Disclaimer: I own Harry Potter. That's why I'm writing fan fiction, because I own the original. No, seriously, I do. I'd show you the paperwork, but my magic chicken pecked away all the important parts… Yes, that was sarcasm.

Explanation: This isn't a real fic, so much as it is a writing exercise. This was written as an exercise in Sudden Fiction, which is to say that it was written as though it were a page torn from the middle of a novel. Events obviously occur before and occur after, but this is all I can show. I'm not sure how successful it is as an exercise, but I quite liked the piece, so here it is…

"Here you go, Luv." a voice croaked, tearing Andromeda from her contumacious ponderings. She looked up to see a weary-looking woman with nicotine stains on her fingers thrusting a mug at her with a receipt.

"Oh. T-thank you." Andromeda said automatically, taking the grimy-looking mug without much enthusiasm.

"Pay on your way out." The woman instructed, before stalking away without another word.

The service in this place really was abominable, Andromeda thought. As was the hideous vinyl seating, the dirt-encrusted floor, and just about everything else in that little muggle cesspit. Including, Andromeda confirmed with a quick sip, the tea. Still, beggars couldn't be choosers, and a beggar was exactly what she was at that point. Gentry didn't spend the night on the streets, did they?

To compound matters, her tweed skirt and crisp white blouse, which had made Sirius laugh so much on Platform Nine and Three Quarters, were the only muggle clothes she possessed. Since she didn't expect her family to be in any great hurry to give her access to her other belongings, she supposed that made them the only clothes she possessed at all. In fact, she realised with dawning horror, the hideous muggle clothes she wore, the half-full moneybag at her waist and the antique bracelet gleaming at her wrist were her only possessions now.

She had come of age and she had been disowned. She had nothing, not even her wand. For the first time in her life, she was alone. Andromeda's hands began to shake as the full implications hit her for the first time.

More to steady them than anything else, she took a sip of her tea. The lukewarm brew hit her tongue, making her shudder at the taste, but it still calmed her slightly. She noticed her white-knuckle grip on her mug drew a stare from an early morning patron, but aside from that Andromeda was focussed entirely on her pressing new problem - Her parents had kicked her out, kept her wand ("We paid for it! And we won't see our property used by a little blood-traitor like you!"), and tossed her onto the streets of London.

All in all, it was not one of her better days.

Still, she did not have to decide everything right away. Andromeda had two more months until September First, and so two months in which to decide what she was going to do with her life and whether or not she was going to return to Hogwarts.

In the meantime, there were certain necessities to be seen to: Food, clothing, a place to stay, and a new wand. Actually, upon reflection, a new wand was at the top of her list. Andromeda didn't want to run into one of her relatives or Slytherin classmates without being able to defend herself.

She probably had enough in her moneybag for a new wand from Ollivanders. She definitely would if she sold her bracelet on Knockturn Alley. Borgin and Burkes would almost certainly offer her upwards of thirty galleons for it, if she played her cards right. After purchasing a wand, and perhaps a few other assorted items, Andromeda could start to look for work. There were always places on Diagon Alley looking for help, and if none of them suited her, she could try Hogsmeade. Or she could do the thing properly and get a muggle job.

Andromeda smiled, as she imagined her family's reaction if they heard that she had abandoned her studies at Hogwarts for the employ of a muggle. Her Aunt Walburga would almost certainly suffer an embolism if she heard.

Then again, Andromeda had thought the old bat would drop dead of a heart attack if she ever heard that her niece had been had a drunken make-out session with a Muggleborn in Hogsmeade, and she'd lived through that one . It seemed that the venomous hag was destined to cling to life, like a tic to a dog, for a good while yet. It was most disheartening.

A small chuckle actually escaped Andromeda's lips, as she thought of how much trouble could have been avoided, if only she hadn't taken that first, illicit swing of Firewhiskey in the Hog's Head…

"What you laughin' at, young un?" someone inquired from the next booth.

Andromeda turned. The man who'd addressed her was roughly three times her width, despite being of a similar height. He wore a grey shirt which read 'Kenny's Appliance Repair' in peeling red letters. He had his back to her and was still reading his paper. Andromeda, not quite sure how to have a conversation with a muggle, decided to respond by speaking very clearly and using short words. She also felt she should remain polite, as she didn't have her wand and could conceivably be burnt at the stake.

"Excuse me." she enunciated. "I was just thinking, that's all. Sorry if I disturbed you." She turned back to her miserable little cup of tea, hoping the conversation was over.

Apparently it wasn't. "Didn't disturb me, lass. I was jus' wonderin' what you was laughin' at. Could use some good cheer meself this mornin'."

"Oh." Andromeda said, not sure how to explain her rather humorous situation to a muggle. "Er… I was just thinking about what my parents would say, if they knew I was looking for work in London." she cleared her throat. "They don't think that a girl like me should be working, you see." Andromeda wisely decided to omit that her parents thought she should be married off and having pureblood babies to help rid Wizarding Society of muggles and muggleborns. She suspected it would have got her a few strange looks.

The man thwacked his paper onto the table and turned to face her.

Andromeda thought it only polite to do the same, and in an instant they were facing each other. He was a robust looking sort of man, with a doughy kind of face and a scratchy yellow beard.

"Upper-class folks, right?" he asked her in the same way her own father would've asked after a squib or some such.

Andromeda nodded, thinking the term 'upper-class' a fair assessment of her upbringing.

"Aye, I can tell. You got that snooty sort o' air about you." he informed her.

Quite bewildered at how to respond, Andromeda folded her hands in her lap and stayed quiet.

Her new acquaintance took this as a cue to continue. "Don't you listen to em, young un. You talk nice, you're no weakling, and you're a pretty thing. Odds are you'll find work, no bother." He flashed a conspiratorial grin. "You get yourself a load o cash, start up a business o your own or some such? Aye, that'll show em, won't it, young un?"

Andromeda smiled, shyly. "Yes." she agreed quietly. "Yes, it would."

The man nodded. "Well, I gotta get goin'. Lots o work to do today, y'know." he told her as he picked up his newspaper. "You have another cuppa on me, a'right?" He tossed a few coins onto the table. "An' here you go, in all." he handed her the newspaper. "Find yersel' a nice job or two in there. A manner like yours, and I bet even Claridge's'll be linin' up to hire you."

Andromeda took the paper gingerly. "I… Th-thank you, sir." she stammered gratefully. "This is… this will be very helpful. Thank you."

The man didn't really respond. He chortled slightly, waved at the surly waitress, and made for the door. Even after he left, Andromeda continued to stare at the paper in her hands, thinking… That man, that muggle, thought that she was worth something. That she could find a job 'no bother', and that she could show up her family. And he'd given her a paper with job listings, too. Andromeda grinned, unfolded the newspaper and opened it to the right page.

Right in the centre of the page there was an advertisement for a job in a hotel, cleaning rooms or waiting tables. She'd actually heard of it too, it was the hotel that Ted Tonks stayed in before going to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Andromeda nodded in satisfaction.

All in all, it was turning into one of her better days. "Oh, excuse me." she asked the apathetic waitress. "Could you possibly tell me how to get here?"