March 29, 2005 11:53 AM
Oz stepped into the shop Draco had told him Pevensie worked at. He did a subdued wave at the slayer as he approached her boss. He was not used to asking strangers for favors, but Lyra was desperate. Draco had told him to see if the guy could hire Rowan too. He had a help wanted sign up.
Neville stopped mid-sentence with a customer, who snickered behind her hand. At least Addison Page wasn't an old crone who would faint at the slightest wind. He turned to the man who had just walked into the shop. "I'm sorry? Can I help you?"
"Hi. Um, are you Mr. Fatbum? A friend of mine said you owned this place."
Oz was wondering why the lady was laughing. Sure it was a weird name, but a lot of wizards had weird names. Who were they to judge?
Neville glared at Addison, who had turned her back fully. He saw her shoulders shaking and sighed. "I'm sorry, who is the friend that told you that?"
Oz frowned. "Draco Malfoy. We work at the Council together. Look, if you're not Mr. Fatbum, can you get him? I'd really like to talk to the owner. Or the person who hires folks."
He let out a huff of air and turned to his other worker. "Pevensie, tell Malfoy to stop calling me that! If he doesn't, I'll sic Mac on him."
Neville turned back to the gentleman. "I'm the owner, but my name is Neville Longbottom."
"Oh man. I'm sorry. He can be cool but it's like dealing with a man-child sometimes. I'm Oz. I hope the Fatbum thing hasn't made you disinclined to listen to me. Willow and Mac can vouch for me. In fact, I'm Mac's watcher."
He really should have known that Malfoy wouldn't take the fact that Pevensie worked for him lying down. Neville held out his hand to the man in front of him. "Pleasure to meet you. So you work with Mac? How is she doing?"
"Well, I think she's a little crazy, but what do I know?"
Oz didn't know enough about him to get into it. Sure, he knew Mac liked the guy, but who among them had not liked someone who had turned out to be evil? Not that Neville Longbottom looked evil, but Oz was cautious.
Neville grinned. "It runs in that family. Let me finish up with Miss Page and then I'll get back to you." He turned to see the still snickering witch grinning at him and laying down some galleons.
"Keep the change, Nev. You'll need it to buy you a drink."
He rolled his eyes.
"I wouldn't know. Just recently met the guy, but I could buy you that drink if you really wanted."
Neville put the extra galleon in his pocket and put the rest in his cashier. "I normally get drinks here at the Leaky. I haven't been up to Hogsmeade in a while, but if we go in, we won't need the extra change. I'd like to get to know Mac's watcher."
"As long as it isn't the same method you use when getting to know her, I'm for it."
Oz grinned slightly at him.
Neville coughed lightly. "No worries about that. Um, you said you wanted to speak to me about something? You mentioned hiring?"
"Yeah, um, not me though. You want to talk here or in Hogsmeade? You'll have to pop us there. I don't magick."
He thought about it. There were a few more hours until closing, but he'd only had two customers. He could close the shop and head to Hogsmeade. When he turned around, he saw Pevensie moving some things and she was moving a bit stiffly. She'd already told him she had gotten injured this weekend. She could use the break probably.
"Pevensie can come with us, but she'll need to be back here in a few hours for whoever is going to pick her up. Or I could take her back myself. Is that all right Pevensie?"
"I get to go to a bar? That's awesome."
"It's not a bar," Oz said. "It's a pub."
Neville looked over at Oz. "You've been there before?"
"Yeah. Couple of times. Brody's pretty cool."
"That's Mac's brother, right," Pevensie asked, literally bouncing around them.
Neville's eyebrows went up. He'd never seen her so perky. "Yes, and some of her cousins work there as well. You never know, her grandmother might show up. I've only heard about her though."
He stopped, debating on who to side-along with first. On one hand, he didn't want to leave Pevensie in Hogsmeade by herself, but he didn't want to leave her in Diagon Alley alone either. After choosing the lesser of two evils, Neville turned the open sign on the door to show closed and they headed outside so he could activate his locked wards. He made a small note for whoever came to pick up Pevensie just in case he didn't get her back before.
Making sure his wand was firmly in his hand, he held out his arm to Oz. "I'll take you first then come back for Pevensie." He turned to his temporary ward. "And stay right here
Pevensie saluted him.
Oz snickered. She reminded him of a psychotic cheerleader sometimes.
