Chapter 6 : Romilda's Future Plans
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Luckily, his daughter’s huff didn’t last indefinitely. After all Cornelius was her father and there were many things which Romilda was extremely reluctant to tell her mother. Therefore, it shouldn’t really have been a surprise to Cornelius when he received an owl from his daughter about three weeks after she returned to Hogwarts.
Shouldn’t have been, but strangely enough, he was quite pleasantly surprised to receive it. He had almost given up on being forgiven, he realised. Romilda had kept this particular sulk up for so long, that he had almost become used to it.
Besides which, he was still so busy that he had little time to worry too much about correspondence from his daughter. As a matter of fact, it was only when he looked at the calendar that he realised that three weeks of term had already passed. There seemed to be constant crises in the Ministry. As soon as one was solved, another appeared to replace it. Perhaps crises was a rather strong word to use for most of them, but they were serious enough to require his full attention, sometimes for weeks on end, and they prevented him from spending too much time dwelling on the amount of time which had passed since his daughter returned to school.
Now that the owl had arrived, however, he was delighted to receive it, despite the semi-present awareness that he would have to find time to reply to it, as soon as he possibly could.
Hi Dad, the letter began.
Sorry I haven’t written since I returned to school. I was mad that you had spent so little time with me during my holidays. I still am, a little. After all, I only get 6 weeks at home during the summer and 2 at Christmas. If I can’t spend time with you then, when can I? And last summer might have been the last summer which I spend at home. (Can’t say too much about that at the moment). All I’m saying is that apart from the Christmas holidays, I might not be home that often and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with you. I thought you would also want to spend as much time as possible with me, but you seemed more interested about spending time at the Ministry.
Still, I realise that not bothering to spend time with you during my last week off and not bothering to write earlier was pretty silly. It only prevented me from speaking to you when I did have the chance. So, I’m sorry.
Life at Hogwarts is much the same as usual. In one way, it is great fun to be back, but in another, I am looking forward to getting out of school for good next June. After all, I will be 18 in March. I’m beginning to feel a bit stifled here, only being allowed to go into the town on “Hogsmeade weekends”. After all, I go into town whenever I like during the holidays.
And these N.E.W.Ts are unbelievably stressful. Don’t tell Mum, but I sometimes wonder if I’m going to pass them at all. Don’t worry; I am studying (some of the time anyway)!! But I can think of so many more interesting things to be doing.
How is work anyway? Still working round the clock? Or has the Ministry learned to survive a few hours without you?
Write back soon,
The last line sounded worryingly like an order to Cornelius, and he decided that if he didn’t want to risk alienating his daughter again, he would have to write back to her as soon as possible. His lunch break, he decided. He could scribble a quick note, before taking his lunch and still manage to be back at work in time to meet the French Minister of Magic, who was arriving that afternoon to discuss international measures for dealing with Trolls. Trolls were so utterly stupid that it was impossible to make them understand that on the few occasions they travelled abroad they had to obey the law of the country they were in, and therefore the idea of holding them to similar laws internationally was being considered.
It sounded slightly ridiculous to Cornelius, as Trolls rarely paid much attention to the laws of wizards, but he was expected to be there and it wouldn’t do his international reputation any good if he was the only Minister of Magic to hold out, so he had agreed to hear the Frenchman’s proposals.
As he wanted to get the letter written, he didn’t, as he usually did, head to a restaurant for his lunch, choosing instead to eat in the Ministry canteen. This wasn’t something he did very often, as he felt that as Minister of Magic, he ought to be seen in more prestigious establishments.
Still, if he wanted to get any few lines written at all, he didn’t have time to leave the Ministry building. Even staying there, the letter would have to be short.
Work is still as hectic as ever, unfortunately. I am sorry it messed up your holiday, but I honestly was as disappointed as you are. I never thought the Minister of Magic had so much to do. All the same, it is an important position and can be very interesting. I am meeting the French Minister of Magic in less than an hour.
Glad to hear all is well in Hogwarts. I just cannot believe you will be leaving school in July. Both of my children of age and out of school. I feel so old.
It sounds from your letter as though you have some plans for next year. Looking forward to hearing them if you have. And don’t forget that the better you do in the N.E.W.Ts the more choices you have.
I’d better go now.
With all my love,
He debated for a moment whether he should send one of the Ministry owls to deliver the letter. Strictly speaking, Ministry owls were for Ministry business and he really ought to wait until he got home and send Mercury. On the other hand, Romilda might like to have a letter delivered to her by a Ministry owl and she would certainly be pleased to see how promptly he’d replied. He’d use a Ministry owl, he decided. Who was going to know anyway, and even if they did, what did it really matter? He was the Minister. Ok, it would set a bad example if any of the Ministry employees found out, but how would they know who he was writing to? It could be a very important official letter for all they knew.
He certainly didn’t come to regret using the owl. Romilda, as he had expected, pleased that he had replied to her letter with a couple of hours of receiving it and the remainder of her annoyance towards her father disappeared. Between September and Christmas, she wrote to him regularly, and he made a valiant effort to reply as quickly as possible to most of her letters. Sometimes that meant, a fortnight later, but as long as he answered most of the them with reasonable promptness, she appeared to be satisfied.
And at least he would have time off from the Ministry during her Christmas holidays. The entire Ministry closed for a week and a half during the Christmas period, barring any major calamity. And, in truth it would take a very serious disaster to bring the Ministry of Magic back to their jobs before the Christmas recess ended.
Cornelius couldn’t wait for the Christmas break. Not just because his daughter would be home and he might finally find out what the hints her letters gave about her future plans referred to, but because this was the first complete break he would get from the pressures of the Ministry.
