Chapter 1 : Humdrum
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Disclaimer: I am a twenty-something German-American. Not JKR. Though I hope one day my dreams see reality as hers did…
A/N: I am back! This is the promised Hugo/OC sequel to The Golden Game; I highly recommend you read that story before pursuing this one, but eh, to each his own. *wink*
Chapter 1 – Humdrum
“No more of this! I have tried, but I cannot abide by your lack of enthusiasm for the craft any longer. I am sorry, my dear, but I have Seen that I have to let you go. I am sure you will find other ways to spend your days, after all, you are young yet and you must have some of your mother’s drive in you…”
The kind-faced elderly witch gave him a sad smile as she patted him on the back. She then opened the door and gestured that he exit, gushing some rubbish about how now he could further focus on the pursuit of his passion.
Hugo Weasley ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. He walked across the threshold and the door closed so quickly behind him it nearly grazed his behind. Another one bites the dust, as the Muggles say.
Finding himself once again in the growing mass of unemployed witches and wizards (how many jobs had he had since graduation? Five? Six? He had honestly lost count), Hugo turned away from Divine Whispers and made his way to the Hogsmeade High Street.
He walked absent-mindedly toward the Hog’s Head, the once ramshackle old pub now on the up-and-up as one of Witch Weekly’s Hottest New Hangouts. His cousin Victoire, it turned out, had a real head for business under all that blonde hair.
And here I am, Hugo-the-forgotten-Weasley, nipping on the heels of my twentieth birthday and more uncertain about my future than ever.
Hugo thought about what had led him to this point. He remembered the last time he had honestly thought he had everything worked out. It was over four years ago, at his older sister Rose’s graduation celebration. He had pulled his mum aside and told her he had a plan.
*** Flashback ***
“I thought you might like to know that I think I know what I want to do after my own graduation.”
“Really?! That is wonderful, darling! Go on, I am listening,” Hermione stated, giving her son her full attention.
“I have decided I want to work in the Muggle world. I want to study Muggle history, maybe work in a research lab or be one of those archaeologists. And then, after a while, I think that I want to teach Muggle Studies, either here at Hogwarts or another magical school somewhere,” Hugo said in a rush.
Hermione was not shocked by this revelation; she had raised her children to respect Muggle culture and had immersed them in it from the day they were born – after all, their grandparents were Muggles. “Hugo, that is a wonderful decision. You would make a fantastic Muggle Studies professor. I am so proud of you.”
“I am just relieved to have a goal, honestly, Mum. I think I will be happy. I mean, I love magic, but Muggles can do so much without it! It is fascinating, you know? Anyway, this is Rose and Al’s day – and kind of Vic and Ted’s too, I guess – so I will just go hang with Lily and Francis, okay? See you at home tomorrow, I am spending the night at the Longbottoms.’”
*** End Flashback ***
Hugo pushed open the grass-green swinging door of the refurbished pub and inhaled. Wow. I think I will just go drown myself in mince pies and ale now. Ted may be a hoity-toity Herbologist, but he sure is a lucky bloke; Vic inherited Gram’s skills in the kitchen, that’s for sure.
He walked to a rare free table near the window and slumped into a chair. Lost in thought, he did not even notice when his cousin and best friend Lily threw herself in the seat across from him.
“Hugh! What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at work helping old Witch Vane catalog the latest Divine Whispers or some such rubbish?” Lily giggled. “I thought you were planning to meet up and catch some grub with Patrick and I after I finished my shift tonight? You sure you don’t want me to bring along a friend?”
Hugo met Lily’s gaze and did not say anything.
“Oh, shite! You were sacked! Hugo, that’s bollocks. I was just poking a bit of fun earlier, I know you were probably really excited about that divination job, even if that whole place is a bit of a scam. Utter thestral dung, actually. Do you want me to have Daddy talk to the old bat? I am sure he can get you your job back, I heard her daughter used to have a thing for him when they were back in school—“
“Drop it, Lil, don’t go bothering Uncle Harry. It’s not a huge deal, there are other jobs, I will be fine,” Hugo said firmly before his cousin could get too enthusiastic. Besides, it was a load of dung. A lot like those Muggle “Psychics,” actually, who make people pay to know their future.
He decided a change of subject was in order.
“Lily, aren’t you on the clock? I am sure Vic isn’t paying you to sit and gossip. You are barely here as it is. I am surprised you are still employed, honestly.”
He knew that comment would rile her up.
Sure enough, her face turned as red as her hair. Hugo counted down silently in his head, three, two, one…
“Hugo Septimus Weasley, if you are implying that I ever give anything less than one thousand percent into what I do, I should have you know that I am quite proficient at the Bat Bogey hex and am not afraid to use it here and now on your sorry Hufflepuff arse! Need I remind you that I am doing Vic a favor by working here in the few hours I can manage a week as Bree got herself knocked up, again, by my git of a brother? I am an Obliviator, for Merlin’s sake, not a waitress!”
“Hey! I heard that!,” came an amused voice from the bar.
