Chapter 2 : Procrastination At Its Finest
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I shook hands with the smiling man before me, one of the five people left on my list of interviews.
“Hello,” Terry said, his eyes full of warm cheerfulness. I couldn’t help but compare his attitude with that of Malfoy’s last night; Terry apparently had no qualms about being interviewed.
“Right, well, I’ll leave you to it, then,” Creevey said, shuffling out of the room.
We were in Terry’s house, Creevey had successfully secured me an interview last night. I’d been quite surprised when Terry had replied immediately. I supposed that being hailed as a hero was quite flattering; a chance that many people would jump at.
“Alright Mr Boot, if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you some questions about the weeks leading up to the Final Battle and your involvement with the group known as Dumbledore’s Army,” I proposed, my Quick-Quotes Quill hovering near my left hand, several scrolls of parchment nearby.
“What do you want to know?”
And so it began. The interview with Terry was nothing special, I asked the standard questions and received responses typical for someone who was part of the DA. I decided that I’d write a piece on Boot’s involvement on the night of the Final Battle, including his input on the diadem and his heroic fighting that occurred later on. Boot had, according to several of my sources, saved the life of his two fellow Ravenclaws, Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein. I decided that it was a story worth telling.
I left the Boot residence with a stack of notes, and apparated directly onto my doorstep, intent upon writing up a new chapter. Unfortunately, the presence of a frizzy haired blonde on said doorstep put those plans on hold.
“Hello Reno,” I said dully, letting myself (and by extension, her) into the house.
Though the building I resided in probably wouldn’t qualify as a house. It was more of a…well, a shack. The roof only occasionally caved in. It wasn’t even in that bad of a neighbourhood (though it was on a dodgy back street in an average neighbourhood, but in my mind that was better than a bad neighbourhood).
Daphne had been trying to get me to move for months; what she didn’t realise was that I didn’t have enough money to move. Truthfully, I didn’t really have any money, which was why I should have been working on my book instead of entertaining my crazy best friend who turns up on my doorstep without invitation.
“I swear this place gets more dilapidated each time I come over,” Reno said conversationally, summoning herself one of my butterbeers (the second last one, I’ll have to remember to go shopping…once I have money).
“Well, Reno, if you want to chip in some gold for a renovation, feel free,” I replied, dumping my stack of parchment on the counter. I heard a suspicious crunching sound as I did so, and lifted up the parchment cautiously to check what it was. Apparently, I’d just squashed the remains of a meat pie.
I waved my wand, sending the remains of the meat pie into to the sink, nearly knocking Reno out in the process. She ducked just in time, sending me a scathing look to which I replied with only a cheeky grin.
“So, what exactly are you doing here?” I said casting a wordless scourgify on the counter and dishes, something I should’ve done about a week ago. Better late than never, I suppose.
“I dumped Brandon,” she stated, and I refrained from rolling my eyes.
Reno was renowned for going through guys faster than I go through parchment. Her latest conquest, ‘Brandon’, was, from what she’d told me, a reserve Chaser for the Montrose Magpies and therefore quite a catch.
I didn’t really want to know the answer, but I played the role of the dutiful best friend anyway.
“Apparently, he was cheating on me with some receptionist from St Mungo’s,” Reno stated matter-of-factly.
Knowing Reno, she didn’t actually care. She probably would’ve dumped him for some reason any day now.
“Oh, Tori, I have a few ideas for ‘Oh My Hippogriff!’ that I wanted to bounce off you.”
“What’s ‘Oh My Hippogriff!’?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
I’d spent years perfecting the art of raising one eyebrow in the mirror. I must say, I was quite proud of this achievement, especially since my mirror liked to poke fun at me while I practiced.
“Oh, that’s the new title for the play I’m working on; I decided that ‘Priori I-Can-Date-Em’ didn’t really work.” Reno shrugged.
Right. Well, I suppose ‘Oh My Hippogriff!’ is better than the alternative. Reno’s been working on a play ever since we left Hogwarts. She’d spent three years at the Wizarding Academy of the Dramatic Arts (I’m pretty sure all they learnt was how to get really, really drunk) studying acting and the art of playwriting. She’s always acting in plays written by various classmates, but so far she’s never managed to finish her own play.
“I was thinking of changing the setting to Hogwarts, as everyone can relate to it, but I’m not sure if it’ll work with my plot, because-"
Reno was cut off by an owl soaring through my window, flying straight into her face. I giggled at her dumbstruck expression, snatching the letter the owl had been carrying. It was addressed to me in emerald ink, the handwriting neat and sharp.
