In the Red Mei Queen
Authoress' Note: Random. But give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised. It is the product of too much rock music…I get really hyper and ambitious. Lol "In the Red" = too much Panic! At the Disco for MeiQueen. Yeah…I'm done, sorry.
Disclaimer: All characters you recognise belong to the goddess J.K. Rowling. The plot was inspired by Shania Twain's song "Ka-Ching!" and one of my favourite book series, Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.
Chapter 1: Reality's a…Witch.
Ginevra Weasley Bedroom Brimming with Stuff 1336 Bumblebee Place
December 1, 2005
Dear Madam Weasley,
This letter comes after multiple attempts on the part of Gringotts Bank and its affiliates to reach you. We understand that you are busy, and we wish to take up no more of your time than necessary. However, it has come to our attention that your account and management of finances is in need of some re-evaluation. The overdraft on your account now totals some 29,012 Galleons, 134 Sickles, and 26 Knuts. If you have already taken steps to help remedy this situation, then thank you! Feel free to disregard this letter. Otherwise, we ask that you please use the contact information below to set up a meeting with one of our financial planners at your very earliest convenience.
Guido Berks, Head Goblin
The Biggest Office
Gringotts Corporate Offices
1775 Finance Way
Lamal, Saudi Arabia
"Bugger," Ginny Weasley cursed, noticing the overdraft letter clutched firmly in the talons of the rather impatient eagle owl in her kitchen. "Another one? That's like the fifth this week. Don't they think I understand that I'm in a little bit of debt? Hmm…maybe I shouldn't have taken out that wizard credit at Gladrags today."
Looking guiltily at the floor in her living room, she saw a mountain of shopping bags. "Merlin. This is such a bad habit…but I couldn't imagine life without those adorable dress robes…or that cool wand holster…I mean, really. It's not like I got any nice things as a child. I always had to re-use my brothers' old stuff. I think I deserve this," she finished convincingly, eyes settling on the placid bird.
The owl did not look remotely convinced by her argument.
Scowling in irritation, she walked over and snatched the envelope, shooing the bird out as she did so. Cautiously opening the envelope, she was met with a letter from the Head Goblin and her account's detail statement. Her eyes widened in horror when she saw the full total. How did I get in so deep? It doesn't seem possible that I can be this much in…debt. It's not like I bought a house or anything, I just bought a few little things…here…and there…
Scanning the detail statement, she was immediately infuriated. This had to be wrong! There was no way that Ginny, one of the worst cooks in existence, could have possibly spent 200 Galleons in Quality Cooking Supplies! Someone had tampered with her statement! She wasn't as far in debt as she thought!
Her stomach turned and her happiness deflated when she thought of the new cookbook she just had to have. Well, that hardly counts. That was to prepare food. That's a 'lifestyle necessity'; it's not a big deal.
But it was a 20 Galleon cookbook, endorsed by Celestina Warbeck. Well, that just makes it more worth it, if celebrities are willing to use it.
And then there was the new apron to go with the cooking spree. Oh yeah, Ginny thought guiltily, eyes flickering over to the corner of her tiled counter that the new supplies were piled on. But it was so cute! It was the special Quidditch edition! It's even got little brooms, Quaffles, Snitches, and beater bats!
That still doesn't total 200 Galleons! There's still a chance that someone else was using my cards! Ginny thought to herself hopefully, allowing a smile to spread on to her features.
Oh…then there was the new whisk. Right, and the spatula. And the new frying pans.
Okay. Maybe 200 Galleons wasn't wrong.
Draco Malfoy sighed, leaning back in his comfortable office chair. Turning to the window, he enjoyed the fabulous view from his office. This was actually one of his many offices, as he owned many businesses. He usually only went in to each business for about an hour daily, just to catch up on his messages and hear the latest news and stock statistics. Most of his businesses he completely owned, but others, like this one, he only owned a sizable amount of shares and contented himself with running them closely. This was his office in Gringotts Bank, an organisation he was chairman of the board for.
