Chapter 2 : SHE'S BAD AT THIS KIND OF THING
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Daphne was balancing a large pile of books and a cup of tea.
She’d never bothered questioning the riskiness of her action; usually, she was well balanced and graceful. It was another Monday in the long history of Mondays at the Ministry of Magic and Daphne was making her way back from an tiresomely long meeting with the Auror Department. Bunch of idiotic, overstuffed twits, parading themselves around as gods, taking all the credit of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. And that Potter.
God. It killed her seeing him for the joint bi-weekly meetings. Killed her when all she wanted to do was jump out of her seat screaming and kill him.
No. It wouldn’t do to think like that.
She ran a hand over her glossy curls. The paint from her newly lacquered nails was still wet.
She had nothing to worry about. She was Daphne Pucey. Everything would work out in her favor. It had to.
But sitting in her seat, watching him bolster his non-attractiveness (because really, there was none. Nothing about the eyes or floppy black hair or anything else that even warranted putting up with him) made her want to blind herself. And he spent the good part of the hour pretending to be much more intelligent than he was.
Perfect Potter. Charming, wonderful, famous, perfect Potter.
If she got the proper credit and were let to do things her –
And then the tea cup splattered at her feet. The large stack of books and papers she was balancing spilled forth in a chaotic heap.
Next to her, the skirt of the witch she’d hit was covered in tea.
“Ugh, now I’ve got to wash this again. Crap, crap – “
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” Daphne bent down, trying to pick up everything before the brown pool of tea stained them even more.
“It’s fine, the skirt’s not even mine. Let me help you.”
A pair of lean legs bent into view and a pale hand was offering her the now soggy interdepartmental memo from the Improper Use of Magic Office that Daphne’d dropped.
“Thanks,” said Daphne, relieved, as she picked up the last of the papers.
“No problem.” A brunette witch with shining eyes and even teeth was smiling at her.
“And I’m sorry again about – “
“It’s my sister’s, so don’t be. Every time I wear it, something ends up spilling on me, so it’s not your fault. I’m just happy it was only tea this time.”
“The universe hates your skirt.”
“Exactly,” said the brunette girl, grinning. “Bad skirt karma. The universe’s out to get me. It was probably Voldemort in its last life.”
“The Voldemort skirt,” said Daphne, laughing. “I like it.”
“Hey, it’s old enough to be.”
There was a mutual grin between two people who could easily identify the internal age of the other.
“I’m Daphne Pucey.”
There was a pause.
“And you are?”
“I was waiting for you to say, but ‘call me this instead’.”
“What’s wrong with my name?”
“Nothing,” said the brunette girl. “Very pretty. I like it. But you don’t seem the greek nymph type.”
“Oh, I’m not,” said Daphne tartly. “I’m from Magical Law Enforcement, actually.”
“That’s like as far away as it gets from nymph without being illegal.”
“See? Not a nymph type.”
“I’m Gloria Atkins. I’m from International Relations.”
“Nice to meet you, Gloria.”
There was a pause.
“I’m waiting for you to say, but ‘call me this instead’,” said Daphne, smirking.
Gloria grinned. “Fair enough. I don’t like my name, but there’s no nickname. Better than poor old Jeremy Davis from the I.U.M. office. I think she’ll be forever traumatized that her name’s Jeremy.”
There was a moment of silence for the poor Jeremy Davis.
“I’ve got to go now,” said Daphne apologetically, “I’ve got some work left to finish. Maybe we can meet for lunch later this week?” It was hard to come by anyone remotely intelligent anymore, so Daphne pounced on the rare chance. “I’ll look you up.”
“Gloria Atkins, International Relations. Remember me, but in case you don’t, I’ll remember you. Diana, right?”
“Wrong goddess. Daphne.”
“Right. Daphne. Diana’s too cliché anyway.”
There was a mutual smile.
“Alright then, Gloria, I’ll see you around.”
