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Mr. Know-It-All
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17th May, 1889 — Ministry of Magic
So this was his life now.

And he was trying to take it with grace. To find the silver linings, even though it felt as though he'd lost a limb or two since the quidditch season had drawn to a close. Both his broom and his bat were tucked away in his wardrobe in his room; he'd had to shut them up in there so he didn't have to see them, forlornly gathering dust.

But he was learning new skills and talents here, too, Tybalt reminded himself. Proving he could be useful for more than swatting bludgers. He'd always liked duelling, back in school. There was still an element of competition in it. Some creativity. Fun. Perhaps he could make sure the next tournament was held at the Howlers' pitch, like the last one had been: an excuse to visit again.

And in the meantime, he could be proud of his accomplishments. The world of paperwork was a denser maze than he'd ever envisioned - whoever had called it mindless work had not considered the effort of keeping one's mind focused on forms, now had they? - and Tyb had spent the best part of his Friday putting the finishing touches on a thick wad of forms he hadn't even known the purpose of at the week's start. That was something, wasn't it?

Letting that haze of satisfaction surround him, Tybalt pushed up from his desk (his work desk! a more intimidating beast than the table in his room, or the specimens he remembered back at school) and trotted out of the department, stack of paperwork floating at his side as he had seen the Serious Professionals often do. (See, the Ministry was already more exciting than it had seemed: at Hogwarts they hadn't been supposed to do magic in the corridors, ha.) And a whole day of not making a single mistake, that too was something, one that had been similarly rare at school.

He felt rather like a Prefect, marching through the door to the office wherein he had been tasked with leaving the forms, proud of his accomplishments. He might have plucked the wad of papers from the air and set them in a neat pile by hand, but Tyb was too excited to put away his wand, and instead sent the paperwork to the desk with a flick and an extra flourish.

An extremely stupid extra flourish. Tybalt gazed as the stack of floating paperwork landed, pristine, squarely in the centre of the recipient's desk. And promptly burst into flames.
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   Elsie Beauregard


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Brannon had stepped out of the office for a moment. Honestly, he had been stepping out of the office for most of the morning; the committee had an unexpected dearth of applications for new spells, and the ones they'd seen recently had all been referred back to their creators for tweaks (some minor, some potentially life-threatening), so there wasn't much to do. He was still waiting on a stack of routine and exceptionally mundane paperwork from the dueling commission, but he certainly wasn't in any hurry to have it. It was exceedingly rare that anyone came up with a new spell on-the-spot in the midst of a duel, and combing through documentation of every spell that had been used in the latest tournament was mostly just something to keep busy with. He'd sort through them when they got to his office, but in the meantime, he certainly wasn't going to harass anyone in the dueling commission to get them to him faster. He'd just find ways to fill time talking to coworkers, and collect a tidy paycheck for doing so. He didn't particularly care if that stack of paperwork never arrived at his office.

Brannon made himself a fresh cup of tea and traded out his section of the Daily Prophet for a different one — he didn't particularly care about the gobstones tournament featured in the sport section, but it was something to read, anyway — then headed back to his office. He was surprised to see someone was already there, and even more surprised to find his desk was on fire.

"Merlin," he swore, dropping his tea and the paper as he reached to draw his wand. "What's happened?"
#3
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The desk was on fire. The desk was on fire.

And it wasn't even his desk! And now the desk's owner was here to see it, too, so Tybalt had really been caught in flagrante delicto, as literally as it was possible to be, and oh Merlin, the last thing he had wanted was to be known as the guy who'd set a desk on fire in his first few months at the Ministry. Tybalt Kirke the Gryffindor student might well have fancied that for his Hogwarts reputation, but Tybalt Kirke the Serious Ministry Man absolutely did not, and oh god, he was probably going to get fired already, wasn't he?

"I -" Tyb began, looking wide-eyed from the desk on fire to the Experimental Charms man, who had dropped his tea and newspaper in the process. How was he supposed to know how well or badly the man would take this? "I have no idea, sir -" the sir was probably a nice touch, if only Tybalt hadn't blurted out a barefaced lie in the breath before it, "I just came in, and saw..." He gestured helplessly at the desk with his wand, which he had out (obviously) but was now too afraid to use to try and put the fire out. (Hopefully the fire had also already burnt long enough that all evidence of the paperwork he'd put there had now disintegrated, because if the man saw through his lie one way or another, this was going to be even more awkward.)


#4
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Brannon managed to draw his wand and cast a large fire-dousing spell. One did not get to be a sixty-three year old wizard without knowing how to put out a fire. One particularly did not survive being a father of ten with a career history in accidental magic reversal, magical accidents and catastrophes, and experimental charms without knowing how to put out a fire. A cloud a heavy dust settled over the desk, smothering the flames — much less damaging to the materials beneath than a deluge of water, he had discovered through experience. He held his wand firmly in place until he had seen the last flame die down to a smolder.

