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Chapter 23 : Pineapple Wig
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“After us, the flood.”
-Madame de Pompadour
7 February 2022
Dear Ms Eleni Richelieu-Llewellyn,
I know that our prior meeting did not end well, and I suppose I should take some of the blame for that. I ought to have been more compassionate to your plight as a mother concerned for the well being of her only daughter, who was introducing you to her dashing new boyfriend, who has admittedly flamboyant tendencies. For that, I apologise: I proclaim it my maximum mea culpa of a wrong that I did beseech upon thou with great haste and great remiss.
I do not know how much contact you have with Tegan, but if you didn't know, our romantic relationship ended rather abruptly at Christmas, and I take full responsibility for my ill-conceived and somewhat selfish grand romantic gesture of devotion. I shan’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say, our love has died and after a rough patch, Tegan and I are now on amicable and entirely platonic terms. However, Ms Eleni Richelieu-Llewellyn, sir, Tegan has found a new suitor whom I, not out of fickle jealousy but genuine concern as one of her oldest and dearest friends, find to be entirely unworthy of her.
Tegan has agreed to go on a date with Snorky Scamander in Hogsmeade Village next Saturday, Valentine’s Day. Who is this Snorky Scamander, I hear you ask? Well, Snorkack Iscariot Scamander is a sixth-year Gryffinclaw with high marks in most of his subjects. He is blond and short and has a crumple-horned nose. (I have enclosed a photograph for reference.) Snorky is also the single man responsible for V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.’s rise to infamy, as well as the resulting national economic depression. Clearly, there is something wily and nefarious about Snorky Scamander. Do you really want your daughter to be involved with a rabble-rousing socialist with fascist and anarchical leanings such as Snorky?
Another reason why Snorky is awful is because of his inherited genes. His mother, Luna, is one of my mum’s most trusted friends, and I admit that she is a lovely woman the five minutes a year she actually talks sense. Luna Scamander, née Lovegood, is a naturalist who is so crazy that she named her child Snorkack. Snorkack. This requires no explanation.
Rolf Scamander, Snorky’s dad, is actually a stand-up chap. He’s a naturalist like his wife and they’re both a bit weird, though Luna more so than Rolf, but Rolf has a dark side, too. The Scamanders actually represent a long line of gentle, kind Wizarding ecologists – except for Günther Scamander! Christmas Eve seven years ago, Rolf drank a whole thing of firewhiskey all by himself and he started telling us all these strange things about himself, like how he was born with six toes on one foot because his great-grandmother was a Hapsburg and how his second cousin Günther joined the Totentanz Kindergarten, the youth division of Grindelwald’s followers, the notorious Totentanzen! Allow me to reiterate: At five years of age, Snorky Scamander’s third cousin did knowingly and willingly support the most evil wizard in history (until Voldemort came along), just like every other magical child and their parents were required to by legal decree. If the indisputable fact that little Günther Scamander was one of Grindelwald’s top advisers doesn’t convince you that the Scamanders are bad blood, Ms Eleni Richelieu-Llewellyn, then hopefully the Hapsburg six toes thing will.
Now that I have proven why Snorky Scamander is an entirely inappropriate consort for Tegan, I need to ask for your help. I sensed from our last meeting that you might not consider me to be a worthy companion for Tegan, but think about this: I am the first-born son of Harry Potter, who defeated a dark lord much, much scarier than Grindelwald, and Snorky is practically third cousins with the dark lord significantly less badass and successful than Voldemort.
If this does not sway you, madame, I have also enclosed a photograph of myself, with which you can compare the photograph I have enclosed of Snorky Scamander. Note my uncrumple-horned nose and generally pleasing bone structure, and remember that by permitting your daughter to date Snorky, you might end up with crumple-horned-nosed, six-toed grandchildren one day, Albus forbid.
I ask for your help for I am in a quandary about what I can do to sabotage Tegan and Snorky’s date this Saturday. I can’t think of any good ideas that won’t probably backfire. And so, I beg of you, Ms Richelieu-Llewellyn: Please help me sabotage Tegan and Snorky’s Valentine’s Day tête-à-tête. I would forever be indebted to you for any advice you could give me on how to destroy blossoming young love. And if you still think that I am not worthy of Tegan for myself, please consider the alternative: crazy, six-toed, crumple-horned-nosed, neo-Totentanzen grandchildren.
James Sirius Potter
I received this in response:
Meet me on the 14th at your one-eared uncle’s practical-jokery at 11.
I did as the note requested and was delighted to discover on Saturday that Eleni Richelieu-Llewellyn had not changed one bit.
“Stop calling me Ms Richelieu-Llewellyn,” she said sternly, looking around Weasley Wizard Wheezes in distaste. “Rhys and I are getting divorced, and legally this time. You may call me Ms Richelieu now.”
