There wasn’t much else to do but go home after a twelve hour night shift. Of course I could have stopped at a diner for breakfast, but I was too exhausted to think about eating. My mum probably wouldn’t have believed her ears if I had told her that food was the last thing on my mind. But that was how I felt after powering through a night shift. It was also the reason I found myself collapsed, face down, on my bed just seconds after Apparating back to the flat I shared with my friends.
But in the few years since I'd been living in this flat with Brody and Michael I’ve learned just how hard it was to sleep during the day. The reason why I found it extremely difficult to sleep was because after working through the night at the hospital my friends would come home; they really were the most obnoxiously loud buggers to ever set foot in the world. There was a chance I was exaggerating, but when you’re trying to sleep everything tends to sound louder than in actuality.
“Oi! Where’d I put my other trainer?”
“How should I know where your trainer is?”
“Well, did you see it then?”
“No, it’s not my trainer; wouldn’t it be close to where the other one was?”
I stopped paying attention to what they were saying, instead hearing their voices as white noise. Like that was any better. I was a light sleeper as it was and here my roommates were arguing over where a missing shoe was hiding in the kitchen. Some random, if interesting, insights about kitchens were they tended to magnify a person’s voice due to shiny appliances and big, empty pots that hung on rungs over the stove. Also, sinks, that’s all, just sinks. Empty sinks made the slightest sound grow in octaves. We had a constant drip in our sink, so I was used to that; in fact, I could hear that drip of water pinging on the closed drain of the sink just beneath my flatmates’ garbled talking.
So loud that my inner ear felt like it was vibrating; though it was probably just my imagination since my friends weren’t being that loud.
“Is Louis here? Sleeping?”
My ears perked, straining at the sound of my name.
“I think so,” Brody’s voice. “I heard a cracking in the flat before dawn this morning.”
“And what if it had been a burglar?”
“Get real, Michael,” Brody said. “We’re wizards. If we were being robbed then all we’d have to do is use our wands against the intruder.”
Sighing, I sat up in bed. There was no way I was going to be able to get back to sleep until after they left for their jobs. It was a good thing that I didn’t have to be back in until tomorrow morning.
“Morning, sleepy head,” Brody said when he noticed me standing in the doorway of my bedroom, “How was your shift last night? Any strange cases come stumbling in?”
My job had ended up turning from dull to hilarious for my friends ever since I had started interning while still in my training when I started telling them of the gruesome charms gone wrong. Like the guy that had somehow managed to transfigure a few extra arms and legs on various points of his body. I’m still scarred because one of the extra arms had spouted from the wizard’s arse. Seriously, you’d think fully grown wizards would know how to use magic, but the number of disturbed cases of charms gone awry far outnumbered our serious cases. It was ridiculous.
“Not that I’m aware of,” I said. “But then again I had a quiet shift since there were only three kids on the children’s floor.”
“How is the kid that was last attacked fairing?” Michael asked.
“Alright, I guess,” I said. “I didn’t go into the Dai Llewellyn ward last night.”
“It’s sick that these kids are being targeted the way they are.”
I nodded. “Thomas offered me a chance to join the research to finding the werewolf involved yesterday.”
“What’d you say?” Brody asked.
“I didn’t say anything,” I said. “I didn’t know what to say.”
“You should definitely take the promotion.”
Michael nodded in agreement. “Definitely, it’ll be something to do since I know how bored you are being supervised; you complain enough about the mandatory supervision hours as it is.”
“I don’t complain that much.”
Both Brody and Michael looked at me pointedly. Okay, maybe I did complain a lot.
“You know, we should totally get drinks at the Leaky tonight to celebrate.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I said.
I wasn’t one for drinking, mainly because I couldn’t hold my liquor. And I’m not talking about throwing it back up either. I’m talking being so drunk you need someone to babysit you. I also tended to point my wand at random spots in whichever pub I was in, whether it was magical or muggle. Yeah, I was a walking hazard when I got drunk.
“I know that look,” Brody said. “But don’t worry, man.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “You do remember the last time I got drunk at Leaky, right?”
“Yeah, you made sparks and ribbons erupt from your wand as you stood on the bar dancing to some song from that hot new Wizard boy band.”
“That was funny,” Michael recalled.
“No, it wasn’t.”
