The Sugar Quill
Author: Winky and Dobby (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Harry Potter and the Deeply Boring Muggle Job  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine, I just borrow them for brief escapes from reality.

Author's Note: This bit of utter silliness practically wrote itself after a day spent at my own deeply boring job (I work as a weekend receptionist in the Education Center of my local zoo). Therefore I am entirely unaccountable for any trauma sustained by reading it--you have been warned. Also, I realize that Hermione no longer takes Muggle Studies, but that's the least of the problems with this nonsense. Having said that, I wash my hands of the affair...

***

"Hermione," said Ron immediately as she joined them at the lunch table, "what is that?" He was referring to the velvet pouch she was carrying delicately in one hand and now placed gently on the table.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes, Ron, I've had a lovely morning, thanks so much for asking." She began to pour herself a glass of pumpkin juice, completely ignoring his question.

"Right, then," said Ron, "if that's how you want to play." He reached one long arm around behind her back. Harry looked up from his plate with interest. This ought to be good.

But Hermione swatted Ron's hand away before he could reach the pouch.

"Don't touch it, Ron! It's very fragile!"

"Then tell me what it is!"

Harry wisely decided to intervene before the conversation deteriorated into one of his friends' infamous arguments over nothing. "Did you get it in class this morning?"

Hermione shot Ron another annoyed look before turning back to Harry. "As a matter of fact, yes, I did," she replied. "It's for my Muggle Studies project. It's called an Orb of Vigilo."

Both Harry and Ron leaned forward as Hermione opened the pouch and carefully pulled out a glass sphere, its pale surface opaque. The orb seemed to balance on her open palm, glowing faintly.

"I thought you didn't believe in Divination, Hermione," said Ron in confusion.

"It's not a crystal ball, Ron, I just told you. Honestly, don't you ever listen?" Hermione gave an exasperated sigh.

"What's it do, then?" asked Harry.

Hermione pulled out her wand. "Watch." She gave the orb a gentle tap, muttering something under her breath.

Instantly the faint light within the orb began to grow brighter. The glass suddenly lost its opaque quality and became clear enough for them to see a kind of colored mist swirling around inside. Slowly the fog settled, and finally solidified into a miniature, three-dimensional image.It was a small, windowless room, brightly lit by cold white lights. A young woman sat in one corner surrounded on three sides by large wooden desks covered with various bins and papers. One of these desks held a computer, at which the woman was typing something quite rapidly. As they watched she finished whatever it was, waited a moment for it to print, then folded the completed document, sealed it in an envelope, and placed it atop a teetering pile of identical envelopes.

"Who is she?" wondered Harry curiously.

"She's a Muggle," said Hermione briskly. "Our assignment is to observe a Muggle's daily activities and write a report about what we learn."

"But Hermione," protested Ron, "you've lived with Muggles. What can you possibly learn that you don't already know?"

"Plenty," retorted Hermione. "I think this is going to be a fascinating assignment. And don't give me that look, Ron Weasley. You could stand to learn a lot more about Muggles yourself!"

Ron snorted. "Yeah, right! Like what?"

"Like"--a faint ringing from within the orb interrupted her--"like how to use a telephone, for starters!" she finished triumphantly. She pointed to the tiny Muggle woman, who had picked up the receiver on her desk and begun speaking into it.

"I already know how to use a telephone!" said Ron defensively. "Isn't that right, Harry?"

"Er...yeah," said Harry. Though he had spent most of his life with Muggles, he was still watching the scene inside the orb with interest. "What's she staring at?"

Hermione peered into the orb again, where the woman had finished talking on the phone and was now looking fixedly up at something over one shoulder.

"She's watching the clock!"

Ron gave a low whistle. "And I thought Dad's job at the Ministry was boring."

"Just imagine," said Hermione thoughtfully. "If I hadn't been able to come to Hogwarts and learn magic, I might have ended up working in an office just like that one. You too, Harry."

This horrifying thought was enough to shock them all into silence, and they sat staring at the orb for a full minute. Meanwhile the woman inside had reached under her desk and pulled out a battered satchel. After a few moments of digging around inside it she pulled out a notebook and flipped it open onto the desk. She sat looking through its pages, chewing thoughtfully on her pencil and every now and then jotting something down in the margins of the notebook.

"Weird," said Ron at last. "That looks like she's doing homework or something. But she's too old for that. Do Muggles still go to school when they're twenty?" He looked appalled at the idea.

"Sometimes," answered Hermione, "but I don't think that's homework. She doesn't have any books. It almost seems like she's...writing something."

"We can see she's writing something," said Ron sarcastically.

"No, I mean...it's like she's writing something...I don't know, creative. Like a novel."

"Yeah," said Harry slowly, watching the woman intently. "I think you might be right, Hermione."

"Weird," said Ron again. "I still don't see how this can teach you anything."

"You wouldn't," said Hermione. "Really, if you could just stop being so negative for one second you might--wait, now what's she doing?" The tiny figure was once again rummaging through her satchel.

"Ha!" crowed Ron as the woman pulled out a thick volume, quickly scanned its table of contents, and started flipping through its pages as if looking something up. "I was right! She is doing homework, look."

"Homework isn't usually that funny," Harry pointed out. And indeed, the woman's shoulders were shaking with laughter.

"What is she reading?" asked Hermione.

Harry and Ron each tilted their heads to try to make out the writing on the book's cover.

"Something...something...and the something...something," said Harry finally. He shoved his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and strained to look closer. "By...I...R...Kowling. Never heard of it."

Hermione's brow furrowed. "Me, neither. Must be pretty good, though." The woman in the orb had dropped her pencil and given up all pretense of working. She now sat leaning back in her chair, feet propped on one of the desks, completely absorbed in her book.

Ron shook his head. "Nah, can't be any good if you've never heard of it, can it?" Hermione flushed slightly, a bit taken aback by what passed (for him) as a compliment. But he merely grinned back at her and began gathering up his books. "Come on, we'd better hurry or we'll be late for Care of Magical Creatures."

Harry was hastily gulping the last of his pumpkin juice. "We're starting something new today, aren't we? Wonder what it is."

Ron laughed. "Knowing Hagrid, I reckon it'll be chimaeras or something."

"Oh, no!" gasped Hermione, hurriedly placing the Orb of Vigilo back in its pouch and shouldering her knapsack. "I hope not! Surely even Hagrid would know that they're far too dangerous, although I'm sure it would be very educational..."

Her slightly anxious voice drifted off as the three friends made their way out of the Great Hall.

Miles and miles away, a young woman in a small office looked up from her book to consult the clock on the wall above her desk. Only a few more hours until five o'clock. Perfect. Barring any more intruding phone calls, she should have plenty of time to get all the way through the Yule Ball...

 

The End

 

AN: Wow, that was wonky even for me. I blame fluorescent lights, lack of sleep, and bad cafeteria food.

//
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