Uncle George, who was standing behind the counter of his joke shop, grinned madly. “Eleni Richelieu?” he asked. “It’s you, isn’t it? It’s George Weasley, we were in the same year at school! I remember now, we used to call you the Wicked Bitch of the West! Can’t remember why we added the ‘west’ part, though.”
Eleni narrowed her eyes at him. “Still just as charming all these years later. If you don’t mind, Mr Weasley, I’d like to speak to your nephew in private.”
“Actually, I do mind,” said Uncle George.
“And I don’t care,” said Tegan’s mum. “Thank you, Mr Weasley, run along now.”
Uncle George rolled his eyes at her. “If you need me, I’ll be in the back, Jamesie boy,” he said.
When Uncle George was gone, I asked, “Why are you and Rhys getting divorced, Ms Richelieu-Llewellyn? I mean, Ms Riche—”
“If you’ll pardon my tone, James, I don’t see how my marital status is any concern of yours,” she said.
“Does Tegan know about the divorce?” I asked hesitantly.
“Not to my knowledge,” said Eleni Richelieu. “I don’t see how my marital status is any concern of hers, either.”
Electing to choose my battles, I said, “So, how’re we going to get rid of that villainous cad Snorky Scamander?”
“To be honest, James,” Eleni said, “I considered the fact that the boy is a Hapsburg to be a selling point until I saw the photograph you included. Dear God, I will not allow Tegan to associate with something so hideous and deformed, regardless of his good breeding, and to that end I have designed a Grand Master Plan in Three Phases that will effectively sabotage their rendezvous.”
“Ooh, do tell!” I said.
“The Plan is simple,” said Eleni Richelieu, no longer hyphen Llewellyn. “We must destroy Snorkack’s credibility in Tegan’s eyes while increasing yours, and we must accomplish this without letting Tegan know of my involvement. If she knew that I disapproved of her affair with this Snorkack monster, she would immediately desire him. This reverse psychology phenomenon occurred while Tegan was with you, James.”
I glared at her. “Our love was so much stronger than that, Ms Richelieu,” I muttered. “Tegan loved me. She did.”
But the Mistress of Darkness simply laughed. “You’ve also made a pitiful effort at making Tegan jealous, yes?”
“If by ‘pitiful’ you mean ‘no’ effort, then yes,” I replied.
“Mr Potter,” she said, “I almost pity your naïveté. You are so lucky to have contacted me when you did.”
It was then that I felt an overwhelming sense of dread, a specific type of foreboding that I would come to learn could only be caused by Eleni Richelieu. “What d’you have in mind?” I asked sheepishly.
Eleni smirked (such an evil smirk it was!) and clicked her fingers. “Pineapple!” she shouted, her voice shrill like the north wind. “Pineapple, darling!”
I stood idly for a moment whilst Eleni Richelieu continued to shout the name of a tropical fruit in my one-eared uncle’s “practical-jokery,” unsure of when I ought to intervene, or whether intervention was even a safe option.
“Pineapple!” Eleni snapped, growing irritated.
I wondered if this was some sort of spell gone wrong. “Ms Richelieu,” I said timidly, “I can go check and see if there’s a restaurant or greengrocer in the village somewhere that sells pineapples at this time of year, if it’s essential to your Plan.”
Then she stared at me like I was the crazy person. “Good God, Potter, how the hell are you going to find a pineapple in the Scottish Highlands in February!” Eleni exclaimed. “And how would a tropical fruit facilitate the breaking up of Tegan and that Snorkack abomination?”
“I don’t know cos you won’t tell me the plan cos you’re a weird lady who never tells the truth and sort of talks in riddles but never ever ever makes any sense!” I said very, very quickly.
Eleni rolled her eyes again. “Pineapple, I know you’re hiding, but this isn’t a game,” she said. “Don’t make me take your drugs away from you.”
Just then, a wide-eyed, blonde-haired woman jumped out from behind the Skiving Snackboxes display, looking like a giant, anorexic bird. Standing nearly a head taller than me, she was actually almost pretty, around age thirty or so, but her crazy brownish-green eyes and malnourished appearance detracted substantially from her potential prettiness. To her credit, however, she was dressed in a very chic paisley frock.
“Pineapple, darling,” said Eleni warmly, holding her arms outstretched. “Give me a hug and I’ll let you have a pill.”
The woman with large eyes and probably a case of scurvy hopped over to Eleni and awkwardly threw her arms around her.
“Very good, my dear,” said Eleni, pulling away and extracting a small satchel from her handbag. She pulled out a small white tablet and held it out for Pineapple to see, then tossed it at her face. Pineapple caught the pill in her mouth, like a gull at the seashore.
