Chapter 3 : Schemes
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The same night, Mum was kind enough to remind me that I had to go over the colour schemes with Ruby. By the time dessert had wound down though, I hoped everyone would have forgotten about it and slunk back up the stairs to my room, changing into my tattered pyjamas. About an hour later, there was a knock at the door.
“We’re supposed to go over the colour schemes,” said Ruby, her eyes flitting over my outfit for a good ten seconds before meeting my gaze.
“We’ll do it tomorrow,” I said, faking a yawn. “Real tired. And I have work tomorrow.”
“We’re supposed to go over the colour schemes tonight,” she reinforced and I glared at her.
“Everybody else is asleep!”
“Actually, Rose and Hugo are going over the invitations list with Lily and – ” she began and I held up a hand and stepped out of her way, letting her into my room.
“Can’t we sit at the table downstairs?” she asked, wrinkling her nose at the mess around her. I probably should have gotten rid of those old boots. Nevertheless, she perched herself precariously at the edge of my bed and placed the giant file she was holding onto it with a thud.
“What’s that?” I asked, dubiously glancing at the file that had more pages than Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
“Colour codes,” she said simply, looking at me like I was a loon.
“Right,” I cleared my throat and sat opposite to her, clutching onto my pillow and keeping a sizeable distance between us. “What do we have to do exactly?”
“Well, what I gathered from my conversation with Lily yesterday is that she wants a sort of pastel theme, so everything – from the cake, flowers, decor, dress, shoes, every little detail – will have to follow under the same category.”
“Wait. There’s no pastel cake! There’s chocolate and there’s vanilla. That’s it,” I grunted and Ruby shot me an annoyed glance.
“We’re going to talk to the caterers tomorrow in the evening. I’m sure they’ll have a butterscotch or caramel cake – ”
“Butterscotch?” I exclaimed, gagging and Ruby ignored me and opened the file.
“Let’s start with cake then, since it’s our area of expertise,” she muttered, flipping through the pages that had panels and panels of colours, their contrasts, compliments and everything under the sun.
“Why do you have this book?” I asked, looking at her like she was a mutant. She probably was. Normal people, as far as I knew, didn’t walk around carrying books the size of bundt with pages and pages of colour schemes.
“I work for a fashion magazine, James,” she said, rolling her eyes and making me feel stupid yet again.
She looked up at me for a moment and gave me a nasty look, before flipping through more pages and stopping at a section that had light peaches and pinks.
“Do you have some parchment we can write the list out on?” she asked and I pulled out my wand.
“Accio parchment!” I called and a thick wad came flying towards us. I unrolled it and grabbed the quill next to my bed, looking at her expectantly.
“Alright. I think we can shortlist butterscotch, vanilla, peach and caramel. Maybe blackcurrant? But the contrasts don’t leave us with much options, and if we made the whole thing mauve-themed it might just look like a pygmy puff reunion. Peach, peach, peach, peach,” she mumbled, tracing the length of the book with her long pointer finger and tapping the peach panel with success. “Peach! This is a good option. And if she wants more than one dessert, a peach melba would be gorgeous. Of course there’s the old peach-and-white theory but I’m sure none of the bridesmaids would mind. Peach looks so good in chiffon – ugh it’s so soft and creamy but at the same time it looks really refined and classy. Definitely put peach down! Hmmm. Mint? No, I don’t think so. We might look like the lot out of that bathing soap commercial. And a mint-flavoured cake would taste like toothpaste, let’s be honest. I’m looking at butterscotch and it fits the cake, and I’m sure we could do a pineapple crumble dessert or something, but again, the costume department might be a bit unflattering. What do you think?”
She finally looked up and I just stared at her like she was an acromantula.
“What?” she asked, looking annoyed at my unresponsiveness.
“Did you just vomit two hundred words in thirty seconds?” I asked incredulously, pointing the quill at her accusatively.
“Did you copy down any of the options I just mentioned?” she countered and I looked down at the blank parchment and back at her. She let out a grunt of disapproval and snatched the parchment and quill from her hand. “Take the book then,” she ordered. “Go on.” She began scribbling on the page avidly. “Butterscotch. Vanilla. Peach. Caramel. Blackcurrant? I’m not putting down mint. Look through the pink sections, would you. I don’t think anybody would mind strawberry.”
