Second Day of Classes and Random Moping

Second day of classes.  The first one was Intro. To Lit. with another of my favorite teachers.  The guy is still as cheesy as ever—gotta love him.  I really think I’m going to enjoy this class.

History, too.  It’s going to be, as I expected, the same things we learned about in American History, except from the European point of view.  So excited about that.

The Know-It-All guy (the one who lacks social skills) is in both History and Creative Writing with me now.  Then in History there’s also this guy in the History class I dropped over the summer.  He’s another of those nerds who doesn’t quite know how to get along with other people…in fact, I call him Gune, because he reminds me of that really weird and creepy little round alien from Titan A.E.  Not only does he act like Gune, but he looks like him, too.  It’s…scary.

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So there’s the two of them. And Kara’s in there; she sits next to me.  The teacher is so sweet; I love her, too.  I like being in classes with three of my favorite teachers.  It was really funny; about 95% of the class is from my high school.

I neglected to mention this yesterday, but The Third Wilson Brother asked me what I’m planning to do after this, my last semester at FSCJ, and when I told him I’m majoring in English lit., he said, “Oh, you’re going that route, huh?”  And at first I thought he meant this in a bad way, but then he said, “That’s what I did, too.  So you gonna join a fraternity, all that?”

“That sounds like fun,” I said.  And I meant it.  Joining a fraternity would be fun.

I feel really scatterbrained tonight.  I’m not really staying in order of anything that happened…not really.  Tonight, after the initial fight between the parental units had calmed a bit, I headed into the room, and Dad asked if I know what I’m planning to do with my future.

Well, for the first time ever, I’m sure.  And I told him so.

He said, “If you want to be a writer, don’t you think you should be writing now?”

And for the first time ever, I could actually, legitimately defend myself.

“I do write,” I said, “it’s about all I do anymore.”

I felt bad when he said he’s never seen anything I write, and he’d like to.  I mean, he is my dad…but I can’t show him or my mom this blog because of some of the content….  Just…no.  And besides, I complain about him and Psychobrat on more than one occasion in it.  So I just…didn’t say anything.

He asked, “What kinds of things do you want to write novels about?”

I wasn’t really sure how to answer that.  Because some of the main ideas I have right now are autobiographical.  And of course, I feel panicked every time I say that I want to be a writer, because I’ve never, ever believed that I’m really a good writer.  I’m like…how the hell am I supposed to make it out there?  I can’t!  I can’t do it!  I have self-esteem issues.  I always have.  But I know perfectly well that my ideas don’t extend past my own life—which shouldn’t be a problem, because I have plenty of stories about things that I’ve done, and things I’ve dreamt.  I don’t know…I’m a good judge of character, yeah, but I’m not too versed in the ways of the world.  That’s not good for one who wants to write novels, I wouldn’t think.

Of course, that’s not even going to be my main profession.  I’m going to be a journalist; but even that worries me.  Even though I got an A in that class, and I didn’t have much trouble with it…that was easy stuff.  How will I continue to think up story ideas constantly?  I mean, I can’t always rely on an editor to give me ideas, or…he or she would get frustrated with me quite quickly, I would imagine.

I stress a lot.  It’s because I don’t believe I can do anything.  Ever.  I don’t know if I can ever change that mindset, because I’ve been this way for as long as I can recall.

So there’s this evil girl at work.  Well–I don’t know that she’s really evil so much as just wannabe-evil.  The comments she makes make it sound as though she’s trying.  It’s quite annoying.  Like tonight, while watching the news:

Evil Girl:  I just remembered my step-sister was just going through Texas.

Me:  Oh, my god—

Evil Girl:  Oh, *laugh* I don’t care, I’m just saying….

I just turned around and went back to my dinner.  But then I suddenly remembered that Bridget and Jason had been living in NO…so I called Bridget’s cell first thing when I got home tonight…and got some guy named Isaac, who very pleasantly told me that I must have the wrong number.

They probably weren’t there.  They’re both in the Army now, I think.  They’ve probably moved by now.

I dropped my Management class.  It was unnecessary; and I’ll be getting money back for it.  That’s more of a necessity now.  Especially since one of my more substantial forms of monthly income is now gone—no more $120/month from Watson…the manager I worked for just quit.