“Well done!” Eleni said cheerfully. “Now Piney, there’s a lovely man here I’d like you to meet. You see that dark-haired fellow in the corner? His name is James Potter. Would you say hello to James?”
Pineapple jerked her head and stared at me with her freakishly large eyes. “Hi James,” she said in a high, breathy voice.
“James,” said Eleni, “this is Pineapple Wig, the famed rapper Lewd Wig’s eldest child. Can you say hello?”
“Hullo…Pineapple,” I said, wondering if I’d woken up in Bizarro World this morning. “That’s a name you don’t hear every day.”
“Her father is one of the most famous celebrities in our world,” said Eleni snidely. “What, did you expect him to christen her Gertrude?
“Pineapple is a very successful model and socialite, James,” she continued. “She is a dear family friend. And Piney, James is a bi-curious schoolboy as well as the eldest child of Harry Potter. He is currently trying to woo my daughter.”
Pineapple Wig continued to stare at me with her huge, creepy eyes. It was strange how she never blinked.
“Tegan’s a good girl, yeah?” said Pineapple Wig to me, her voice shaky. “I like you, Potter. You’ll be good to Tegan, yes?”
“Of course,” I said, wondering if there was some way to Apparate out of this Bizarro World I was obviously trapped in.
“Oh, it’s so wonderful that you two are getting along,” said Eleni brightly. “You two are going to go to lunch at the same eating establishment as Tegan and that wretched Snorkack ogre, and you’re going to have a wonderful time together and show Tegan that James is perfectly all right, and I daresay better off, without her.”
“What?” I exclaimed, while Pineapple Wig said, “Oh, cool,” at the exact same time.
“You have to rub it in Tegan’s face, James,” said Eleni sternly. “In your futile attempts to win her favour, you’ve ignored an essential character flaw of hers: She wants most that which she cannot have. Seeing you share an innocent lunch with a charismatic model/heiress to a rap empire will show Tegan that you don’t need her anymore, which will in turn convince her that she must win you back.”
I coughed, while Pineapple stared off into space with a dazed smile plastered to her face.
“Ms Richelieu, isn’t Pineapple a bit…older than me?” I asked cautiously.
“What are you insinuating?” asked Eleni. “You are going to lunch with this charming thirty-four-year-old woman. You’ll discuss such minutiae as the weather and your common fondness for 80’s glam rock.”
“Can I have ketchup?” Pineapple Wig asked, her voice high and fragile. “At the lunch place? Will there be ketchup? And bread? Oh, how I love ketchup sandwiches!”
Eleni fondly patted Pineapple’s bony shoulder. “Why of course, darling!” said Eleni. You may have all the ketchup sandwiches you wish! Just pretend that you find James to be a remotely interesting person. We all know how good you are at acting, dear.”
But Pineapple had reached the “over the moon excited” expression when Eleni confirmed that there would indeed be ketchup sandwiches.
“Ms Richelieu,” I said quickly, “are you sure that this is the best idea? Even if this makes Tegan jealous, is that enough to make her hate Snorky?”
“Oh, I will take care of the Snorkack child,” said Eleni, sounding like what I always imagined Voldemort to sound like. “I’ve enlisted your dim-witted friends for Phases Two and Three of my Grand Master Plan. All you have to worry about, James, is looking handsome and pretending that you enjoy conversing with darling, drug-addicted Pineapple.”
I looked over at Pineapple Wig, who was eyeing Eleni’s satchel of pills intently. Were I to go through with it, this afternoon would undoubtedly be one of the strangest in my life, and I’d led a particularly strange and unconventional life already. But who knew Tegan better than her evil mother, or so aforementioned evil mother insisted? Actually, probably most of Tegan’s friends and teachers and acquaintances knew her better than Eleni did, but to her credit, the Mistress of Darkness always knew how to strike a chord with her daughter. Perhaps invoking some jealousy, or something, on her part was the key. And if anything, I was certain that there was no wizard on Earth that Tegan despised more than Lewd Wig, and chances were that Tegan would dislike his daughter just as much.
“Okay,” I finally said to Eleni Richelieu. “I’ll do it. I’ll go to lunch with Pineapple to make Tegan love me again. But how do my dim-witted friends figure into Phases Two and Three of your Grand Master Plan, Ms Richelieu?”
She grinned at me diabolically. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about any of that, James,” said Eleni. “Could you be a dear and call in your one-eared uncle? There are some false moustaches that I need to buy.”
I went to the back room, where I discovered Uncle George listening at the door with his one good ear.
“Were you eavesdropping on us?” I whispered to him.
“Of course,” Uncle George whispered back, holding up his Extra-Extendable Ears. “Did the Wicked Bitch call my son one of your dim-witted friends?”
