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The Middle Man by academica
Chapter 3 : three.
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 7


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“Dominique, are you sure you know where we’re going?” Darcy asked.

The two girls had been wandering through wizarding London for twenty minutes, though Dominique maintained that she did not need to look up the address if she happened to spot the front of the flat they were looking for. Unfortunately, Darcy could not suggest looking up the address herself, seeing as Dominique had also failed to expand properly upon her glorious idea for the September cover.

“What makes you think that this idea is positively the right one?” Darcy tried.

Dominique paused, turning to face her. “The place I’m looking for is a talent agency, except it’s a bit unusual. It’s run by the only two clients it’s responsible for, or at least it was until recently.”

“They must be successful if they picked up more talent,” Darcy mused.

“No, I mean they don’t run the place anymore. They have an agent.”

“Oh,” Darcy said, frowning. “How did you hear of it?”

“The two models there are my cousins,” Dominique admitted. “I asked them to pose for an article during Fashion Week, just as a favor, and I figured maybe they’d do it again. They’ve gotten a bit more popular since then, though, so I don’t know if they’ll be free.”

“You’ve probably got a hundred cousins.” Darcy smirked. “Could you be more specific?”

“Lily Potter and Rose Weasley,” Dominique said. “They have this sort of double-act, since they’re both natural redheads… didn’t you see the April issue?”

“Oh, right,” Darcy said. Sure, she’d taken her complimentary copy of the April issue home, double-checked her single-page article on acne remedies, and lost it somewhere in the vicinity of the living room sofa. She didn’t remember any redheads.

“Anyway, their office is supposed to be somewhere around here. It’s set up in an old flat. I remember seeing the flower boxes out front; that’s how I found it last time…”

As they turned yet another corner, Darcy spotted two massive flower boxes sitting on the steps of a nearby apartment. They were divided by flower; on the left appeared to be an ode to Valentine’s Day, judging by the white, red, and pink roses that populated its soil, and on the right was a smattering of lilies in colorful hues.

“Is this the one?” Darcy spoke up, pointing to the boxes.

“Ah, yes. Come on, they’re just in here.” Dominique marched up to the door, giving it a good, sharp knock. As they waited, Darcy’s eyes slid back down to the boxes, a disdainful frown appearing on her face. Rose and Lily. How conceited could you be…

“Hello!” a voice said brightly. Darcy looked back at the door, which was now open and framing the thin, short form of a red-haired girl with friendly brown eyes.

“Hi, Lily,” Dominique said, smiling. “Is Rose around? We wanted to see about a job.”

“More work for Witch Weekly?” Lily said. “Well, yes, she’s here, but I don’t think she’ll be keen on it. She wants to go somewhere exotic for our next shoot.”

“Well, we could just take you,” Darcy said, as if it were obvious.

Lily looked at the girl, trying not to laugh. Dominique sighed. “Can we come in?”

“Sure,” Lily said, stepping aside. “Albus!” she called toward the back of the home.

Albus? Darcy thought. Weren’t we looking for Rose?

They stepped into a crowded sitting room, which was decorated from head to toe with a gaudy red paisley pattern. The television in the corner occasionally turned to white noise, at which point Lily would automatically point her wand at it and hold the position until it adjusted properly. “It was the first thing we bought after our first job,” she explained, smiling. “All the magic in the house messes with it, though.”

Dominique smirked, sitting right in front of the television on a tattered loveseat and staring at it. Darcy took the place next to her, hearing footsteps approaching quietly.

“Tea?” a male voice said, and the three of them turned around.

Standing behind the loveseat was a boy with black hair and brilliant green eyes. If he had been wearing glasses, Darcy would have sworn she was looking into the face of Harry Potter, former teenage hero, himself. He put his hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking at Darcy, and she realized that it was her turn to answer his question.

“Yes, please,” she murmured, watching him turn and head back to the kitchen.

“If you’ve got that nice flavored sugar, I’d appreciate a bit,” Dominique added.

“Rose does, but she doesn’t like to share,” the boy called back.

