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Keep Calm and Carry On by my_voice_rising

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 143,654

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Dean, Oliver, Seamus, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 09/25/2012
Last Chapter: 11/26/2017
Last Updated: 11/26/2017

banner by nala @ TDA

Edie Lennox is in a rut. With no money, a shoddy flat, and no love-life, her joke of a Witch Weekly internship is the cherry on top. But will a chance interview with Quidditch superstar Oliver Wood earn her a journalism career? Or will life continue to get in the way?

2014 Dobby: Best Original Character | 2013 Keckers: Best Original Character, Best Humour, Best Chaptered

Chapter 1: Take Two and Call Me in the Morning
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*Edits 3/20/17* Hello! I am finally giving this fic some long-overdue edits. If you are just reading this for the first time, Edie's internship was originally at Witch Weekly--one of the edits is to create a new magazine, Charm. Hence, some chapters will say Witch Weekly and others will say Charm. But if you bear with me during this editing process and you'll find some nice, cleaner, better writing!


The Firewhiskey goes down like petrol. I grimace and Seamus slams his empty glass on the bar, whooping loudly. We congratulate each other with a stumbling high five. Then somebody is throwing their arm around my shoulders—Dean, leaning his temple against mine. His thick-rimmed glasses are tangling in my red hair, and I gently push his face away with my palm. But there’s nowhere for him to go. The pub is so crowded we’ve been bumping elbows with other Kestrels zealots all night.

“Why did we think the Poisoned Apple was a good idea?” Dean shouts to be heard. He doesn’t like crowds.

He’s right, though—practically the entire stadium has stampeded this way, already buzzing from overpriced Quidditch beer. I work here part-time and my manager, Angus, will usually slide us a few drinks under the table. Tonight, it’s far too busy for his charity.

I don’t reckon the Poisoned Apple has changed much since its opening, which a tarnished plaque claims to have been in 1484. The rusty chandeliers have never seen a Clearing Charm in their life and the walls are so cluttered with paintings that you can’t see the stains anymore. Monks, when tipsy, stumble into the frames of giggling Toulouse-Lautrec dancers.

Right now, it’s hard to see any of this with the crowd packed in, all decked in Kestrel green and gold. The wizard behind me sports a pointed green hat with dancing shamrocks that keeps poking me in the head. Glasses are clinking; people are shouting just to be heard by the person next to them. The tiny flames that float in jars over our heads are blurring, multiplying.
Seamus has turned his back to us, and is leaning on the bar, chatting with a pretty brunette. Bold, considering his face is painted green.

“He’s found a live one,” Dean says, and I laugh louder than I need to.

Seamus will flirt with anything with a pulse. The man thinks highly of himself, sure, but he believes that everybody should have some self-respect. He’s no womanizer, either. His Mum taught him better. (We’ve spent many a morning at her flat in Cork, after a night on the town. Mrs. Finnigan just smiles and shakes her head when we come staggering from sofas, footstools, bathroom floors, or wherever else had seemed a suitable bed, at the smell of her potato pancakes.)

I look at Dean and try to roll my eyes, but I’m having a hard time controlling my face. Merlin. How many Firewhiskeys was that? Three? Four? Numbers are weird right now.

“Is ‘four’ in Roman numerals ‘VI’ or ‘XI?’” I bellow.

(Seamus visibly winces. I’ve got some pipes on me, and he claims that my voice is the bane of his hungover existence.)

“It’s ‘IV.’” Dean has long since accepted that I vocalize every thought that enters my head.

He’s diligently people-watching, a bit distracted from conversation. Usually he carries a little book of parchment and a quill that draws in pencil, charcoal or coloured ink. A birthday gift from yours truly. Back then he was a student at Antiphilus Institute for Visual Art. Good for the CV, bad for the bank account—it was mad what students were required to purchase! The artist’s quill cost me a week’s wages at my shoddy job cleaning a Diagon Alley hotel.

“Oh, he’s doing the hair thing!” Dean nudges me.

I squint over to Seamus, who is pretending to pluck something from the pretty girl’s hair. There’s a thirty percent chance it will work. The girl smiles and touches his shoulder.

“And he sticks the landing,” Dean commentates, impressed.

Impressive indeed. The three of us are pretty disappointing in the romance department. A hot Friday night usually means sitting at my flat, where I’ve charmed a large two-way mirror to display live Quidditch matches. (Every once in awhile the magic goes wonky and the mirror gets crossed with another, somewhere in a dodgy Knockturn Alley flat.) Funny how Seamus and Dean suddenly wanted to be my friends, after learning about the mirror. Now Seamus fondly calls our little triad Fellas and Lady-Fella.

Speaking of Seamus, he’s disappeared, and so has the brunette. “Fast work!” I say, but then realization hits. “Oi! Where’s Lisa gone?”

“I forgot she was here,” he admits, searching the crowd for her annoyingly luminous blonde lock. “It’s weird that she’s come out.”

“She’s probably gone out to meet Justin.” I say his name like it were an unsightly foot disease.

Dean rolls his eyes, because we’ve had this conversation before. “They’re getting married, Edie, you can’t keep her all to yourself.”

I scowl and he ruffles my hair.

Lisa Turpin, my best friend since Hogwarts, rarely sees the insides of pubs these days. Or anywhere but a yoga studio, her and Justin’s home, or St. Mungo’s. She’s a Mediwitch on night shifts, and is always so knackered that I rarely see her anymore.

“I just wanted one night to hang out!” I’m whining like a child.

To be fair, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Lisa Turpin have been a long time coming. Their loins first started burning at Hogwarts, during our second go-around at a Seventh Year. Perhaps it was that everyone finally got to have a normal school year, after Harry Potter saved the world and all. Time for crushes, charming your hemline shorter, snogging between classes—all that bollocks taken for granted by everyone who doesn’t have an Evil Lord threatening to take over.

They never pursued anything, being awkward seventeen year-olds. But they met again at a dating event for Professional Witches and Wizards—which I will never let them live down—and the rest is history.

For the last two years, to spend time with my best friend, I’ve had to plan lunches, or third-wheel it, or surprise her at work. He’s only just proposed and they’re already an old married couple.

“Maybe we could be one of those modern triads, and share a flat after they get married.” I’m only half-joking.

Dean snorts something that sounds like “Co-dependent.”

“I miss the Golden Years, Dean.”

“I know.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

“You’ve told me.”

With the air of someone drunkenly reciting a Shakespearean prologue I say, “Before she met Justin, we went out every night, stayed up until three in the morning, and went to our shoddy jobs at eight. Pot of coffee, pain-relieving potion, kip at five o’clock, pubs at eight—rinse and repeat.”

Dean is not even listening.

“They were the most beautiful days of my life,” I sigh.

Reciting my drunken stories of yore is a tell-tale sign that it’s time to close my tab. I vaguely gesture to the bar and Dean nods. He’s glad for a reprieve, I’m sure. I can’t help my glance over the sea of Kestrel green. Maybe Lisa really did go home.

What an old maid.

Then again, maybe it’s not okay to be spending every single night in a bar as a 26 year-old.

There’s a tap on my shoulder. Lisa has returned, her blue eyes glittering—and that is not hyperbole. She’s one of the most stunning people on the planet, and is completely oblivious to the crowd that has just parted like the Red Sea to look at her. Though she denies it, I’m certain there’s some Veela blood in her family tree.

“Sorry, Justin got lost!” she shouts.

He’s standing behind her, looking very tall and important in his expensive lawyer’s suit.

“How did you possibly get lost?”

Lisa swats me. I know, no bickering in public. We’ve gone at it quite a few times. (“Edie, why didn’t you just put down the coffee mug and then check your watch?” “THANKS A LOT JUSTIN, I HADN’T THOUGHT OF THAT BUT SEEING AS HOW THERE IS HOT COFFEE ALL OVER MY LAP I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR INSIGHT AND WILL TRY MY BEST TO AVOID THIS SITUATION IN THE FUTURE.”)

“Lennox!” He claps me on the shoulder, much like he would a fellow Ministry employee. “Wow, you’re still standing?”

“You’re still carrying that man-purse?” I counter, my tongue tripping over itself. His shoulder-bag is a particularly touchy subject. He only got one because all the other lawyers use them. I don’t think I’ve stopped taking the mickey out of him since day one.

Lisa pats his shoulder as he murmurs about the bag’s practical purposes. Dean comes to stand with us, nodding a hello to Justin. A tingly, drunken excitement appears in my belly. Our group is forming! Seamus, get back here and we can have the hangout of a lifetime!

Then I notice Lisa wrapping her scarf around her slender neck.

“No!” I howl. Dean shoots me a look that says Get ahold of yourself, mate.

“I’m sorry, Edie! I’ve got to be at St. Mungo’s in…” She checks her watch and sighs, “five hours.”

My mouth opens to protest. But level-headed Dean interjects, albeit with a distinct slurring of words, “Yeah, go get some rest! We’ll see you later.”

As Justin’s arm moves around her waist, Lisa gives me the smile she always does: half amusement, half pity. Her slender-yet-somehow-muscular yoga arm squeezes me tightly.

“Make good decisions, you lush.”

We’ve been saying it since we began sneaking alcohol into Hogwarts. It started as an ironic mantra, because of course we never did that. But I think she actually means it these days.

“Stop by the pub this week,” I say, knowing full well she won’t.

She’s nice enough to at least nod, offering a half-hearted, “Definitely.” Then they turn and Apparate, the pop barely even audible in the clangor. The jealousy starts creeping in again. I am on the verge of sulking when, thankfully, Seamus materialises.

Dean cracks a lopsided smirk; the brunette is nowhere to be found. “Well that was quick. Shot down already?”

In response Seamus flicks out a napkin, on which the girl has charmed her name. “Playing it cool, mate,” he says as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. I think the "i" in Amelia is dotted with a heart.

“Wow, didn’t know Second-Years were allowed—” My insult is cut short. I’m staring in horror at the three shots of Firewhiskey that have floated over to us. “NO!”

They hover in the middle of our group, mocking us.

“YES!” Seamus passes them out.

I put my face in my palm. The room is swimming even more, and I haven’t even taken the drink yet. “Seamus, I have my internship in the morning and—”

He throws his arms up in exasperation. “Where is your respect, Edie? Kenmare just beat Flanders—Merlin spit on their graves—and you really don’t want to give them a proper celebration?” He sees my fading resilience and adds, “Besides, these were seven Sickles each.”

“And,” Dean interjects with a surprisingly logical tone, “you don’t exactly have to be on top of your game to make coffee runs.”

“Oi!” I punch him in the arm and he almost spills his drink.

He’s right, though. Charm magazine has quite possibly the worst internship program of any Magical publication. I applied for an editing position and was instead offered a stint for delivering messages, setting up snack tables for photo shoots, and basically being a glorified House Elf. Just thinking about it makes me angry.

I could use a drink.

“You two are enablers.” I point at them accusingly but I’m cracking a stupid grin which turns into a contagious laugh until we’re all doubled over. I can tell by Dean’s expression that he has no idea what’s so funny.

Seamus raises his glass in a toast. He always does this, but we lift our glasses all the same.

“To our adulthood!” he shouts and Dean lets out a whoop. “May we never have office jobs, may our futures be full of nights forgotten by morning, and most importantly, may we always get laid!”

Not sure how that last bit is working out, really, but we don’t mention that. We throw back the glasses. It tastes like it always does: a mixture of shame for being 26, a hybrid of unpaid intern and barkeep, with no love-life to mention, and getting sloshed at a pub virtually every night—and also certainty that I have the best mates in the world.

We’re all scowling and shaking our heads as if the taste will disappear. Seamus punches his fist into the air, shouting the first line of the Kestrels’ fight song: “God bless those fighting Kestrels, bally-ally-oh!”

And then the entire bar is singing in drunken unison. Everyone’s stamping their feet so hard that the chandeliers are rattling, spilling dust into our drinks. It’s amazing what Quidditch and alcohol will do for camaraderie. Our song ends and is followed by deafening cheering. Angus, exhausted barkeep and die-hard Kestrels fan, shouts, “Everyone wearing green gets a free round!”

The pub goes mad.

Oh yes. Tomorrow morning will be hell.

Chapter 2: The Job Thousands would Kill For
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To no one’s surprise, the next day my head feels like it’s undergoing the Cruciatus Curse. Despite this I am trying to read my favourite newpaper, the Oracle Underground. This is a feat in and of itself.

The watery morning sun that filters into my corner of the Charm headquarters is a poor reading light. Squinting at the headlines, I warm my hands around the tiny flame I’ve charmed onto the desk (a dangeous task while hung over, it became clear). I breathe onto my hands. If light to see by isn’t something the magazine values for its interns, then warmth certainly isn’t either.

This damp corner of the building is where they cram all of the interns. It’s a bit like the Hogwarts dungeons. Something about it feels very Charles Dickens, like at any moment I could be struck with a bout of consumption. A constant drip, coming from God knows where, echoes in the quiet. The trendy part of the building is upstairs. With gleaming white brick and polished stone floors, it’s reserved for those on payroll. There the corridors echo with the clicking of high heels and magical typewriters, like the drumbeat on a Viking ship. Huge moving photographs of waifish models dominate the walls. They keep pretty quiet, containing themselves to the occasional scoff at the food I eat for lunch.

Not helping my grim surroundings is my long-since dead potted plant. A gift from my Mum, meant to brighten my desk, it barely lasted a week. I am the only Hufflepuff to ever receive a T in Herbology. Eventually Professor Sprout assigned me strictly to clear-up duty.

My stomach rumbles. My shoulder bag is charmed to fit a million things, and I know that there’s a cheese sandwich in there somewhere. After searching shoulder-deep for several minutes, I extract the sandwich wrapped in parchment—But even the smell of food turns my stomach.

With an inhuman sound I toss the sandwich onto the desk. “This is the last time I come to work hung over,” I vow, just like I did last week.

Turning my bleary eyes back to the newspaper, I try to focus. (I’ve only got another few minutes before my internship advisor will create another menial task.) The article I’m reading is about the Female Goblin Coalition strike happening at Gringotts. For the past several months they’ve been protesting the bank for refusing them employment. Of course, it’s all under the table; no Goblin in his right mind would actually admit that Gringotts won’t hire them simply because they’re female. But really, have you ever seen a lady-Goblin at work? According to the article, the protesters have been withdrawing all of their funds in defiance.

There’s a photograph as well. Grimma Longfinger, the commanding voice for the Female Goblin Coalition, delivers a speech to a crowd of Goblins, witches and wizards alike. She stands on several stacked boxes, her beady black eyes full of fire. I’ve heard that she’s an amazing public speaker. The crowd waves their wands overhead, the sparkling letters that appear forming mantras like EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL.

“Bravo for them,” I say.

If only Charm would do some sort of media coverage. We have a politics section, but it usually features a celebrity who donated to a cause. The articles talk about Poppy Lockhart giving up meat, and how her skin is glowing because of it, rather than the actual animals she’s saving.

I try to imagine pitching an article on the FGC to Mr. Ward, my internship advisor, who seems to think women’s heads are filled with body glitter rather than opinions.

I snort. Yeah, that would go swimmingly.

Ward didn’t even know my name for the first two weeks. Now that we’re past that little hiccup, he always calls me “Edith,” my full name. He really draws out that first “E” too, jutting out his jaw and all. I glance at the stack of his correspondence that I’ve spell-checked today. It only takes a moment with magic, but really, should an editor need a Spell Checker Spell?

Why a man like him works for Charm is beyond me. The rumour is that he was a disgraced writer for a men’s quarterly magazine, and was only taken on here because he literally got on his knees and begged.

To be fair, Charm isn’t the worst publication. It does promote young girls being strong, having opinions, and the like. Unfortunately those articles are wedged in-between the “Healthiest Snacks to Trim Fat” and “Ways to Make Him Say ‘Ahh.’”

The magical world certainly has its fair share of gossip rags, and the Prophet has gone to seed. But there are so many important things happening in the world, now that everything’s different. After the War, people are able to make positive, constructive changes in their lives. We’ve taken a step in the right direction, but how many times can a Witch want to find out the right bikini for her body type? (Apparently quite often. Charm is the second highest-selling magazine for witches in the UK, after Witch Weekly.)

Fighting a groan, I turn back at the Oracle Underground. It’s certainly not pretty; a largely homegrown operation has its printing hiccups, typos and layout issues. But I would give my left leg for a job there.

Someone is standing at my desk—probably somebody with another mindless task. But with a glance up, I’m more than pleased to see Theo Nott, one of the magazine’s photographers. Like magic, the hangover is gone.

Theo is absolutely stunning. And he knows it. Usually I would find that kind of person unattractive out of spite, as if I could teach them a lesson by not giving them a second glance (at least when they were looking.) But the window in my little corner looks directly onto the exterior of the next building over. It’s nice to have something else to stare at. And I’ve heard more than one Charm employee whispering about Theo’s exceptional bum.

