Title: The Horoscope Page
Disclaimer: The editor and staff of the Daily Prophet belong to JK Rowling, and the Buffy characters belong to Joss. I’m making no profit off this story.
Summary: Hermione needs a writer, Draco needs a job, and Dawn needs to find her inner woman...
Fic-a-thon for Sarhea - Sorry, you didn’t get the first fic assigned for you so this is late. I know you asked for Severus, but he didn’t want to come out and play, so sorry about that too. I noticed your recommended fics included a couple of Draco-centric ones though, so I hope you’ll find this one enjoyable!
Hermione Granger, at age 25, was a success by most people’s standards. During the war, Dumbledore had insisted she go into hiding when Severus reported she had topped Arthur Weasley on the Death Eater Most Wanted list. She had gone to America, enrolled in a muggle university, and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English, before insisting on returning. Harry and Ron had taken her return as a good omen, and within a month the trio had delivered Voldemort’s head on a platter to the Ministry. There had been a sizeable reward and even splitting it three ways, Hermione had enough to live on. Seeing the wreck the wizarding world was in saddened Hermione, so she decided to invest her earnings in bringing the wizarding world into the 21st century. The reward, and a small loan from Gringotts, had given her enough capital to do what she’d been dreaming of for years- buy out the Daily Prophet.
She had made sure the fact that she was at the helm wasn’t widely known, in case of a pureblood backlash, but any loyal reader would have noticed the changes. For the first time in decades, the Prophet was making a profit. But there was still something missing. Comparing this morning’s Prophet with the Daily Mirror, she frowned. She was so close to having the perfect newspaper, if only she could get that last columnist slot filled.
There was a knock on her office door. “The applicant is here for the nine o’clock interview.” Her secretary informed her.
“Show her in.” Hermione said with a sigh. She had been interviewing for this position all week, and while she had no doubt that some of the candidates had extensive divination experience, not a single one of them knew how to write a coherent sentence.
Draco shifted nervously outside the editor’s office. It wasn’t like him to be so nervous, at least not to show it, but he was on the last thread here. The war had not been kind to the Malfoys. What little his father hadn’t thrown at the Dark Lord was seized by the Ministry, leaving him with a large empty manor and a long list of creditors. The war also ruined the employment market as most of the businesses in Knockturn Alley had to close. What few positions were open, weren’t interested in hiring the son of a Death Eater, especially one as notorious as Lucius. The Daily Prophet was his last chance at a respectable position. Perhaps Lucius still had a few friends there.
“Sir, she’ll see you now.” The matronly secretary informed him. He straightened his robes and walked proudly to the office door. He took one look inside and slammed the door. “Oh no, there’s no way…” He muttered, wincing in mental anguish.
“Is everything alright, sir?” The secretary looked at him as if he’d lost his mind.
“Oh yes, everything is fine,” Draco replied with a saccharine smile, “just having some trouble with the doorknob sticking. You should have maintenance look at it.” Smooth, Draco cringed. Desperate for a job and you insult their facilities in the first five minutes. This couldn’t get any worse. Oh wait, of course it could. His all time worst enemy was sitting on the other side of the door. He probably hated Hermione even more that the boy wonder himself. After all, there was no shame to lose the snitch to Harry Bloody Potter; the boy was part god. But to be second in every class every year to a mudblood? That was disgraceful. Sadly, he needed the job more than he needed his pride. Composing himself, Draco opened the door and walked into the office.
Hermione quickly recovered from her shock of seeing her tall blonde nemesis stroll into her office. “Good morning. I take it you’re here about the columnist position? May I see your resume?” Hermione’s demeanor was completely professional but Draco could tell by the twinkle in her eye that she was entertaining very unprofessional thoughts. He pulled out his resume, printed with top weight cotton paper and Malfoy Green ink, and slid it across the desk.
Hermione picked the paper up. “Have a seat Draco.” Hermione instructed, not even glancing up from scanning the credentials. “University of Paris, Economics Program? I should have known that’s how you’d gotten away.” She muttered, before finally looking up. “So tell me, why are you interested in writing the divinations column?”
“Well, journalism is a noble profession, and the Daily Prophet has a tradition of excellent quality.” Draco recited his practiced response. Hermione couldn’t help but snort a laugh at his performance. “Look, if you’re not serious about interviewing me, I can leave now. My time is too valuable to waste just so that you can get your jibes in.” Draco angrily stood up.
“No, wait!” Hermione cried. She was not about to let Draco Malfoy walk out of there accusing her of being unprofessional. “I’m sorry. Shall we begin again? I’m Hermione Granger, editor of the Daily Prophet.” Hermione offered her hand out to shake.
“Draco Malfoy.” Draco gingerly shook her hand, not quite sure what to make of Hermione’s behavior.
