Who: Zacharias Smith, Samuel Smith
Where: Smith residence
When: 16 April 2001, evening
Sepphora had a date that night, which was terrible news as it meant she was not at the dinner table and she usually talked for three. Zacharias and his father would have to make conversation. Still, it would mean a little delay until cleaning up, which they now had to do themselves. On his return Zacharias had been dismayed to learn the loss of their house elf was a permanent measure and not some mayoral stunt. Something about having a house elf being ostentatious in a small village serving a household of only two. Well, there were three people now. Couldn’t Carson come back?
“How was Daphne’s party?” Samuel broached.
“Fine, wonderful. I had a lovely time.”
“Were your old friends there?”
“Did you speak with them?”
Zacharias shot his father a ‘what do you think’ look, but of course he didn’t understand. Samuel was a regular Hufflepuff, that is to say, his friends stayed his friends, and he attracted new ones like a Summoning charm.
He was about to explain, but Samuel spoke again.
“They will come around. You just have to be more… accommodating.”
“Like you, I suppose? It’s not always a good thing. Have you ever thought about being less accommodating? Maybe if you had been less accommodating we wouldn’t be stuck with Orpington now.”
Samuel looked strained. “I don’t like to discuss business at the dinner table. But I will say this: you are smart enough to know that the development and business that Orpington’s residence would bring would be a boon for the town. It was a real coup to get him interested. The town has to grow or it will die. Believe me, I am aware of Orpington’s shortcomings. The residents’ association keeps me well briefed. But if you keep slamming the door in someone’s face the moment they suggest something you don’t like, you’ll get nowhere.”
Zacharias raised an eyebrow. Was that just a life lesson? He shrugged. “All I know is that Orpington is like a poxy cold sore that won’t go away. And you know how to get rid off those? Blast them off.”
Samuel narrowed his eyes. “Don’t be ridiculous; I cannot and will not run Orpington out of town.”
“I was thinking of something more drastic, but exile is a good second option.”
Samuel sighed. “Well, I suppose it’s nice to see you caring about the town at least.”
Zacharias bit back a retort that he cared for no such thing, he only wanted his house safe.
“What are you going to do now that you longer play Quidditch? You must work. You must do something. Have you thought about other career options? How about politics?”
Zacharias snorted. “Dad, my friends hate me, so I don’t think I’ll be getting total strangers onside.”
“Really, Zacharias —”
“Or maybe I’ll give it a go, run against you next time. My platform can be ‘Orpington Out’. Every supporter gets a free pitchfork,” he smirked. “Reckon I can win?”
Zacharias’s father shot him a hard look. The mood changed completely. Zacharias was reminded that they were father and son, and if Zacharias was good at making his contempt and derision known, then Samuel was even better. He simply doled it out rather sparingly, that’s all.
Zacharias shifted, suddenly ill at ease.
“Unless you find a job in the next week, you will find something productive to do. You will find some area to help out in at the Badger Festival. You will help without being such a pain that people wish you weren’t helping.”
Samuel wasn’t finished.
“And after the festival is over, you will organise and host a thank-you dinner, to which you’ll invite all the local business owners and your friends. You will reopen all the disused rooms and make them presentable. You may ask to borrow one — one — house elf from relatives to assist you.”
Samuel’s mouth was still a thin line.
“You will do all these things or cease living under this roof.”