[a perfect chapter image by Carousel. at TDA!]
I ditched the popcorn bucket in a bin outside the cinema, and waited for Charlie to catch up. He looked dazed.
a film,” he said, running a hand through his thick red hair.
“Yup. Enjoy it?”
“It was like seeing
what you read
. The theatre has nothing on it! It was like I was actually there!” he sounded amazed, like a small child.
The newest of Violet’s films, a spy thriller -where she’d (I’d) been kidnapped, beaten up and also done some serious ass-kicking- had still been showing, so I’d bought us both tickets to see it. It was only the third time I had seen it, so I could still appreciate it. The plot might have been clichéd, but Violet was an amazing actress, and when she teared up at her side-kick’s death, the whole audience was sniffing.
“Can we see another?” Charlie asked.
“Not now, we’ve got to go to this meeting. Maybe after?” I took a sneaky side-ways glance at Charlie. “So, you had a fairly sheltered upbringing then?” I asked. “Or are you just from a different planet?”
Charlie grinned lopsidedly. “I imagine my childhood was pretty different to yours,” he said, his blue eyes taking on a faraway look. “Different culture, I’d say. A whole different world.”
He laughed. “Not at all. I’ll... it’s quite hard to explain.”
I waved it away. “No worries, you’re just technologically impaired,” I said, which raised another smile from him. A thought occurred to me. “How can you use a mobile?”
“Marty taught me. He’s pretty patient, but it took me ages to work out how to do spaces on a text. All my texts read: ‘hellohowareyou’,” he said quickly, stumbling over his words, which made me laugh.
Charlie clambered back into my car- it was a little small for his muscle. I gracefully slid in, banging my head on the frame.
“I didn’t see a thing,” he said, before I had had chance to say a word. “What is this meeting about?”
“Everything. Final schedules, shooting dates, costume and prep details- it’s like the whole project in a couple of hours. Usually, everyone has to be there, unless you’re D or A.”
“D or A?”
“Dead or abroad. It’s the only excuse you can give for missing something. I’ve worked with this director before- he’s fantastic, only very strict. His motto is ‘if you give an actor an inch, he’ll take a mile’
. He’s pretty good with the crew and writers, but especially with Violet...” I whistled.
I grimaced. “On-set, he’s a menacing perfectionist. Off-set, he’s like your father. I just hope that Violet gets on with him, or one of them will have to go.”
We pulled up to the studio’s headquarters not long after. It was a tall, imposing building which was crammed in with a pile of other tall, imposing buildings- business people just have no creativity.
As I parked in my usual spot, a long, long BMW with blacked out windows and shiny alloys slid up to the doors. A chauffer got out, and hurried to open the door. Despite Violet having promised that she would come to the meeting, I still didn’t actually think she would turn up- so when she gracefully stepped out of the car, looking effortlessly glamorous, my jaw practically hit the ground, near to where my self-esteem was curled up, sobbing. Damn her good looks. Damn her.
She walked up to me and Charlie, her heels clicking on the concrete. “You could have had a lift with me, Charlie,” she said. “I know Melanie’s car is pretty small.”
I felt like telling her that it was in fact a Mini, and the clue was in the name, only another car swung into the car-park, probably saving me from opening my big gob and being sacked. The window rolled down, and Jessie, Violet’s senior stylist, poked her head out.
“You need to tell me what the hell is going on!” she mouthed at me, clambering out of the car.
“Excuse me for a second,” I said, smiling sweetly at Violet and raising my eyebrows at Charlie, and I swiftly walked over to Jess. She grabbed my arm and pulled me so we were both facing the opposite way.
“Why is Violet in such a tizz?” Jessie exclaimed immediately, but still making a mammoth effort to keep her voice down.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, why did she insist on me today? I glam her up for premieres, not meetings. And who is that guy?! He’s super-hot,” Jess said. She was always good at concentrating on the important things in life.
“I’m willing to bet that the reason Violet is in a ‘tizz’ is because of the ‘super-hot guy’,” I said, curving my fingers around Jessie’s words. I sneaked a look back at Violet and Charlie, and saw her take him by the hand and lead him inside.
“Did you just see that?” Jess hissed.
“There’s no need to be quiet now, she’s gone,” I told her, and received a smack on the arm for my troubles.