"Sir?" asked a hesitant voice from the doorway.
Turning in his chair, his eyes were met with one of the young interns, fresh out of Hogwarts. His high testosterone levels noted that she was extraordinarily pretty. Blonde, slim, blue eyes…just how he liked them, he noted with satisfaction.
Smiling and beckoning her to a chair, Draco folded his hands on the desk. "What seems to be the problem…I'm sorry, what was your name?"
"Natalie… Natalie Fisk," the blonde answered timidly, taking a seat.
"Right. Natalie, what seems to be the problem?" he asked, still smiling.
"Well, sir, you were saying at this morning's company meeting that you wanted to be more in touch with the customers…"
"Yes, I did. Why?"
"Sir, it's my job to go through all the paperwork for our 'problem customers'. Guido, our Head Goblin, he asks me to prioritise them, from extremely urgent to mildly problematic. Guido was wondering if you would like to take on a few of our 'extremely urgent' customers, to help get in touch with our clientele."
She folded her hands primly in her lap, tucking one leg gently behind the other.
"Well," Draco looked thoughtful. "It's unusual, but Guido has never really steered me wrong with business decisions before. Sure, why not? Who have you got?"
Somewhat relieved, Natalie pulled a few manila folders from the dragon-hide briefcase leaning neatly against her chair. "Here you go, Mister Malfoy."
"Right, thank you, and please feel free to call me Draco, Natalie," he replied, flashing his best grin.
Natalie smiled, getting up from her chair and sliding the folders on to his desk. "You're welcome, si-…I mean… Draco."
He grinned, pulling the folders closer to him. Natalie had begun to turn the doorknob before he spoke again. "Oh, and incidentally, Natalie, do you know when Guido wants me to contact these people by?"
She turned from the door, smiling. "He said as soon as possible. I think you'll find that reading their cases goes very quickly, though; some of them are rather entertaining. They're real doozies, si- Draco, sorry…enjoy yourself."
With a final nod to her boss, Natalie Fisk exited the office.
If Draco Malfoy had immediately looked at the folders, he would have noticed a profile on one Ginevra Weasley mid-way through the pile.
"Gin, are you sure you left anything in Diagon? Those stores will probably have to re-stock just because you visited," Harry Potter quipped, stepping carefully over the shopping bags in the Ginny Weasley's foyer.
"Oh, ha bloody ha, Harry. Aren't we hilarious?" Ginny asked in wry annoyance, looking up from where she had been relaxing on the couch with a cup of tea. Getting up to greet her guest, she gave him a hug and a brief peck on the cheek. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Please," Harry replied, smiling. Running a hand through his messy ebony hair, he took a seat in the living room. "Hey, Gin…I know you don't like to talk about money, but if you ever need any help, I don't mind. Really."
Ginny sighed. "Thank you. That's sweet. But I can take care of myself."
"Are you sure you're doing okay?" he asked suspiciously.
"Yeah," she replied brightly, applying a fake smile and handing Harry his teacup. "I'm definitely sure."
"Okay," he replied, returning the smile and taking a sip. "Mmm…it's good, Gin."
"I've been getting better," the redhead replied with a grin. "I'm even learning to cook! Maybe you could come over for dinner sometime…"
Harry lowered his teacup, fixing her with his most wary expression. "Just as friends, right? Because, Ginny, we've been down that road. And yeah, I love you…as a friend. But we both know that the war changed us. We're different people…it doesn't work anymore."
Ginny lowered her eyes to the carpet. Applying the second fake smile of the evening, she replied chirpily, "Of course as friends, silly! I mean, really, Harry…you're just not my type."
