Mr. Black will see you now.
“Damn this hair.” I muttered, attempting to flatten the windblown, honey colored thatch atop my head. ‘And damn Lily Evans for subjecting me to this ordeal.; I scowled at my reflection. The lights in the lavatory resembled muggle bulbs but were instead small orbs of caught sunlight. They flooded the lavish restroom with natural light. The fixtures glittering, and causing strobes to accent my already pale skin. Even in natural lighting, I looked sickly. Dark circles ringed my heavily lidded amber eyes. I typically thought they were my best feature but today, through exhaustion and nerves they looked lackluster and morose.
I really should be working on the towering stack of edits from the paper due this upcoming week but instead my roommate, and Daily Prophet coworker Lily has chosen today of all days to succumb to a nasty case of Dragon flu. Today being the day that she has an interview scheduled with the ever elusive, and seemingly impressive Sirius Black. CEO of Wolfstar Enterprises. We attended school together, but judging by the intricately carved marble counters- he’s been much busier and more successful than either Lily and I. Against my better judgement I agreed to go in her place to perform the interview.
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Even bundled up in blankets, leaking like a faucet she still managed to look absolutely beautiful. Her thick red hair falling in a perfect curve around her face- her emerald eyes glistening with an albeit sleepy determination.
I ran a wet hand through my hair and swept the tresses up and out of my eyes. This is as good as it’s going to get. I stepped back- my best jacket looked worn and shabby. My pants much too short, and too baggy in the hips. Even though I have kept a steady job since leaving Hogwarts I still can’t get myself to invest in a new wardrobe. Perhaps I’ll have to ask Lily for some tips once she is no longer contagious.
“Remus! It took nine months to get this interview, and it will take another 6 months to reschedule! Please!” She pleaded, her voice barely above a rasp. I swallowed back the pang of sympathy welling in my throat. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for Lily. Not only was she very stubborn, persuasive, argumentative and determined- she was also one of my dearest friends.
“I know nothing about this man…” I whisper one last time to my reflection before heaving a heavy sigh and marching through the door and into the main floor lobby. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Enormous chandeliers embedded with jewels of red and gold illuminated the spacious entryway- ushering guests to the stone secretary in which a buxom blond witch was seated behind, various quills working furiously on never ending rolls of parchment all around her.
“Welcome!” Her smile was warm as she surveyed me. I felt my panic ease, “I’m here to see Mr. Black, Remus Lupin for Lily Evans.”
“Excuse me one moment, Mr. Lupin.” Her voice was smokey and full. Pleasant and almost maternal, though surprising coming from such a young woman. The perfectly curved arch of her brow raised as she no doubt studied my attire. I shifted, uncomfortably. Her crisp charcoal robes were very smart. I cursed myself inwardly for not asking if Lily had anything a little more professional I could borrow. Even something that had belonged to a previous boyfriend.
“Miss Evans is expected. Please sign in here, sugar. You’ll want the last lift on the right- top floor.” She handed me a security badge with the word “Press” stamped across it, and waved me off down the hall. I can’t help but smirk. It’s so obvious that I’m a visitor. I don’t belong here at all.
The lift whisks me to the top floor with ease, and as the gate opens I enter a lobby almost identical to the one on the first floor. I am welcomed by another curvy blonde witch seated behind a towering desk.
“Mr. Lupin, welcome. Please wait here for a moment, and make yourself comfortable. Let me know if you need anything- Tea or water.” She gestured to a rest area made up of overstuffed plush red chairs. They reminded me of the Gryffindor common room. Of course, being a fellow Gryffindor I shouldn’t be surprised.
“No thank you. I’m fine.” Settling into one of the chairs, I fish out the list of questions Lily prepared for me from my bag. Aside from being in the same house, and us being the same age, I knew very little about Mr. Black. How foolish was I going to look? My nerves resurfaced as the uncertainty of what to expect crept up around me. I preferred the anonymity of a large group, resigning myself to sit back and observe. If I had my own way I would be within my own company, curled up with a classic novel next to a fire- calm and content. Not here, trapped in this bejeweled spectacle, on the verge of an aneurysm.