“Who the hell is that ginger hunky guy?”
“I refuse to talk to you if you are going to act like a stupid teenager,” I said, and tried to pull away to go inside. I absolutely loved winding Jessie up, it was so easy to do, and besides, it felt a little special- Charlie being practically a secret. She hit me again, and I mock-cowered away. “You’re so abusive!” I whined.
are the mean one,” she said, poking me with a manicured nail, emphasising each word. “Who is that man?”
I held up my hands in defeat. “Our new mythology expert,” I told her in an undertone, as if she was finding out some massive secret. If Marty had done his job with the paperwork properly, it should be announced in the meeting anyway. “His name is Charlie Weasley.”
Jess looked at me worriedly, her eyebrows furrowed. “Is he another of Marty’s people?”
I sighed. Jess firmly believed that Marty was not to be trusted, and that his dodgy activities should be avoided like the plague. “Where else are you supposed to find a mythical expert within a week?”
Jess gave me a dirty look, but she knew I was right. “That still doesn’t explain why Violet’s all over the guy. It’s like she’s got a new puppy!”
“She met him last night, and was exactly the same.”
“And he turned up here with you this morning?” Jess asked, a funny look on her face.
“Yeah, I picked him up after dropping off Violet’s breakfast, and then we went to the cinema,” I told her. “He had never been to see a film before.”
“Wait- so he didn’t stay at Violet’s last night?” Jess said, as usual, picking up on what she thought was important.
I shook my head. “Nope, I’m pretty sure he went back to his hotel, and he did seem completely oblivious to her many charms.”
Jessie bit her lip. “Is he gay?”
“I have absolutely no idea.”
Jess linked her arm with mine and started to pull me inside the building as a few drops of rain began to fall from a steadily blackening sky. “Well,” she said. “At least we know why Violet’s so off. There is nothing she wants more than something that she can’t have. And you’re making her jealous.”
“I said, there is nothing she wants more than something she can’t have,” Jess repeated, refusing to look at me, and instead starting to make her way inside.
I shot her a withering look. “No, what you said after that.”
She shrugged innocently- too innocently. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I sighed, but let it go. This film was most probably going to end up being excruciating to work. A loved-up Violet was the personification of the devil, only one which wanted hourly fresh fruit, waxing appointments and constant reassuring of her perfection. The joys of being me.
The meeting was so out-of-this-world. It truly was bizarre. Violet sat with her co-stars- Russell (Lancelot) and Nick (Arthur) –on one side of her, and Charlie was awarded the great honour of sitting on her left, and he seemed completely unfazed. Well, I reflected, he probably doesn’t know that they are highly successful actors.
I sat near the back with Jessie, waving to a couple of old friends we’d seen before on other shoots. Once everyone had been assembled in the room, with their colour co-ordinated, personalised folders, the director and producer had stood up. I pulled out a pencil, found an empty piece of paper, and drew a hangman.
Jess snatched the pencil off me, and wrote- ‘popcorn’. She was right, the stupid woman. I glared at her.
“Fine,” I whispered. “Your go.”
We almost always played paper games during meetings. All the information they gave us was in our folders anyway, and it meant that we didn’t have to listen to the god-awful jokes they cracked.
Jess drew spaces for three words. I counted on my fingers, and then wrote: ‘Nick Grant is hot’. She scowled at me.
“Noughts and crosses?” she asked in an undertone.
And so commenced an epic battle of Noughts and Crosses- Jess completely slaughtered me. Once the meeting had finally ended, Charlie threaded his way through the leaving crowds to speak to me and Jess.
"You still taking me to the cinema again then?" he asked, enthusiasm bright in his eyes.
He didn't, however, count on our good friend Violet popping up behind him. "I'll take you," she said in a sugary sweet voice.
Charlie looked confused. "But- I said I'd go with Melanie," he said.
I shrugged. "Go with Violet if you want," I told him. "She has got the bigger car."
"Melanie can come too, of course," Violet said, her smile wide.
I shook my head. "You two go have fun," I said, feeling slightly like Violet's mother.
They walked off together into the car park, and I watched as Violet grabbed Charlie's hand, and he gave her a quick smile in return.
“Are you just going to let him get away like that?” Jessie said, appearing at my side looking astounded. “Go with them! She’s stealing your man!”