Thankfully, that was enough to make the corners of Harry Potter's mouth turn upwards in a grin. The awkwardness had been dispelled, and the two began to catch up on everything they had missed in each other's lives as of late. The sun had long since set when Harry bid Ginny good night, and she padded to bed in her new satin stuffed slippers (a steal! They were only 15 Galleons at Gladrags last week during their big blow-out sale!). And as she crawled under her satin sheets and reached over to turn off the stained-glass Tiffany lamp on her bedside table, she thought positively to herself, I'm going to fix my debt. I'll do everything right…I'll scrimp and save…I'll meet with a bloke from Gringotts. Yup. I'm going to get this all figured out…tomorrow.
It was late.
1 a.m., maybe? Draco Malfoy wondered, paging through a manila folder, tucked comfortably in his king-sized bed. As he pushed his reading glasses higher up on his nose, his eyes concentrated on the words on the paperwork. While his eyes were fixated, however, his mind was wandering. Natalie was right…this folders are really interesting. First there was Robert Lugman, that really bad kleptomaniac…he kept getting caught and then having to pay for everything he wanted to steal plus a stocking fee. I get a feeling Robert will be a real treat in person, I should probably keep a close eye on my cufflinks, though. Hmm…who else have I read tonight? A-ha. Ernie Macmillan, that Hufflepuff nitwit. Right. Well, I suppose he's not a nitwit…he seemed well-liked enough back at Hogwarts. His plummet in to the depths of debt was something else, especially considering how well-connected his family actually is. Some people just can't handle a vice, that's all I have to say about Ernie. First we'll get him to put down the high-quality firewhiskey and stop idolising Slughorn, and then we'll see where it goes.
Closing up Ernie's file and setting it on top of Robert's on his bedside table, Draco went to the next and, very thankfully, last folder.
Ginevra Weasley read the secretary's neat cursive on the top of the file.
Weasley? This should be good, Draco thought with a smirk, opening the folder.
Madam Ginevra Weasley
Accounts Statement from: 11-1-05 to 12-1-05
Deposits: 936 Galleons and 20 Knuts.
Withdrawals: 1048 Galleons, 22 Sickles, and 44 Knuts.
Draco Malfoy's eyebrow lifted in surprise. She doesn't exactly understand the concept of a budget, now does she?
His surprise only deepened as he continued to read on.
Account Balance: -29,012 Galleons, 134 Sickles, and 26 Knuts
Oh, dear Merlin, Draco thought to himself, letting out a low whistle as he read the figure. This is going to be the hardest case to solve, I can already tell. At least you can bind the hands of a klepto. You can lock up an alcoholic or force him to drink cheap beer. But a shopaholic? That requires coaching. That requires serious lifestyle changes or the easy out of miraculously winning the lottery. And the real crap bit? I'm going to be forced to work long and hard…with a Weasley.
Ginevra Weasley briefly checked her watch before making sure she had everything she needed for the day. Coffee traveller cup? Purse? Briefcase? Cute scarf to tie on to briefcase for no other reason except that it's cute? Looks like everything's present and accounted for. Fab!
Closing her eyes, she Apparated to her office.
"You're late," was the greeting she was met with a moment later. Opening her eyes, she saw a practically empty office, but two of her brothers, Fred and George, were crowded around a desk. Fred was the one who had so kindly welcomed her.
"Well, good morning to you too, sunshine," she muttered irritably, stomping over to her desk (quite the feat in her new stilettos, but they were worth the extravagant price. Her legs looked twice as long as they used to!). Sighing, she placed her belongings underneath her desk and turned to face the red-headed men.
"We need you to do payroll today," George began simply before apparently having a brainwave and running off to find a bit of parchment. Ginny was far too used to the way her brothers worked by now. They were her bosses here at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, Incorporated. Her brothers were the Chief Executive Officers (CEO's) of the company, but they relished the main reason they had created the business in the first place: prank development. Ginny Weasley knew far better than to throw out any scrap of paper found anywhere near the brothers' offices when they were in their creative moods. She had actually had her pay docked once for 'delaying product development progress.' All she had really done was throw out a stained spare bit of parchment that read "mucus- in the fake mimbletonia. Cloaking Charm. We'll make them…poinsettias!" It wasn't even a profitable idea, anyhow. The mimbletonia project had been scrapped after wasting far too much money in development, and Ginny's pay was restored, much to her relief. Her job was dull, but it didn't pay too badly. Ginny was in charge of accounts payable, payroll, the budget, and basically anything that involved math, parchment and far too much patience that her brothers simply did not possess. It's ironic that I balance accounts and budgets for a living, the redhead mentally quipped, trying to rub the sleep from her eyes.
