Suddenly a small device on Vincent’s desk began to beep. A little, clock-shaped box opened up and a tiny gold sprite popped out. It circled the box three times, crying out, “Appointment! Appointment! Appointment!”, and then quickly disappeared back inside.
“I’m due for a meeting with the head of Magical Law Enforcement,” Vincent replied and got up from his desk without another word. The matter, it appeared, was completely settled, as far as he was concerned.
Rhi clenched her fists again. She stared at the files stacked on the edge of Mr. Freeman’s desk. This was it. Time to play the trump card.
“I understand, sir,” she said. Vincent smirked at this as he opened the door. “I’ll just discuss the case with her then.”
The door suddenly slammed shut. Vincent spun back to Gillford and was met by the pearl-haired woman’s steely gaze. For a second, he looked ready to shoot fire, probably literally, straight at her, but, a second later, his face softened. Something crossed his features, and a slight grin played for a moment over his lips, before disappearing.
“All right, Gillford,” he said, too calmly. “You want it to be investigated. So be it.”
And to Rhi’s surprise, he strode back to his desk and picked up another piece of memo paper. He jotted something down on it, folded it up, and handed it to Rhi.
“Take this down to the Investigation Department,” he said with a too warm smile. “Mr. Reginald Bullock. I think he’s your man. Give him this,” he said, pointing to the memo. “And tell him the case is his, and I’ve assigned you as his assistant for the duration.”
This sudden change unnerved Rhi, but she knew enough to know she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Not with a case like this. She took the memo. Mr. Freeman flashed that smile again, returned the files to Rhi, and ushered her out of his office.
Officer Gillford stood bewildered for a moment, outside Mr. Freeman’s office, as he bustled off to his meeting. She clutched the files in one hand and the memo in the other. It didn’t seem quite real. Mr. Freeman had never once approved one of her recommendations. Not for a standardized filing system. Not for her “bloodhoud snitch” idea. And certainly not for any case she had ever brought to his attention. And yet, here she was, with a memo in her hand and the permission from the head of Magical Patrol to elevate the matter to a real Investigator, with her in assistance.
She finally looked up from her thoughts and stared at the entire Magical Patrol office, which stared intently back at her. They had, no doubt, heard everything, and were likely as surprised as she. Still, she reminded herself. She couldn’t pass up the opportunity. There was work to be done.
Rhi walked back to her desk, stopping herself once or twice from running back in her enthusiasm. She tidied her desk back the way she liked to leave it, grabbed her helmet and her broom, and walked out of the office, stopping herself again from running full speed.
The Investigation Department of Magical Law Enforcement was laid out in a similar fashion to the Patrol Office. There was a wide room, lined with desks, but each was encased in a little cubicle, with walls just high enough to create a false sense of privacy, which could easily be broken by a neighboring coworker popping their head up to look in on their neighbor.
Rhi stood before the maze of desks for a moment. She was trying to look official, which her own earnestness was making hard. For years, this had been exactly where she wanted to be. Now she was here, but, it occurred to her, she didn’t actually know where to go.
She tried to flag down a passing wizard but hesitated, as she was sure they were engrossed in serious work. A pair passed by her muttering about “bloody Umbridge”, and she couldn’t bring herself to interrupt. Finally, however, she built up the courage and approached one of the cubicles.
“Excuse me, sir,” she began, and a rather exhausted looking wizard stared at her over his glasses. “But I was looking for Investigator Bullock. Where might I find him?”
“Reg?” the man asked quizzically.
“Reginald Bullock, yes.”
“What do you need him for?” he said with his eyes screwed up in a curious way.
Rhi held up the memo. “I have an assignment here from Mr. Freeman for him,” she said and felt the need to add, “It’s very important.”
“Important,” the man said with a sly grin. “For Reginald Bullock?”
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
“I’ll bet,” he said and chuckled. Rhi didn’t understand it. He pointed down the row of cubicles. “All the way to the end and two rows to the left.”
“Thank you,” Rhi said.
“Good luck,” the wizard shouted after her with another laugh.
The conversation had confused her, but Rhi made her way to Mr. Bullock’s desk, following the man’s directions. All the way to the end and two rows to the left, she came upon a nondescript, yet somehow still shabby-looking cubicle. When she stepped inside, she immediately noticed a few things. First of all, she couldn’t step inside, as it seemed every available inch of floor space in the tiny cubicle was occupied by papers. Files, parchments, memos, all were piled, some waist high, over the ground and on the desk, or where Rhi guessed the desk was.
The second thing she noticed was that the only thing absent from the cubicle seemed to be Investigator Bullock. She looked around, but everything was paper. It was then that her ears caught a sound. Breathing, she thought at first, then gradually realized was snoring. Someone was asleep inside this place, and she soon discovered where.
Among the stacks and stacks of papers, two leather shoes jutted out, perched atop the only corner of the desk that wasn’t covered by anything else. The shoes were connected to legs, which disappeared under a folded-out copy of the Daily Prophet, which seemed to be acting as, quite effective, camouflage for the dozing man underneath. The only indicator that the man beneath was there, and alive, was the telltale movement of the paper as he snored in and out.
Rhi yanked the paper away, revealing a black man with a bushy handlebar mustache, quietly napping, a wool cap pulled over his eyes. The man was dressed in dark, burgundy robes, open showing a waistcoat and matching pants, which were neatly pressed. The sleeping man’s hands were folded on his stomach, which was quite prominent and, coupled with his medium stature, gave him the impression of being very round.
Rhi cleared her throat. The man made no movement or indication of rousing. She cleared her throat louder. The man replied by sniffling a bit, wiggling his mustache back and forth, then returned to snoring rhythmically. Rhi sighed in frustration. She looked around for options and spied the man’s feet, perched on the desk. She gave him a minute, then, seeing he was content to continue dozing, she placed a hand next to his shoes and quickly pushed them off the desk.