It wasn’t often I found myself in a crazy situation since I generally kept a level head on my shoulders. But when I got some drinks into my system, well, you get the picture by now. It wouldn’t be pretty at all, but I could also tell that my friends weren’t going to back down on going to the Leaky Cauldron tonight. I had no choice but to agree to meet them later.
After Brody and Michael left the flat to head to their respected Ministry of Magic office jobs, I made myself some eggs and sausage for breakfast before heading back into my room to try to get at least another couple hours of sleep. I was unsuccessful, though. This was partly due to the fact that I usually couldn’t get back to sleep after waking up already, but mainly due to the tapping sounds drifting through my slightly ajar door from the kitchen. It had to be a letter since the Daily Prophet arrived much earlier than, I looked at my watch, half past ten in the morning.
Getting out of bed took a lot of work because I was hesitant to leave my nest of blankets and pillows having just warmed them back up but the insistent tapping on the window pulled me out of it. It actually annoyed me. I knew it was an owl and they were only doing the bidding of their master and didn’t mean any harm, but I had just gotten comfy again.
The first thing the owl did when I unlocked the latch and pushed open the window was fly in, wracking the side of my head in the process. “Why you little wanker,” I muttered, rubbing my head before realising that it was my parents’ owl, Misty. “What does Mum want from me now, huh, Misty?”
Misty dutifully held out the leg that had a rolled-up parchment attached to it while balancing on the other on the back of a chair at the table, which was still a mess from breakfast. I really should do the dishes since it was probably long past my turn. Plus, the sink was piled with more dirtied dishes and pots and flatware in one of the double sinks. Shaking my head, I untied the scroll and unfurled it to find the familiar cursive of my mum’s handwriting. The letter was short, but to the point. Apparently she knew that I must be running out of clean clothes since I hadn’t been over for the past three weekends. In fact, I had even had to wear a couple of my lime green healer robes that were still basically clean due to running out of freshly laundered robes.
I sniffed the t-shirt I was wearing currently and had to pull my nose away from the sleeve fast because of the stench; I’d been sleeping in the same t-shirt and pajama bottoms for the past week. I pulled the t-shirt up and over my head, setting it on the back of a chair before heading back into my room and tossed all my dirty laundry into a sack. I guess sleeping would be out of the question today, at least until I got home from the Leaky. I guess I was just doomed to be perpetually sleep deprived. It was my own fault for choosing such a demanding profession, but I’d choose it all over again if I had to.
When I finally managed to find a pair of clean trousers and a shirt that was draped on the corner of my wardrobe that smelled fine, I dragged the sack into the living room and threw some floo powder into the fire place before stepping in. “Shell Cottage.” Green flames whooshed me away and I could just make out the blur of other fireplaces in my peripheral vision. Seconds later, I found myself stumbling into the living room of my childhood home, tracking ash into the rug.
I heard my mum call out from the kitchen, water running in the sink, “Is that you, Louis?” My mother had an uncanny knack of knowing, just by our footsteps, which of her children, or husband, had arrived before actually seeing any of us. It was actually kind of startling that she knew us that well enough from a single footstep.
“Yeah,” I said as I made my way to the kitchen and leaned on the door jamb. “I figured I’d come over on my day off.”
“Out of clean robes,” Mum said, hitting the spot dead on. Her back was still to me as she continued washing the last few dishes in the sink-filled sudsy water. “I figured as much. Did you get my letter?”
“Misty arrived shortly before,” I said. “It’s what reminded me that I needed to bring my laundry over to wash. I had to scrounge in my wardrobe to find what I’m wearing now.”
“You’re so much like your father, Lou,” Mum said, turning to face him after she had pulled the sink plug. “Both of you are helpless when it comes to household charms.”
“But you still love me otherwise you wouldn’t be taking pity on me to help wash my clothes.”
“That’s because you’ll always be my baby boy,” Mum said, ruffling my red hair as she passed through the doorway to grab the sack I had left on the sofa in the living room.
Flattening my hair, I followed her down into the basement/laundry room and watched as she filled the tub with water and detergent before separating my clothes into piles. I had never understood the laws of separation until I had ruined my whites by washing my orange Chudley Cannons jersey that Michael had given me as a joke one Christmas back when we were fourth years at Hogwarts with my whites. It had been the summer after I had finished my final year. That had been when my Mum had told me that under no circumstance was I to do my own laundry because it had taken her several spells before my whites weren’t an orangey peach colour.
