Chapter 2 : June, 2029 - Bits and Bobs
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Bits and Bobs
“There she comes!” came a shout from under an umbrella. “The Mrs. Belby! After three long months!”
Lucy scoffed at the sight of the two grinning boys. Nicholas Corner and Desmond Jordan were waiting for her outside of Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. The bright, sunny day did nothing to diminish the glowing smiles they gave her. Treading warily, she pushed past the crowd and joined them on their table under the umbrella.
“So,” began Nicholas, a twinkle in his eye.
“So,” contributed Desmond.
Lucy sighed. “Will you ever let it go?”
“I don’t think so, Mrs. Belby,” said Nicholas. “How’s the baby?”
“She’s - ” began Lucy, before getting cut off by Desmond.
“Oh, and how’s your daughter too?”
Nicholas and Desmond broke out in howls of laughter.
Lucy sighed crossly. “And you two wonder why I never bring Justin with me.”
“We were serious about the baby, though,” said Desmond, mopping his eyes. “My little niece’s fine, isn’t she?”
Lucy opened her mouth to point out that he wasn’t her daughter’s uncle, but stopped. None of them were, really. That didn’t stop Desmond from calling himself ‘her favorite uncle Des’ or Trista from buying toy brooms carved with ‘From Aunt Trista’.
“Ophelia’s fine,” said Lucy. “Justin’s at home with her.”
For some strange reason, the very idea that Lucy Weasley-Belby had settled into domesticity seemed to be a running joke with her friends. She never could understand the humour in it. Her life nowadays was rather ordinary. Her house was rather ordinary – small, two bedrooms and comfortable. Even Justin wasn’t worth goggling too much about. He’d been a nice boy she’d met at the Ministry four years ago; after a year of dating came a lovely spring wedding. After the wedding came Ophelia, who was now nearly a year old.
“Ah,” said Nicholas fondly, “you need to leave the little dwarf with me and Pris sometime. She hardly ever gets to see her Uncle Nic.”
“I’ll see,” said Lucy, hoping she sounded convincing. The truth of it was that Nicholas got along well with Ophelia, though Priscilla scared the life out of her daughter. “Now why’d you two call me here?”
“Simple,” said Desmond, pointing behind Lucy.
Lucy stood up, surprise plastered on her face. “Trista!”
A blonde haired girl was pushing through the crowd, wearing bright green Quidditch robes and carrying a broom in one hand. “Hello,” she said, looking tired. “I feel like I haven’t seen you guys in ages!”
“Two months to be precise,” said Desmond. “Though Bernard tells me you still have time to stop buy her place for tea, but not mine. I see how it is.”
“Oh, hush you,” said Trista. “I’ve been so bloody busy. I’m sure everyone’s heard. We lost to the Wasps.” She looked away sadly. “The Kestrels haven’t lost to the Wasps in a decade.”
“You’ll be back on your feet in no time,” said Lucy, reaching for Trista’s hand. The two girls smiled at each other. “It’s lovely to see you.”
“You too,” said Trista. “So I heard you’ve been out of England for the last three months.”
“Ten weeks,” said Lucy. “The Goblin Liaisons Office needed me in Finland and Norway. There’s been goblin riots there and we were called in to help. I just got back a few days ago.”
“It’s so strange that we’re all spread around now,” said Trista. “I’m in Kenmare. June, Nicholas, Desmond and Priscilla are still in London. You’re all over the place. And Henry’s still down in Tanzania.”
“It’s life,” said Lucy, looking sad. “At least you get to see humans in Ireland. I’ve been surrounded by nothing but goblins and ice for the last three months.”
“But we’re your welcoming party back to civilization!” said Desmond, throwing out his arms.
As Lucy looked at him skeptically, Trista said, “We’ve got an interesting definition of the word ‘civilization’, haven’t we?”
Lucy laughed. “If anything, it’s a relief that I get to speak in English and not in Gobbledegook. I’m nearly fluent now.”
As the ice creams came, the chatter intensified and they found themselves lost in conversation about the days they’d been apart.
After their reunion, Desmond shuffled back down the street and back to work. Diagon Alley was less crowded now that the Hogwarts lot had gone back to school. He looked around the street wishfully. Seven years it’d been. But all the same, seven good years.