His eyes are on the photo of Grimma Longfinger. “Brilliant, eh?” he says in that soft-spoken way of his.

“I know right!” I always notice how loudly I speak around him.

He sits on the corner of my desk and I can’t say that I mind. He’s wearing a beanie, a v-neck tee shirt and a scarf. It doesn’t make any sense. Hot body, cold neck? But God, he wears impractical so well. I do my best to cross my legs sexily but don’t have enough space under my desk and end up kicking him.

“Oh! Sorry—”

“There’s goinna be a huge protest outside Gringotts next month. Grimma Longfinger is going to deliver another speech. Can’t wait to get it on film,” he says. His magical camera is, of course, slung over his shoulder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without it.

“Really!” I have to fight my surprise. One: because I can’t picture Theo, the bathing-costume model photographer, giving a damn about women’s rights. And two: because I can’t wait to go to the protest myself.

“Well, I mean,” I tuck my hair behind my ear. Theo toys with his camera, oblivious. “Maybe we could go together?”

He smiles with a quiet snort of laughter, as if I had told a joke, and goes back to his camera.


Then somebody calls his name from down the corridor and he stands to his feet, tilting his chin in a farewell. “See ya.”

“Right, at the rally then! Bye, Theo! Bye!”

I’m still smiling after him like an idiot, actually leaned over my desk to get a look at his bum, when—



As she passes by, in an outfit comprised of London’s entire tweed reserves, Mildred drops a stack of parchments onto my desk. It rattles my poor brain. I squeeze my head as if trying to choke out the hangover.

“Thank you Mildred!” I call in a desperate-to-please voice. She doesn’t so much as glance my way.

Mildred is Mr. Ward’s secretary. Kind of the second-in-command over my internship. I have no idea how she’s lasted this long at Charm. The woman can’t be over forty-five, but everything about her reminds me of my great-aunt. For someone working at a magazine run by fashionable girls even younger than me, she sure does dress a lot like Madame Pince.

It’s no secret that Mildred didn’t want me for the internship. Apparently she’d set her sights on another girl to fill the position. Top marks, already had a degree in journalism, hundreds of extra-curriculars at uni, volunteered at a library and an owl rescue.

But this year Tallulah Blakeslee, the editor in chief, said that she didn’t want to head the intern programme. The project was pushed onto the executive editor, Mr. Ward. Before Mildred could sink her claws into a position for her protégé, my knight in shining armor stepped in: Dean. He’s done some commissioned illustrations for Charm, and is a client of Matilda Vane, a dear friend of Mr. Ward. Dean pulled a few strings, and here I am.

“And here I am,” I grumble.

I glare at the parchments. Mildred has already got it out for me, and today is not helping. Sure, being hungover at work is not the most professional way of handling myself. But I’m only twenty-six, for Merlin’s sake. It’s not like I’m retiring with pension any time soon.

Unfortunately, Mildred knows that I partied like last night was 1999, due to an encounter today in the kitchens.

I was in the midst of pouring a pain-relieving potion into my coffee from a flask. A stainless steel cauldron that magically removes saturated fat was bubbling away on the table, emitting a nauseating smell. (Charm is a brave new world to me, as my diet consists of cheese and Chocolate Frogs. I’ve also become familiar with those stylish little bracelets that monitor calorie intake and quip motivational things like, “You’re almost down a whole dress size, don’t give up now!” when it catches you eyeing a cupcake.)

The kitchen of Charm is in the basement, and nice and dark This morning I spent a little more time than necessary in there, hiding from the light like a vampire that subsists only on alcohol. As I stirred the pain-relieving potion into my coffee, I cursed myself for being so irresponsible, and Seamus for that last shot of Firewhiskey—


My stomach lurched at the thought. And curse Angus for the free Guinness on top of it all.

There was a quiet “Ahem,” from behind. With my back to the door I hadn’t seen Shelob, as Dean calls her, drop down from her web. Mildred stepped into the room, and then some. She really has a knack for standing entirely too close for comfort.

“Wotcher, Mildred,” I had said. Her eyes landed on the pocket of my skirt, where I had stashed my flask. I laughed, whipping it back out, “Oh! This. No, not a flask. Well it is a flask. But it’s not what you’d think, although a little hair of the dog probably wouldn’t hurt right now, if you know what I mean!”

What is wrong with me?

“No, it’s just a bit of pain-reliever. See, last night I did a little of the...” I winked dramatically and gestured as if drinking from a bottle. And then, with horror, I realized that I must have still been drunk, because I suddenly couldn’t stop talking.

“It’s not a big hobby of mine, in fact I’m rarely known to indulge in an adult beverage. But last night the Kenmare Kestrels beat the absolute shit out of Flanders. Er, sorry, I meant—beat the living daylights out of ‘em.”

There was a long silence. Mildred seemed to be waiting for the red haze to fade from her vision. At last she snapped, “Miss Lennox. You may not take this internship seriously, but may I remind you that this is Charm magazine. You have been given the honour of serving Britain’s highest-selling magazine for women.”


“There are, quite literally, thousands of other young witches who would kill to have your position. These women are, in most cases, more qualified and certainly more dedicated.”

I began to see where this was going.

“There is a parchment in the third drawer of my desk, containing the contact information for each and every one of these women. I suggest that you don’t give me reason to use it.”

By the time she had finished, I had grown three feet shorter and my face was scarlet. Huddled over my coffee, I whispered, “Yes ma’am.”

“And you may consider this your final warning.”

Then she turned and marched out like a soldier. If the soldier were also a grandmother.

I am carrying out my lunch break as usual: alone, and at my desk. The tin of Cauldrons and Bats soup (named for the shapes of noodles) tastes like salt and not much else. I spot one lonely piece of carrot in the murky broth. I try not to dribble it on my proofreading.

A thousand other girls would kill for this job. Hard to believe. But apparently I could be replaced at the drop of the Sorting Hat. Maybe it really is time to step things up—which is why I’m spending my precious lunchtime finishing a record amount of proofreading.

On the trip for my fourth cup of coffee I pass Rose Zeller, the closest thing I have to a friend here. By “friend,” I mean that we have a mutual understanding that we’re using one another to pass the time. I’m there to listen to her problems with boys and work—or pretend to, while I bewitch office supplies to play Quidditch—and she nods absently through my complaints about Lisa and being skint. Our one shared opinion is about Theo’s perfectly sculpted bum (Seriously. Think Michalengelo’s David.)

Our “friendship” started a few months back, when Rose and Theo had a one night stand. She needed someone to talk to who knew him. And Lisa was on some yoga retreat in Bali, so I was eager for a female drinking buddy.

It took quite some time to get over my initial jealousy. (And by “get over” I mean “compartmentalize and never fully confront, while it continues to fester and occasionally manifests in passive-aggressiveness.”) Rose is three years younger than me and has a journalism career. At Hogwarts, I was writing before she’d even hit puberty.

Today, she’s wearing a turquoise pencil skirt and her signature red-framed glasses. I offer a wave. She only sighs heavily and storms past.

Alright, then.

Rose isn’t all bad. She can be fun, most of the time. Not to mention that she’s beautiful in a Hipster-Maleficent way: her skin glows freakishly white, and her grey eyes are in a constant deadpan that most guys find irresistible.

I am in the midst of pouring my fourth coffee, and am probably smiling at it a bit too much, when Rose enters. She runs a hand through her dark hair stressfully. “I’m sorry, Edie.”

There is a moment of silence. Clearly I am to ask her what is wrong. I take the bait; maybe she’s upset enough for a pint later. “Alright?” I sip my coffee.

She holds a folder of parchments in her hand. “It’s this stupid assignment.”

Hoisting myself up, I sit on the heavy wooden table because Mildred hates it. “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s an interview for our Quidditch section. It was sprung on me last-minute, on top of a cover story and organising our spread for winter coats.”

I’m having a very hard time feeling sorry for her.

“I mean, it’s a really big piece. For this month’s issue. That gives me, what? Just over a week to have it done from start to finish. And it would require a really in-depth interview. On top of knowing absolutely nothing about Quidditch—”

“Mmm!” I barely manage to turn my rage into a noise indicating agreement.

Rose is still talking but the words are washed over by the sudden rush of jealousy. I should have that article! I probably still have Kestrel green paint on my face.

“Listen, I just remembered. I have a…thing.”

She quirks an eyebrow, clearly not buying it, “Really.”

“Yeah. Really huge, actually.” I back away, mostly to put her out of throttling range. “But hey, rotten luck with being handed a monumental piece like that. Especially amidst all of those other cover stories.”

“Uh, yeah, I guess.” Her face has fallen into annoyance. She’s caught on to my childishness, but I don’t care. Obviously this is a sore spot for me; she knows I didn’t apply to be a bloody intern here. I dart out the door.

I sit heavily at my desk and I loosen my death grip around the coffee mug. Maybe I was too hard on Rose. But it’s infuriating to go day-in, day-out in this place where somebody like me, dying to become a writer, is ignored. More than infuriating.

The stack of parchments to proofread has doubled, meaning Mildred is still angry with me. I push my bowl of soup to the corner. Suddenly I’m not very hungry.

Usually when Mr. Ward calls me into his office, it’s to ask for a cup of tea. I remember the first time it happened. I was so sure that I was about to be handed a major assignment. Beaming, I had practically skipped all the way up the stairs to his office, wondering exactly which area of the magazine in which I’d be working. Wardrobe. No, Layout? Maybe I’d even do some writing!

In the end, the task he gave me was serious...

-ly irritating.

“Read it back to me, Edith.”

My jaw was clenched so tightly I was surprised he could understand me. “Smoked ham, yellow mustard, spinach, one tomato slice, lightly toasted rye.”

He smiled and nodded, listening as if I were reciting The Iliad from memory. “Excellent work. I’m very confident that you’ll do well. You do know where Broomhilda’s Kitchen is located?”

That was the day I had lost all faith in Charm.

Today, when I walk into his office with my quill at the ready, he’s in the midst of editing something. He waves me in without lifting his head. Mr. Ward is in his fifties, with a long, horse-like face and badly parted hair. The way he is currently reading the parchment looks very affected, a finger under his chin.

I stand uncomfortably as owls swoop in and out, dropping parcels and letters onto a second wooden desk. The papers magically sort themselves, a constant blur of envelopes. Behind the desk, an enormous window overlooks the streets of Diagon Alley where people go about their daily business. Mounted to the walls are countless journalism awards, honourary degrees, and other recognitions. In fact there are so many that Mr. Ward has charmed them to shift around so that they may all be seen. Apparently, what he lacks in common sense and social graces, he makes up for in writing.

My eyes land on a photograph of him shaking hands with the Minister of Magic. Keep writing! is scrawled in the corner, though the penmanship actually looks a lot like Mr. Ward’s.
With a final exaggerated flourish of his quill, he smiles toothily. “Sit, Edith.”

Usually, whatever he needs is insignificant enough to be fully explained while standing. The chair is small and uncomfortable and I wait as he fixes his tie.

“Edith, Edith, Edith. I have to say, you’ve done very well with all of your assignments so far.” I fight the deadpan expression trying to take over as he says, “You have definitely proven yourself to be a valuable part here at Charm. I’d say it’s time for you to take on a much bigger task.”

I almost don’t believe him. My heart skips a beat. “Really?”

“The magazine is going to partake in an important event at Gringotts next month. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

The Female Goblin Coalition rally! Charm is going to run a story with actual substance. And they want me to help. Me!

Mr. Ward folds his hands on his desk and leans forward. I can smell his coffee breath. I don’t care. “Edith.” He pauses. Slight dramatic exhale. “We need you.”

“I will be there!” I gush, emphatically poking the surface of his desk.

But I do this just as he is saying, “To man the refreshments table.”

I cannot stop my “HA!” of disbelief. My finger jams harder into the woodgrain. You have got to be joking. Mr. Ward is still smiling as if frozen. “So…this isn’t about the Female Goblin Coalition strike.”

He makes a “Pfft” sound and shoos away the very idea with his hand. “Of course not. Bunch of whinging midgets in skirts, the lot of them.” I open my mouth in horror but he barrels on, “No, Gringotts is holding the reception for the annual WNSG—that’s the Wizarding News Society Gala—and we are of course attending. It’s just next month. Can’t believe you haven’t heard about it.”

On cue, an owl drops a parchment on my head with a screech. I snatch the flyer, crumpling it slightly. Gringotts Bank Presents the 218th Annual Wizarding News Association Gala. There is a horrible illustration of Goblin and a business-wizard chortling over brandy.

“So, what do you say?” Mr. Ward rests his hands behind his head. I’m waiting for him to prop up his expensive Dragonhide shoes. “Are you our girl?”

I stare in disbelief, still clutching the parchment. The magazine is actually supporting Gringotts right now? A publication marketed to women is associating with a blatantly sexist institution? I want to shout that I already knew what the WNAG is, that I quit, that I’m a better journalist than he has ever bothered to find out. But this internship is all the journalism experience that I have...

“I’m your girl.”

“Great!” He slaps the arms of his chair. Then, without another word he picks up his quill and gets back to work, doing whatever it is that he does all day. Not that I could possibly know, since as my mentor he hasn’t actually told me what his job entails.

I rise to my feet but stand there, waiting, as if he may suddenly shout, “Just kidding! You’re our new columnist.” But he doesn’t even look up. I turn to the door.

“Oh, and Edith?”

I squeeze my eyes shut. Do not hex your character reference, do not hex your character reference… It’s become my mantra over the past few months.

I turn and manage a bright, “Yes?”

He looks at me with sentimental appreciation, like somebody who can’t believe how quickly their child has grown. “I would absolutely love a cup of tea,” he nods emphatically.

“Of course,” I say through my teeth and set off to find his preferred brand, Madame Puddifoot’s Earl Grey. Decaffeinated, the arse.

Author's note: Hello everyone, and thank you so much for checking out my story. Thanks to princesspatience, ghostfire, EnigmaticEyes16 and JJFuzzyhead on the forums for their help creating grunt-work for Edie at her internship ♥

Edited 3/20/17

Chapter 3: The Proposition
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“I have got to get the hell away from that place,” I tell Lisa as I pour the tattooed wizard his stout.

It’s been a week since Ward has given me this golden opportunity at the WNAG. I’ve done my best to avoid him since, which hasn’t been too difficult, as he rarely oversees my daily activities to begin with.

I’ve just arrived from Charm to take on my evening shift at the Poisoned Apple. I’m exhausted, but it’s only seven o’clock; the real action won’t begin for hours. Lisa has surprisingly dropped by after her shift at St. Mungo’s, bless her. She’s even more knackered than me after pulling another all-nighter. Clearly she is fighting to stay awake, but she’s too polite to tell me she’d rather be cuddling with Justin in her sweatpants than listening to my problems.

I place the stout before the tattooed wizard. He’s quite fit; I lean flirtatiously over the bar, smiling.

“Three Sickles.”

But he isn’t listening. He is, of course, staring at Lisa.

Even in her state of near-exhaustion she looks like a supermodel; like she’s been up all night taking body-shots off Myron Wagtail. Even her cardigan is inside out, but she’s too tired to notice.

“Three Sickles!” I snap, and the man jumps from his Lisa-reverie. Sliding the coins across the bar, he chuckles as if to say, Can you blame me?

I grump down the bar to my friend. “He’s staring at you.”

“No he’s not,” she mumbles impatiently, like she always does, tucking her hair behind her ear.

Lisa and I went out over the weekend. I was beyond keen—that is, until I remembered that walking into a bar with her is like walking into a flock of Hippogriffs with a particularly scrumptious weasel. All night, I was stuck blathering away to the barkeep, while man after man wedged himself between Lisa and I to talk to her. Finally I charmed her engagement ring so that it glittered blindingly, even in the dim light.

Lisa didn’t mind. In fact, I could tell she felt sorry for me. Her pity inspired my sixth gin and tonic. When we left, I did so with smudged lipstick, and Lisa with two men actually shedding tears at her departure.

“Save some for the rest of us, will you?” I shove a fistful of bar nuts into my mouth, chewing loudly.

“What, is your sparkling etiquette not doing the trick?” Lisa grins at my ugly snacking and I chew louder. “And don’t be ridiculous, you’re always hanging out with boys.”

“Uh, those idiots do not count. Last time I saw them, Seamus tried to suffocate me with a pillow for cheering on the wrong team. And Dean ate all my Licorice Wands.”

There is the sudden prickly feeling of being watched. A glance down the bar reveals that the tattooed wizard is full-on staring at Lisa, balancing his chin on his fist as if she were an oil painting.

“Oh, brilliant!” She shields her face with her hand. “Edie, come on, he’s pathetic.”

“Well, beggars can’t be choosers.”

I’d like to think that l’m mildly visually pleasing, when not within a three-mile radius of Lisa. I have strong cheekbones and wide brown eyes, and I know a thing or two about making my ginger hair look nice. Unfortunately, my best friend is an otherworldly angelic being.

