Chapter 1 : To Whom The Task Falls
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"If one more owl shits on my desk," Wesley Underhill said from the cubicle behind Ivy. She smiled as he shooed the owl away. "I swear to Merlin, every other department gets those memos and we're stuck with the fucking owls."
"Well, we are the Beasts Division," Ivy said as she finished signing off on some Hippogriff sighting in Northern Ireland. "They probably thought it was fitting." She glanced over at him as he set the paper in her ‘Out' box and it disappeared with a pop. "What's it say?"
Wesley rolled his chair back to her and handed her the memo. "Stupid owl gave it to the wrong desk," he said, bumping his chair against the edge of her desk. "Guess she's back again, so Dursley will probably be bursting down those doors with some new-"
"Wes, shut up," Ivy said as she read through the memo. "And it's Harriet. She's in here enough, I think we're on first name basis at this point." Wes shrugged and rolled back to his cubicle while Ivy continued to read the memo:
To Whom It May Concern:
Molly Weasley II, MZ, will be returning from her expedition into southern Sudan and, will require a return interview and declaration of restricted items/beasts/beings, etc. Her intake interview will occur on Thursday, April 11th, 2041 at approximately 3:30pm. Any and all personnel that are required must attend.
Jonah McAllister, Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures
"You know, I still don't know why McAllister doesn't do those intake interviews," Wes said as Ivy shoved the memo into a tray at the corner of her desk. It was filled with almost identical ones, the only thing different between them the country and the time. Wes rolled back over to Ivy, a beanbag ball decorated like a snitch in his hands. "Shouldn't that be his job instead of shuffling it off to some paperwork monkey-"
"Do you know how to shut up?" Ivy said, grabbing the ball out of the air as he tossed it. "I was friends with her at school. It makes it easier if I do it because she will actually tell me what she found over there."
Wes raised his eyebrow and grabbed the ball back. "Oh yeah, you guys were just the best of friends," he teased, rolling out of her reach. "No other feelings involved, nope. Just pure, unadulterated, 100% platonic friendship."
Ivy glared at Wes as he rolled back to his desk. "Will you ever let that go?" she asked, starting to throw what she needed for the interview in her bag. "I told you that in confidence. I picked you over all my other friends to reveal that I had a crush on the famous Molly Weasley at school."
"I'm your only friend," Wes said as she stood up. "And from what I understood, the past tense thing might be a little premature." Ivy glared at him and picked up one of the memos to toss at him. He ducked and grinned. "I'm just saying, you do have a picture of her on you desk."
Ivy opened and closed her mouth a few times before saying, "That is-it's not...It's attached to the article where they quoted me, Wesley. I was on the front page of the Prophet!"
Wes nodded with the shit-eating grin still on his face. "Mhm, whatever you say." He nodded to the clock as Ivy started to protest. "Don't want to be late, now."
Ivy glared at Wes again as she started to walk out of the office. "I hate you so much."
The room that the department conducted their intake interviews in was more than a little intimidating, to say the least. Some former Head had decided that instead of the usual generic art or enchanted windows that decorated the walls of most offices, they would put up portraits of famed magizoologists, both past and present. It was one thing to have Lord Stoddard Withers, a long dead specialist of winged horses, staring down disapprovingly, but it was quite another to have someone like Rolf Scammander or Luna Lovegood, that Ivy had once met at some convention, watching throughout the entire process.
Ivy glanced around at the portraits as she set out the notepad and specimen boxes. A new one had been added since the last time she had been in there a few months ago and despite her best efforts, she couldn't stop her gaze from coming back to the picture of Molly that sat between the two Scammanders' pictures. Ivy kept messing with the stack of parchment to try and distract herself from glancing up at it. She was saved as the door opened, drawing her attention away from the portraits. Her relief was short-lived as the person whose picture she was failing at not staring at walked in.
Not much about Molly Weasley had changed since their days at school. She still had the same shoulder-length brown hair, though it was thrown up in a messy bun or ponytail more often than before. Her skin was still darker from all the time she spent out in the sun and there were several more scars up and down her arms than there had been before, most of which had come from the time she had spent in Romania with her uncle. There was something in her eyes as she set her case down on the desk as she started to talk.
