Chapter 1 : Job 1: Find Out How to Summon the Knight Bus Off the Top of Muggle Houses
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Beautiful chapter image by JaydScarlett at TDA!
*A/N: Hey guys! I would like to apologise in advance for a terrible first chapter. Please just keep reading; it gets a lot better after the intro chap!*
Job 1: Find out how to summon the Knight Bus from the top of Muggle Houses.
“Name: Pepper Confiture Grass…”
Even as I read the bloody thing, I cannot believe the beautiful name my parents have given me. And I have had to live with it for sixteen years. You would have thought that after all that time one would get used to the awfulness of it, but with a name like mine, it still surprises me every time.
Yes, Pepper – as in the black grainy stuff to make your meals slightly less boring or the red, yellow and green vegetable (or is it a fruit, like tomatoes? Why are tomatoes called tomatoes anyway? Maybe someone called Tom discovered them with his toes…)
Confiture. French for bloody jam. It could be worse, I suppose – ‘confiture’ could be my first name. At least it’s not German for cow, which is in fact ‘Kuh’, and is Pig’s middle name. Pigeon – or Pig, as I call him – has a name possibly even worse than mine. Pigeon Kuh Grass.
And then, Grass. The amazing green springy stuff, which should not be sullied by a family such as mine putting words like ‘pepper’ and ‘kuh’ and ‘Jamaica’ in front of it.
Nobody ever believes me when I tell them my name, or my family’s. I mean, I know my parents are a little free-willed (Read: obsessively hippie) and all that, but who in their right minds would call their kids those trashy names?
Oh, right – Delilah Bordeaux and Crusoe Grass.
Yep, my parents changed my names somewhere in-between running away from home together at sixteen and joining the VW Appreciation Conference of 2003. Dad told me their actual names once – Janet Baker and Daniel Green. Personally, I have no idea what is so wrong with them. I would love a normal name. Instead, I am given ‘Pepper Jam’, which could vaguely relate to Jane, I suppose (Jam, Jame, Jane, geddit?) but I don’t think anyone would get it.
So… back to the wizarding census! Apparently, one happens every year with a ‘2’ on the end, the year after the muggles’ one. I say, why can’t we have it the same year?
Instead, I – as the only responsible person in this household – am trying desperately to fill out the details for me (the magical person) and my muggle relations, along with possibly magical siblings.
“Parents: Crusoe Grass, 35
Delilah Bordeaux, 35,” (she had me when she was 19).
“Siblings…” I mutter, as Pea walks into the explosive-like room with a snot-covered toy train. Gross. Well, I have enough of those to go around.
“Pigeon Kuh Grass, 12. Non-magical. Most annoying boy in world, most arrogant, stubborn, and stupid…”
Just kidding, not that last sentence.
“Lollipop Blossom Grass, 7. Magical signs! Lovely person, and best sister ever. Fellow Disney appreciater.
Peaflower Sustantivo (Spanish for rainbow) Grass, 2. Undefined. Snottiest sister ever.”
Yes, I did just write those sentences by my siblings. My parents would be shocked if they saw I had done it without embellishing it a little (if they even know I HAVE filled out a census for our family).
“…Other notes? Well, one other sibling: Jamaica Moss Grass, -1. Undefined and unborn. Promises to be even more work on poor older sibling Pepper who is basically their only mum. And Dad, actually.”
It’s true, sadly.
“Pepper!! We’re HOMEE!” trilled a very familiar voice.
Sure enough, a minute later Delilah swept in and suffocated me in a hug, overpowering me with her newest floaty-material-phase-dress. Turns out, this time it was a sari. The frankincense stink that followed her around was there in full force too. Oh, joy.
I tell you, that woman has put me off perfumes for life.
“Hi, Delilah. So you are,” I muttered. I never know when they’re coming and going, so I take eating and cleaning into my own hands when it is the holidays. It’s not fun. For example, in my third year, they left to go to Australia for eight months, and came back with a newborn Pea at the end of it (Mum hadn’t known she was pregnant). When I had found myself alone for over a week (with a note to say that my grandparents should be here), I went over to the Weasleys, because frankly, my other siblings are NOT my responsibility… or so I tell myself. Anyway, the Weasleys are so much more responsible and clean and organised. They even have THREE MEALS A DAY, which their parents CALL THEM IN FOR!!
Of course, they are extremely ungrateful for it, whereas I would laugh if anyone told me my parents wanted me to go in for lunch.
“Hey honey. Have a good time for these past…” Crusoe scratched his head, confused. “Erm, two days?”
