Chapter 2 : Attack of the Rabid Mop
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“How did you get this internship?” I blurted out, completely taken aback. So that was probably really rude, but I couldn’t keep it in. I mean I knew that the kid was talented, he showed me that when he completely crushed my team a few weeks ago. But, usually when there are prospects like him they would skip this stage of the game. They would just show up to try-outs in October because they don’t need the coaches to be biased for them to make the team. There just wasn’t any reason for him to be here.
“I got it the same way you did – with family connections,” he said smoothly.
“You’ve got a cousin who is a scout?” I asked. Again, not my brightest moment (especially because Teddy wasn’t technically a cousin), but I wasn’t thinking straight.
“No,” he said, giving me an awkward, uncomfortable look. “My uncle is good friends with the owner, Joey.”
I nodded as I processed the information.
Now, before you get the wrong idea, I was not, in fact, angry with the boy. It was not his fault that I was not up to par. That terrible crushing loss was no one’s fault but my own. I respected his talent because it deserved to be respected. But this meant that I now had more competition. We would be spending the next two months vying for the attention of the higher ups, so I wasn’t exactly happy to see him.
“Oh,” I said, pausing before I made myself look even more stupid.
Before anything could get too awkward the door creaked open revealing a really round man. I’m actually surprised he could fit through the door because he was so massive. To make matters worse the robes he was wearing were form-fitting, meaning that the buttons were threatening to pop off.
To say something on the nicer side, he did seem rather refined. His dark brown hair was combed into a neat parting on top, and was trimmed on the shorter side. His face looked freshly shaven, and he seemed to be wearing cologne.
“You two must be the two interns,” he bellowed heartily upon entry.
“Lily Potter, sir,” I said immediately, holding my hand out. He took it and shook my hand firmly. His palms were baby smooth; it felt like he used lotion too frequently.
“Nice to meet you, Miss Potter, but there’s no need to call me sir. I would actually just prefer Joey, makes us seem a bit more familiar,” he said, giving me a smile that earned him an extra chin or two. Then he turned to Mason, “And you would be Mr. Mason then?”
“Yup,” Mason said, also shaking his hand.
“Ah yes, your uncle told me all about you. I hear you’re a fantastic Quidditch player – I can’t wait to see you on a broom. But that’s a conversation for another time,” he said, looking at Mason like he was the favorite child. I shifted uncomfortably where I stood, wishing that Mason would quit taking all the attention.
“Right then, the third intern has had an unfortunate injury, so she won’t be here this summer. So it will just be you two, but let me warn you that we have a lot of work to do,” Joey began, his tone shifting to an all-business attitude, “Your jobs are quite simple. Do whatever anybody tells you to do. That means players, scouts, coaches, and – of course – me.”
“Won’t we run out of jobs or something?” I asked, blinking in surprise. I wasn’t exactly told what I would be doing. All I knew was that it was an internship, but I assumed there would be a bit more structure to it than ‘just do what you’re told’.
“Believe me, we’ll keep you busy,” Joey laughed. “Lunch is in the picnic area on the thirteenth floor, check out before you leave for any reason, and I guess have some fun. Any questions?”
We were both silent.
“Good then. I suppose you can start out by going down to the locker rooms and cleaning them out. There might be a few players down there though, so try not to get in anybody’s way,” he said, pulling a golden pocket watch out of his robes and checking it, “Well money is time, or whatever the saying is. Good luck.”
With that, the round man exited the room, leaving us alone again.
I glanced over at Mason, shifting awkwardly to my other foot. The room felt strangely empty now that it was just the two of us. Joey’s personality had been just as large as his stomach and, well, Mason couldn’t match that. The boy wasn’t exactly the talkative type, at least not to people like me who were practically strangers to him.
“I guess we should go down to the locker rooms,” Mason said, keeping his cool and calm manner as he lightly returned his weight to his feet, seeing as he wasn’t going to get downstairs while leaning against the wall.
The steps weren’t as bad going down as they were going up, but it was only because going downstairs is less strenuous. That didn’t change the fact that there were a lot of stairs, especially when we were going into the basement – meaning there was an extra landing to conquer. We did get there quite promptly though, which was lucky because I’m sure I would have keeled over from all the exercise if not.
