Harry Potter had seen a lot of terrible things in his life, so, really, starting his first proper job should have not have been so high on the list of terror.
He'd arrived on Monday morning and frantically tried to remember all of Hermione's advice and instructions about smiling and whatever else. He liked to think he'd done okay, initially.
Voldemort Corporations was one of the - if not the - biggest global business for insurance and whatever else in the world. They were certainly the most significant in Europe. He was lucky to even get a job there.
Voldemort dabbled in everything from oil and diamonds to insurance claims, from the purchase and selling of physical objects to contracts and more metaphysical things. In all honesty, if he thought about, there was a strong likelihood that Voldemort Corporations had at least something to do with every walk of business life.
So, really, it was okay for him to be a little nervous. Understandable even. Expected.
He was on the lowest rungs of their ladder; answering phones and referring to the relevant departments, and generally running errands for everyone else in the London Branch Head Office.
Still, it was something, and a good starting point at that for future jobs too. The pay was decent.
He'd been given the strictest of orders if Mr Riddle, the founder of Voldemort Corp, ever came or called.
Be polite. Don't keep him waiting or on hold. Refer immediately to Mrs Lestrange or Mr Malfoy.
Of course, it wasn't expected that the man himself would make an appearance, and Harry personally hoped he wouldn't.
Luck was not on his side apparently.
It was the Thursday of his second week at the company - the sky was a grey sludge, and the rain spat viciously at the pavement as if the ground had done it personal insult.
Harry pulled his coat tighter around himself in an effort to fend it off, sprinting towards the building and fumbling his card to let him in, before he went from looking wet to looking drowned.
His only solace was the piping cup of coffee clutched between his icy fingers, and that didn't last long.
Of course it bloody didn't.
He turned from shutting the door, grabbed the post off the side to quickly deliver, and careened straight into someone wearing an expensive three piece suit as they too rounded the following corner simultaneously.
Harry's eyes widened with horror.
"Oh god - I'm sorry-" he started, as the hot drink went all over his own coat, and then splashed on the crisp jacket of the suit in front of him, and the post scattered across the floor.
He immediately wished he hadn't automatically looked up.
Whilst he'd never met Thomas Riddle in person, he recognized him well enough; surprisingly young for a global business mogul, dark hair, even darker eyes, pale skin and lips not appropriate for a businessman.
A look of complete and utter disdain.
Was getting fired on so soon a record?
There was a ringing silence in his ears.
Luck clearly wasn't on his side, and Fate seemed to hate him too.
He was screwed!
His mouth had gone a little dry, as his throat bobbed and he tried another "I'm really sorry?".
It wasn't just his fault, but he doubted that bloody well mattered.
"You're the new boy. Harry Potter."
The words were said clinically and how-the-hell-did-the-man-know-who-he-was?! Harry's brow furrowed.
"Hm. Pick up your post. Get this to the dry cleaners immediately."
The thick, heavy and faintly-cologne-scented, stained jacket was deposited into his arms in a quick blur of movement, nearly hitting him in the face, and then Riddle was sweeping past him again without a word or a backwards glance.
Harry didn't know if he was relieved or not. Almost gaping, definitely unsettled and confused.
What just happened? He didn't understand.
He scrambled to pick up the letters and parcels again, and finished the job.
It was much later in the day that the dry cleaners returned the jacket - and Harry certainly wasn't footing the bill for that one.
There had been an uneasy knot in his stomach all day, and too many questions in his head.
The whole building was buzzing with the news that Mr Riddle was back in town.
He was still amazed he hadn't been fired. His supervisor certainly gave him enough disapproving, disgusted looks after hearing about the coffee incident.
Apparently, Tom Riddle was very rarely at the London Office branch of Voldemort Corp; always travelling abroad conducting business, or elsewhere.
Harry had heard a lot of rumors which he was sure were all grossly over-exaggerated.
Riddle had an office here though - the penthouse on the top floor. Harry had of course never been there. He had no intention of going now either, but giving the jacket to Mrs Lestrange and explaining would definitely get him fired and made unemployed for life, so he figured in the end that he'd just quietly slip the jacket in the office.
Riddle would be out anyway. In a meeting. Or something.
Harry was starting to suspect he should assume the implementation of Murphy's Law whenever his boss was involved.
The man was talking quickly in French on his phone, but his eyes landed on Harry instantly as he stood there. Riddle clicked as if to grab his attention and pointed at a chair, never once faltering in his rapid conversation.
Harry made a show of confidence and strolled over, placing the accursed jacket down with a forced smile, and turned to leave. Riddle was just in his shirt now, the sleeves rolled up.
He heard a sigh behind him.
