,” Susan said between shrieks of laughter as Padma re-enacted her encounter.
“I have two words for you. Ernest Mcmillan. Sixth year!” shot back Padma.
“That’s fourrr words!” Lisa protested, holding up two fingers emphatically.
“I love you girls,” Daphne said suddenly, lifting her face from her wineglass.
“That’s the alcohol talking,” Hannah sniffed primly. “Belieeeeve you me, I get declarations of love all the time as a barmaid. But does it matter? Nooo, because it’s the wrong man.”
“Did you just call me a man?” Daphne asked, deeply insulted. Susan and Padma laughed even louder at her expression and Hannah looked faintly confused.
“I don’t know,” she confessed confidentially. “But you’re very pretty, even if you are scary and a loose cannon.”
“She’s just over-compensating post school for the repressed nature of her upbringing and the soul sucking s-s-society of S-slytherin,” Susan told Hannah in what she fondly thought was a low whisper.
Right. That was it.. if she was being analysed by a shrink and her papa wasn’t bribing her to sit through it…
“One more round,” Daphne announced.
“We’re not finished the wine!” Lisa protested, at the same time Padma sighed
“You said the last was it!”
“Everyone else has bought one, it’s only – only fair,” Daphne reasoned. Damn, she could hold her alcohol well, Turpin and Abbott looked ready to topple over and they had consumed together half the wine Bones had. Padma was looking a little sad – probably wondering what Roger was up to – and Daphne almost told her not to worry. Roger was a good sort, if a good sort of man existed. She swung herself to her feet and staggered slightly, holding on to the table for support and glaring at the girls as they sniggered. Perhaps she didn’t hold her alcohol as well as she thought. Maybe she should stop now, Merlin knew the last thing she needed was for her family to hear that she had been stumbling drunk out of some nightclub – wait, maybe that was exactly what-
“Well, well, look what the kneazle dragged in,” said the rich, urbane voice of the devil. Daphne stiffened, and if she didn’t know that voice as well as her own, the stunned look in Padma’s eyes would have told her what she was turning around to.
He was there, dressed simply in black. He didn’t need to dress up with cheekbones suited to a Greek god, like he didn’t need to do more than look at her for the years to fall away from her, and the confident vixen that seized life by the throat shrank back into the kitten fascinated by the yarn threads of life, but too timid to do more than circle them. He looked good. He always did. But good was one thing he most certainly was not. He was a Slytherin, after all.
“ Hello Blaise.”
a.n I am so, so sorry for the wait! As I whinged in my blog, my life has just been ridiculously busy this past month, and it will be for the next two, I’m afraid! (Uni + work+ semi-social life = little sleep!). I hope you liked the chapter – it’s actually based a worrying amount on a girl’s night out I had recently, in which I experienced firsthand 4/5 awful pickups lines/encounters in this chapter. Can you guess which one I completely made up? And did the chapter feel forced/unneccessary because it was so explicitly based on real life?
I’m really behind on review responses, but they are coming, and I do appreciate them SO much!!
This chapter dedication is for the lovely Melanie (RonsGirlFriday).
Disclaimer: I in no way support irresponsible alcohol consumption, and own nothing you recognise.