After meeting the goddess girl (a better nickname had to be made later), Gloria dried off her slightly soggy skirt and made her way down the packed corridors of the Ministry of Magic. She successfully avoided a rain cloud chasing Thomas Worthington (poor sod), two drunk Quidditch players groping their way to the elevator, and a warlock with a porcupine that seemed to be sneezing and sprinkling everyone in the vicinity with pointy quills. Occupational hazards tended to abound on Mondays.
There was still ten minutes left before she had to get back to work.
Gloria stood at a fork in a corridor. The right would take her to another elevator, whereupon she would go down two floors and arrive at the International Relations Office, where a case from Greenland awaited her. The left would take her elsewhere.
If she’d taken the right path, James Potter would not have ended up gagged in a basement.
But, she took the left.
Because really, who knew where Greenland even was?
Phillippa was working. Mostly working. Kind of working. Working if viewed from a distance.
Working if viewed from a distance with both eyes closed.
There. She was working.
She could hear footsteps. Damn.
It was time to put away the crossword.
“Hello, and welcome to James Potter’s office,” she chirped. It came out disgustingly sing-song. She hated her default work tone around the associates of Mr. Potter, but it was what it had to be. She sounded like a bird gagged with helium. “Mr. Potter’s not here right now, but I’ll be more than happy to take – “
At the sight of the woman before her, she abruptly stopped. Her voice lost its sweetness and went several octaves down.
“Hi Pippa,” said Gloria brightly, before taking a seat at the well decorated office. Pippa’s affinity for collecting potted plants and other equally useless objects were at work; the small space was positively exploding with things that served no purpose: wall hangings, unused coffee mugs, a veritable rainforest of potted plants, and a large encyclopedia that nobody had ever touched (Pippa excluded).
“I can take a message for James if you need something, Gloria.”
“No, I didn’t come to visit that bigheaded prat.”
Pippa smiled. Anyone who could insult James Potter so smoothly in front of her was a welcome friend. Even if the welcome friend was really James Potter’s best friend and was only really teasing her.
“Then why did you come?”
“Here to bother you, of course. It’s the national pastime.”
“It would be if anyone actually noticed I existed. I’m like the Invisible Man. Except I’m a girl.”
There was silence at this pronouncement, before Gloria’s clairvoyance went to work.
“He’s still calling you Phyllis?”
“Yes!” Pippa burst out. “And it sounds like his grandmum’s name! Honestly, I’ve worked for him for two bloody years and is it too much to ask for him to remember my name?”
“Er, I’m sure he knows it. You know. Somewhere deep inside.”
“Deep inside where? His brain? He doesn’t have one, remember?”
“I was going to say his heart,” said Gloria lightly.
“He doesn’t have one of those either. He’s like – he’s like an egg.”
“He’s floppy. And unappealing.”
“With no heart or brain.”
“Exactly!” said Pippa. She sighed. “I’ve got to get back to the paperwork rubbish. Nobody even reads my reports. I might as while be slipping in love letters to myself for what it’s worth.”
Gloria squeezed her shoulder. “You’ll live.”
“I hate my life.”
“I hate your life too. But you’ll live anyway.”
“Thanks, Gloria,” she said in a doomed tone. “Reassuring.”
“I see you spilled something on your skirt again. Your sister won’t be happy.”
“She’s 30. She’s never happy. It’d be weird if she was.” Gloria shrugged. “We should get lunch sometime this week. We haven’t chatted in ages.”
“Ages meaning since last week?”
“Yeah, alright.” Pippa looked up glumly, her tiny figure dwarfed by Gloria’s smile. “Thursday afternoon at the usual place?”
“Fine,” said Gloria. “See you then, Phyllis!”
With that, she hopped out, still grinning.
“I would murder you if it was legal!” squeaked Pippa after her. “And I’d do it against your will!”
Several witches in the hallway stopped and stared at her.
Thank you so much for reading everyone! The adventures of Pippa, Gemma, Daphne, Gloria and Josephine will continue on with the next chapter. Do any of you have any favorites yet among the angry women? :)
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