“Get a grip on yourself. Rem.” I muttered to myself, gulping down as much air as could fill my lungs. Why was I so nervous? Sure, I didn’t particularly want to be here, nor is interviewing really within my wheelhouse but it’s not an unreasonable task.
Glancing around the room I notice another impeccably dressed Blond slipping through the tall door in the center of the hall. I vaguely wonder to myself if Mr. Black insists on all his employees being blond. They all appeared to be made from the same mold. Is that part of the hiring process? How discreet would it have to be to be legal?
I am pulled out of my thoughts by the office door opening and a tall, broad shouldered black man exiting. I recognize him at once, Kingsley Shacklebolt. He recently became an Auror for the Ministry of Magic. “Quidditch, this week.” It wasn’t a question and I didn’t hear an answer. He turned and flashed me a bright smile as he sauntered passed the cooing blondes. “Afternoon, ladies. Remus.” I felt my cheeks flush. Kingsley was older, but not by much. I always found him to be incredibly charming though our interactions have been far and few between.
“Mr. Lupin.” The second blond stood up from her chair, gesturing towards the office door that Kingsley had entered from. “Mr. Black will see you now.”
Mechanically, I stood. Steadying my shaking hands in order to gather up my possessions.
“You don’t need to knock- you can just head in.” She chirped.
I pushed the deceivingly heavy door and stumbled into the office, and falling to my knees harshly. A firm hand encircles the cap of my shoulder and I look up. A dark haired man is standing close, smiling down at me. His arched brows furrowed in concern. I brace myself and climb to my feet, face flushed in embarrassment.
“Mr. Lupin, are you alright?” He extended a long-fingered hand to me, his voice smooth like velvet. I grasp his hand and give a firm shake. “I’m fine, just clumsy.” I mutter almost inaudibly.
“I’m Sirius Black. Would you like some tea? Take a seat anywhere you’d like.”
He’s so young. Attractive. Very attractive. Tall and wrapped in perfectly tailored robes the color of his namesake. His hair is longer than you’d expect for someone in charge of such a wealthy and successful business. Stray tresses of black hair framed his angular face, the rest pulled back in the low ponytail and bound with a strip of worn black leather. His eyes were a cool silver. They regard me quizzically, and it takes me a moment to find my voice.
“Oh. Yes please.” What was supposed to come out casual escaped my throat as a croak. I sank into the plush sofa without another word.
With a flick of his wand a handsome teapot is filling a similar cup with steaming mint tea. ‘My favourite.’ I think. We must have that in common. The hands over the cup with saucer and our fingers brush for a moment. An exhilarating shiver courses through me. Hastily I bring the cup to my lips and busy myself while I watch his settle into the chair opposing.
“Lily Evans was indisposed so she sent me in her place. I work for the Prophet as well. I owled ahead. I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Black.”
“Call me Sirius. We’re house brothers! You don’t think I’d forget that handsome mug of yours, Lupin, eh?” My cheeks burned. I couldn’t tell if he was serious or simply trying to win my favor. I chuckled nervously.
I smile politely and shuffle through my bag, retrieving the questions, a roll of parchment and a hands free quill. Sirius is nothing short of patient. He shifts comfortably in the plush chair- watching me with curiosity. I chance a glance up and notice he has one hand relaxed in his lap and the other holding his chin. A perfectly sculpted index finger tracing the line of his lips. I think he is trying to suppress a smile.
“I’m so sorry about this. I’m not used to this. I typically edit, while Lily is the interviewer.” A sheepish chuckle escaped my lips, accompanied by a slight stutter that hit the back of my teeth.
“Take all the time you need. Do you mind if I call you Remus? Or would you prefer Mr. Lupin?” The words tumble past his lips in a casual stream. I feel myself flush a deeper shade of pink.
“Oh. Yes. Remus is fine, Sir.” I clear my throat audibly as we make eye contact. Was it my imagination or did something flash behind his eyes at my last word? “Do you mind if I use a hand’s free quill to document your answers?”