The basement was the polar opposite of the box suites. Nothing down there seemed to be finished. From the concrete floors to the walls with chipped white paint, it felt like the halls hadn’t been tended to since they were installed.
“Nice place they got down here,” I said sarcastically as I shoved my hands into my pockets. Mason didn’t respond, which was quite rude of him. But considering we weren’t exactly best mates, I let it slide.
The hallway at the bottom of the stairs forked in two directions. Obviously only one way was correct, but you know someone failed to make it clear which direction was right. I quickly glanced at Mason. He was doing what I was doing, examining the two passages for some kind of sign. He didn’t seem to be finding anything, so I figured that I would take the initiative.
“Right,” I said with confidence. “We need to go right.”
“You sure?” he asked.
“Positive,” I lied. His broad shoulders lifted and fell in a shrug. I took that as a green card, and so I led the way down a hallway that I hoped would lead to the locker rooms.
It didn’t. We rounded hall after hall, coming to several intersections – I chose a random direction at each one. We were very lost after only fifteen minutes, and I was very agitated. I started to chew on my lip, and every few minutes I would run my fingers through my hair.
I was going to be late to my assignment on my first day of the most important internship I would probably ever have. Mason wasn’t helping my mood. His hands were in his pockets, and the way he was walking seemed extraordinarily laid back. It was as if he didn’t care, which bugged me. If he didn’t care then why in the world was he here?
“You went the wrong way,” he pointed out after another wrong turn.
“You think?” I asked, agitated as we turned down another hallway.
“Well this isn’t going to get us anywhere,” he spoke again after we were halfway down the hallway.
“Do you have a better idea?” I pointed out. It wasn’t like he knew where he was going, and on the off chance that he did know the correct way then the appropriate time to step forward with that information would have been sixteen hallways and twenty minutes ago.
“Actually I do,” he said calmly.
I stopped and turned towards him, surprised. I wasn’t sure whether I should be mad at him or celebrate because we might actually end up making it to the locker room within a reasonable time period.
“Well would you mind sharing?” I said in a tone that was something between genuine and bitter.
He didn’t answer me. Instead, he reached a slender hand into his coat pocket and pulled out a delicate brown wand. For a moment, I considered the thought that he might be hexing me; I had most certainly felt like hexing him a moment ago. But hexing someone for getting lost might be a little bit of an overreaction. Rather than holding it the normal way he laid the stick of wood flat in the palm of his hand.
“Point me,” he muttered. The wand spun around a few times in his hand the way a compass might before settling. Of course it was pointing towards Mason’s chest, the exact opposite direction that we were travelling.
Mason’s lips stretched into a wry grin. “After you,” he said theatrically, holding out his arm.
I glared at him. Maybe I had led us a teensy bit off track, but he didn’t have to rub it in so much. I mean this was technically all his fault. Where was this ‘point me’ spell half an hour ago when we were first entering the basement?
We walked a little bit longer, but with the wand showing us the general direction we were at the locker room in no time.
It was obvious that the room was the locker room from the moment that the door was in sight. For one, there was a rather large sign that said ‘Falcon’s Locker Room’ posted on the door. But, if you pretended you didn’t see the sign, it was still noticeably different. The door was similar to the ones in the box suites with a glossy finish on the wood. The few other doors we passed earlier were old, dusty, and rotting.
Mason tucked his wand away and pushed the doors open. We had both been bracing ourselves for the worst, seeing as professional locker rooms were not known for their cleanliness. The room that sat before us definitely didn’t disappoint.
The ‘lockers’ that the players used weren’t really lockers, but more like glorified cubbies. Each one was overflowing with different possessions. Everything from brooms, to family photos, to deodorant, was spilling onto the floor. Speaking of the once white tiles we were standing on, they were filthy. There wasn’t a single spot on the floor that didn’t have wet grass, or some dead bug, or even just plain old dirt on it. Then to top things off, there was this suspicious mint green colored steam leaking out of the bathroom, which made the entire room a humid pit.
“I’ll get the mop,” I groaned immediately. I’m sure he probably expected me to start rummaging through the several different closets to look for a mop and bucket. However, in a moment of laziness I chose to take the easy way out, “Accio mop.”
