Chapter 2 : Employment
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The minute I heard the sound of my mother’s fist against the door, my jaw clenched and I swore.
Don’t scream, James, I told myself, not wanting to get flustered first thing in the morning, particularly when the day was new and full of promise. That was till she banged on the door again, and I let out a loud cry of anger.
So much for that. I clambered out of bed and rubbed my face, feeling hot and sticky. The rest happened mechanically – the brushing of teeth, the pooping of poop, the shower-and-do-a-little-bit-of-Elvis, and the obligatory shit-I-need-to-get-out-of-here mind routine. I was downstairs half an hour later and was greeted by a table full of eager beavers.
“Oh good, James is ready, girls,” Mum said, barely looking at me and continuing to whiz around the place like a headless chicken. She trotted into the kitchen and asked Lily to help her with the dishes. “James can you drive the girls to Alphonse’s? We need to start cleaning up the house and I’ve run out of all the goods!” she called and I nodded.
“Am I allowed to eat breakfast at all?” I asked, picking up a slice of toast from Rose’s plate as she smacked my arm. I took a bite and lathered some of Gran’s raspberry jam onto it, taking another bite and then a swig of my dad’s orange juice.
“You seem awfully chipper today,” he said, not minding that I had downed half of his drink.
“What? I don’t even know what that word means,” I said, walking towards the kitchen as he laughed at me. “Is Uncle Ron coming with us? We won’t get any discounts otherwise.”
“We’re not going to buy some second-hand, cheap stuff this time,” my mother said, rolling her eyes. “The doxy poison Ron got us last time smelt of licorice. And the doxies got fatter, alright. Lily can you go check if Ruby’s dressed?”
“Why don’t you go break down her door as well?” I said snidely and Lily giggled, running up the stairs. I joined Rose and my father at the table and helped myself to more toast. Dad cleared his throat and I looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“I spoke to Alfred Prewett yesterday, from the Wigan Veelas,” he said and I nodded. “They need a strategist.”
“I’ll do it,” I said immediately and he shook his head.
“James! You don’t need a job at the moment! We have lots of things planned for the wedding and since you and Ruby are the only ones who are without employment, you’re doing most of the things!” Mum emerged from the kitchen, shaking her head. “Harry don’t you put ideas in his head!”
“It’s not an idea. It’s a legitimate job offer,” Dad reasoned and Mum glared at him. “With pay.” She stormed back into the kitchen and I turned back to him.
“Don’t they normally have female management?” Rose asked and I nodded.
“They’re a bit desperate,” said Dad with an uncomfortable grin.
“Well, good on you, James. You’ll get money and you’ll constantly be around a bunch of fitties with great looks and great bodies.” Rose said cheerfully and I grinned.
“Where do I sign up?”
“Alfred’s at his office till lunch. Maybe after you take the girls to the store you can go meet him. I have his address upstairs.”
Lily came pounding down the stairs giggling loudly and Ruby followed, looking decidedly less enthusiastic.
“Did you sleep at all?” Rose asked her with a sad smile on her face and Ruby shook her head.
“Morning everybody. Bloody time zones,” she muttered, sitting down next to her. “It was around five by the time I fell asleep, and I had set the alarm for eight because you said we had to go shopping.” She let out a loud groan and put her head down on the table.
“You can take a nap after lunch,” Mum said sternly, plopping more toast onto the tray before me. “Eat something, love. Can’t have you passing out with all this work to do.”
Everybody laughed and Ruby giggled, shaking her head.
“Can you find some work to do near Blumber Lane? James has got an appointment for a new job opening,” dad asked them. I knew she’d look at me so I focused on the toast.
“Oh that’s great,” she said, and I nodded my head slowly, drumming my fingers on the table. “I’m sure we can find something to do.”
“Great. Then you can all come back and start helping out with the house!” Mum called from the kitchen and we all groaned.
There was ten minutes of panic as I wondered if Rose would make Ruby sit in the front with me, and had to control myself from sighing with relief when she didn’t. I started the engine and we drove to Alphonse’s convenience store to the sound of Rose’s endless prattling and some Celestina Warbeck.
“There’s actually a really good confectionary near Blumber’s Lane,” Rose said as we got out of the car. “We can go stuff ourselves while James goes for his interview.”