“He is not my man! Let them go,” I said. “It's only the cinema.”
“Pffft, you watched him throughout the whole meeting!”
“Yeah, well,” I hedged, trying to think of an acceptable defence. I had
watched Violet and Charlie during the meeting. “He’s like a small puppy, looking lost and helpless, and she’s a bloody dragon. I don’t want him to get hurt! I just want to-”
“Kiss him, you want to lurrrve him,” Jess sang, her face lit up with childish glee. “You want to snog him, you want to-”
“You’re seriously mature,” I said, clapping my hand over her mouth. She tried to loudly mumble into my palm for a few seconds, before biting my fingers. I didn’t give in.
“Are you going to behave?” I asked her, mock-politely.
She glared at me mulishly.
Finally, she nodded and I took my hand away, wiping it on her leather jacket.
“Sometimes, you’re not nice,” she told me. “Are you free for the rest of the day?” she asked, massaging her lips.
I shrugged. “Probably, as Violet is with Charlie. What do you want to do?”
Her eyes took on a mischievous glint. “We should go to the cinema.”
“Come on!” she begged. “I’m not stalking her on my own! It’ll be fun!” She tugged at my sleeve. “Please?”
“No singing?” I asked, relenting.
“No singing!” she promised. “Your car is faster, c’mon!”
Even my speedy little car didn't get through the traffic fast enough, and we ended up at the cinema, with no clue where to go next.
"Are you sure they would have come here?" I asked.
Jess shot me a withering look. "Of course. It's the closest one to HQ. Where else would they go?"
I rolled my eyes. "Well, I can't see them," I said. "Maybe we should just go out for an early dinner or something?" I asked hopefully.
In reply, Jessie climbed onto one of the small, leather stools in the foyer, searching over the tops of people's heads. "I can't see them!"
"They're in screen eight," a male voice behind me said, making me jump. I whirled around.
"Hello sweetie," he said, giving me a quick hug. "They're in screen eight, and I have got you both tickets. Now hurry up, the film's about to start."
He ushered us towards the doors. I checked my ticket. "It's ‘the Empire’
!” I said excitedly. “I've wanted to see this for ages!"
Jess elbowed me. "Remember our purpose here," she hissed.
Marty guided us to our seats. "What are you doing here then?" I asked him.
"Same as you," he said innocently.
"Stalking?" asked Jessie.
"I prefer to think of it as... checking up on Charlie."
"You're stalking him, just like us," Jess said with finality, as the lights went down and the film started.
I leant across to Marty. "It's scaring me how she's so proud of it," I whispered, and he chuckled, which earned us a foul glare from the old lady in front of us.
I had finally managed to properly watch the film -which was a historical epic on Roman Britain with some very good looking legionaries- Jess leaned over me to poke Marty.
"Is Charlie gay?" she asked- far too loudly. The people in the row in front of us hissed at her, looking like angry geese.
"No," Marty said in an exaggerated whisper.
"Are you sure?"
I tried to ignore the conversation, and concentrate on the blood, sweat and tears on the screen, but Jess was very distracting.
"How do you know?" Jess asked, getting another glare from the people surrounding us. She stuck her tongue out at them, before returning to Marty. "Well?"
"Because he's kissing Violet," Marty said, and both Jess and I snapped our heads around so fast we were in danger of getting whiplash.
And there the two of them were, not five rows away from me, playing tonsil hockey in the middle of a massive battle scene. Inappropriate.
"Oh. My. God."
Jess sounded particularly shocked. I wasn't too much. It was, after all, Violet- crowned as 'the world's sexiest woman' for the past three years.
"What the hell is he doing that for? Oh, shush yourself!" she snapped at the people in the row in front of us. Then a man with a torch came, and Marty, Jess and I were forcibly ejected from the cinema. Luckily, Charlie and Violet were a little too involved with each other to notice.
"I thought Charlie was sensible!" Jess wailed, once we had been escorted off the premises.
Marty shrugged. "So did I, honey."
“You’re right, Mellie. Violet is an overbearing, pushy dragon,” Jess spat.
“And I thought Charlie was a dragon-tamer,” said Marty, shaking his head despondently.
The two of them seemed to have inexplicably bonded over Charlie's fall.
"How are you holding up?" Jessie asked me, her eyes full of concern.
