Disclaimer: Settings, characters and anything else recognise belong to JK Rowling. We just like to play with her ideas.

Chapter 33

Dolores Umbridge wants a nameplate

Dolores was rather fond of daydreaming. Not, of course, that she indulged in it regularly. It was incredibly important to concentrate on the task at hand. But occasionally, at the end of the day, when she was seated on a plump armchair in front of the fire, clutching a hot cup of tea, she enjoyed letting her mind wander.

At twenty-three years of age, Dolores had acquired the looks that would remain with her for the rest of her life. Fortunately, she herself saw nothing wrong with her squat figure, and large bugling eyes, believing that it was a person's actions that determined who they were. Which was a very noble belief, but it did not improve her beauty.

It was nearing Christmas, and the weather was unusually cold, allowing some to wish for a white Christmas. Dolores did not bother with such romantic nonsense, but she was glad that she was able to wear her warmest, and brightest, pink cardigan. She couldn't abide the hot weather, despising the way the heat clawed itself into every nook and cranny, leaving a trail of sticky sweat behind it.

On her lap lay a letter from her mother. Most of the time, Dolores preferred to pretend that she didn't have any parents. She'd always felt they were unnecessary, an embarrassing blot on her otherwise perfect life. But at Christmas she was forced to admit the truth, and so she resigned herself to the fact that once again she'd spend Christmas day squeezed in between Aunt Doris and Uncle Sinclair, a paper hat on her head, and a plate of overcooked turkey in front of her.

The problem with the letter was, as always, that it contained the inevitable Christmas question. What do you want for Christmas? Dolores had no idea. She knew that she'd write back with some bland book title, or silly trinket, just like she always did, but it still prompted her to wonder what she really wanted.

"Dolores, if you don't eat those beans this instant, you'll be very sorry."

The petulant four-year old just stuck out her tongue.

"I mean it, Dolores! The Minister for Magic will come and put you in Azkaban if you're not careful!"

"What's the Minister for Magic?"

Mrs Umbridge was rather surprised in this gap in her daughter's knowledge.

"Why, he's the man who runs Wizarding Britain. He's very powerful, and very important." It took her a moment to remember her previous threats. "And he doesn't like little girls who don't eat their beans!"

Dolores sipped her tea. She pictured the look on her mother's face if she asked for something different for Christmas. She remembered the year she'd asked for a broomstick, and promptly put it out of her mind. She'd pleaded for months and months, and when she'd opened it on Christmas morning she'd ridden it joyfully around the backyard. Until the neighbouring children had laughed at how ridiculous she looked, her large bottom sagging over the sides.

"Hey Dolly! Mind you don't get stuck in the doorway!"

A twelve year-old Dolores wrinkled up her nose, two plaits hanging at her ears.

"Bet you love Christmas, Dolly! Great chance for you to pig out!"

She tried to ignore the taunts, but the three boys following her just continued.

"Bet you wish we had Christmas every week!"

She turned around, fists clenched at her sides, her angry tears easily visible on her cheeks.

"Shut up! Shut up!"

"Shut up or what, Dolly?"

"Or I'll curse you!"

"Oooohh! I'm scared! Ickle Dolly's going to curse us!"

"I will too! And one day, I'm going to become Minister for Magic, and then you'll really be sorry!"

This just sent the boys into more fits of laughter. But Dolores didn't care. She would become Minister for Magic, and they'd regret the day they called her 'Dolly' and teased her for being fat.

She'd already bought presents for her parents. A subscription to Magical Mansions Magazine. The same as every other year.

"…and this is your office in here."

Dolores stepped into the room, and tried not to wrinkle her nose in distaste. It was tiny, although even tiny didn't quite seem to describe the smallness of it. It was about as big as a broom cupboard, and how they'd managed to squeeze in a desk and filing cabinet, Dolores wasn't quite sure. It must have been magic.

"I'll pop in every now and then to see how you're getting on, but basically all you have to do is sort through those files."

He pointed, and Dolores wondered how she'd missed the pile before. If the office was tiny, then the pile was gigantic. She understood now why the last person had left. But she wouldn't leave. She was most certainly not a quitter, and she would work her way to the top if it killed her.

Dolores took a small bite of a chocolate biscuit. Shouts from the street caused her to wrinkle her nose. She hated the loud, boisterous children in this neighbourhood. They had no understanding that people liked to relax in silence.

"Darling, we just want what's best for you."

Dolores was silent.

"It's just that…well, the Ministry isn't Hogwarts. It's cut-throat."

"And you don't think I can handle it?" Dolores' voice was deceptively sweet.

"No", Mrs. Umbridge glanced at her husband in desperation, "We just think you'd be better off working somewhere else."

"I see."

She'd show them. She'd been working at the Ministry for four years now. Four long, hard years. But it would be worth it. Because one day she would sit at a desk with a large, wooden nameplate. And engraved in gold letters on the nameplate would be the words 'Dolores Jane Umbridge – Minister for Magic.'

As this determined thought passed through Dolores' mind, she realised that that was all she wanted for Christmas. To see that nameplate in reality. Because daydreaming could only take you so far.

By Espoir Noir