She snorts. “We were talking about your job, I thought, not men. You know, empowerment, glass ceilings…”

As she sips from her coffee I pull a face—how she possibly drinks that rubbish is beyond me. The Poisoned Apple has some of the worst coffee on the planet. But I suppose when your nights are spent collecting bedpans and reading charts until you’re cross-eyed, you’ll do anything to stay awake.

“Does St. Mungo’s need a new Welcome Witch?” I’m only half joking.

“I wish. Dolores is dreadful.” Her eyes narrow accusingly. “You aren’t letting on to Dean, are you? About how much you hate Charm? It was really nice of him to land you an internship.”

When I shift uncomfortably, she clicks her tongue in admonition. “Edie…”

I throw my hands up. “Well? You can’t expect me to control every word that comes out of my mouth when we’re drinking! I can barely do that sober.”

“Right, but it’s Dean,” she says.

“I know, he’s my best mate.” Lisa fixes me with a serious gaze and I add, “Aside from you!”

“That’s not what I was saying.”

Suddenly the bar door is thrown open so hard that it bangs on the opposing wall. Lisa nearly spills her coffee. “What the—”

A gaggle of well-dressed people stumbles in: three witches and two wizards. The women are wearing short, glittery dresses, while the men’s tailored blazers probably cost a month’s rent on my flat. I know the type: posh socialites from Chelsea who stumbled across this bar by accident, and who don’t know a good beer from a broomstick.

And they’re absolutely off their faces. I can tell by picking up on subtle hints, such as how one man raises his arms and releases a war-cry that silences the pub.

Lisa fails to suppress her smirk, downing the last of her coffee. “And on that note…” She rises and collects her purse. (The tattooed man actually wines.)

“Don’t leave me,” I beg.

“Sorry!” she says, but her eyes are glimmering with amusement.

Lisa twiddles her fingers in a farewell and turns on the spot. The crack of her apparating is barely audible over the newcomers’ loud chatter. As they approach the bar, they’re trying to remember the name of “that one cocktail they had in Edinburgh. It had some kind of juice in it. Or something.”


It turns out that they are essentially harmless. The girls, at least, are the saving grace of the entire outfit—And in really amazing shape, I think, noticing their toned arms. The only exercise I ever get is sprinting back and forth behind this bar like a caged terrier.

The whole group has a celebrity air about them. Maybe it’s the way they hold themselves, or their way of talking, but everyone is noticing, murmuring with their heads together.

So who are they?

“Excuse me.”

One of the men is leaning against the bar in his pristine outfit. “Ooh, you don’t want to touch the bar, unless you want that to disintegrate.”

He glances down at the fabric, cracking an unsure smile, and I shrug. “Looks expensive.”

He’s tall and broad, with wavy brown hair, and looks familiar, but I can’t place him. Probably because he’s wearing a pair of expensive sunglasses—even though he’s in a dark pub, at nighttime. It’s a wonder he found his way to the counter.

Then he says, “Ken I pleehs hev an Oold Fyeshend?”

His counterparts erupt into laughter from their table. A glance tells me that they’re watching our interaction with great interest, and I have the feeling that I’m the butt of some joke.

“Sank you.” He says curtly as I slide him his Old Fashioned. (His friends chortle again.)

As the night progresses, I lose track of the cocktails he and his friends order. They want champagne with gin and huckleberry vodka, with muddled grapefruit, salt on the rim, bitters over a sugar cube, shaken not stirred, and on and on and on… By the end of it, I’m pouring juice with sparkling water. They’re too drunk to notice and I’m not charging them anymore. But they’ve become entirely too much to handle.

The soberest of the group, a woman with a serious demeanor and startling green eyes, sends me little apologetic looks now and then. She looks familiar, too, and I wonder if she a Hogwarts student. Still, she does nothing to stop the men from making complete asses of themselves.

After their third mentioning that they’ve been drinking since four o’clock in the afternoon, my patience is running thin. Their volume level is like they’re screaming across a gorge at one another, rather than sitting at the same table. So far, I’m only seriously irked.

However, the scale tips in favour of “completely furious” when I run to the ladies’ loo, in one of the spare seconds they give me, only to find the man with the accent. Still wearing his sunglasses. Pissing on the wall.

“Oh my God!”

Believe it or not, part of my job is dealing with a lot of drunk people. But this certainly takes the Snitch.

The man swivels in horror. Yet he doesn’t seem to think he should stop urinating. I focus all of my energy into looking him in the eye—or stupid sunglasses—as he says in bewilderment, “I think you’re in the wrong loo!”

It’s a moment before the murderous red stops clouding my vision. I jab my finger at the door. “Get out!”

At last he realizes that he, in fact, has gotten it all wrong. He mumbles something incoherent and stumbles out, leaving me with a huge mess to clear up. Not only has he pissed everywhere, but he managed to overflow the sink and topple the bin in the process—in which he has apparently puked. (Luckily, my equally sad second job of cleaning hotels in Diagon Alley has equipped me with quick cleaning charms.)

I throw open the door to the toilets, chest heaving. The Phantom of the Loo has apparently not mentioned his recent adventure to his friends. Ignoring the tattooed wizard’s request for another pint, I storm across the bar and grab him by his expensive shirt.

“Whoa!” his mate shouts suggestively.

I open my mouth to scream I-don’t-know-what, but before I even know what’s happening this arsehole says, “Why thank you,” and plants his mouth on mine. It is easily the sloppiest kiss—if you could even call it that—I have ever experienced. My nostril is in his mouth.

I shove him as hard as I can. He stumbles back but two of the girls catch him, their jaws dropped in horror.


He raises his hands questioningly. “Vhat for?”

And they erupt into howls of laughter.

Idiots. All of them.

The other bloke throws an arm over his shoulder—or tries. He doesn’t has much to offer in the way of motor skills right now. “D’you know who thissis? Thissis bloody Viktor Krum!”

The whole pub has already quieted at the sudden shouting, but now they’re murmuring again. Even I am taken aback. It does make sense: his build, the accent, how wealthy they are, why he looks so familiar. But I don’t want to give them the satisfaction.

I am prepared to say something along the lines of, “I don’t care who the bloody hell you are,” but at that exact moment, a man in a neighboring group throws a fist into the air.


Then Viktor Krum turns and punches him in the face.


The man topples over and his friends dive to his defense, tackling Viktor Krum to the floor. Though they are outnumbered, Krum and his friend are still trying to put up a fight, but they can barely move with their over-dressed inebriation. The green-eyed witch is in the thick of it, pulling them off of each other, bellowing to break it up. Not for the first time, I wonder why nobody is ever smart enough to use magic in pub fights.


My spell stops most of the fighters, save one, though he thinks better of it and backs away. The brawlers are frozen mid-punch, looking like Picasso’s Guernica. A woman gives a final shriek before quieting herself.

“Aaaand that’s last call! Everybody go home, I’m done.”

I perform the counter-spell, ignoring the cries of complaint. I feel like a mother who’s just told her children that it’s time to leave Honeydukes. The girls are doing their best to pull their friends to their feet, but the combination of high heels and cocktails has made them as wobbly as newborn foals. Before Krum has even made it to a standing position I’ve waved away the blinking Open sign with my wand and retreated behind the bar.

“But I never got my stout!” The tattooed wizard has an impressive whine for a grown man.

“Mate, I just cleaned up somebody’s vomit, and was kissed by that same mouth. If anyone needs a beer, it’s me.”

He must reckon he can’t argue with that, because when I turn around he’s gone.

One by one, Viktor Krum’s friends come up to settle their bills. It’s a slow-going process but I am grateful to not have to deal with them in a group. The girls continue to apologise profusely, and I think they genuinely mean well. They use the phrase “complete sodding disgrace” more than once.

I’m on the verge of breaking the glass that I’m polishing when there is a quiet, “‘Scuse me.”

Viktor Krum is leaning on the bar again. His expensive blazer is ripped at the shoulder and his left eye is already swelling shut. Clumsily he takes a seat in one of the stools.

“Really sorry,” he manages. He gestures pathetically towards his mouth and I assume he means the kiss. Behind him the sober girl—a girlfriend, maybe?—is giving him a grave look, arms crossed tightly over her chest. More than likely the apology was her idea entirely.

My response is a terse, “Nine Galleons, two Sickles, seventeen Knuts.”

Whereas I would be horrified at such an amount, Krum merely fishes around in his trouser pockets. I suppose things like this are common to a Quidditch star. I turn away, waving my wand at the sink to fill it with soapy water, watching the pint glasses wash themselves. Reflected in the mirror over the sinks, Krum clumsily searches for the proper coinage, before giving up and dumping the pile onto the bar with a rattle of change. Like a well-trained pup, he stares at my back and waits quietly.

When I turn he slides the pile over. “Keep the res’.” I nod tightly, not making eye contact.

“I really am sorry,” he says again and stumbles to his feet.

I’m still refusing proper eye contact, unable to forget the stench of his boozy breath on my lips, until finally he staggers back to the others. When he’s not looking, my curiosity gets the best of me—quickly I count the pile of money. To my surprise, he’s left a three-Galleon tip.

“Go Bulgaria,” I mutter.

I count the coins again, this time in terms of how many stress-beers they will buy. No doubt Seamus and Dean are way ahead of me by now; there’s a Haileybury Hammers match tonight, and they’ve long since been at my flat, watching the two-way mirror. (I gave them the password to the front door. Not sure yet if this is a good or bad idea.) No doubt they’re already shouting at the match and decimating my meagre supply of food.

Finally everyone is leaving. Krum offers a pathetic wave as he stumbles out, which I ignore. When the door closes I release the enormous breath that I’d apparently been holding.

It’s not until an hour later, as I am locking the door in the chilly night air, that I realise it: Krum’s accent had disappeared when he came to apologise. In fact, he’d almost sounded Scottish.


“Father Christmas!” The first exclamation I can think of flies from my lips.

Painfully, I drop my too-full keychain on my toe. The thing could give Rubeus Hagrid a run for his money. Hopping on one foot while massaging the other, I turn and am face-to-face with Rose Zeller in her signature red peacoat.

“That’s your reaction to being snuck up on? I could’ve hexed you three times over.”

Ignoring the jibe, I release my foot. “What are you doing here?”

“Well I came to find you. Did you close this foul chanty early? It’s only midnight.”

“Really long story,” I sigh, waving her off. I’m trying not to focus on the fact that my only kiss in months was from a guy who had just thrown up in a ladies’ room. “Wait, why did you want to find me?”

“Could you be any more suspicious?”

“Well, I just never really saw us as, you know.”

Friends. The word hangs in the air.

After a very painful moment she says, “I have a favour to ask.”

Oh no.

But she’s got her pleading face on, and I know that I won’t be heading home to watch the match until I’ve at least heard her out.

“Well, let’s not just stand here in the cold. Do you fancy a pint?” But I’ve already started walking. If I’m going to be asked to set her up with Theo again, I’m at least going to get a beer out of it. Rose hurries after, the heels of her boots click-clacking down the cobblestones.

Several minutes later, we arrive at Le Chat Noir and shuffle into the warmth of firelight. It’s not a place that I typically haunt, but I saw the look on Rose’s face upon seeing my first choice. Maybe it was the one-eyed wizard hunched outside, hacking up a lung, and asking if we could spare money for his budding music career. At Rose’s approving look we head to one of the polished black tables in the corner.

The barmaid has short bleached hair and a septum piercing, and takes our orders with indifference. Rose coolly orders a double vodka soda with a flick of her hair. Kicked back with arms crossed I order a Peverell Porter. The barmaid nods curtly, and I have the feeling that she thinks we’re a couple.

“So,” I say after she disappears. “A favour, eh?”

Rose studies me before wordlessly reaching into her purse. A blue folder is set gently on the table. “Please tell me you’re not keeping files on Theo now.”

She glowers. “This isn’t about Theo.”


“This is about the Quidditch article I don’t want to write.”

“Oh.” I sit up like a spaniel eyeing a liver treat.

“Thought that might interest you. Go on, open it.”

Fingers tingling, I reach across the table, feeling the paper-pulp texture beneath my fingers…

“It’s empty,” I frown.

“Exactly.” Roses smiles with satisfaction. Thoroughly confused, my next question is silenced when the barmaid returns with our drinks. I thank her with a silent smile, my heart practically leaping from my chest, as Rose studies her drink, takes a sip, smacks her lips thoughtfully—will you go on?

At last she says, “So far I have nothing for this article. I don’t have the time to write it. I talked to Ward about giving it to you instead.”

My hand shoots across the table and grabs her wrist. “You didn’t!”

“Don’t get too excited,” Rose takes another sip, not meeting my eyes. “He said no.”

“What! Why? Honestly, has Ward even glanced at my portfolio? I have some very impressive work from Hog—”

“I know, you started your own little school newspaper that nobody read.” When I glower at her she says, more gently, “Sorry. I’m still asking for your help. Or, rather, suggesting that we help each other.”

I don’t like her tone, or the glint in her eye. Bartering with journalists is something I’ve always been wary of. It’s an unspoken rule of the game; something gleaned from black and white Muggle films, where men in jaunty hats get themselves into sticky situations by making deals with the press.

But if this is what I think it is…

“So, what then?”

“Well, obviously Ward wants it to be written by an actual, seasoned journalist—” (My hand clenches around the pint glass.) “—but I just don’t have the time. I know, I know. This is not how journalism is run. If you’re given an assignment, you keep it. You see that it gets done, especially when Tallulah Blakeslee gives it to you personally, blah, blah, blah.”

“How in the world did you get a job over me?” I murmur breathlessly.

“The bottom line is that I’m too busy to write this assignment, and it needs to be done, and Ward needs to think that I’m the one who did it.”

Rose slides the empty folder across the table. The little lightbulb goes off. “You want me to write it under your name.”

My intention is to say this flatly, as if it’s a stupid idea—but I can’t. Of course it’s unethical. Of course my hard work would be going unnoticed, again. But it’s the best opportunity to present itself in all my time at Charm: a chance to conduct an actual interview. Real-life experience writing for an actual magazine.

It would mean being a published journalist.

Rose cracks a grin. She knew that I would say yes. “See what I’m getting at, here?”

I take a long drink, my eyes never leaving the blue folder. There is the distinct feeling of being trapped, even though technically I’m the one doing the favour.

There has to be a catch somewhere; something that can blow up in our faces. In fact there are probably hundreds of catches. But my excitement and the alcohol are keeping me from seeing them right now.

“All right, I’ll do it.”

Rose releases a squeal of delight. “Oh, Edie, thank you, thank you, thank you! This is such a relief.”

Despite the fact that this is clearly the absolute worst idea I have ever had, I smile back at her. She says, giddily, “Honestly, I couldn’t give two pence about Quidditch in the first place. I mean it’s so brutal and vulgar—”

Though I can’t argue with this, I’m too excited and interrupt, “So, tell me about the piece! What’s the angle?”

“Right. It’ll be a feature piece focusing on a player from…” She frowns in thought, and I think that she has to be doing this on purpose. “Perth? Plymouth? Oh, it’s Puddleme—”

“PUDDLEMERE.” I have slammed down my glass mid-sip, beer sloshing. “PUDDLEMERE UNITED.”

Rose stares blankly. “Yes?”

I lift a reassuring hand. “Let me explain.”

And I launch into my prepared story, about how they are one of my Top Three Quidditch Teams (before Kenmare, after Holyhead.) I also mention my Puddlemere knickers that read Chuck that Quaffle Here across the bum.

And in the most abridged history lesson I can offer, I explain that Puddlemere made it to last year’s European Cup, wherein the game lasted an agonizing seven hours. It was a complete stalemate. And Puddlemere would have won, had it not been for Seeker Amelia Jones pulling a Wronski Feint—why, why would you do that, Jones?—and crashing. As soon as she was down the Seeker from the Arrows caught the Snitch. It was all over in seconds.

“The following week was… not ideal,” I say darkly.

But I may as well be speaking Mermish, because Rose’s eyes are glazed over. “Yeah,” she says with false enthusiasm.

“So. Who will I be interviewing? Jones? Oh, Merlin, please let it be Jones! I’ve been dying to ask her about that Feint, but she’s never answered my fan mail…”

“Edie, you wrote her fan—? Anyway.” With the shake of her head, Rose chooses not to acknowledge this. “Your first interview is set up for tomorrow morning at ten.”

“Tomorrow morning! That doesn’t give me any time to prepare!”

“Well you’re already a walking dictionary on the subject. What more do you need to know about Pogglemore?”


“Anyway, you’re interviewing Oliver Wood.”

My jaw drops. “Are you — Seriously?”

Wood is arguably Puddlemere’s best player. Even better, he’s become a Quidditch martyr after a serious shoulder injury that’s left him out for an entire season. For this reason I’ve never seen him play, but everyone knows the name Oliver Wood.

Maybe he’s slipped off the radar, and he’s fairly old for a professional athlete. And I’ve heard a rumour about a drinking problem. But I can practically see my pitch now: Quidditch Hero Still Fighting for Place in the Game.

