Chapter 1 : Rory's Cornbread
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HOW TO READ THIS STORY:
You will be challenged on what it is to be a character. You might see some of these people in people that you know personally, which is kind the goal. Except for Rory. Rory will be quite weird at times. One thing I try to portray is authenticity. If you see any fakeness in my writing please tell me immediately. You will encounter one mary sue along the way, and you are allowed to hate her with all of your heart.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Potterverse, it belongs to JKROWLING.
Chapter 1: Rory's Cornbread
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."
Looking back on Hogwarts, I figure all I really did concerning the future was think about 'how cool it would be if I was a this or a that.' When the time came to try to do these things nothing happened.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with working at the cauldron, somebody has to, and it's good that it's me. What would this place be without me?
I'll tell you.
It would be utterly different. Complete madness, in an entirely different way. I don't know exactly how, I'm no seer.
The Leaky Cauldron without my ear – my good ear – would be a very unforeseeable place. Who knows what it would be like. It could have actually been better, I don't know.
If me and my ear wasn't here, there would be no one to have the answer to the question that was at hand.
"Do you have any cornbread?" The asker was the guy who I call 'usually asks for cornbread guy.' It is impossible to identify him until he asks for cornbread, or whatever he wants that day, because his appearance is so generic old-guy, that he is virtually unrecognizable. Once he speaks, though. You know it is 'usually asks for cornbread guy.'
If he ever did anything other than demand my answers, maybe we would be on real-name-basis, but not all of my costumers are personable.
He knows me by my cornbread, and sometimes other food items, I knew him by his peculiar voice, and that is our understanding.
"No, do you want some?" I asked. "Oh god, you're going to say yes, aren't you?" I said, and his facial expression never changed. "I really hate when you make me make cornbread when we don't have any." I shook my head a little bit to try to subliminally convince him, but goddamn his mind was made up already. "You want the cornbread."
"One cornbread coming up."
After a while I felt guilty that I tried to make him feel bad about it, so when I summoned all of the ingredients, I smiled, and made them all dance around me in a festive manner as I told them what to do. I tried to make it seem like had only been teasing him, and was cool about making the cornbread all along
I ended up having a pretty good time after all, to be honest.
While it was cooking, I made a drink for 'brings his own tankard-guy', who I now know enough to call him by his real name, Mitch. Mitch is one of the only people who comes nearly every night. We have an understanding no one will ever get. Not even me.
When I sat the finished product out before him, I gave him a very severe look. "Now you're going to ask for chili."
"No, thank you."
He picked the squares off the plate, held them close to him as he ruffled through his pockets, tossed me the cornbread amount of sickles and left. I stood there leaning on the counter with one hand, and the other holding a rag on my hip, in that ironic diner woman way. I noticed a bloke I used to see a lot at Hogwarts sitting at the counter a few seats away.
"That bastard never lets me watch him eat the bloody cornbread."
He smiled, probably because he thought it was polite to do so.
"Do you want something to eat?" I asked him, still in my diner woman stance, except my hand moved from my hip, to my lower back, because I was starting to feel tired. I wondered if this is what I would start doing if I was pregnant.
"Could I just have a cuppa?" he asked. I hadn't seen this guy in three years, because he was a grade over me. Scorpious Malfoy, the one Ryan Wood always hung about with. They played quidditch.
"Yeah, if you want one." I got up to fix him some tea. "Do you want to pick out your mug?" I showcased the mug hooks, to try to temp him into playing along. This is one of my games. If the person chooses specifically, I can pretend to make educated assumptions on their character, or personality, or cause for woeful mood based on chosen mug. I like to think a lot of people who sit at the counter alone are in woeful moods.
He seemed to look torn. I felt bad about wanting to judge him.
"I'll choose for you," I said, and he smiled in relief. I unhooked the calico patterned mug with the enchanted painted ducks walking around the bottom.
I thought about how weird it was seeing him, like it is when I see anyone from school. I tend to see a lot of old Hogwarts people around the Cauldron. Some come to see me, but most just pass through from London.
Scorpious probably knows my name, like I know his, especially since my dad is the herbology professor. Hogwarts is small enough that everyone pretty much knows each other's names if you're within three years.
All of our parents either know or hate each other, because of the events of a few decades ago. Some people let those prejudices transfer to them, but for the most part, people my age just don't really care.
I've only ever spoken to Scorpious one time, so it's like we hadn't earned the right to say each other's names out loud. It's weird how social queues work.
I placed the tea in front of him and sat down on my stool behind the counter, facing a different direction.
"Why did you pick this one, then?" he asked, pouring in cream and mixing it up, without making a single clinking sound. I thought about how well-bred that made him look.
"It's my favorite one." He appeared surprised.
I realized how silly it was that my head was facing him, but my body was turned to the side, so I picked up the stool, and repositioned myself in front of him at the counter.
"What would you say if I picked you my least favorite one?"
"I would ask you what I did to make you hate me."
"Good answer," I replied with a yawn.
I wanted so badly to ask him why he was here alone, but that would have made me feel nosy. I may be a curious person, but I'm not nosey. One of the things I hate most is gossip.
