Alexis woke in the attic room, her eyes staring at the wooden beams above her. She felt restless. The only wall she had managed to paint was at the far end, where the head of her bed leaned against. A large, fully blossomed cherry tree filled the wall, Alexis wanted a reminder of home, of the large grove of cherry trees back at the Shrine. Except afterwards it only depressed her, and made her terribly homesick. She needed to get out of the room, out of the house, go somewhere, anywhere that would take her mind off of her painful memories.
Pulling on a tank top and pair of jeans, Alexis’s eyes rested on the desk by the bed. The old metal key to the Rune’s family home seemed to stare back at her, taunting her. It was hers now. There was nothing wrong in wanting to check it out, right? Curiosity overrode her gut feelings as she picked up the keys, gathered a few items in her pack and went downstairs.
“Minky?” Alexis called out. Usually the little house-elf was the first thing the teenager saw when she got up. Minky had made it a habit of bringing her meals when she refused to come down, however today there was no sound of her, nor her uncle. In fact the first floor was empty.
Alexis paused by her uncle’s study. She still needed the address to the Rune’s Mansion, not to mention a map. She knew nothing of London, or even if the house was in London. Sliding the doors open, Alexis stepped inside. So far it didn’t seem like there were any spells or traps, of course Crow could have only been teasing about not letting her in here. Despite the numerous filing cabinets and organization shelves, the place seamed a mess as Alexis dug beneath papers, receipts, album covers, posters and DVDs. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack, daunting and overwhelming. With a sigh, Alexis sat down behind the desk and began opening up any drawer that wasn’t locked. If she had her magic available, even those drawers wouldn’t have stopped her.
There, on the top right hand drawer was a piece of parchment paper with the stamp symbol of the lawyer’s office she had visited only a few days ago. With a thread of hope to latch on to, Alexis hurried to read the letter. Her eyes widened and a smile spread across her face as she finally found what she was looking for.
3012 Bleak Lane, Farnham, Surry. Alexis clutched the letter tight and quickly stuffed it into her pack. Closing the doors to the study carefully behind her, she was one step away from the front door when a startling sound arose from the rear of the house.
Fearful that she had been watched, that her uncle was lurking behind some corner, waiting to pounce on her, Alexis froze and began to count the silence until the sound happened again. Thankfully it wasn’t Crow or his bird, or Minky, it was someone knocking on the back door.
Which puzzled Alexis as she ventured back to the kitchen. The knocks continued to fill the empty space as Alexis finally reached the door and pushed it open. An old man stood on a short wooden deck. He had a long bushy beard, dark eyes, and had a hard time standing still, he kept shifting his weight from leg to leg.
“Crow here lass?” The man asked in heavy Scottish accent. “His order’s here,” he gestured to a pile of kegs on the edge of the deck.
“Ah…” Alexis didn’t know what to do.
“New, eh? Younger than the blonde… sign here.” The man said with a sigh, shoving an electronic clipboard into Alexis’s arms. She stared at the man, at the kegs then at the signature form and signed away. The man took the clipboard and walked away to a small, bluish-grey van parked along the back alley.
“Hey! What am I supposed to do with them?” Alexis called out.
“Take them down the basement!” The man called back before disappearing down the alley. Alexis stared at the kegs, they looked heavy and awkward. No way was she about to do the heavy lifting. That was when she spotted the stairs leading to the basement to her left. The door below was cracked open with an old brick from the wall, she knocked once, and popped her head in. It was the kitchen and storage area for the Dragon’s Scroll.
The place was full of stainless steel equipment, a walk in fridge and freezer, groceries, and liquor. It was compact and tight. Barely three people could move through the place without tripping over one another or a crate of boxes.
“Hello?” Alexis called out wondering if anyone was working or not.
“Who’s there?” Came a voice to her left. A man was sitting by a prep table, newspaper open and hiding his face. He never once moved the paper and seemed annoyed that she had invaded his work space.
“Ah… some guy left a few kegs upstairs.” Alexis finished, her eyes resting on the paper guy. “I signed for them… he knocked on the back door… I hope that’s alright.”
“Old man, santa claus beard?” The man finally asked, lowering his paper. He looked like he was in his early to mid twenties, had sandy blond hair, blue eyes, a chiselled face and long narrow nose.
“Earl. Missing leg, can’t do the stairs.” The man stated. “Crow’s usually up by this time so it’s not a big deal.”
“Yeah, where is he?”
“And who are you?”
“Alexis Rune!” This did not come from the man, but from a high pitch female voice behind Alexis. A pair of arms flung themselves over her shoulders and squeezed into a large bear hug. “OH MY GOD! I’ve been dying to see you!” the arms let go and Alexis was spun around to face a woman, a little younger than the man, but had the same facial features, even the same sandy blond hair and blue eyes. “I’m Kaylee and this is my brother Jason.”