“What the hell was that?” Reno screeched, scaring the poor owl, which had been perched on my windowsill, preening.
“A letter, obviously.”
I ignored her eye-roll, slitting the envelope, made of paper, not parchment, with my fingernail. The letter inside was also made of paper; it felt odd in my hands, too light and almost fragile.
Dear Miss Greengrass,
My son just informed me of your request for an interview. I apologise for not making an appearance last night, I realise it must have inconvenienced you. However, I would be happy to answer any questions you have, despite the impression Draco may have left on you.
Does tomorrow afternoon suit?
Well, that was certainly a shock. I hadn’t even written her an owl, like I’d been intending to after Malfoy suggested it last night. I flipped the paper over; scrawling a hasty yes with one of my many quills (I had at least 3 that lived in my bedroom, another two in the living area, and one in the kitchen). The poor frightened owl had returned obviously instructed to wait for a reply. It was eyeing Reno warily, but took my letter without complaint, heading off into the sky.
“Who was that from?” Reno’s eyes followed the owl until it was a speck against the blue summer sky.
I hesitated. Reno knew about my book, but she would still be shocked by my correspondence with Narcissa Malfoy. If I told her about the letter, I’d also have to explain last night – I didn’t think I could handle her judging comments. Reno was not at all sympathetic to the Malfoys or others in their social circle. In fact, I don’t think she’d like me at all if I hadn’t been in Hufflepuff with her. Apparently that made me different from all the other purebloods.
“Just someone I need to interview for the book,” I replied vaguely.
At least, it was the truth. Reno accepted it, and went back to rattling on about her play. I stared out the open window, not quite sure how I felt about interviewing Narcissa Malfoy. I’d never met her, but she seemed intimidating.
Somehow, it had gotten to be evening, Reno was still at my house and I hadn’t written a single word of my chapter.
“Oh, God, Reno, you’ve got to go! I have to get this chapter done, or else Vine’s going to kill me-“
“Oh, shut it,” Reno said from her position on my stained blue sofa.
“It’s too late to get anything done now, come to the Leaky. I’m meeting Tabby.”
Reno looked at me, grinning slightly. She’d always had a way of getting me to do exactly what she wanted. I’m not quite sure how, I think it was a combination of blackmail, pathetic looking facial expressions and generally irritating behaviour.
I cast a quick glance over my apartment, taking in the messy kitchen, the not as messy living room and the stack of notes waiting to be written out.
Eh, how much harm could dinner at the Leaky do?
“Fine, I’ll come, but it’s your shout,” I bargained, grabbing my wand and bag.
In contrast to last night, tonight was quite warm. You can never really tell what London weather was going to be like, there was one day last week where in poured down in the morning, only to have the sun come out in the afternoon.
The Leaky was busy. A group of hags sat beside the fireplace, leering at us as we stepped out.
“Hey, Hannah, table?” Reno shouted over the crowd to the blonde woman behind the bar.
Hannah Abbot had been a few years ahead of us at Hogwarts. She’d started working at the Leaky a few weeks ago; in my opinion, Tom was quickly training her up to be his replacement. Hannah pointed us to a table by the door, situated next to a rowdy group of blokes dressed in Puddlemere colours. We pushed and shoved our way through the crowd, falling gratefully into our chairs.
“Where’s Tabby?” I asked Reno, raising my voice so I could be heard over the crowd.
“She’ll be along in a minute, she said we’d meet at seven, and it’s just five to.”
We settled down, ordered a butterbeer, and surveyed the room. The Leaky, despite having only one window, always managed to have a certain brightness to it. The fireplace that we’d come through cast a warm glow over the room, the smell of butterbeer and steak came from all corners of the establishment.
The fireplace flickered green, and a short brunette stumbled out, almost knocking over a balding wizard in the process.
“Tabby!” Reno called, also spotting our friend, waving her hands above her head to catch her attention.
Half the pub turned to look at us. While the stares caused me to blush, Reno just gestured for Tabby to come over, ignoring our audience.
Tabby rushed over, tripping over the foot of someone who looked suspiciously like a vampire and ended up sprawled just shy of our table.
I sighed, extending a hand to help her up.
“How are you, Tabs?”
“How d’you think?” she retorted, sending me a scathing glare, before taking her seat and grinning apologetically.
“So I take it work wasn’t fun?” Reno asked, sipping her butterbeer.