“I hate strawberry,” I said casually, flipping through the pages till I found ten pages of different shades of pink. “Merlin.”
“Well, since this isn’t your wedding, I don’t think it matters,” she said nastily and I glared at her. “Go to the back and check the contrasts. Fast, we’re still only doing the cake!”
“Just stop talking!” I cried, her continual babbling giving me a migraine. She let out a huff and tapped the back of the quill on the parchment distractedly. I was so sure I would have murdered her by the end of the night. “There, contrasts.”
“Ugh no, it’ll have to be all pink if we go with strawberry. Actually, I’ll just put it down anyway. We’ll ask Lily tomorrow what she thinks.”
“What’s the difference between this blue and this one?” I asked, flipping through more pages and pointing at two shades of blue that were right next to each other, my face scrunched up with confusion. “This one’s just ... darker.”
“That’s cerulean!” Ruby cried, looking like she wanted to smack me across the head for my lack of knowledge of colours. “This one’s – okay, look, would you wear a vest that’s this colour with a grey suit?”
“Umm. Why not?” I chanced and she looked amazed.
“No! You never wear anything grey with this blue! Cerulean, on the other hand, you can wear as a vest, but definitely not as a tie, unless you want to be mistaken for a member of the Blue Cross – ” I held my hand up again and she stopped her incessant word vomit.
“No offense but I really don’t care. There’s hardly a difference between these two – ”
“It might only be a shade darker, but that completely alters your wardrobe, and is decisive in telling you what you should and shouldn’t wear with something that colour!”
“That’s bollocks. I could wear a cerulean tie tomorrow and pull it off.” I said and she rolled her eyes at me.
“You’d also look like a complete arse, but I’m sure you’re used to that,” she muttered, climbing over to my side of the best and resting against the headboard.
I glared at her. “First you call me an arse and imply that I have no fashion sense, and then you invade my personal space?” I asked, edging away from her.
“Go sit somewhere else, then!” she snapped.
“It’s my room!” I yelled and she rolled her eyes again.
“Can we just focus on getting this finished? I have no intention of staying up all night trying to get this done just because you have a pitiful knowledge of primary colours.”
We glared at each other and sat in silence for a few minutes before I picked up the damned file with the seemingly infinite colour schemes in it. “What’s next?”
I woke up the next morning with a sore back. It was eight thirty, and as much as I wanted to turn over and go back to sleep, I thought of Alfred Prewett’s shiny bald patch and a bag of galleons and got out of bed.
On my way downstairs after a shower and generous spray of Pomeroy Lockhart’s newest scent, I stopped mid-flight and shook my head. I could distinctly hear Ruby going over everything we had discussed last night with Lily. I groaned and closed my eyes, and images of the never ending colour panels came to mind. I’d rather eat a Goblin that have to go over that again.
“Morning, James!” called my mother from the kitchen. “All ready for work, then?”
“Still got time,” I mumbled, rubbing my eyes and she came out to give me a kiss, which I successfully managed to avoid. “What’s for breakfast?” I greeted Lily and my father, who was half-asleep on the couch and shot Ruby a nasty glance.
“Sleep alright?” she asked, not even looking up at me.
“I had a sore back. Of course I slept alright,” I snapped and she shook her head.
“It’s not my fault you have bad posture,” she muttered, at which Lily giggled and I scoffed.
“I’m a Quidditch player! You don’t get to talk to me about posture, Miss I’m From New York and Know the Names of All the Different Kinds of Blues!” I said, mimicking a high-pitched voice that hardly sounded like her. Her voice was actually very deep.
“I never said I was from New York!” she said, making a face.
“You don’t even sound English anymore. You should have heard her yesterday, Lil – she said vacation instead of holiday and sidewalk for pavement!” I shook my head at her and Ruby rubbed her face.
“You’re such a child,” she said scathingly, pushing her chair back and standing up, and taking her cereal bowl to the kitchen.
“Why, because I don’t know what pants to wear with cerulean?” I called back and she showed me a finger when my mother wasn’t looking. I admit, I might have grinned at that point.
“You don’t know what pants to wear with cerulean?” Lily asked, raising her eyebrows at me and I told her to sod off.