“Please, have a seat, Mr. Malfoy. Now, your resume does not include any information on your divination background. Could you please describe your qualifications?”
“Well, I took divination at Hogwarts, scoring an E at the NEWT level.” Draco began, then faltered, wondering why the hell was he applying for this job. “What sort of qualifications are you looking for? I’m afraid the Prophet has never had a divination column so I don’t know what you’re expecting. I’m certainly competent at writing. I can interview famous seers, do product reviews of crystal balls, that sort of thing, at least as well as the next wizard.”
Hermione pursed her lips and though for a moment. “That’s not exactly what I’m looking for.” Draco gave an exasperated sigh. “That’s not to say you aren’t qualified for what I want. Your college background is impressive.”
“Well then, what are you looking for?”
“I would like to add a horoscope column.” Hermione admitted quietly, expecting the same response she’d gotten from every other applicant.
“Horoscopes? Are you crazy?” Yup, right on cue. “It takes months to calculate a single horoscope, figuring out all those alignments and ascensions, and when you’re done, it only applies to a single person. How on earth will you put that into a newspaper? I know you didn’t take divination, Granger, but that’s nuts!”
“That’s what the divination experts say.” Hermione mumbled before steeling herself. “But I think it will work. Sure a single horoscope is a lot of work, but think of it this way. Even though every Gemini is different, don’t they all have some things in common? Enough at least to write a Gemini paragraph for a day? Add the eleven other signs and you have a full column.”
“Has anyone ever told you, you’re nutters?”
Hermione gave him a tired glance reminiscent of their days at Hogwarts. “Look, it’s been done for decades.” Hermione flipped the Daily Mirror to the horoscope page in the back and shoved it at Draco.
His eyes immediately drifted to Aries as Draco scanned his sign. “Aries: March 21- April 19: Your stubborn nature has led you into a situation that may be to your advantage. The trick is knowing when to reign in your temper and listen to others. Today is a good day for business but a bad day for relationships. Good luck staying out of the doghouse!” Well, that was just plan eerie. It was right on the money.
“What is this?” Draco asked in amazement. A full horoscope boiled down into its bare essentials, personally relevant and accurate, what an amazing idea. “A muggle paper!” His amazement was cut short as he recognized the non-moving pictures.
“Yes.” Hermione admitted. “It’s a muggle idea, but it’s a good one. There are muggles out there who will buy a paper just to check the horoscopes every morning. A single page of utter codswallop made up by someone who couldn’t identify Orion if it shot him in the arse is enough to sell the entire paper.”
“You’re kidding.” Draco shook his head in disbelief.
“If it didn’t work, why do you think newspapers would include them?” She asked testily.
“It may work for muggles, but regular wizards would never bother with it.” Draco said haughtily.
“Oh really?” Hermione arched her brow. “So why did you have that look when you read yours?”
“Well, it’s not my fault. It’s just a shocking coincidence that it would happen to be right.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “You know, I think you’ve just answered my question of why the wizarding world is stuck in the twelfth century. Read them all, Malfoy. Is there a single one that wouldn’t apply to more than half the population on any particular day, and yet anyone can twist the interpretation to fit their own life? Really, I thought you were smarter than that.”
Draco picked up the paper and read through it again. The girl had a point. Some were more relevant than others, but every single one of them had advice that he could have used for any number of situations going on his life. “And the muggles believe this?” He asked skeptically.
“Yes and no. They all know it’s made up, but they like the idea of a personal advice column. It gives them something to think about as they go through the day. And some horoscope columns are really hilarious.”
“So you’re looking for a writer to come up with complete codswollop for twelve paragraphs, every day of the week?”
“That pretty much sums it up.” Hermione nodded.
“Not a single proper divinations expert will listen to you, heck most normal wizards and witches think you’re off your rocker. Am I right?” Hermione nodded again. “And yet you insist on going through with this.”
“I’d write them myself if I had the time. I’m sure people are going to find it amusing.”
“How much would you be willing to pay someone to do this?” Draco asked, raising a speculative brow.
“Base salary is fifty galleons a week.”
“Only fifty galleons? That’s highway robbery!” Draco slammed the paper back on the desk. He hoped he sounded outraged.
“That’s the same base salary all beginning writers face. If it goes well, we’ll see about adding extras like maybe a weekly advice column or special interest features. With added beats comes a higher salary.” Hermione refused to budge.
“You know, nobody else would be willing to write this sort of drabble.”
“I could write it myself or just recycle Ron’s old homework. I just want to see if this will work.” Hermione countered.
“Are there any other perks?” Draco went into negotiating mode.
“It’s an entry level position.” Hermione repeated.
“I’d want an office.”
“There’s an empty desk in the staff room.”
“And compensation for travel.”
