Chapter 1 : The First One
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Chapter image by me.
To tell the truth, Lara Polorous was lonely.
Sure, she had a handful of friends from Hogwarts, some of whom lived near her. But they were all caught up in what they had going on (Layla was getting married soon, Jenny was finishing her Auror training, David had just been promoted at work, etc). Sure, she had her fellow peers who studied beside her at St. Mungo’s, where she was in her final year of training. But they were all better friends with each other, or slightly off putting (she swore that she had seen Leanne Reed pick her nose the other day). Sure, she had her coworkers at the little cafe she worked at on Diagon Alley. But they were just coworkers, and Lara was a bit too shy to initiate conversations with them outside of the friendly chatter that filled most shifts.
She hated that she collapsed home many nights to study for her next busy day instead of going out to the pub with some friends or having dinner with a mate.
Unfortunately, Lara was too stuck in her routine to really attempt to change anything. And so the cycle continued, week after sad, empty week.
She continued to pursue her hobbies from when she was younger: she read books, Muggle and magical; she took pictures around Muggle London; she listened to her favourite bands on her iOwl. But at the end of most nights, she ended up eating alone at a table for one, sitting in silence and reading.
Not that Lara minded being alone; she had always been a reserved person. When she had studied at Hogwarts, she had found herself befriending almost solely students in the year above her, in Hufflepuff (she wasn’t sure how it happened, but they were who she sat with on the train in first year, and there was no going back after that). Because of that, her seventh year had been a quiet year where she focussed more on getting good NEWT scores than anything else (she got straight Os, thank you very much). So Lara was used to the quiet of herself and books.
One way she occupied herself away from her frantic day at the hospital or the stressful shifts at Beside the Point was listening to the wireless. She prided herself in being very politically aware, in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds (she sometimes wondered if her connection to the Muggle world was odd, but dismissed the thought the next time she visited her aging Muggle father). Her absolute favourite way to spend the long, dreary days was to listen to a popular chat show, Rush Hour. Lara connected to the two cheerful, upbeat hosts, Emerald and Scorpion (which were code names, not their actual names), in a way that made her feel slightly less lonely in her cramped apartment. The show, during which the two would chat and play music, ran from 5-6 on WBC, the main wizarding channel, every night. Lara listened to the show religiously, enjoying the little connection she had to other people.
She had been out of Hogwarts from three and a half years, and in that time, she had continued her consistent routine the entire time. Her sister, Hailey, had tried to set her up on blind dates frequently, and they went well enough, but Lara decided she didn’t want to have that added stress in her life. Aside from the occasional date, her love life was pretty much non-existent (though she was very content with it that way).
That’s not to say that Lara was not able to attract men, if she so desired. Lara was indeed a very pretty young woman, with long, brown hair, bright green eyes, and clear, pale skin. She always dressed very classily, albeit with a hipster edge (you never saw her without her trusty brown Oxfords and classic leather purse). She was not aware of the male attention she received, however, as she was slightly oblivious to much of what transpired around her. She was incredibly smart, of course, and had more information in her head than the average encyclopaedia, but when it came to social situations or observations...better leave those to her sister.
On this particular day (the 8th of October, a Friday), Lara was rushing to meet her sister at their favourite restaurant in Regent’s Park. Because it was 5:50, her headphones were happily jammed into her ears as she sprinted through the grassy hills, over the arching bridge, and by the grimy duck pond with a small smile on her face.
“Thank you for tuning in to the last segment of the Rush Hour, listeners! For those of you just tuning in, our current topic is the best way of relaxing after a stressful day because it’s a Friday and the end of a busy week.”
“And remember you can check up on our blog on the WBC website and be sure to like our parchment on Wizbook! There you can find exciting updates about the programme and read about what you miss here.”
“So, relaxing at the end of a long day-”
“Well, Emerald has never worked a real day in his life, so he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.”
“Look who’s talking, Scorp! If I’ve never worked a real day, you’ve never worked for a minute.”
“I’ll have you know that I worked the summers during school very diligently!”
“...no, you didn’t! I spent every minute with you!”
“Yes, and being in your company for longer than a few minutes is very challenging work.”
“Oh hardy har har. You’re hilarious.”
“And don’t you forget it! We have a caller coming in now. Dana, how do you like to relax after a stressful day at work?”
“Wow, I can’t believe I actually got through! I love your show, guys, listen to it every night! Personally, I love to read a good book and drink some warm milk when I’m a bit stressed after work.”
“That sounds quite relaxing indeed.”
