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Old Hat
25th February, 1889 — Ministry Break Room
It may have been coming up on eighteen years of being in the Ministry, but Ewart had yet to develop even a pinch of disinterest in his work. Of course, he suspected that was because his committee was the only corner of the whole institution that wasn't dull as ditchwater - but oh, he pitied the rest of them, and all their humdrum.

He pitied them all the more when, upon occasion, he ventured up to one of the break rooms to mingle with the mundanes, and found himself sliding into boredom when he spent any longer here than the time it took to munch upon a sandwich.

(He had just finished his sandwich.)  

"Good day," Ewart said serenely to the person seated across from him, as though they had both not been in the room for at least a quarter of an hour already. He pointed across to the hat that had been set atop the table near them. "Is that, by any chance, your hat?"  

He had not seen them touch it, in the time they had been here. (And, you see, for the last quarter of an hour, he had been looking very intently at the hat.)

[-] The following 1 user Likes Ewart Fraser's post:
   Elladora Black

Roman did not often come into the break room at work, often working right through the day. This time around, however, he was feeling peckish and needed a break from paperwork. And so he had ventured into one of the break rooms and had procured a snack for himself.

Reading a newspaper as he nibbled at his snack, he looked up from it when one of the other Ministry workers spoke to him. "Good day," he greeted in return before turning his attention to the hat being pointed out to him. It was very decidedly not his. His was sitting on his office desk.

"It is not. Do you have a liking for it?" He asked since the older man seemed to be very... fascinated by it.
Ewart couldn't fathom that the newspaper the younger man was reading - though he seemed to be well-enough engrossed in it - was at all an interesting pursuit to make up one's breaktime. And the hat, he said, was not his. All the better. It would surprise them both.

"A liking?" He echoed, chuckling mildly at the question. It was not an exceptional hat, in looks: it was of a safe shade and a modest trim, nothing flashy in personality, hardly a hat to crow about. But they would see, now wouldn't they?

If the young man proved agreeable, that was. "Let's reserve judgement on that, why don't we," Ewart said in a conversational non-answer, and instead leaned over a fraction closer. "Indeed, I had a hope you might do me a favour," he explained, gently nudging the hat towards the gentleman, "and pop it on for a moment."

The other man was striking him as being a little odd. One of those eccentric types, he figured. He still couldn't see why the man might be so interested in someones discarded hat. "All right," he said, mildly confused as the man said for them to reserve judgement.

"I'm not really in the habit of popping on things that do not belong to me," Roman protested, unsure why the man didn't just pop it on himself if he was so curious about it.
Ewart sighed internally. A particular young man, then. Wary. Sensible.

Still, not to be dissuaded, he ramped up his assurances, hoping to quell his doubts (at least for long enough to see some result of the question he had been thoughtfully pondering this time past). The younger gentleman was a Ministry man, wasn't he? Looked like a smart, neat fellow. Wasn't Cooperation the bread and butter of all these serious Ministry types?

And this was a chance for some harmless cooperation, right here! "Come now," Ewart tsked knowingly, "it shan't do anyone the least bit of harm -" lest that was the only part of this the fellow here was wary about, "- and it would be a great help to me. I can't proceed in this alone, you see." He nodded earnestly, rummaging for his wand - but not going to point it at the man until he acceded to his first request. (He seemed the sort to startle easily.)

One thing was very certain - Roman was perturbed.

He supposed the man had a point and perhaps soon as he did so, the man would go about his business and leave Roman to his. It occurred to Roman that he could just leave but he had to admit that his own curiosity was piqued though more with why the man was so intent on seeing the hat on him than anything to do with the hat itself.

Eyeing the man dubiously, he took the hat and placed it on his head.
Ewart beamed as the gentleman acquiesced. Now he had an accomplice to the study, as well as the apparatus. "Excellent. Now stay quite still," he advised. Prepared to make the most of the moment, Ewart produced his wand, and with a twirl, pointed it at the hat, muttering a string of words he had been playing around with here and there, cantis animus among them.