“There’s no travel involved in this job.”
“Overtime for working weekends.”
“Most horoscope writers write their columns in advance and the editor just slips in the right one for the day. There’s no need to work weekends.”
“And I want to be paid for my first column in advance.”
“Paydays are the first and third Friday every month.”
“I’ll take it.” Draco stuck out his hand and Hermione shook it before she realized what she had done. She had gotten so caught up in the fighting for old times sake that she missed the fact that she had just given Draco the job, according to wizarding customs. Oh well. If the column flopped she could fire him in a month.
“Right then.” Hermione stared at her traitorous hand. “You can ask my secretary to show you where human resources are. They’ll get you set up on payroll, and show you to your desk. I’ll expect your column on my desk by five.”
Draco nodded and turned to leave. He was nearly to the door when he went back and grabbed the Daily Mirror off of Hermione’s desk. With a quick smirk and a wink he was out. Maybe this wasn’t a total disaster after all. He had gotten the easiest job ever devised and been able to wind Granger up to boot. Not a bad day at all.
Hermione watched Draco leave, a wicked smile on her lips. If anyone could make this horoscopes idea fly in the wizarding world it would be Malfoy. The boy could charm the socks off anyone if he put his mind to it, and if he put half as much energy into making up horoscopes as he did insults, the public would lap it up. Not only that, but now she could say she would finally get to live her second greatest dream of all time. Draco Malfoy would be calling her boss. Life was sweet.
A dozen eyes shot up from the big research table in the center of the newly formed Watcher’s Council.
“What’s that?” Giles asked tiredly.
“Um, something’s tapping at the window. I think it’s an owl.” Buffy frowned at the fluffy thing banging it’s beak against the window pane.
“Ooh! It’s for me.” Willow jumped up.
“You were expecting an owl?” Dawn frowned at her sister’s friend. “Has anyone ever told you how weird you are?”
“It’s my subscription.” Willow said heading to the window to let the owl in. “Normally it comes to my flat, but well, all night research puts a damper on that.”
“What are you subscribing to that comes with owls? Witches Weekly?” Xander joked.
“Actually, that’s a good guess. It’s the newspaper from the local wizard community. I picked one up from time to time at that pub I like with the butterbeer, and it was okay. Last month though, they got this new guy doing the horoscopes, and they’re freaking hilarious! I just had to get a subscription.” Willow explained, fishing a gold coin out of her pocket and slipping it into the pouch the owl carried.
“Oh, oh! Read mine!” Andrew bounced in his chair.
“Yeah, study break time!” Xander seconded him. It was rare for Xander to agree so easily with Andrew, but both of them were sick to death reading up on the T’nathlian demons.
“Okay children, gather around.” Willow smiled, settling into her comfy chair. “Okay, Xander, you’re Aries, like me… and I think the author.” Willow smiled wryly as the others leaned forward to listen. “Yet again Aries your stunning good looks and dazzling intellect will get you into trouble with those who are jealous of your gifts. Try to be nice to them for the first hour, but it will be impossible to maintain your calm demeanor if they persist in nagging. When it comes time, be sure to get the last hex in. If in doubt I’d recommend the Serpensortia charm as a good finisher, but as you are dashingly quick witted, Aries, I’m sure you have your own favorites to call on in a duel. Just be careful to avoid any messy hexes. It’s a bear to clean cashmere.”
“Okay….” Xander looked at Willow oddly. “I can see why you think that’s the author’s sign. I’ve never read anything about Aries being snappy dressers.”
“Are you kidding? I’ve always looked upon you and Wills as the pinnacle of fashion.” Buffy teased good naturedly. “What do they say about me?”
“Read me next!” Andrew interjected.
“Buffy, ooh, you’re a cusp, do you want to read Capricorn or Aquarius?”
“I’m a Gemini!” Andrew chirped in.
“Read both.” Buffy grinned.
“Capricorn: Did you know that the word capricious has the same origin as Capricorn? Unfortunately, your understanding of the word capricious is wrong. It does not mean the fun-loving, life of the party, like you keep telling all your friends. It means moody, or as some muggles like to say, bipolar. Your jokes aren’t funny and you know that; you just hope your friends don’t notice. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone on you. Only an idiot would cross you today, Capricorn. In a related note, expect trouble from your Leo friends today.”
“I don’t like that one. Read the other one.” Buffy frowned at Xander’s snickers.
“Aquarius,” Willow began. “Aquarius is the water bearer. To the water bearer, thoughts are like liquid, they flow in one end and out the other. Aquarians would get along better if they learned how to plug the holes their thoughts flow out of, either by actually listening to other people, or controlling the urge to constantly babble about nothing important. Perhaps people wouldn’t think you were so stupid if you managed to hold on to a thought for more than a minute. But don’t worry, Aquarius, today’s a good day to start on the road of improvement. Next time you want to interrupt somebody, stop yourself and ask, do my thoughts really matter? Odds are they don’t. Just remember, it’s better to keep quiet and have everyone think you’re an idiot, then open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
“Ha!” Giles laughed. “He got you there.”