“I don’t know. Eleni won’t tell me the finer points of Phases Two and Three,” I said, holding my voice low enough so that Eleni and Pineapple couldn’t hear. “She wants to buy some false moustaches from you, though.”
Uncle George crossed his arms and tutted. “I don’t trust that woman, James,” he said. “You’ve heard stories of Bellatrix Lestrange, yeah? Well, this Eleni woman is like a cleverer, less violent version of dearly departed Bella. But with a better hairstyle.”
“That’s the lady Granny killed, right?” I said.
“And she did it with panache,” said Uncle George. “But I still don’t like Eleni. Be careful, Jamesie boy.”
“I will, Uncle George,” I whispered. “I really think she needs those moustaches, though.”
“Right,” said Uncle George, pushing open the door with a flourish and strutting out of the back room. “Why hello again! How may I help you, Mrs Llewellyn?”
“We are interested in purchasing some false moustaches, Mr Weasley,” said Eleni brusquely. “And I go by Ms Richelieu now.”
Pineapple pointed at Uncle George and loudly whispered to Eleni, “I think he forgot to put on one of his ears this morning.”
“Keen observation, young lady!” said Uncle George cheerfully from behind the counter. “Unfortunately, it was destroyed by Dark magic during a Death Eater attack many moons ago, but the wife says it adds to my charm!”
“Splendid,” said Eleni flatly. “Three false moustaches, please, Mr Weasley. Three plain, black, disenchanted moustaches that will hold up to a Sticking Charm.”
“Very well then, Mrs Llewellyn,” said Uncle George, pointing his wand across the shop. “Accio moustaches!”
Three small boxes flew through the air and landed in a neat stack on the counter.
“We’re in a bit of a hurry, I’m afraid,” said Eleni snidely. “And I’d much prefer if you addressed me as Ms Richelieu.”
“And I’d much prefer to address you as Mrs Llewellyn,” said Uncle George, smirking mischievously. “Five Sickles apiece comes to a grand total of fifteen Sickles! Would you like your purchases gift-wrapped for Valentine’s Day?”
“No,” said Eleni curtly, handing Uncle George the coins. “It’s nearly noon and I have so much to do before James and Pineapple’s lunch appointment. Good day, Mr Weasley.”
“Ta-ta, Mrs Llewellyn!” Uncle George called as she stormed out of the shop with Pineapple Wig. “Jamesie boy, remember that when you play with Fiendfyre, you’ll only end up charred and in the burn ward at St Mungo’s.”
“I’ll remember, Uncle George,” I said as I scurried out of the shop after Eleni and Pineapple.
Eleni was already storming down the main thoroughfare of Hogsmeade, her long coat billowing in the February wind. Pineapple followed closely behind her, and in the bright winter sunshine, it became undeniably clear that Pineapple Wig was like a giant, gaunt, blonde bird person.
I caught up to Eleni as we passed the post office. “Oi, Ms Richelieu!” I said, catching my breath. “I know that I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about Phases Two and Three of your Grand Master Plan, but I’m still not entirely sure about Phase One yet.”
“At noon, you and Pineapple will sit at the table right next to Tegan and the Snorkack’s at The Leaky Broomstick,” said Eleni as distant bells from Hogwarts tolled in the background. “You will each pretend that you are having the most wonderful time of your lives, and Tegan shall witness your every giggle, witticism, and profundity. Phases Two and Three will manifest themselves independently and you will recognise them as they happen.”
“Okay, I think I almost understand,” I said reluctantly. “But how do you know that Snorky and Tegan are at The Three Broomsticks right now? It’s bound to be crowded, so how are we supposed to get a table—”
“I have a man on the inside,” said Eleni slyly. “Everything has already been set in motion. All I need from you, James and my dearest Piney, is the finest acting performance of your lives.”
Pineapple perked up. “If I’m good,” she said to Eleni, “may I have another pill when this is over?”
Eleni smiled, nice and evil all at the same time. “If you do well, Pineapple, you may have all the pills and ketchup sandwiches you wish. Now look, we’ve arrived at the pub. Good luck and remember: Feign enthusiasm!”
She then ran off down the dark alley beside The Three Broomsticks, but I was too confused to care. I looked to Pineapple, who was well over six feet tall and had the nose of a sparrow, and I tried to smile at this certifiably mad lady.
“After you?” I said genially, holding open the door to The Three Broomsticks.
Pineapple smiled daftly and said, “Oh, cool, thanks,” as she fluttered into the pub.
It was busy and full of students, exactly as I’d predicted, and I searched for Tegan and Snorky in the crowd. Unsuccessful, I’d come to the conclusion that there were absolutely no empty tables in the pub, but before I could say something to Pineapple, a tuxedoed and moustachioed waiter swooped in from out of nowhere.
“Welcome to The Three Broomsticks!” said the waiter in an exaggerated American accent. “Two in your party?”