I’m going to just start giving my parents all of my money, except what I pay for my car.  They need it more than I do—besides, it’s really all theirs, anyway, when you figure in gas, cell phone, and…*sigh*…insurance.

I feel like Oliver Twist.

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First Day of Class

This is a bit late considering I was writing about Astrid for you guys.  Sorry about that.  Work has gone crazy.  We had two people—new people, might I add—walk out yesterday.  That was fun.

Adrianna seems pleasant enough, though I do miss Tinny.  We’re not too big on the conversation yet, although we have both been making more efforts towards it.  I don’t know; I’ll give it time, see what happens.

Started school today; I’d been looking forward to it, and I’m really glad I’ve got something new to talk about now, besides just “blah blah work work blee” all the time.

This semester, I am taking Creative Writing, European History 1265-Present, Introduction to Lit., and Principles of Management (I think that’s what it’s called).  I think I’m going to be dropping PoM.  It’s not that it seemed like a bad class—the teacher seemed very pleasant, and it didn’t seem like a tremendous workload—but starting last night, I really started getting freaked out about all of my classes.  Just…a really bad feeling about it all…and my instincts are usually correct.  I feel somehow like I’ve overloaded myself, even though I’m just taking the same amount of classes I always do.  I’m just stressed about random things right now, and money is one of them, and if I drop the class now I’ll receive almost $200 back.  I could definitely use that.  Besides, I only need another two classes and I’m taking four.  I’ll be fine with three.  I want to make straight A’s this semester, and dropping one will just help me with that even more—especially since I still don’t know how much longer I’ll be working Fridays.

I entered The Third Wilson Brother’s class and took a seat right in the middle.  (I call him that because he looks like he could be related to Luke and Owen.)  He was at his podium, back turned, getting everything prepared, and then he turned around, looked right at me, and said, “I know you.”

I grinned. “Yeah,” I said, “you do.”

He focused on me for a moment, and said, “Ginny…Jones….”  Hehe.  Yay.  And he asked if I’d seen any good movies this summer, and my mind went totally blank.

Then Know-It-All came in and sat down next to me.  Hey, Katie—perhaps the Cult Leader has instructed them all to try and drive us insane.  Half of them give us the cold shoulder, the other half stalk us and make us crazy.  Of course, it turns out Know-It-All still hangs out with other members of the cult.  Why does that not surprise me?

On my other side, there was this really hot guy, who turned out to be just out of high school, so that’s just…no.  But it was really weird, because he had blood on his neck (I swear it was blood).  Really hot except for that.  Like, on one side there’s…this patch, as though a piece of skin were sewn overtop of something, and there was blood on the edges of it…and on the other side there are streaks of dark blood…and I’m like…is this guy’s head actually sewn onto his neck?  What are we dealing with here, a zombie?  A hot zombie?  Is that possible?  Or is this something…more sinister?  *keeps distance*

Because this room was in the arts section, there was a piano in there, which The Third Wilson Brother was quick to comment on.  He asked if anyone could play; I didn’t volunteer.  Playing piano and acting are way different; one’s really easy to do in front of people, and the other is not.  So I said nothing.  The only things I know how to play by memory are “Heart and Soul” (one half at a time) and “Fur Elise”, anyway.  The same things everybody else knows how to play by memory.

This one girl volunteered, and played a little bit of Fur Elise before sitting back down in embarrassment.  The Third Wilson Brother, with a very straight face, invited us all, should any one of us ever feel the need to get up and play, to just raise our hands and announce that, and we would break for a brief concert.

One girl was sitting against the wall, way in the back, so The Third Wilson Brother asked her why she was sitting so far away, as teachers do.  She informed us all that she doesn’t like people, except for her mom, and when we went around the room introducing ourselves, she revealed that she likes popsicles and explosives.

Another girl warned us that, should she ever come in with bruises or a broken nose or anything like that, she is not in an abusive relationship; she boxes.  Her sister won the equivalent of Miss Florida in body-building, and is passing on her knowledge to her.  A little family tradition.

Then there’s another guy who is a security guard for Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.  He carries a gun.

Toward the end, one girl gave her name and then admitted that she feels very intimidated by some of her classmates, to which The Third Wilson Brother replied earnestly, “Me too.  But you have to just learn to put on a happy face, [Michelle—or whatever her name was].”

I said, “I’m Ginny, and I like Harry Potter.”  This drew quite a few laughs, and I added, “And I always wear hats because I don’t like my hair.”

