Everyone Needs a Hobby
“Good morning, Anya.” Giles sighed. He had rushed through his morning routine, allowed plenty of extra time to take care of Severus’ morning needs, and arrived at the shop half an hour before opening time, only to find his employee already there.
“Yes it is.” Anya agreed. Giles just nodded, having adjusted to Anya’s unconventional greetings. “Aren’t you going to ask why it’s a good morning?”
“Hmm, yes, of course. Why is it a good morning?”
“I can’t tell you.” Anya beamed. “But, can I take an early lunch?”
“Will you be returning at the usual time? I need to run home and check on my brother.”
“Yes. I just need to leave early because Xander will be taking me shopping, but I can’t tell you why.”
“Ah, of course, silly me.” Giles wearily went through the motions of opening the store. Quite frankly, considering some of the things that came out of his assistant's mouth, he did not want to know Xander was taking her shopping.
Anya went to her usual place at the cash register to check the opening till. “Ew, Giles, what’s that smell?”
“I believe that would be jarvey repellent. I’m afraid Willow didn’t clean up after preparing it last night.” Giles winced at the disarray of books and potions ingredients on the table. Willow wasn’t the only one to leave a mess. “I suppose we should burn some of the incense to cover the stench. Can you get some out for me?”
“What kind of incense?”
“Does it matter?”
“Of course it matter. Christmas Spirit is the most pleasing scent, and may encourage patrons to begin their holiday shopping. However, it is the most expensive scent, and therefore an unnecessary sunk cost. On the other hand, kiwi-strawberry is the cheapest scent, but that’s because no one really wants to smell burnt strawberries.”
“Right.” Giles knew he should have stayed in bed. “May as well use the Christmas Spice.”
“Christmas Spirit.” Anya corrected him.
“Whatever.” Giles winced as soon as the word left his mouth. That’s it. He’d been in California far too long.
“Alrighty then, Christmas Spirit it is.” Anya rolled her eyes at her employer’s lackluster enthusiasm. She set up a display incense burner as Giles cleared up the research table.
“Giles, have you given any thought to expanding your inventory?”
“In what way do you mean?” Giles asked, carefully putting away his books before getting his fingers dirty with the potions mess.
“Well, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to make this a more profitable venture, and have determined that beanie babies are the way to go.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Giles looked at Anya in confusion.
“Beanie babies are small stuffed animals that many people collect in hopes that their market value will increase once they have been retired.”
“I am aware of what they are.”
“They were the leading product for small shop owners, according to this magazine I was reading last night. We are a small shop and therefore should sell them.”
“Anya, we’re a magic shop. We specialize in magical paraphernalia. Last I checked that did not include stuffed animals.”
“I know that, but maybe it’s time to branch out.” Anya looked hopefully at her boss. “I could make a display for them- perhaps with a sign ‘Magical Sacrificial Animals’. Wouldn’t that appeal to witches? Ooh, or maybe something about familiars that don’t need to be fed?”
“No.” Giles cut Anya off. “While I’m sure the modern American entrepreneurial mavericks are investing in these stuffed animals, they have no place in this store.”
“Buffy was right.” Anya pouted.
“If that was meant as an insult, I’m afraid you’ve badly misjudged my character. Now, if there’s no other business out here, I’ll be back in my office.”
“Fine be that way.”
“Fine. I will.” Yes, as soon as Severus was well, Giles was definitely in store for a vacation.
“Does it ever seem to you like this trip is a lot shorter returning to London than it is going to Hogwarts?” Rookie pondered to the Slytherins in the compartment.
“What, you don’t think Lucius and Damon will get back before we reach London?” Rastaban asked.
“No, I just think… well it just seems shorter is all.” The car fell into an awkward silence, leaving the occupants to wonder if this would in fact be a painfully long ride.
“I don’t see why those two had to go see the girls.”
“I’m sure they had their reasons.” Rupert offered. “Although why
anyone would voluntarily be in the same compartment as Prunella…”
“I’m sure they were going to visit Violet and Narcissa.” Evan answered in what he considered an authoritative tone, but which came across as condescending most of the time. “It’s just unfortunate that Prunella is also in that car.”
“I think who ever suggested that Bellatrix start tutoring Prunella in charms ought to be hexed. That girl has become nothing but trouble this term.” Rookie muttered, having been on the receiving end of many of the questionable charms lessons.
“It’s a pity her family is so wealthy.” Rastaban sighed.