“Wrong. Five, Crusoe.” I said, and got up to seal the census. “I’ve been to the shops, and then I’m leaving this evening, whether you like it or not, ok? I’ve done my part of the caring, so don’t worry, I’m only coming back with my Rose, Albus and Louis in a few days’ time. We might not even come here, so don’t expect to see me again.” I smiled like this wasn’t out of the ordinary, but desperate to get to the Weasleys’. My three best friends were there, and I might DIE without them – especially as I had already gone most of the summer without seeing them!!
Yes, I am a little dramatic at times. Just go with the flow, man.
Pepper’s List of Stuff to Do
X Stock up house X
I could see the looks on my parents faces as they realised that a) a child had spoken, b) it was their (only) responsible child and c) they should really listen, because I never tell them anything much unless it has legal connotations.
Shopping… yes, I was going to the shops, as per usual. Who else would do all the shopping and her own cooking? (sigh) I’ve been having to basically support myself, and the family, from a very young age, because as hippies, my parents have absolutely no regard for the time, sadly. Well, that's only a bit of an over-exaggeration.
I was leaving… cool. Who cares?
I’ve done my part of the caring… really? We haven’t been around to notice (mental facepalm from Pepper inserted here).
I’m not coming back… so what?
“Whaaat? Peppy, you can’t gooo!” A small voice shouted, and Lolli (who until now had remained in the garden with Ruby the dog – who my parents still didn’t know about – playing Spies again) hurtled towards me and leaped into my arms.
She was the one sibling I actually liked. We had the best Disney evenings together!
“I’m sorry, Lolli. But I have to go, to my friends’ house, before school!” I said. Lollipop brightened up at that – after showing her first sign of magic just a few weeks ago, whereupon I had run around screaming with glee, and had told her everything I knew about magic and Hogwarts. She was loving it already, although Pig – being the only boy (for the moment), and non magical, attending the local comprehensive instead – refused to talk to her since. Childish of him, really, but no less expected.
After disentangling Pea from Ruby, I clattered upstairs with the census, ignoring Delilah’s vague call of ‘remember the ball, won’t you’. Because my mother can barely remember how to write, let alone where pens/paper/her phone/computer for emails is, it is very hard for her to communicate with me. Actually, she forgets I’m here most of the time, I think. It’s hard when I’m not constantly whining for food, as my brother and sisters have to.
So instead, I have a crystal ball and she has the other so she can communicate with me, supposedly.
Actually, Albus levitated it into Hagrid’s hut last year and set off a half-chimera-related explosion (you don’t want to know). The damn thing didn’t work anyway, and just sent the old bat Trelawney into spasms whenever she came near it.
But first on packing list? Change out of pink and green bikini and kaftan. This is not appropriate packing wear, although it was very useful for the ‘zen time’ earlier – enforced by Crusoe. It’s good, really. Having to lie on your floor in the sun for hours with music and lemonade? Fine by me!
Okay… find school books.
I already did most of the homework out of sheer boredom during zen time. Normally I wouldn’t have, but being idle was getting to me, when I always have another job to do. So at least Rose won’t be on my back.
I gave up on the list and just started emptying my room into my trunk. I have to nail down anything I want to stay in my (and Lollipop’s) tiny room anyway, because whenever someone loses something (all the time), they look for me, or at least in my room, and find alternatives they can use in there.
It was a slight shock when I came home for the Christmas holidays during my first year (which my parents refuse to celebrate, but we still get the holidays) and found my room entirely bare of my stuff. I have been nailing my stuff down ever since.
Therefore, it was easy to assume that all the loose stuff should be taken back to Hogwarts.
I checked I had packed Shrek, my tortoise, and Betty, my pink Pygmy Puff, but after that I couldn’t be bothered to check if I had everything – I’d just scrounge some off Rose, or possibly Louis or Al, depending on what it was and how clean I needed it to be.
I made my way downstairs again, banging my trunk behind me. The meditation music was on, but I couldn’t see my parents. Who knew where they were?
I just walked out the front door, and headed towards the road, hoping to make a clean escape.
Instead, I found my parents snogging in the front garden… GROSS.
“Ew! Seriously, can you just hold up for a minute so I can leave?” I asked, edging away.
Delilah just laughed. “Haha… oh, honey… love is the breath of life! It should never be stopped… it is an unstoppable force!” Her and Crusoe laughed together, as if they were drunk. Suspiciously, I sniffed the air.
“YOU CAN’T HAVE BUCKETS OF ENERGY DRINK WITH FOUR KIDS AND AN UNBORN CHILD!!” I shrieked. Looks like their hyper phase had come back around, and I didn’t like it. It made the house stink, and gave me headaches whenever I came to stay for months after, not even considering all the passive juice Lolli, Pea and Pig got.