“Whoa, are you like a maître d’?” asked Pineapple, all breathy and naïve. “I didn’t know that they had maîtres d’ at The Three Broomsticks.”
“They don’t,” I said sternly, glaring at the odd tuxedo man. “They don’t have waiters either.”
“Well then, pardners, let’s getchu folks seated!” said the cowboy maître d’.
“You know,” I said slowly, “you look very much like my friend J.D., except with a moustache and a garish accent.”
The maître d’ grinned and whispered, “It’s me! It’s J.D.! Tegan’s mum hired me for Phase Two of the Plan!”
“You know what Phase Two is?” I whispered back.
“Yeah, but I’m not s’posed to tell you,” said J.D. “Don’t worry, I have it under control. Ms Wig, let me say that I am a huge fan of your father’s work.”
“Cool, thank you,” said Pineapple, completely disinterested.
“Question: Could you explain the outfit?” I asked him. “You’re like a cowboy and an international spy and racist vaudeville actor all at the same time.”
“What are you on about?” whispered J.D. “Eleni told me to wear this and to disguise my voice, so that’s what I’m doing.”
“Garçon?” said Pineapple Wig timidly. “Can we sit so we can eat soon?”
“Pardon me, ma’am!” said J.D. the Maître D’, jumping back into character(s). “If you’ll mosey on down, I’ll see ya to yer table!”
We did as he requested and followed him to the rear of the pub, where there was one small but vacant table adjacent to… Tegan and Snorky’s table!
“Since when does The Three Broomsticks have an al fresco happy hour?” I heard Tegan say as she read a menu. “Or menus?”
Actually seeing Snorky and Tegan together – sitting at the same table and everything – made me want to be sick. It was wrong on so many levels.
“Here y’are, pardners!” said J.D. the Maître D’ cheerfully. He pulled some menus from out of nowhere and gave them to me and Pineapple as we sat down.
“I’ll be back faster’n a jackrabbit dancin’ the jitterbug to take yer orders!” said J.D., and he disappeared behind the kitchen door.
“Is that fast?” Pineapple asked me.
“I’m not entirely sure,” I said. “I don’t speak Cowboy-Going-Undercover-As-A-Spy-Going-Undercover-As-A-Waiter.”
“James?” I heard Tegan say, finally noticing us. “And…Pineapple Wig?”
“Oh, nice to see you again, Tegan,” said Pineapple coolly. “You look lovely. Ooh, is this your boyfriend?”
“No!” Tegan and I said at exactly the same time.
But Snorky reached across the gap between our tables to shake Pineapple’s hand. “Snorky Scamander,” he said suavely. “Very pleased to meet you. Pardon my gall but I must ask: Are you Tegan’s sister?”
“Oh no, Tegan doesn’t have a sister,” said Pineapple, politely tolerating Snorky. “I’m friendly with her mum.”
Snorky gasped. “You two look so alike that I could have sworn you were sisters!”
In my opinion, Tegan and Pineapple Wig could not look less alike. Also, I was no longer sceptical that Pineapple was a socialite, because she could turn on the charm and coherent speech at will.
Pineapple laughed. “You really are too much! I’m far too old to be Tegan’s sister – I’ve been close to her family for so long that I remember her running naked around the garden!”
I felt something tug at my ankle and I looked down to see Tegan, crouching on the floor and glaring at me.
“I hope you’re not referring to this past Bastille Day!” said Snorky, and he and Pineapple roared with laughter.
I slipped down beneath my table while Tegan kneeled beneath hers.
“What?” I whispered, hoping it was loud enough for her to hear me.
“What the hell are you doing here with the spawn of Lewd Wig?” Tegan seethed.
“Having a friendly and enjoyable lunch,” I answered automatically.
“How do you even know that odious woman?” she demanded.
“Uhhhhh,” I said. “My dad’s associate’s cousin’s stepfather’s goddaughter met Pineapple once on safari in Africa. Since I’m, er, considering being a socialite as a career possibility – you know, depending entirely on my father’s fame and largesse to support my wild and frivolous lifestyle – I wanted to learn more about socialiting from an expert. So this is a business lunch.”
Tegan stared at me. “D’you want the drugs and the anorexia and the scurvy too? Come on, Potter, you want to be a Quidditch player!”
“I’m keeping my options open!” I said, uncomfortable staying crouched under the table for so long. “I also would like to learn how to break into the modelling world.”
“Modelling?” said Tegan.
“I’m a handsome, handsome man!” I whisper-shrieked. “Tante Fleur says I have the right jawline for modelling!”
“What does that even mean?” she snapped.
“It means I’m going to be a fast-living, professional-partying model under Pineapple’s tutelage,” I said. “I don’t even know why you’re angry, since you’re the one voluntarily spending time with Snorky Scamander!”