When my colours were washing themselves by magic we went back up to the kitchen and she fixed us some tea and laid out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. You could always count on my mum to have some kind of treat in the house; she was a lot like Nana Molly in that respect. It was kind of funny comparing the two of them because from what I’d heard, it had taken Nana almost a year to really warm up to my mum. My parents always liked telling the story enough times that even I had it memorised. Apparently my Nana warmed up to my mum when Mum didn’t back away in disgust when she saw my dad’s face shredded after Fenir Greyback had attacked him (while still in human form, no less, which was why Dad didn’t shift).
“Have you spoken to your sisters lately?”
“No,” I said. “Should I have?”
Usually when my mum brought up my sisters in conversation it meant I had missed out on something that had happened in either one of their lives. I wondered what it was that had completely flown over my head this time.
“Well, I shouldn’t say,” Mum said. “It’s really your sister’s news to tell.”
“Victoire or Dom?”
“Victoire,” Mum said. “Or I should say both her and Ted’s news. I’m surprised she didn’t write to you, at the very least, with the news.”
“You know Vic,” I said.
My eldest sister, Victoire, had a tendency of being forgetful when it came to sending out letters. Ted had been the one in charge of distributing the wedding invitations a couple years ago before they had gotten married. Bit funny since Dom was the one you’d think would have the most trouble with keeping in touch since she tended to be on the ditzy side. Of course I mean ditzy in the best possible way. I loved both my sisters after all, no matter their faults. They’ve put up with enough of my own faults that I had to put up with theirs. We were as close as siblings could be without it getting weird… well, at least not much.
“Of course,” Mum said. “Well, I’ll let her tell you herself then.”
“Then that means I have to actually wait for whatever news it is.”
“Well, I’m sorry, Lou, but it’s not my news to tell.”
I sighed; of course my mum would string me along to wind up telling me she wouldn’t say anything. She loved winding anyone of us up, only to let us go instead of telling us what had happened. I guess that was where I got my distaste for gossip from since my mum despised the spreading of rumours of any kind.
It wasn’t for another couple hours that all my clothes were washed and dried. And by then I only had enough time to stop back at my flat to toss the sack of neatly folded robes on my bed before Disapparating to the Leaky to meet up with Brody and Michael. They were both already sitting at a booth when I got there and I sat down on the bench next to Michael. There were already two drinks resting on the table, sweat rings around the bottom of each, as Brody raised a hand to wave the waitress over.
I looked over at the bar to see that Hannah Longbottom was serving a few wizards sitting on the stools. The Longbottoms were family friends. I usually said hi when I was in the Leaky, but it would have to wait until we left since she was busy enough juggling multiple drink orders.
“Is this the last of your party,” the waitress said when she had arrived at the end of our booth. “What can I get you?” she asked me after Brody had nodded.
“Just a butterbeer, thanks,” I said. “I have to be at work early tomorrow.”
“He’s kidding,” Michael said. “He’ll take a firewhiskey.”
“Ooh, what are we celebrating?” the waitress asked.
“I got offered a promotion at work,” I said. “It’s no big deal, honest.”
I hadn’t seen the waitress before so I assumed she was relatively new, but who am I to judge since it had been months since I had last been at the Leaky. Either way, I didn’t really like sharing my personal business with strangers. I barely opened up as it was with my friends.
“Well, then, a firewhiskey on the house it is,” the waitress said, bustling off to the bar to put in the drink order.
“If I’m hungover tomorrow I’m blaming you two.”
Surprisingly my friends didn’t push me to drink anymore after I finished the first firewhiskey so I was able to walk out of the Leaky on my own. I had paused at the bar long enough to chat with Hannah briefly before Disapparating back to the flat. Both Michael and Brody had had a few drinks each so I had to take them side-along with me because that was what a good friend did when his mates got too wasted to concentrate on an exact destination to Apparate to. After I had shoved each of them into their rooms I went into mine and set the alarm on my wand seconds before collapsing into my bed. I didn’t even both crawling under the bunched up sheets before I was out like a light.
Author's Note: Thanks for those couple of you that reviewed the first chapter (: It made me happy. Reviews always make me happy. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and I'd love to hear your feedback on it, too. I'll be posting chapter three in two weeks.