|Scene Title||Painful Employment?|
|Synopsis||Off the cuff, Jack makes an unusual offer to Madeline. She considers it.|
|Date||Sept 07, 1994|
|Watch For||"it" the puffleskin, nervous Jack and flustered Madeline.|
|Chronology||Jack is attempting to lure Madeline away from an ill-fitting job. (As he sees it anyway). This is the offer.|
Nestled beneath the streets of London is the Ministry of Magic. The main atrium of the Ministry sits along the eighth level of the subterranean bureaucratic center of the wizarding world. The peacock blue ceiling above has golden symbols that move across it. The golden symbols and the light reflect off the polished dark wood of the floor. Fireplaces are seen along the lengthy walls of the atrium, used for travel by floo powder. The fireplaces are designated for arrivals and departures. A pair of golden gates are positioned at the end of the Atrium. Next to these gates is a security desk. Beyond the golden gates is a small hallway where there are a series of lifts that take people between the different levels. Halfway down the atrium in a center of prominence is the Fountain of Magical Brethren. It's a group of golden statues in the form of a wizard, witch, centaur, goblin and a house-elf. The statues spout water into the pool they stand in.
Another lunch break finds Madeline back in her usual spot by the fountain. She can be consistent until something causes her to be otherwise. Today there's at least a bit of a change, in that she's not only remembered she has a pet, but has brought the puffskein on the edge of the fountain with her, absently feeding It bits of her sandwich as she handles her usual people-watching. Despite the somewhat limited attention from a neglectful mummy, It must be content, for it's making a soft humming noise as it devours another bit of sandwich.
Jack spends an inordinate amount of time at the Ministry anyway, so he might as well come in today. He steps out of one of the fireplaces, brushing soot off his trousers, and heads toward the fountain, looking at it for a long moment before notcing Madeline beside it. "Ahh! Good afternoon, Miss Sagace. How are you?" He smiles brightly as he moves to sit down beside her. "Is this your pet?"
Madeline brightens as she spots Jack coming her direction, offering him a smile that's still just as awkward as ever, but perhaps at least a little less self-conscious. "Mr. Noble, good afternoon. I'm well, thank you. And yourself?" Pleasantries are easy, but rehearsed. When he asks about the puffskein, she looks down at it almost like she'd forgotten it was there. "Oh. Yes. This is It." She means it as an introduction, but given the somewhat strange name, it might just sound like she's answering his question in stiffly formal English.
"It?" Jack picks up on the double meaning, and grins. "Is that what you call him?" Whether the little thing has a discernible gender or no, he's been labeled 'male' in Jack's mind. "I am doing well. Business seems to be picking up." Which isn't as good a thing as it might be, considering what business he's in, but like her, the pleasantries come fairly easily. "How are things going here?" He scrutinizes her fairly closely.
"Its full name is Item Ten. But yes, I call it It," Madeline confirms with a nod, tearing off another bit of crust and setting it down beside the humming thing. She clearly hasn't felt a need to assign it a gender, so It's an it and shall remain until someone clues her in otherwise. "I'm glad that you're well," she replies, still in pleasantry-mode, but that doesn't mean she doesn't mean it. "Things are … about the same. There was some excitement on a routine crup license inspection, but that … had nothing to do with me or the crup." Her tone and expression stay mostly neutral, but it isn't the most positive thing either.
Jack quirks his eyebrows at the woman. "Item Ten?" He chuckles. "My kneazle's named Ten. That's kind of funny." He shifts a little to look down at the little puffleskin. "Why did you name him that, if I can ask?"
Madeline seems a little surprised and amused at the coincidence herself. "I … didn't name him that. It came with the name. As I understand it, It was the tenth test subject in an experiment." She glances down at the little guy, and then gives over the last of her sandwich. There's something to be said for the puffskein diet, since she hardly ever ends up eating more than a bite of her own lunch. "Why is your kneazle named Ten?"
"He was the tenth one in the row at the pet store." Yes, it's rather childish, but Jack was eleven. "I've had him since I started school. He's a smart little critter, but kind of strange." He grins, and then changes the subject. "What happened with the Crup?" Just idle chitchat between friends, yup.
Madeline doesn't think anything of Jack's naming convention, to judge by her understanding nod. After all, she saw no need to change Its name into something more fitting like Butterscotch or Snookie. "That seems a very long time to have a pet." But then, her own foray into pet ownership only began a few months ago. "The Crup? Oh, it's … in holding in the department, I think. I'm not … sure what ended up happening to the owner. I imagine the … allegations will create some red tape with the licensing."
Understanding dawns on Jack's face and he closes off his expression, seemingly to prevent an outburst of either anger or laughter. One look at his eyes, though, would show that it's the latter. "I see." He says, simply, looking down at It again. "What do puffleskins eat, anyway? Apparently he likes your sandwich."
