Week 1’s prompt was to write 2000 words on an item that was important to you. I went with the amazing Hufflepuff scarf a friend got me for Christmas last year. No coffee pots were harmed in the writing of this drabble.
Snow was always the hardest thing to wake up to after she moved to Chicago, she’d decided. She could deal with the rain, and the summers where some days the temperatures got into the hundreds: Fun fact:, it was not always colder by the lake, she didn’t care what the weatherman said. But GOD the snow. It meant having to wake up even earlier so that after a shower she could blow dry her hair so it wouldn’t freeze. She’d made that mistake the first day it was under thirty. It was a miracle she walked away without any damage to it. As much as she’d hated living in Atlanta with her parents, at least it was livable all year long. You’d have thought after two years into the city, she’d have gotten used to the impossible weather. Most days it really wasn’t so bad. She’d really started to feel like a true Midwestern girl, transplant or not. She could just run to Starbucks, grab some overpriced hand warmer of a drink and-
As soon as the frigid air hit her cheeks, she knew she was nowhere near ready to call herself a Midwestern girl, no matter how many bad dates to North Side bars she’d been to or how many beers got spilled on her in the bleachers at Wrigley. She was perpetually freezing from September to April, starting the moment she stepped off the moving truck and into the wind. Doctors promised it wasn’t an actual medical condition, but four layers of clothing and the tremor of her body said otherwise. She groaned, finding herself wishing she had a vacation day left that she could spend. But no, she just HAD to go to that third wedding. If everyone from back home could stop that would be fantastic. Or rather, if she could stop being asked to stand up to the weddings that would be even better. It was going to be another Christmas of “Oh sweetie when are you bringing a boy home” and “You know that nice Jackson boy is still single.” Single and as appealing as a wet blanket.
The second gust of wind had her nearly doubling over, pulling the collar of her coat nearly up over her eyes. An Uber was the only logical choice. Waiting for this stupid bus was going to give her the flu…But a quick check of her bank account reminded her that rent had just been paid…And she’d definitely have to risk the flu or an overdraft…At least her new doctor was cute.
No one could really fault her for the sniffles as she dragged herself to her cubicle with a view of the mostly gray city street fifteen floors below. After all, it was perfectly reasonable to be freezing in December. There were a few half asleep grunts that were meant to be “hello”s as she dragged her booted feet across the carpet, a trail of footprints following after her. It was hard to be polite when you were pretty sure your eyebrows were frozen off. As much as she actually did need the coffee now, it would have to wait until she changed out of the clunking boots and into something more appropriate and less waterlogged. The hat and gloves were the first things to come off, sitting in a pile on the corner of her desk as she finally made it behind the felt walls. Next came the jacket, draped over the chair with the little belt tucked up so it didn’t get caught in the wheels. She’d already had to stitch it back together once because of the damn things.
“Morning Gabe.” she yawned as she flopped into the chair, starting to unlace her boots. “Good weekend? You and Melanie went to the Kindlemarket, right?”
“Yeah it was great. Got a few new little wooden ornaments for the tree this year. You got a package after you left for the day on Friday. They left it with me so that the mail room didn’t lose it or something.”
“A package?” Emily blinked. She didn’t remember ordering anything last week, although it was entirely possible. Drunk Emily loved sober Emily’s amazon wishlist. But she never had anything sent to the office. Especially not after Tess’s mysterious vibrating package incident. ‘New phone that turned on in the box’ my ass. “Uhm, yeah thanks.”
She took the box from him, squinting to read the ship from address on the pre-printed label. It wasn’t a shop she recognized, and it wasn’t an amazon box, so it was completely lost on her. She blinked, setting it on the desk.
“Know who made coffee this morning?”
“Ugh.” She wasn’t sure the burnt taste had come out of her favorite mug from the last time the woman destroyed the office coffee maker. “Tell me someone is going on a run.”
“Mary is. I’ll tell her to grab your regular.”
“You’re a saint Gabe.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
The two of them laughed as he went back to his own cube a little down the row. She waited until she had her flats that always stayed in the bottom drawer of her desk on to look back to the box. She picked it up and gave it a small shake. No clunking or shattering, so it wasn’t anything breakable. Setting it down again she stared at it, as if something was about to jump out of the corrugated cardboard and bite her.
“What the heck are you…” she grabbed the scissors from the cup next to her computer, snipping the tape. “Please don’t be loud or embarrassing or something.” She winced, finally tearing the flap back to take a look.
A nicely wrapped box was inside of the box, which confused her even more. She never did gift-wrap options. Certainly not if she was getting something for herself. She pulled the box out, tossing the shipping box into the trash. Maybe it was from mom? They had promised no gift exchanges this year though, so she had to believe it wasn’t her. Although she wouldn’t have put it past her to get something anyway. She smiled a little and shook her head.