"Sit on the chair." By the English, he assumed he was the one being addressed and turned again, only to have the other raise his brows in a pointed impatience. "Don't fiddle with anything. Try not to breathe too loudly. Don't talk." Then he promptly went back to his call with a "je suis desolee, j'ai un nouvel employé..."
Harry blinked, wondering if this was normal.
He didn't think it was.
He was one of the lowest of the rungs of the company, Riddle was the highest authority possible - they lived in completely different worlds and in Riddle's he was insignificant. A little worker ant briefly acknowledged and never ever known by name.
And he was pretty sure he had work he was supposed to be doing himself right now instead, even if it was answering the phone in reception.
After about five minutes or so, Riddle put the phone down again.
Harry couldn't help but feel uncomfortably aware that the man had never once taken his eyes off him since he'd walked in.
He'd tried to ignore it because it was rude to stare and had studied the vast office instead, with its neat mahogany desk. He looked back now; refused to drop his gaze.
"The dry cleaners managed to get the coffee out of your jacket, Mr Riddle," he offered, eventually. The other hummed in response...and started immediately on a different track entirely.
"How are you finding your experience at Voldemort Corporations? Settling in well?"
Harry tried not to look as if Riddle had grown a second head.
"Fine," he replied, after a moment. "Thanks. I mean, thank you."
Riddle laughed at how flustered he was, and he felt his neck heat up with embarrassment. He tried not to let his jaw clench. He knew he shouldn't ask...he definitely shouldn't ask...
"How did you know who I was?" he continued, pausing, before remembering to add a 'sir'. "I mean...you're Tom Riddle. Why would you..." Well, bother with someone like him.
Maybe he should just keep his mouth shut.
He received an almost predatory smirk in return.
"I'm always aware of my employees, Harry," the man purred, eyes gleaming.
Harry figured he should make a polite excuse and quietly leave, because maybe he was wrong but he probably wasn't...but that comment sounded more than a little bit creepy. Especially with those eyes.
But then he could get fired.
Then again, Riddle was an arse if he fired him for leaving an uncomfortable situation.
"With all due respect...was there anything specific you wanted to talk to me about?"
He determinedly stayed rooted on the spot out of politeness, refusing to show anything but professional confidence to the older man. There was a strange expression on Riddle's face.
"You are Harry Potter, aren't you? Heir to the late Lord James Potter?"
Harry felt a familiar uneasy lurch in his stomach.
"My name is Harry Potter. My mother's name was Lily? That's all I know."
"You are unaware of your family history," the other murmured. Harry could feel a thick lump in his throat, and he carefully curled his fingers. He didn't understand what was going on! There was a smile in Riddle's eyes, before that vanished to an expression of sincerity.
It took everything he had to clamp down on the urge to question, the need to know. It probably showed all too clearly on his face. He sort of wished he was still holding the bloody jacket, because at least then he'd know what to do with his hands.
"I'd appreciate if you shared your knowledge on the matter," Harry said, a little stiffly. The phone went off again, and Riddle checked who was calling distractedly, before picking up.
Evidently his life being turned upside down wasn't of much consequence then, though those eyes still remained on him. The man grabbed a pen off his desk, even as he spoke fluently in...Harry didn't know what it was this time. Russian? The other nonetheless quickly scrawled on a piece of paper in an elegant cursive script that looked like a 1940s education upper class timepiece of education, than anything seen in Harry's life time.
We'll speak later. I have a busy schedule, and I'm expected back in Switzerland for a conference by the end of the week. Come to my office at 1 tomorrow.
Part of Harry felt suspicious, wary, uneasy with what had to obviously be something big for Riddle to both recognize him and to do this personally.
Lord James Potter? His head was spinning. This had to be some kind of joke. His mouth felt dry. He found himself nodded, and Riddle pointed to the door, going back to his work.
Harry walked out numbly.
He still blamed the coffee.
Lunch next day came far too quickly, and excruciatingly slowly.
A/N: I promise that there is a plot lurking behind this randomness :P This will probably only be a short story. At least that's the plan. But you guys know me by now. I was torn between posting this here or on my other account 'The Ink Thief', but in the end I went here because I'd like to know if I should actually continue and bother with it an utter anonymity isn't the most conductive haha. Either way, hope you enjoyed it or at least didn't hate it, and are mildly curious as to the set up :P
As for whether I should be writing a new story? I've given up restricting myself. They'll mostly all end up finished anyway, and I like the variety for whatever I'm in the mood for. Plus, I wrote this when I had my first day on a job, and figured I may as well post it instead of hiding it in the back of a cupboard somewhere. Yeah. This is what happens when I get bored in an evening and don't quite know what to do and am stuck on the long slog which is writing a novel. Sorry!
Past Player readers will recognize the title ;)