A loud, clanging noise sounded as one of the closets swung open. As expected, an old mop, its bristles soaked, flew towards me. I caught it in my hand the way I would a broom. Mason seemed to be oblivious to my unnecessary use of magic. Instead, he had already started to pick up the various personal belongings that were spilling onto the floor. No doubt he was trying to make the floor a bit more open for me to mop.
If I were holding a normal mop the next thing I would do would be to dip the mop into a bucket, and then I would start mopping the floor with it. But it wasn’t normal – it was magic. A bucket wasn’t necessary and, as I was about to find out, neither was I.
I put the soggy mop on the floor, ready to start scrubbing, when all of a sudden I felt the thing jerk in my hand. As I was sort of surprised, I leaped back a few feet and released my grip on the handle, landing in a sort of athletic crouch.
And so started the attack of the living mop…
I swear the thing had a mind of its own. The thing started to move to and fro, scrubbing the floors on its own accord. That might sound like a good thing. I mean, the mop just started to do my work for me. However, mops don’t have these really important things called eyes. Thus, when they start moving all by themselves, they run into things – lots of things.
As the head of the mop moved along the floor, its handle swung around on the top and knocked into people’s cubbies and into counters full of equipment. If the floor was messy before, it was apocalyptic now.
I stared in horror at the scene before me before I managed to get myself moving into action. However, once I started advancing upon the mop I did so with determination. I approached it carefully, my body tensed up in a prepared crouch. My prey was currently by the wall, successfully getting suds all over the place. Then my opening came – the mop started to head into a relatively open area of tile. I pounced on it. Literally, I leaped forward and tackled the wooden stick, landing hard on the ground.
Don’t ever fall onto a hard tile floor that is filled with knick knacks a crazy broom knocked over – it hurts.
Now that it was restrained, the mop started to thrash around in my arms, hitting me square in the nose. Don’t worry, I didn’t break it. I’d broken it before, and the pain was twice as bad. Nevertheless, I had to strain myself to retain my grip on the mop. It was only a matter of time before it was running rampant around the room again.
Of course, Mason wasn’t exactly helping. While I was wrestling the broom on the ground, he was standing there, frozen, taking in the chaos.
I rolled over, trying to grip the broom tighter if possible. But my efforts were futile. The mop’s unlimited magical strength was too much for me, and I felt the wooden stick slip from my grasp.
“Get the mop, Mason!” I yelled theatrically from my spot on the ground. He sort of gave me this strange ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me’ look. I jabbed my finger at the mop urgently. He turned but, unlike me, he didn’t jump at it.
Instead, he pulled out his wand and snapped his wrist towards the mop. “Immobulus,” he said in a gruff voice. It froze along with a row of broomsticks that had been in mid-fall only a moment before.
I shook my head, thinking he was a git for taking the easy way out.
For a moment, the room was silent. I wanted to let the scene settle for a moment before I admitted that Mason’s method was better. I never got to say anything though. The noise of someone clapping sounded from the doorway, making both of us jump a little. The first thought that passed through my mind was something along the lines of “oh crap, who just walked in on our mess?”
But, when I turned to see who it was, I found that I had some other things distracting me from my embarrassment. In the doorway that led to the bathroom stood the Seeker for the Falmouth Falcons, and he was rather famous – being one of the youngest players to ever make the big leagues. He had apparently dropped out of school early to join the team. Then, in his rookie year, he won the Falcon’s the U.K. Cup. There wasn’t a soul in all of England that didn’t know his name.
That wasn’t the reason this was awkward. In fact, it had nothing to do with his big name. But rather, when he walked into the room he was wearing a towel, and only a towel. The golden blonde hair that fell to his shoulders seemed wet, like he had just gotten out of the shower.
I glanced over at Mason. To say he looked uncomfortable was an understatement.
“Impressive,” the Seeker said as he stopped clapping. “Usually that thing trashes the entire room before someone gets it back in the closet. Looks like it only got to about half.”
Not to sound weird, but I’m sort of used to having half nude guys interrupt my daily activities. I mean, I live with two older brothers and let me tell you, James is not shy. Then there is my dad, and my three best friends (all of whom are guys). So I suppose that I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I should have been at that moment.