Mood music, he had figured. The song of one's soul. This hat, Ewart had decided, looked like it would be a good conductor - he had tried it before, but all of his hats had far too much personality, and did not suffer to obey the incantation once given the talent to read a mind, and pluck a tune from one's thoughts. He was interested to see what this hat made of this man's mood: what, precisely, would it sing? A pleasant ditty? A song from the opera house? A funeral dirge?

Ewart watched in anticipation as the hat opened a mouth along its brim, evidently wading deep in the man's head - and began not to sing, exactly, but to emit a shrill, high-pitched scream.

Roman watched in mild alarm as the man took out his wand and with what he saw as a flourish, began casting some sort of spell on the hat. Oh. It dawned on him now. Experimental Charms, more than likely. He hoped anyway.

"Oh, goodness!" He said, taking the hat off in alarm as it shrieked. "What spell did you cast upon it for it to do so? It is quite brilliant, though." Roman could recognize and appreciate a good, newly invented spell when he saw one.
Oh! Oh. That was not quite right.

Ewart ignored a dirty look or two from some recess of the room - he was in the Zone now, the room was irrelevant - and turned back to his experiment's subject and his questions. Funnily enough, Ewart found that the man, so staid and dubious before, seemed rather more interested now, after the shrieking hat, than before. Good boy.

"Hm, it might need a moment more to attune," Ewart considered, eyeing the hat comtemplatively. "You must let it get used to your mind - relax, if you can. Let's see what it decides to sing for you then. The spell might be new-fangled," he added, as a cheerful aside, "but the lost art of sentient hats goes right back to Godric Gryffindor and the Sorting Hat." That hat had had centuries to perfect the art of mind-reading its wearer. Asking a hat to be a little musical ought to take a little less time, Ewart hoped!

Roman listened as the man spoke and eyed the hat. Was Roman capable of relaxing? Not even he knew. He tended to be a bit tightly coiled, always. "I suppose you have a point there," Roman said in mild agreement when the man talked about how sentient hats draw all the way back to the Sorting Hat that any Hogwarts graduate had experienced. And thus, Roman tried to relax, to not be so tense.
The man seemed to take his fun fact as a modicum of reassurance, as though having a history was an instant boost for the confidence. (Such a mindset rather enslaved one to tradition, Ewart had always thought, but nevermind.) The young gentleman was doing his best to relax, it looked like, as the hat had another go. This time, it did manage to carry a tune - something a little jaunty, but tense - Ewart didn’t catch all the hat’s mumbling words, but it sounded perhaps like a teeth-grinding version of Hampstead Is The Place To Ruralise, that old ditty about a stressful trip to the countryside. A little too militant in its delivery, Ewart decided, quietly deducing a thing or two about the person before him from it.

He hummed along for a little while, and then regarded the gentleman again. “Well, you certainly have a mighty strict metronome marching on in your mind, don’t you, my boy?” He uttered with a laugh, wondering if the man was perhaps always conscious of being on time. Or never quite relaxed. “Mood music, indeed,” he mused, with a satisfied sort of smile. It was proving a fun little game, at least.

Roman listened as the hat started up again, not quite sure which song it was emitting. He thought he vaguely recognized the melody but could not suss out where he had heard it beforre.

"I.. Suppose?" Roman said, not quite sure what to think of the mans words. "Why don't we see what happens when it is upon your own head?" He was rather curious to see what song would burst forth when worn by the other fellow.
Ewart wasn’t sure precisely what the man thought of the hat’s assessment of him, but he pounced upon the good fellow’s suggestion without hesitation. “Why not, indeed?” He declared, reaching out to sweep the hat back into his hand, and then onto his own head with a flourish, quite ignoring a collection of reasons why not in the form of onlookers’ glares.

This time the hat did not so much sing as hum; or reverberate, as it were, with the strident whistle of a circus fairground. It was the turning of a calliope, Ewart thought - or perhaps almost the noise of a kettle! - much louder and more boisterous than the last tune, and even Ewart could not fail to notice heads turning at the racket.

They all looked rather vexed, he thought, but he, for one, thought the charmed hat had made a very good choice in turning his mood into music. “Marvellous,” Ewart said jubilantly to his comrade-in-experimental-arms, chuckling aloud. “Wonderfully entertaining, don’t you think!”

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