“I’m quite a fan of that, though Scorp here has a bit of difficulty reading. It’s a bit too intelligent of an activity for his small brain capacity.”
“That’s not even a valid insult, Em, because I scored higher than you on our OWLs.”
“Yes, but evidently you became less intelligent by the time NEWTs rolled around, yeah?”
“Shut up, Emerald. Just because you spent so much time in the library seventh year-”
“Anyway, thank you very much for calling in, Dana! And here we have Isaac with some advice for us.”
“Hello, wow, I can’t believe I’m on the show! I just wanted to say that I love listening to Rush Hour to help wind down. I usually tune in as soon as I get home, it’s really helpful after a long day at the office.”
“We’re honoured, Isaac, truly. Thanks for telling us!”
“Isn’t it rather ironic that this is actually our most stressed time of the day, when everybody else is decompressing?”
“That’s not really ironic, Scorp, as I’ve told you multiple times-”
“But wouldn’t one expect this to be the time when it’s time to destress, but for us it’s the most stressful? So it directly contradicts one’s expectations-”
“Shut up, Scorp, nobody wants to listen to us bicker about irony.”
“That’s your way of telling me that I’m right, isn’t it?”
“And here we have our last caller, Lincoln. What’s your favourite way of calming down, Lincoln?”
“I like to...”
Lara regretfully pulled her headphones out of her ears as she approached the cozy diner, craning her neck to see her sister. She spotted her bright blonde head after a moment of searching and hurried to seat herself across from her.
“Took you long enough,” Hailey commented, looking up briefly with a stern glance before returning to the menu.
“Yes, I know, I’m sorry,” Lara panted out, carefully restoring her prized iOwl in her leather purse and folding up her headphones. “I had to stay a bit late at the hospital for some last minute rounds, and then I Apparated further than I meant to, and I’m not particularly in shape so I was pretty slow running-”
“Cool your jets, bro,” Hailey idly replied. She placed the menu back on the table and peered at her sister curiously. “Damn, have you been getting any sleep at all?”
Lara ducked her head, trying to hide behind her thick sheet of hair. It was true; her bright green eyes had large bags under them. “Of course I sleep! I just have been pretty busy with all my studying and working...” Her feeble excuse did not impress Hailey.
“Dude, you’re working way too hard,” she grimaced. “If you would just take some of mine and Roger’s money, you could quit that job-”
“Not a chance, Hailey,” Lara sighed, tired of their cyclical conversation. “I’’m going to earn enough to live alone if it kills me. I don’t want to take advantage of you guys.”
“You know what you need?” Hailey inquired suddenly, sitting up straighter with a huge, ominous grin. Lara inched away from the smirking girl. Hailey’s ideas frequently ended with an unhappy Lara forced into something that would “open her horizons” or “change it up a bit.” “You, my dear sister, need to relax a bit. And you know the best way to do that?”
“Read a good book in front of the fire with a mug of hot chocolate?” Lara tried. Hailey’s grin widened threateningly. “Walk along the South Bank and take pictures of the performers? Buy a Smiths album?”
“You, me, and Roger will be going to the Crossed Broomsticks tomorrow night,” Hailey said with that shit eating grin still in place. Lara groaned in protest (but not after muttering, “You, Roger, and I” into her water). “When was the last time you went out and had some fun?”
“You know I hate going to clubs,” Lara muttered unhappily. The problem with Hailey was that she was a persistent little bugger. Bloody Gryffindors and their stubbornness, Lara thought grumpily as she watched Hailey rant about how Lara needed a break and this is exactly what she needed and- Lara tuned out at some point, sulkily stirring her water.
Despite her current situation, Lara loved Hailey. They were as different as they were close. Hailey was a energetic, outgoing blonde Gryffindor; Lara was a shy, quiet, nerdy brunette Ravenclaw. Hailey was frequently out partying with her friends or sitting in her favourite pub with a large group. It surprised quite a few when Lara was Hailey’s Maid of Honour at her wedding a few years back, though her closest friends knew that the two sisters were unquestionably best friends.
Hailey was a very pretty young woman, just three years older than Lara. She had long blonde hair and bright green eyes, one of the only similarities between the sisters.
The rest of the dinner passed uneventfully as they exchanged stories about work (Hailey was cursebreaker at Gringotts) and joked around.
“Okay, I’ll be at your flat at 7 to help you get ready, we’ll leave at 8,” Hailey arranged as they stood from the table, preparing to leave. “Roger will show up somewhere in the middle, so have some snacks ready for him.” Lara nodded with a grimace; she had accepted her fate, but was nonetheless going to fight it every step of the way. “Ciao, bella.”
