Just a little something inspired by the recent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Her first day on the job wasn't going as well as she'd hoped.
She knew balancing an open tea cup along with all of the other items in her arms was a bad idea, especially while wearing a brand-new khaki blazer. But she did it anyway, and made quite the mess as she entered the heavy front doors. It was easy to clean up, but she couldn't do it fast enough to avoid the stares of the patrons already in line inside.
She ducked her head as she made her way to her desk, one of many lining the recently-rebuilt and massive great room of the bank. She placed the now half-full tea onto her blotter and pulled her satchel into her lap. She'd brought a few items with which to personalize her station; she hadn't bothered to ask if it was OK, but then, she hadn't been told it wasn't either.
The photo of her little brother smiled up at her as she placed it near her nameplate. Gwynivere Jones, the plaque read, chiseled in a dark and unerringly professional font. The last time she'd had a nameplate, she'd been 11. It hung on her bedroom door and read "Gwynnie;" it had been hand-painted by her mother in a bright shade of purple.
Next, she pulled out a card her parents had sent when she'd told them of her new position. The shining gold leaf of the cover was her father's way of making a joke. He still didn't quite understand the new world she lived in, but he certainly made an effort. Opening the card, she re-read the message inside.
You'll do great. We love you, so very much. Mum and Dad.
Simple, to the point, yet it made her heart swell. She folded the card and pushed it under the blotter until only a small corner of the card peeked out. Depending on how the day progressed, she might need to read it a few more times.
Taking a deep breath, she put her satchel into the largest of her three desk drawers and locked it before rising from her seat. She walked toward her supervisor's office and knocked lightly on the door when she'd reached it. "Come in," a voice from the other side responded. She tugged on the door handle and made her way into the spacious office. It looked much like the rest of the bank, cool, ornate and foreboding. Like she had on the day of her interview, she struggled to keep from shivering. She couldn't help imagining what might lurk in the shadowy recesses.
"Good morning, Miss Jones. Did you find your desk all right?"
"Good morning, sir. And yes, thank you."
"Good." He rose from his chair and walked to a cabinet at the side of the room. He pulled a stack of papers from an open drawer and turned to hand them to her. "Here are a few files to get you started. If you're up to it, you can try working with a customer face-to-face this afternoon."
She took the files out of his outstretched hand. She knew better, but she couldn't help quietly marveling at his diminutive stature and unique facial features. They certainly didn't have people like Mr. Farweather back home.
As she made her way back to her desk, she found herself wondering what her parents would make of Selious Farweather. Her mother would keep her cool, but her eyes would pop, just a little, like they did whenever she was faced with something new and unusual. Her father would laugh, probably, and terribly offend.
She got to work on the files, and although she struggled a little at first, she soon made sense of the multitude of charts and graphs. Before she knew it, it was nearly lunch. She closed the last of the files and stood, stretched a little, then gathered them up.
She hoped Mr. Farweather was still in his office so that she could turn in her work. She knocked for the second time that day, and entered when he answered.
Farweather gave the files a cursory glance and then, without looking up at her, said, "Very well, Miss Jones. I will let the others know that you're ready for patrons. 30 minutes for lunch, then I want you ready and back at your desk.
"Thank you, sir," she said as she backed out of the room.
She sat down at her desk and pulled a sandwich from her satchel. She munched on it for a bit, but soon decided she needed a breath of fresh air. She locked up her drawers and walked out the front doors and into the alley. The crush of people running errands on their lunch breaks was a bit overwhelming, but she found a bench in a quieter portion of the area and sat down.
One of her favorite things to do was people watch, and the people in the alley were the best entertainment she'd ever had. She smiled at the mother good-naturedly teasing her child; she quickly looked away when the enormous bearded man caught her eye. She wasn't focusing on anything at all, really, when a flash of red in the crowd made her turn. The red disappeared as quickly as it had entered her vision and for a moment, she was sad.
She shook off the feeling and looked down at her watch. She had a few minutes, but heading inside early was far better than being late.
She entered through the giant doors and looked toward her station. A man was seated, his back to her. Her pulse heighted, just a little, at the thought of her first customer.
She tugged at the hem of her blazer and brushed her hands down her skirt. She shook her head, just a little, to clear the cobwebs, and made her way to her desk.
She studied the back of the man's head as she walked. Bright red, somewhat unruly hair. A soft, velvety-looking camel-colored suit jacket. One of his ears was quite scarred; she found herself wondering if that had happened during the incident. So many scars had.
She cleared her throat as she neared him so as to announce her presence. He turned.
Her face reddened for a moment as she saw his face. Not all-together handsome, but certainly not ugly, the man had a certain familiar quality about him that made her want to look away. Not in fear, but in shyness. She forced herself to focus on his nose.
She stuck out her hand in greeting. "Hello. How might I help you today?"
The man stood, accidentally dumping his briefcase off his lap. "Oh," he exclaimed, and bent to pick it up.
She noticed initials etched into the top flap. G.W.
"I'm sorry, hello." The man grasped her hand and shook it, a little too forcefully. "Yes, thanks, I'm here to change names on an account."
"Of course," she said as she removed her hand from his grasp and walked around to take her seat. "That's easily taken care of. Do you have the proper papers?"
The man fumbled with the clasp of his briefcase and finally got it open. He pulled forms from it and flopped back into his chair.
"Yes, here they are." He thrust them toward her open hand. He then tugged at his bright red tie. The color clashed horribly with his hair, but on him, it worked.
She took the papers and scanned the filled-in blanks. "Everything seems to be in order. Might I ask why you're removing your brother from this account? We have to make notes of these things, you see."
She looked up, catching his eye, and was suddenly overwhelmed by memories that weren't her own. She fell, past tumbling stone and figures in dark cloaks. She could hear screams and smell burning timber. Bright flashes seared her vision and she closed her eyes, blinking back tears that threatened to spill over her lids. The fear and pain were very nearly paralyzing.
"I—Oh, my." The room was spinning. She hadn't had an episode like that in years; at least, not before she'd gone through training at school that had helped her control it. She placed both hands on her desk to steady herself and swallowed back sobs.
The man was standing over her. "Miss Jones, are you feeling well?"
She couldn't help but look up. The concern in his tone was apparent. She braced herself for another event, but she stayed firmly in the present.
"I'm, I'll … I'm fine, thank you. I … I … I'm fine."
The man sat back down in his chair across the desk.
She studied his face for a moment, breathing deeply. He waited, patiently, for her to speak. She dragged her hands off her desk, brushing the nearly hidden card in the process. The gaudy gold gave her strength.
"I apologize. I'd thought that business was over with."
He smiled for a second, but it, too soon, it was gone. "S'all right. I've seen worse."
She smiled back, and found herself wishing terribly to see his smile again. One that reached all the way to his eyes.
"I don't think I caught your name, sir?"
"George," he replied.