“Awwww!” said everyone, including The Third Wilson Brother, who also asked, “Why don’t you like your hair?”

“It’s fluffy,” I said.

There are things I can put in my hair, Know-It-All pointed out.

“It’s still fluffy,” I said.

Despite the fact that it was a pretty good day all in all, I’ve got a horrid stomachache right now.  It’s the stress getting to me, I think, because every time I think about that fourth class that I don’t need, that makes it worse.  I’m going to go drop it.

Scene of the Crime

Apologies for the slight delay in updating, but try as I might to keep ahead, you’ve now caught up to the part of the story I am in.  Part 8 is ready, but before we get there, if you haven’t yet read them, the other parts are here:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7

And now here’s the latest:

She didn’t get to sleep through the night, as she was awoken at 4 in the morning by owl post from Rita, advising her to get to the Prophet straight away, don’t even bother washing up; they had a Death Eater attack to cover.

The vendors weren’t even out selling their wares yet as Astrid made her way to work 20 minutes later, out of sorts, eyelids drooping and hair a disaster, but awake and ready for duty.

“What took you so long!?” said Rita, who looked flawless and exasperated.

“Sorry,” said Astrid, “I—”

“Never mind.  Just fetch a quill and follow me.”

The scene they Apparated to was more gruesome than Astrid had been prepared for.  They were on a street in downtown London, and despite the early hour, a crowd had already gathered, drawn by the violence.

The body of a woman not much older than Astrid sat propped against the side of a building, leaning into a dumpster.  The woman had been beautiful, Astrid could see.  She imagined a lot of work had gone into her makeup and teased blonde hair before she had gone out the night before.  But now her makeup looked as though it had been through a fight, and her hair had fallen down around her bare shoulders where her top was torn.  Astrid took a closer look.  It appeared someone had carved a word into the skin across the woman’s chest.  “MUGGLE”, it said.  There was a lot of blood.  Astrid felt sick to her stomach.

A group of Aurors was divided between examining the scene of the crime and obliviating muggle bystanders, one of whom, a middle-aged woman in pajamas and slippers, Rita immediately cornered.

“Rita Skeeter, Gossip Correspondent for the Daily Prophet,” Rita said to the muggle woman in a sugary voice.

“The Daily ‘oo?” the woman asked.

“Would you be interested in answering some questions about what happened here?”

“Dunno much,” the woman replied.  “Me ‘usband is a street sweeper.  ‘E was doin’ ‘is job and rang me to get down ‘ere, a trollop ‘ad been done in.  I came down quick as I could.”

“How did he know she was a trollop?” Rita said, sounding almost overly-eager to Astrid’s ears, under the circumstances.

“Well, ‘e was lookin’ at ‘er, at ‘ow she was dressed, wasn’t ‘e?”

“Would you say that, in a way, this woman got what she deserved, being out late at night by herself?”

Astrid’s mouth fell open; she could not have heard Rita clearly.

“I dunno as anyone deserves murderin’ just for lookin’ as she does…and I dunno wot a muggle is, but I can take a guess,” she added knowingly.

“But the situation could have been avoided had she not been out alone in the middle of the night?”

“Obviously she wouldn’t’a been walkin’ in the pathway of a murderer otherwise.”

“Thank you,” Rita said, looking delighted.  She grabbed a nearby Auror by the arm and said, “This one can be obliviated now; I’m through with her.”

Astrid rushed over.  “Weren’t those leading questions you were asking just now?”

“Hm?” said Rita.

“That woman.  You asked her leading questions.  You know, a question designed to get the answer you want?”

Rita looked disinterestedly at Astrid.  “How else do you expect to get the best quotes?”

“But that’s unethical!” said Astrid, though Rita had already approached another bystander and made no sign that she had heard Astrid, or cared.

Bozo pushed past Astrid with a smirk.  “Why don’t you stay out of the way and let the big kids do the job, eh?” he said, promptly turning his back on her.

She heard Rita asking a young man whether he had seen anything suspicious.

“I didn’t see anything myself, but I did hear there were a few fellows in dark robes, like judges or summat.”

“How interesting,” said Rita. “Would you say they were wearing masks?”

“Yeah, that’s what I heard, all right.  Big scary ones, like–like animal skulls, someone said!”

