Chapter 2 : Article One, Clause Two
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They really did run a tight operation here. Every time I had even tried to open my mouth, one of them had shut me down with an ‘It’s okay ma’am’ or a ‘please stay calm’ or a ‘you will come to no harm here.’ Personally, I thought losing all my memories of magic would come under the category of harm, but that was just me.
“Just before you destroy all my memories forever,” I began, as loudly and clearly and if-you-try-and-shush-me-I-will-ignore-you-so-don’t-even-go-there as I could, “I’d like a piece of parchment and a quill, so I can write down my memories of Hogwarts so even if I can’t access them, someone at the Ministry of Magic will know I existed.”
“How do you know about Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic?” Security Wizard 01 asked sharply.
I feigned deep thought. “Hmm, let’s see here. I could be a witch on her way to her first day in the Muggle Liason Office who happened to take the bus and couldn’t wear her robes on the bus because of the Statute of Secrecy, or I could be a particularly nosy and astute Muggle who happened to find out all these things by chance and somehow came by the wand in her handbag.”
At the mention of this, Security Wizard 02 promptly opened my handbag and upended it.
“Do you mind—” I protested feebly, but it was too late – everything in my magically expanded handbag was now lying in full view on the floor – robes, wand, wallet, bus card, quills, parchment, hairbrush, tampons.
“It has an Undetectable Extension Charm on it,” Security Wizard 02 reported.
“Of course it does, I put it there.”
“Is this your wand?” Security Wizard 02 asked, taking it out.
“Dogwood and dragon heartstring, ten and a half inches, flexible? Yeah, that’s mine.”
Security Wizard 01 turned to me. “You say you work in Muggle Liason?”
“Yeah. First day today. And now I’m late.”
“Your name, please?”
“Charlotte Moriarty. That’s M-O-R-I-A-R-T-Y.” I usually made some reference to Sherlock Holmes at this point, but something told me the mention of Muggle literature wouldn’t be a good move right now.
He took a piece of parchment from a nearby desk, scribbled a note, charmed it, and sent it on its way. “We’ve been watching you for a couple of weeks now. Would you mind explaining why you came to the Ministry employee’s entrance on several occasions by bus, looked around, and left again?”
I was beginning to regret doing that now. “Um, I was practicing getting here. You know, making sure I got off at the right stop and stuff. I got it wrong a couple of times.”
“Surely it would only take one trip to work out such things.”
“Well, I wanted to time it, see. Over several days so I had an average.”
The security wizards exchanged glances. “I see.”
“Can I go to work now?”
Security Wizard 01 sighed. “Straight down the corridor, third door on your left.”
I remembered the elevators from my interview, and knew I was heading for Level 3, the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. In my mind, Muggle Liason shouldn’t be primarily concerned with accidents and catastrophes, but I figured that would be a change I could suggest once I was a bit more established in the office. Now that I was late for my first day, such influence would probably be harder to come by.
I knocked on the door marked Muggle Liason Office.
“Come in!” a woman’s voice called.
Feeling slightly nervous, I opened the door and stepped inside. A flurry of interdepartmental memos flew out, some hitting me in the face. When they had dispersed, I could see the room which I had my interview in – small, with a desk in one corner, a potted plant in another, a small table piled with old magazines and a few chairs, and a coat rack adorned with one old travelling cloak that had presumably been left since last winter.
“Ah. Charlotte, isn’t it?” the woman behind the desk, who I recognised as Melissa Burbridge, the head of the Muggle Liason Office who had interviewed me, asked.
Melissa nodded. “Ivan sent a message saying you would be late. I’d love to hear the story, but I’m sure you can regale us with it at morning tea. The office is through that door – I’ve told the others to start you off easy.”
“Oh no, I can—”
“I’d beware of them though, if I were you,” Melissa continued, but before I could ask her exactly what she meant by that, she gestured towards the door.
The Muggle Liason Office itself was unlike anything I’d seen before. There were two cubicles on either side of the room, and a long bench ran the length of the back wall. In the middle of the room was a square table surrounded by chairs. Abandoned interdepartmental memos hovered in the air, occasionally giving up and fluttering to the floor. There was parchment everywhere, intermingled with random Muggle documents and the occasional food wrapper or empty coffee cup.
“Fresh meat!” one guy said enthusiastically, looking up from what he was doing at the bench and waving jovially at me. “Are you the one who nearly got Obliviated?”
“Don’t mind him,” an Asian guy advised me. “We make bets on how long the newbies will last, and Connor here stands to lose five Galleons and a lot of face if you’re still here after a week. My name’s Hiroto Nakamura.”
“I’m Charlotte Moriarty.”
“Moriarty?” Hiroto repeated. “As in, Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes?”
“You know about that?”
“Of course.” Hiroto shrugged. “This is the Muggle Liason Office after all, we have to know a bit about them.”
“I played Hamlet in an amateur production last year,” Connor called.
“That was irrelevant,” Hiroto noted.
“Nah it wasn’t. Shakespeare is more cultured than Sherlock Holmes, anyone knows that. And Fresh Meat here is a girl.”
“Oh, so you’re showing off,” Hiroto concluded with a nod. “Makes sense.”
“…So I’ll check the file for you, and get back to you after lunch,” a familiar voice said, as the owner of said familiar voice emerged from one of the cubicles and made for the door I was standing in front of.
“Mr Weasley!” I said happily, excited to see someone I recognised.
Hugo’s grandad grinned at me. “Good morning, Charlotte. Trouble with the Obliviators this morning, I hear? Best not tell Hugo, you’ll never live it down.”
“Good luck on your first day,” Mr Weasley told me, disappearing out the door.
The man Mr Weasley was talking to emerged from the cubicle, rubbing his greying beard. “Morning,” he grunted at me.
“I’m Justin Finch-Fletchley. I pretty much run the show round here, no matter what they might tell you.” Justin jerked his head in the direction of Hiroto and Connor. “I hope you’re here to work, Miss Moriarty.”
“Of course,” I said hurriedly, nodding. “Absolutely.”
“That’s your cubicle over there.” Justin pointed to the cubicle in the top left corner. “And you can start the morning – ” he lifted a large pile of parchment from the table and dumped it into my arms – “By sorting these by date into piles. They go back about three weeks. One pile per day. And I want them labelled.”
Justin disappeared back into his cubicle, and I looked at the pile of parchment in my arms, my excitement rapidly deflating.
“Five Galleons,” Connor whispered, rubbing his hands together.