The two separated quickly as Lara returned moodily the way she had come before. She dug through her bag to find her precious camera and began to take pictures along the way, a foolproof way to calm her down. By the time she arrived at her flat (she got bored around Baker St. and decided to Apparate home), she was in a much calmer mood, and decided to make the best of the occasion. Who knew what could come of it, after all?
Lara was sitting on her favourite chair (a reclining blue antique, which she had encountered at a thrift store for a bargain and dragged to her flat with such enthusiasm that her neighbours had avoided her since) with her favourite book (Slaughterhouse Five, which she reread at least once a month) when Hailey Apparated into the flat the next day.
Lara had worked for most of the morning at the cafe before returning to the flat and completing her paperwork for training. Her friend Layla had come by to discuss the bridesmaids dresses with Lara for a while in the afternoon, after which Lara had decided that reading in the chair seemed like a good idea.
Hailey was wearing a simple black sleeveless dress (that was slightly shorter than Lara was comfortable with), with minimal makeup on her face. Her bright green eyes were excited and happy, which made Lara feel bad for being such a downer on her sister’s idea.
“Okay, broski, here’s the deal: I have this gorgeous dress for you, and you’re going to wear it, no complaints,” Hailey ordered, without so much as a ‘hello.’ “Tonight, you will unwind and have fun and I will not tolerate any moping or grouching. Are we clear?” Lara nodded a hesitant yes before Hailey grinned brightly, dragging Lara from the small sitting area to her bedroom.
Although Lara often wished for a larger flat, she was very content in her small one bedroom, one bathroom. Her bedroom was just large enough for a queen sized bed, an old set of drawers, and a large bookcase.
Hailey dropped the dress bag on her blue-quilted bed before dragging her to the bathroom, and forcing her to sit on the toilet. Lara gracefully allowed her sister to put on her makeup and artfully arrange her hair in a casual updo (in all honesty, Lara was very inexperienced with hair and makeup and had no idea about what her sister was doing to her head). After a half hour of this, a loud crack interrupted the constant stream of chatter that accompanied Hailey’s assistance.
“Bathroom!” Hailey cried without changing position.
“Hello, honey,” her husband, Roger Collins, greeted, hugging her from behind and kissing her head gently. Hailey smiled and pecked him delicately before turning back to her project.
Roger Collins had been Hailey’s Hogwarts sweetheart, and everybody was always gushing about what a cute couple they made. He was a tall, broad shouldered man with short brown hair and matching eyes. The two had been best friends since childhood, and gotten together in their final year of school, much to the relief of all of their friends (and family). Roger now worked at the Ministry in the International Relations department, though Lara hadn’t a clue as to what he actually did there.
“Fred says hello,” he said as his wife continued with her attempts to add...something to Lara’s eyes. Lara still hadn’t the faintest as to what was being done to her face, though she was content sitting there, thinking about the book she had left on her chair.
After what Lara considered far too long and Hailey wished was a bit longer, Lara finally changed into the dress (a one shouldered green number that Lara wished was a bit longer, though anything above the knees made her vaguely uncomfortable), and the trio Apparated into the club.
Immediately, the flashing lights and pounding music made Lara wish she was back in her chair, clutching her mug and reading about Billy Pilgrim, rather than watching a couple grind inappropriately right in front of her.
Hailey dragged the trio (though Roger was willing to follow her, it was more an issue of getting separated in the overwhelming crowd) towards the bar, where she obtained a highly suspect liquid that she thrust into Lara’s hands excitedly, before disappearing with her husband into the crowd.
And then there was one, Lara thought bitterly, leaning against the bar and inspecting the liquid in her hand. After a moment of deliberation, Lara threw back her head and drained the glass, enjoying the fiery burn in her throat. Carpe diem, Lara decided with a dry smile, turning back to the bar.
AN: So this is my first multi chapter fic that I'm posting on here! Let's see how it goes. So there's going to be a lot of weird references in here because I picture Al as a complete hipster for some reason so I made Lara a hipster so they could have adorable hipster babies. Sorry if it gets annoying! I'd love any feedback on this story. :)
DISCLAIMER: I draw heavy inspiration from In Love With My Radio, another fanfic in the Merlin fandom. The original idea for this story is from there; beyond that, there's little in common. Additionally, the entire world of Harry Potter is not mine at all; I'm just strolling through JK's beautiful garden. I am also not Kurt Vonnegut or any other actual author mentioned in this fic. Same goes for bands.
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