“Perhaps like….”  Rita paused as though to find the right words.  “Perhaps like a…Satanic…ritual?”

Astrid rolled her eyes.

The man’s face lit up.  “Just like that!” he said.  “Did you see what they wrote on her?  ‘Muggle’, it said.  That’s a term from Demonology, it is!”  He nodded emphatically.

“Would you call this a ritualistic human sacrifice?”

“Absolutely,” the man said.  “I don’t know what demons they were trying to summon, but there’s evil in the air, you know?  You can feel it, can’t you?”

“Almost like the…End of Times?”

“It feels just like that!” the man said, as though he had lived through the End of Times countless times before and this was just par for the course.  Astrid couldn’t resist an audible “tut” and the man looked over at her, surprised.  She pretended to cough.

“So this must be the work of someone very evil indeed?” Rita pressed.

“Mebbe…mebbe Lucifer himself!”

Astrid was in disbelief.  This couldn’t be how things were done at the biggest newspaper in the British wizarding world…could it?

~~*~~

Thanks for reading!  Here’s the next part!

Not Now, Son

Once again, I’m so appreciative of you all for reading, and happy to hear that you’re enjoying it!  I’ve got the latest part of the story for you, but before that, here are the previous parts if you haven’t yet seen them:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6

And here’s the latest:

She was pensive that night as she walked back to her flat and began preparing for bed.  She thought about her new job, about poor Adrian and his sister, about her parents—her birth parents—and the state of her world, which had been at war for almost as far back as she could remember.

And mostly, she thought about Barty.

She could remember the first time she had ever met Barty Crouch, Jr.  The Crouch family had invited the Featherleys to supper at their estate one night in autumn when she was 5 years old and Barty was 6.  It was the largest house Astrid had ever seen, before or since, and also the first time she had seen a house-elf.

The Featherleys had asked Astrid whether she would like to bring a gift to the young boy she would be meeting at dinner.  Astrid had generously brought along a book of nursery stories she had read numerous times.  When they arrived, Barty, Jr. had hidden behind his mother’s legs after first spotting Astrid.  Understanding his timidity, she had wordlessly held the book out to him.  After a pause, he had reached for it, and then, excitedly, addressed his father:  “Father!  Father, lookit!  Lookit what she brought me!”

“Not now, son,” his father had replied, already deep in conversation with Astrid’s father.

Astrid did not recall what they had eaten that night.  Something gourmet, no doubt.  What she did remember was the adoration Barty had shown his father, and how little his father seemed to notice.  It made her heart ache for him, and also for herself and what she had lost.  The Featherleys were good to her, but she longed to be noticed by her own parents, as well.  To be loved by them, held in their arms.

After supper, the children had been excused to the nursery, accompanied by the house-elf Winky, who read aloud to them from the book Astrid had brought.  Barty had grinned at Astrid and held her hand during one of the stories.

“You’re good at this, Winky,” the boy had said.  “But I sometimes wish Father would read to me.”

“Doesn’t your father read to you?” Astrid had asked.

“I don’t think Father ever notices me much,” the boy had replied.  “He isn’t home much.  And when he is home, he just says, ‘Not now, son.’  I’m not one of those Death Eaters; that’s all he cares about.”

The house-elf had thrown her hands over her ears and cried out, “Master Barty mustn’t say such things about his father!  His father is a good man!  His father loves Master Barty!”

Astrid was horrified by his words.  “You shouldn’t say that.  Those are bad people.  That’s why our fathers have to catch them.”

“Have Death Eaters ever stopped your father reading to you?”

Astrid imagined she had felt her heart stop at these words.  “They stop lots of people’s fathers reading to them.  Sometimes forever.”

Barty had evidently not known what to say to that, and Winky had insisted on reading more of the storybook.

Astrid had seen Barty again from time to time over the years preceding Hogwarts.  He was always kind to her, always pleasant, yet she saw a sadness in him that he tried to keep hidden.  He was like her in that way.

They were chummy and competitive in their earlier years at Hogwarts.  He being a Slytherin and a year ahead, she did not expect to see much of him after being sorted into Ravenclaw, but Astrid’s astronomical grades got her noticed by Professor Horace Slughorn and inducted into his Slug Club for extraordinary students midway through her first year.  When she arrived to her very first meeting, shy and terrified to find herself surrounded by unfamiliar students of every age and house, she had been pleased to see Barty there, as well.  Here was someone she knew, someone she could look up to.

