Chapter 5 : SHE HOLDS GRUDGES
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So far, much has been said about Gloria Francine Atkins, Daphne Marguerite Pucey, and Phillippa Ella Lee.
And simply not enough on the other girls, the two currently eyeing each other with mild apprehension: Gemma Evelyn Clarke and the irreversibly pandering Josephine Cynthia Ainsworth.
Josephine’s large blue eyes widened. Gemma’s brown eyes narrowed.
Gemma Evelyn Clarke was the consummate professional except when she wasn’t.
There were only two things that could bring about an unprofessional response from her: Rhoda Lee and anything vaguely related to James the-prat Potter. The current situation was an odd mix of both, but was currently leaning on the latter. She could be calm, collected and indifferent at times; highly focused on what needed to be done and how to look the best while doing it. Of course, this wasn’t one of those times.
“You!” she said, staring at Josephine open-mouthed. Her embarrassment and anger were enough that she had yet to swat away Rhoda.
Josephine smiled back. “Yes, how may I help you?”
“Stop acting!” said Gemma, who had rarely ever been known to speak rudely. “You little liar! It is you!”
Josie was still smiling cluelessly. “Have we met?”
“You can be damn sure we’ve met before!” said Gemma. “You don’t remember me at all?”
Her angry outburst was attracting a rather lot of unseemly attention. Pippa scooted backwards in her chair, horrified at the entrance of melodrama. Daphne was leaning forward – something interesting at last had happened that didn’t have to do with vomit flavored tea! Josephine was wide-eyed.
Gloria blinked very slowly. The curly black hair and dark brown eyes of the girl in front of her were beginning to become eerily familiar. Oh, it couldn’t be!
But it was. She was even still in her Healer’s robes and everything!
It was the arch-nemesis.
The girl who had nearly kept James for good. Gemma Clarke. The one, reasonable rising star in a long-line of bimbos and pencil-thin girls with no real intelligence.
They had been together five months, which had been and still was, the record for James.
“Clarke?” called out Gloria tentatively, testing the sound of the name.
Gemma looked away from her interrogation. “Yes?”
The brunette staring her back looked unfamiliar. “I’m Gloria. Gloria Atkins. Do you remember me?”
“Sorry, no,” said Gemma, turning back to Josephine. “If you’re a previous patient of mine, please refer to – ”
“Oh, I can help you if you’re a previous patient,” said Rhoda, cutting in and beaming. “There’s just some paperwork you might – ”
Meanwhile, Gemma had turned back to Josephine, who was looking mildly curious.
“Have we really met before?” asked Josephine.
“You’re Josephine Ainsworth!” said Gemma. Two seats from her, a small frown appeared on Daphne’s face. Josephine Ainsworth. It sounded…familiar…
“Yes, I know,” said Josie. “How may I help you?”
“Hang on, I’m not a previous patient!” said Gloria, interrupting Rhoda’s long-winded diatribe on filing paperwork. “I know Gemma Clarke and I have to – ”
“What’s going on?” asked Daphne, her eyebrows raising as she looked between Gloria and Josephine.
“If I could just – ”
“You idiotic little – thinking you’re so – “
“I really don’t know what you’re – ”
“Quiet!” a high voice echoed from the back. Pippa emerged, blushing brilliantly, her hands clapped around her ears. There was a hush, though the glaring continued in silence. “What’s everybody on about? How do you know each other?”
“James Potter!” said Gemma and Gloria in unison.
There was another silence.
“I knew I recognized you!” said Daphne, staring at Josephine. “You’re his girlfriend!”
The one who he had humiliated her in front of.
“Not anymore,” said Pippa, frowning. “He’s with Dolores Vaisey now.”
“Yes, the girl with the big nose,” said Josie airily. “He told me about her. Oh, is this what it’s all been about?” She looked at Gemma with a smile. “Are you a friend of James’s?”
“No, that would be me, actually,” said Gloria dryly as Gemma’s mouth fell open.
“You – you mean that you really don’t remember me?” she spluttered, “I thought you were pretending!”
“I’d never pretend!” said Josie in the same dreamy voice.
Gemma was overtaken by an emotion to attack her, before she took a deep breath and said with more restraint, “I’m also James’s old girlfriend.”
“What an odd coincidence,” Rhoda commented from the side.
“I’m actually the one before you,” said Gemma. “You took him from me! He was still in love with me!”
This was getting melodramatic enough for Daphne to enjoy. Honestly, all these women infuriated over such a complete idiot. Such easy entertainment was hard to come by.
Gloria shook her head. “I remember you. It really is you. You’re his Healer ex.”
“And you are?”
“Gloria Atkins. We may have met once or twice in passing. I’m James’s friend.” She motioned to her left. “This is Pippa Lee. She’s his assistant.”
Gemma nodded and they all exchanged vague smiles.
“So you’re really not with him anymore?” she said sideways to Josephine.
“Oh, no, not anymore,” said Josie, “we were over a few weeks ago. But it’s quite alright. I’m not heartbroken at all. It’s probably for the better, you know. He doesn’t seem the right sort of type.”
Gloria bit her lip. “At least you had your chance. At least he noticed you.”