“Oh yeah, well let’s read yours.” Buffy challenged.
“No, really, that’s okay.” Giles blushed slightly, not willing to have the tables turned.
“Hey baby, what’s your sign?” Xander teasingly winked at Giles.
“I’m a Gemini!” Andrew announced to anyone who would listen.
“He’s a Leo.” Dawn announced, giving Giles a look that let him know this was payback for tattling to Buffy about that piercing incident.
“Yay! I love the Leos!” Willow cheered. “Leo, you thought yesterday was bad, but that’s nothing like today. I would recommend you stay indoors to avoid the herds of hippogriffs stampeding at you, but there’s a whole host of creatures preparing to kill you inside. While your motto may be ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself’, it may be time to consider the implications of a boggart with a chainsaw. If you don’t know what a chainsaw is, it’s a charming muggle device with a rapidly rotating blade used to sever limbs. It would be best for society if you went to a deserted island with all the other Leos, but they just don’t make deserted islands like they used to. Now islands have bridges, ferries, and flooports. Life is just not fair, especially yours.”
“Ha!” Buffy laughed in revenge. “I have no idea what half the stuff in yours is, but it’s definitely worse than mine.”
“I’m a Gemini!” Andrew tried again.
“Really? I never would have guessed.” Xander rolled his eyes.
“Gemini.” Willow sighed, hoping to assuage Andrew for a few minutes. “There are two sides to every Gemini. Most people like to refer to this as the front side and the back side, but you never let that prevent you from putting your clothes on backwards. Here’s a hint: the label goes in the back. It’s a good thing you have as much energy as you do or you’d never be able to undo the mess you make just by existing. Have you considered a career in street juggling? Your flexibility and easy-going manner would make you a natural, and it’s quite likely that no one would be willing to pay you any more than you’d get begging. Your goal for today is to stay away from potions, any potion, even if you’ve made it every day of your life. Just trust me, today is not your day to bond with cauldrons.”
“Hey I resemble that remark!” Andrew exclaimed before adding a “Cool.”
“So Dawnster, we haven’t read yours yet.” Xander smiled at the youngest Scoobies.
“Horoscopes are stupid… and discriminatory.” Dawn pouted. “What about those of us who don’t have birthdays? Huh?”
“Well, by my calculations, Buffy received the Dagon Sphere close to September first, which would indicate that you became material somewhere near that date. That would make you a Virgo.”
“Damn right she’s a Virgo!” Buffy added, kicking into older sister mode.
“So you’re saying that’s my birthday?” Dawn asked Giles seriously.
“Well, at least it would be the most astrologically relevant sign.” Giles hemmed.
“Virgo.” Willow recited, giving Dawn a wink. “It’s a good time to be a woman. Jobs are more available, corsets are looser, shoes are more comfortable, and skirts are shorter. Ever have those days when you just want to take a day off to embrace your feminine side? Blow off work and go shopping? Today would be a good day to do that. Perhaps you should try going to a salon where they can finally take care of that dead animal you like to call a hairdo. Relax Virgo, the world will not stop spinning if you take a day off, so go get your nails done, buy a new dress, and enjoy the sunshine. For you men Virgos out there, the same advice still holds, you’ll just have to do a better job at hiding your new stilettos from your wife.”
The gang broke down laughing with that. “Alright gang, you heard the man. Time for a chocolate run, who’s with me?” Dawn jumped up and grabbed her purse from the table.
“But what about the T’nathlians?” Giles called out as the rest of the group moved to the door.
“The Wise Wizard Malfoy has spoken, we must get mochas.” Willow replied with a grin. “Want us to get you anything.”
“Oh fine.” Giles rolled his eyes, as they all filed out. “Wait for me.”
Draco smiled at the newspaper on his desk. The column really was the perfect job for him. To think there was actually a niche market for insulting Harry Potter every day. Hermione came strolling past his desk on the way to the door. “Where are you off to Granger?”
“I’ve got my monthly appointment.” She informed him curtly, “At a salon.” She added.
“Ah, so glad you’re taking my advice.”
“I made this appointment days ago.” She muttered.
“Sure you did.” Draco winked at her, to let him know he wasn’t buying it. “Have a good time.” He smiled then turned back to his quill and scroll.
“Okay.” Hermione frowned. He was being nice, too nice.
Draco counted to three silently. “It is not a dead animal!” Hermione pouted before storming the rest of the way out of the building.
“Gets her every time.” He grinned.