He was still stuck in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. He was in a good management position, no longer stuck working the floor like the new meat had to. Working the floor had been a pain in the arse. One could only spend so many hours showing how wands turned into rubber chickens and assuring girls that the love potions were potent enough for whatever poor bloke they fancied poisoning. Now he was in the nice room in the back with Fred Weasley where the two sketched over all the new things they’d be manufacturing.
In the meanwhile, he’d never bothered launching off his own business. It was depressing to think about – he always assured his dad that it was a matter of time – but the truth of it was that he didn’t see a point anymore.
It wasn’t the same as it’d been in Hogwarts. There were no more Slytherins to dupe into believing some dried Doxy droppings was dragon blood. There wasn’t the threat of being caught by a Prefect every time he turned the corner. The excitement of it was gone. And he had a good enough job as it was, even if it wasn’t some high-powered job like Fawcett’s. It paid well and he had a decent flat.
And to be honest, did it really matter anymore if he had his own business or not? Maybe it was his parents’ fault that he had such high expectations stacked on him. Why’d his dad have to go and be a star on the Wireless anyway? And who’d asked his mum to be a big shot reporter? He wasn’t the sum of the parts of Lee Jordan or Alicia Spinnet. He’d be lucky to be half.
He reentered the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, scanning around the store. There were a few shoppers idling around the aisles today. There wasn’t much to do upstairs – Weasley wouldn’t be back for another two hours, so he hung around the store. As usual, some girls were lingering around the love potions. A few others were staring wonderingly at the Patented Daydreaming Charm.
He walked through the shelves and caught their conversation from the other side.
“Does this really work?” a squeaky voice demanded, pushing into someone else’s face. “Tell me, Auntie.”
“It works,” said an exasperated voice. “Pia, please, how many times do I have to tell you not to grab everything you see?”
From between two beat up boxes of Canary Creams, Desmond squinted through the shelves.
Nice, he thought admiringly at the girl in front of him, very nice. Long dark hair, long legs, big, black eyes.
She frowned down at the girl in front of her. “No.”
“No, that’s too expensive. I told you I only had three Galleons and I’m not spending a Sickle over. Remember those Fainting Fancies you bought last time? You didn’t even open that box.”
Her eyes large and imploring, the girl squeaked again, “This’ll be different! Promise!”
Sensing his chance, Desmond swooped in. “Hello there. Couldn’t help but noticing you have a pricing dilemma. I’m here to help.”
“Who’re you?” asked the little girl suspiciously.
“Desmond?” asked her aunt. “Desmond Jordan?”
He took a step back. “Err. Yes. Do – do we know each other?”
She looked offended. “You don’t remember me?”
“Uh – er – of course I do. You’re – you’re, er – ” Scratching his head, he rifled through his memory. Was this some girl he’d shagged and promptly left the morning after?
“You don’t remember me after all,” she said, looking unimpressed. “Not that I should’ve expected better.”
“I’ve got no idea how I could’ve forgotten,” said Desmond, hoping he sounded smooth. “Remind me?”
“I used to remind you all the time that you owe me a twenty percent share of your business,” she said loftily. “Remember me now?”
His jaw dropped and he reeled, feeling as though he’d been hit in the head. “Patil?!”
“Yes,” she said shrilly.
Still taken aback, he managed, “Er – well – you look different – ”
And different was an understatement. Where was the little Patil he was familiar with? The one who’d barely reached his shoulders? The girl who’d planned out all his little black market ventures in Hogwarts. Some business partner she’d been. Ordered the wrong ingredients for his potions all the time. Took a bloody massive cut out of his profits for her work. And always slinging around huge spellbooks, leafing through them when she got too disinterested to listen to him.
“Thanks,” she said baldly, not looking happy in spite of the compliment. She bent down to the little girl in front of her. “Go check out those Puffskeins, Pia.”
“But you said you wouldn’t buy those!” asked the little girl.
“I might if you run along,” Patil said. “Go on, go.”
And her niece ran off so fast she looked as though she’d Apparated out. They could hear her cooing over the Puffskeins from the other side of the store.
“So, Nikita,” began Desmond again, running his hands through his hair. “You look good.”