Tabby rolled her eyes, her own butterbeer soaring over to our table courtesy of Hannah, nearly dumping its contents on the blokes at the table next to ours. One of them looked up angrily, his eyes following the tankard to our table.
I stood up, gaping at the man on the adjacent table. It was Terry, who’d I’d interviewed only hours ago.
“Astoria? Astoria Greengrass?”
Oh, I so love it when someone uses my last name. All the prestige, it’s, not desirable at all.
“Reno, Tabby, this is Terry Boot. I interviewed him earlier this afternoon.”
They all said their introductions, and then, somehow, our tables were pushed together, several hours had passed and the butterbeer had been replaced with firewhisky.
“But-but-but…I am all knowing! I couldn’t possibly be wrong!” Reno whined, her voice unnaturally loud in the now almost empty pub.
“Lies, Reno, lies!” I yelled, leaning in close to her face.
Tabby just laughed in the background, a hobby of hers.
“But…what does an electric toothbrush even do?”
Confused, intoxicated Reno is probably my favourite person in the world. She’s so amusing.
“It makes this brrrr sound -“
It was then that Tabby decided to fall over again. Well, I don’t know if ‘decided’ would be the right term, since falling over seems to be imbedded into Tabby’s being. Somehow she ended up with a bottle of firewhisky all over her, much to Reno’s amusement. I, however, being the kind and caring friend I am, escorted her to the bathroom. As we left, I heard Reno say quietly:
“I like apples.”
Honestly, she is the oddest person when drunk.
The bathroom at the Leaky Cauldron is nothing special. It’s clean, but that’s about it. The mirror, covered in spots and cracked in the bottom right corner, has a habit of sharing all the bathroom gossip with anyone and everyone who enters the room.
I let Tabby do her thing, choosing to lean against the wall beside the mirror (that goes by Margaret) and inspect my nails. Tabby prattled on in the background, something to do with Reno’s brother Harley. She had a bit of a thing for him, something she adamantly refused to mention to Reno. Tabby had been in the year above Reno and I at Hogwarts, so we hadn’t really known her back then. Reno’s brother Harley had been in the same year, a beater for Hufflepuff, and Tabby hadn’t looked anywhere else since her 6th year. Several years later, her situation was now bordering on pathetic.
“What I don’t understand is how he can date that imbecile of a redhead, and not even glance at me? All she’s got over me is a flaming head of curls!”
Tabby’s ranting grew louder as she came out and up to the mirror that promptly commented on her woes.
“You know, dear, if you added a little bit of rouge to your cheeks, he wouldn’t be able to miss you-“
It’s funny, but this isn’t the first time I’ve been in the Leaky’s bathroom waiting for Tabby to finish spilling her heart out to Margaret the Mirror.
“So, Ast…Ast…ria,” Terry slurred, “you wanna get a drink sometime?”
My knees buckled slightly as I dragged Terry out the door of the Leaky, we were the last of our party to exit. Reno and Tabby were just ahead, Reno with her head in a trashcan.
“I think you’ve had enough to drink for the moment, Terry,” I replied, once again wondering how I was the only remotely sober person left.
Terry stumbled, clutching onto my arm as we started off down the London street.
“Nah, I mean later, not now.”
Oh, well, this has the potential to be extremely awkward. If he didn’t mean it, and I said yes…it would be odd when it inevitably came up later. If I said no, I risked hurting his feelings...and in this state, who knew what would happen.
“How about this? You ask me again in two days’ time, and I’ll give you an answer.”
A diplomatic solution, I must say.
The four of us (Reno, Tabby, Terry and I) somehow managed to return Terry to his apartment. It took three tries, mind you, and one very scared elderly couple. We eventually returned to my place, Tabby and Reno wasting no time in passing out on my couch.
I eyed the pile of paper, the physical reminder of the book I had to write, and sighed. I was awake, and no doubt the vomiting that would soon come from my two companions would keep me up anyway.
Reluctantly, I dragged myself over to the table, waving my wand as I did so, which caused the stack of papers to land unceremoniously on the wooden surface. I grabbed the nearest quill (I think this one was a present from Daphne back in my Hogwarts days) and began to write.
A/N: Some special thanks for this chapter
StEpH_M for betaing, louise_loves_hp for the line about apples and for reading over this first and LovlyRita for, well, watching infomercials at ridiculous hours and providing me with excellent inspiration. Also, caomoyl and gingersnape, whilst they weren't directly involved with this chapter, they both helped me get over my writer's block :)
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