“Oh, hello, Al. How is your darling wife?,” Lily asked with a smile, her demeanor changed in an instant as the middle Potter child walked over to the table. Lily hopped out of her seat to give her brother a squeeze. Everyone knew she adored Albus.
“Bree’s fine, she is just complaining about how much of a “fat hippogryff” she is, and how I am never allowed near her again, or she’ll hex my bits off, yada-yada… you know, same stuff she said the last time,” Al smirked with a particularly Slytherin gleam in his eye, setting his glass on the table.
“And how are my little niece and nephew? I cannot believe they will be one tomorrow!,” Lily gushed.
“I still can’t believe you got Brianna preggers again, right after she had twins! Don’t the healers have rules about waiting or some such nonsense?,” Hugo grinned as he slyly brought Albus’s mug of butterbeer to his lips. Getting the attention off of his own sorry situation was really improving his mood.
Besides, Al’s life really was entertaining. He was freshly out of the Auror academy, and already showing so much promise that Uncle Harry was reportedly over the moon in his pride for his son.
Not only was Albus’ career secure, he had quite literally won the newly-formed Wizarding Lottery straight out of Hogwarts. It was the first time he had ever bet on anything, and after spending six sickles on a ticket, he won over 500000 galleons. Add that to his trust fund and being the spitting image of the Boy-Who-Lived-Again, and Albus Potter was the most eligible man in the Wizarding world overnight.
Of course, Albus crushed the hopes and dreams of his millions of fan-girls when he married his girlfriend Brianna Zabini two years ago, and had been quickly filling his nest with little black-haired, green-eyed Potters ever since. Bree, of course, did not have to work. She had her own trust fund, even before she married into money. She simply claimed to be “bored off her arse” sitting in their London townhouse all day, so she decided to “have a bit of fun and enjoy a pint of gossip” by waiting tables at the trendiest pub around.
Hugo was shaken from his thoughts when Al laughed, “Yes, I do believe Rose has lectured us about waiting once or twice or perhaps three million times… but, frankly, I have never been one to play the waiting game, and neither has Bree.”
Hugo spent a few more minutes enjoying his cousins’ company, before hugging Lily, getting up and making his way to the door. He waved over his shoulder in response to Al’s “You owe me a pint next time, you wanker!,” and agreed to meet Lily at the Ministry for tea tomorrow.
Hugo walked to the apparition point outside the now-bustling pub and spun on his heel. He landed in the square just outside his parent’s large brownstone in London, 12 Grimmauld Place. Making sure no one had seen, he quickly rushed up the steps and pulled out his wand to open the door. While the house did not seem homey from the outside (to those who could see it at all), it was actually quite elegant and welcoming within. It had been a wedding gift from his Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny, who already owned a house in Godric’s Hollow and Potter Manor near Nottingham. Apparently the house used to be a “foul, evil, horrid place,” according to his mother, but it now exuded warmth and Hugo could not imagine living anywhere else.
Well, besides Hogwarts. If he was being honest with himself, that was still his dream: to teach Muggle Studies.
“Mum? Dad? Rosie?,” he called out as he crossed the threshold and felt the wards encase him. Only silence answered. It appeared he was the first one home. He made his way across the richly-colored sapphire carpet and up the steps to his room. As he climbed, he glanced at the several-dozen framed photos along the stairway, pictures of his large family smiling and waving as they celebrated their various accomplishments. He paused in front of a portrait of his Weasley grandparents together with all their grandchildren, and instantly found his own smiling face in the sea of red. He was easy to pick out.
Hugo didn’t even fit the “Weasley Mold” of tall, lanky bodies with ginger hair and freckles. His mousy brown curls and freckle-less features only helped to solidify his role as the unknown Weasley. Sure, Uncle Bill’s kids were all blonde and model-like, what with Fleur providing half their genes, and James and Al had dark hair (they were Potters, anyway, so technically they did not count), but all of his other cousins had the trademark Weasley genes.
He sighed and continued to the third floor. He approached his door, went in to his yellow-and-black room and flopped down on his unmade bed. I cannot believe I still live with my parents. Even Lucy and Molly have their own flat in Hogsmeade lined up for when they graduate in May. They have prime apprenticeships to boot, Lucy with a broom maker and Molly learning wandlore!
Hugo had always seemed to adhere to the Muggle “don’t worry, be happy” philosophy and as such, was not as serious of a student as his mum would have preferred. He was often the one Weasley child to do exactly the opposite of what was expected of him. Starting with being the first Weasley ever sorted into Hufflepuff. He only received 5 NEWTS, in Astronomy, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, History of Magic and Muggle Studies. And what do I have to show for it? Nothing. Sometimes I wish I was not so happy-go-lucky in school. Somehow, he had always been content with being out of the unavoidable Weasley/Potter limelight, and therefore simply took life less seriously than the rest of the family.
