Minerva McGonagall wants. She wants a broom and a career, and she wants Amelia Bones. But what happens when she gets everything she ever desired?
A wave of shocked recognition flooded Minerva when she looked up from her desk to see Amelia Bones grinning down at her.
This, she thought, unbidden. This is why.
She had suddenly remembered the feeling of ashamed, visceral longing that had possessed her when she had seen her cousin Hector take to the air several feet above the Ross estate on his gleaming Cleensweep Junior.
The longing that had been utterly absent from her feelings about poor, disappointed Dougal, and that she had known existed, somewhere in a not-quite-developed portion of her cerebral cortex, had been dormant, waiting to spring to fulminant life at the right provocation.
“Want to get some lunch, Minerva?”
“Yes, all right. Just give me a moment,” a dry-mouthed Minerva replied.
She peeked her head into Mr Urquart’s office and said, “I’m going to get some lunch now, if that’s all right?”
“Of course,” replied her boss, standing. “Can you find your way to the canteen, or would you like an escort?”
“Thank you, sir, but I’m going with an old school friend. She works in the Investigation Department.”
“Oh? Well, then, enjoy your lunch, Miss McGonagall.”
Minerva joined Amelia, and they shared the Ministry lift, lurching sideways and diagonally, with six other quiet Ministry functionaries and three noisy post owls.
Finally seated at a corner table of the bustling canteen, Amelia asked, “So, how’s the first day going? Urquart pinched your bum yet?”
Minerva cursed her pale skin for the millionth time as she felt her face grow hot. “No. Is he likely to?”
“If what the other girls say is true, he might,” said Amelia. “He’s never done mine, of course, but then I suppose I’m not his type.”
“Neither am I, then, I expect,” said Minerva, earning her a wry smile.
“Maybe, maybe not,” was all Amelia said.
Lunch became a regular affair for Minerva and Amelia. They left Minerva’s office together promptly at 12:30 most days, staked out “their” table in the canteen, and sat over stringy ham or stale pickle sandwiches discussing Ministry gossip, or the Harpies’ chances in the All-England Cup, or the latest round of Muggle-baiting Amelia was investigating. Minerva’s own work was, to her dismay, far less interesting, so they never spoke of it. She tried to remind herself that Amelia Bones had been in her job two years already, while Minerva was just starting out.
One evening, when Minerva had stayed late to finish piecing together the conflicting accounts of a suspected unregistered Animagus sighting, Mr Urquart called her into his office.
“Working late, my industrious assistant?” he inquired.
“Yes, sir. I’m almost finished writing up the report on that wild boar sighting in Chertsey. It sounds legitimate, but it’s possible it could have been just a mundane member of the Suidae family.”
“Very good.” He paused, looking at her, and for a moment Minerva wondered if he was going to dash forward and pinch her bottom, just as Amelia had said.
Instead he said, “I notice you spend most of your lunch hours with the Bones girl.”
“Yes, sir,” said Minerva, suddenly and inexplicably on the defensive. “We’re old friends from Hogwarts.”
“I see,” he said. Hesitating, he continued: “It isn’t my place, I realise, to comment on your personal life, but I wonder, my dear, if you are quite . . . cognisant of Miss Bones’s . . . personal habits.”
Mr Urquart evidently mistook her consternation for confusion. “Why don’t you have a seat, Minerva,” he said kindly, holding out a chair for her, which she took.
“You come from a conservative, that’s not to say, sheltered, background, so you may not be aware of some of the . . . more colourful . . . aspects of modern, urban life. But Miss Bones—not to say anything against her, of course; she is a fine worker—represents a particular sort of young woman.” He searched Minerva’s face for understanding. Once again mistaking her intentionally blank look for non-understanding, he sighed and went on: “That is to say, Miss Bones is known to . . . keep company . . . with other witches. Do you see?”
He was wringing his hands on the hem of his robes in the acuity of his discomfort, something Minerva’s father used to do with his cassock when preaching a particularly emotional sermon.
“I believe I do, Mr Urquart,” Minerva replied. She said no more, unsure of what he expected.
“Oh, do not misunderstand, Miss McGonagall. I have nothing, nothing at all against . . . her sort, but I thought you might appreciate a word to the wise on the matter, seeing as you are obviously not of the same persuasion,” he said, his eyes darting quickly over her befrocked form, up to her long hair, and then back to her face. “I should hate for there to be some misunderstanding of intentions between you.”
And what are your intentions, Mr Urquart? Minerva thought.
She said, “Thank you, Mr Urquart. I don’t think there is any misunderstanding. Amelia and I are friends. We were both on our House Quidditch teams at school,” she offered, as if that explained it all.
“Ah. Well. That’s all right then,” said Urquart. “I do hope you don’t mind an old man interfering just a bit with his protégée’s private life. Unfair as it is, these things do tend to have an effect on one’s career. No offence was intended to Miss Bones, and I hope you have not taken any.”
“No, sir,” replied Minerva.
She left the office in a fog of anxiety.
The next day, she begged off lunch with Amelia, claiming the depredations of a last-minute report. The following day, she told Amelia that she’d likely be working through most lunch hours over the following weeks.
Could they perhaps meet for a drink or a bite to eat after work sometime?
Yes, said Amelia. They could.
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