“Exactly!” said Josie, beaming. “What a lovely attitude to have! Why doesn’t everybody sit down? I’ll get some lemonade!”
Rhoda pulled up a chair beside Pippa, and they promptly broke into whispers. Gemma awkwardly hovered between Gloria and Daphne, but sighed and gave in. Josie rose and made a beeline for the kitchen.
“Don’t blame her,” said Gloria, staring after Josephine. “It isn’t her fault. It’s kind of inevitable with James.”
Gemma sighed again. “I know.”
This afternoon was becoming stranger by the moment, reflected Daphne. She held her head high as she addressed the table, “It’s very silly getting worked up about it! He’s an oily buffoon that isn’t worth the time!”
“It isn’t that simple,” said Gloria.
“Of course it is!” said Daphne.
“It isn’t when you work for him,” noted Pippa.
Josephine had returned with a tall pitcher of lemonade. Six small glasses floated around her as she arrived and promptly flew to each person.
“Enjoy!” she said, clapping her hands. “I suppose it’s my fault for getting us all worked up there! I hadn’t any idea that everyone knew James! We’re all kind of mutual friends already, aren’t we?”
Gemma’s look darkened at being called a friend, but she daintily sipped her lemonade in silence.
“So, how do we all know him?” asked Josie.
“Boss,” came from Pippa.
“Friend,” said Gloria bitterly.
“I’ve really got no idea what anyone’s on about,” said Rhoda, “we are talking about James Sirius Potter, right?”
This was promptly ignored by Daphne, who talked over her. “Colleague, I suppose? But he’s obnoxious. Just a few days ago, he started trying to talk to me and I swear, he’s never so much as looked my way before.”
Gemma and Josephine both exchanged significant looks. Gloria stared at Daphne, her eyebrows raised in surprise. “He did what?”
“He started trying to talk to me. He asked me what my name was and we’ve been in the same joint meetings for a year now! But I got out of there quickly, though.”
“Looks like James has some plans for you,” said Josephine, smiling. “Ooh, I remember when he first asked me out! I mean, I didn’t really know him at the time much at all. But we met right outside here! Rose and Roxanne Weasley like coming here and he was waiting for them outside!”
“How cliché,” said Gemma, who was looking murderous.
“And he saw me through the glass door and he came right in and talked to me. He was so charming. He told me how enchanted he was by the place. Then he dropped by everyday for a few days like that. And finally, that Friday, he came by with a big bouquet and kissed me in front of the whole shop!” She clapped her hands together. “Oh, it was a lovely gesture!”
“Good god,” said Gloria, taken aback. Is he really that flamboyant?
But not that she would know.
Gemma sniffed self-righteously. “Well, with me, we met through his brother, actually. I was treating Albus Potter for a Quidditch accident six or seven months ago. He was out for a few days and his family came by to see him. James was with me when I prescribed the treatment.”
“Then what?” asked Daphne.
“He is charming,” said Gemma grudgingly. “After his family left and his brother was out like a light, he snuck back in and told me he’d break his bones everyday if that meant he could be here.”
“That’s a cheap sort of thing to say,” said Gloria, trying her best to look dismissive.
“It’s very Mr. Potter, though,” said Pippa.
“And then he came back the next morning with lunch reservations at a fancy restaurant. And the food there was divine, of course. And he asked me then. He told me I was unlike any girl he had ever known. That I was very mature and calm and that he absolutely demanded I see him.”
“That’s so cute!” said Josephine delightedly, having apparently forgotten the reason why their relationship had ended.
“Then he went and ruined my life,” said Gemma, “all those stupid newspapers writing about how we were going to get married or how I had broken his heart by running after another man. I was a joke for weeks. You won’t believe how many Howlers I got from his little fangirls after he’d left me, demanding why I’d cheated on him and broken the Golden Boy’s heart. I had to move to a new flat! Nobody would take me seriously again at work. A bloody nightmare the whole thing was.”
“At least he paid you attention,” said Gloria, “six years and he’s been after more idiots than I can count and he’s never even once looked at me. It’s humiliating to have him introduce girlfriend after girlfriend. I don’t know how he keeps their names straight.”
“He thinks my name is Phyllis,” Pippa interjected, “and I’ve worked for him for two years!”
“He’s a sleazy, oily git who’s looking for a good shag anywhere, anytime,” said Daphne. “And he’s an utter arse at work, let me tell you! He takes all the credit, he doesn’t do anything, he walks around like he owns the bloody Ministry and just because his father – ”
“Once he gave me roses,” said Josephine, frowning. “I really didn’t like that much. Roses are very cheap, you know.”
“Why is everyone so angry?” said Rhoda in a sideways whisper to Pippa. “It’s a bit frightening.”
“We’ve got every reason to be angry!” Pippa retorted. “Paperwork, let me tell you – and a grandmum’s name – ”
A small beep emerged from Rhoda’s watch. “Gemma, we’ve got to go! Lunch is over!”
“Go on ahead,” said Gemma to Rhoda, “I’ve got to ask this lot something.”
Author's Note: Okay, I'm so sorry for the tragically late update! But this story's still alive and the five girls are still up to something or the other. 'll try my best to update here on out, but you know. ;) We're moving on to the actual plotting now, so I'd love to know what you thought of this chapter!
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