“Is Hugo Weasley here?” a balding man called out to the accounting department at the Ministry of Magic. It was a Wednesday morning and false sunlight was filtering through the charmed window. A couple of guys looked up, interested, but the resounding answer the man received was “no”. He turned away, about to mark the new lad off as a fail, but a crashing noise was brought to his attention.
He whipped round and saw a tall, very skinny young man on the floor, desperately trying to tidy some papers which he had evidently knocked over. The older man sighed angrily and stalked up to the new boy.
"I take it you're Hugo?"
From Hugo's viewpoint, the outcome was bleak. He already wished he was back at home, curled up in bed with a good book, or outside, or at his mum's, WITH ROSE ... anywhere but here. He'd already monumentally messed up by going to the casino the night before and ... well, he didn't remember much after that but awoke at his flat with no trousers on. Realising the time, he had rushed out the door sans trousers and had to go back in and shove some on.
"Yes, sir, I am."
He doesn't sound impressed. Then again, would you be?
"I know sir, and I am extremely sorry. I got a little lost with all of the floors and rooms." Hugo prayed that this would be a good enough cover up for his night of heavy drinking. The old man seemed to look straight through him, scrutinising Hugo's expression.
"Alright. The Ministry building is rather daunting for a newcomer. This way!"
Hugo almost had to run to keep up with his new boss, and almost tripped again as he passed countless cubicles with seemingly endless calculations on them. The people were all working near silently, with the occasional murmur of thinking aloud and a question or two about statistics. Paper was seemingly everywhere and every sort of stationary piece that one could think up present. Hugo was sure he saw one cubicle with a whole collection of novelty staplers, a few of which were hovering and watching one particularly flamboyant one do tricks.
As he looked up, Hugo noticed the huge abacus which acted as a decoration for the department. It hung from the wall and looked as if to be ages old, made of wood and perhaps painted once but all that was left was the faded remains of colours. On the whole, the office was fairly nice.
I love the charmed windows.
Hugo was shook out of his awe when his boss stopped suddenly and pointed at a cubicle. "Here's you," he said sternly. Hugo silently reminded himself to never cross with this man. "You've got everything you need here, and a little starter pack which demonstrates what we do around here. Report to me once you're done reading that."
"Okay, thank you very much."
The balding boss nodded and strode off. Hugo let out a small sigh of relief at getting away with the previous evening; he made a small vow to never return there on a work night. Smiling slightly at this little deal, Hugo turned to the starter pack which had 'Welcome to the Department of Ministry Accounting' in fancy lettering.
A few sentences in, two pair of eyes popped up from behind the wall divider. Hugo noticed this and looked over quizzically, and the pair of eyes widened before revealing a full face. "Hi! I'm Declan Merrymore."
Declan Merrymore was perhaps the nerdiest person Hugo had ever seen in his life. Around the same age as Hugo, he had huge thick spectacles on and plenty of acne to match. His ears stuck out and his brown hair was combed to perfection, with a nice little side parting to match. He wore what Hugo could make out as a yellow and red polka dot bow tie which was clipped on to a sliver of white collar.
"Hello .. I'm Hugo. Weasley. Hugo Weasley." he replied.
Good God, he make look nerdier but I bloody
"Hi Hugo! It's nice to have a new person. The last person who was in your cubicle was really fat and smelly. I hope you don't smell." Declan said enthusiastically, grinning from ear to ear and revealing braces.
"Erm, I'm pretty sure I don't right now..."
This is getting weirder and weirder.
"Is this your first job? Mine too! I've always wanted to work here, I knew it was my dream job even when I was five and my dad took me to the Ministry once." Declan asked without waiting for an answer. Hugo smirked, suppressing a laugh.
"That's really great, and yes this is my first job." Hugo made an obvious gesture of returning to his work, but Declan did not take the hint.
"Yeah you said. Are you as good at maths as me? I took the Arithmancy OWL in my second year at Hogwarts, and the NEWT in fourth."
Bloody hell. "Bloody hell, Declan, that's amazing, and in that case I'm definitely not as good as you." Declan seemed pleased with this answer.
"Yeah, I was super duper pleased with myself. I got an O in both as well. I'll let you get back to your work now! Bye Hugo!" Declan literally bounced back to his seat.
I can tell he's going to get on my nerves.
A second though niggled at Hugo's brain. Is the standard really that high here? Am I good enough? He decided to go and get his first piece of work to determine this for himself. Once he returned, he was positive he was going to lose his job.
The boss wanted him to do all sorts of crazy maths which Hugo could barely remember now. Running a hand through his red hair, he eventually asked Declan, who replied with a very fast answer.
"Oh, you divide the top by the overall total and times it by the municipal, square root and take the sum of x..."
It took a full fifteen minutes to explain to Hugo. Declan ended with an, "You'll get used to it!" but Hugo wasn't so sure. By the end of the day, he was feeling utterly miserable and was trying to work out his worth in life.
Red hair ... devil's hair. Zero galleons. Skinnier than several supermodels. I suppose I could be a model … wait, the face lets me down. Zero galleons. Virgin. Wait, no, not a virgin ... sod it, that's at least a thousand ...
Hugo packed away his things and presented his work to his supervisor, who seemed very pleased at his work, amazingly, and rushed to the elevator which was packed with people.
I hate packed lifts.