The Slug Club were a close-knit bunch.  In her 4th year Astrid began dating a 6th year member by the name of Dirk Cresswell, who impressed her with his talent for languages.  After he wrote her a poem entirely in the Goblin language, Gobbledegook, she was smitten, and Barty became quite distant towards her.  The one time she had ever received detention had been for sneaking out of her dorm in the middle of the night to meet Dirk.  Instead she had run into Barty, who was by then a Hogwarts Prefect.  She had tried and failed to appeal to their past friendship; he had coldly advised her that he had orders and he couldn’t make allowances for her gallivants, boyfriend or no boyfriend.  She had been marched straight to her head of house, who informed her exasperatedly that sneaking around was “for Gryffindors and people who are up to something”.  She had never gone late-night exploring again.  As a hopeful journalist, she really could have used the practice.

Although she had ended things with Dirk later that year, she and Barty did not rekindle their past friendship after that.  There was a frost between them that never lifted.  They saw each other and were polite enough when necessary in Slug Club meetings, but that was as far as it went.

It was only after he graduated that she started to hear things that made her blood run cold.  Only whispers, nothing more, about the company he had begun to keep and speculation as to where his loyalties lay.  Another Slug member—a 6th year named Lockhart from her own house—swore he had personally spotted Barty heading into Knockturn Alley with “a nasty-looking fellow”, but Lockhart didn’t know much more than that, and as he had a bit of a reputation for embellishing, Astrid wasn’t sure she believed him.

Still, as they hadn’t been close for years, she hadn’t worried too much about it.

Until now.

“Just look who his father is,” Adrian had said.

Not now, son, was Astrid’s final coherent thought as she drifted off to sleep.

~~*~~

Please read Part 8 here!

Familiar Faces

I’m honored beyond words that you all have been following this story.  I’ve got the next part ready for you.  If you like it, please drop me a line to let me know.  If you’ve got a constructive critique, I’d love to hear that, too!  As always, here are the previous parts in case you haven’t already seen them:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

And here’s Part 6:

The day was spent being rushed around by Rita to various interviews.  “I hope you passed your Apparitions tests,” Rita said, without bothering to look back at Astrid for acknowledgment, “because we’ve got lots to cover this morning!”  At the site of their first location, Astrid had been handed a quill and instructed to simply “Write down everything.”  She was eager to do as she was told, though as Rita already had a quill that seemed to magically “write down everything” for her, it all seemed a bit pointless.  Still, Astrid decided to consider it good practice for the day when they would let her do this on her own.

As she hadn’t had time for a proper lunch, Astrid found her way, exhausted, over to Adrian’s desk at the end of the day, and the two headed down the street to the Leaky Cauldron for supper and drinks.

“So how was your first day?” Adrian asked after they’d been seated.

Astrid sipped her Firewhisky too quickly and grimaced as it went down, burning her insides.  “I can handle it.”

“How was Rita?”

“She was all right, I suppose.”

“I know she can be….”  Adrian trailed off.

“What?”

“You’ll keep this between us, yeah?”

“Of course.”

“Well, let’s just say the Queen of the Quills, star reporter though she may be, doesn’t shine quite so brightly on a personal level.  I mean to say, she hasn’t made many friends among her admirers.”

“She is a bit impersonal.”

“And very competitive.  Watch your back around that one.  And learn everything you can!”

“That photographer of hers is certainly something.”

Adrian straightened up at this.  “Bozo?  Not surprising.  He’s got a bit of a reputation, himself, hasn’t he?  Always creeping out the ladies.  If he gives you a hard time, you just let me know, all right?  I’ll deal with him.”

“All right, thanks.”

They spent some time catching up about old friends and acquaintances.  Adrian had graduated a few years before, so Astrid filled him in on events at Hogwarts since he’d gone.

“So how’re your parents, then?” he said, when they had exhausted this subject.

But Astrid’s attention had suddenly been arrested by another familiar face in the far corner.  She had almost missed it, hidden by shadow as it was, but there, leaning against the wall, was the all-too-recognizable lanky figure of Barty Crouch, Jr.  He was surrounded by three ominous-looking older people Astrid did not know, and they appeared to be deep in a serious conversation about something.  He did not seem to have noticed her, so fixated were they on their discussion, but she glanced quickly away when he turned towards her a second later.