Rose supplies, “You two should have been at Hogwarts together for a bit, but I think he’s a few years ahead of you. Do you know who I’m talking about?”

I laugh condescendingly. “Uh, yeah, I think I know who Oliver Wood is.”

Updates 6/2017: Another chapter updated! Hopefully this feels more cohesive; I tried to offer more emotional substance and less zingy one-liners, among other things. And Lisa's character is getting a fair amount of doing-over too. I know KC&CO has been finished for ages, but if it's your first time reading, tell me what you think! ♥

I do not own Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," or Pablo Picasso's "Guernica."

Chapter 4: An Interview with Mister Wood
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“You have got to be kidding me!”

“Edie, that’s brilliant!”

“—first interview since he’s back on the team—”

“—going to look so good on your CV—”


Dean and Seamus have always been supportive to me, but they’re much more vocal about it after six pints. It doesn’t hurt that their team, the Haileybury Hammers, won tonight’s match. As I rest on the sofa with a congratulatory beer (the single bottle they managed to set aside for me) they take turns punching my shoulder, ruffling my hair, hugging me, and shoving me.

Dean smacks a hand over his forehead. “I can’t believe you get to do his first interview since the injury!”

“Oi, just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m any less passionate about Quidditch—”

“Christ, Edie, I didn’t mean you-you. I meant Charm. Oliver Wood never agrees to interviews, like ever. Is it even the kind of magazine to do interesting stories? No offense.”

“None taken. And… no.”

Seamus declares, “If it should be anyone doing the interview, it should be me! I’ve been Wood’s biggest fan since Hogwarts. Have you ever even spoken to him?”

Honestly, I can’t even picture what Oliver Wood looks like. According to Dean and Seamus, he was four years ahead of us in school, which means he graduated before I had become remotely interested in Quidditch. Being from another Hogwarts house didn’t help.

“Maybe? I apparently got into a heated argument with Harry Potter, once, about whether or not he should be in the girls’ loo. Don’t recall that, either.”

Seamus ignores me, “To think we were in school with the tosser! And look at him now.”

“Harry Potter?”

“No, of course not, Oliver Wood! Best player Puddlemere ever had—you’ve never even seen him play, but trust me—and I never got to talk Quidditch with him! I mean, I tried, but he always just kind of looked at me funny…”

Dean raises an index finger. “That’s because you followed him like a lost puppy and couldn’t formulate a proper sentence. Pretty sure he thought you had the hots for him.”

I snort, “Yeah, didn’t you follow him into the locker room before a match once?”

“Even though he was showering?”

Seamus throws up his hands. “All right, let’s not waste time dwelling on the past! So, where exactly is this interview again?”

“The Three Broomsticks, at ten o’clock. Can’t believe Rose actually agreed to meet him there…” Then I realize why he’s looking at me like that. “Seamus, no.”

“Come on Edie, please! I just want to get a look at him!”

Dean quirks an eyebrow. “And you’re certain you don’t have the hots for him.”

“Bugger off!” Seamus beams him in the forehead with a bottle cap and continues, without missing a beat, “It’ll be perfect. Just a casual run-in.”

“Seamus, nobody is going to believe that you just happened to be in Hogsmeade, almost ten years after you graduated, the day a famous Quidditch player is visiting!” I cross my arms. “‘Sides, I’m nervous enough. I don’t need you staring, on top of everything else.”

“Tell him.” Dean clinks bottles with me. Seamus grumbles something but argues no more, apparently quelled.

I take the final swig of my beer. It’s nearly midnight; I should have been in bed hours ago if I want to be properly rested for tomorrow. But I doubt sleep will come soon at all.

Happiness is still bubbling inside me as I stretch widely, saying, “You two had better stay here again.”

“Sage advice.” Dean gestures to the dozen empty bottles scattered around the den.

I point a stern finger at Seamus. “I mean it, mate, no drinking and Apparating.” Last time, the poor bugger Splinched himself and had to regrow one of his toes.

“I know, I know,” he mumbles, eyeing his left foot.

I am still wearing my stupid grin as I brush my teeth, change into pyjamas (instead of falling asleep in whatever I’m already wearing, as usual) and carefully select an outfit for tomorrow morning (rather than scraping dirty clothes off the floor.) It’s a time of change.

When I trek back to the kitchen for a glass of water some time later, I notice that my small den—slash dining room slash storage area—is still lit up by the two-way mirror. Though Seamus is snoring loudly, splayed out on the sofa, Dean is watching a Muggle football match. Sipping my water, I perch on the arm of his chair. It’s completely falling apart and should have been tossed ages ago.

“I can’t believe this,” I say.

“I know, like Flanders could actually beat Italy.” We meet eyes and he grins, still a little heavy-lidded from beer. “Seriously, I’m chuffed for you, Edie.”

I’m not great with emotions. But I remember Lisa’s advice from earlier, and her granola-eating, organic-hemp-vegan, find-your-truth exercises. I really do owe a lot to Dean.

“Well, it’s all because of your brilliant work landing me the internship. So thanks. This whole article could have never even happened without it.”

“Well, don’t thank me yet, Wood might turn out to be a complete ass.”

“Fair enough,” I say and rise to my feet. “Well, ‘night then.”

“Doubt I’ll get any rest with that.” He looks at Seamus, who releases a grizzly-like snore on cue.

It crosses my mind to ask if he would rather sleep in my room, but something about that feels too strange. With a parting grin, I close the door behind me and crawl into bed. And for the first time in what feels like forever, I drift off to sleep genuinely pleased with the way things are headed.

Unfortunately, the pleasant feeling only lasts for the six hours that I am unconscious.

My morning begins by waking thirty minutes later than intended. Then it turns out the dress I laid out has an enormous hole in the skirt, from when I once drunkenly dropped a lit cigarette on myself. In a flurry of panic I try to wake Seamus, who is surprisingly good with clothes-mending charms, but even shaking him only yields grumpy noises. The man has got to be the world’s heaviest sleeper.

I tear through my wardrobe, finally coming across a blue dress that is both clean and modest, and throw it on. Then, just when I am about to Disapparate, I smear my mascara everywhere, which Dean has to awkwardly wipe away because I don’t have time to run back to the mirror. Finally, I am grabbing my bag when I realize that I can’t locate a quill left right or centre, even with Summoning Spells, and HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO INTERVIEW SOMEBODY WITHOUT A BLOODY QUILL?!

“Just take mine, you’ll be alright,” Dean assures with a mildly terrified look. He hands me the expensive artist’s quill I bought him. After blurting a thank-you I turn on the spot, and with a loud CRACK, I am finally gone.

When I throw open the door to the Three Broomsticks, I am already four minutes late. But there is only Madame Rosmerta—who is still rocking the tavern-wench look—and a very old witch, already drinking sherry. No Oliver Wood.

A rain begins to fall as I stand beneath the awning, nervously drumming my fingers. He could have been early. He could have already left in disgust. Is he talking right now with my hero, Amelia Jones, about my disgraceful lack of punctuality? Now she’ll never answer my letters!

With each splash through the puddles I glance up, but somehow it’s never him. I really should have tried to find a photograph. Surely Seamus keeps one in his underwear drawer.

I check my watch again. 10:16. Inside, I claim a small table, ordering what turns out to be a bucket-sized mug of undrinkable coffee.

On the table, I place a roll of parchment and Dean’s quill. Last is the glass Recordograph that I once sort-of-accidentally nicked from Charm. Its bell jar fills with blue smoke—bits of sound—to be listened to later. It’s quite posh, and what actual journalists use, when they aren’t late for their jobs.

At 10:45, I begin to lose hope.

Somehow, against the rules of nature, I have drank almost all of the coffee when the rusty doorbell clangs. A glance up lurches my over-caffeinated heart to a dead stop. Of all people, Viktor Krum is striding in.

What the hell is he doing in Hogsmeade?

Stupidly, I throw my body down onto the table, hiding behind the coffee turreen. I do not want him to recognize the girl who kicked him out of the pub last night. And I especially don’t want him here when—if—Oliver Wood arrives. What if they’re friends? Wood would hate me even more!

Cautiously I peek around the coffee. To say that Krum looks worse for wear is an understatement. His eye is nearly swollen shut, and a large stain—beer or something rather more foul—covers his once-pristine shirt. It’s the same one he wore last night. Rather than taking a seat he remains standing, feet planted strongly apart and arms crossed tightly. The longer I watch him, the clearer it becomes: he’s waiting for somebody.

But who?

Then several things happen at once. Viktor Krum glances my way, and does a double-take as I am caught peering creepily around a bucket of coffee. At the same moment the bell clangs again. The door is opening to reveal a slightly-less-hungover Seamus, who is trying to appear very casual as he saunters in. But my annoyance doesn’t even have time to register, because suddenly Viktor Krum is making his way towards me.

Bugger, bugger, bugger!

Then Seamus throws his hands in the air and says, in the worst mock-surprise I’ve ever seen, “Oliver Wood!”

Had my vocal cords not seized, I would scoff. Clearly he’s still pissed from last night. He’s not talking to Oliver Wood, he’s talking to Viktor Krum: Bulgaria’s former top Seeker, and possessor of an eighth of the entire country’s wealth (according to the tabloids.)

So then why is Viktor Krum turning to answer him?

Seamus looks as if he might faint, as the person I thought to be Krum frowns in confusion. “Do I…know you?”


“Yeah, Oliver! It’s me!” Seamus says gleefully, as if reunited with a long-lost relative.

This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening.

Did I really fall for the fake accent? The one that his friends seemed to find so hilarious? Wood looked so familiar because he plays for Puddlemere. And he punched a man for cheering on Bulgaria, because he bleeds Puddlemere blue.

The parchment crumples in my fist. What an asshole.

“Finnigan?” Wood mumbles.

Seamus releases a high-pitched noise not unlike a tea kettle. He seems completely unaware that Oliver is less than pleased to be in public, let alone interacting with a former schoolmate. “Yeah, that’s right! Seamus Finnigan! Fancy running into you here, I had no idea!”

“Yes, what are you doing here, exactly?” I am beside Seamus before I even realize that I’ve stood up, and practically hyperventilating. Wood towers over us both.

Ignoring me, Seamus turns to the barkeep. “Rosemerta, still looking fit, I see! Get this man a pint. On me!”

She looks halfway offended and halfway flattered. I cast her an apologetic smile before saying acidly, “It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, Finnigan.”

I only use his last name when I’m furious. A worried look flits over his face.

But Oliver Wood just shrugs grumpily. “Yeah, I’d take a pint.”

I drop my arms incredulously, but Seamus practically squeals, “Of course! Right away!” He scurries over to the bar. Wood watches after him as though he’s still not entirely sure how they know one other.

Thrusting out my hand, I say through gritted teeth, “Edie Lennox. I’ll be interviewing you today.”

Up close he smells like a distillery and hardly looks my way. His handshake is half-hearted, to say the least. Well, Oliver Wood, I guess nobody ever taught you the importance of a firm yet cordial grip!

“I thought I was meeting someone else,” he says.

“Rose didn’t tell you?” He winces when I accidentally crush his hand. “Well, I’ll actually be conducting the interview today.”

This apparently makes no difference to him. He nods, eyes roving the pub though there’s absolutely nothing of note to look at. Seamus, all smiles, returns with two pints in hand. My stony look is ignored: he’s drinking a beer with one of his favorite athletes, and nothing on earth could spoil such a moment. The clinking of their glasses splatters beer onto my shoes.

Then Wood knocks back his pint in one go. Seamus and I are both staring, me in horror and Seamus as though he had just found his future husband. Wood smacks his lips mirthlessly. “Shall we?”

Seamus releases an elated little chirp.

“Right.” I put my hands on Seamus’s shoulders, forcing him away. “So nice of you, thank you.”

Dejectedly, he shuffles to a corner table. Surely he will be eavesdropping to our every word.

Wood makes a sad face. “Aww, but he was the nice one.”

I ignore him, and the fact that my encounter with an athlete who plays for a team I greatly admire has, so far, been a complete letdown. Abandoning any guise of professionalism, I shout, “Do you seriously not recognize me?”

I swear that a look of nervousness crosses over his face. “No?”

“Oh, allow me!” I bellow theatrically, and begin ticking off his atrocities on my fingers. “You told me that you were Viktor Krum! You pissed all over the girls’ loo, not to mention threw up in it, and then tried to kiss me without asking! Oh, and the pièce de résistance: you punched a man out for cheering on Viktor Krum—who you were pretending to be!”

Oliver has gone from white to beetroot, and halfway through my tirade began murmuring, “Alright, alright, I remember—alright!”

Silenced, I glance self-consciously around the room. Madame Rosemerta is frozen halfway through pouring another drink for the old woman, sherry spilling all over the counter. Behind us, Seamus releases an enormous gasp for air, slapping his table. He has apparently been doubled over in silent laughter, nearing suffocation—I hadn’t told anyone about our encounter last night.

Something in Wood’s face has changed, and with his blackened eye and mussed hair, I almost feel sorry for him. Sighing, he rubs his face tiredly. “So, I really did all of that, huh?”

“You really don’t remember?”

He looks like he wants to say something but, then again, I’m a reporter—as far as he knows. He’ll have to watch his words. “Look, I really am sorry. Today’s been a bit of a challenge, and I didn’t even want to do this bloody interview. It was Deverill’s idea.”

“Wow, thanks.”

“Not like that,” he says. “I just… really don’t like doing interviews.”

“Well, we’re already here, so…” I gesture to the table, where the coffee has gone cold. Wood eyes it, and I can tell he’s considering just walking out. But he apparently sees right through my anger and into the desperation.

Please, it’s my first and only story—please don’t leave.

“Yeah, alright,” he concedes, not exactly with enthusiasm.

It'll do.

As we sit, he narrows his eyes suspiciously, a hint of a smile on his lips. “So… you’re a bartender and a gossip columnist?”

“Journalist,” I say tersely.

“Right, journalist.”

The heat flashes. “Well, gotta pay the bills somehow. We can’t all be millionaires just for catching a ball.”

It’s uncalled for, maybe. And I like Quidditch—even if they are overpaid, I’m always happy to watch. But Wood has done nothing but humiliate and undermine me since the moment we met.

He nods, biting his lower lip, but the smirk remains in his eyes. The damage is done. There’s no way I’ll be getting a cooperative interview from him now.

But as I watch him—ruffled, swollen-eyed, pale with sleeplessness—I realize that I might be able to turn this around. He’s not here to be nice. Why should I be? I’m meant to be doing my job, which is writing about the truth.

In fact, it will be shockingly easy. Between everything that happened last night, and today, I have so much material that I don’t even need the interview. Charm’s readers will eat this bollocks up. Oliver Wood has just walked right into the bear’s den: the angry, embarrassed, unqualified bear who now holds a grudge.

He shrugs with mild boredom. “So, what do you want to know?”

I decide to leave nothing out.

Author's Note: If this is your first time reading, Oliver is much sassier this go-around. He really does not like the press, and as mentioned, only agreed to this article because of Deverill (which will be addressed more fully later.)

If you have thoughts, please leave them in a review! They are always very appreciated ♥

Updated 8/19/2019

Chapter 5: A Very Brief Foray into Journalism
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I push my Spellotaped reading glasses up my nose for the umpteenth time, and adjust my legs. They are folded in an impossible origami position where I sit at my kitchen table. One day I’ll have a real writing desk, but for now I’m skint, and this table found out in the rubbish will have to do. Across from me, Lisa is flipping “ironically” through a Bewitched Bride magazine, “Just for laughs.” But she looks quite intent for someone who isn't interested.

My interview with Oliver Wood did not go as planned, to say the very least. But his rudeness had fuelled my anger, which is now fuelling my writing. I’ve nicked the magical typewriter I sometimes get to use at Charm, as I couldn’t very well be seen writing this at work. After a poorly executed shrinking charm, it fit in my purse but weighed just the same. Sneaking it out on Friday—and trying to appear casual whilst sweating and straining—was quite a chore.

There’s a crick in my neck and, rubbing at the ache, I wave my wand so the parchment rolls itself up to the beginning. Magical typewriters are better for insuring you never lose your work, not to mention if your hands grow tired you can dictate your words.

My stomach growls loudly and Lisa shoots me a look; all I’ve had today is a stale Cauldron Cake found in the back of my cupboard. She nudges the bowl of carrot sticks closer.

“Edie, eat your vegetables.”

Grumpily I take a carrot and pretend it’s cheese. As I munch, I can’t help but warily eye the Recordograph next to me. The bell jar is just brimming with the sounds of Oliver Wood’s transcript—unfortunately his thoughts are completely useless.

Against my judgment, I tap the orb with my wand. As I stare into space I hear my own voice, playing in my ears alone: “Society’s quite different from when you first signed your contract with Puddlemere. In many cases it’s even better off. What changes would you like to see in this new, freer Wizarding world?”

A pause. “That’s a bit heavy-handed for a lifestyle magazine, don’t you think?”