Madeline just gives a sage nod, no particular opinion in her own expression of the Crup's owner. "I'd never witnessed a raid before," she remarks, almost as if on a different subject, but then leaves it at that. Looking back at It, she gives a small smile. "Oh, they eat almost anything, actually. I've been warned to keep it away from our files or it might eat those. I'd bring it home, but… Well, I don't think that would be a good idea. It seems happy in my drawer."
Jack smiles benignly. "You're probably right." On the subject of raids, Jack is strangely silent. He frowns, though, and looks at Madeline for a long moment. "Okay, I have eto ask you…" He chuckles. "Wait, that sounds bad. I have a really strange idea, and it's been niggling at the back of my mind for awhile…" He looks a little nervous, lifting his hand to the back of his neck. That's as far as he gets for now.
Some girls might get the impression that Jack is trying to work up the nerve to ask them out - poorly. But such things don't quite ping on Madeline's radar, perhaps fortunately this time. She just returns his nervous look with a slightly confused one. "I - think you can probably ask me anything. There are just some things I might not answer." Yes, that seems a safe, if awkward, response.
Being who he is, the thought did cross Jack's mind. However, that wasn't the question today. "Ok, alright. I'll just get to the point. I'm wondering if you'd rather help me out with my paperwork…" He chews on his lip, shifting in his seat like a schoolboy caught out of bounds. "Well, you know, come work with me, instead of working in that dull office. It'd still be filing and stuff, but …" He shrugs. "It's probably a stupid suggestion."
There's a confounded silence for several long moments as Madeline just looks at him, not quite comprehending how or why or what. "I … don't think it's stupid," she finally replies, not quite sure what else to say, not right off. "But … do you … really have that much work?" She's even more awkward than usual now, long pauses where she tries to figure out where to take this sentence. "I … don't need charity, you know." It isn't in the least defensive, just simple matter-of-fact.
The lady makes a good point. He frowns. "I'm not sure what consists of 'enough work.' I've been working almost constantly out in the field lately, and the backlog of paperwork is getting pretty intense." Jack chuckles self-deprecatingly. "But I've got no way of knowing if it'd be enough to support a full-time helper…" Typical Gryff. The thought comes after the action. "It wasn't from charity. More like laziness and frustration on my part." He rolls his eyes. "But, maybe I just need to find someone to do it part time…" See, he told her it was a stupid idea.
"I only meant… It wouldn't do to be getting paid for nothing, and I…" Madeline trails off with a sigh, not much good now that they've both gone all awkward. "I - I wouldn't mind helping." She pauses, looking thoughtfully down at It. "Perhaps I … could talk to the department… About cutting back my hours? Though I don't know how they would feel about that." Still, there must be some temptation to the offer, since she continues looking thoughtful, as she tries to puzzle it out.
Jack considers this. "That might work. Why don't you sound them out, I mean…not too forcefully…" He grins. "And if it's feasible, maybe we'll do it. If not, maybe I can find someone else who could." Although, at the moment, he's unsure of who that might be. One name comes to mind, but she'd drive him over in a week. "It'd give you a bit of variety and I'd get my reports done." True, he works for himself, but he does give reports of important things to the MLE and several other departments as necessary.
Madeline returns his grin with an awkward smile of her own, though the sentiment is genuine. "I could … sound them out, yes. I can be … subtle," she assures Jack, in case there's any doubt as to that. Frankly, it would probably be more of a task for her to do it forcefully. "I … do really appreciate your wanting to help, Mr. Noble." Even if she still doesn't entirely understand why he wants to help the likes of her. "I think I might enjoy some variety."
Then, it's settled. At least somewhat. There's a blatant relief written across Jack's face, and he grins. "Sounds good." He slaps his hands to his thighs, and stands up. "Speaking of paperwork, I do have several forms to turn in today, so I should probably do that…" His smile becomes sheepish, and he holds out his hand to Madeline. "Miss Sagace. What a pleasure to spend this afternoon in your company." Yes, he's turning on the charm. Just cuz. "I look forward to hearing the results of your inquiries."
Madeline's smile is quite gracious as he turns on the charm, though she just seems to be defaulting to the land of pleasantries. She's practised these. They're handy! She takes the offered hand with a nod. "Of course, Mr. Noble. I'd hate to keep you. I … should probably be getting back myself. But, yes, it was - it was very nice seeing you again. I'll … certainly keep you posted, yes." It is scooped up as she also moves to rise.
Jack grabs the hand and kisses it lightly, slipping into old world manners for a moment. He lets go, and his eyes twinkle. "Have a pleasant rest of the afternoon, Miss Sagace…" And he's headed to the lifts to go down to the first department to drop off his reports.
That … might actually be enough to get a slight flush to Madeline's cheeks, though she's quite sure she has no idea why, thank you very much. "Have - Have a … good afternoon, yes. You too, Mr. Noble," she replies, gone all awkward again, but he's already heading off anyway, so she's left to scurry back to her own sad little desk, puffskein tucked away.