I looked up at the clock. I had six more hours before the night shift was over, and I could go to bed. It was quiet: Only one room upstairs was occupied, and there were only two other people in the whole dining room, and they had almost finished up their dinner, so I got up to go check on the soup my mom made for the night's particular.
"Mmmm, minestrone." I hummed, my voice echoing in the cauldron. I pointed my wand up to the blackboard and enchanted the chalk to right the out the specials. I noticed Scorpious watching me.
"Rory," said Mitch, in his usual way. He had me refill his tankard with more liquor. After a while, I got sick of hearing the clock tick, so I sat down in front of Scorpious again with a cup of soup.
I couldn't resist anymore.
"It's weird that you ordered tea."
"Why?" He looked at me as if I was a lunatic.
"Watch out, she's going to try and analyze you now," mumbled Mitch from his corner. I pretended to ignore him. Scorpious glanced back and forth between the two of us.
"Are you?" he asked.
"She's suffering to know what you're doing here," said Mitch.
"That's enough from you, old man," I cried.
Scorpious looked at me in a caustic sort of way for a while before he said anything. Meanwhile, I slurped my soup.
"Let's hear it then," he said leaning back. "What do you think I'm doing here?"
I picked my head up and glanced at Mitch who was holding The Prophet, but not reading it, and then back at Scorpious.
"Well you're here alone, late on a Wednesday night, without some sort of apparent agenda. You could have gotten into a fight with the person you live with, and needed to get away. Usually when that is the case, though, the person orders a firewhiskey, and dips his head to look mopey. But you got tea instead...are you a reformed alcoholic?"
We exchanged awkward airs for a few moments.
"Well I never get it right. I don't ever get it right, do I, Mitch?"
"Not usually," he replied.
At that point I felt slightly embarrassed, so I moved my bench over to where I had been polishing silver. Scorpious probably thought I was nosey and annoying. I hate giving off the impression of nosiness. That's the worst.
The clock was ticking, ticking, ticking. Endlessly.
"No, I'm just bored, I guess."
I looked up to find Scorpious gazing into my favorite mug longingly.
"Why don't you go to sleep?" I asked.
"Eh," he replied blandly. He's an insomniac, I said to myself. He looked sort of forlorn, and I wanted to make him feel better. I wondered how I could do it. If I was bored, and had nothing to do, I would want to someone to tell me to do something productive.
"You could help me polish these."
He looked up at me curiously, considering my suggestion slowly. And then, quietly, he moved over, picked up a rag, and started polishing.
I didn't ask him any more questions the rest of the night. He asked me one, though. He asked what the words written on my hand meant. It was a vague list of things I needed to get in town, I told him that I wasn't going to write them on paper, because I would absolutely not remember it. So, as I usually do, I enchanted them onto my hand. I don't know what the charm is for taking the words off, but when I want something new on my hand, it takes off the old letters.
So there's always something written on my hand.
He gave me another one of his tired looks when I was done rambling.
After we finished shining the pile of silverware, he got up and thanked me for giving him something to do.
I saw him outside the Diagon Alley window. He lit a cigarette, smoked two drags and then disapparated into the night.
My mum, my dad and I were all invited to the Weasley's the next afternoon for dinner. After we ate, Rose, Albus and I brought a cooler of beers and a blanket out onto the flat part of her roof. Just like we used to. Louis apparated to us after a little time; he had always been a part of our group too.
"So the girl was really into me, and it was obvious she was muggle, mind you, but she was gorgeous. I had never seen so much hair."
Albus has always had this way of talking. He could make anything seem like it was crazy, or awesome, or outrageous. He was a loud talker. Rose, Louis and I all listened quietly.
"Her hair had a feather in it, which I thought was a nice touch, you know. Really fucking pretty. Anyway-" Albus talks in big amounts. "She throws this curveball. She starts talking about her cell phone, and those things fucking confuse me. I don't know what the hell they do, so I have to make this face, like, I knew what she was talking about. And then she asked me if she could have my number. And I remember you saying that all muggles have numbers, Rose, so I start tattling off some bloody number. I said something like five thousand, whatever..."
Rose cackled loudly. "Nooo, Albus, not like that."
"Yeah, I got that thanks. She looked at me like I had insulted her, and walked off really fast."
"Muggles know when you're taking a piss at them, Al," said Louis, trying not to laugh.
"Yeah stop picking on innocent muggles," I said.
"Fuck you all," Albus replied before taking a swig of his beer.
For a while, all was quiet. The stars were out, so we watched them. There was some sort of content sad feeling between us, because we knew we could never make like it used to be. We were all so close, and now, it's slightly awkward.
We've grown apart, but the reason we don't break ties is because we know too much about each other to do so.
At least that's what I reckon.
"I can't believe Hugo graduates next month."
We all chewed on the realization silently.
"I hate it," said Louis. "The magic world was always wonderful all the way through Hogwarts..." He sighed long and hard. "...Now it's just bleak, everyday life." Louis was always the emotional one of the four of us. He always had something cold and forlorn to say. Lily will be graduating next year, and then all of us will be boring adults.