My tension is audible. “Not really, no.”

“Well, obviously I would like to see a decrease in the wage gap, and obviously I want don’t want people to be hungry, and to, y’know, save the oceans and all.”

“You’re not really answering the question.”

“What do you want me to say? Of course I want those things, but isn’t that what anybody wants? Were you hoping I’d say something terrible, like more money funneled into the Quidditch industry?”

My cheeks flush even now with residual embarrassment—and anger at letting him get to me. “So you admit that there’s too much money spent on Quidditch.”

“No, I didn’t say that.”

“Alright, fine. Next question. Do you have any thoughts on the recent events regarding Gringotts and their refusal to employ female Goblins?”


Impatiently, “Don’t you view that as a problem?”

“Of course I do. But what does this have to do with Quidditch?”

“Well, from
my perspective—”

“Ah, here we go.”

“—as a professional athlete, you make well over six figures a year. What kinds have actions have you taken to make these changes happen?”

I remember the way he looked at me like I was being completely ridiculous, and maybe it wasn’t exactly the line of questioning I’d had in mind. My prepared list had included things like “So, Wood…boxers or briefs?”

Wood’s voice came very clearly, “Next question.”

“Avoiding it again, are we?”

“I have every right to. Next. Question.”
There is the shuffling of paper and then he asks, annoyed, “Is this even what your editor wants you to be asking? I glanced over Charm this week to see what I was getting into and, I have to say, I really doubt that they care about political issues—”

I thwack my wand on the Recordograph once more, silencing it. The whole ordeal is embarrassing, and uncomfortable, and I feel completely unseated from my position of power as the interviewer.

Lisa is looking at me with raised eyebrows. “You look like you just listened to the last five minutes of Grizzly Man. Was he really that bad?”

“Yes. Talk to me about something else; anything.”

She glances down at her reading material. “Well, it’s very interesting—apparently I’m supposed to wax everything before the wedding. Including my arms and chin.”

I squint at the magazine. “Merlin, what kind of medieval torture how-to is that?”

“They recommend the Maid of Honour does the same. You know, moral support and all.”

“No thank you. Let’s get down to brass tacks, though. Will there be coconut cake?”

“I’ll take that into consideration.” She smiles mischievously. “…If you tell me what actually happened with Oliver today.”

I release a walrus-like groan. “Never. It’s too embarrassing, and he’s too annoying.”

Lisa chews thoughtfully on a carrot. “Maybe he’s not as bad as you think.”

“You should know better, you work at St. Mungo’s.”

“Ah, yes,” she smiles sarcastically. “The tragedy that is the children’s ward.”

Peering down at my writing, I read aloud, “Unfortunately, Wood falls a Quaffle’s throw short from philanthropist. He was the only Puddlemere United team member to refuse to donate ten percent of his end-of-year earnings to a St. Mungo’s charity drive. The fundraiser took place in Christmas of last year, and went to constructing a new children’s ward. Puddlemere’s Seeker Amelia Jones, and Beater Peter Hanchett, each donated fifteen percent, while team manager Philbert Deverill gifted an incredible twenty-five. Wood has consistently refused to comment on the matter.”

Lisa laughs, gesturing incredulously. “But we ended up getting the money, and some to spare! That ward was built ages ago, you know that.”

“Yeah, because Deverill fronted the rest.”

“Edie, come on. Is it worth giving him a bad name just because he pissed you off?”

“He didn’t just piss me off, Lisa, you should have seen him! I mean, we can start with the kissing me without asking—where does he get off on that?”

She nods. “All right, that’s pretty terrible.”

“And then it was just one thing after another. The rudeness, the tardiness to the interview, the refusal to cooperate, the—sass.”

“Such sass.”

“He’s sassy!”

Lisa pauses. Studying the woodgrain of the table, she says carefully, “Just be certain you know what you’re talking about before you print. You could be very wrong about Oliver Wood.”

I crack an awkward smile. “Bit ominous, don’t you think?”

Instead of responding Lisa stretches, rising to her feet, and I feel like a pup whose owner is about to leave for work. “I’ve got to run.”

“But you’ve just got here!” I cry and realize how pathetic I sound. Clearing my throat, I try to act like a normal human. “Where to, then?”

She avoids my gaze. “Erm, cake tasting.”

A scandalized gasp escapes me and she says, quickly, “I know, I know, I said that I would do it with you, but Justin is really into this whole planning thing. It’s weird. Isn’t he supposed to ignore me until the wedding night, and then ignore me again for, like, fifty more years?”

“Well, you’ve already had sex, so he’ll probably just ignore you straight through.”

She laughs, bending over to ruffle my hair in an annoying way. “Sorry, Edie. But I’ll see you soon, I promise.”

I don’t stifle my lion’s roar of a yawn. It’s six o’clock in the morning and I’ve forgotten this hour even exists. As per Rose’s request—demand, really—I am hunched over a table at a coffee shop, ready to hand over my final draft. This decision was reached despite my offering to owl it to her, leave it in her office, hide it under her doormat—anything but this. Two days ago at Charm I found what I suppose she sees as a cryptic message, left on my desk:

Bring you-know-what to Alchemy Coffee on Wednesday.
Six o’clock sharp. Come alone.
— Anonymous

Despite her attempts at mystique I stomped down to her office, waving the note over my head. “I’m sure you don’t mean six o’clock in the morning!”

Apparently, she had.

And apparently, this deadline didn’t apply to her. It’s ten after and still no sign of Rose.

“I’ll kill her,” I note as easily as if I had said, “It’s nice outside.”

Other than the “mysterious” note, I haven’t heard much from her, probably not to arouse suspicion. The most we’ve exchanged was an offhand comment she made several days ago at Charm.

As we huddled around the coffee cauldron, she had said, “Well, I suppose now that I’m not officially the journalist on the job, I could ask Wood out for a drink.”

Hot coffee had poured on my foot. “Tell me that’s not why you gave me the article.”

But she had merely raised her mug, saying, “Cheers!” before sauntering away.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Rose is very smart, but—or maybe therefore—has a certain agenda with men.

Again I scan the room for her, coming up short. Just a bunch of early-rising hipsters muttering about smoking too many cigarettes and how many embarrassing photos were Instagraphed last night.

My right elbow rests protectively over a small roll of parchment, complete with a wax seal bearing the Puddlemere twin bulrushes. It’s my final copy, and I have performed a number of water-resistant, flame-retardant, tear-proof charms. I have proofread, edited, rewritten, and reworked. The parchment is only two feet long; shorter than my final essays for Seventh-Year classes. But I have to say, it’s some of my best work.

And I’m not getting any credit for it.

I unroll the parchment, allowing my eyes to fall on a random paragraph. The phrases “self-entitlement” and “out of control” jump out. I skip down to the final two. By the time I had written it I was practically beside myself in anger towards Oliver Wood.

To no one’s surprise, Wood’s love life has remained majorly out of the limelight. But any readers hoping for a chance run-in with this Keeper may be in luck. In fact, you need not search any further than your local bar.

Perhaps, then, this journalist has been wrong. Maybe Wood really is a philanthropist: the money not spent on a new children’s ward has gone towards keeping many local businesses thriving. As long as those local businesses serve high-end Firewhiskey. Drink up, ladies.

There is a whoosh of a small owl, dangerously close to my head, and the latest issue of the Oracle Underground drops to the table. A photograph of Grimma Longfinger is on the front page beneath a blocky headline: STRIKE THWARTED. Disappointment sinks into my belly.

Originally scheduled for next month, I read, the strike on Gringott’s was kept as quiet as possible. But everyone knows how difficult this can be in today’s media, and the Prophet did what it does best: turning rumours into front-page, misrepresented stories. Word of the protest got out (according to the Prophet the FGC would be providing complimentary Molotov Cocktails) and in response, Gringotts heightened security. A number of Aurors now patrol the cobblestones outside. Not an ideal setting for a protest. The last thing an unemployed Goblin needs is a stint in Azkaban.

The owl shrieks and sticks out a foot, wiggling it impatiently so that the small purse jingles.

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

Like my shoulder-bag, my leather clutch has been enchanted to fit a ridiculous number of items (including but not limited to: two lipsticks, an emergency supply of Pumpkin Pasties, and an Extendable Ear that Dean bought from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes and which I promptly nicked.) Struggling to extract the eight Sickles, I swear that the owl would roll its eyes if it could. At last, with a petulant hoot it flies out the opening door.

Rose ducks to avoid a head-on collision before hurrying in, sighing, “Sorry, sorry!” I catch a whiff of expensive shampoo. “I woke up so late, I barely had time to roll out of bed.” But her makeup is artfully applied, Twilfitt and Tattings’ clothes carefully selected.

I decide that “Hmm,” is the safest response and fold my newspaper. Rose sees what I’m reading and rolls her eyes.

“Can you believe the stories that rag publishes? There’s no way they’re doing proper research. It’s all so radical.”

I don’t mention her complete lack of research for the Oliver Wood interview. I also don’t mention how I am very aware that Rose was declined a position with the Oracle last year.

“I need a coffee,” she says tiredly.

“Oh, sure, I’ll wait,” I call after her, slouching in my seat. I’m becoming the world’s champion at sitting around, waiting. At least she isn’t an hour late.

Was the interview a week ago already? Everything has been so rushed. Apparently Rose really did pawn the article off last-minute; in this small amount of time I have interviewed Wood, submitted a draft to Ward (under her name), edited it, and produced a final copy. Charm’s new issue comes out this Friday, which means that there are only two days before I know if my article is bad enough to have Rose sacked.

Not sure how I feel about that either way, I think, as I watch her laugh and touch the barista’s arm. I honestly don’t think she can help it. She was unofficially voted Most Likely to Flirt with an Inanimate Object at the staff Christmas party last year.

When Rose returns with her drink her eyes land on the parchment, wavering between interest and unease. She hasn’t read the draft I submitted; she was too busy with other projects. As far as she knows, the whole story could be rubbish.

I try to sound nonchalant. “All finished.”

“Brilliant.” Suddenly the article is Accio’d from beneath me. I feel like a beetle who has just had its leg plucked off by some kid. “Thanks Edie. Of course, I’ll do some editing before the final submission.”

“Oh, of course,” I say tersely. I want to snatch the parchment back, run to Mr. Ward’s office and hand it over myself. But I know he would never take an intern’s writing seriously. And really, I don’t want Rose to be sacked.

“Speaking of which, I’d better get to it. Thanks again Edie, really.” She rises to her feet and with a final wave, turns and Disapparates on the spot.

And there goes my very brief foray into journalism.

Two days later, it’s publication day, and I’m walking around Charm on eggshells. Every time Mildred arrives with a new assignment, I stare at her so guiltily that even she becomes uncomfortable and hurries away. Every time Ward asks me for something, I fear I’m going to be sacked. Every owl swooping by is Rose, descending on me for producing such an awful rag under her name. Suddenly I am doubting my decision.

I literally tiptoe past Mr. Ward’s office at one point, terrified.

But by two o’clock I haven’t been caught. No explosions, no hexes, and no sacking… Maybe this whole ordeal has gone better than expected? Unable to contain myself, I scurry through the corridors, coffee in hand.

When I rap on Rose’s office somehow even it sounds panicked, and I accidentally enter without being asked. She’s located in the posh part of the building, with the gleaming white walls and nice floors. Inside her office, though, the stone is its natural color with one wall charmed golden-yellow. Photographs are everywhere, of her friends, and of herself posing with celebrities at the Charm events that I’m never invited to. A calorie-burning cauldron is tucked away in a corner.

Rose stiffens when she sees me and starts making shooing motions.

I roll my eyes and cast a silencing charm around the room. “Better?”

With a glare, she flicks her wand and the heavy wooden door slams shut. “Better. Can I help you?”

“I just wanted to see how everything went. With, you know…” She doesn’t answer so I ask the question that I’ve been dying to know all day, “So, did Blakeslee like it?”

Rose’s face clouds over. She sifts through the parchments on her desk, though I’m pretty sure she’s not actually looking for anything, and doesn’t meet my eyes. “Yeah, everything went fine. I don’t know Blakeslee’s opinion.”

“You don’t?” I try not to sound too disappointed.

Rose takes off her red glasses and pinches the bridge of her nose, as if dealing with me is a great chore. “Look, Edie, I know you don’t really interact with Blakeslee, so you don’t know how she is. But she’s a very busy woman. I can’t just march up there and ask her opinion on my article—”

“My article,” I interject hotly, just as somebody knocks at the door.

We both freeze at the unmistakeable voice: “Miss Zeller? It’s Tallulah. May I come in?”

Oh Merlin, it’s over.

Author's Note: This edit was very satisfying to do! A lot of improvements were made to Lisa's character, and she feels much more fleshed out now. I also feel that I had a better grasp of Oliver's character in later chapters, but not this one, and it feels more consistent. Whether you're a new reader or a returning one, let me know what you think in a review! ♥

I don't own the movie "Grizzly Man."

Chapter 6: Lessons in Chemistry
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afterglow @ TDA


Rose reacts first, in one swift movement grabbing my sleeve while undoing the silencing charm. “Apparate out of here, now!” she stage-whispers.

“No way! I want to know what she thinks!”

“Are you—you can’t be serious—” But I won’t release her arm, now, and if I Apparate then she has to come with me.

The knock comes again, gently. “Rose?”

With a surprising amount of force, she throws me towards the desk and mouths, “HIDE!” probably along with some less savory words. I duck beneath it, pulling the chair back in just as the door swings open.

I imagine Rose standing with a winning smile, the perfect balance of professional and friendly. “Ms. Blakeslee, hi! So sorry about that, I was just Floo-chatting with my Mum. She’s being a bit insane right now!” Her voice raises pointedly and I scowl.

“It’s quite all right. Do you have a moment?”

“Yes, of course!”

With my knees drawn in and my head smooshed against them, I look like a baby bird about to hatch, and can’t see a thing. But I can imagine tall and willowy Tallulah Blakeslee, who seems to never wear an ounce of color, striding in with her short white-blonde hair pushed back fetchingly (seriously, Draco Malfoy must have taken a page from her book.)

“I wanted to have a word about your Oliver Wood story.”

Thud. I have swallowed my heart, and am now going to choke on it, I’m certain. Rose falters only a moment. “R-right. Was it… satisfactory?”

I strain to hear, in Ms. Blakeslee’s tone of voice, any indication that she’s on to us. But she almost laughs; a rare occurrence. “Please, do relax, Rose. Should we have a seat?”

There is the sound of the lone armchair being pulled across the floor, and I realize that she means for Rose to return to her desk.

“Oh—erm—of course.”

Stiffly, she comes to stand before me and pulls her chair out. I avert my eyes awkwardly as she turns her knees away, to avoid giving me a rather friendly view. But despite the uncomfortable position, I am wildly regretting everything Rose and I have done.

This is it. We’ve been found out, and Rose is going to be sacked, and I can’t even technically be sacked because I was never a real employee anyway, and I take back everything, I’ll clean the Floo chimneys and pick up Ward’s sandwiches and drink the god-awful coffee, just please don’t let us be sacked—

“Artie and I were quite impressed with your work, Rose.”

I jerk my head up, peering at Rose uncomfortably, and see that she is doing an awful job of not being shocked. “You really liked it?”

I give her leg a pinch and she returns it with a swift kick.

Blakeslee’s voice holds an air of confusion. “You seem…surprised.”

Rose backtracks with a dazzling smile. “No, sorry, that came out wrong. I only meant that I was concerned because before this assignment I knew so little about Quidditch.”

“Well, if you wrote a story so well researched without preexisting knowledge, that’s all the more impressive. Your decision to expose the underbelly of Wood’s character is an interesting angle, considering the stories many other young women write about an attractive athlete.”

I’m not sure how I feel about this remark, but Rose shoos the thought away. “Please, I’m only grateful for your approval.”

I nearly vomit on her shoes. But Blakeslee is not easily won by flattery, either. “We want to offer the opportunity for a follow-up story.”

My heart stops. And apparently Rose’s does too, because there is a long silence. “A follow-up.”

“Yes. Two, actually. We’re receiving a lot of positive feedback from readers. We want to develop Charm’s Quidditch section further, focusing on a different athlete each month—sports writing, aimed at young women. We want to make Quidditch interesting to them. Make it sexy. A sort of ironic response to Quidditch Quarterly’s centerfolds of women athletes, if you will.”

Ironic. Right.

“Rose, I really cannot express how significant it is that we secured these interviews. Wood is absolutely huge right now, after his comeback to Quidditch, and we have to take advantage of this opportunity. I’ve already spoken with Deverill and their head of PR, Katie Bell—no other publication will have access to in-depth interviews.”

Rose at last manages to say, “Wow. This is—”

“Quite an honor, for you,” Blakelsee finishes in a warning tone. “Charm doesn’t often redirect an entire project, based on a writer’s performance.”