“Magnanimous as always, Rosie,” I muttered and she giggled, looping her arms with mine. I shoved her off and walked in front of the girls, into the store. I left them to do the shopping for the house and walked into the Quidditch supplies section. It probably wasn’t wise to splurge on The Ultimate Broom Kit and The Bludger Diaries when one wasn’t make any money, but since I was probably going to have a job in a matter of an hour, I thought it wouldn’t hurt my purse. I then headed over to the food section and purchased enough sticky, sugary sweets to make Hagrid turn into a full-giant. When I got to the counter, Rose was trying to bargain with the cashier and Ruby looked thoroughly unhappy about the whole experience. I dumped my stuff on the counter and they both looked at me like I was mental.
“Fine, I’ll pay for the lot,” Rose conceded, and the cashier looked victorious. “You’ve got enough licorice wands to last you till Christmas!” she exclaimed at the sight of my shopping bags.
“Clearly you underestimate my licorice eating capacities,” I said in reply and she shook her head.
“Diabetes. It’s just a matter of years, James, and you’ll have diabetes – I’m sure of it,” I rolled my eyes at her when I realized how much she sounded like my both our mothers. I tossed the cashier a couple of galleons and returned to the car. Five minutes after, the girls joined me and we drove to Blumber’s Lane, Rose still making contemptuous comments about the shop keeper, while Ruby honestly told her that she was rubbish at haggling, which resulted in a heated debate on Rose’s bargaining skills. I parked the car in under a shady spot and hopped out, walking in the opposite direction of the girls.
Alfred Prewett was by far one of the happiest middle-aged men I had ever met. I wondered if it was because of the fact that he was constantly surrounded by a gaggle of gorgeous girls (all Veelas, mind you), and figured that I would be as happy as he was if I was in his place.
“James Potter! It’s a pleasure!” he cried, shaking my hand vigorously and offering me a box of cigars. I politely declined and tried not to be distracted by the shiny spot on his bald head. “When my receptionist told me Harry Potter was on the line, I almost had to call for smelling salts!” he said with a chuckle, and I smiled awkwardly. I was under the impression that Alfred had phoned my father, saying he wanted me for the job, not the other way round.
“Lucky for you, your resume is in the papers, and I don’t need any letters of recommendations,” he said, continuing to chuckle and put me in a deeper state of unrest. “Are you willing to take the job, m’boy?”
“I’d like to know what you’d like to me to, Mr Prewett,” I answered honestly, not wanting to jump into anything. I wasn’t interested in monitoring the team’s Pilate sessions, under the pretext of being their strategist.
“Well, as you probably know, we’re somewhere at the very bottom of the league tables. So far down, I can hardly remember the number. Our points are in the negatives, and our last strategist Fred Clamp resigned a few months ago, saying there was very little hope. The owners are considering selling the team on the whole, or pulling their investment. We need somebody who can change their game and make sure we win a couple of matches, so that we’re not that shameful team everybody expects to see losing.”
I nodded my head, not wanting to tell him that the Wigan Veelas were, in fact, dubiously dubbed the shameful team nobody expected to see winning.
“I don’t know if you know, but I coached the Hedge Hammers in the Manchester Derby, and they finished third, not bad given that they were at twenty four when it started,” I said, not wanting to sound awfully proud, even though I was. “I can’t give you immediate success – I trained with the Hammers for a whole year. But I can assure you that within a few months, you will have a sharper, more prepared team.”
“That’s the spirit!” boomed Mr Prewett, puffing away on his cigar and shaking his fists.. “When do you want to start?”
“How about tomorrow?”
“Fantastic! Brilliant!” he cried, opening the draw and shoving some old tapes in my direction. “Here are some recordings of their previous matches, so that you know what kind of a situation they’re in at the moment. You can meet the team tomorrow at eight in the morning, that’s when they assemble.”
“Eight? That’s like half a day wasted, in Quidditch time!” I protested and the old man chuckled.
“We’ll discuss your payment with the Manager tomorrow. I’ll see you in the morning, Mr Potter. And give my regards to your father!”
“How did it go?” my mother asked before I could even step foot inside the house properly.
“I got the job,” I said with a shrug and she had an expression that said she was happy for me, but vastly displeased at the same time.
“Well, that’s good, I suppose. You and Ruby are going to have to go over the colour schemes tonight and give us a list by morning, though, so don’t try and get out of it,” she said, before swishing back into the kitchen to cook unholy amounts of canapés. “Girls, I hope your shopping trip was fulfilling!” she called as Rose dumped everything onto the table.
