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Chapter 1: I seem to be bordering on becoming a psychopath.
lovely chapter image by the amazing Magic_Phoenix.
My rent’s late. Of course my rent is late. You would have thought my landlord would just be used it by now, but no, that insufferable prick has sent me yet another letter; off white paper with smudged crimson ink telling me that I was supposed to have given him the cheque two weeks ago.
Yeah, I was aware of that little fact.
Still, you try finding the money to pay rent when you’ve just been made redundant from your job working as a receptionist in St Mungo’s – yeah, that plan to become a healer really didn’t go too well – and you still haven’t gotten back the money you leant to your so-called ‘family’ three months ago.
Two weeks tops, my arse.
Honestly, if there is one thing I’ve learned from living in a dingy top floor flat in London’s crummiest apartment block, where the neighbours seem to find it socially acceptable to return home at three o’clock in the morning singing nursery rhymes at the top of their lungs, it’s that... well... life sucks.
But seriously, you really come to acknowledge facts like that when you’re sprinting down the road in the pouring rain, your coat left back in your apartment and your work boots nearly flying out of your hand as you run.
Since they closed down the bus stop at the top of the road, I’ve really got no choice but to run the ten blocks to this godforsaken job interview.
I don’t even want to work in an apothecary, but what can you do? Like I said, life sucks.
Fifteen minutes late. Goddammit. I leaned against the wall of the alley next to the apothecary and pressed my fingers into the stitch in my side. For someone who likes to do yoga and pilates in their spare time, I am surprisingly unfit. I yanked off my trainers and pulled on my boots, blowing the wet straggles of hair off my forehead and letting it join the frizzing mess on the back of my skull, wondering idly what I was going to say when I walked in looking like a drowned rat.
Certainly not, ‘Hi, I’m Aimee Woods, the most punctual girl in the history of the world, who’s hair does not threaten to take over the universe when it gets wet and wants to work in your shop – which incidentally smells a lot like cat sick – more than anything.’
Oh, they’re going to love me.
Pulling my bag further up on my shoulder I shoved open the door and scowled at the annoying tinkling noise that resonated around the store.
What the hell is the logic behind those bells? The store is about the size of a cardboard box, if you need to know if someone has walked in then all you have to do is look up.
Plus, if the point of the bell was to tell you someone had walked whilst you were in the back, then wouldn’t it make sense to actually come to the front of the store when you hear it jingling away?
But nooo, they just leave me standing here, staring at the jars of pig heads and frogs intestines.
I could be robbing the suckers blind for all they knew.
“Ms Woods?” A raspy voice called out, and I looked up to see a withered old man – who must have been at least one hundred years old – making his way to the front of the store, dressed in a deep blue bathrobe and a stained pair of house slippers, his milky white hair fluffing down to his shoulders like cotton wool.
His left hand was curled over the top of a gnarled walking stick, which clunked awkwardly on the stone floor as he made his way over to me.
“Um, yeah.” I said, bobbing my head up and down like the awkward person I am. “I’m sorry I’m late, one of the traffic lights on Brooklyn Avenue stopped working and I stood there for ten minutes waiting for it to change –” I cut off as the man finally reached me.
“It’s not an issue.” He croaked, his voice slow and heavy, falling like a weight in the silent room. Well, silent other than the bullfrog croaking from next to the till.
It didn’t seem like he was going to say anything else, and the silence was becoming painful, so I quickly grabbed hold of my bag and started fumbling with the zipper. I forced it open and grabbed the crumpled sheets of paper, thrusting them at the man with a little more force than necessary.
“That’s my resume, I have excellent recommendations from St Mungo’s, and –” The man – I should probably get round to learning his name – held up one wrinkled hand and stopped me mid-sentence.
“Ms Woods, could you hand me some essence of wormwood?” He said, his voice echoing dully around the room. I leapt slightly and dropped the papers in my hands, which scattered around the floor and slid under the shelves of jars and packets.
I dropped to my knees and went to scoop up the papers, but then remembered that I actually did want this job – after six failed job interviews in two weeks, you stop being picky, trust me on that one – and staggered to my feet, whipping around to try and find the right jar.
Come on, essence of wormwood.
Why the fuck did I never pay attention in Potions? I always knew that was going to come back and bite me in the arse.