“Freakin’ Mom.” she pulled at the ribbon and set it aside. “Now I have to find something for her. Great.”
She paused when she took the lid off and finally did away with the last of the wrapping paper. The yellow was impossibly striking, and definitely not something that her mother would have picked out for her. Ramona loved black, and grays, and…That was it really. She picked up the fabric and it uncoiled from its pretty presentation, a pile of canary and black on her lap.
“No way…” the stitched emblem of a badger at the bottom of the scarf on either side made her grin more widely than the prospect of coffee. “This is fantastic.”
From the Hallows mark tattooed behind her right ear, to the collectable wand on her nightstand, she never made it a question she lamented being an unfortunate muggle. The scarf was stunning, and the correct colors and everything. She wrapped it around her neck, hiding in the warmth of the fibers. She nearly forgot to look for a card, finally digging through the mess of wrapping paper.
“Emily- I remembered when we went to Trivia the other night that you said you were a Hufflepuff. Hopefully you don’t have one already. Merry Christmas, Greg.” She read it outloud, fingers tracing over the letters. “He remembered?”
I mean, the last category of the night had been a question about obscure character names and she spelled them perfectly on the first try without so much as a blink of an eye. As memorable as that was, she figured that it absolutely ruined her chances for date number three. Greg had been sweet, drank good beer…Had a really cute cat that had a smooshed in face that purred like a boat motor. Definitely at the very least an 8 out of 10. I mean, he chewed with his mouth open a little bit, and snorted when he laughed…Although she supposed the snort was at least a little cute. 8.5 out of ten then.
Emily had completely forgotten they met up outside of the building and he’d had to buzz to get let into the first floor lobby of the building and out of the snow. Of course he had her work address, and they’d never gone to her place so he couldn’t very well have sent it there. She fingered the yarn at the edge of the scarf as she thought about this. Maybe her encyclopedic knowledge of the ingredients needed to brew a polyjuice potion hadn’t totally ruined her chances. The scarf at least meant she could call him again, she figured.
“Greg? It’s Emily.”
“Am I bothering you? Sorry, it’s my lunch break at the office. I can call you back if-”
“Yeah no, it’s cool. Just grabbing a cup of coffee. Our machine at work broke. It’s the worst.”
“I’m sure. Sorry I..Haven’t called or anything I just thought-”
“Yeah no it’s-”
“I mean I-”
“Totally I get it. I’m sure there’s-”
“I got your gift.”
That finally got him to be quiet. He cleared his throat, and there was the soft slurp of him taking a sup of whatever he’d gotten for coffee.
“You did? Good. I was..Getting worried I had the address wrong or something.” he laughed nervously. “You didn’t already have one, did you? I remembered that you didn’t have a scarf at the bar so… I figured it wa safe if nothing else.”
“No I don’t. It’s perfect. Thanks.” she pushed it away from her mouth so she could speak without it muffling her voice. “I..Figured you didn’t want to see me again to be honest.” she blushed as if he could see it. “Most people get a little weirded out by the nerd thing. It’s sort of buried on the Tinder profile, you know.”
He laughed and she let out a small sigh of relief. The microwaved dinner in front of her wasn’t the thing that was making her stomach flip for once.
“I don’t mind the nerd thing.” He promised. “It just kinda caught me off guard. I mean you…Don’t really look like the kind of girl who knows…What was the name…”
“Yeah that. You don’t look like the kinda girl who knows who Mafalda Hopkirk was off hand…I mean if you asked me something about the story behind the Forgotten Realms I’d be able to give it to you so I guess I’m not all that different.”
“Yeah. Do you-”
“Every Tuesday and conventions three times a year.”
They both fell quiet again, Emily with the biggest grin on her face, on the edge of her rolling chair.
“Myhtrill Lostwillow. Human ranger and member of the Emerald Enclave.” the vaguely Australian accent he effected actually made her giggle.
“Tinkerfalia Stonegear. My friends call me-”
“No way we sat at the same table a few months ago.”
“We did not!”
“You don’t really forget a name like Tinerfalia. I was playing my assassin. The one who-”
“Fell from the window out of the princess’s bedroom.”
They said this at the same exact time. Her laugh probably distracted a few of her close by co-workers. She found that she didn’t much care, though. When they finally caught their breath, Greg spoke first.
“So…Do you want to go and grab a drink tonight then, Tinkerfalia?” he kept the australian accent as he asked. “I’m sure that a gnome like you knows where we can find a fine cup of ale.”
“I may know a good place or two.” the squeak of her voice definitely had one of her co-workers stand and look around for the source of the noise. She pulled the scarf up, as if the canary yellow would hide her instead of make her a target for eyes. “Oh and Mythrill?”
“You can call me Tink.”