It’s clear, now, that we’ve dug our own grave: Rose doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

She must come to the same conclusion, and with a smile rises back to her feet. They shake hands over my hiding place. “Of course, I’ll get started straight away. Thank you, Ms. Blakeslee.”

The conflicting feelings of excitement at receiving such high praise, anger for not being given credit, are impossible to untangle. Eagerly I await for Blakeslee to leave, but her voice comes curiously: “Isn’t that Edie Lennox’s mug?”

To my horror, I realize that my coffee was left sitting on the desk: the daft mug that Seamus gifted me with my own winking face on it.

But, once more, Rose’s performance is seamless. “Oh! Yes, she popped by earlier. I’ll have to return it.”

“She’s a funny one, isn’t she? It’s a shame we couldn’t find a permanent spot for her on our staff. But Artie and I trust your judgment.”

This time, Rose can’t erase her look of horror quickly enough, and I see it clearly. There is a burning in my chest like I’ve drank scalding hot tea. Has Rose done something to prevent me from being promoted? There have been numerous positions to open up at Charm in my time here, but I never made it past the first interview. I always thought it was just too competitive.

Her voice is nearly a whisper. “Yes, well…”

Blakeslee raps on the desk conclusively. “Excellent. Let’s meet again to discuss our next move with the Wood stories. I’ll set something up with Artie and send you an owl.”

“Y-yes, that sounds brilliant. Thank you.”

“We’re glad to have you on board with this, Rose.”

As soon as the door clicks I barrel, ungracefully, from beneath the desk. My heart is hammering in my ears as Rose babbles helplessly, “Edie, wait—”

I stop to fix her with a stony glare, but she hands me the coffee mug. “You forgot this.”

Before I can hex her I Apparate with a loud crack, away from Charm, to see the one person who could help me make sense of it all.

The Welcome Witch at St. Mungo’s is probably the most inaptly named human on the face of the planet. Dolores she scarcely smiles, or blinks. Or breathes. The most emotion I have ever seen her display was when she chipped a tooth on a bit of treacle fudge—and even then she only frowned a bit and went on ignoring me as I stood waiting. Even though I have spoken to her a thousand times on my visits to Lisa, she always pretends that she has no idea who I am.

“Hi Dolores,” I say breathlessly as I approach.

“Please sign in.” She prods a quill and inkwell toward me.

“Dolores, come on, you know me! I gave you my extra burrito once—oh, sod it.”

I scribble the insane amount of information St. Mungo’s requires before Dolores tosses me a tarnished bronze medallion marked VISITOR. Slipping it over my neck, I wait for approximately a century while she studies her parchment. At last she croaks, “Ground floor, room 2B.”

I blink at her, suddenly very curious as to what her flat looks like, before jetting off to find Lisa.

The Ground Floor is where one is treated for artifact accidents—cauldron explosions, broom-crashes and the like—but they also take care of bone injuries. (I learned this last year, when Seamus Splinched himself and had to regrow a toe.) As I hurry through the corridors a young Wizard, his face blackened with soot, shuffles past while murmuring, “But the wand was still under warranty.”

This is certainly one of the tamer areas of the hospital. Thankfully Lisa isn’t working with Creature-Induced Injuries today. I made the mistake of meeting her there before lunch one afternoon. Fun fact: it only takes one chance run-in with an Acromantula bite victim to faint in the middle of a corridor.

I clamber up the stairs of the cathedral-like stairwell and into room 2B, where the beds are partitioned with sterile white curtains. Immediately I spot Lisa at the far end of the room. And even in her hospital robes, with her hair in a bird’s nest and sleepless rings around her eyes, she looks like a model. Jerk.

She’s with a patient, but I figure with enough frantic hand-signaling she’ll come talk to me. I barrel past the rows of partitioned beds. I’m unspotted as Lisa grinds something with a mortar and pestle, chatting happily to her patient, a shirtless wizard with his back to me.

When Lisa notices what probably looks like a freight train coming at her, her eyes grow wide and she almost imperceptibly shakes her head “No.” But I have already started my wild gesticulations, as if I could possibly say with my hands, “My story has been extended into a three-part series, and Rose is taking credit, and also I think she blocked me from getting a job.”

Suddenly I freeze mid-flail. Lisa’s patient is Oliver Wood.

He turns and does a double-take, covering his bare chest with the bedsheets as if scandalized. Lisa is frozen in an awkward position, still holding the pestle, her t-rex arms only halfway extended towards Wood’s shoulder.

He looks embarrassed for his cover-up reaction, his neck flushing red. “Uh.”


“Are you…spying on me?”

Instead I say to Lisa, “Well, there’s that. So.”

“Absolutely. We’ll...” She gestures between us with her index fingers. “We’ll talk.”

Then I turn and pretty much bolt. What are the odds that she’s treating him today? And, oh God, what if he saw the article? St. Mungo’s keeps dozens of copies of Charm in their waiting room, an indicator to the quality of journalism. Wood could have easily picked one up and read every mean thing that I wrote, back when I thought I’d never have to see him again.

I walk faster.

There is a small commotion behind me and I hear Lisa calling, “Oliver, your appointment!” followed by footsteps.

“Oi!” comes his voice.

I pick up the pace to a pretty impressive speed-walk, and am actually a bit winded as I throw open the large wooden door to the stairwell, but of course the professional athlete gains on me in no time.

“Hey.” He cuts me off at the landing and I’m forced to stop in my tracks. He’s put his olive green jumper back on, inside-out in his haste.

I stammer, “Hello. Hi.” Then I add, “Alright?”

“I’m well, thanks. Alright?” he responds automatically.

“Well, thanks.”

Painful silence. The afternoon sun is pouring in through the high medieval windows, illuminating the passersby and the marble stairs. It’s a pleasant scene, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this uncomfortable.

“So…you’re sure that you’re not spying on me,” he says.

I shake my head no, unable to make eye contact.

“Right, bad joke, sorry.”


“What’s that?”

“I just didn’t know—I didn’t know that you were joking.”

“Ah, yeah,” he waves it off. “Should probably give up the dream of a career in standup.”

Another agonizing silence as I stare guiltily at my feet and he crosses his arms self-consciously. Why did he even come out here, if we’re only going to see who can go the longest without eye-contact? I focus my attention on a plump witch, struggling to carry an enormous bouquet of flowers that look as though they could bite.

Wood tries, “So... How’s the article coming, anyway?”

My gaze snaps to him at last. He doesn’t know that it’s out.

But instead of blurting out something stupid, I’m distracted by the person before me, and how they seem so different. His black eye has vanished, his wavy hair is without too much product, and he’s in street clothes. No mysterious stains or stupid sunglasses—I reckon this is what normal Oliver Wood looks like. But there’s something else about him that seems different.

Finally I respond with a neutral, “The article’s going fine, thanks.”

“That’s brilliant,” he smiles a little too eagerly.

What, worried I’ve got some bad stories to tell, Wood?

“I hope I wasn’t too... horrible. During the interview.”

I squint at him. “You don’t remember that either?”

He rubs the back of his head. “Bits and pieces. I remember you making me chug about eight cups of coffee. That certainly helped.”

“It was eleven in the morning!” I want to be upset, but part of me is impressed at his partying abilities. “That’s worse off than even I’ve been.”

I don’t mean to say it, but it comes out, and now we’ve got something embarrassing in common. Seeming encouraged, he wets his lips. “Actually, I’m glad to run into you. I, erm, was going to pop in at the pub sometime soon. I was actually just asking your friend where it was because, well, I don’t quite recall.”

“Wait, how d’you know Lisa’s my friend?”

“You’re not the only detective around here,” he says ominously, and snorts at my look of worry. “She was sitting with you at the bar when we arrived that night, I at least remember that much. I recognized her as my Mediwitch but, y’know, patient confidentiality and all.”

“Sneaky little monkey,” I murmur and, despite myself, feel a flush in my cheeks. “So… you wanted to see me at work?”

“Well, ideally, if I would even be let back in. I don’t know if that kind of exile is a life-long sentence, or what.” Despite his joking nature he bounces on his feet, nervous. “I wanted to apologize for being such an ass.”


“I know you’re a columnist—” I shoot him a glare, as if by reflex, and he corrects, “Journalist, right. But it seems like we have to spend some more time together professionally, and I really let it get off on the wrong foot. The timing was…not great for me, personally, but it’s still my fault.”

I then realize what it is about Wood that seems so different. He’s not behaving like some entitled, rude, condescending socialite—he’s acting like a normal human being. There’s a small pang of guilt in my stomach for how I portrayed him in my story. But something else he said is tugging at my brain.

“‘Not great timing,’” I repeat.

He catches the gleam of journalistic interest in my eye and laughs. “Sorry, you’ll have to try harder than that.”

“Challenge accepted,” I return his grin, and we both seem to realize it at the same time: we’re flirting with each other.

He clears his throat and I look back to my shoes. The painful silence returns.

And, realistically, he’s only covering his own bum. Wood acted like a class-A fool in front of the person who’s writing about him; the only person who has access to interviews. He has the chance to change the public’s view of him.

I try on a professional-looking smile. “Well, apology accepted. I’m looking forward to working with you.”

“That’s brilliant.” He exhales the breath he has apparently been holding, looking quite relieved. “Well, I should get back to Lisa, she’s probably waiting—”

We both spot Lisa, standing only a stone’s throw away, pretending to write something on her clipboard. When she notices us she jumps and scurries away. We’ll be elbows-deep in disappointingly vegan ice cream and gossip soon enough.

“Well, it was nice running into you...” He trails off uncertainly, extending a hand.

“Edie.” I shake his hand. “Nice seeing you too, Wood.”

That sarcastic little smirk is back. “You’re not writing now. Call me Oliver.”

My head gives the slightest inquisitive tilt. It seems impossible that any man could go from spending more than four seconds around Lisa and still manage to find another woman attractive. But Wood’s still grinning and holding my hand a bit longer than necessary.

Big hands, too.

We take several steps backward. He’s looking at me as though I were a new flavor that he can’t quite decide if he likes; meanwhile I’m preparing for one of my patented hair-tosses, which in the best of cases Stupefies a man’s sense of judgment and guarantees that he’ll be sleeping with me. I take another step backwards.

Unfortunately, I do not see that the plump witch with the enormous bouquet has reappeared behind me. Everything seems to go in slow-motion as I trip over her foot and my flailing arm smacks her square in the face. With a shriek I topple backwards down the stairs, bringing her with me. I land flat on my back with a THUNK! that knocks the wind from my lungs, and she rolls to a stop nearby.

My horror is not over the possibility broken bones, or a concussion, or whether or not the other woman is harmed. No—instead I am petrified because I didn’t pass out, and because I am fully conscious when Oliver Wood runs down the stairs towards me.

Author's Note: Lots more conniving and backstabbing--and fluff and flirting--to come. In this new version, Rose played a role in keeping Edie as an intern. Intrigue! Please let me know what you think ♥

Chapter 7: Hell Hath No Fury like Rose Zeller Scorned
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author's Note: So it's a little bit late in the game, but since so many reviewers have mentioned it, I'd like to note that my portrayal of Witch Weekly is AU. I believe that JKR wanted it to be more like a women's magazine with recipes, home decor, etc., but I wanted it to have evolved in my story. Namely, it's a monthly publication that is focused more on young readers. I wanted Edie to work at a place that was mentioned in the HP books, but I have definitely taken my own liberties with it.

That being said, enjoy the new chapter!

(A huge thank you to afterglow @ TDA for the amazing chapter image!)



I don’t think you’re supposed to smack a potentially concussed person on the head, but Lisa is becoming frustrated. “I said follow my wand, not stare at Wood.”

I am back in the Ground Floor of St. Mungo’s, on a bed that has been commandeered for me. A small pink light glows on the tip of Lisa’s wand, and I’m supposed to be following it with my eyes—instead I keep looking nervously across the room at Oliver.

He is trying to be a gentleman about my fall, but every few minutes he suddenly covers his mouth, rubbing his chin as though in very deep thought. I know, of course, that he is really fighting to keep from laughing every time he remembers me tumbling down an entire flight of stairs. I imagine it to be on a repeating loop, like the paparazzi photographs in Witch Weekly.

“Fine, sorry,” I grumble. I train my eyes on the tiny pink light, following its every move until Lisa seems satisfied.

She plops down beside me to fill out the required parchments. “Well,” she says, “you don’t have a concussion. I think Mrs. Dobbins took the brunt of your fall—” Even polite Lisa can’t finish her sentence without dissolving into fits of laughter. Mrs. Dobbins, however, does not seem to see the humour in the situation. She glares from her own bed, ice pack pressed to her head. The enormous flower bouquet now sits in a crumpled heap on the bedside table.

“Stop it!” I exclaim horrified, and slap Lisa in the arm. At her little outburst, Oliver has glanced back across the room to us and is trying to cover his grin again. He had insisted that his appointment be put aside until Lisa determined that I didn’t have brain damage—or any more than he now assumes I already had.

I flick my wand and the curtain partition zips shut, blocking Oliver from view. “Can we please just get this over with so that I can go?”

“Right, sorry,” she says, fixing her mouth into a straight line. “Like I said, you should be fine. You’ll have some bruises and swelling, but we’ll give you potions for that.”

“Thank you,” I say miserably.

She studies me with that half-amusement-half-pity smile I know too well. “Oh, poor Edie,” she puts an arm over my shoulder. “Hey!” She pokes me in the side, “I know what would cheer you up. Come wedding dress shopping with me next week!”

I stare at her darkly. “I’m sorry, did you say ‘cheer up’ or ‘horribly depress?’”

She casts me a look and I rest my head on her shoulder. “Of course I’ll come with you. It’ll be fun,” I say genuinely. “Wow, it’s really getting close, isn’t it?”

Lisa claps her hands. “Three months!” she exclaims.

In a matter of weeks she will be having a winter wedding in the seaside village of Vernazza, Italy. Where Justin had been when he realized that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her; where he had made the decision to Apparate back to London that instant and ask her to marry him. Because her life isn’t quite picturesque enough.

I do admire Lisa for procrastinating with her dress shopping, rather than Apparating to a Varya Wing boutique the second the ring was on her finger. If I know her at all, she’ll find something on the rack that resembles a tea-cozy, and when she tries it on it’ll suddenly become vintage-inspired glamour.

Lisa must sense that I’m drenched in pitiful envy. No matter how much I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps since her proposal, she is as conscious as I that her future has bloomed while mine tripped over its own feet and toppled down the stairs. Literally.

“So, you’re feeling okay?” Lisa reassures for the eighth time, to change the subject.

“Oh yeah,” I nod. “I’ve learned my lesson. This is what happens when I try to flirt while sober. You’d think it would work out the opposite way.” Lisa smiles and I bite my lip. “Erm, don’t mention this to Dean or Seamus. Or Justin. Okay?”

She stiffens and says in an entirely too high-pitched voice, “Oh, yes of course!”

I narrow my eyes at her. “Lisa...”

Suddenly the curtain is thrown back to reveal Justin, wearing his trademark button-up and jumper. “Heard you took a nasty spill, Edie!” he booms. Although he is syrupy-sweet to his fiancé, he has a habit of treating me like a little sister. In a bad way.

Immediately I round on Lisa, who is hiding behind her clipboard. “How did you—”

“Our two-way mirrors?” she squeaks and my jaw drops. “I’m sorry, Edie, my shift was supposed to be over after Wood left, and I used the mirror to tell Justin not to come in yet so that I could take care of you, and he asked why...”

“Ah, don’t worry about it Edie,” Justin slaps my back jovially. My jaw drops in pain. Oblivious, he says, “If Lisa hadn’t mentioned it, then Oliver certainly would have.”


Oliver is now trying to appear completely fascinated by a potted plant. “Why did… How…?” Complete sentences aren’t possible right now.

“Oh, I’ve known Oliver for ages!” Not for the first time, I wish that Justin knew how to whisper. I look at Lisa, confused, but she merely shrugs. Apparently Justin hadn’t mentioned this to her either.

My eyes dart back to Oliver. His jaw is working, in an awful attempt to fight the huge smile spreading over his face. I can’t believe he already told somebody about my fall. I slump forward to bury my face in my hands, and a muscle in my back begins seizing.

“Ouch,” I whimper.


I can’t get out of St. Mungo’s fast enough. After Justin had managed to get in a few more jokes about my supreme gracefulness, I had made a jab at his man-purse. Justin is very sensitive about his leather shoulder-bag. He only got one because all the other lawyers at the Ministry use them, and I don’t think I’ve stopped taking the mickey out of him since day one. After I made sure to have the last word, I quickly Apparated from my spot on the bed and reappeared in Diagon Alley. I didn’t want to see or be seen by Oliver Wood again.

Hopefully the walk through Diagon Alley to my flat will take my mind off of things. It’s always great for people-watching. I want to say that my flat is “nestled” just past the enchanted brick wall, but I think “shoved crudely in between two other buildings” is more appropriate. Either way, it’s in the perfect spot for a stroll. It’s amazing how just ten years ago you couldn’t walk these streets alone, and now I prefer it to Apparating (when not running horribly late). How things have changed.