“I’d say not, Albus,” a second red-haired girl said as she entered the sitting room. Unlike the other girl, who possessed plain, straight hair and soft features, this girl looked like she was born to grace the cover of a magazine. Her hair was wound up in tight curls, though they began to fall out artfully as she ran her manicured fingers through them lazily. Her blue eyes, however, betrayed focus and a sense of ambition.

“This is my cousin, Rose,” Lily said, as if it wasn’t obvious. “We’re partners.”

“Oh, so you only model together,” Darcy said, finally understanding her earlier gaffe.

“It’s a dangerous world for a girl out there on her own,” Rose said dramatically, flopping down onto a chair next to Lily. “Thank goodness Albus is around now.”

“I don’t know how good I’d be in a back-alley duel,” Albus added, bringing a tea tray out and setting it down on the coffee table. “I just try to keep them out of trouble.”

“It’s just you three, right?” Dominique clarified.

“Yes, just as we explained at Grandma’s garden party,” Rose said, rolling her eyes.

“So what’s this job you wanted to talk about?” Lily asked.

“You girls know that International Beauty Week is coming up at the start of September,” Dominique answered. “As usual, we’re doing a special issue for it, and I’d like to invite you girls to come try some of the product and pose for the cover.”

“If by ‘we,’ you mean Witch Weekly, it’s not happening,” Rose drawled.

“When did you get too good for Witch Weekly?” Dominique said with a frown.

“She’s not,” Lily cut in, sighing. “Rose, just because we’ve gotten a couple of international shoots doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still do things at home, too.”

“If we go back to doing small-time work, it’ll look like a failure,” Rose countered.

“For the last time, Witch Weekly is not small-time work,” Lily responded.

“If you two do this shoot, all it will look like is two girls coming home to show off what they’ve learned in that dangerous world you were talking about,” Dominique agreed. She glanced over at her co-worker. “Darcy, perhaps if you explained…”

Witch Weekly is read by women all over the world, witches of all ages, shapes, and sizes,” Darcy said, mentally shaming herself for how cliché she sounded but taking Dominique’s bait nonetheless. “You’ll be an inspiration to all of those readers, and your face will be put on the cover for the world to see. It’s a win-win situation.”

Lily nodded. “I remember the first time my mum let me read the magazine.”

Dominique smiled triumphantly. “Plus, you’ll get to keep samples of whatever products you like, and if the line owners like you, maybe more work will come out of it. You know, you could do some advertising.”

At this point, a small elf dashed into the room, fetching the tea tray. “Would any of Miss Potter’s and Miss Weasley’s and Mr. Potter’s guests like more tea?” it sputtered, clearly having difficulty announcing so many masters. When the elf was met with silence, it spoke up again. “There is also more cream and sugar available…”

Albus sighed. “More tea, anyone?”

Lily held out her cup, as did Rose. “Don’t forget my special sugar, Twinkie,” said the latter, the charm bracelet on her arm jingling as she passed her cup to the elf.

As the elf headed into the kitchen, Dominique snorted. “Twinkie?”

“Its name is Twinkle, but Rose can’t live without shortening everything,” Albus replied. “Honestly, I don’t even know why we have one. The poor thing gets awfully confused with three of us calling for it to help us with things all at the same time.”

“We need one because you won’t wait on me like a proper agent,” Rose muttered.

“What’s the pay here looking like?” Albus said, returning to the real conversation and looking at Darcy and Dominique. His smile was apology enough for Rose.

“It’ll be more than what we offered you during Fashion Week. This isn’t just an article; it’s a potential cover shoot. Then, you get the free samples I mentioned…”

“Wait,” Rose cut in. “What do you mean, potential cover shoot?”

“Well, the magazine is doing a bit of a contest between the writers for the beauty issue,” Darcy replied. “We’re just one of the teams. Other models will be invited.”

“Like who?”

“We don’t know. I don’t think we will until right before the shoot, if at all.”

Rose looked at Darcy for a long moment, boring into her with those intense blue eyes. Finally, she broke into a shockingly friendly smile. “Well, why didn’t you say so? I love a bit of healthy competition.” Darcy could practically see the wheels turning in her head, underneath the nest of wild red waves and springy curls.