“Hm?  Oh…they’re still safe.  Yeah, everyone’s well.  Thanks, Adrian.  How’s your family?”

“We lost my little sister.  Darling Sarah.”

“Oh, no.”

“Yeah.  Group of Death Eaters attacked a playground, of all places.  Slimy bastards.”

“Adrian, I’m so sorry.  I read about that when it happened!  They didn’t name any of the children.  I had no idea.”

“That’s very kind of you, thanks.”  Adrian stared into the frothy mug in front of him for a moment, during which Astrid was certain she saw a tear form and then fall.

“A playground!  Of all places!  Is no place sacred from those beasts?”  The posh accent he normally affected (at, Astrid suspected, Professor Slughorn’s prompting) seemed to vanish more with every sip he took.  “And we’re of pure blood and all that!  I thought that’s what it was all supposed to be about.  The whole bloody war.  Some folks is worth more’n other folks on account of what body they was born into.  But what sort of—of vermin attacks children?  I ask you!”

Astrid stole another uneasy glance over towards the corner, only to discover that Barty and his friends had vanished.

Adrian continued:  “If I ever find the bastards what done it, I’ll kill ’em meself!  I’ll swear to that!”

“Adrian, have you ever heard any rumors about Barty?”

“Crouch?  Junior?  What sort of rumors d’you mean?”

“He hangs around with some sketchy people.”

“Well, he’s a Slytherin, isn’t he?  He can hardly help but be acquainted with some creepy folks.  It don’t make him a Death Eater, though, if that’s what you’re implying.  Couldn’t be.  Just look who his father is!”

Astrid did not point out the absurdity in Adrian’s two claims:  That merely being associated with suspicious sorts did not make Barty himself suspicious, but that being associated with his father made him innocent.  She chose to let the matter drop.  After all, if she was wrong, it was a risky accusation to make.

“Well, I should be getting home,” she said.  “I think I’m going to need my energy tomorrow.  Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.  See you in the morning, then!”

~~*~~

This is me again–because I have it, I’m going to leave you with a hint of what’s to come in the next section.

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The Intern

I suppose I’m just going to see this thing through until the end now, since I can see you all are reading.  As always, thank you so much and please let me know if you have a comment or a critique!  Here are the previous sections:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

I’ve actually been borrowing my friend’s laptop and snatching a few minutes here and there at work to post these for you the last few days.  Here’s the latest:

She stopped on the stoop, taking a swig of pumpkin juice and a deep breath.  “This is it,” she muttered before turning the knob.  “Time to show them all what you’re made of.”

The world inside the Daily Prophet was in stark contrast to that outside in the alley.  Employees who appeared to have been awake for hours bustled about in a frenzy, bumping into each other in their haste to arrive wherever they were going.  Paper airplanes whizzed by her head, reminding her of outings to the Ministry of Magic to visit her father.  She could hear the steady hum of a printing press, and then a low blast from a distant wand caused her to jump.

Astrid shrank into her clothes, trying to make herself appear smaller, although no one seemed to have noticed her.  She wasn’t quite sure what to do or even who to ask for directions.  She had met with the editor only briefly before and knew how very busy he must be; it would be improper and downright embarrassing to go to him for help.

A tall, thin woman with her face buried in a piece of parchment bumped into her.  “Watch it!” the woman said in an irritated tone.

“Sorry,” Astrid said instinctively.  The woman hurried on without acknowledging her again.

“Astrid?” came a male voice from behind her.

Filled with relief at having been spotted, she flung around.  “Adrian!” she said, recognizing an old school chum.  Adrian had been a few years ahead of her, but she had seen a great deal of him in the Slug Club.

“I heard you were starting today!  Old Sluggy came through for you, did he?”

“Yes, he was very helpful.  I wouldn’t be here without him.”

“Who will you be working with?”

“I’m…not entirely sure.” Astrid flushed.

“Oh!” Adrian looked confused.  “Well…come and meet me on your break if you’d like.  No sense going out alone, times like these.  I sit over there.”  He pointed to a vague spot in the middle row of desks.

“Right.  Thanks.  See you,” said Astrid, already peering around again for anyone else who might recognize her.

She stood for another minute until she was approached by someone new.  This woman wore high heels and bright red lipstick with her short, platinum-blonde curls, which made her resemble a 1950s pin-up model.  A heavyset man carrying a camera followed closely behind her.