Hugo was squished against a ginormous woman, perhaps with some giant blood in her, and a tank of a man who looked down at Hugo extremely intimidatingly. He gulped and endured the journey, relieved when he could escape. Alas, his pain wasn't over yet; Rose was by the elevator.
"Hugo! What a coincidence!" she literally squealed, hurting Hugo's ears. "How was my little brother's first day at work?"
"To be honest, Rose, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. And it was very long. How was your first day at your new job then?" Hugo replied. He had a feeling that it would have been a whole lot better than his. The sun smiled at Rose.
"Oh, it was wonderful! Everyone was so nice and friendly and I love my boss and the work is terribly easy and I've been offered a short weekend trip to Bosnia to find a new type of Mandrake which is rumoured to be there!" she replied, bouncing on her heels. Despite her black suit, her excitement brought colour to her cheeks.
Ha! I was right!
Hugo rolled his eyes at his coincidence and managed to force a grin, wishing his congratulations and making up an excuse that he had to go and get tonight's dinner before the shops closed.
"I'll see you later, Rose."
"Don't get into trouble! Bye Hugo!" he froze.
"What did you mean by that?" he whipped round, and for a fleeting moment Rose looked shocked and a little bit scared.
"Nothing, it was a joke ..."
"Good. Bye Rose, have a nice evening." Hugo said, stalking off. Oh God, you could have handled that a million times better and you know it ... if she asks, you were tired. Which you are.
Hugo though about his toils of the day as he made his way towards a muggle supermarket, browsing the isles for the next few nights' meal. He pulled random items into a basket, not really concentrating on what he was looking at when he saw a woman looking at him strangely. He looked strangely back until he realised what exactly he was about to pull off the shelves: ladies' bras.
What the eff are these doing in a supermarket?! Shit. Now I have to explain myself.
"They're for my girlfriend. She's ... run out. Needs a new one." Hugo said half to himself, half to the woman who first looked at him. She tutted and flounced away, high heels clicking.
I swear to God women are another species. At least it wasn't a guy, though. Then my man points would be weeping in a hole in the ground.
Hugo paid for his goods, sans bra, and left. He realised he had mostly gone for reduced Christmas items, but decided he couldn't be bothered to go anywhere else and started to walk in the direction of home. He passed a young woman on the street, who asked him if he "wanted to be shown a good time". He politely declined and walked more quickly, his mind wandering to the events of the day which had just past.
Well, arriving late definitely didn't help things. I looked like a right pillock. But Declan seemed ... nice, but extremely annoying. And you've really blown things with your sister, haven't you? Now she'll go and tell mum and dad that I'm a raging alcoholic and that I'm trouble with the police. Well, at least mum would care.
Hugo realised that he had forgotten to enquire Rose about whether Hermione was okay or not. You're such a fantastic son.
Now let's go to the casino.
Hugo laughed at the voice in his head and put a firm end to the thought. As much as he may have wanted to, it just wasn't plausible and he wasn't even sure about what happened last night in the slightest. Walking up the stairs he offered Mrs Van Der Rich money for two months worth of rent, which he had gotten changed in his lunch break. He noticed that the casino hadn't even caught his eye at all when he was there.
Perhaps it's just a night thing.
Hugo decided to leave the thought and have a nice evening in, hoping that the next day would be better.
A young woman with dark hair had finally stopped running. She was breathing hard, but this didn't mean much anymore. What mattered was that the filth had finally lost her. Brushing her long locks back, she opened her leather bag and re-applied some dark red lipstick. Perhaps she would find a nice gentlemen to shack up with for the night. If not ... well, it was the streets for another night, and that was definitely not the best prospect at the end of December. She was sure she'd be okay though, as long as she kept on the down low.
Walking down an alley, she had found a suitable place to look at her goodies. Some wine, mince pies and various shower gels had been her total stash for the night. She ate the mince pies and gulped down some wine before deciding she could sell on the gels pretty easily. Not her best steal, but at least she had managed some food this time. In all, she was simply not practised at the idea of having to fend for herself on the streets.
A group of lads walked past, clearly drunk, and noticed her. They came waltzing down the alley as if they owned the whole of London. One man with a huge diamond in his ear and decked in sports clothing leered at her. "Alright sweet'art?"
He was entirely too close for her liking. The woman tiptoed back, realising that she had gotten herself into quite a trap and took another swig of wine. The man grabbed the bottle out of her hands and sent it smashing to the ground, staining the snow like blood.
"There's na time fer tha' love. Now come 'ere."
The woman began to feel quite scared. There were six of them, all looking like clones of the main one advancing on her, mindless, with no identity. All looked as if they weren't going to leave until they got what they wanted. She stumbled slightly on a piece of rubbish and the man chuckled.
"Leave me alone," she said warningly, "otherwise I'll get my boyfriend on you."
"Bit of a shit boyfriend if he ain't here, int 'e?" the man screeched and the other clones hooted with laughter. Her plan hadn't worked. "Now COME -"
A jet of reddish light came streaming out from one of the windows above and hit the man square in the chest, knocking him backwards into one of the thugs. They lay on the ground, out cold. The other clones looked around stupidly, clearly bewildered, before four more jets of the same light knocked them out cold too.
The young woman was stunned. She desperately gazed back up at the windows above, but found no clues as to who did it, who she could offer her gratitude to.
She couldn't stay here. She took one final glance above before setting off into the darkness.