Oh my God, what was it going to do to the unborn baby Jamaica?!
Well, I admit I was freaking out a little here. But they were acting like teenagers on this stupid hyper juice. It didn't even taste decent.
Of course, my parents just laughed, and Crusoe carried on with the ‘love’ speech. “It brings on the love, baby! But love… love should NEVER be stopped… in full force. Because we must make love FULLY, and not restricted by…” He stopped to scratch his head for a moment (which he does a lot) and I sighed. Oh gosh… not the speech on fertility again… you wait, it’ll come up.
“By… cocentraption! Yes, cencetropin… is stopping of nature. We should all have it fully! And no stopping us!”
He had not just shouted that to the street. Please, God, no.
What have I ever done to deserve this?!
And Delilah took over again. “Don’t stop the sex! Go with nature! That’s what I did, and look how I turned out… with you guys, you’s all great! And if I was more fertile… we’d all be buggered!” And then she promptly fell onto the grass, laughing along with Dad, and enabling me to make my escape. I HATE MY FAMILY.
“I’m going to get the Knight Bus. See you whenever.” I scowled and nearly trip over Mum’s waving arm on the floor, almost dropping my plastic bag full of pot noodles. They wouldn’t fit in my trunk, and pot noodles are food of the GODS. I couldn’t leave them behind!
Of course, now is the time when my father chooses to become half-sober and lurch up off the path to block my way.
“You can’t take a busss!” He slurs, trying to stay upright. “They are killing the earth! If you take one… you can’t come back!” He stumbles, waving his arms in front of my face.
And that is how, twelve minutes later, I came to be sitting on the roof of our house, dressed in a pink and green bikini, bare feet and kaftan, because yeah, I forgot to change after all. And I’m just sitting there, cursing (without magic) my parents for blessing me with such a beautiful and wonderful name and such a normal family life, with so much parental support!
I mean, it’s not like I didn’t already stick out with my stupid meals of chappatis and coke, scrounged from around the house, and stupid magical accidents, and stupid teasing from all the primary school bullies, and stupid tired face from where nobody had put me to bed until I dropped from exhaustion each night (ok, still exaggerating a bit here, but it feels like it), and stupid skinny body from where I was way undernourished (again... exaggeration).
(I did manage to grow up really lanky and tall, though, despite both my parents being on the more midget-y side of life.)
But when I’m feeling down, I like to complain about my name, because that seems fair enough in its awfulness.
Tip for life: Don’t name your kid something ‘unique’. It will make them hate you for the rest of eternity.
On the plus side, the sky is really pretty right now, with all the stars and stuff out. It’s cool knowing that you are totally irrelevant in the whole expanding banana-shaped universe (because that’s the shape of the universe apparently, and the Big Bang is still happening, ergo, we are still expanding. Will there be a Big Crunch when we stop?)
On the minus side, I am stuck on the roof of my parents house, unable to get the Knight Bus, having amazing, ground-breaking philosophical thoughts while I am supposed to be looking at this same sky from a good hundred miles away, surrounded by friends who will cook for me if I want them to.
My day just went from -20 to -45 on the scale of life.
“What choo doing on the feckin’ roof?”
“Wash your mouth out, Pig!” I shout down to my gangster, crappy, arrogant jerk of a brother who is walking up the deserted road making various signals to me with his hand.
FYI: He’s not waving or doing the peace sign.
He ignored my comment, and carried on walking towards me. Pig was the only one out of our family who didn’t jump for joy when he heard I was a witch, and the trend only carried on. After all, my parents were ecstatic because what could be more unique than having a witch for a daughter?
Their words, not mine.
“Ah well, ya betch, I’m well glad to be shot of ya, man. It’s way uncool havin you hangin round the base, takin’ away our resources and like. Tryin’ to bring our homies down, not supply me wiv da cash, n’ like.” Pig snorted.
I screwed up my face in dislike. Translation of speech: “Ah well, you lovely person, I’m glad you’re going away to your freak school. It’s not fair that you do the shopping for me, and buy only healthy food (pot noodles, pfft). You try to stop our parents giving me money all the time so I can carry on buying out my mates.”
Key word here is ‘try’. I don’t think I could control them for love nor money (neither of which I get) but I do aim to better life slightly for my siblings when I’m home. Ungrateful prat.
I sat up, and shouted down “Piss off. I’m the only one who takes any responsibility around here at all! You should be grateful!” Unfortunately, I still had my hair in a high ponytail and just the aforesaid kaftan-kit on, which did kind of take the effect out of the words. Ah well.
