Hey guys, my note's at the end.
Maes made his way down the hall towards his temporary office. It had been a near exhausting search, but after looking through all of Eastern HQ's census information, there was absolutely no trace of a foreign boy named Harry Potter. Of course, it could have been something that was processed in Central; unfortunately Maes didn't have the means to access that information at the moment. Maybe when he returned to his regular desk in the capital he'd peruse their files for it. Maybe the immigration department might have something, who knows? The boy's sudden appearance was too curious for him to ignore.
He passed the front desk for the city records office and gave the two receptionists a bright smile. They waved back briefly before returning to their work. Maes sighed. With no idea where to look from here, and no access to anything that he knew would help, Maes was sure he'd hit a dead end. What was he supposed to do about a kid he'd randomly found in some alley only a few blocks away? Harry was a good kid, but apart from his name and some strange mannerisms that made him wonder about the child's treatment at home, Maes was clueless; the kid had barely spoken about anything important. Really, the whole situation was worrying.
After a number of turns Maes found himself back in the area designated for his department until they returned to the main headquarters. It wasn't much, but it was way better than shoving them into rooms already occupied by regulars in East City. He couldn't imagine himself working that well at a desk crammed into a department that had no business knowing who he was investigating. That in itself could completely jeopardize any assignment his team were trying to finish.
Maes was just about to enter his office when he felt someone tap his shoulder. Upon turning around he was very surprised to find one of the Fuhrer's main secretarial staff standing behind him. What was this guy doing here anyway? From what he knew, these people were never seen too far from Bradley himself. Not unless it was something of major importance, of course.
"Yes?" He asked, almost staring at the young man. Another glance towards the shoulders told him that he was a lieutenant.
"Lieutenant Colonel Hughes," the secretary began with a sharp salute. "Fuhrer Bradley requests your presence, sir."
Maes nodded; at least that answered his unasked question. Giving a quick glance at the door behind him, he knew that Harry was still inside waiting for him to return. Hopefully Szceska had been keeping the kid busy enough while he'd been gone, and maybe she'd agree to watch over him for just a little bit longer.
"All right," he told the lieutenant. "I will follow you in just a moment."
After giving him that bit of information, Maes turned and opened the door behind him, motioning for the secretary to remain outside. Szceska looked up as he entered the room and gave him a polite nod, still smiling at the kid while he talked. A moment later and Harry had noticed him as well.
"Mr. Hughes, you're back," the boy said quietly as he looked up at him.
Maes gave the kid a kind smile. "Of course I am, Harry. I promised I would, didn't I?"
"Did you find what you were looking for, sir?" Szceska asked him, standing up to give him a proper salute. It was a good thing the girl had remembered protocol; with one of the Fuhrer's staff outside, it was a relief to know that they wouldn't have anything negative to report back to Bradley when everything was all said and done.
He shook his head. "I have a few ideas." Maes hedged the question carefully before asking one of his own. "Do you mind staying in here for a bit longer? I have to report to the Fuhrer."
Szceska blinked at him in shock and it wasn't hard to see why. "No, of course not," she replied weakly, still pale from the revelation. "I'm sure Harry doesn't either."
The kid frowned and shook his head, but didn't reply to the girl's question. Maes was relieved that she'd agreed so quickly; it made things so much easier, especially since Bradley was waiting for him that very moment. As he turned to leave she gave him one final salute, Harry staring after him when he shut the door.
He'd found himself surrounded by various department heads outside the door to Roy's office. It was strange that they'd all been summoned here, and Maes was left to puzzle it over by himself since no one else was up for speculation so close to the main staff. He guessed that they'd all find out what this was all about soon enough anyway, so he may as well wait for Bradley to arrive.
On another note, Maes was glad that he'd been given an excuse to see Roy today without shirking any of his current duties. Surprising him like this was definitely a plus, considering how odd things had already been so far. Really, his old friend was easy to rile up, and it always cheered Maes up whenever he'd caught Roy spluttering about one thing or another. Maes grinned; boy was he going to be shocked!
His smile dimmed slightly as he caught General Grand's stern expression and raised eyebrow. There went his fun for the afternoon; really, did the guy ever have a sense of humor? Obviously not, Grand harrumphed and turned away from Maes moments later, seemingly content with staring at some random point somewhere down the hallway. Whatever; it wasn't his problem anyway.
Of course, as soon as the group around him had finally relaxed somewhat to wait for Bradley's arrival, the fuhrer decides to show up. Maes shook his head ruefully and stepped closer to the main group, who'd all predictably straightened as the fuhrer approached. Hopefully whatever he'd been called in for was worth being dragged away from his current side project.
"All right, gather 'round," Bradley said with a polite smile, waving everyone over. "We have a few more people to join this meeting-". Maes glanced back to where two more officers hurried in from one of the adjoining corridors. "Ah, just the one left," He continued, while Maes shrugged and leaned against the wall. There hadn't been a major department meeting in months, not counting the one held almost immediately before his team had been transferred to a desk here in East City. Perhaps it was an update on that serial killer? At least now he'd finally be able to find out...
Next thing he knew, Bradley opened the door to Roy's office and motioned for them all to file in. It looked like whatever the meeting was to be about would be held in here. Maes was sure that Roy wouldn't appreciate that very much, especially considering how he felt about the man. Oh well, nothing he could do about it now.
Harry glanced back at the door that Mr Hughes had disappeared through a second time after briefly coming in again. Staying here with Szceska was a bit strange; she was always talking about books and giving him some weird smiles that made him feel uncomfortable. She was nice, though, which was different to what he was used to. The teachers at school were nice too, but it usually wasn't for very long.
He took another moment to look around the room he was in. All of the books on those shelves appeared to contained long, dry titles; certainly not any kind of book that Harry would be interested in reading at all. There were so many of them that he was surprised the shelves didn't just fall over. Papers were piled up on desks and even on the floor, which would have made Aunt Petunia cringe at how untidy it made the room look.
"Are you all right?"
Harry turned back to look at Szceska, who was watching him with concern. It was unnerving how many times he'd been asked that so far; usually no one would really bother, so why now? He shrugged at her and shook is head. "I'm fine," he replied. "I've just never seen a place like this before."
Szceska nodded. "It's a bit overwhelming at first," she agreed. "I felt the same way back at the headquarters in Central. It took me a while to remember how to find my way around, the building was so big."
Harry frowned. "Was it bigger than it is here?"
"Yes, it is," she said, smiling as she shifted a stack of papers over so that she could rest her elbows on the table. "Central is the main headquarters for the Amestrian military. This building is one of the smaller outposts."
"Okay." Harry had absolutely no idea what Szceska was talking about. Central for what? She wasn't naming any places he was familiar with, especially since he couldn't ever remember leaving London. Did she mean the central part of the city? Why had he never heard of these buildings before? Would something bad happen if he said he didn't know?
"Are you sure you're all right, Harry?"
He nodded his head in response to her question. Although she was nice to him, Szceska was starting to make him really uncomfortable; Harry hoped that Mr Hughes would return soon.
Sorry this took so long (really hadn't intended for it to stretch out over years rather than months); I'd been trying to get this going but I'd lost my usb this was on for a long stretch of time, aside from other reasons I won't go into here. I'll have a more extended version behind the lengthy wait posted on my profile soon for those who want to know about that, as it's far too long to use in this a/n.
Urs-v: I hadn't considered Shacklebolt when I put those initials down, so I guess it's just coincidence. I'm not going to be segueing back to the wizarding world's point of view for quite a while; I'm just glad that chapter's done with…
I'm surprised at how many are following this (nearly 500!); your support is very much appreciated.
Thanks again for your patience, guys,