The desk was an absolute mess. It had clearly been a magical fire, Brannon thought, judging by the amount of damage that had occurred in a relatively short time. Traditional fires, of the sort created by shelling out one's pipe when it was still burning, tended to smolder for several minutes before they caught anything at all, and then the fire spread quickly but methodically. Magical fires, on the other hand, tended to erupt instead of build, and this had all the hallmarks of the former. Perhaps something he'd left on his desk had been cursed (which was actually surprisingly easy to do by accident if some Ministry intern combined an ink blot with a bit of a doodle), or maybe there was some culprit still loose in his office — a miniature dragon, perhaps? He thought he'd heard a rumor that the Games and Sports department had a set that someone had brought in as a proposal for a new variation of wizard's chess.

But whatever had happened, he could figure it out after dealing with the young man who had entered his office. Retrieving his paper from the floor with as much dignity as possible, and ignoring the splash of tea across the front page, Brannon headed back to his side of the desk. He took a seat in his chair, which, mercifully, had not been touched. Scowling at the smoldering embers of the desk, he began to dash them out methodically with the wet newspaper. "And what can I do for you, Mr. —?" he asked, glancing up at the young man with a raised brow.
#5
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Fortunately for both Tybalt and the desk, the man turned his attentions briskly to the latter, and rectified the situation with as much grace as it was possible to. Tyb eyed the dust-blanket that had settled over everything with a grimace and, determined not to be responsible for any more mess in this man’s office, uncomfortably held in a sneeze.

He bit his lip as he watched the gentleman take a seat and use his newspaper to new effect. He had been watching almost too intently to have been expecting the question so soon. “Kirke,” Tybalt said quickly, trying not to flounder. (He was not floundering in this job: just keep telling himself that, and maybe one day he’d in a hundred years he’d forget this fire.) “From the Duelling Commission.” He might’ve tried to shake the man’s hand upon this introduction, if the other man had not been, obviously, otherwise preoccupied. “I, uh, came to ask whether - if it’s not too much trouble - we would be able to get an extension on the latest spell list,” he improvised. It was not exactly a lie at this stage, anyway, given Tybalt had just sent a week’s worth of his own meticulous work up in flames: they would need re-doing now, wouldn’t they? Hopefully the desk-fire hadn’t worn out his patience. “And I’m sorry about your desk, sir,” he added as an aside, with a smile-grimace of commiseration.
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   Brannon Fisk


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Brannon frowned at the request. How long could that stack of tedious paperwork really take to assemble? But he had no answer, because he had never worked in the dueling commission and didn’t know, really, what they did on a day-to-day basis when there wasn’t a tournament being put on. He had the vague impression that their office was merely a collection of misguided, over-pompous idiots, so maybe it took them weeks to accomplish what his office could have done in a few days. On the other hand, that was probably just his impression of Barnabas Skeeter leaking in to all of his coworkers, past, present, and future.

He’d been lingering around the office waiting just for that stack of paperwork, but he couldn’t very well just say that to a young man who was still getting his feet wet in the Ministry; Brannon wouldn’t want him to think that this sort of just-killing-time behavior was usual or acceptable. And, at the end of the day, if he went home now instead of at ten this morning, it wouldn’t be much of a loss. At least he’d been present to prevent his desk from going up in smoke.

Actually, now that he thought about it, he’d probably have to spend the rest of the workday righting his desk, and searching down the source of the fire. So he didn’t particularly need any additional paperwork to sort through.

“Very well,” he decided. “Though we’ve a committee meeting on Monday, and spell trials Tuesday, so if you deliver it next week you can’t expect it back until Thursday at least.”
#7
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Now that he had asked, he realised he wasn’t quite certain what he would do if the man said no. He would have had to come clean about the origin of the fire, he supposed, and tell him the paperwork had gone up in smoke, and probably someone else from the department would have to redo the work for him, and then all his colleagues would resent him.

So when the gentleman overcame his frown and said very well, Tybalt let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding, his limbs less tense already and the relief washing palpably over his face in the form a grin. He would still have to explain the delay to his own department, but he could stomach that - the queasiness in his stomach was already settling. “Thank you, sir,” Tyb said in hasty gratitude. “That’s not a problem, we’ll get it to you as soon as possible - Mr. ...” he trailed off, because, amidst his flurry, he’d quite forgotten the name on this office.

(Spell trials, as an aside, sounded rather entertaining, like a more experimental kind of duel or something. It was a pity they probably weren’t for public viewing.)


#8
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Brannon furrowed his brow as the young man trailed off. He could not quite believe that it was a serious question, given that Mr. Kirke had come here unbidden, seeking out his office. He had legitimate business as well, and he hadn't just wandered in (attracted by the unusual light or heat of the fire, perhaps). Surely he knew Brannon's name; he must have just forgotten. It was a bit embarrassing, but understandable for a young professional, particularly given the commotion that had begun their encounter. Rather than making a proper introduction of the moment, then, Brannon merely prompted gently, "Fisk." Then, turning his attention back to the charred desktop, he continued dismissively, "Until next week, Mr. Kirke."


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