“Drop it, Jordan,” she said flatly. “I didn’t expect to see you popping out of those shelves like my family ghoul. I thought you’d be owning a place in Hogsmeade by now. Or be tossed in Azkaban.”
“You know, you’re not the first person to sound surprised I haven’t been incarcerated. The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office did try calling me in for a trial, though. Full Wizengamot there and everything.” He winked at her; her expression remained unwaveringly unimpressed. Desmond coughed. “So..what do you do? Big writer?”
“Hardly,” she said. “I work in International Relations in the Ministry. I’m the liaison between England and Russia’s Ministry for Magic.”
“So that’s what you did with that History of Magic NEWT,” he said lamely, ruffling his hair. “That’s great.”
“Thanks.” She still looked cautious and standoffish. “My sister’ll be here at five.”
“Oh.” He checked the clock behind her. Four fifty-five. “I take it you’re saying goodbye?”
“No, I’m saying that my sister’ll be here at five and take her little brat off my hands. And I’ll be free after that, if you’re up for drinks at the Leaky.”
“Fantastic,” he said, hoping the large grin splitting across his face didn’t give him away too badly. “Yeah, that’d be great.”
“Okay,” she said, giving him a vague smile. Her eyes flickered away and her mouth opened. “Pia! No, put that down right now!”
She didn’t give him a backwards glance as she ran across the store and wrenched the open box of Itching Powder out of her niece’s hands. Desmond watched agape as the box fell on the floor, scattering powder everywhere.
“Sorry,” Nikita said for what seemed like the fifth time. “I didn’t mean for that to happen. I’ll pay you back, of course.”
He waved his hand dismissively. “It’s thirty Sickles. Big deal.”
“Then you should at least let me pay for your Firewhiskey.”
“I’ll manage on my own,” he said, slapping down the hand that was inching towards her wallet. “I might not have a Ministry job, but I’m not that poor yet.”
She smiled. Again he had to marvel that without the glasses and the spellbooks, she looked…nice.
“So you’ve been managing well for yourself,” she said. “In a way, I’m glad you’re not in jail.”
“Thanks,” he said dryly. “Clearly, I could take a few lessons from you.”
She didn’t blush or smile. “Drop the flirting, Jordan. As far as you should be concerned, I’m still exactly the same person. I still like history too much, I still read Russian poetry, I’m still piss poor at anything not history related. All I did was invest in some contact lenses and some expensive shampoo.”
“Glad to hear it,” he said. “I’m glad to see you’re doing well.”
Her eyes flickered down. “Not as well as you think.”
Over the din of the Leaky Cauldron, he nearly missed it. A few hags behind him began cackling loudly and he turned back to glare. “What d’you mean?”
“That Ministry job really doesn’t pay as well as you’d think,” she said. “And I’ve still got my mum’s medical bills to take care of.” She leaned over the Firewhiskey, her eyes glimmering. “Do you still know Nicholas Corner, by any chance? Do you know if he’s seeing anybody?”
“Why do you ask?” he asked warily.
“I read an article in the Prophet yesterday about how well his little portrait shop’s been doing. And of course his family’s rich.”
Desmond felt his throat run dry. He pushed aside his Firewhiskey. “Actually, he’s with Fawcett. Remember her?”
She leaned back irritably. “How can I not? I can hear her screaming in the Law Enforcement office and my office’s two floors up. First Albus Potter, now her. Do you happen to know any other of the Potters or Weasleys? You know Lucy Weasley, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” he began, looking away from her.
“Great, because I’ve lost touch with her and I’d love if you could arrange a meeting. That way, maybe she could introduce me to either Louis Weasley or James Potter. Either one would work.”
“Fantastic,” he said. “Looks like you got that plan all figured out.”
“Or,” she said, her big eyes widening, “what about Fred Weasley? You work with him, don’t you? Isn’t that perfect? I can’t believe I didn’t think of that earlier! I’ve heard he’s recently single.”
“Yeah, maybe,” he muttered, rising up, the sinking feeling in his stomach expanding. “Listen, this’s been…fun…but I’ve got other plans…”
“Wait,” she said, grabbing on to his arm.
Desmond froze. “What?”
“Why’re you leaving?” she asked. “We’ve been here maybe ten minutes.”
