The petite blonde bit her lip and surveyed the bowties.
“Yellow. I like it with your skin.”
The Minister of Magic nodded, and Astoria smiled.
“What would I do without you, Astoria?”
“You’d have an uncoordinated outfit, coffee breath,” she handed him a mint, “and have no clue who you’re about to talk to. It’s Clark Flynn, by the way, assistant head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation. He wants to talk to you about the head of the department, Jacqueline Swanson. He says she’s been acting funny and he wants someone else to replace her.”
Kingsley smiled. “Him, perhaps?”
Astoria nodded, winking. “Perhaps.”
The minister seated himself behind his desk. “Funny how?”
Astoria flipped through a thick file, her bright, trendy glasses teetering on the edge of her nose, and bit her lip.
“Crouch bad?” A flash of fear whipped across the minister’s face, but it was gone in a moment. He repeated his mantra in his head. Voldemort is not coming back. Voldemort is not coming back. Voldemort is not coming back.
Astoria shook her head. “It’s not another Voldemort, Minister. Just some suspicious behavior. I think the visit is worth it. And Swanson is getting up there in age anyway. Some new blood would be nice to have around at the Heads meetings’.”
“You just want a new boyfriend who has the salary to spend money on you.”
“Hey!” She pointed her finger at Kingsley, furrowing her brow. “Just because you’ve given up on love because you’re old and you’re scared of losing people because you lived through the war doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t shag their way through the greater London area looking for Mr. Right!”
Kingsley laughed, and the deep, comforting sound echoed throughout the room. “You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry. And I’m not old.”
There was a sharp ding of a bell, and Astoria rushed out into the minister’s waiting room, quickly shutting the door behind her.
“Hello, Mr. Flynn! How are you?” Astoria called, fixing her glasses upon her nose and smoothing out the wrinkles in her skirt.
Clark Flynn crinkled his nose as he surveyed Astoria.
Astoria was, indeed, a beauty to rival, and caught many men’s attention. Her short, curly blonde hair was flawless at its worst, and the little make-up she had to wear was pristinely applied. Her green eyes sparkled with every turn, lighting up her face. Her muggle outfit was at the height of fashion, and when she opened her mouth, she spoke with such exuberance that you had to believe it was genuine.
“Fine, thank you. And who are you?” Clark looked down at Astoria in distaste.
Astoria had to hold in a sigh. People were slow to accept that she was the minister’s assistant, with her muggle clothes and pretty face. She was jaunty, which was something that was hard to get back for people who had lived through the war. And even though Astoria had been fifteen at the time, she had experienced the war just like everyone else.
She knew the other side, though. Astoria knew of what it was like to be scared into following The Dark Lord, to see what an immense want of power could do to someone who used to be a human being. It was terribly hard to explain to people why she had been on Voldemort’s side, what it felt like to be looking at the picture from another angle.
This, as one might presume, put quite a big damper on Astoria’s quest to find Mr. Right.
But she continued her pursuit. Astoria knew that somewhere, out there, hopefully in London so she wouldn’t have to travel too far, that there was someone who would fulfill all the requirements needed to be Mr. Right.
“You can just call me Astoria.” She smiled at Mr. Flynn.
Requirement Number One: Absolutely no facial hair. Never, ever, ever. It is disgusting.
Astoria quickly scanned his face. Clark was clean-shaven, and didn’t look to be trying to grow any aberrations on his face.
He passed the first one.
Requirement Number Two: Sense of humor. Astoria needed something to entertain her on rainy days other than, y’know, sex.
Clark didn’t seem to have much humor, but of the six, she was most flexible about this one, and she hadn’t really talked to him yet.
He passed the second one.
Requirement Number Three: He must have a good amount money. After all, she had a lifestyle to uphold. Daddy’s trust fund wouldn’t support her forever.
Clark was in a very high position at the ministry, and his clothes seemed to be well-made. And, if Kingsley ended up firing the head of department and promoting Clark, his salary would increase quite a bit.
Astoria had practically memorized the salary of each and every position at the ministry, and was able to pin point people in the hallway for what they were automatically.
He passed the third one.
Requirement Number Four: He had to have a nice smile. This one was mostly self-explanatory. Being able to charm people with a handsome smile was practically an art. And Astoria wanted to be manipulated like that. She wanted to be completely transfixed in Mr. Right, and a nice smile always helped to move this along.
He hadn’t smiled yet, and he didn’t look like he was going to any time soon.
He failed the fourth one.
Just for laughs, Astoria went through the last two. If he passed those two with flying colors, she might reconsider.
Requirement Number Five: No life-destroying bad habits. Astoria had watched her father drink himself into a stupor while her mother watched with a cigarette hanging from her mouth. Major bad habits were a gigantic no-no.
This one, at first, was an automatic pass. Astoria always came to see bad habits on the first few dates.
He passed the fifth one.
Requirement Number Six: He had to have medium-length hair. This was Astoria’s personal preference during the rolling between the sheets. She was a former Slytherin, after all and they had always been a passionate bunch. This wasn’t any different for Astoria. Her passion was running her fingers through her male companion’s hair.
With anxious anticipation, Astoria looked at Mr. Flynn’s hair.
He was balding.
He failed the sixth one.
“I’ll just tell the minister you’ve arrived.”
Astoria smiled at Mr. Flynn and entered the minister’s office after a quick knock.
Closing the door quietly behind her, Astoria looked up at the minister, who’d been waiting near his door.
“Did he pass the test?” Kingsley said with a smile. “Because I won’t hire anyone who could possibly be Mr. Right. I would die before I stood between your chances with the bloke.”