"Ivy, you will never believe what I saw this time," she said, unlocking the case. "It was incredible. I was so close to her and she was absolutely beautiful."
Ivy nodded, no words coming to mind as Molly rambled on. It was only after Molly had finished placing notes and samples on the the table that she was able to get a coherent thought out. "What did you see, exactly?" she asked, grabbing one of the two vials filled with what looked like yellow and black spotted fur.
Ivy looked up when Molly didn't say aything right away. She leaned against the edge of the table and Ivy recognized the almost manic look in Molly's eye. "Ivy, I saw a Nundu," she said. "Up close and personal."
Ivy froze with the vial halfway in the specimen box. "You saw a what?" she asked, staring at the fur in the vial. "This is from a Nundu? You pulled hair from a Nundu?" She quickly set the sample down and started scribbling on a piece of parchment.
"Well, no, the hair was caught in a tree," Molly said, starting to walk around the room. "And I found the nails on a the ground. But I saw them, Ivy. And they were stunning."
"Them?" Ivy asked as she put the nail fragments in another box. "You were that close to more than one of them?"
Molly seemed to hesitate, staring up at the portrait of Newt Scammander. "Well, I mean, close is a relative term," she said, tugging at the rings on her fingers.
"Molly," Ivy said, pulling some of Molly's notes over to read.
"It was a mother and her cub," she relented. "I respected the Ministry's stupid distance rule, don't worry. I tracked them as they moved and never got close enough for them to notice me. It's all in those notes."
Ivy gave her an distrustful look as she flipped through the notes, copying them each over with her wand. "Molly, you better not be lying to me," she said, scanning the sketches that Molly had drawn up. "They let me do your interviews as a favor. If they knew I let something slide-"
"Come on, you think I'd let you get in trouble?" Molly said, finally sitting down in one of the chairs and sliding over to Ivy's side.
Ivy paused for a second, staring at Molly before shaking her head. "Not intentionally, no," she said, focusing on the sketches. "And you said you kept the appropriate distance as per the Ministry's guidelines for interaction with a Class Five Dangerous Beast?"
Molly rolled her eyes and leaned back in her chair. "Please, look who you're talking to," she said, a grin on her face. "I'm Molly Weasley, the most famous and accomplished magizoologist since Newt Scammander himself, according to the Daily Prophet."
"Your best friend writes the articles about you, don't act like there isn't some bias there" Ivy said, refusing to look up at Molly. "Anyway, I know that you are aware of the regulations, but that doesn't mean you follow them." She held up the sketches and finally looked Molly in the eye. "You drew these sketches from the minimum safe distance?"
Molly nodded, looking down at her hands. Ivy put the sketches down and pushed them over towards Molly. "See, this one, when the neck is puffed up seems like it was drawn from far away. It's not too specific and it's just an outline. But this one-" she pointed to one of the Nundu laying down that was filled with detailed descriptions "-is full of details that you would have to be particularly close to the creature to see, right?"
Molly pushed the sketches away and stood up, starting to walk around the room again. "Would you believe me if I said I had good binoculars?" she asked, turning around with a sheepish look on her face.
"Look, I was careful," Molly interrupted. "I promise. But, Ivy, come on, it was two Nundu. I couldn't have just let them pass me by without doing anything. You would have done the exact same thing, right? I mean, I think I really want to study these guys, you know? No one's really done it-"
"Mol, you say that every time you come back from somewhere," Ivy said, finishing collecting all of Molly's information and putting it together in a container. She waved her wand and shrunk the container down before tapping it. It disappeared with a pop and Ivy turned to face Molly. "Just...don't do it again, okay? McAllister isn't going to check it all too closely."
Molly smiled and sat back into the chair, scooting closer to Ivy. "See, I told you you'd have done the same thing," she said, pulling out her wand and waving it. All of her samples and everything started to pack themselves away in her case. "Ivy, it was like when we saw the Hippogriffs for the first time, back in sixth year. It was incredible, amazing, like nothing I'd ever seen before."
