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Chapter 13 : Moo-ving On Up
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I might have broken my back. Collapsing into the closest chair I could find, I rested my aching shoulders.
"Remind me why we're not using magic," I huffed wearily as Boris glided easily past me carrying a good fifteen volumes of Lockhart's books. He set them down in the growing pile in the window and turned to look at me. He was beaming.
"We need a homely touch. Hand-made things always look better," he said happily. "Now, what do you think?" He held up two different books for me to inspect. One was a sickening lilac, the other a baby pink. "'Wandering with Werewolves' or 'Prancing with Pixies?'"
I sighed, trying not to pull a face. "Those books are so old, I doubt anyone is going to want to buy them. Why can't you decorate the window display with big posters of his face and have done?"
Boris looked down at the books in his hand, seemingly favouring 'Prancing with Pixies'. "Come now, Rose, you and I both know that people don't want half the stuff they buy. It's all about persuading them that they need to buy it. Lockhart's a popular man these days, we might as well cash in on it."
I shook my head scathingly as he rearranged the display so that 'Prancing with Pixies' was more towards the centre. Rubbing my back, I returned to the store room at the back of the shop to start carrying Lockhart's new autobiography through. His smiling face grinned up at me, causing me to get lost in his dreamy eyes for a moment before I remembered myself. Grudgingly, I stacked the books up and loaded them into my arms.
"When are you interviewing the prospective shop assistants?" I asked as I dumped the stack of books at Boris' feet. It was almost noon, and I was pretty sure that Boris wanted to finish up early today in time for his weekend away with his wife. They were doing some circus themed weekend in the Lake District, as far as I could tell. I shuddered at the thought of Boris dressed as a clown, combining two of the worst concepts known to mankind.
"They'll be here in an hour," Boris wheezed as he stopped lifting books to catch his breath. "Speaking of which, I meant to ask you a favour." He battered his eyelashes at me hopefully.
I rolled my eyes. "What is it?"
"Will you interview them for me? I wouldn't ask, only I want to make the finishing touches to my costume for tonight." I remained impassive. "It's our anniversary you know."
I sighed heavily, refusing to allow disgustingly inappropriate and creepy mental images to distract me. I really didn't want to know what he and his wife were planning for their romantic evening. "I deserve a pay rise for the number of times I've bailed you out," I conceded, nodding.
"The pay rise is yours!" Boris said gleefully, grabbing my hands and twirling my around the shop. "And have a promotion too."
At that point, I tripped over a pile of books, tearing the skin on my shin. "What?" I spluttered from my heap on the floor. Boris bent down and grinned at me.
"Have a promotion," he sang. "You can be the new manager of the shop. Which means you have to finish off this display whilst I go and do my make-up. Ta-ta."
He then skipped into the storeroom, singing something tuneless loudly. I lay on the floor, slightly stunned. I couldn't quite work out if he was even serious about the promotion, or whether that was even a good thing. I wasn't even sure I wanted to be the manager of the shop, not if it sent me as barmy as Boris. I rubbed my shin thoughtfully. This was a good thing, right?
Boris emerged from the storeroom about fifteen minutes later, bearing his teeth at me briefly before twirling out of the shop. "Have a good weekend!" he called to me before slamming the door shut. I was left to myself, with only the ringing of the bell above the door for company. Bugger. I'd never conducted an interview before, what was I supposed to do?
I decided at that point that the best thing I could do was make a cup of tea and enchant the window display to arrange itself, which it did obligingly. Sipping at my tea, in the back room, I scanned the room for clues as if the walls were about to offer me career advice. If anything, they just shook their wallpapered heads sadly at me, just as clueless as I was. My eyes fell on the door to the office upstairs and I came to the conclusion that I needed to have a poke about up there, as a very important manager-y type person. Maybe I needed my own office... and a name badge that read "Rose Weasley, Very Important Manager". Yes, that would do nicely.
Boris's office was incredibly tidy, so much so that I felt like I'd messed up the room just by standing in the doorway. I wondered if Boris was into that Feng Shoe thing my cousin Lily was always banging on about. Luckily, the tidiness merely meant that I didn't have to rifle through his drawers in order to find something instructive but only coming out with a pack of chewing gum (finders’ keepers...). In a neat pile on his desk were four pieces of parchment, each detailing the information about the applicant. I pinched those and headed back downstairs again.