I ran my fingers along the dusty shelves, wiping who knows how many years of potentially-poisonous grime off of peeling, faded labels that sat in front of the jars.
After a minute or so of frantic searching, I managed to find the essence of wormwood, and grabbed hold of the jar, clutching the cool glass between my sweating palms.
“Here!” I cried, and as I whipped around to hand it to the man, my bag swung around of its own accord and hit the shelf behind me, smashing all the potions ingredients into little tiny pieces.
Glass cascaded down from the shelf and clattered along the floor, the sound echoing along the carved ceiling and bouncing back from the peeling front door.
The old man sighed and raised his free hand, placing it on my arm in an almost paternal fashion.
“Ms Woods,” He sighed, his voice still a whisper in the still room. Some glass crunched obnoxiously loud under my foot as I tried to subtly step back. The man sighed again. “I’m so very sorry, but I don’t think you’re right for the position here.”
Of course not.
I’m not right for any position. I was a shit receptionist as well. Molly actually altered my resume magically so that my recommendation from St Mungo’s read ‘frightfully good worker and incredibly skilled’ as opposed to ‘frightful worker with no notable skills’.
Yep. I will be sorely missed over there.
Who else is going to explode the coffee pot for them in the morning, or take messages for people that generally get passed on about six days later, or have epic sock-sliding wars down the corridors with the janitors instead of sitting at their desk?
Like I said, sorely, sorely missed.
I thanked the old man for his time and pushed my way back out the store, to find that – joy of joys – the rain had gotten even heavier.
Grumbling to myself, I pulled my trainers back on and managed to squeeze my boots into my bag, before sprinting out of Diagon Alley and onto the streets of Muggle London.
Fuck my life.
After three blocks, during which my lungs had somehow managed to lodge themselves up into my throat – yep, I’m a medical marvel – I realised that shit, I was cold.
I glanced down the street and realised where I was, a smile breaking across my face for the first time since I woke up. Tucking my arms into my chest, I jogged to the entrance of the nearest apartment block, which could have passed for something off MTV Cribs compared the hole I like to call ‘home’.
I shoved open the glass door and went around in the whirling contraption – when did it become rocket science just to get into a building? I missed the exit the first time, and so when I finally did manage to get out of the door, I went staggering out into the lobby like I’d had a few too many.
And of course, I just had to go staggering into the nearest potted plant.
Yeah, face-planting soil? Not much fun.
I picked myself up and gingerly dusted myself off, trying to act like nothing out of the ordinary had happened – well, with my co-ordination it’s actually not that unusual – before headed over to the shiny silver elevator at the back end of the lobby.
No matter how many times I came here, I was never able to get over the sheer grandness of the lobby. Yes, it was a fancy-arse place to live, but the lobby looked like something you would find in a twenty-thousand pounds-per-stay hotel somewhere off the coast of Brazil, owned by the King of Peru, rather than a block of flats in the middle of London.
To the left of the room there was an ornate desk that looked like it belonged in some kind of museum, surrounded by golden pillars and potted plants and pieces of artwork that my three year old nephew could have ripped off.
In the centre of the room there was a giant stone fountain – yes, a fountain. Indoors – whose water gushed pale blue and cast pretty waving patterns onto the carved ceiling.
A pair of large golden arches joined overtop the elevator I was making my way towards, the music from which was tinkling gently around the room.
I ignored the raised eyebrows and looks - which quite clearly said ‘you don’t belong here’- that were tossed my way, and continued to squeak my way over to the lift. The soles of my trainers were seemingly having a little disagreement with the marble floors.
6th floor. I punched the button and watched the little black screen, the numbers idly flicking from one to the next as though they had all the time in the world.
The lift slid to a stop and opened up into a long corridor carpeted in cushy cream with red rugs and more pot plants. What is it with this building and pot plants? I’ve never noticed before.
After less than a minute of squeaking along, I reached the red door at the end of the corridor, which was embellished with a golden 28. Knocking, I leant against the wall.
Within a couple of seconds the door had been thrown open by a beaming Molly Weasley, whose red hair sliding out of the messy bun it was being contained in, and who was wearing an apron over her shirt and shorts combo.
“Aimee! Wait, why are you wearing a blouse, pencil skirt and trainers?” Bloody typical.