Pig screwed up his face and shouted back, “At least I never left!” He hunched his shoulders and walked up the path, and I sat for a moment, thinking.
So that’s why Pig hates me so much; he thinks I left him, as well as having all these magical powers he could really use.
I see the light!
Unfortunately, this revelation is not getting me off the roof any quicker.
Pepper’s List of Stuff to Do
X Pack up room X
Find out how to summon the Knight Bus off the top of muggle houses
Find a way to contact the Weasleys and get them to help me.
It’s not looking good. I mean, why would the Knight Bus normally have to collect people off roofs? I mean, the whole way of summoning it is ‘stick out your wand arm off the pavement’. And there is no pavement of roofs (no shit, Sherlock).
Therefore I need to contact the Weasleys… I’m sure Rose’s family has a phone, and I have her number burned onto the inside of my trunk, courtesy of Rose, who knows exactly how often I get into scrapes and need that number.
Of course, I left my mobile (Delilah’s actually, but I stole it when I was ten and have used it ever since)… erm, where did I leave it?
Uh-oh. This is generally where the summoning charm comes in handy, if only I wasn’t underage and all. I mean, I will get a screaming letter right here on this flipping roof if I summon it! I don’t think I packed it, which means…
One of my siblings has it. Oh God, please don’t let it be Pea, with her snot and dribble fetish; or Pig, with his destructive nature, particularly concerning me!
There’s nothing for it…
“Accio mobile phone. If the ancient spell laws even know what a mobile phone is, if they can even think… OW!”
It had zoomed up from the garden and hit me squarely on the forehead. I’m gonna have a lovely bruise there tomorrow, especially considering that this is one of those rock-hard phones that are oh-so-lovely. Especially when they hit you. Day: -42.
On the plus side, I could phone Rose and get help!
On the minus side, I could now get expelled for underage magic. Maybe if I explained to them…? Nah, the ministry already hate me because of that Crup trouble a few years back (I had no idea it was illegal. The guy at the Hog’s Head pressed them onto me!)
I opened my suitcase v-e-r-y--c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y so it didn’t fall off the roof where it was daintily perched, and squinted in the near-dark at the lid. I carefully tapped in the numbers on the phone, then held it to my ear. Albus had been so surprised when he found out what to do with phones, but I, as a muggle-born, knew exactly what to do without being taught. I even helped Rose work her ringtones!
Ring ring. Ring ring.
Come on, Rose. Pick up the phone!
Ring ring. Ri – click.
“Hello?” SOMEONE HAS PICKED UP THE PHONE!! HALLELUJAH!
Unfortunately, I was too busy doing my victory dance to say anything to the person on the other end. “Hello? Hellooo? Is anyone there?”
“Erm, yep. Hi, it’s Pepper.” I said breathlessly, falling backwards onto the roof again.
There was a sigh on the end. Hugo or Ron, then (I knew Rose’s voice pretty well, and Hermione never sighs). “Oh dear. What’s happened this time, Pepper? We were wondering when we’d get the call, considering you hadn’t turned up.” Definitely Hugo – his sarcasm was very telling, you know.
“Hey Hughie. Long time no see,” I said cheerfully. “Well, I’m stuck on the roof of our house, and just used underage magic to summon my mobile to call you. My parents decided that the Knight Bus is ‘killing the planet’ through petrol use, and I cannot go anywhere except by foot. So please can you send a parent to pick me up?”
There was a pause on the other end. “Pepper?”
“You do know the knight bus doesn’t run on petrol, don’t you?”
“…yes. But they don’t.”
“Well why didn’t you tell them?”
I shrugged, before remembering Hugo couldn’t see that. “I dunno! But please tell someone as soon as possible. Kaftans aren’t ideal roofwear, you know.”
“Byee!” I snapped the phone shut, replaced it in my trunk and lay back to wait.
Pepper’s List of Stuff to Do
Find out a way to summon the knight bus of the top of muggle houses
X Find phone X
X Call the Weasleys for help X
Receive ministry howler
Protest at ministry
Receive OWLs (which I have NOT forgotten to put down so far, but have been told by Rose that I can only receive my OWLs when I’m with her, so that we can scream together… not sure for the goodness or badness of results yet).
*A/N: Hellooo there!
Well thank you to anyone who has read down this far! I promise you, it will get better. The introduction bit is over! Woohoo!
Next chapter, we meet Rose and her family! So stay tuned! It’s called, “Job 2: Stop Matchmaking My Friends”, and there is a pretty good reason behind it… ;)