I finished my tea and continued to make finishing touches to the display. Would a life-size cardboard cut-out of Gilderoy (yes, we were on first name terms) be too much for the shop floor? I wasn't sure about anyone else, but I quite fancied being welcomed by a handsome man every morning when I arrived for work. As Very Important Manager, I definitely could make an executive decision to organise that. Wonderful.
I spent the remainder of the time waiting around for the applicants. Bored, I picked up their details and started to read. The first applicant was a guy a couple of years younger than me, who'd just come back from travelling; the next was an older lady. As I turned over the page, I almost knocked my mug of tea over; the third applicant was Roxanne. I stared at her application later in disgust, horrible swearwords fighting each other to leave my mouth. "That cow," I muttered angrily, throwing the parchment down on the counter by the till. There was only room for one R. Weasley in this shop, and that was me. Why was she even applying for the job? I was pretty certain she was busy studying Law down south. The thought that she'd returned to London was awful. I grimaced. Not only was she back, but I was going to have to talk to her and pretend like I didn't hate her so that I could give her a fair interview. Fuck!
I buried my face in my hands and tried to work out what I was going to do. Maybe I wouldn't even have to interview her; she'd either not turn up or arrive and be so intimidated by my very important-ness and flee. Groaning, I made myself some more tea and waited for the first applicant to arrive.
The young man arrived first, two minutes late, but nicely presented (apart from a wonky nose, but I could hardly criticise him for that).
"Hello Mr Derwent," I said as officially and professionally as I could, shaking his hand. "I'm Rose Weasley, the shop manager. Please come this way." I'd turned into the Queen; for some reason I'd put on a really posh accent. Bugger. I led him upstairs to Boris's office and we sat down.
In an attempt to sound less posh, I changed my accent again. "Why do ya want this job?" Okay, this wasn't going well, I'd turned Scottish. Matthew, the applicant, looked at me blankly for a minute and wisely decided not to comment on my changing nationality. I tried not to turn bright red, but that never worked and my cheeks started to heat up.
Eventually, he left, leaving me to rest my head on Boris's desk, mortified. Not giving the bloke the job just because I'd embarrassed myself was a terrible reason, but at that moment I was considering it quite seriously. Why had I agreed to this again? I always ended up doing the most stupid of things, just because I lacked a backbone. It was one disaster after the next.
I heard the bell tinkle downstairs and dragged myself down to the shop. Standing in the doorway was my favourite cousin, dressed in a designer suit and her hair done for the occasion. Note to self: resist throw tea over her. She looked over at me as I approached her, notable surprise on her face.
"Rose," she stated blankly. "What are you doing here?"
I frowned. Surely she didn't take that little notice of me. "I work here," I said evenly. "I'm the manager and I'll be conducting your interview today."
She looked at me as though I was joking, then saw her application in my hand and wiped the disbelief off her face. I was honestly trying not to find this completely gratifying, but as we climbed the stairs I couldn't conceal a smirk. I couldn't wait until Molly heard about this, she would be gleeful.
As we sat down, I was pleased to see Roxanne looked slightly nervous. I'd never felt so empowered in all my life; Roxanne had always had one up on me all my life, being older, more beautiful and far more popular. And she had never let me forget it. I was going to make her squirm during this interview; I would make sure of it. It was payback time.
“So,” I said (in my normal voice this time). “Why do you want to work for Flourish and Blotts?”
I let her waffle on about how much she loves books and reading for a good two minutes before I interrupted her. Narrowing my eyes and leaning closer, I asked pointedly, “what was the last book you read?”
Oh, I had her all right. I didn’t know how much she’d rehearsed beforehand, but I knew she’d never been that keen on reading; she’d spent all her teenage years playing Quidditch and the earlier part of her twenties playing for a professional team. She couldn’t fool me, I’d grown up with that bitch.
She did indeed squirm in her seat as she tried to think of the last non-magazine related publication she’d read. Eventually, she admitted defeat, tucking a loose strand of black hair behind her ear. “Look, Rose,” she said darkly. “You and I both know I don’t read and I don’t really like books either. I need the money.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Has Daddy stopped paying your rent?” I asked patronisingly.
Roxanne bit her red-painted lips. “It’s not that.” She seemed to lean closer, as though there was someone hiding behind Boris’s drinks cabinet. “I got kicked out of Law School. I’ve got no prospects.”
