Who: Ernie Macmillan, Lavender Brown, Sasha Capper
Where: The Grotto
When: 1 June 2001, evening
Ernie stirred his drink. He hadn’t exactly agreed and neither had Gawain Robards, but he felt confident enough that he’d have some employment if he did prod the other man a bit further. It wasn’t his first choice but it would keep him in Helga’s Hill. He didn’t want to leave.
He felt a little guilty about not telling Lavender any of this, but the problem was solved and it was her birthday. No need to talk about past worries.
He waved her over from the dance floor as one song ended. “Hey! Enjoying yourself?”
“Hello,” chirped Lavender, straightening her extremely small dress and plucking a drink off the bar for a long sip. The great thing about working in the best bar in town was that the other barkeeps made sure you didn’t go empty handed for a single moment on your birthday. Yeah. sure, she’d be hungover tomorrow, but that was what Sunday was for!
“I am! Can’t believe we’re all turning twenty-one. So old!” She grinned. “How about you, stodgy? Find someone to… stodge at?”
“How can you call me stodgy when I am not even as old as you?” asked Ernie. “21! I am a young sapling in comparison.”
He looked around. “No, there’s no-one to stodge at. You’d have to introduce me.”
“We can’t all be wee August babies, can we?” Lav laughed, leaning over to give Ernie’s cheek a playful pinch. It had always been odd to her that, as much of a leader as he had been in many ways, Ernie was one of the youngest in their year.
“Hmm.” She scanned the crowd. Who could Ernie stodge at? “What about Capper? She’s usually sufficiently grumpy. She could probably use a good stodging.”
She snickered as other potential meanings for that phrase occurred to her.
“Oh, the PR girl,” remarked Ernie. He shrugged. “Fine, why not? Call her over and I’ll make nice. No stodging, though,” he added, at Lavender’s snickering.
He beckoned another bartender over. Sasha would probably need a drink, and he definitely needed another.
“Oi, Capper!” Lavender called in an extremely ladylike manner. “Come talk to Macmillan so that I can dance more, would you?”
Sasha, who was in desperate need of a drink after a day of absolutely horrendous interviews with idiots she was surprised could even create a CV, hadn’t actually come for Brown’s birthday celebration. But, as she seemed to have stumbled into it, she figured she might as well entertain herself with a little light Hufflepuff baiting.
“All right,” she said, joining them at the bar. “Happy birthday, Lavender. Macmillan.”
“She’s all yours, stodgy,” Lavender grinned before dancing off into the crowd.
“I am not stodgy!” Ernie yelled after Lavender’s retreating back.
He turned back to Sasha. “She loves to call me names and tell lies about me,” he sighed. “What will you have? Rainbow cocktail of some sort?”
“Yes, well, she’s a former Gryffindor,” Sasha said with a mild smile. “They’re infamous for that sort of behavior, I’m afraid.”
She turned to the barkeep and ordered her own drink as she wanted it done right the first time. Smiling at the man with something akin to bedroom eyes, she asked sweetly, “I’ll have a double vodka tonic, please. And use the Stolichnaya Elit, yeah? I don’t want any of that Finlandia stuff that I know you have hidden back there. I’m Russian and it’ll hurt my feelings.”
He grinned a bit stupidly and set about making her cocktail. Good boy.
Ernie was not immune to this display, though of course he didn’t get the full view. “He’s going to get it wrong. You’ve distracted him.”
“No he won’t,” said Sasha, smirking as she slipped onto a barstool and crossed her legs. “Not now that he knows I’m watching him. I’ve given him a very good incentive to get it right.”
Ernie Macmillan clearly had a lot to learn about manipulating men.
Ernie rolled his eyes. “You wouldn’t want him anyway. Decent people would make a drink properly because that’s what they’re paid to do. It’s their job, they ought to get it right.”
“Never said I wanted him,” Sasha said, accepting her drink from the bartender and sipping it to make sure it was what she’d asked for. Ah, bliss. “I wanted this and I went about getting it in the most expedient manner available. I’d have thought you, for one, would appreciate efficiency when you see it, Macmillan.”
“Or, you could have just asked politely like a normal person,” stated Ernie. “I honestly find it troubling that you have so little opinion of workers that you need to devise extra incentives.”
“You spend the day wading through embarrassingly bad CVs for a position you’ve already had to fill twice in the last six months and then tell me how sanguine you feel about the quality of Wizarding Britain’s workforce,” said Sasha, cutting her eyes at him.
Salazar, she was ready for her second drink already just thinking about it.
“What position are you trying to fill?” asked Ernie. Nonchalantly.
“Associate Public Relations Specialist,” Sasha said with a sigh. “I’m supposed to have two working directly below me to help me handle my case load. One is perfectly good at her job, but I can’t seem to find someone decent to fill the second position.”
“Why, you interested?” she asked with a smirk and a cocked eyebrow. Macmillan had made his opinions about her profession rather clear.
“Yes, I think I could be,” answered Ernie. There was no point playing hard to get. She had a job on offer and he needed one.
“What’s the hours like?”
Huh. Intriguing. Sasha eyed Macmillan carefully. Was he having her on? Because, if he was, he was going to quickly find that she was not in the mood.
“Long,” Sasha said honestly. “Unpredictable. Unfortunately you can’t expect celebrities to only do stupid shite during office hours.”
Ugh, celebrities. Ernie found that whole world absurd. PR should be banned and the stupider celebs allowed to fade out in disgrace.
“Do you have anyone who is not likely to, let’s say, let themselves down?”
“Of course,” Sasha said, sipping at her drink and allowing the alcohol to work some of the tension that had been riding her all day out of her body. “But I’m afraid for every ten delightful clients, I have a Myron Wagtail.”
It had been almost a week since Myron had sent her a middle of the night crisis owl. That in and of itself was practically a miracle.
Hmm. That didn’t sound too bad. Ernie had sudden dreams of nurturing a young, naive teenager toward superstardom. A writer, maybe? Singer? He could even deal with a Quidditch player if they could speak without umming and ahhing every second word.
He’d probably get thanked at all the award ceremonies too.
“OK. I’m keen.” He downed the rest pf the whisky glass. “Do you need a CV? I didn’t bring one. And you know who I am.”
“I know your name, your former house, and the fact that you think PR is nonsense,” Sasha drawled, raising an eyebrow. “So, yeah, I’m afraid that I’ll need a CV, if you’re really interested in the position.”
She took a long sip of her drink and watched him with careful, measuring eyes. “What are your qualifications?”
“Just because you think something is nonsense doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” said Ernie. “Or do you think my nefarious plan is to undermine your industry from the inside?”
“My qualifications are in my CV. You should also know I was a lock to be Head Boy if school hadn’t been overrun. You won’t find anyone better.”
Sasha had to admit that Macmillan had a point. Merlin knew she’d done about a million things that she thought were nonsense just to appease her mother over the years. Sad but true.
“You as Head Boy, hmm? Do you think?” She smirked. “I always felt the smart money was on Potter for the job, undeserving as he undoubtably was.”
“Why? He wasn’t even a Prefect. Nor at school. But I don’t think he’s undeserving. He formed a group when he didn’t have to so that we could actually learn something in DADA and use that knowledge during the war. He had influence without even being present. That’s pretty impressive.”
“He’s definitely not as good as me at admin though.”