“I’m angry because I know that Pineapple is a good for nothing piece of shit and even worse, she’s Lewd Wig’s progeny!” Tegan whisper-shouted. “Besides, Potter, you told me that I might as well go out with Snorky!”
I couldn’t argue with that one, but fortunately I didn’t have to, since J.D. the Maître D’ popped his head below the tables at that very second.
“You two dude-wranglers ready to order?” he asked us.
“I know it’s you, J.D.,” whispered Tegan.
“What?” he said. “Sorry to disappoint you, l’il lady, but I’m Schlomo O’Tonto, the itinerant singing cowboy man of mystery.”
“I really hope you’re drunk right now,” said Tegan, climbing back into her chair.
I did the same, and heard Snorky say, “And then I told the Minister, I told him, ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, me and my commentator colleagues will strike again so fast and hard, it’ll be faster than you can say V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.!’”
“Wow, you have so many stories that sound exactly the same,” said Pineapple Wig.
“Alright then, you crazy kids,” said J.D. to Tegan and Snorky, “what’ll ya have?”
“I have a problem with this menu, Schlomo,” said Tegan. “Half the things listed here I know for a fact that The Three Broomsticks does not serve, and also, this menu says that the name of this establishment is The Leaky Broomstick.”
“I’ll handle it, babe,” said Snorky. “We’ll each have the tofurkey burger.”
“What? Ew,” said Tegan.
“I agree, that sounds disgusting,” said J.D.
“I’m not even a vegetarian!” Tegan told Snorky.
“Really?” said Snorky. “How can you live with yourself? Right, Schlomo, is it? Yes, Schlomo, bring us two tofurkey burgers. Tegs, I promise you’ll love tofurkey.”
“And this is why cattle ranches all across the U.S. and A. are failing,” said J.D. under his breath. “Okay, other table, what’ll it be?”
“I would like one ketchup sandwich, please,” said Pineapple very primly, “and a very large glass of whisky. Single malt.”
“If I may clarify,” said J.D. as he wrote it all down, “you want two slices of bread held together only by ketchup?”
“With the crusts cut off,” Pineapple said like it was the most normal thing in the world. “And whisky.”
“Oi Schlomo,” I said to J.D., “your moustache is falling off.”
He scrambled to hold up the false moustache. “Yer order, pardner?”
“I would like the lobster,” I said. “And a butterbeer.”
“We serve lobster?” asked J.D., leaning in to read my menu.
“Says so right here,” I said, smirking. “Mostly, I’m just curious what your ‘infamous Scottish lobster’ will look like.”
“Well, I’ll go inform the chef of your requests, reattach my moustache, and come back later with your drinks!” said J.D., practically sprinting off. “Pardners!”
Snorky Scamander looked at me with revulsion. “You eat shellfish?” he asked, disgusted. “An innocent crustacean life heads to the gallows just because of your greed, sir.”
“And the Wizarding British economy is hanged and twitching because of yours, Snorkarino,” I said.
“Snorky!” said Tegan, thwacking him with her handbag. “Why would you go ahead and order for me like that? Couldn’t you have asked me first if I wanted to eat tofu masquerading as turkey masquerading as a hamburger? Which, for the record, I don’t!”
“Tegan, babe,” said Snorky casually, “you’ll thank me. Eating meat is positively barbaric.”
“Is it?” she said. “Well then, send me back to the Stone Age because I’m a meatatarian! I love eating most everything that comes from animals and I avoid vegetables whenever possible!”
“So Pineapple,” I said, “let’s hear more about you! How does the Pineapple Wig story begin?”
She was sipping the whisky that J.D. must’ve dropped off discreetly, since I now had my butterbeer as well.
“Well, like most people, I suppose it started with birth,” said Pineapple. “My dad, Lewis, that’s his real name, had three best-selling records when he was only twenty years old, and my mum was a model and a cocaine addict called Astrid. A match made in heaven, right? Well, when Mum found out she was pregnant with me she made Dad marry her without a pre-nup so I’d be set for life, yeah? But Mum was found dead and defenestrated in Prague four years after I was born and she and Dad married, so I was raised by a series of Brazilian au pairs with the small army of half-siblings I acquired over the years cos my dad slagged around so much.”
“Wow,” I said. “If you wrote a memoir, it would sell very, very well.”
“I’m actually waiting for my dad to die before I write a book about my life,” said Pineapple. “He’d be furious if I told the world the truth about our family. Anyways, I went to Hogwarts when I was eleven, was sorted into Ravenclaw, and became best mates with Huw Llewellyn. It’s how I met Tegan’s family.”
“Ohhhh,” I said, loud enough for Tegan to hear. “That explains a bit.”