Rose came around a few minutes later, and Ruby recounted everything to her like she had to Lily when they were in the kitchen. Dad finally got out of the couch when he remembered it was my first day of work.
“Hardly,” I grumbled. “They start practice at ten. That’s half a day wasted! They probably don’t have any real talent at all. Plus they’ve all got millions of endorsements. That’s the problem with the women’s leagues. They’re so easily lured by shiny things – ”
“You misogynistic prick!” cried Ruby from the kitchen and my father gulped uncomfortably. She then apologized, looking awkwardly between the two of my parents. “But really, how can you let him say that?” she said finally, looking at my mother, who shrugged. Ruby would not have it. “Look, I hate to be that person who – ”
“Who is an annoying little squit who likes poking her nose into every little aspect of other people’s lives?” I offered and she shook her head.
“Your mother is still one of the best captains the Harpies have ever had! Gloria Stipe scored better goals in the World Cup than Viktor bloody Krum! How can you make repulsive statements like “women are lured by shiny things and don’t have any real talent” when you have practically lived your whole life surrounded by strong, amazing women who have not just captained innumerable teams to victory, but fought bloody wars! Didn’t your grandmother kill Bellatrix Lestrange? Didn’t - ”
“SHUT UP!” I yelled and she dropped her cereal bowl, her face pink from her bout of word vomit. “GOD! You can’t just come here and start eating into our brains with your little cerulean, feminist things! I’m sorry if everything I say bothers you, but you know what, there’s a pair of ear-muffs downstairs in the cabinet and IT’S MY BLOODY HOUSE AND NOBODY COMPLAINS ABOUT ANYTHING I SAY – EXCEPT FOR YOU! AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU!”
“Maybe if your head wasn’t so far up your arse – ” she began at her usual speed of five thousand words per minute.
“MY HEAD IS NOT UP MY ARSE!”
“YES IT IS. YOU’RE A MISOGYNISTIC, JUVENILE ASSHAT ON AN EGO TRIP! GET OVER YOURSELF!”
“Oh fuck off,” I snapped, grabbing my backpack and stalking out of the front door, slamming the door behind me. I turned around and faced the door and screamed out some of the most heinous swear words I could manage, and instantly feeling much better, I got into the car and drove off to Blumber Lane.
“Alright girls, here is your new strategist, Mr James Potter,” said Thomas Brookes, the manager of the Wigan Veelas. I gave the astoundingly similar yet good looking girls my best smile. They introduced themselves one by one, dazzling me with their shiny blonde hair and big blue eyes. I had a feeling I was going to love my job.
“I haven’t had time to watch your past matches yet,” I said, mentally cursing at Ruby again. “But I’m taking the word of your fitness instructor that you’re all in good shape. I do, however, intend on making changes to your routine. It’s ten thirty, and there’s still two of you missing. Starting tomorrow, everybody will be on the pitch at six thirty.” I waited to hear them all groan and complain, and sure enough, they did. “Everybody who isn’t on the pitch at six thirty sharp ultimately loses consideration for qualifying for the main team. Now,” I said, pausing to look them all in the eye. “I believe we’re scheduled to play the Manchester Muggle Eaters two weeks from now. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to start improvising right now. Which one of you can fill me in on your current strategy?”
A Miss Chang who was suspiciously only half-Veela-looking put her hand up. “I’m Clarice Chang, the captain,” she said and I nodded at her. She filled me in on everybody’s positions and their plan of attack, before telling me that she hoped I’d find out what they were doing wrong.
“I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. You’re probably just not approaching it the right way,” I said charmingly and she smiled. “Now if you could lead me to a spare broomstick and if we can start practicing, that would be great.”
About an hour later, I had gone over two new attack strategies with the team, which (although I hated to admit it and probably wouldn’t) was actually rather talented. They didn’t have an actual seeker though – the present one had more talent as a beater, and they normally swapped positions with substitutes for most matches. Not having a seeker on the team was cutting it too fine. I asked Thomas Brookes if we could put out an advertisement for the position, but he politely said no, and that he would consider it if the existing team managed to win something.
It was bloody exhausting though. It seemed as if they had never been through any rigorous training in their lives – they demanded breaks every fifteen minutes and some of them would get off their broomsticks and spread themselves on the grass for ten whole minutes in the middle of a session. It was past lunchtime when we were finished, and everybody looked disgruntled to say the least.