“That’s long enough, believe me.”
“Is it something I said?”
“No, it’s because I don’t like the Leaky’s tables,” he said sarcastically. “Look, if all you called me here for is to frisk me for contacts, you’re out of luck.”
“Jordan, please. I’m desperate here.” Her hand moved down his arm and to his hand. She tugged and exasperated, he took a seat. “Why do you think I was always after Albus Potter back in Hogwarts? Of course, now that Bernard’s got him…”
“How much money d’you need?” he said. “You could always get a loan or something.”
“I already did,” she said flatly. “Gringotts’s refused to give me more money.”
They sighed in unison.
“I even tried in Scotland, but the goblins like spreading the word around, apparently,” said Nikita, playing with the ice in her glass of Firewhiskey. “We’ve got a debt on our house, I’ve still got to pay my mum’s medical bills, pay for the loan we took to put me through Hogwarts…”
“Is your mum okay, though?” he asked.
“She’s fine now,” said Nikita. “She had a liver condition starting from my fourth year in Hogwarts, but she’s in remission. She should be okay.” Clutching her hands together tightly, she frowned. “It’s wonderful, of course, but the amount we owe is huge. We owe some to muggle doctors, some to Healers in St. Mungo’s. My sister’s been working muggle jobs to get enough pounds for the doctors. That makes it my job to scrape up the Galleons for the Healers. But my Ministry job just doesn’t pay enough.”
Putting an arm around her shoulders, he said, “You’ll be okay. Trust me, you’ll be fine.”
Looking a little misty-eyed, she asked, “How do you know?”
“I got an E on my OWL in Divination,” he said, puffing his chest out.
She laughed. “Yeah right. I happen to know you slept through every Divination class you attended. I’d be better off asking Bernard. I heard she was the only one in our year to get an O in the NEWT Divination.”
“Did she?” he said, waggling his eyebrows. “That must’ve been poor Bernard’s only O in her whole life.”
“Anyway,” began Nikita delicately, “what do you say to letting me meet Fred Weasley?”
“I’ve got nothing against it,” he said, shrugging and hoping he didn’t look his disappointment. “If you think you can – ”
“You should know that this isn’t what I want, though,” she said fiercely. “I never intended to be chasing after blokes with money. But I’ve already got a job that’s practically ten hours a day. I just don’t see any other way. At least one of the Weasleys’ll be young.”
“Oh, I’ve met some men here and there. The rich ones are usually much older. I’m not that desperate yet. I’d rather poke around these sorts of options first.”
Feeling more depressed, Desmond said, “Yeah, Fred’s a nice bloke. His girlfriend just left him a few days ago so I’m not sure what kind of luck you’ll have with him.”
“It’s worth a shot.”
“I…suppose,” he said. “James’s not the settling down and marrying type, so don’t bother. Louis, I think, might have a girlfriend, but I can double check with Lucy. So I’m guessing Fred’s your best shot.”
She gave him a glowing smile, but retracted it when he gloomily took a sip of his Firewhiskey. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” he said.
“You can tell me.”
He stared at the ice cubes in his glass for a long minute before saying slowly, “Well…life hasn’t exactly turned out the way I expected. I imagined that I’d have a big, successful business by this age and maybe a girlfriend or something.” He peeked up at Nikita.
She looked at him pityingly. “I can understand. I certainly didn’t think I’d be running around dodging loan sharks and having to rifle through my mail and toss out Howlers from goblins every morning. But what happened to your store? Didn’t get the money for it?”
“I’ve got the money,” he said. “I’ve had investors lined up from the beginning. My dad, for one, has wanted it for ages. And he’s got loads of money, so I’ll be fine.”
“Then what happened?” she asked.
“No inspiration for it, I suppose,” he said gloomily. “What’s the point, really? There’s already loads of stores that’ll sell the exact same thing. Zonko’s, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes for another, Filibuster’s…and just spending my whole life designing pranks for small children to annoy their sisters and teachers with…I dunno anymore…it’s just so stupid..”
Nikita clapped her hand over his and he broke off, feeling a flurry of heat trickle down from his fingers until it went up his arm. He stared at her, dumbfounded.