“So, are we agreed, then? Lily, what do you think?” Albus asked.

“I’m all for it,” Lily responded, grinning. “I think it sounds fun.”

“Let’s hope so,” Dominique added, returning her cousins' smiles.

“So what’s next?” Albus said, looking at Darcy.

“We’ll need Lily and Rose to come in next week to test out the makeup. We have to make sure there won’t be any allergic reactions or poor color matchups on the big day. Do you remember how to locate our office?”

“Of course,” Rose replied.

“All right.” Albus stood up, extending his hand to Dominique, who smirked and shook it awkwardly. When it was her turn, Darcy gave him a business-like handshake, glad to be getting out of the miniature family reunion. However, Albus seemed to want her to stay, judging by the extra few seconds he kept on the grip.

She glanced up into his eyes and smiled nervously. “Until next week?”

“Yeah, sounds good,” he replied softly. “It was nice to meet you, Darby.”

“Darcy,” she corrected gently, and his face turned beet red.

Just then, Twinkle returned, bearing additional tea for Lily and Rose. Darcy could see several of Rose’s prized sugar crystals sprinkled haphazardly across the tray. “Here, mistresses, I have your tea…” The weight of the tray seemed a little too much.

“Twinkle, you’ve got to work on your timing, mate,” Albus said, still blushing.

“Twinkle is sorry!” the elf cried. “Twinkle hurried as best he could, but he could not find Mistress Rose’s sugar, and then the tea went cold, and he had to warm it—”

“Twinkle, it’s all right,” Lily said, shooting a disappointed look at Albus. “Nice to meet you, Darcy!” she called over her shoulder, ushering the elf back to the kitchen.

Dominique ushered Darcy out of the home, though not before Albus could pop out to the porch to thank them one last time for considering the girls for the cover shoot. As they stepped into the street, walking quickly in order to have time to get lunch before returning to the office, Darcy pulled her sweater more tightly around herself.

“So, any thoughts?” Dominique queried, pulling a light jacket out of her seemingly bottomless bag and draping it around her shoulders to block out the slight chill.

“They seem like two entirely different girls,” Darcy observed. “They’ve got those trademark Weasley features, and yet I can barely believe that they’re related.”

“I’m so jealous. I wish I had a bit more red in my hair.” Dominique sighed. “But yes, you’re right. I think that’s part of their act. Every girl has multiple sides to her personality, and every bloke wants a girl who never leaves him feeling bored.”

“It seems like the division of opinion gets in the way of their work, though.”

“Maybe a little. Don’t worry. They’ll be fine.”

“I guess that’s what Albus is for, right? He’s their mediator.”

“You could say that,” Dominique replied, shooting her friend a telling smile.

Darcy chuckled nervously. “What is that about?”

“You don’t fancy him, do you?”

“Of course not,” Darcy scoffed.

Dominique stopped in the street, looking at her friend. “Really?”

“Yes, really.” She shivered slightly; autumn was definitely on the way.

“Okay,” Dominique said. “Just… it’s already weird enough working with family members, but it’s kind of unavoidable, I think. Don’t date any of them, please?”

Darcy laughed. “Why, is he single?”

Dominique frowned, shaking her head. “Come on, we have to get back.”

“Don’t be mad. It’ll only give Lorcan an excuse to ask more questions!” Darcy called, but as she watched Dominique’s retreating back, her mind drifted again to Albus.

Albus Potter, modeling agent, generally attractive human wizard. Single. Duly noted.



Author’s Note:

Hello! Thanks for sticking with the story, and I hope you enjoyed watching Darcy finally meet Albus and his clients. Please feel free to leave any thoughts in a review for me – I always respond! This story seems to contain a bit more dialogue than I’m used to writing most of the time, so I’m curious: do you think it seems too monotonous, or do you enjoy following the conversation? I’d love to hear any opinions on what you guys think of Darcy as an OC, too.

One note – the line “autumn was definitely on the way” is directly inspired by Harry’s line, “winter is definitely on the way,” which was in a letter he wrote to Sirius in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Warner Bros., 2007).

Thanks again for all of your support so far!

-Amanda


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