When the Seeker noticed that Masson was tongue-tied he kept talking. “I suppose you two are the new interns then?” he asked, raising one of his eyebrows.
“Yup, I’m Lily Potter, and this is Parker Mason,” I said smoothly, as if this was a normal thing.
“Anthony Hutching,” he said, showing off his pearly whites with a large grin. I held out my hand and he shook it.
The irony of that moment was quite comical. I had woken up to this guy’s face every day last year after Roxanne, my cousin and fellow Gryffindor in my year, had hung up this giant poster of him on our dormitory wall, much to my dismay. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the guy was an excellent Seeker but I’m pretty sure Roxanne didn’t even know what a Seeker was. Let’s just say that watching my five roommates drool over some guy on a poster wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.
“Your mother wouldn’t happen to be Ginny Potter would it?” he asked, his fiery amber eyes examining my face curiously.
“Yup, that would be me,” I nodded. That was a first; usually I get people asking more about my dad than my mum.
“She’s an excellent Chaser,” he complimented casually. “I never got the privilege to play her though – she was a bit before my time.”
I half-smiled, not sure whether to take the compliment or be put off because I thought he had just called my mum old, but whatever.
“Of course you know I play Seeker, and I assume you play Chaser like your mum. What about you – it’s Parker, right? What do you play?” he asked, his gaze shifting over to Mason.
“I play Keeper, Hutching,” Mason said, emphasizing the Seeker’s last name as if he were trying to distance himself from Anthony.
A playful smile danced across Anthony’s mouth. “You’re a charmer,” he said sarcastically.
I immediately felt like joining the conversation, as I do love my sarcasm. “Don’t be rude, Mason,” I chastised. “Just because you’ve finally found someone who’s got bigger biceps than you doesn’t give you permission to turn sour.”
“Really now, it’s the biceps?” Anthony pondered, taking his arm and flexing his muscles in front of Mason’s face. “I thought it had to do with the fact that I’m really quite attractive. You wouldn’t be the first to be jealous of my good looks.”
I found myself suppressing a giggle. I mean, you should’ve seen the look on Mason’s face. His jaw was clenched and his arms were crossed as his brows furrowed. He looked quite annoyed by our antics. I really do enjoy annoying people.
Mason was never really much of a talker. Even while we were at Hogwarts I barely ever heard him speak. To be honest, I thought he was a mute until our fourth year when Neville called him out for not paying attention during Herbology and he muttered some excuse. So I really wasn’t all that surprised when he didn’t respond. He just kept that sour look on his face as he endured our teasing.
“Well then, I have to go attend to some issues,” Anthony said with a heavy sigh. “I do hope to see you around again sometime, Lily.”
He reached down, took my hand, and kissed it like they did in Shakespearean times. Mason shifted again, becoming even more uncomfortable.
“And Mason, my locker is the third one down on the left. Be a dear and give it a good scrub down. A can of jelly exploded in there a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t gotten a chance to clean it yet,“ he finished. For a minute I thought that he was joking, but one look into Anthony’s amber eyes and you knew that he was dead serious. Personally, I thought he was overdoing it a bit. Even I know there is, in fact, a line between teasing and just outright mean, but whatever.
With that, Anthony Hutching strutted through the trashed locker room and out into the hallway, still in his bathing towel.
“Well, he seems nice,” I said cheerily.
“You think so?” Mason asked, clearly expressing his disapproval with his eyes.
“Awww come on, we were just teasing,” I said, rolling my eyes at him.
“You were teasing, I’m not so sure about Hutching,” Mason said, his voice thick with distaste.
“Hey! He tried to be friendly with you, remember?” I said, defending the Seeker.
“Yeah, and now I’m cleaning three-week old jam out of his locker,” Mason pointed out.
I shrugged. You can’t really argue with that. “Well, I guess we should start cleaning now,” I said with a sigh.
“I suppose so,” he muttered.
I pulled out my wand, ready to spend the morning scrubbing a thick layer of grime off the floor. It might have been gross, but after that morning’s encounter I did feel a bit more optimistic about the rest of the summer. I mean, I already had their star Seeker on my side, how hard could be-friending a few more people be?
A/N Credit to DarkRose over at the forums for coming up with Anthony Hutchings name.
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