Chapter 3 : The Widow Sihirbaz
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Percy pulled the door shut behind him and followed Mustafa as they retraced their steps down the corridor. Before reaching the open deck, Mustafa turned to the left and headed down a different corridor that Percy had not noticed before. This wasn’t a full-size Muggle cruise ship, but it was still very large. He wondered how many people had gotten lost on this ship before and resolved to carry the little map that had arrived with his ticket with him at all times—at least until he got more familiar with the layout of the place.
They stopped before heavy-looking wooden door, and Mustafa rapped on it and said something in Turkish, of which Percy only recognized his name. There was a response, and Mustafa turned the knob and pushed the door open.
A large man with a neatly-trimmed goatee stood looking at some charts that were tacked to a cork board. As Percy entered the room, the man turned and strode over to shake hands.
“Ah, Mr. Weasley. I trust you find your quarters comfortable?”
“Yes, quite comfortable, Captain Tosun,” Percy replied.
“Sit, sit!” The captain gestured at a plush red chair in front of a massive-looking desk—both bolted down like most of the furniture he’d seen so far, Percy noted. He settled himself into it as Tosun took a seat behind the desk, easing back in his chair with a broad grin.
Percy was not as comfortable in his own chair. It was so soft that it seemed to swallow him, and it was lower to the ground than was a comfortable height compared to the big desk. It was also far enough from the desk to be inconvenient, and being bolted down, could not be scooted closer. Percy felt slightly ridiculous as he fished his documents out of his Muggle briefcase and stretched forward out of the enveloping depths of that chair to slide them onto Tosun’s desk. He did his best not to let his discomfort show.
“These documents here describe the inspection process. I’ll need to inspect the boat itself, as well as some of your logs and other records. The final page is a contract giving me access to all areas of your ship, and it requires your signature. I’ll begin my physical inspection tomorrow morning.”
Tosun flipped to the final page and scanned it quickly. He looked back up, white teeth flashing in that broad grin. “Of course, Mr. Weasley. You shall have access to whatever you need. Mustafa will be your guide. You understand that some areas of the boat can be dangerous, and we wouldn’t want you to be injured while on board. He will help you find your way around more quickly and help look out for your safety. Perhaps that way you will be able to finish early, eh, and enjoy the rest of your holiday?”
“That’s what I plan to do,” Percy said as Toson took up a quill and slashed his signature onto the form. Tosun stood up, and Percy took that as his cue to rise as well. He struggled up out of the plush chair, again feeling foolish but trying to look in control. Tosun handed him the signed document and shook his hand again. Percy slid the parchment back into his Muggle briefcase and followed Mustafa back out the door.
“Mr. Weasley, you hungry? We have very good food here. You like, I show you the dining room,” Mustafa said.
“Thank you, yes. I’d like to take this back to my room, first, though,” Percy said, hefting his Muggle briefcase.
He followed Mustafa back to his room, where he pulled out his wand, pointed it at the doorknob, and spoke his name out loud. The lock glowed green, and Percy turned the knob, pushing the door open. Mustafa lingered discreetly outside, and Percy stowed his Muggle briefcase at the desk. He opened one of the drawers, retrieving the ship map, which he folded into a pocket of his robes. Now he was ready for some lunch!
Percy emerged from his room once more, and Mustafa led him down the corridor the other way this time. They emerged on a different, less crowded part of the deck than where Percy had boarded this ship. It was still drizzling, and Percy regretted for a moment that he hadn’t seized his waterproof cloak off the hook in his room. Well, too late now. He hurried after Mustafa, and they quickly ducked into an alcove of sorts, out of the rain. The alcove was very wide with double doors set in it. The doors had been propped open, and a delicious smell was emerging from them.
“The dining room, Mr. Weasley. I leave you now, but if you need me, you tell someone in blue uniform like mine. I get message and come.” Mustafa bobbed his head and scurried away. Percy turned and walked into the dining room.
Despite the open door and the cool breeze outside, the dining room was cozy and warm. It reminded him a bit of the Great Hall at Hogwarts, with candles floating near the ceiling for lighting and a couple of long tables. There were also several smaller tables scattered around the room. The dining room was nearly empty. Percy supposed many passengers had not yet arrived or were still settling in. However, he was glad to see he wasn’t alone here—a handful of people were seated at one small table, obviously part of a group judging from the way they joked and laughed with one another. One of the other smaller tables was obviously being used as well, though the two people seated there were filling their plates at the buffet.
Even as Percy looked around, taking in the room, a waiter glided up and seated him at the second smaller table. Percy felt a bit awkward about taking in his lunch with strangers, but then again, he’d done that at the Ministry cafeteria many times, and he also didn’t want to sit alone. Percy took a sip of water and then moved off to the buffet.
By the time he had finished filling his plate, the other two people had returned to the table. There was a woman, middle-aged, he judged, with dark wavy hair. The younger man with her resembled her, though he had darker features, so Percy assumed they were related, probably mother and son. He walked back there and sat down.
The woman looked up and smiled. She had a nose that was too upturned for her to be considered particularly attractive, though she wasn’t homely either. She looked familiar, and Percy tried to remember where he’d seen her before.
“Percy Weasley,” he offered with a polite nod.
“We’ve met before, Mr. Weasley,” the woman responded. “You interviewed me after my husband’s death last year.”
Now he remembered. “Ah yes,” he said. “Pansy Sihirbaz, right?”
She nodded and indicated the young man beside her. “This is my son, Adem.”
“Nice to meet you,” Percy said, feeling a bit awkward but trying not to show it. It had been a very high-profile and embarrassing case, quite a scandal. Her husband, Onan Sihirbaz, had died after crashing his racing broom. He’d been drunk, and his passenger had been a woman less than half his age. She had also died. It had been a big mess, because he’d crashed his broom in Muggle London. In addition to the Transportation department, every Obliviator at the Ministry had been called in, and the paperwork had been nearly endless.
“Are you here on business or on holiday, Mr. Weasley,” Pansy asked.
“A bit of both, to be honest. I have some business to take care of, but I hope to finish quickly and be able to enjoy the rest of the cruise. What about you?”
“Holiday for us. My nephew is getting married, and he wanted to do it in Turkey near his grandparents. After the ceremony, we’ll all be sailing back to England.”
“I see. Well, congratulations to your nephew.”
They made a bit more polite small talk before they had finished eating, and then Percy excused himself to go explore the ship a bit more.