"You clearly fancy the pants off Charlie, and now he's kissing Violet!"
"It is no business of mine who Charlie kisses!" I said, half-angry that Jess was continuing down this dead-end. It was all very well as a joke, but my feelings for Charlie were clearly, blatantly, obviously platonic. Obviously.
Marty and Jess exchanged a knowing look, and I walked away from them, exasperated. "Get Marty to take you home, Jess," I called over my shoulder as I made my way to my car.
She did a wobbly run up behind me. "Your heels are too high," I told her.
"I'm sorry," she whined. "I'm only joking!"
I glared at her. She was not joking, and we both knew it.
"I promise I won't mention it again!" she said, pulling her puppy-dog eyes.
I relented. "Get in," I said, opening the door. "Not one word about Charlie Weasley, or I'll get you fired."
She nodded seriously- my threat was only half in jest.
Jess and I went back to where I was staying- my cousin had a flat in London, and I always crashed on his sofa whenever I was in London. Max was in his late twenties, single and obsessed with the paranormal. He was also ecstatic to see Jess.
“Max!” she called, once we were settled with drinks and crisps. “Would you be an angel and go out to the takeaway for me?”
He stumbled over his shoes in his attempt to get out the house as fast as possible.
“You’re really mean,” I said, watching him go.
Jess shrugged, and flicked her brown hair over her shoulder. “I’m taking advantage of my assets,” she said, a wicked grin on her face as I cringed.
“That’s my cousin, Jess!”
She stuck her tongue out at me. “Ohhh, your phone is vibrating,” she said, picking it up from the table and launching it at me. I managed to catch it before it broke something- Jess has terrible aim.
“It’s from Rebecca,” I said, frowning. Rebecca was Violet’s short, plump PA, who had dimples, a cherubic smile and a hatred for me. “You won’t be needed to get Violet’s breakfast tomorrow morning, or ever. Enjoy the lie-ins.”
I high-fived Jessie. “I don’t have to get up super early!”
Jess snatched the phone off me and read it. “Do you know what this means?”
I emphasised my words clearly. “Lie. Ins.”
She smacked me upside the head. “It means, moron, that she doesn’t want you around in the mornings. Think about it. What doesn’t she want you to see?”
“Her ugly morning face. She wouldn’t win any awards if the public could see that
“The people she’s sleeping with, you prat.”
“What? She’s never minded before. In fact, I think she likes having an audience in the mornings.”
“Yeah, but this time, she’s jealous!”
“Will you stop saying she’s jealous! She’s not jealous! And of me? Come off it Jess!”
She held a hand up to stop me from talking. “What do you mean, ‘of you’? You’re Violet’s double, Mellie. Her double. Do I have to spell out what that means?”
I scowled at her. She’s wrong. I have the same frame, the same cheekbones, the right profile to be Violet. I was like a black and white photocopy of a colour photograph, as well as being a bit blurry around the sides.
"You need to learn to embrace your inner goddess," she said. "And stop using your athletic-ness to scare off guys. You are gorgeous, Mel." She gave me a hug, and patted my back. "You're gorgeous," she repeated.
I loved having a friend like Jess- she always knew the right compliments to pay, and seeing as she was a stylist, you could kind of convince yourself that she was right. But seriously, in a competition between Violet and I, the only thing I'd beat her in is the shot-put.
Just then the front door opened, and Max shuffled in, his chin on top of a massive pile of Chinese takeaway cartons. He was panting. "I was as fast as I could!" he gasped, setting them down on the table. Jess sashayed over to him and kissed his cheek.
"Thank you so much!" she said, while he gazed at her adoringly. He had it baaad, and I couldn't help chuckling.
We settled down to watch a scary movie after we'd demolished the food, and Jess had managed not to mention her diet once, which I was particularly proud of. It was my choice, as Jess had had us thrown out of the cinema, I guilt-tripped her into a horror film. She hated horror films. The curtains were still open as we huddled together on the sofa- neither of us wanted to close them as that meant we had to look out into the darkness, and we had every light in the apartment on. Max was asleep on the floor next to us, oblivious to the murdering monster in the forest on the TV.
Just then, a massive crack!
sounded, and both Jess and I screamed. Max slept on.