“How is Huw, by the way?” asked Pineapple.
“Er, at the moment, I believe he’s still on the run after escaping from Azkaban,” I said.
Pineapple beamed. “Glad to hear he’s doing well. Huw was always such great fun.”
I glanced to the side and saw that Tegan and Snorky had stopped arguing about the merits of vegetarianism and were now pointedly glaring at one another.
Point for Team James!
“So, back to your fascinating life story, Pineapple,” I said smoothly.
“Right,” she said, polishing off her whisky. “Got into a bit a mischief at school – let me tell you, they do not want you smoking anything fun at Hogwarts. Did my N.E.W.T.s and graduated eventually, started getting into some harder stuff… Oh, I forgot, I got pregnant a few times but nipped those in the bud, if you know what I mean, and I started modelling and dabbling in bulimia, then I went through a lesbian phase, then I recorded a Christmas duet with my dad and it was a commercial disaster, then I went to rehab, then I escaped from rehab, then I went back to rehab again, then I was sober for almost three months, then I got pregnant so I started drinking again, after the abortion, I mean, and that’s basically it. Now I’m sitting here with you.”
I stopped chugging my butterbeer and said, “Wow! You’ve been very very busy, Pineapple!”
“I know, right?” she said. “So what about you, Harry Potter, Jr.? How’s your life been so far? What are your hopes and dreams and aspirations?”
“Well, my dream is to live in the country with my wife, our five children, and possibly a border collie,” I said so that Tegan could hear me. “I also want to play Chaser for the Chudley Cannons, but if that doesn’t work out I’d very much like to follow in your footsteps, Pineapple, and become a socialite and/or model on the basis of my family name.”
“The first idea isn’t so bad, you know,” said Pineapple sagely. “The country and the children and the Quidditch. I mean, I’ve accidentally become pregnant and I’ve gone to rehab quite often in my line of work.”
“Eh, I’m not too worried about becoming pregnant,” I joked.
Pineapple and I both burst out laughing. Such uproarious laughter was the key to the success of Eleni’s Plan, as Tegan could not help but take notice.
Just then, J.D. the Maître D’ swooped in with his tray. “I’ve got yer tofurkey burgers right here, l’il man and l’il lady,” he said, carelessly dropping Tegan and Snorky’s plates on their table.
“Hey Schlomo, can I have a vodka tonic?” asked Tegan. “Light on the tonic. Oh wait, can you see if you have something stronger in the back, like moonshine? Pardner?”
“I’m gonna hafta see some identification to make sure yer old enough to buy alcohol, darlin’,” said J.D.
“Schlomo, I’d like to see your identification,” said Tegan. “You know, to make sure you’re old enough to sell liquor in the first place.”
J.D., who was still sixteen, just smiled at her. “One thing o’ moonshine, comin’ up.”
“Um, Mr Schlomo?” said Pineapple Wig. “You’re just standing there with my ketchup sandwich and I’d very much like to eat it.”
“Right, you folks,” said J.D., turning to our table. “Here’s yer ketchup sandwich, ma’am.”
“And I’ll need another whisky straight away,” said Pineapple.
“Fine,” said J.D., growing weary and looking to me. “I’m sorry, pardner, but there’s a mistake on the menu. The kitchen has informed me that there ain’t no such thing as The Leaky Broomstick’s Infamous Scottish Lobster.”
“Shucks, there ain’t no such thing?” I said mockingly. “I’ll just have another butterbeer then, Schlomo.”
“Phase Three of the Plan better show up soon,” J.D. whispered to me.
“Tell Tegan that you’re fresh out of moonshine and give her a vodka tonic, but light on the vodka,” I whispered back.
“Done,” said J.D. “I’ll squeeze a bit of lime into a glass of water. She won’t know the difference.”
J.D. the Maître D’ left, and I saw Pineapple begin to eat her crustless ketchup sandwich. I think she was trying to savour it or something, because she’d take a tiny bite and chew it for over a minute before swallowing. It was pretty disgusting.
“Pineapple has the right idea, Tegs,” said Snorky patronisingly. “She’s enjoying a nutritious, one hundred per cent vegetarian meal.”
“Shut up, Snorky,” growled Tegan.
“Babe, why’re you in such a strop?” asked Snorky. “Are you riding the crimson wave?”
“Pardon?” said Tegan. “Excu— Oh God, no! I swear, Snorky, if you call me ‘babe’ one more time I am going to castrate you.”
“I’m just trying to figure out what’s bothering you!” said Snorky. “You’re quite possibly the worst communicator in the world!”
“That may be true, but you’re so delusional it’s ridiculous!” said Tegan. “I don’t like you, Snorky, and now I know that I will never like you because you’re arrogant and controlling and disrespectful of me as both a woman and a carnivore. I’m sorry if this comes across as harsh, but after spending the past three hours with you, there’s almost nothing I find redeeming about your character!”