Fred shook his head, smiling at his brother's antics. "Yeah, Madge and Elmer both need their checks soon. Apparently their rent is due next week or something."
Madge Fleming and Elmer Moot were the other two employees of the office. Though the many WWW, Inc. stores internationally employed many people, the only people Ginny had to worry about as far as payroll was concerned was herself, Madge, and Elmer.
Madge was an extremely kind elderly witch, and George and Fred put her in charge of customer relations just because of her extremely patient and sweet personality. She was Muggle-born, as well, a tremendous help as the WWW, Inc. offices greatly used the telephone. Ginny was grateful she didn't have Madge's job; the poor woman answered over two hundred calls a day, all asking the same thing, "We love Fred and George! They're ruddy brilliant! Can you put them on?"
At that, Madge would have to exhaustedly explain that the blokes were tremendously busy, but if we could just get your name and address, we would be only too happy to owl you some lovely colour autographed photos!
Poor Madge, Ginny thought briefly, typing up the woman's check.
Elmer Moot, meanwhile, was the janitor here at the office. He was the only person who worked at the Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, Inc. offices during the night, to ensure there were no break-ins, no theft, etc. Elmer was elderly as well…not nearly as old as Madge, but the grey in his hair was visible where the ebony used to lie so peacefully. He was Ginny's favourite person around the office. Even though she rarely got to see him because of their conflicting schedules, Elmer would always be sure to leave a little present for Ginny at her desk in the mornings, often with a note.
Today's gift was a little chunk of Honeydukes chocolate with the note, "Good morning to my favourite redhead! Watch out for your brothers, eh? They've been at it all night, but they've got to sleep sometime. See you soon, love!"
All in all, Ginny Weasley thought contentedly, she could have a far worse lot working with her everyday.
"Ginny," Madge whispered from across the office.
"Oh, good morning, Madge! Didn't see you there," Ginny replied brightly.
"Good morning, doll," the elderly woman replied, pushing a stray grey curl back from her face. "Line 1 is the Hungarian Humour for Holidays group…they want to talk to you about that promotion."
"Fabulous," Ginny replied with a sigh. She had been avoiding this call all week, simply because she knew the Hungarians only wanted Fred and George to supply more free products for one of their little getaways, and while she was not opposed to idea, it didn't fit brilliantly in to the budget. Taking a big sip of coffee, she resolutely reached her hand to the receiver. "Time to face the music."
Later that day, Ginny Weasley finally had a free moment in the office that was humming with energy.
Reaching her hands over her head in a stretch, one arm fell to the telephone. Sighing and picking it up, she grudgingly dialled in W411, or 9411. W411 had been created about two years ago by the Ministry of Magic. It was the wizarding version of the information hotline, and it had been met with an acceptance of the Muggle telephone like never before. W411 was one of the most popularly dialled numbers in existence for wizards and witches everywhere.
"Good afternoon!" a hyper female voice chirped on the other end.
Pausing to summon her most enthusiastic tone, Ginny replied, smiling, "Hello!"
"What can I help you with today?"
"I need the number for Gringotts Bank," Ginny replied, lowering her voice in case Madge heard.
"No problem. Now do we need the Diagon Alley branch or the corporate offices?" The chirpy voice continued with equal brightness.
Ginny wrinkled her nose in distaste. That was a phrase she had always hated: "we". "We" is a pronoun that should only be used if the other person is participating in the activity with you, in Ginny's opinion. Right now it was coming off like the woman was talking to a child!
Shrugging off her irritation, Ginny replied. "Corporate offices."