“Oh…” Alexis said, at least discovering one mystery of the two.
“Leave her alone Kay.” Jason said, returning his attention to the paper. Alexis shifted her eyes at the moving pictures on the front page, the Daily Prophet. “Crow’s gone out, that’s all you need to know.”
“Jason! Be nice, she’s new to this country, to the language and all of us… no wonder she’s been hiding in her room ever since she got here. But that’s changed now and it’s our job to show her the fun and excitement she can have living here. For starters, how about I show you the Dragon’s Scroll? Your uncle may own this place, but we work it and basically live down here. So… I like to think of it as our place.”
Alexis mind was swimming, Kaylee certainly knew how to talk, and keep a conversation going. She was so energetic and full of life, that made Alexis smile and nod her head. She had been curious about the nightclub ever since she arrived. At night, when she opened her window, she could hear the pounding of the beat and music whiff out from the front door. There had been line ups to get in, it was one of the popular places on the street.
“We’re partners.” Jason put in, folding the paper up and tossing it to the side. “Breakfast you two?”
“Yes please!” Kaylee said as she tugged on Alexis arm and pulled her through a pair of doors.
“The kegs!” Alexis called out.
“I’ve got them.” Jason assured her, as he pulled out his wand. Alexis didn’t see what he did with it next, as the doors closed behind her and Kaylee spun her once more so that she could face the ever famous nightclub. Lights flashed on, showcasing the incredible atmosphere. The walls were half brick stone, with 4 marble pillars around the dance floor in the centre of the place. Each pillar had a dragon wrapped around it, looking down while it’s wings were spread out over the ceiling. Torches were lit along the walls, with some strategically placed muggle lightning to help give it the dreary castle mood without it looking too dark.
Sharing the wall to the kitchen and storage area was the main bar, with a glass backing showcasing a number of highly expensive looking liquors – both from the muggle and wizarding world. There was a stage to the left of the bar, and seating all around the edges. Large oil paints hung off the walls, some were sleeping, while others looked like they were just TV screens in the ornate frame.
“He really did merge the two worlds together.” Alexis said in awe.
“He did. Crow is a real visionary, and nothing seems to get in his way.” Kaylee said as she moved behind the bar to finish stocking a few shelves.
“This place feels bigger than it should.”
“It is, magical trick, or spell really. Messes with dimensions. It is twice the size of the floor plan upstairs.”
“Amazing!” Alexis said a smile on her face as she jumped onto a stool. “Are you hiring?” Kaylee laughed.
“A few more years girl. We’ve got age restrictions here, you’re too young to be serving drinks… but I can show you a few tricks…”
The two continued to talk, Alexis asked question after question about the place, how many muggles come versus wizards, and any troubles they had between the two worlds. Kaylee was an open book and told Alexis all she wanted to know, plus more. She was head bartender, and looked after all the alcohol in the place. She even created a few specialty drinks that had kicked the place into high gear recently. Jason, her older brother, was the cook and looked after the menu with Minky’s help at times. Where as Crow was in charge of the entertainment and making sure the Ministry was satisfied and wouldn’t shut them down. The three seemed to work well together and it sounded like her uncle was really a good boss.
“Crow is an amazing guitar player. You have to hear some of his songs, they will blow your mind.” Kaylee was saying when Jason walked in with two plates of eggs and toast. “That’s how we knew him, I used to listen to his music all the time as a teenager, it was a shock when Jason came home with this job offer and I just had to follow him here. We’ve been working with your uncle since day one of this place opening.”
“Wow, so… do you know a lot about my uncle?”
“Only his reputation and music.” Jason answered. “We’re business partners and I know he’s good on his word and that’s all we need to know.”
Kaylee made a sour face at her brother. “Crow keeps to himself, we had no idea he had a brother, or a niece. He’s just like that, so don’t take it seriously if he seems to shut you out.”
“Oh, I see.” Alexis said.
“Hey, don’t worry. You’ve got me around, and I’m going to treat you like the little sister I never had. We can go shopping, sight-seeing, go see movies, anything you want!” Kaylee said. Alexis knew she meant it too, the look on her face was of pure innocence, she doubted Kaylee could lie even if she wanted to.
“Thanks… maybe some other time?”
“Why not today? You’ve ventured out of your attic, time to show you want London has to offer.”
“I’ve… I want to something alone.”
“The city is big and one can get lost easily when they don’t know where they’re going.” Jason put in, his voice cold.
“Oh, fine. Don’t worry Jason, remember when I was her age. Only way for me to learn anything was to make my own mistakes. Trust me in saying, it made for some trouble.” Kaylee said, then laughed. “At least let me help where I can, maps, bus schedules. Anything.”
“Actually… can you tell me how to get to Farnham, Surry?”