Smacking him lightly on the shoulder, Astoria rolled her eyes. “I’m not that obsessed.”
“Yes you are.” Kingsley nodded.
Once again rolling her eyes Astoria opened his door and gestured outward. “Mr. Flynn, the minister will see you now.”
Clark stood up, brushed imaginary lint off his cloak, and entered Kingsley’s office.
After closing the door behind their retreating backs, Astoria set to work.
Being the secretary to The Minister of Magic was what Astoria believed to be the best job on the face of the earth.
Astoria, at Hogwarts, before the terror of the war had really set in, had been known to be the one who always knew everybody’s business. In a, y’know, strictly business sort of way.
Her open demeanor made people want to tell her their deepest, darkest secrets. Or who they saw snogging in the girl’s loo on the sixth floor. Astoria could live with either.
She knew who was dating who, who had family problems, which people had relationship issues, which kid had the pet owl that would always shit on your breakfast, the tall one in Hufflepuff who was a compulsive gambler, and that one girl who took three hours before classes to get ready.
Astoria thought that her gossipy lifestyle, her need to know everybody’s business, would prove to be less than useless in the real world, and she’d spend her life regretting how she’d spent her Hogwarts days.
She quickly came to know that she’d been horribly wrong.
In politics, knowing everybody’s business without getting formally caught was what most people were hired for.
When she’d entered the minister’s office, about a month after school had ended, looking for a job, she hadn’t expected anything to come from it. But when her skill was needed – Kingsley had needed to know if Carlos Fitzgerald would make a good head of Gringotts, her knowledge had proved useful. Astoria knew, instantly, that he wouldn’t, because he’d been a compulsive gambler throughout his school years. She’d gotten the job almost seconds later, and ever since she’s been collecting more and more otherwise useless information about everyone and everything.
Astoria bustled about her office slash Kingsley’s waiting room, straightening things, making sure the coffee was still hot and the pastries still soft.
For a girl like Astoria, who loved attention and all things related to it, her job wasn’t a job – it was fun.
Seating herself in the large, plush, spinning chair behind her ornate wooden desk, Astoria began to flip through the many request files littered about her space. This was Astoria’s main job; to arrange appointments with people who needed to talk to the minister on a whole array of subjects.
Ministry employees came in, trying to get fellow workers fired, and then trying to steal their jobs, little old ladies who believed that Voldemort was still around, people trying to buy their way into power, all sorts of things.
An inter-office memo flew in and landed softly on Astoria’s desk.
Picking it up and hastily opening it, she read the large, loopy handwriting.
I’ve got some new gossip! It’s your turn to bring the doughnuts to our meeting, don’t forget!
Valerie Wagner was Astoria’s closest friend, inside and outside of work. A tall girl with striking black hair, dark blue eyes, and a meticulously painted-on face, Valerie had a presence like no other. If you asked her why she’d become a secretary, when her personality screamed that she should be somewhere else, Valerie would laugh and say that she’d done it for the same reason everyone else had. What this reason was, no one outside of the elite circle of secretaries knew.
Rolling her eyes, Astoria reached for her To-Do List. This list, referred to as just ‘The List’ by everyone who knew it existed, was vital to Astoria’s, and for that matter, the minister’s, day unfolding without a hitch.
Starting a new list for the day, Astoria transferred the unfinished tasks from yesterday onto the new one, and added the reminder to bring doughnuts.
Every one of the department head secretaries took their break at exactly 9:30, and they always met in a deserted conference room. Who was bringing the snack always rotated, and the topic was always gossip.
Practically giddy for some fresh information, Astoria glanced at the clock.
“Only eight.” She mumbled to herself, sighing. “Ah, well, I’ll manage.”
She opened her planner, and began filling in all the appointments for the day.
“Astoria?” Kingsley exited his office, quickly followed by Clark Flynn.
She looked up, and instantly got out of her chair, rushing over to pick up Mr. Flynn’s cloak.
As Mr. Flynn briskly exited the office, Astoria turned to Kingsley.
“That was quick.”
The minister pulled a face. “I didn’t like him. But I do agree with him. We need a new department head. I’m going to need you to compile a list of possibilities.”
Astoria jotted this down on The List.
“Anything else, sir?”
“Yes. For the thousandth time, don’t call me sir. And my dry cleaners owled me, could you pick it up, please?”
Standing up and grabbing her tote bag, Astoria slipped on her pea coat and, waving to Kingsley, she exited the office.
“Astoria, budge over.” Looking up from her planner, Astoria saw that Valerie, and most of their other office friends, had joined her in the conference room.
Moving down a seat, Astoria looked at the heavy silver chain watch that adorned her thin, pale wrist.
“You’re two minutes late, Val.”
Rolling her eyes, Valerie grabbed a doughnut out of the practically overflowing box and took a large bite.
“Shush, Astoria.” Jodi, another fellow secretary said.
“Yeah,” Valerie added. “Even you haven’t heard this yet.”
“The Department of International Magical Cooperation needs a new head.” Astoria said.
A brunette down the table swatted her hand. “Everybody knew that, love. For ages.”
“Guess who wants the job!” Jodi squealed, smiling round the table. Everyone leaned in, anxious.
“Draco Malfoy.” Valerie whispered, the corners of her mouth twitching upward.
All at once, the girls around the table smiled conspiratorially.
Everyone knew that the kind of girls who became secretaries, the kind of girls like Astoria, really only wanted one thing from their job.
That one thing was to get a well to-do husband and live a well to-do life in a well to-do house on the countryside.
And they would stop at nothing to get it.
A/N: New story!! Wooo!! I’d love to know what you think about it! Love and cookies, earthfarie. :]