“Why is that?”
“Well, she must get married then. You can’t just let a wealthy, pureblooded witch like that die an old maid. It’s just not done.”
“Why ever not? I can’t imagine any man wanting to marry a hag like her.” Rupert commented.
“She’s not all that bad. Sure the warts are a bit disconcerting, and the hair is a bit… well, alright, it really is that bad.” Rastaban shrugged. “But considering how eager my mother was to pair my brother up with Bellatrix, I wouldn’t put it past her to try to arrange something with Prunella.”
“Tough luck, mate.” Rookie offered.
“Maybe cosmetic charms will improve in the next five years? Evan tried to sympathize with his fellow Slytherin.
“It wouldn’t be all bad.” Rastaban mumbled. “I hear her family is well off.”
“They have the largest collection of medicinal plants in cultivation.” Severus offered, not even glancing up from the book he was studying. “In fact, if someone were to reintroduce centaur-pox back into the population, their family has the only living specimen to cure it. They would have the world at their wand tip.”
“I thought centaur-pox was eliminated a hundred years ago.”
“It was. That’s why her family is the only collector that still holds on to the plant. It smells awful and has few real medicinal properties outside of centaur-pox.” Severus elaborated.
“There are worse fates than marrying into a greenhouse business.” Rastaban reasoned.
“True. You could marry a muggle.” Evan agreed. “So, everyone knows about Lucius and Narcissa, but why has Damon suddenly started
following Violet. I thought he was interested in Mafalda?”
“That is a bit odd.” Rupert agreed. “I’m sure Mafalda thinks that Damon is still interested.”
“Darn right he should be interested in Mafalda.”
“Why, do you still think you have a chance with Violet?” Rupert grinned.
“You don’t?” By Rupert’s smirk, Evan knew he had to come up with a better argument. “Surely Violet must see that Damon’s family can’t possibly give her the reputation she would need to improve her station, whereas Rosiers have been upstanding wizards for centuries.”
“I thought Travers were old in the wizarding world as well.” Rastaban frowned.
“Oh, they’re old, but they’re also murky. Damon’s great-great grandfather’s second wife was a muggle. Now, Damon comes from the first born son’s line, but that other line of Travers, well, let’s just say they never managed to shirk their roots.”
“How scandalous.” Rupert muttered with a healthy dose of irony. Severus glared at him, but the other boys didn’t even notice the inappropriateness of his comment. “But that still doesn’t explain why Violet should avoid Damon in favor of you; after all, his direct lineage is fine.”
“Well, Rosiers have the largest library of aphrodisiac texts in the world. We’re internationally renowned as experts on romance charms. How can a girl not find that intriguing?”
“I think it has more to do with the fact that you laughed at her potions final.”
“What, tell me you didn’t find those polka-dots funny? It’s not like I was the one who tampered with her cauldron.”
“It had to have been Potter.” Severus muttered, reminding everyone that he was still in the conversation.
“I think it was more the public humiliation than the actual spots that made her upset.” Rupert shrugged, hearing all about the polka-dot incident from the girls’ point of view in choir.
“Alright, I shouldn’t have laughed.” Evan rolled his eyes. “That still doesn’t explain why she would like Damon.”
“I don’t know. I would think they would be a natural match. His family is known for collecting crossbows while hers is known for collecting medieval weaponry. If the families were to merge the collections, they would have the largest private weapons collection in wizarding Britain.” Severus remarked.
“Excellent point.” Rookie nodded.
“You’re kidding me.” Rupert frowned. “Violet doesn’t give a whizzing fizzbee about medieval weapons.”
“No, but her parents do, and that’s what’s important.” Evan frowned. “I guess that means Violet is out of the running.”
“Don’t worry. Mafalda is still available.” Rookie tried to offer some encouragement.
“True. What does her family collect?”
“I can’t recall.”
“Must they collect anything?” Rupert asked.
“Oh Muddy.” Evan sighed. “You just don’t get it.”
“Do you mean I don’t get why you all sound like a bunch of magpies comparing shiny objects in their nests? No I don’t. At least my family doesn’t judge their importance by what obscure collection they’ve got stashed away.”
“Said the boy with the largest private library of English demonic literature situated in his home.” Severus remarked.
“That’s not true. The council is ahead by twenty books. Besides, it’s not like I’ve ever tried to use my father’s library as a way to impress the ladies.”
“Maybe you should consider it.” Severus deadpanned.