“It was all so exorbitantly prized!” she cried, still massively unhappy about her inability to bargain properly. “And James has bought enough licorice to feed an army of giants, and another broom maintenance guide or something,” she said disdainfully, pulling out my things from the bags and shoving them across the table. “We brought some tart from the confectionary on Blumber’s, while James was at the interview. Where’s Uncle Harry?”
“He’s supposed to be fixing the curtain rods in the guest bedrooms upstairs. James go make sure he’s not watching that Quidditch match, would you?” my mother instructed as I was just about to rip open a packet of sugar sticks. I popped one into my mouth and went up the stairs, only to find my father perched on the couch, one hand on his forehead and the other gripping a curtain rod tightly.
“You stupid bastards! McLaggen could do better than that! Arses!” he cried, throwing his hands in the air and swearing continuously. I sat down next to him and looked at me, his face still very much in a state of anguish, before asking me how the interview went. I went over the important details, not wanting to fuss him too much when he was in the middle of a Cannons match. He probably wasn’t listening anyway.
“Mum sent me up here to make sure you were fixing the curtain rods and not watching Quidditch,” I told him and he glumly stood up, moving to the curtains and trying to fix the rod back in place, turning around occasionally to check the telly.
The afternoon ambled away in it’s own pace. Mum kept Rose busy in the kitchen and made Ruby clean the windows. Magic, she had said, simply would not do, and insisted everything be done manually. Before long, the remaining Weasleys arrived, and thankfully, Hugo was with them. We tackled each other in a manly hug and I told him I was glad to have some testosterone around, a comment my father was not most approving of.
“Damn, Ruby Crowne?” Hugo asked like a complete gentleman as always, making Ruby looked thoroughly perplexed and uncomfortable. “Well, you certainly look different!”
She smiled at him shyly and shook his hand when he offered it. Hugo seemed to be extremely interested in Ruby, and began prattling about his blazers and bowties.
“So much for testosterone,” I muttered and everybody laughed, except for Ruby, who began lecturing me on how fashion was a huge business today even for men, and that some of the world’s best designers were male.
“Real men play Quidditch,” I said haughtily, throwing my hands up the air and casting Hugo a where-are-your-male-parts look.
“Well that’s obviously getting you real far,” she snapped back and I raised my eyebrows at her, momentarily stunned that she had come up with a riposte of that nature, and outraged at what she was implying. She seemed to have realized that she probably shouldn’t have made a comment like that, and her eyes went as wide as saucers as an almost deafening silence ripped through the room.
“What are you insinuating?” I asked calmly, albeit through gritted teeth.
“Nothing, I just – I don’t think it’s fair to say somebody’s ‘less manly’ just because they’re interested in being well dressed and,” her eyes flitted over my ratty jeans and checked shirt. “they aren’t interested in Quidditch.”
Hugo looked thoroughly uncomfortable and suggested we drop it, that it was no big deal, and went on to ask what was for dinner. Ruby and I stood there, our gazes locked, neither of us looking particularly overjoyed. My mother was staring at the clenched hands on my side and quickly spun Ruby around and shoved her into the kitchen, asking her to set the table, while hollering to Rose to help her serve dinner. I exchanged an awkward glance with my father, who looked particularly amused by the turn of events, before he patted Hugo and Uncle Ron on the back and lead them into the kitchen, beckoning for Aunt Hermione to join them.
And I just stood there, wanting to pack Ruby Crowne into a gift box with a giant bow on it and sending her back to New York, so that I could be as far from her insulting repartees as possible.
At some point later in the evening, Lily got back from work and asked why everyone was looking like they had swallowed a Grindylow.
A/N: Man I am so bad at writing guy characters lol the only thing that comes to mind is BE GRUMPY, BE RUDE, AND PROFUSELY EXHIBIT TESTOSTERONE-RELATED PROBLEMS. I know he seems like an annoying fart but he can be endearing sometimes okay so just keep reading please.
And yes, I did switch point of views. Third person is hard to write and for people with real talent. Ergo, Meghna out. I think I’ll keep this in James’s point of view until I decide I can’t do even that.
Thanks for the faves and reviews! Expect more soon. I’m sorry to have kept some of you waiting. I move in my own way~ aka I don’t move at all.
Chapter image by Bear&Fox <3
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