I sighed inwardly in order to calm myself. I couldn’t believe she was sat in front of me in my pretend office telling me that she applied for the same job I’d been doing for the past few years because she no longer had any prospects. This was a last resort, a sign that she’d given up on having a proper job. I was so pissed off that she was lucky I didn’t slap her.
The look in her eyes indicated she was basically begging me… hang on. I mentally shook myself; of course. Roxanne wasn’t necessarily here because she thought my job was the lowest of the low; she was here because she was related to me. She was using me.
“What do you expect me to do about it, Roxanne?” My fingers were drumming into the table. “You can’t just turn up at my work and expect to be given a job.”
“I’m not expecting you to give me the job,” she denied quickly, tucking more hair behind her ear. “I didn’t know you worked here. I thought I was a bit overqualified, so I applied.”
Right, so she definitely was insulting my job now. I frowned at her. “I think it’s time for you to leave,” I announced quietly.
She bit her lip again. “Don’t be like that, Rosie,” she whimpered. “Won’t you help me?”
I rolled my eyes, sighing heavily. “Why should I help you? We’ve never got on, you ignore me most of the time and you look down on me all the time. If I came to you for help, would you even bother?”
She began nodding earnestly. “Yes, I would!”
My resolve started to weaken, my frown deepening in thought. I didn’t believe for one second that she’d have helped me if I’d asked her, but at the same time we were family and here she was, practically licking my feet for my help. I’d be a terrible person if I said no.
That was before she decided I’d taken too long with my response; she reached into her crocodile-skin handbag and withdrew her purse. She took a fistful of galleons out and pushed them across the desk towards me. “Now will you help me?”
I stared at the gold coins, struck dumb. “You did not just try to bribe me,” I stated in disbelief.
I shook my head, feeling a bit nauseous. “You want to pay me to help you.”
Roxanne frowned, adding a few more coins to the pile. “Stop being such a goody two shoes,” she snapped. “Don’t pretend you’re above bribes, everyone has their price.”
I shook my head again. “Get out,” I said evenly, still staring at the pile of money.
Meeting her pathetic gaze, I pushed the coins back at her and pointed to the other side of the room. “That’s the door, I suggest you use it.”
Roxanne scooped up the coins and shoved them in her bag, scuttling quickly from the room without even saying goodbye. I sat staring at the bare table for a good ten minutes before shaking myself and moving again. I was going to need a very stiff drink after work if this afternoon got any worse.
At half past eight that evening, I found myself sat completely alone at our table in the pub, nursing a pint of cider. I’d arrived well before any of the group were due to arrive, mostly because I was a bit shell-shocked from my eventfully horrendous day, if truth be told, and hadn’t really fancied hanging around at home without any company.
“Rose?” I looked over my shoulder and saw Lorcan at the bar, getting himself a measure of redcurrant rum. “You look dreadful.”
I rolled my eyes as he paid and joined me at the table. “Thanks,” I said sarcastically. “You’ve made me feel so much better.”
“What’s the matter?” he probed, twirling the medallion around his neck.
I drained my glass. “I’ll tell you when the others get here. How was your week?”
Lorcan grinned, twirling the medallion again so that it caught the light from the lamp behind me. I got the hint, leaning forward to inspect this new addition to his outfit. It was circular and gold, with the imprint of a milk bottle. Around the edge the words “Milkman of the Year” were engraved in curly writing. I looked blankly at it, then smiled warmly. “Congratulations, Lorcan! I knew you’d get it.”
“Thanks Rosie,” he beamed, stroking the medal fondly. “I have a trophy too, but that was too big to hang around my neck.”
“Of course,” I murmured. I was a bit jealous of his award, actually. No one had given me a medal of any kind, ever, not even for “Weirdest Fringe”, which I definitely deserved back in Third Year. That had gone to Millie Thomas, a Second Year with bushy eyebrows. I’d always hated her for that.
Albus was next to arrive, almost blue from the cold wind and rain outside. He bought himself a cup of coffee and then joined us in the corner. “It’s perishing out there,” he muttered bitterly, sipping at the dark liquid with a scowl on his face.
“It is,” Lorcan agreed. “I made the mistake of not wearing a scarf today,” he said pointedly, jabbing himself in the chest where his medal hung. I gave Albus a look, who started to make all the right noises.