"That wasn't on the telly!" Jess whispered, her eyes wide.
I shook my head numbly. Christ, what if the monster was outside? "It was probably just a car back-firing," I said, trying to be dismissive.
Jess checked her watch. "It's half past one in the morning," she said. "It's almost definitely a murderer."
I elbowed her. "Shut the fuck up and stop scaring me, or I'll turn into a murderer."
There was a soft tapping of footsteps outside the apartment. I shivered in fear.
"We're all gonna die!" Jess said in a strangled whisper. She picked up my pillow, and threw it at Max. "Wake up, Max!" she pleaded, not wanting to leave the safety of the sofa.
"Shut up, the monster will hear you," I whispered back, and managed to poke Max with my foot. "Max! MAX!" He stirred slightly. "Max! Defend the house! Our safety is threatened! MAX!"
And then a face appeared in the window directly opposite us, pressed up against the glass, and Jess and I screamed so loudly my throat went hoarse before I ran out of breath. I scrambled over the back of the sofa, pulling Jess with me. Max actually sat up this time.
"What the fuck is going on?" he mumbled sleepily.
"Get down!" Jess hissed. "There's a murderer outside! We saw it!"
"A murderer?" Max asked. He sounded skeptical to say the least.
I glared at him- and then there was a steady knock-knock-knock
on the door.
"Oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god," Jessie said, terrified. She was clutching onto my hand so hard it was going numb. “Mellie,” she said, “if I die, I want you to know that I absolutely hate your guts. Why am I dying so young? Because you bloody made me watch a horror film.”
I squeezed her hand back. “Love you too.”
Max got up, and made his way to the door. Jess squealed. “What are you doing?”
He shot her a withering look. “Since when do murderers knock?”
I’m glad someone in this room has some common sense. Nevertheless, I was staying right behind this sofa, which, in my head, had become impervious to all the bad things in the world.
Max opened the door- and standing there was Marty, who was supporting Charlie. I peeked out slightly further from behind the sofa.
“He’s drunk,” Marty said. “Properly shit-faced. And he’s got nowhere else to stay.”
Well. That was anti-climactic. Charlie swayed, and gave Max a lopsided grin. “Good morning,” he slurred, saluting him.
I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing.
“Who the hell are you?” Max asked. “And who the hell is he?”
“I’m Marty. I help out your cousin with hiring drunkards like this, who is Charlie Weasley,” Marty said. He sounded pissed off, to say the least.
I emerged from behind the sofa. “What happened? How do you know where I live?”
Marty grinned his familiar smile. “I am a very resourceful person, sweetheart. But I have absolutely no idea what happened. I got a phone call from some snarky sounding woman called Rebecca, telling me to pick Charlie up from Violet’s hotel. So I have. And he is not coming home with me- my wife would throw a fit.”
“So he has to come here?”
“Yes! The Leaky is full because there is a big Quidditch match on, and the only other alternative I have is his mother.”
Charlie looked significantly alarmed. “My mother would kill me,” he said, shaking his head. “not, my mother. Anyone. I would rather see Dumbledore than my mother. Even McGonagall!”
“Charlie?” Marty asked. “Do me a favour?”
“Yeah!” he said excitedly.
“Do not say one more word.”
He nodded- and then whispered; “Not my mother!”
Marty looked at us helplessly. “Please?”
Jess appeared at my elbow. “We’d love to take him in.”
“What?” I said. “You don’t even live here!”
“Fine,” Jessie said. “You’d
love to take him in.” She took Charlie’s arm and led him through the house. “You can stay in Max’s bed,” she told him.
“I’m really super tired now,” Charlie said, yawning. “Merlin’s beard!”
Marty gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you so much, darling. I’ll probably be around in the morning. Bye!”
Max shut the door on him, and raised his eyebrows. “I don’t understand half of what he just said.”
I shook my head slowly. “Me neither.”
“QUIDDITCH!” Charlie yelled from Max’s room. “It’s such a funny word,” I heard him slur, and then Jess poked her head out of his room.
“He’s asleep. That was like magic, it was so fast.”
“Like magic?” Max said.
I punched him. “You’re sleeping on the floor.”
A/N: here's chapter two! Shout out to TheHeirOfSlytherin (or, Sam) for giving me names when I demanded Muggle names :) tell me what you think?