Whenever Louis got like this in the old days, we would all yell at him for being such a Debbie – that was his nickname – and say something uplifting to lighten the mood.
But none of us said anything, because it was true.
It scared me, because I wish there was room for adventure. Hogwarts was always endless wonder and amazement. And as soon as we learned everything, there was nothing else to astonish us. It made me want to cry.
Bonnie Finnegan works as a researcher on the silk road, and Fred Weasley has been apprenticing with his uncle Charlie, with the dragons in Albania.
I had said goodbye to Lorcan a couple weeks ago, because he is working with Native American burial grounds in the States. I'm going to miss him.
These are the things wizards and witches should be doing.
Especially Albus and Rose, who are the spawns of the saviors of our world, how awful it must feel for them to not live up to expectations of greatness. Nowadays they are exceptionally normal.
And me too, because my father is something great, being a true Gryffindor, and highly respected and all that.
I don't mind being average, really. Because even though my job can be a drag sometimes, and I don't have a spot of real purpose in my life, I'm happy to be alive.
"I saw Scorpious Malfoy last night at the Cauldron," I said conversationally. I wanted to get rid of the depressing mood between us.
No one cared really, but they played along.
"What has he been doing?" asked Rose.
"I don't know," I replied. "We didn't talk as if we knew each other."
"I always thought he was a prat," said Al. He stood up his empty bottle a few feet away, and transfigured it into a little seashell. It caught the light of the light of the moon, and shone pearly white.
"You only say that because of all the times he beat you out of the snitch," said Louis, looking steadily at the shell.
Albus sighed. A long, surrendering sigh. "I never should have been the seeker. Scorpious was the real natural, and I..."
No one said anything for a while. The whole quidditch thing was a sore subject with Albus, Louis was the only one with enough apathy to bring it up.
When he finally continued, it was so long after, that it didn't seem to be okay to say anymore. But he said it anyway, because that was Albus. He would say what needed to be said.
"...and I was only a Potter."
"And Potters play quidditch," Rose finished for him.
I went to my parents' later to have a bit of tea with them, before going home for the night. Sometimes I miss them, because even though I see my mum enough at work, and my dad on the weekends, I hardly get to talk to them when we're all together. We get on pretty well.
At this point, my dad was questioning me thoroughly. He's a bit of a worrier. Treats me like a baby still.
"Are you able to get in your rent on time, Rory?"
"Yeah, for the most part."
"You'd tell us if you were short, wouldn't you? How are you able to buy food and feed yourself?"
"I don't buy food."
The two of them gasped in horror, my mum going so far as to touch her poor old heart.
"You've got to eat!" she cried. "Just come live with me again, love, I can feed you."
"You do feed me mum, all I do at work is eat."
I could tell she was relieved to hear this, but she put on her boss-mom facade. "I don't pay you to eat, dearest." My dad ignored her comment.
"You can't live off of bar food, its unhealthy," he said, concern ridden in his eyes.
"She cooks while she's there Neville."
"Yeah, last week I made myself a sandwich and wrapped it up for lunch the next day."
This didn't make him feel better. "What about breakfast?"
I scoffed. "Why eat breakfast when I can lie in my bed all morning and make like I'm sleeping."
My dad knew I was joking, but my mum looked as if I was raving.
She was the kind of woman who was never without something to do, whereas I'm the opposite. That's why I stopped working the counter during the day, because I don't ever want to anything. The night shift is perfect, because I can idle, and pick at food, and make stupid conversation with the evening regulars and night travelers.
"If you keep acting like an invalid, you'll become one," she said.
"Is that really all you do? What is your daily timetable?" My dad asked curiously.
"Well usually I wake up around two," I stop to listen to my mom choke on her biscuit. "And then I get up and have a cup of tea and read. Then I take a shower, dry my hair, decide on an outfit, and walk to work the long way."
My dad laughs, and my mum, with a dry sense of disbelief, shakes her head depressingly at me.
Until a couple weeks ago, I would usually wake up at noon, do all of things quicker, and then go see Lorcan.
Things have gotten amazingly even less exciting since he left.
"On a less pathetic note," my mum teased. "I've hired a new girl for weekend afternoons."
"Seriously?"I said in my most dreadful tone. I hate new girls.
"And you have to train her."
"For the love of Merlin, seriously?"
"Your shift will start later and end later..." I sat and looked at the wall behind my mum while she explained everything to me. "Oh come on," she started up again. "Don't be a baby. I need you to help me with early breakfast. You know how hard it is to find people who know how to bake these days."
"How hard is it?" my dad asked, always the inquisitive one. I get my annoying question asking skills from him.
"It's bloody difficult," she replied.'
I huffed. "When does she start?"
"In two weeks. It'll be slow enough at night for you to show her everything. She's a nice girl, you'll like her."
After complaining a bit more, I hugged my parents goodbye and went home. Bertha always works my two days off of a week.
I flopped down on my unmade bed, kicked off my shoes, and fell asleep.
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