The apparated to Hogsmeade and Oz walked inside while Neville went back for Pevensie. Cullen was at the bar and Brody was carrying a case of something from the back.
"Hey, Cullen. Brody."
Neville tried to get back to Pevensie as quick as he could and get her to Hogsmeade. Once they arrived, after a bit of stumbling, he ushered her inside.
She was grinning from ear to ear as she hopped onto a barstool and ordered a butterbeer from the bartender.
Oz looked at Neville to see what he'd do.
"Neville?" Brody asked.
Then he gave a shout and hurried around the bar to hug the other man. Oz raised a brow at that.
He instantly tensed up but relaxed when all Brody did was hug him. He wasn't sure if Mac had let him know that they were interested in each other and tentatively scheduling dates. "Hey Brody."
Even as tall as he was, Brody's bear hug lifted him up off the ground a bit. He looked over Brody's shoulder at Mac's cousin. "Hey Cullen."
Cullen just nodded at Neville.
"I dinna know ya ran wit this crowd. Seen wee Mac have ya?"
Oz started laughing then turned it into a cough.
Neville tentatively took a step back from Brody. "Yeah, I've seen her a bit. She picks up Pevensie," he pointed to the young slayer downing her butterbeer, "up from my shop sometimes. I also see her when I drop off orders. Sorry I haven't been around much."
Brody raised a brow before he punched Neville in the shoulder.
"Hey," Pevensie snapped.
"Ya had better treat m'sister right or I'll break yer legs."
"It's like guy-Mac," Pevensie said in awe.
Neville rubbed his shoulder with a glare. "You still don't pull your punches, do you?"
"No' when it comes to m'sister. Dinna lie to me again. I know ya been kissin' on her."
He honestly wasn't planning on getting any liquor, but now that he was here, he might as well. "Can I have a butterbeer, please, a shot of firewhisky for after? Believe it or not, I didn't come here to discuss snogging your sister or get a headbutt."
Cullen started laughing.
"Oooo! Can you teach me?" Pevensie asked. "Mac headbutts like nobody else."
Brody looked at her.
"She's one of them," Oz offered. "And I'll just have a butter beer."
Oz looked at Pevensie. "And myabe the headbutt lesson can wait until you've healed more."
Oz and Neville took seats by Pevensie at the bar and were served their drinks. "Pevensie here works at my shop sometimes, but she lives where Mac does. Oz here watches Mac for a living, if his title is anything to go by."
"Aye," Brody said. "We know. Is this 'bout tha' thin', Oz?"
"We'll leave ya to it then."
Brody and Cullen nodded at them and moved down the bar.
Neville stopped with his butterbeer halfway to his mouth. Paranoia set in and he was ready to reach for his wand. As much as he didn't want to think ill of the MacDougals, they were fiercely protective of Mac. "Oh god, this isn't some delayed punishment for snogging Mac, is it? Because that sounded too ominous for my liking."
Oz frowned. "This has nothing to do with Mac, but if you hurt her, I will beat you to death with a shovel."
He quickly took a swig of butterbeer. "Do they teach that threat at the Council, because it sure is popular."
"It's a Willow threat. A vague disclaimer is no one's friend. But I wanted to talk to you about hiring someone."
That was interesting. "Really? Someone else from the council?"
"No. Someone from Hogsmeade. His mother lives here. She's a friend. Rowen's been in some trouble, and she thinks he needs a job to keep him occupied. You do really well with Pevensie, so I thought..."
Neville was a big cautious. He was no longer a pushover by any means, but he wasn't a strict figurehead like the professors at Hogwarts were. "I can meet with him and talk with him and his mum to see if he'd really fit in. I couldn't let him do much at the beginning, because a lot of my plants are delicate, but if Pevensie's willing to share some of the labor, I think I can work something out."
"As long as he knows I'm higher up in the chain than him," Pevensie said. "Can I boss him around? Make him lick my boots?"
Oz chuckled. "Look, Rowen is a good kid. He just fell in with a bad crowd. I think something stable would be good for him and put Lyra's mind at ease, but I can have them come to meet you. No problem."
Neville glared at Pevensie. "You've been hanging about Malfoy too much. You can't boss him around."
"Well, what fun is it for me then?"
"Hey," Oz said. "Keep it up, and I'll tell Draco you've been sneaking off to go see that Flint guy."
"I so would." Oz looked back at Neville with his serene smile. "Just let me know what day is good for you."
Neville took another drink with a grin. "Will do."