Chapter 1 : First Day
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I threw my legs over the side of my bed on a bright, sunny morning, relishing the warmth of the sun on my skin, as I had left the window open the night before. Allowing my eyes to adjust to waking up, I pushed myself into a sitting position. For a moment, I just sat on the side of my bed, legs, bared by my pajama short, swinging back and forth, hands running through my short dirty-blonde hair in an unsuccessful attempt to tame it.
I had grown up being taught that beautiful mornings were to be enjoyed, and I wasn't about to break tradition just because this was my first day working at the Ministry of Magic-
Half yelping in sudden panic, I jumped off the bed and rushed to the bathroom to dress and brush my hair. How could I have forgotten? I had only received word by owl post that my job interview had been a success, and I had been accepted as an Auror. I was to meet my partner today.
I stumbled down the stairs that led from my apartment to the parking lot as I slid on my black pumps, nearly knocking over my neighbor-what is her name again?-in the process.
Once I reached the parking lot, I speed walked to the alley behind the apartment complex and apparated, praying desperately that I would not be late. There was a snap, and then I was stretched and squeezed before popping back into reality in the busy square that was the metropolis of the Ministry of Magic. I was in such a rush that I walked right into a tall man with dark red hair and deep brown eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses. He was young, probably late teens or early twenties, and he was dressed in business attire, which meant he must work at the Ministry as well.
His eyebrows, the same colour as his hair, furrowed slightly at first before his expression went blank and he looked me over once. He then met my curious gaze with his dark eyes as he said, "You're late, Miss..."
"Morrow. Audrey Morrow," I replied, trying not to let my panic show. I was hoping desperately that this would not ruin my acceptance, but behind that, I was still a little curious about this man, as I was about every new person I met. Being shy just did not suit me.
"Ah, yes, well, I'm Percy Weasley, your new partner," his voice was firm, as if telling me right off that he would take no nonsense and no excuses. But beneath that firmness, there was something else that I could almost feel....
I brought my focus back suddenly and replied, "I apologize. I woke up late. My own fault, of course."
Percy nodded, and the motioned for me to follow him.
As we walked, I let my mind ponder his voice. Being the observant person I like to think of myself as, I wanted to understand this man if he was, in fact, to be my partner.
I ruled out relief and amusement from the possible emotions list, and replayed his comments in my head. He had almost sounded...hopeful? Yet, sad as well. His eyes hadn't been as expressive as eyes usually were to me, perhaps something in his past contributed to the sadness?
Percy stopped suddenly in front of an office door and I realized that, while I'd been absorbed in my musings, we had gotten on and left the elevator already.
"Well, Miss Morrow, follow me and I will introduce you to our current mission. Have you heard of Lucius Malfoy, by the way?" He didn't sound as if he particularly cared about the last part, only felt it necessary to introduce the main topic.
"Please, call me Audrey. And yes, his son was in school with me," I replied.
"I'd prefer Miss Morrow," Percy stated, almost void of emotion.
"Fine, so, what about Malfoy?" I queried.
"He's vanished," Percy paused, then added, "His wife and son, as well."
"So? He's a Death Eater, I'd hide too," I replied.
Percy's expression changed momentarily to confusion, and I realized he was one of those people who wears a mask over their emotions most of the time. My assessment was proven correct as, within seconds, the mask was back up, and Percy responded, slightly less strict, "Previously, we had discovered quite a few items of dark importance missing from vaults here, where we keep confiscated items. After some work by detective Aurors, the items were tracked to Malfoy Manor. The Aurors returned to make their report, but when others came to collect the items, the Malfoy family and the items were gone. Our job is to find them."
I nodded slowly, then said, "Where do we start?"
I didn't even realize I was staring at him, his face filled with a passion for his job, until a smile--a small, weary one, but a smile, nonetheless--broke out on his face. I think my stomach just backflipped.
After a few hours of planning investigations and visits to suspicious places, Percy finally declared that we would call it a day and begin the real work the next day. He was all the mask I'd seen most of the day as he said goodbye, seemingly only because I had spoken first.
I apparated home and trooped back up to my apartment, the mental image of his smile somehow adhered to the front of my mind.
When I reached my door, I picked up my magazine and newspaper, which had been thrown carelessly in the hall, and sighed. Maybe I might as well admit it to myself, Percy was...well, he was cool. That was the way the still 15-year-old part of my mind labeled him...meanwhile, the nearly-18-year-old part of me was suggesting words like cute, attractive, and somewhat distracting.
I unlocked my door, threw my suit jacket over the back of a chair, and flopped onto the small sofa to read my magazine. Just my luck, it was the Wizarding World's version of 17: Teen Witch, and a particularly "Teen" version, this time.
Today's horoscope for Capricorn: "Today you will meet someone special without having to go out of your way."
Page 13: "Excessive Curiosity, Stomach Flips, Girly Reactions, Fixation, Inability to Forget Him: Sure Signs of Being in Love"
Page 28: "Advice for the Teen Witch"
"From Daniella-Help Me, I Think I'm in Love with a Co-Worker!"
I slap the magazine closed then. I'm not in love.
Why do I even read this rubbish? Who writes such nonsense?
I don't need anyone insisting that I am in love...especially a magazine.
Except for one tiny detail.
Percy's smile was pretty freaking stunning.