"Twenty-five!" Hestia cried, placing her latest sheet on the large pile in front of her. Her hand had started throbbing at around ten, and her fingers had been numb ever since twenty. Her bottom...well, that had been pricking and stinging and biting ever since she'd sat down.
"Shacklebolttttt!" she yelled, ignoring all decorum.
Kingsley, who didn't seem to mind, hurried over to Moody's office. He counted the sheets, giving each a quick once-over.
"You forgot the y at the end of immediately on page eight, and you stopped adding full stops after page eighteen." Hestia fought the urge to roll her eyes. If he was going to belittle her for every tiny error, she…well, she wasn't having it at any rate.
Then Kingsley grinned. "I'm only teasing. Well done, Jones," he said, finally laying the papers down. "I trust you've learned your lesson."
"I have!" she promised, her heart lightening at his words.
"That leaves just one final issue," he said, and Hestia frowned. She could guess where this was headed. "You lied to me." But she'd still work to prevent it with every ounce of strength she had.
"Remember when I convinced Mundungus Fletcher that I wanted to buy his whole supply of stolen goods?" she asked her mentor.
Kingsley nodded slowly.
"I don't remember you being so strict on the no-lying policy back then."
Kingsley sighed. "You're an auror. Lying while you're on a mission is often necessary, and I'd never rebuke you for it. But lying to me never is."
"I barely-" Hestia protested, but was silenced by a sharp look.
"I don't care if it's a white lie, or lying by omission, I'm your mentor and I always expect the full truth from you. Now come on, you've delayed it for long enough. You know what's coming."
Spoiled as she had undoubtedly been as a child, even Hestia had had her encounters with soap. She toyed around, biting her lower lip, then she opened her mouth and closed her eyes.
"Scourgify," ordered Kingsley, his voice calm and measured.
"Ack!" Hestia's mouth filled with big blue bubbles, bubbles that foamed and frothed and multiplied, and tasted like bitter chemicals. It was the same spell used nationwide for wizarding children, though every spellcaster had their own personal style of casting it, allowing for colour, texture and taste.
"Ew!" The foam pushed out of Hestia's mouth and slopped down onto her tshirt.
"Make it stop!" The soap burned too much.
Kingsley, who had remained sitting beside her to offer moral support, checked his watch. "Three more minutes to go," he said.
"WHAT?" Bubbles spattered from Hestia's mouth, but before she could say any more, the door to Moody's office burst open.
"Shacklebolt, sir, I got the prison admission forms ready-"
Hestia turned her head, hoping against hope that Jack Selwyn hadn't recognized her (or seen the blue soap suds), but it was too late.
"Sorry for disrupting, sir. I'll leave the papers here and-um-get on with my day," the handsome man stuttered and dashed off.
"Thank you, Selwyn," Kingsley said calmly.
Hestia covered her face with her hands, soap suds still pouring from her mouth.
"You'll want to thank Mr. Selwyn for distracting you from the taste," Kingsley pointed out. "Time is almost up."
"Mmm," Hestia moaned pitifully. Jack Selwyn, the department's dreamboat who always did everything right had just seen her with bubbles spilling out of her lips, getting her mouth washed out like a naughty wizard-kid. Life just couldn't get any worse.
Kingsley must have noticed her discomfort, because his expression softened.
"Now, young lady, I want your promise that you will never lie to me again," he said.
Hestia nodded. "Promise!"
"Good." Shacklebolt waved his hand and the bubbles disappeared, leaving behind a bitter, soapy taste.
"I can't believe Jack saw me like that," was the first thing Hestia said, making her mentor chuckle.
"Jack Selwyn…he's Scrimgeour's protégée, isn't he?" Kingsley mused. "I can promise you he's seen much worse than that."
"How do you know?"
But Kingsley only winked and patted Hestia's back comfortingly with his toned arm. Oh, she could stay like this forever.
But she mustn't.
Sighing, Hestia pulled herself out of Neverland and got up.
There was work to be done.
"Where are you running off to?" Kingsley asked.
"I need to see Tonks," she informed her mentor, who frowned.
"She's not at Headquarters," Kingsley said, getting up and starting to pace.
"Well, I'll go to her house then," Hestia replied, trying to push past the heavily-built auror. "Cmon, Shacklebolt, it's important. We need to stop Mrs. Mellory from-"
"That can wait," the auror said calmly.
"I don't know if it can. Look, I want to tell you the full story, I just want to talk to Tonks first-"
"Hestia, I suggest you sit down and hear me out."
I will respond to my commanding officer's summons immediately or else risk facing his wrath.