Ivy tried to tune Molly's ramblings out, even though she was dying to know more about Molly's expedition. Each and every time Molly came back, it was like a blow to Ivy's ego. The two of them had always talked about going on amazing adventures together to country after country, discovering new species and becoming the world's most famed magizoologists. But unfortunately for Ivy, her last name was not Weasley and she didn't have the chance or the funds to travel the world without any other income. Her mother needed her to stay at home to help with her father and her siblings, so she was stuck at home working a Ministry desk job while Molly was able to do what they had always planned.
"I'm telling you, you have to come and see it at least one time," Molly continued, snapping Ivy out of her thoughts. "It's a million times better than anything we ever saw in class."
"That's great, Mol," Ivy said, standing up and shoving her things in her bag, "but I can't keep covering for you. Can you just pretend to follow the rules for once? For me?"
Molly sighed and rolled back until she hit the wall. "But where's the fun in that?" she asked, spinning around as she smiled. She held her hands up as Ivy looked like she was about to say something. "Okay, okay, I guess I can make one exception. Only ‘cause you asked so very nicely."
A knock on the door cut into the conversation and Molly rolled all the way around the table to open it. Ivy pulled her bag up onto her shoulder as Harriet Dursley walked in. Her black hair was pulled up in a messy bun and her clothes were rumpled, like she had just climbed out of bed. She stopped once she got in the door, seeming to register that Ivy was standing a few feet away.
"Oh, Ivy, hi," she said, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear. She quickly put her hand back onto the stacks of papers in her arms as she tried to juggle them so they didn't fall. "I can come back, if you guys aren't done yet, I didn't mean to barge in."
"We're done, Haz, don't worry about it," Molly said as she stood up from behind the door. She grabbed the papers out of Harriet's hands and set them down on the table. Harriet set her bag down on the table as well, throwing a glance at Ivy.
Ivy made her way to the door, grabbing the handle as she stopped. "It's fine, Harriet, I got everything I needed," she said with a small smile. She turned back to Molly as she gathered up the rest of her stuff. "I'll let you know if there's anything that doesn't check out, but you should be fine this time."
She gave Molly a pointed look that she blatantly ignored. Ivy rolled her eyes and started to close the door behind her. "I'll see you around, Harriet," she said, ignoring Molly's protests that she never actually broke the rules, just bent them a little. "You guys should be able to use this for a little while if you need it."
"Thanks, Ivy," Harriet called as the door started to swing shut.
"Enjoy those notes!" Molly called as the door snapped shut with a click.
Ivy stood staring at it for a minute before walking back down the corridor to her office, ducking as more owls flew back and forth to various offices. She yanked open the door to the Beasts Division and moved down the rows until she reached her cubicle.
"So how was it?" Wes asked as she sat down. "Was the great, wonderful, amazing magizoologist Molly Weasley as perfectly awesome as ever?"
"You're awful, is what you are," Ivy said as she sat down.
"I'm going to take that as a yes," Wes said, ducking as Ivy threw another memo at his head. He laughed and turned back to his desk as one of their coworkers shushed them. Ivy turned back to her work, groaning as she saw the pile of paperwork that had accumulated in her in box. She slowly unpacked her bag and shoved everything back into the general place it was supposed to go.
Stuffing her bag back underneath her desk, she glanced around before pulling out folded pieces of parchment from her pocket. She unfolded them and spread them out on her desk, staring down at the sketches and notes Molly had taken. Leaning against her hand, she traced her fingers over each drawing. The sound of someone snapping a drawer shut shook her out of her trance and she stacked all the notes up together. Looking around again, she tapped her bottom right drawer with her wand and pulled it open.
She placed the notes on top of an already extensive stack of field notes, some more worn than others. Along with the notes, the drawer was full of field journals and specimen jars and signed copies of every book Molly and Harriet had published. She stared down at the cover of the first book she had gotten, the jacket worn from all the times she had paged through it. Sighing, she snapped the drawer shut and sealed it with her wand before reaching over to grab the first sheet on her pile of paperwork.
I know, I know, another new WIP. I should really stop, but no one from the futue has come to stop me yet, so how bad an idea could it really be?
Anyway, as always, hope you all enjoy!
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