You show up at your bestie’s house sopping wet, expecting an immediate hug and the promise of a dry clothes and a steaming vat of hot chocolate, but no. Instead you get questioned about your fashion choices.
I guess that’s what you get when you’re best friends with someone who works at a fancy-arse place like Gucky.
Oh wait, I think it’s called Gucci. Whatever. Molly works there, anyway.
It broke her father’s heart that she wanted to go into a Muggle profession, it did.
But hey-ho, do what the heart tells you is what I say. Plus, her dad could do with being taken down a peg or two.
He’s a bit of a pompous douche.
“It’s a long story –” I began, but before I could finish the sentence I was being ushered into the living room and being told to get my wand out before I caught ‘freaking hypothermia, you freaking idiot, haven’t you ever heard of a freaking coat?’. Yeah, I hear there is an outbreak out of that somewhere.
I peeled off my trainers and tights, which were sticking to my legs now they were wet – well, they’re a little bit more than wet. Calling them wet is a bit like calling Voldemort a ‘nice bloke that had a few issues’ as opposed to ‘stark-raving lunatic’.
Of course, Molly says that he was a ‘right royal plonker’.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is my best friend. Yippee.
Molly headed back into the room and pulled her wand out of the pocket in the front of her apron – she seems to have been in the middle of baking a cake. Either that or she is working on her housewife-from-the-fifties costume.
She cast a quick drying spell over me and then cocked an eyebrow; finally waiting for answer as to the atrocious fashion crime I had apparently committed.
Yeah love, well you’re not looking so hot yourself right now.
“I’ve got boots in my bag.” I said, and Molly immediately sighed in relief, clapping a hand over her heart and sinking into the cushioned chair behind her. Jeez, dramatic much? “But I needed to run to that bloody job interview today, and I couldn’t run in those heels.”
“How’d it go? The interview?” Molly asked, getting up off her chair and strolling into the adjoining kitchen, kicking the door open with her foot.
“Not great.” I called, walking over to the mirror above the fireplace. Same deep brown hair frizzed up like the bride of Frankenstein? Check. Mascara smudged to panda proportions? Check. Clothes creased beyond belief? ...and, check! Wow, I am such an overachiever.
Absentmindedly wiping at the makeup under my eyes, I accepted the steaming mug of coffee – otherwise known as the new Elixir of Life – from Molly, who had just come back into the living room, clutching two cups.
“I was late getting there, and soaking wet by the time I arrived, then I dropped my resume all over the floor, and then I knocked who knows how much money’s worth of ingredients onto the floor. Not the best interview I’ve ever had.” I sighed, trying to tame my hair by running my hand through it.
Yeah, no such luck.
“Well, never mind. I’m sure something will come up – you didn’t want to work in an apothecary anyway.” Molly smiled comfortingly and leaned forwards to pat me on the shoulder.
Wow Mols, way to make me feel like a little kid that didn’t quite manage to get to the potty in time.
Yes, I may be a little bit bitter.
“Yeah, I know.” I sighed, taking a deep sip of my coffee. “I just really needed this job, you know. My rent is already two weeks late, I had to ninja roll past the front desk this morning to avoid Mr Jenkins, and I still haven’t gotten the money back off my cousin, Sandra. You know, the one that said she needed money for a car. Yeah, well I haven’t heard from her since I gave it to her. It was all I had, all the money I’ve managed to save since I left Hogwarts.”
Molly sighed and leaned forwards to pull some hair out my eyes.
“I know. It’s not fair.” She smiled sadly.
“It... It just wasn’t supposed to turn out like this, you know. I was supposed to go healing school and get my degree, then live a cushy life in the London feeling like the queen of the world. But no, instead I’m living in the same dingy flat I was when I was eighteen, surrounded by drunks and drug addicts and god knows what else, running from job interview to job interview and trying to scrape the money together every month just to try and keep my crappy flat.” My voice grew louder and more hysterical, and Molly pulled me in for a hug.
“You know why you didn’t go to healing school, that wasn’t your fault.” Molly murmured. “You needed to look after your mum, she was sick. You got her healthy again, Aimes. Isn’t it worth it?”
I raised my head slightly and smiled at her.
“Yeah, I suppose.”