"Right-o! Just a moment, please," the woman requested, before Ginny was met with "musak", the crazy Muggle elevator music that in Ginny's opinion was just as bad as the improper use of the word "we". Both should be retired. Immediately, Ginny thought with annoyance, examining the French-manicured nails on her right hand while she waited.
"Okay, are you still there?" the chirpy voice asked.
"Yup, still here," Ginny replied, not even bothering to sound enthusiastic anymore.
"Well, I've got a few numbers listed for the corporate offices. Do you know who it is that you are trying to reach?"
Ginny thought for a moment. What had that letter said? Something about a…a "financial planner", that's it. Lowering her voice even quieter (she could see Madge trying to inconspicuously eavesdrop from the cubicle across the way), she whispered, "Financial planners?"
She tried again, this time a little louder. "Financial planners?"
"Oh! Financial planners!"
Ginny let out a sigh of relief that she hadn't had to shout it across the office.
The perky voice paused for a moment before continuing. "Okay, it looks like the main line for financial planning is 1-431-862-9423. The receptionist can direct you from there. Do you need that number again?"
Ginny set down the quill she had been scribbling with. "It's…1-431-862-9423?"
"Right! You're all set, unless you need anything else," the energetic voice replied.
"Nope, that's it, thank you so much for your help."
"You're welcome, have a great day!"
Ginny returned the sentiment before returning the receiver to its cradle.
"What number did you need?" Madge asked curiously.
"Oh…just a number for Gringotts. We're having trouble with our Assyrian account," Ginny lied. She hoped Madge would buy it, she really didn't want to answer any awkward financial questions at the moment.
Fortunately, however, Madge just gave her the typical "isn't work crazy" harried expression, which Ginny gratefully returned, and Madge went back to the switchboard which had rapidly lit up like the sky on Guy Fawkes Day.
Turning to the phone again, Ginny Weasley began to dial.
"Good afternoon, Gringotts Corporate Offices- Financial Planning Branch. This is Natalie speaking, how may I direct your call?" the blonde asked, exhaling a breath after she said it. Mister Malfoy…I mean, Draco…really must come up with a shorter speech one of these days.
Brushing a blonde bit of fringe out of her eyes, she struggled to make out what the caller was saying. It was so quiet.
"I'm sorry; I didn't catch that, madam."
The caller repeated what they were saying, and this time Natalie understood.
"I received a letter asking to make an appointment with a financial planner."
"Ah," Natalie replied in recognition. "And what was your name? I need to find out which planner our system matches you with."
Fingernails clacking, her computer screen showed her the response. Natalie was very glad she was Muggle-born, that was the main reason she had gotten such a good position in the first place. The Gringotts Corporate Offices didn't scorn the Muggle computer invention like most would expect…they actually admitted the efficiency of the machines, and expected the employees to adapt to and use them.
"Madam Ginevra Weasley…
"Right-o," the blonde said with a smile. "Our planner that is handling your particular case has actually left for the day already. He will be back tomorrow, though. I can have him call you back if you like."
"No, that's okay, I'll just call back tomorrow."
"Thanks for calling, Madam Weasley! We look forward to hearing from you again!"
They really like to lay on the sappiness, don't they? Ginny thought to herself cynically. Saying a stunted goodbye to Natalie, Ginny returned the receiver to its cradle with extreme relief. The planner not being in meant that she didn't have to deal with this situation right now. She had done everything she could. Ginny had been good. Surely she deserved some sort of reward for this type of thing…how about those beautiful leather boots she had seen window-shopping last week...that black leather had felt like butter against her hands. And how lovely they would go with a new wrap-dress!
Eyes trailing to the clock, she was met with exactly what she wanted to see. 5 P.M.
Time to go shopping, Ginny thought to herself excitedly, sliding the number to Gringotts inside her desk drawer and putting all thoughts of debt, money and the practicalities of life to the very back of her mind, to be dealt with at a later time.
Authoress' Note: What did you think? Tell me in a review!!