He lets out a quick laugh, the mirth in his smile reaching his brows. “By all means, do whatever you need to do.”
“Did Li-Miss Evans explain what the interview was for?”
“Yes. I will be opening up an internship program to graduates from Hogwarts and this piece will be in the prophet with the announcement.”
This was news to me. I really should have done my research. Nervously, I ran a hand through my already tousled hair focusing in on the questions at hand. Absently I tapped the parchment with my wand and it furiously scribbled an introduction.
I sat up, squaring my shoulders in determination- hoping to look more professional and perhaps and bit more intimidating.
“You are so very young to have obtained such an empire. What do you owe your success?” His smile is rueful but he looks mildly disappointed.
“Business is all about progress. You can’t move forward if you’ve stuck with the same dated ideals of the past. It’s progress and people. I’m very good at judging people, if I do say so myself. I am quick to know how they tick. What environment will help them flourish and help the projects succeed. What inspires and motivates them. I employ an absolutely exceptional team, and I reward them greatly for their work.” He pauses and fixes me with a slate grey stare. “My belief, and the mission behind the company is to marry the magic and non-magic world together, in order to raise us up and benefit both groups equally. In doing that, I’ve become the master of operations, development, ideals and integration. A master of success, if you will. I have a natural instinct for spotting a good idea and nurturing it in to a great one. I work very very hard, and make educated decisions for the greater good. The bottom line, it’s about progress and the progress is in the people.”
“Or… you’re just lucky.” The words escaped before I could stop them. This was not on Lily’s list. But… he sounded so arrogant. I wanted to knock him down a peg. His eyes flared momentarily. It worked, I smirk.
“Mr. Lupin…” Oh, we’re off a first name basis, are we? “I don’t subscribe to the idea of luck. I work very hard, and it gets results.”
‘Sounds like a control freak to me…’ It was a thought. One that hadn’t left my mouth- I was sure of it. There was a weighted silence before he spoke. I sat, momentarily mortified. Maybe he was a skilled legilimens. I took a deep breath and swallowed down my rising panic.
“I exercise control in all things, Mr. Lupin.” His smile was cold. The humor gone from his eyes. I hold his gaze, steady and powerful. My heart is thundering against my ribcage and if possible I feel my ears tinge darker. He has such an impacting effect on me. Sure, he’s good looking- his eyes ablaze as his finger continues to stroke the curve of his lower lips. I find myself wondering how those fingers would look gripping and twisting within my bedsheets. I really wish he could stop doing that.
“Besides.” He sat up a little straighter. “Immense power is acquired by ensuring and assuring that you were born to be in control.” His voice is soft. Too soft.
“Do you feel you have immense power?” The words control freak and egomaniac thrashing against the back of my throat.
“I employ over thirty five thousand witches and wizards, and another five thousand non-magic workers. That gives me a certain level of responsibility- Or Power, if you’ll see it. If I were to decide to pack up and sell my business, more than half of these people would be without a job. Having the power to make or break that many lives… I’d call that immense.”
My mouth fell open. I am appalled by his lack of humanity. “Don’t you have a board to answer to?” I fire back, my tone dripping with disdain.
His voice was painfully even. His eyebrow peaked, “I own this company. I don’t have to answer to anyone.”
I am lost on what to say. I sneak a peek at the questions and change tactic. “Do you have any interests outside of work?”
“Varied.” A ghost of a smile dances on this full lips. I am set back by a dangerous glint in his eye. My body welled up with heat.
“If you work so hard, how do you relax?”
His laugh was nearly a bark, the smile revealed a row of perfect, white teeth. I felt my breath hitch in my throat. He really is beautiful. Nobody should be allowed to be this good looking.
“I indulge in various physical pursuits.” There is a wicked flash behind those silver eyes.
Quickly I turn back to the questionnaire. I’m not sure why but I want to be as far away from this topic as possible. “You are most known for your decoy and glamour enchantments. Can you tell me a little more about those?”