“Okay, we need to establish some serious work ethic here,” I said seriously, wiping my sweaty brow. “Tomorrow, I expect everyone here at six thirty sharp. We’ll go through individual sessions and do speed tests, and of course, there’ll be selections for the team that plays Manchester. Don’t expect to leave till two. And don’t make a habit of asking for a time out every half an hour. If you can cooperate and work your butts off for the next two weeks, we can kick Manchester’s arse and who knows who else, and that’ll give us a shot at the Premiere League. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
They dragged themselves away, some of them complaining about not being able to feel their rears and some moaning about losing sleep.
As for me? I was determined to get the Wigan Veelas into the Premiere League.
The house was comfortingly and surprisingly silent when I got back, and everyone seemed to be upstairs, asleep or doing Merlin knew what. At the sound of the door closing, Mum came downstairs and served me lunch, asking me about my day. I then picked up the videos Alfred have given me and sat down in my Dad’s old chair in the attic, making notes and mocking their previous strategist while devising new game plans.
Till there was a knock on the door.
“James we’re supposed to go the caterer.”
I thought I’d ask Ruby why she bothered knocking if she was just going to walk in anyway but decided against it. “Give me ten minutes.”
“Actually, we’re already a bit late. He’s leaving to Cheshire tomorrow – ”
I let out a loud sigh and stood up, picking up my notebook, an old copy of Quidditch Through the Ages and the old tapes and facing her.
Ruby offered to drive and I let her, sitting in the front seat with her and continuing to make notes in silence.
“So,” she began and I mentally swore. “How was your first day at work?”
“Great,” I mumbled, drawing deviation tactics for the seeker and turning the page.
“And the team?” she prodded on, and I sighed.
“Look, don’t feel the need to make conversation. It’s out in the open that neither of us are particularly fond of each other,” I said, snapping my book shut and glaring out of the window.
“If we’re going to work together on this thing, we need to be at least a little cordial to each other,” she said and I rolled my eyes.
“Says the one who called me a misogynistic, juvenile asshat on an ego trip.”
“I didn’t appreciate what you said about women,” she justified and I shrugged.
“I don’t appreciate you trying to give me life lessons every second of the day either!”
“Fine – I’m sorry for calling you all those nasty things. But that was a disgusting thing to say!”
“Right, I’m sorry then. It turns out they’re actually talented!” I conceded and she looked mildly impressed with herself.
We sat in silence for a few seconds.
“This doesn’t mean we’re friends,” she said finally and I looked at her incredulously.
“What is your problem?” I asked and she shrugged.
“Nothing! I don’t agree with your attitude, okay? Yes, we apologized to each other, but in principle, I don’t agree with you. Fundamentally speaking. So. Let’s just try and not kill each other by the time the wedding comes around and let’s just get this thing to work.”
“You don’t agree with me in principle? Fundamentally speaking?” I repeated. “What do I look like to you, a terrorist?”
“No, but you just make these ridiculous comments all the time and I can’t help but think that – that – oh never mind.”
“Oh no, please continue!” I urged and she shook her head.
“What you said to Hugo last night was just ... rude.”
“I was joking! I said ‘so much for testosterone’!”
“He didn’t think it was funny,” she replied coolly.
“Umm, you might have forgotten, but Hugo is my cousin. What are you, his advocate?”
Ruby pursed her lips and didn’t say anything.
“He told you he was upset then?”
“Just forget it, alright? You just say things without thinking about the repercussions sometimes.”
“What repercussions?” I cried and she continued shaking her head.
“Just go back to playing Bingo, James,” she mumbled and I stared at her, utterly offended.
“I was not playing Bingo. They’re diversion tactics!”
A/N: Alright then, that was a happy chapter, wasn’t it? I know I keep avoiding the whole How James Met Ruby plot but I will get to it at some point. For the moment, I’m trying to focus on how much they don’t get along and how they don’t agree with each other – fundamentally speaking P: Thanks for reading and reviewing. Expect an update soon, unless I sacrifice myself to the Dementors because of my pathetic finals results.
Chapter image by the fantastic Bear&Fox <3
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