“Miss Featherlight?” the woman said.

“Featherley,” Astrid replied, “but Astrid is fine.”

“Quite.”  The woman held out her hand and spoke with an air of importance.  “Rita Skeeter, Gossip Correspondent.”  Astrid reached out to shake her hand; Rita had a very stiff handshake.  “You’ll be working under me.  This is Bozo,” she said, jerking her thumb toward the photographer.

Astrid shook hands with Bozo, who held on just a fraction of a second too long and stared into her eyes in a way that seemed somehow invasive.  “Hello,” she said.

“I’ll show you where you can place your belongings,” Rita said, walking briskly to an empty desk in the far corner of the room.  “Quickly, quickly!  We have very little time before the day’s first interview.  This will be your desk.  No one will disturb your things.  And…,” and here she peered around as though seeking something.  The desk was bare but for some abandoned, impersonal office supplies, but amongst the clutter, Rita spied an ugly paperweight shaped like a fat black rat and smiled, scooping it up.  “Ah,” she said.  She held the rat in one hand and produced a wand with the other.  “Scriptorio,” she said, pointing the wand at the rat.

Astrid watched as shiny gold lettering reading ‘Astrid Featherly’ appeared across the side of the rat.  “There’s actually another ‘e’ in Feath–,” she began, but Rita interrupted, setting the makeshift nameplate atop Astrid’s new desk with a clunk.

“No time, no time,” Rita said.  “We’ll get you a new one later.”

~~*~~

Thanks for reading!  Find the next part here.

Dawn in the Alley

Well, once again because I can see that you all are reading, I have decided to share the next segment of this story with you.  I really appreciate your time.  If you like it or have a critique, please let me know in the comments!  I may place something in between the last section and this one, but if I do, I haven’t written it yet.  Astrid is grown up now, though this is still during the events of Vold War I.  He won’t attack the Potters for a few more months from this point.

This whole concept began after I took a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and started fantasizing about living in Diagon Alley and working for the Daily Prophet.  A friend joked about me receiving visits there from a certain someone who will soon become the other main character, and thus, an idea was born.  For those who are new, here are the previous sections to this story:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

And here is Part 4:

June 1981.

It was still dark and quiet in Diagon Alley when Astrid awoke for her first day on the job.  But by the time she had finished her morning routine and was preparing to leave, she could hear the sounds of a kerfuffle from outside.  Astrid headed to her window to discover the source of the disruption.  It was not hard to find.  Across the street, a vendor’s cart appeared to have been flung through the air and landed upside down, its wares scattered across the alley.  Beside it stood a scrawny young man who looked to be about Astrid’s own age.  He was shouting at a busty and smirking older woman who had her own cart in its upright position.

“You set that right!” he was saying.  “That’s my property, it is!  I’ll sue you for damages!”

“Oh, you will, will you?” the woman replied.  “I told you, you’re in my spot.  You need a permit to park ‘ere!  You need a permit to sell ‘ere!  So you can clean up your own stuff and move out of my way.”

“Look at you, then!  You’re so high and mighty.”  He began to circle the woman, flapping his arms in an exaggerated manner like a bird.  When he spoke again, he had lifted his voice to an absurd pitch, mocking her.  “I own the alley!  Look at me, everyone!  No one come near me!  I can’t stand the competition!”

Astrid giggled and instinctively threw her hand across her mouth, though no one would have spotted her from her window above.  Shaking her head, she stepped back and pocketed her wand before grabbing her handbag and a large notebook and going to the door.  She kept a hand on the rail as she descended the uneven stairs leading from her flat to the street below.

“It’s not my mess,” the woman was saying.  “I’m not cleaning it up!”

“Well, you made it!” said the young man.

“Oy!  Keep it down!” came a new voice.  Astrid looked up to see an angry man in a nightshirt leaning out of an upstairs window.  “Some of us are still trying to sleep!”

Astrid approached the woman, who smirked again at the other vendor, and ordered a gillywater and a pumpkin juice.  As she fished for the correct change, a law enforcement official approached to ask about the disturbance.  The woman hurried through the exchange with Astrid, apparently eager to tell her side of it, and Astrid left them to it, heading down the street in the direction of the Daily Prophet.

~~*~~

Here’s the next part of the story.