“Why should we have to hide from the muggle world with run down abandoned buildings, and complex spells forcing anyone who wanders in to suddenly remember they need to be somewhere else when we can simply hide in plain sight? I developed enchantments to allow this. From the non-magical world our magic buildings appears to be apothecaries, metaphysical stores, and privately owned castles, manors, offices. If a muggle were to wander into say any of the supply stores in downtown London they would simply see a shop of the ancient and more archaic forms of magic. Palmistry, divination, that smoke and mirror bit. If they were interested, they could shop freely. If not, they simply move along. Non magic folk widely accept those forms of spirituality, though they often tread with caution. So, why not use that to our advantage? That is where I initially got my start, and the enchantments and glamors have built up around into this.” He gets to his feet, gesturing to the grandiosity of the building we are in.
“That is incredible. I had no idea you were behind the changes within the regulations of magical order and concealment. Thank you for sharing the insight, i quite agree.” I skim the list and move onto the next question.
“Would you say you are easy to get to know?” Changing it up with a personal question- these questions appear to not have any rhyme or reason. I assumed Lily asked them more organically.
“I am a very private person.” His smile falters. “I go along way to protect my privacy. I often don’t grant interviews.” He trailed off. I knew he was hinting that I should feel grateful for the opportunity.
“Why did you agree to this one?”
“Lily Evans is dating my best mate. He badgered me for months before I finally agreed so I could shut him up.” He let out another bark-like laugh. I squirmed uncomfortably, feeling validated in my thoughts that I really wasn’t supposed to be there.
“You also invest in the muggle farming industry. Why this area?”
“We can materialize nourishment out of thin air if skilled enough, and yet their are non-magic folk out there unable to provide for their families. There are millions across this globe dying from hunger every year. Why have and harness these abilities if we are not to share them with those less fortunate? My company simply… helps them along.”
I instantly take back my mental note about his lack of humanity. Unable to think of anything to say or add, I move on. He sinks back into this chair after a quick pace around the office.
“Do you have a personal philosophy? If so, what is it?”
“I don’t. A guiding principle, perhaps. Work hard and stay in control. I am very singularly focused and inspirationally driven. I like to have control of myself and those around me.”
Hm. Control freak. I bite back. Surely Lily has enough material. I move onto the next question and read it allowed before processing that it might be too personal.
“You ran away from home at 16. How far do you think that shaped you, and your success?” I stare- praying he is not offended. His brow furrows and his soft voice is back. “I have no way of measuring that.”
My interest was peaked and I go off-script. “Why did you leave home?”
“The answer to that is my own, Remus.” I can feel the exasperation in his voice. I move on quickly to the next line, “You’ve had to sacrifice a family life for your work.”
He’s back to stroking the line of his lips and pulling absently on the lock of hair accenting the hard line of his jaw. I feel myself slip back into a day dream- his cheeks hollowed and panting, obsidian hair plastered to his forehead and jaw with sweat-- “That’s not a question.” He retorts, coldly. I squirm back to reality. “Have you had to sacrifice a family for your work?”
“I have a family. I have James. I am not interested in extending my family beyond that.”
“Are you Gay, Mr. Black.” My eyes widen in horror. Why was this on here? I made a mental note to reem Lily later for her lack of professional questions. She should have warned me when I was recruited to take on this task. I hesiste, but meet his gaze. Surprisingly he is smirking. The corner of his mouth quirked up, a laugh held back in his stealy eyes. He glances over at the parchment and taps it with his wand. The quill stalls and he returned his focus to me.
“This is not something I am really interested in every reader of the daily prophet knowing but, I am not explicitly straight. I like what I like, and that has been known to be controversial. I have a near perfect life, and what I choose to do in my bedroom is between me and those whom I have invited there.”
“Why near perfect?” I blurt out curiously, surprised and intrigued by his answer.
“Well, for one- your perfect lips aren’t wrapped around my cock.”
I froze. “I beg your pardon?” I clear my throat in an effort to sooth the sudden spike in my blood pressure. I feel a tearing against my chest, and I push it away. Surely I have slipped off again and misunderstood.
“I said the weather in London is too rainy to fly today.” He mused, his attention now out the window.