Snorky thought for a moment. “I don’t understand what you’re saying. You want to take things slow?”
Tegan looked as if she might pull out fist-fulls of her hair. “I want to destroy you,” she whispered.
Suddenly, two thunderous popping sounds echoed throughout the pub as two cloaked figures Apparated in. They were two men, as far as I could tell, and the stockier one landed gracefully on his two feet in the centre of The Three Broomsticks while the leaner one hovered in the air above the bar for a moment before falling directly on J.D., who was preparing drinks. The Apparator quickly recovered and ran with his partner to the rear of the pub, where we were sitting. The two men wore large badges that said AUROR on their blue cloaks and they both had their wands drawn and pointed at Snorky Scamander.
“You’re under arrest!” shouted the stocky one, who also happened to have a darker complexion.
“Hands in the air, Scamander!” exclaimed the thinner, fair-skinned Auror.
“What is the meaning of this?” asked Snorky.
“Stand up, Scamander, and put your hands where we can see them!” said the first Auror, who looked and sounded an awful lot like my cousin Freddie.
“Make us ask again and we’ll fricking Crucio your arse!” said the second, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Micah Horowitz.
As Snorky jumped up and raised his hands in mercy, I noticed the identical moustaches that the Aurors were wearing and realised that they were not Aurors at all, but dim-witted schoolboys with hearts of gold.
“Please, sirs, may I ask what I’m being arrested for?” asked Snorky, his voice shaking. He almost never let his guard down, which was why most people considered him to be a smarmy git, but facing arrest, Snorky looked as if he might wet himself.
“Treason!” said Fred.
“Racketeering!” said Micah.
“Pizzo!” said Fred.
“And barratry with the intent of illegal scuttling!” said Micah.
“Pardon?” said Snorky. “I don’t know what any of those mean, except for treason.”
“Aha, a confession!” said Fred.
“The Wizengamot will hear of this, ye felonious swine!” said Micah.
They each grabbed one of Snorky’s arms and as they began to Side-Along Disapparate away, Snorky called, “Tegan! I love you! Remember me always!”
But then the three of them were gone.
Tegan, who had watched this all unfold in horror, fell forward and rested her face on the table. Meanwhile, Pineapple continued to munch happily on her ketchup sandwich, seemingly unfazed by the fake arrest of Snorky Scamander.
J.D. the Maître D’ rushed over and sat in Snorky’s chair, his eye bruised from when Micah fell on him. “Was that Phase Three?” he whispered to me, although it was difficult to hear as Tegan had begun repeatedly smacking her forehead against the table.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Say what you will about El…a certain person we know’s mother, but she schemes big and is willing to cross all sorts of lines.”
“Mate, she can’t hear you,” said J.D., nodding towards Tegan, who would surely develop a concussion if she didn’t stop hitting her head against the table. “Personally, I think it was the moustaches that really made it work. Hell, I think I’m going to start wearing this thing on a regular basis.”
Glancing at off-her-rocker Tegan, I asked of J.D., “You were Phase Two, yeah?”
He was eating one of the chips from Snorky Scamander’s plate. “Darn tootin’.”
“Please don’t take this the wrong way,” I said carefully, “but what exactly did you contribute to the overall Grand Master Plan?”
J.D. thought to himself for a moment. “Nothing, I suppose. Eleni wanted a man on the inside and I was meant to gradually commence the sabotage of Tegan and Snorky’s date – spill things on them, like – but by the time they arrived I saw that Snorky had already done a proper job of mucking it up, poor little bastard. Also, it had to be cut for time.”
“Cut for time?” I repeated.
“Pardon?” said J.D. “What are you on about?”
“What are you on about?” I demanded.
“Sorry mate, I gotta go,” J.D. said, tapping the wristwatch he wasn’t wearing and running off. “Lunch rush.”
Pineapple Wig took a break from savouring the ketchup sandwich she still hadn’t finished eating to say, “D’you reckon we ought to bring Tegan to hospital before she breaks that table?”
I sighed. “Yeah. I’ll carry Tegan up to the school if you remember to tell J.D. to send the bill to Eleni.”
“J.D. is who, exactly?” asked Pineapple as I grabbed the now unconscious Tegan and threw her over my shoulder like a rag doll.
“Schlomo O’Tonto,” I clarified. “I apologise for leaving before you’ve finished eating, Pineapple, but it was very nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” said Pineapple Wig, smiling distantly, “but go take care of Tegan, James. She’s had a bad day.”
A/N: I apologize profusely for the long wait for this chapter, but school can be pesky and time-consuming, eh? Your feedback and criticism is more than welcome, so leave a review if you’d like!
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