But that was before he had failed at being an adult. There was no other way to look at it. Rose assured him that he had nothing to worry about, that he would find the job he loved soon, but what if that were not true? Rose was two months away from finally marrying Scorpius Malfoy and achieving all of her own career goals as an up-and-coming neonatal Healer. What if Hugo never achieved anything? He had never even been in a serious relationship. What if he was stuck in the bumblebee colored room in his parent’s brownstone, unemployed and unmotivated, forever? He shuddered at the thought.
Hugo sat up and walked over to his cluttered desk. Time to polish the old resume again, I suppose. How many jobs have I had anyway?
Let’s see… after Hogwarts, Hugo had attended 3 weeks of Muggle University with aims to become an archaeologist. He realized halfway through the first day, when he whipped his wand out at the Muggle library to attempt to summon a book from the top shelf, that living in the Muggle world was just not for him. Luckily his cousin Lily had been able to alter the memories of the three slack-jawed Muggles he had been studying with. He stuck it out for a few weeks, but after several more “oopsie-daisies,” he threw in his hat and left the University.
Next, his mum had thought it would be nice for him to have a simple job to ease his way into adulthood, so he tried his hand at working at the Owl Post office in Diagon Alley. The smell in the sorting room was atrocious, many of the birds were vicious and nipped his fingers, and he had never before known how much hate mail (and other rather disturbing mail) his family was sent on a daily basis. Some of the mail exploded. That job had lasted a mere 2 months.
He had received an Outstanding in his Care of Magical Creatures NEWT, so being Uncle Charlie’s Dragon Keeping Apprentice sounded like a good fit… until he mistakenly stepped on the tail of a hatchling dragon and the mother beast singed his eyebrows off before flying away screeching. Two days into the position, and he was shipped back home with a note from Uncle Charlie saying he “wasn’t quite ready” to be a Dragon Tamer.
Then had followed the worst job of the lot, in his opinion: the Knight Bus Conductor. He had only taken the post because of Stan, a friend of his parents who raved about the many adventures he had had onboard during his time at the helm. Two hours, one green face, one irate customer, a sputtered apology and weighing two kilograms lighter, Hugo was back in the unemployment line.
Needless to say, when his Uncle Percy presented him with a pamphlet on training security trolls he thought it would be a roll in the hay after his last two jobs. It wasn’t. Trolls were smelly. They sweated buckets a day, literally. And various other bodily fluids leaked as well. Hugo was not sure he wanted to know from where. But surprisingly, he was fairly good at this job. The trolls seemed to respect him, as much as their pea-brains allowed. It was not until he went home one day and his own father hung him in the air with a hasty “Wingardium Leviosa!,” convinced he was a troll because of the “ghastly smell and the pus droppings on the floor,” that Hugo decided it was not the career for him after all.
His grandfather, Minister for Magic and the former head of the Department of Muggle Relations, thought he would be well-suited in the Ministry at his old office for the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts. Though Hugo had never before considered a career in the Ministry, this position renewed his fascination with Muggles and he finally felt he was close to his perfect niche. He went to work smiling, and often stayed later than his shift out of pure excitement for his job. He was happy there, convinced it would be the first true stepping stone on his way to becoming a Muggle Studies professor.
It may have been, but nine months into a rewarding career, it was yanked out from under him when he did the stupidest thing he could have ever done. He brought home a seemingly-harmless enchanted Muggle artifact, something called a Shredder or some such nonsense. He only wanted to examine how it worked, and did not have enough time to do so at the office. Besides, Granddad always brought his work home, he reasoned. Little did he know that Vic and Ted would happen to be visiting with their toddler daughter, Annabelle, who promptly stuck her finger in the device. It seemed she chose that moment to exhibit her magical ability, because the Shredder roared to life and did what it was designed to do.
One hasty trip to St. Mungo’s and a furious Teddy later, his grandfather sat him down in the waiting room and sadly told him that he would need to give up his post. It was simply a kinder way of saying, “you’re fired.”
Which is how, about a month ago, he had ended up listening to his Aunt Luna and cataloging prophecies for a barmy old Seer who sold them to poor sods who desired to know the future. It wasn’t exactly dishonest, per say, because the prophecies were real… Madame Vane just was not quite sure to whom each prophecy belonged, so she had Hugo help her catalog them according to certain characteristics and then ‘gave it her best go’ when someone requested a prophecy from Divine Whispers.
Basically, he was a nobody Hufflepuff with famous relatives, lackluster NEWTS and a somewhat-decent smile. Because he refused to use his parents’ clout as war heroes, his skills alone would likely not get him far in life.
He heard the door downstairs open and put down his quill. “Hugo? Are you here? I stopped by the Hog’s Head. Lily told me what happened. I am sorry, dear, though I do believe I told you that place was a rubbish waste of time anyway. You know my views on Divination…”
He walked down the stairs and into the kitchen, hungry for a sandwich. His mother hugged him and then kept prattling about Merlin knows what, but he had stopped listening. This was something he had learned from his father over the years – once Hermione Weasley got on a subject, it was nearly impossible to deter her.
It was going to be a long night.
A/N: Well? What do you think of Hugo? Poor guy! Let me know in a review, if you would be so kind.