Cornelius Fudge loved the prestige of being Minister. What he didn’t like so much was the way in which he was expected to have solutions for every single problem which took place in the entire wizarding world of Great Britain. Even with Dumbledore’s advice, Cornelius feared making mistakes. He wanted the respect of all of the wizarding community, particularly those who could be of use to his career, and it was frequently difficult to make a decision which wouldn’t offend anybody.
So far, he had managed to do rather well, in his own humble opinion, but there was no doubt that on many occasions, the pressure was really on. Therefore, the holidays would be extremely welcome.
Romilda arrived home some days before Christmas and the preparations for the holiday began. Ever since Jovian had started at Hogwarts, Cornelius and Alyssa had delayed preparations until Hogwarts’ holidays began. Oh, they bought some of the Christmas presents, but they didn’t decorate the house or make any major plans. This year, Cornelius had to work for the first few days of Romilda’s holidays, so Alyssa, Jovian and Romilda did most of the organising. It was less than a year since Romilda had become of age and gained the right to do magic outside Hogwarts. Therefore, she took particular pleasure in magically decorating the house.
“When are you going to let us know what it is you’re planning?” Cornelius asked her one day, when Alyssa and Jovian had gone into town to buy their Christmas presents. The last couple of letters which Romilda had sent him before the holidays had implied that she had something to tell her family, but she had refused to explain what it was in her letters.
“After Christmas,” she insisted now. “So that if Mum has a total fit, at least it won’t ruin Christmas. I’ll tell you all Boxing Day, how would that be?”
“That would be fine,” Cornelius smiled at his daughter, then continued more sternly. “But I hope you’re not planning to do anything that would give your mother reason to be annoyed.”
“I don’t particularly think there’s any reason,” Romilda declared. “But she might. You know what she’s like.”
“Don’t speak about your mother like that,” Cornelius rebuked, but it was more of a token protest than anything else. He knew exactly what his daughter meant. Sometimes it seemed as if everything she did annoyed her mother.
Alyssa couldn’t understand why Romilda hadn’t received as many O.W.Ls as her brother, or why she had received owls from Dumbledore complaining that Romilda had cheeked a teacher or been involved in a row with the Slytherins. She couldn’t understand why Romilda seemed to show little enthusiasm for a job in the Ministry or as a Healer, or why her daughter still hadn’t appeared to have made a decision on the career she wanted.
“Why, Jovian knew since his third year that he wanted to be a Healer,” she declared in amazement when Romilda brushed off the question.
Well, maybe Romilda had decided now, Cornelius thought, but if she had, it sounded as if it was a decision her mother might not approve of.
He hadn’t long to wait. As Romilda had promised, she made her announcement on Boxing day, after the family had had their lunch.
“I have decided what I want to do when I leave Hogwarts,” she declared.
“You have? That’s fantastic!” Alyssa replied. “What have you decided?”
“I’ve applied for a position as Translator with the Magical Heritage Society,” Romilda replied.
Silence! Now Cornelius knew what his daughter had meant when she had implied that she might not be around the following summer. The Magical Heritage Society was an international organisation and if Romilda was working as a Translator, her chances of being sent abroad were quite high.
Alyssa was furious. Translators with the Magical Heritage Society were not exactly the most respected of professions. Hardly anybody would even know of her daughter’s existence.
She didn’t remain silent for long.
“What were you thinking of?” she exploded, once the immediate shock had worn off. “When you think of all the positions you could apply for! You could be a Healer. Or work in the Ministry. Or…or…be an Auror!”
This was Alyssa’s great hope- that one of her children would become an Auror. It hadn’t ever really been an option in Romilda’s case, however. Surely Alyssa must know that!
If she hadn’t known previously, Romilda did her best to point it out now.
“Mum, I’d never get the grades to be an Auror. Or a Healer. You KNOW that! Besides I wouldn’t get the chance to travel in any of those professions. AND I’d have to do further study. I’m sick of studying. I want to do something.”
The argument continued to rage, but Romilda held all the cards. She was of age; legally allowed to make her own decisions. She didn’t need to do any more study, so she wouldn’t be dependent on her parents anyway. And she had already applied for the position.
“You try and talk some sense into her, Cornelius,” Alyssa finally demanded.
“Da-ad,” Romilda protested. “You think a Translator is a reasonable job for me, don’t you?”
“Well, I’d like to know a little more about it, before I comment one way or the other,” he hedged. Privately, he saw no problem with Romilda taking up such a profession. After all, it wasn’t as if she wanted to work as a waitress or something. His snobbery might lead him to object to his daughter taking a position like that, but he could see nothing wrong with working as a Translator. It was perfectly acceptable to tell your colleagues that your daughter was doing that. Still, he wasn’t inclined to challenge his wife directly, so he was extremely grateful for the political experience he’d gained with regard to deflecting unwelcome questions.
As Romilda explained why she wanted to work as a Translator and what the job was likely to entail, Alyssa got up to leave the room.
As she did so, Jovian interrupted his sister’s report.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea, Ro. It’ll suit you down to the ground. Honestly, Mum, Romilda was never going to take a boring stay-at-home job, like me or Dad. This way she’ll have a good permanent and pensionable job, as the Muggles say. And she can have her adventures.”
This wasn’t exactly how Romilda had viewed the situation, but she couldn’t help feeling grateful for her brother’s intervention. Not that it had any major effect on her mother’s attitude.
Alyssa simply turned and walked out the door, muttering something about it being “obvious I’m outnumbered.”
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