“And Aimes, I’ve told you this time and time again, I will lend you the freaking money for rent. You can give it back to me when you get a job –”
“No.” I cut in, firm and decisive. “I’m not taking money from you, Mol. You’re getting married in six months; you need the money for the wedding. You’re not giving it to me, just because I can’t hold onto a job.”
Molly pursed her lips.
“It has nothing to do with that and you know it. You were made redundant, it wasn’t your fault.”
I shrugged and slurped up the last few dregs of coffee.
We just sat there in silence for a few minutes, not saying anything, and not needing to.
“Any more plans for the wedding?” I asked into the silence, and my head was instantly filled with an image of the lovely little chapel that Molly had chosen to be married in come December. I imagined her in stunning wedding dress she had picked out, floating down the aisle towards Lorcan.
But speak of the devil, and the devil shall appear.
“Mols, I’m home!” The voice boomed throughout the room, and Molly instantly sat up a little straighter, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
It’s not fair. Honestly, I thought that high school romances weren’t supposed to last – but no, despite the fact Lorcan and Molly started dating when she was a fifth year and he was a sixth year, she is due to become Mrs Molly Scamander (yes, honestly) in six months time.
The longest relationship I’ve ever had didn’t last as long as the amount of time it takes my dad to finish a packet of Jaffa Cakes (twelve minutes, for those of you who were wondering).
Lorcan strolled into the living room and pecked Molly on the lips, then turned and grinned at me.
“Hey, Aimes.” He smiled, and I offered him a grimace, discreetly sliding Molly’s mug away from her and draining the last half of her coffee. “How’d the interview go?”
“Think big bang crossed with the rebirth of Voldemort, and you’re halfway there.” I scowled, and Lorcan laughed.
“So it went well, I take it.” He grinned. “Hey Mol, I ran into James on the way here and guess what Bethany has done now?”
Molly looked up in interest. I looked up from the mug and stared at Lorcan – yeah, you know your life is sad when one of the highlights of your life is listening to Lorcan and Molly tell you the stories of her cousin James and his psychopathic ex-girlfriend/stalker.
“She showed up at the auror office – you know he’s only just finished his training, and he really wanted to make a good impression, impress his dad and all that – and insisted the she was showed where his desk was, told them all she was his fiancée, and then sat at his desk until he got back.” Molly tossed her head back and laughed.
“Then what happened?” She giggled.
“Well, a summary from James was the she leapt at him like a panther and started playing a rather rough game of hockey with his tonsils, right in front of everyone.” Molly laughed harder, and even I giggled a little bit, and I’m a self confessed miserable cow.
I didn’t used to be, just for the record.
“I’m sure James was just thrilled.” Molly chuckled, rolling her eyes.
“The girl really needs to get her head checked. They broke up three months ago; you would have thought that she’d get the hint by now that he doesn’t want to get back together.” Lorcan laughed, and Molly nodded in agreement.
“I’m gonna go guys,” I said, and they both turned to look at me in confusion. “As fascinating as it is to listen to you talk about your best friend-slash-cousin’s crazy ex, I actually have to get home before it goes dark. The security guard tries to strip search me every time I come into the building at night.” I shuddered and Molly smiled sympathetically.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then – we’re meeting at that little cafe next to the park, right?” I nodded and Molly grinned, heaving herself off the couch and quickly latching her face onto Lorcan’s.
And that would be my cue to leave.
I don’t care if you’re getting married, and this is technically your apartment, there is no need to suck the saliva out of each other’s mouths like there is no tomorrow.
As I passed the window on the way to the door (desperately attempting to ignore the slurping and moaning coming from behind me) I glanced outside and noticed that thunder and lightning had now joined the little parade of torture beyond the pane.
disclaimer: none of this belongs to me. not harry potter, and not Gucci, MTV Cribs or Jaffa Cakes.
anyway... soo, i know that i shouldn't be starting a new story, what with two already going, but the plot bunny for this popped into my head a couple of weeks ago and i just couldnt get it out, so here it is :D
yep. the next chapter isnt written, but i do know roughly what is going to happen. i have so much homework at the moment, im practically drowning in it, so im just writing when i can :)
anyway, id love to know what you thought about the first chapter/aimee/molly, etc. did you enjoy it, or not really? yeps... so...
ellie, out :D