My back tenses up involuntarily again and I release a groan. It doesn’t take long before I decide that today was stressful enough to warrant a fag. It’s not a habit that I’m proud of, but sometimes a girl just needs a cigarette. I make a quick stop in Ashe and Plume to buy a pack from the particularly disenchanted old wizard behind the counter. With one hand shoved in the pocket of my parka, I make my way down the cobblestones. The sun is beginning to set and passers-by are pulling their scarves or coats tighter against the chill.

I have almost reached my flat when I hear a noise from somewhere: “Pssst.” At first I ignore it, but then it comes again, louder this time. “Pssssst!

Rose Zeller is standing some paces behind, at the mouth of a small alleyway. She’s wearing sunglasses despite it being dusk, and the red hood of her coat is drawn tightly around her head. She stands stiffly, I suppose trying very hard to blend in, but her expression is more constipated than anything.

After a moment’s hesitation—partially because I’m still upset with her general attitude towards my article, partially because she looks so ridiculous and I need another second to fully commit it to memory—I make my way over, stopping an arm’s length away. I stare at her. She stares back. I take a drag on my cigarette. She makes a judgmental face.

I throw up my hand in what the hell? fashion. “Rose!”

Shhhh!” she hisses. I feel as though I’m back in the Hogwarts library with a very well-dressed Madame Pince. “Not here!” Rose darts into the shadowed alleyway behind her. It seems that she’s been reading too many of those Gwendolyn Phire: Witch Detective mystery paperbacks that I’ve noticed on her desk. (As far as I can tell, every installment in the thirty-book series is just another excuse for gratuitous smut followed by, “Oh, wait, right. We’re supposed to be looking for that fellow’s wallet.”)

Against my better judgment, I follow after Rose. Once she’s reached a satisfactory distance from the main street, she stops and folds her arms. “Okay, we have a problem.”

“Uh, yeah, I’d say we do!” I exclaim. She furrows her brow in confusion and I realize that she doesn’t know that I eavesdropped on her. With a somewhat embarrassed tone I explain, “I used an Extendable Ear to listen to your conversation with Blakeslee.”

“Edie!” she cries indignantly, to which I counter, “Rose! You’re taking all the credit for an article that Blakeslee liked.”

“We had a deal,” she says. “You knew that coming into it, so don’t get all high and mighty on me now. You chose to be a part of this too.”

I suppose that she’s got me there. Sullenly I drag from the cigarette and Rose taps her sunglasses with her wand, which return to normal eyeglasses. “But there is a problem. I didn’t think Blakeslee was going to like it.”

“Really, don’t hold back.”

“Oh, come on Edie, you’re an unpaid intern. What else could I expect?”

My jaw has dropped. Rose realizes her mistake, but I am already walking away. “Wait, wait, wait, Edie!” She grabs my arm, forcing me to turn around. “I’m—” she looks as though she’s trying to choke down a Flobberworm. “I’m... sorry.”

Well, that’s certainly a first. I cross my arms, “You have one minute.”

Rose looks flustered at my time constraint but I merely raise an impatient eyebrow. She shifts around uncomfortably. “I was...” she trails off and tries again, “I was hoping you’d write the other two articles.”

“What?” I furrow my brows. Rose doesn’t respond and I roll my eyes, again turning to leave. “Well, thanks but no thanks. I’m done being your beast of burden. See you Monday.”

“Edie!” she cries out again, but I don’t stop. I am about to turn out of the alleyway onto the street when Rose screeches, “YOU’RE A BETTER WRITER THAN ME, OKAY?!”

I stop dead in my tracks.



Rose’s face has turned a colour to match her coat, and she’s begun fixing her hair in an attempt to appear casual. But I’ve already seen her crack, and any moment she’ll have to crumble. It seems that, for once, I have the upper hand here.

“I’ll pay you,” she says offhandedly. “What do you want? Fifteen Galleons per article?”

I scoff. “You’re joking me. I know how much your wages are. Make it twenty-five.” When she shoots me a glare I shrug widely. “Hey, I don’t have to help if you can’t afford it. But I’d say an article that expanded an entire column of the magazine is worth twenty-five. Unless you think you can do better.”

My, how the tables have turned.

At last she tosses her hair over her shoulder in angry defeat. “All right, twenty-five! But I want a weekly draft on my desk—”

I’ve put up a silencing hand. “Rose, I’m doing you the real favour now. Just let me do my thing.”

And then I do probably the most kick-arse thing I’ve ever done: I light another cigarette and regard her coolly as I release a sigh of smoke. Then I pivot and saunter away. I imagine that The Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man would be playing right about now. Maybe a couple explosions blasting behind me. I dunno, just spitballing here. Either way, I’m walking away with two more Quidditch articles to publish. Which means—


A bit of invisible debris from the fantasy-explosion has landed on my coattail, and singed it.

Which means two more interviews with Oliver Wood.


“I’m buying you a shot.”


“I said I’m buying you a shot.” Seamus is entirely too resolute. I think that partially he just feels guilty for ambushing my first interview and is trying to butter me up. He’s already apologized once, but I have to say I’ve been a little irritated with him all week.

“Just because you went off and got a big-girl journalism job doesn’t mean you have to go acting like an old lady.”

I am smiling despite myself. “It’s not a job...”

Of course, Seamus and Dean were the first to know about Rose’s entreat disguised as an offer. On my walk home from talking with her, I had contacted them on my two-way pocket mirror. It doubles as a compact for makeup, and has therefore led to the awkward situation of putting on lipstick while Seamus watched, uncomfortable and confused as to why I had contacted him to do that. When his face had finally appeared, saying, “Uhh, looks great?” I had screamed and smeared a red line across my cheek.

Seamus smiles contentedly, beckoning to the barman. “Angus! Yes please, mate.”

I had told myself that I was going to drink one beer and go home. It seems that in the nights I had spent writing the Quidditch article, I’d forgotten exactly what going to a bar with Seamus Finnegan entails.

“Don’t you have training in the morning?” I raise an eyebrow.

Seamus is in his second year of Auror training, and honestly I couldn’t imagine a better career for him. He’s loyal almost to a fault, with a serious sense of duty and responsibility. Which you might not know if you came across him at The Poisoned Apple. But even if he acts on impulse, he realizes when he’s wrong and is always willing to swallow his pride and apologize. Back at Hogwarts he took a pretty vocal stance against the Carrows; I reckon that’s where he first got the Auror idea.

Seamus waves me off. “Ehh. Half of the recruits show up hung over or worse.”

I try to imagine running ten miles and then being jetted with an Aguamenti spell, whilst nursing the hangovers I sometimes have at Witch Weekly. But Seamus does things like that surprisingly often. The man is a saint.

My manager at the pub, Angus, used to think that the two of us were a couple, because Seamus always sits with his arm resting on the back of my barstool. At least until a pretty girl walks in—then it’s hands to himself. The first time Angus asked how long the two of us have been together, Seamus had answered, oblivious, “Well, I picked her up at four...”

It’s just not in the cards for us.

It takes Angus a moment to pour our Firewhiskies, because he is dealing with a large group of girls who don’t even look old enough to be here. This is bizarre, since The Poisoned Apple is usually the place for older, seedier customers. The pub’s dodginess is what makes it so entertaining to Dean, Seamus and I. Angus finally makes his way over, shaking his head of shaggy gray hair. His Slughorn-esque moustache looks frazzled.

“Sorry you two,” he grumbles. “Seems the Hogwarts Express made a pit-stop for martinis.”

“Yeah,” I agree conspiratorially, taking my shot from his outstretched hand. “There’s an odd number of young girls here.”

“Dunno why,” Angus looks at the group disapprovingly. They’re leggy and dressed in short skirts despite the cold weather. In fact, there are several groups like this, clustered together like gazelles searching for the lion.

I suddenly laugh and slap the bar. “I know why,” I say proudly. “They’re looking for Oliver Wood. They must’ve somehow heard that he came in the other night.”

Angus rolls his eyes. “’S right, it was in the tabloids. Crystal Ball’s got a whole article...”

Seamus and I stare, eyebrows raised, and Angus says quickly, “The wife, she reads ‘em…” before hurrying away.

I turn to Seamus. “Are you sure you don’t want to go stand with them? You’ll have a better chance at getting Wood’s attention if you borrow a little black dress.”

“Shut up,” Seamus grumbles, though I see his eyes darting around the pub eagerly.

“Oi, oi, oi.” Dean slides into the empty seat to my right, eyeing the shots before us. “I can’t believe you weren’t waiting for me.”

He gives my shoulder a light punch ‘hello’, because that’s the only way these boys know how to acknowledge me. Within seconds, Dean has a shot in hand. I think Angus likes him the best out of we three, because he’s the quietest. Dean was the one I had technically contacted with my mirror on the way home, but of course he’d already been with Seamus, so they heard my news simultaneously.

Dean raises his glass with a smile, and we follow suit. Angus has charmed a tiny candle-flame in the glass, though it actually cools the alcohol’s burn and disappears when you drink. “To Edie,” Dean says. “Who now proudly boasts a kind-of real job.”

I laugh and clink my glass against theirs, “To kind-ofs.”

Seamus echoes me, except at the ridiculously loud volume at which he only operates the second we step foot into a bar.

The second shot we toast to Dean for technically getting me the job in the first place; the third to Seamus because he felt left out; the fourth to the recent winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award; and the fifth to the wonderful Muggle invention of paper clips.

Needless to say...


“Seriously, poke them!” Seamus lifts his shirt to expose his stomach. His Auror training has landed him in the best shape of his life, apparently, and there are the traces of abdominal muscles emerging. I didn’t believe that he was in such shape, because when have I ever seen him without a shirt? So he had to prove me wrong.

“Just poke them, Edie, come on. Seriously, it’s like marble. With hair.”

Dean and I are both doubled over laughing, and I am about to actually poke Seamus’s stomach, when the pub suddenly grows quieter. I can’t quite place exactly what the change is until I realize that every female voice has dropped out of the overall conversation. And then I follow everyone’s gaze to the door, and I understand why.

Oliver Wood has just walked in. And he’s walked in with Rose Zeller.

Seamus’s gurgle of excitement is completely audible over the quieted room. Oliver turns to find the source of the noise and sees Seamus, who appears to be flashing him, and looks startled. Then he notices me and raises his hand in a small wave. It takes me a moment to return it. All I am seeing is Rose, gazing at me with a smirk tugging on her lips.

“Is that...?” Dean begins.

“Yes,” I say stonily. “Yes, it is.”

Then Rose puts her hand on Oliver’s arm and points to a small table in the corner. He nods and the two head over, passing close enough that I can smell Rose’s perfume. She maintains eye contact all the while, the wicked grin still on her face.

I know why she’s here. Even though she’s settling down at the table and drawing out the folder of interview notes—my notes, I replaced all her shoddy ones—and taking out her quill, she is not here to interview him. Rose knowingly came to the pub where I work, on a day when I dared to cross her and start making demands, after my writing outshone hers. And she’s here with the subject of my story, keeping up appearances, as though she were actually the one doing all of the work.

Rose begins ordering her drink, though Oliver is still standing to remove his leather jacket. He glances over his shoulder at me, but quickly looks away.

My story.


“...Leg, leg, leg, leg!” Dean’s voice finally infiltrates the angry buzz in my head. “Jesus Christ, Lennox!” Apparently I’ve been kicking him repeatedly in the shin.

“Sorry,” I grumble, clumsily bringing my pint to my lips.

Although I have been trying to ignore Oliver and Rose for the past thirty minutes, she has (probably not coincidentally) selected a table that is directly in my line of sight. I have been trying not to give her the satisfaction of staring, but each time I sip from my beer I see them through the bottom of the glass. What’s worse, my drunken reflexes are not as quick as Rose’s and she has caught me staring every time. At one point I tried to look casual and jerked my glass up so quickly that I almost chipped a tooth, which she also saw.


“It’s been half an hour, let it go,” Dean says.

I blink, embarrassed. “Right. Sorry. What were you saying?”

But of course I don’t let it go. As the night progresses, different clusters of girls shyly approach their table to talk to Oliver. Many of them ask for autographs, several leave their names on napkins. But they all cast jealous looks at the stunningly pretty woman across from him—in a low-cut shirt that is entirely unprofessional, might I add. And Rose is positively eating their jealousy up.

I realize that I’m being a crazy, bitter old hag. But five shots of Firewhiskey can make you feel funny things.

Oliver sits with his back to me, his jumper stretching across his broad shoulders, and—oh, stop it, Firewhiskey. Rose has clearly stopped taking notes. A part of me has to marvel at the way she knows exactly how to work each of her best assets; playing with her long black hair or flipping it over her shoulder, leaving her full lips slightly parted the way I know she practices in the mirror (because she’s told me), and folding her arms across the table to push her—erm—ample bosom together.

“It’s just ‘cause she’s got a huge rack,” I say flatly.

Dean is staring at me in disbelief. Clearly my involuntary outburst has just interrupted a story that I didn’t even know he was telling. “Are you still on about that?” he exclaims.

I press my mouth into a line. “Absolutely not,” I lie pathetically. He quirks an eyebrow and I sigh. “It just really miffs me—”

“I’m sorry, miffs?”

“—that she’s here like this, pretending to be interviewing him, when clearly she’s just out for free drinks!”

Dean sighs with exasperation. “Whether he’s buying her drinks or not, it has absolutely nothing to do with your article. In fact, she’s doing you a favour by staging a fake interview. What does it matter to you anyway?”

That’s not really a question that I’m in the right state of mind to ponder. There is a moment of silence and I shake my head quickly, shutting my eyes. “It doesn’t matter, you’re right. I’m sorry. I guess I’m just upset about my work going unnoticed again.”

“Sure,” Dean says, entirely unconvinced. He seems upset.

Seamus, who has been surprisingly quiet on the subject, offers, “She does have a huge rack, though.”

I stare at him flatly before turning back to the bar, “Angus, I’ll take another.”

Author's Note: All right, last chapter upload before the queues close for the holidays, I promise. Thanks for reading, as always, and if you feel so inclined I would love a review! I don't own "Street Fighting Man" by the Rolling Stones--or Harry Potter, by the way. ;)

Chapter 8: Mother/Matchmaker
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Author's Note: I do not own Braham Stoker's 'Dracula,' the Beatles, Georgia O'Keefe or Harry Potter. That being said, here is the new and shiny and sparkly chapter eight of KC&CO. I hope you enjoy!

Another amazing CI by afterglow @ TDA. (Doesn't it oddly match the HPFF blue theme?)


I awake the next morning Braham Stoker-style, hissing at the probing sunlight and furling the sheets over my head like a cape. The sudden movement only makes matters worse and I release an enormous groan. My head is pounding, my stomach is turning, my eyes are heavy with lack of sleep, and between the Firewhiskey and cigarettes I smell like a manky streetwalker. You’d think by now I would have noticed, and thus avoided, the common factor between me and monstrous hangovers: Seamus Finnegan.

I can’t even imagine how he’s fairing right now. My arm shoots out from the depths of my covers and pounds around my bedside cabinet, searching for the alarm clock as if it were a bug that needed squishing. It’s after 11:00. Seamus has been at Auror training for hours, and he was even worse off than me by the end of the night.

Ugh. Last night.

Aside from the tension between Dean and I (though I can’t blame him--I went from ranting about Oliver Wood for a straight week to feeling irrationally protective), to make matters worse, the Keeper himself had unintentionally made a fool out of me.

When he and Rose left--I was determined to outlast them, a stupid decision that resulted in being entirely more intoxicated than desired--I had tried my hardest to be in the midst of a particularly hilarious joke. In fact, they were walking by right after Dean had said offhandedly, “It’s going to snow this weekend,” and I threw my head back in uproarious laughter.

“That’s brilliant,” I guffawed, touching his arm in a friendly way. He narrowed his eyes conspiratorially and chose not to respond, bless him.

I had really thought that Rose and Oliver were going to walk straight past me. I think that I even glimpsed Rose’s hand on his arm, steering him away. But Oliver had stopped behind our three barstools.

“Wotcher Edie,” he’d said in a friendly voice. “Finnegan, Thomas.”

The combination of alcohol and nerves had rendered Seamus incapable of doing anything but giggling, while Dean raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. “Hello,” he nodded back, though not nearly as star struck as Seamus. Not even close.

There was a moment of silence and Oliver tried, “Rose tells me that you’ll have to put up with me for two more articles. Is congratulations the right word?”

I opened my mouth to respond but Rose beamed up at him, her face flushed in a pleasing way. “Oh, it’s hardly putting up with you, Oliver. We’re just glad to be given the opportunity.”

To my surprise Oliver seemed to not have even heard her, his eyes fixed on me. Or maybe it was just the alcohol; my head felt full of nargles. Rose’s eyes traveled from him to me slowly, knowingly. Dean took a long sip from his beer, turning away from us. I opened my mouth to say something—probably something entirely stupid—but Rose cut me off again.