“It isn’t stupid,” she said, “and you’ve got to stop being so hard on yourself. You used to love it your pranks! There’s more to it than just blowing up Common Rooms and tricking Slytherins, isn’t there?”
“Is there?” he asked, privately coming to the same conclusion that he had for months now: Without Hogwarts and without his friends, there was just no magic to it anymore.
“Yes,” she said. “You made a lot of people laugh. And you’re just a brilliant inventor and a great potioneer. You know how much Professor Aubrey used to adore you. Even if you don’t feel like jumping right in, maybe start with your own line of potions or something.”
“Like it’d be that easy,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“No, I mean it. You work at the Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, don’t you? It’s about time you had a line of your own. Jordan’s Jumping Jinxes.” Her brown eyes sparkled. “I see it now. Or maybe a guidebook or something. How to Filch Filch’s Cat. Stuff like that.”
“That’s not bad,” he said slowly.
“Yeah,” she said, “it’d be different from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes because they sell random things like rubber ducks and Puffskeins and things. You could really tailor it to Hogwarts’s next generation of pranksters and inventors and potioneers. It’d be filled with odds and ends and bits and bobs. Something of everything.”
When his eyes lit up, she continued, waving her glass in the air, “Can you imagine it? It’d be a lovely business concept. There’d be all these different sections. One for pranksters like you, maybe, with walls and walls of fireworks and dragon blood. Then a place with all the books people like me would need. Brooms for Quidditch players, loads of potions ingredients laying around. And you could decorate it to make it look like different parts of Hogwarts. It’d be like a small piece of Hogwarts floating around.”
“That’s it,” he said, unaware that he was now standing up. “That’s bloody it. I’ve been waiting for an idea and I’ve got it!” He looked down at her triumphantly and she peered up at him.
“Great, I’m glad you like it!”
Suddenly, his smile ebbed away and he took a seat. “But I can’t just take your idea and make loads of money off it. That wouldn’t be right.”
Nikita shrugged. “Well, what else can we do, then?”
He took her hand. “Come into business with me, then. Be a partner.”
She pulled her hand away. “I couldn’t.”
“Come on, it’d be just like old times. You’d finally get that equal cut you were always on about.”
Looking pained, she said, “I can’t. I’d love to, but I can’t just leave a steady paying job that I really need just to wing it with you. And I’ve got nothing to give you. I’ve just got ideas, but I haven’t got any money I can invest with you.”
He waved a hand airily. “I don’t need your money. I’ve got my dad and I could probably get George Weasley to invest a bit.” He leaned in closer. “It’d start like this. You come in when you can. Weekends, maybe, for a few hours. Give me some ideas. Get me that inspiration going. I’ll build products and get the premise ready. I’ll test it out on my own for a few months and if it’s making profit, you can jump in whenever.”
Her mouth hung open. “But – but why would you give me such a great opportunity? You’d lose money just by making that promise.”
He smiled wryly. “Well, if it gets as big as I think it might, I’ll need someone to help me manage it anyway. You in?”
“I suppose we’ll see,” she said.
He held out his hand.
Giving a smile, she shook it.
“Welcome aboard, Patil,” he said, leaning back breezily. “Anything you want to ask me?”
“One question,” she said. “What on earth are you going to name the place?”
“What about Desmond and Associates?” he asked.
She gave him a foul look.
“Desmond and Co, then? Or Jordan and Co?”
“I’m not your ‘co’,” she said. “And don’t slap your name on it like that. It sounds awful. Make it sound better.”
He gave a mischievous smile, feeling the exhilarating high of innovating – something he hadn’t felt in years. It was new and wondrous and refreshing. “We’d better get to work, then.”
Author's Note: And that's a wrap on Desmond's chapter! Next up is Priscilla's, before we swing back around to Albus and June :)
Thank you to those of you who are still reading and reviewing! I know the link I put on the forums didn't really work so this story hasn't been getting much attention. But here's to hoping, right?
Any thoughts on Desmond? Nikita's a relatively minor character from BIR - one of the girls who used to help June stalk Albus and a fellow Gryffindor Prefect with Albus. This was a fun side ship I'd been planning to write into the original story, but just didn't have enough room. And Lucy's married and with a child now! If there're any other characters/ships you're wondering about, let me know!
Thanks for reading! I'd love to know your thoughts!
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