“Look at you, Milkman of the Year,” he said animatedly. “You’re really moo-ving on up, aren’t you?”
I groaned inwardly at the terribly pun. I checked my watch to see how much longer Albus had to make awful jokes before Molly was here. She was already forty-five minutes late. “I wonder where Molly is,” I mused, fiddling with my empty glass.
“I’ll go and see if she’s at home,” Lorcan offered, draining his own glass and standing up. “I won’t be gone long.”
Albus and I watched him leave, silence following in his wake. “This hasn’t exactly gone to plan,” Albus said eventually, pushing his glasses up his nose.
I shook my head in agreement. I sighed, deciding that I might as well tell someone. “I got promoted today.”
Albus grinned clapping me on the back. “You did? Congratulations, Rose. I’m really pleased for you.”
“Really?” I grinned back. “I never thought I’d be a manager, and definitely not a Very Important one at that.”
“It’s good to see you smiling again,” he admitted. “Molly was saying she was very worried about you.”
I rolled my eyes. Everyone clearly thought I was going loopy. I was fine, I kept telling everyone that. “Yes,” I said with a sigh. “It seems everyone’s been worried. Sorry about that.”
“That’s quite all right.”
I looked over my shoulder quickly to check no one we knew was nearby, then lowered my voice. “I have some gossip. I was waiting for Molly, but as she’s stood us up I’ll tell you anyway.” Albus leaned in closer. “Roxanne’s been chucked out of Law School.”
“What?!” Albus’s eyes couldn’t get any wider. “Why?”
I blinked. “Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t even ask that.” I frowned. “She applied for a job in the shop, and as I’m now the manager, I was interviewing her. She begged for the job, then tried to bribe me.”
“Outrageous!” Albus exclaimed.
“I know,” I agreed dramatically.
“Hmm,” my cousin mused, pushing his glasses back up his nose, as they’d slipped in his excitement. “I wonder what she did to get thrown out. And why did she come to you for help, of all people?”
I scowled. “She didn’t remember that I worked there. But I threw her out after she tried to pay me to give her a job. It was quite disgusting, really; I’ve never felt so cheap.”
Albus raised his eyebrows. “Not even when-?”
“That was only the once,” I snapped haughtily, turning pink. “And I’ve chosen to erase that from my memory, so I’d ask that you do the same.”
“Right,” he said sheepishly. When my continued glare got too much for him, he offered to buy the next round of drinks, which I accepted. He got up from the table, heading straight for the blonde woman behind the bar. Rolling my eyes, I accepted that I was going to have a lonely night. Checking my watch, I saw that it was nearly ten. I couldn’t believe I was getting to the point where I thought ten was late. Thoughts of my warm bed were rather attractive at that moment, but I was determined to wait until Lorcan returned. I was beginning to worry quite a lot; he should have returned by now, with or without Molly.
I chewed on my lip, waiting for Albus to return. When he sat down, I quickly drained my drink.
“Wow, slow down, Rose,” Albus said, a little startled.
“Come on,” I barked pointing to his glass. “I think we should go and find Molly. Lorcan should be back by now.”
He sipped at his drink, looking quite intimidated. “Lorcan told us to wait here. What if he comes back and we’ve disappeared too?”
“We can’t just sit around here like dummies. I’m leaving.” I stood up, shrugging my coat on, looking pointedly at Albus until he nervously drained his glass and joined me. I grabbed his hand, Apparating us to my flat.
As I unlocked the front door, I felt an overwhelming sense of foreboding, and I started to get a bit jittery. We snuck inside, wandering through the dark hall.
“Shit!” I screamed, battering away something soft and heavy.
“What?” Albus hissed, walking into me.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. “It was just a coat.”
Albus coughed, casting a quick lumos. The light cast eerie shapes around the flat. He opened the door to the bathroom, and found nothing. Next, we checked my room: again, nothing except a massively untidy carpet of clothes.
As he opened the door to Molly’s room, he swore loudly.
“What?” I cried, pushing him away and sticking my head around the door, my heart beating very fast. I screamed louder than before, this time. “Oh my God!”
This was not happening. This couldn’t be happening. I shut my eyes, trying to hide from the scene before me, but it was no use. It was definitely happening.
AN: Just a quick thank you to everyone who read and reviewed the last chapter, you're all lovely!
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