“So, how’re you feeling after that fall earlier?”

There was a beat of very heavy silence in which I clutched my glass tighter, my enormous false smile disappearing. Wait, Rose knew? She smiled at me widely, her eyes twinkling with either laughter or the fires of hell—I can’t be sure. Meanwhile Oliver’s face turned beetroot. Seamus and Dean turned to me eagerly, always ready for new stories about me looking daft.

“Fall?” Seamus said excitedly.

Without looking at him I said quickly, “It was nothing. Just a little... mishap.”

Oliver tried to cover his tracks, “Oh, yeah. Just a little mishap.”

“Really boring story,” I added.

Rose shifted her weight so that her shoulder touched Oliver’s. “Oh, come on Edie! It’s actually a really great story.”

“Yes!” Seamus pounded his fists on his thighs. “Tell us!”

Dean pushed my shoulder gently. “Yeah, come on.”

Normally this story would not have been so horrible to tell, especially after we’d all had a few. In fact I would rather talk about my blunders than my achievements any day. But I did not want Rose to have the satisfaction of hearing it from my own mouth. Everyone was watching me intently—except Oliver, who was squinting very hard at the ceiling. I shrugged and brought my glass closer. “I just... tripped and fell today when I went to see Lisa.”

“Down a flight of stairs!” Rose added. “Oh, and you forgot to mention the other witch.” She put a hand on Oliver’s arm and said as if I were not there, “Didn’t Edie give her a concussion?”

“What!” Seamus exclaimed. “How are we not hearing about this until now?!” Everyone but Oliver and I laughed heartily. Seamus threw an arm around my shoulder to show that it was all in good jest. Unfortunately I did not see the humour in it.

It was quickly becoming one of those situations that didn’t even need to be a “situation” at all, and the more embarrassed and angry I had gotten, the more awkward it was for everyone. It was like the perfect storm of shoddy situations.

Thankfully, Oliver had broken up the laughter. “Well, I’d better be going,” he said suddenly. I didn’t even glance his way, furious at him for gossiping about my Most Embarrassing Moments 2006 with Rose like two schoolgirls.

Rose flashed a smile, her hand still on his arm. “Apparate me home?”

“Oh,” Oliver paused. “Of course.” He turned to my little group once more and smiled pathetically. “Well, see you.”

Seamus had waved excitedly--again Oliver furrowed his brow in confusion--while Dean just lifted his chin in a silent farewell. I hadn’t responded at all, instead choosing to down the rest of my beer while Rose linked her arm through Oliver’s. They disappeared, Seamus still cackling away and shaking my shoulder roughly. I don’t think I said much after that, settling my bill shortly after and stumbling home alone.


I grab my pillow and squish it over my face. Rose is quite the mastermind when it comes to social sabotage, it turns out. She’d had everything planned, and I’d played right into her trap. I suppose I could’ve told her off at the pub, but then I’d have looked like the self-important arse who couldn’t take a joke. I should have laughed it off, but I was too drunk, too caught off-guard, and too seriously angry with Oliver Wood for telling her in the first place.

Oliver Wood--the person I am done thinking about for the week. It’s always ended in a headache. This time quite literally.

Gathering all of my motivation, I swing one leg off the bed where it dangles pathetically. Step one. It takes me another few minutes before the second leg is beside it, though I’m still splayed out flat on the mattress. Suddenly the fireplace, which I had been too pissed to charm to life last night, bursts into a roaring flame.

“Edie?” comes a concerned voice. “Edie, are you alright?”

Oh no.

“Edie, answer me or I’m Apparating over there this instant!”

Anything but that. I jolt up onto my elbows, despite the inevitable throbbing of my head. “Mum. I’m fine.”

Hovering in the fireplace is my mother’s head. She scowls and I’m reminded of how similar we look. Same freckles, same brown eyes. Her hair, though, has apparently been sheared very short in the last few weeks and a floral scarf is wrapped around her head.

My mum, the artist.

“What are you doing still asleep?” she exclaims. “I thought we had plans!”

I rub my eyes. “Plans? Mum, I don’t remember making any--”

“I must’ve sent you three owls on the matter!” she says indignantly.

Before I can stop myself, my eyes dart to the pile of unopened letters on my bedside cabinet. What? Nobody my age really keeps up with owl correspondence anymore, unless it’s something formal like rejections for employment or Gringotts’s notices about dwindling funds—hypothetically speaking, of course. Most witches and wizards have two-way mirrors now, but my mum has yet to jump on the bandwagon. She says it’s too “contemporary.” But between working at The Poisoned Apple, extracting owls from the fireplaces of Witch Weekly, and slaving over the Quidditch article, I haven’t had the time to go sifting through my mother’s ten-page letters.

She must have noticed the envelopes herself because she is making her disappointed face. I rub my head. “I’m sorry Mum, I’ve just been so busy. Why didn’t you just contact me by fireplace before now?”

“Well Edie, if I’d known that your own mother’s post was such a bother to you, then of course I would never have dared to trouble--”

“So what are we doing today?” I interrupt, forcing a smile.

She looks satisfied. “Come visit me at the studio in thirty minutes. I thought we could get breakfast.” Then, because is physically incapable of not giving her opinion on every matter, “Though it will actually be lunch, at this hour.”

I wonder where I get it from.

It takes everything I’ve got to drag myself out of bed and get ready for breakfast with my mum. I say this partially because of the hangover, and partially because any visit with her takes several days’ worth of mental preparation. Hypatia Lennox is a caring, intelligent and hard-working witch. But she’s loopy, a control-freak, and most certainly smothering. Since my twenty-fifth birthday last April she’s become very concerned with my romantic life, or lack thereof, more than ever. She seems convinced that nobody in their right mind would ever marry one of my three younger brothers (though as the one to care for them for seventeen years, she’s biased). So in her mind, I’m her only hope for a grandchild. And in her mind my biological clock is ticking.

To my surprise, saying “Accio somewhat presentable dress!” works. My mother would be affronted if I appeared in anything less for our first meal together in weeks. After un-smudging last night’s makeup I turn to Apparate to her studio--

Bad idea.

Hopefully Mum won’t notice the vomit near the back door.

At least I feel a bit better. After giving myself a moment, I walk around to the front door of Mum’s studio. Once more I’m in Renwick, the small Wizarding village where I grew up. It’s near Seaford and the Seven Sisters, and I can’t say much has changed at all in the twenty-six years I’ve known the place. My mum’s studio is a small brick building on the main street. It has blue painted shutters and a bright yellow door, over which hangs the colourful wooden sign Art by Hypatia.

My mum does decently with selling her paintings, though most of her income for our rather large family was brought in elsewhere. She still works as a pastry chef at Bylgia’s Bakery in the same town, while my stepfather brings little money as a small-time jazz musician. My siblings and I certainly didn’t grow up wealthy, but we got by in our crowded little flat. From the outside my mum and Andrew appear to be the ideal, hip parents. In reality they’re just as barking mad as the rest, except they enjoy sneaking behind the studio for some magical “herbs” every once in awhile.


I am reaching for the handle on the studio door when it is suddenly pulled open from inside. “Daughter!” my mother cries, throwing her arms in the air. She’s wearing a long paisley dress and cowboy boots, and I’m thankful that the scarf is now around her neck and not her head. She pulls me into a violent hug. I’m glad I’ve already had my episode behind her studio, what with all the squeezing.

“Come in!” she says. “There’s somebody I’d like you to meet.”

I make a conscious effort to keep in my groan. Although I’m glad my parents are social, now that we’ve all flown the nest, her choice of company makes me want to pull my own eyes out. If I had a Galleon for every middle-aged artist I’ve met, who sculpts nudes from garbage and still prattles on about who broke up the Beatles…

Instead when I step into her studio, which is filled wall-to-wall with abstract paintings and stacks of prints on the floors, I see a young man about my age. Upon first glance I can tell that he’s dreadfully bored, and I wonder how long my mum has kept him here.

Twelve seconds in and she’s already found me a husband.

“Edie,” she says, positively beaming. “This is Jae Chang. I believe you went to school with his sister, Cho.”

Jae and I shake hands. “Hello,” he says with a polite smile, and I hear a faint Scottish accent. His shaggy fringe hangs in his eyes and the rest is pulled into a very short ponytail. He’s wearing a pair of skinny jeans that I probably couldn’t squeeze into. Alright, so he’s pretty fit, despite the tortured intellectual thing. But I’m too irritated with my mum to really acknowledge that at this point. How did she lure him in here, let alone get him to wait around?

“Isn’t she even cuter in real life?” my mother tightens her grip on my shoulders and I’m not sure if it’s a show of love or a threat. “I’m afraid the photograph wasn’t very good. Edie, you were so peaky last Christmas.”

“Photograph,” I repeat, paling. Jae offers me a pitying smile.

“Jae is a student at the Antiphilus Institute for Visual Art,” my mother beams as if he were her own son.

“Oh, right. My friend Dean Thomas is a graduate from there.”

He returns my smile but doesn’t have the chance to respond, because my mum barrels on, “He’s going to be my new painting apprentice this semester. He came over to become better acquainted with my space.”

Two hours ago, Jae mouths to me with a grin. I turn my laugh into a cough.

My mother, on her relentless mission to sell me off to the highest bidder, doesn’t notice. “Such a talented young artist, and handsome too! It’s hard to believe he doesn’t have a girlfriend,” she pats my shoulder meaningfully.

“Oh, well Mum, I just don’t know that my dowry is quite ready. I’ve really been slacking on my needlepoint.” Now it’s Jae’s turn to cover up his laugh, which results in choking.

My mum flushes. Sensing that she’s treading on dangerous territory, she gestures at the walls in a change of subject. “I was just showing Jae my newest body of work.”

I turn to glance at what she’s gesturing to and do a double-take, freezing in horror. The paintings that cover her entire studio and which I thought were completely abstract, on further inspection, are actually giant, brightly colored, poorly disguised “lady-bits” as Seamus would say. But these paintings would make even Georgia O’Keefe blush.

“Oh wow,” I manage. “How...bold.”

Clearly pleased by my response, she walks closer to a painting done in blues and purples. It’s easily four feet wide. “This one is called Daughter."

I suppose in the mind of a contemporary artist who believes in new-age bollocks like crystal healing, this is a compliment. But to normal people like Jae Chang, it’s just humiliating. Welp, there went that potential candidate for a boyfriend.

“You know Mum, we should really get going to breakfast. It’s late after all.” I am steering her out the door, despite her protests. “Bye, nice meeting you!” I call to Jae without a second glance.

Before the door is even shut behind us, Mum says in a voice that I’m sure is perfectly audible to the young artist, “He’s quite nice, isn’t he?”

I suppose I deserve this kind of embarrassment after refusing to read her post for so long. “He sure was, Mum,” I sigh.


As usual I am going to be in dire need a nap after this breakfast with my mother. It’s my way of detoxification. We have gone to her favorite little cafe down the street, which she loves because they no longer implement the use of House Elves. (Eradicating House Elves, whether they want to be or not, is the new to-do in the Wizarding world. Like going vegan.) The cafe serves granola and Yerba Mate and tofu and not much else. Bird food, if you ask me. Or so I thought--we chose to sit outside, and even the sparrows look disgusted by the poor excuses for a hearty breakfast.

Before our food has even arrived I’m ready to bolt. First Mum had eyed me warily when I ordered a mimosa for a little Hair of the Dog, and asked in a concerned voice, “Exactly how often do you drink alcohol, Edith?” Then she’d proceeded to ask approximately two thousand questions about Lisa’s wedding, and how she and Justin were doing, and sighing wistfully at her hopelessly single daughter. She even patted my hand sadly when I mentioned being Lisa’s maid of honour.

But what really takes the Snitch is when she mentions Jae Chang again.

“He’s a very talented painter. And so handsome.”

“You’ve already mentioned that bit.”

“Don’t you think he’s handsome?”

I set down my champagne flute heavily, almost breaking the stem. “Gee, Mum, d’you think I should go for it?” She grins, averting my eyes. I know that look anywhere--there’s something she’s afraid to tell me. Or more precisely, something that she did, which she knows I won’t like, but did it anyway to her own amusement.

“What now?” I groan.

“Well, Jae and I got to talking. And he mentioned how he misses his mother’s home-cooked Korean food. So I mentioned how much you love Korean food--”

“I’ve never had Korean food!”

“And then he mentioned the name of this lovely little restaurant in Diagon Alley. And I mentioned that you live in Diagon Alley, and also that you never work on Wednesday nights. And, well...”

“You didn’t,” I bellow. People are turning to stare. “Mum, please tell me you didn’t.”

“Well he said yes!” she exclaims indignantly, throwing her hands up. “He liked your photograph. He said you’re pretty!”

“Well of course he did, you’re my mother! What’s he going to do, tell you that I’d be totally shaggable if I lost ten pounds and put on a little cat-eye?”

Now people are definitely staring. The wizard at the adjacent table slowly covers his toddler’s ears, horrified. I shut my eyes and exhale.

“Mum, why don’t you ever ask me about my job? Or my internship?” I ask with a twinge of sadness. “It’s always if I’ve met some boy, or if I have a crush, or if Seamus or Dean has finally realized they’re madly in love with me.”

“It’s possible,” she defends.

“No way in hell,” I say resolutely. “And I’m only twenty-six. There are plenty of other, more important things going on in my life. I’m not just sitting around thinking up baby names for my future daughter--”

“I always saw you having twin boys,” my mother interjects. Then she sees my expression and reaches across the table to clasp my hand. “I’m sorry. I just... I worry about you, Edie. I’m proud of you for being so independent. Merlin knows that I was just like you. But I don’t want you to neglect the… other things in life, too.”

I snort derisively, sipping from my mimosa. “Trust me, I’m not the one neglecting them.”

And then she’s looking at me so sadly, and I think I even see the hint of tears, as the life of a grandchild-less old witch flashes before her--Merlin, she has seriously hit menopause. I sigh in defeat. “Alright!” I say with difficulty, “Would it give you peace of mind if I were to... attend an evening out with this Jae Chang?”

“Yes!” she exclaims, clasping her hands beneath her chin. “Very much.”

Well, it’s not like I’ve got anyone else lined up on the dance card. “Fine. One date.”

My mum looks as though she’ll be able to sleep soundly again, which should be annoying, but today’s interaction has gone quite well by comparison. I return her smile, but it is wiped away the moment our food arrives and I see the measly portions of egg whites and soy-bacon. Not exactly my idea of hangover food.

“Mmm!” my mother relishes, eyeing her plate. “This looks absolutely delicious. Let’s tuck in!”

I decide that on the way home I will stop for a doughnut.

So there you have it! I just love Hypatia; she's entirely too much fun to write. Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts on what you did or didn't like!

Chapter 9: Bad Publicity
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Why do I feel that my only constant in life is being late to work? Perhaps it’s the habit of kipping until twenty minutes before my shift. It could be the fussing over which outfit to wear. Or maybe it’s because I have to accio everything I could possibly need—shoes, purse, wallet, two-way mirror, shoes again. Either way, when I Apparate outside The Poisoned Apple it’s in a whirlwind, ten minutes late, pieces of my hair sticking to my bright red lipstick.

“Sorry!” I shout as soon as the door swings open.

The pub is virtually empty, save the usual sad souls who arrive at six o’clock to start on their sherry. Angus has not even noticed that I’ve arrived. He’s behind the bar with arms crossed, talking to a wizard with his back to me. The sleeves of tattoos that cover his arms look familiar. Whatever he and Angus are talking about, I’m glad to not be caught in the middle. Angus is wearing the face he reserves for particularly difficult customers, shaking his head and scowling. Cautiously I make my way over, adjusting the buttons on my denim shirt so that they are no longer mismatched.

The tattooed wizard shrugs in frustration. “I’m sorry,” I hear him say with zero sincerity, “but that’s the way it is.” He whirls around and our gazes meet as we pass. Judging by the look on his face, he knows who I am. Abruptly he looks away.

The door slams behind him just as I reach Angus. “What was that all about?” I toss my shoulder-bag onto the bar.

Angus isn’t really one for proper business behaviour. Usually anything that happens around here, official or not, he’s willing to let me in. He’s always had a soft spot for me. Once, after a few too many, he even confided that I remind him of his younger sister when she was my age. But tonight Angus seems uncomfortable. Like the tattooed wizard, he doesn’t meet my eyes, and he nervously fidgets with his short gray ponytail.

“Edie,” he sighs. His next words come as a complete shock. “I’ve got to let you go.”

I must not have heard correctly. It’s not possible. I even let out a small laugh, because he must be joking. But the longer Angus refuses to look at me, the less funny it seems.

“But I’m only ten minutes late!” I cry. “I didn’t realize it was such a problem. You’ve never mentioned it! I promise I’ll never be late again!”

Angus shakes his head. “It’s not because you’re always runnin’ late—even though you are.” My lip trembles. Usually I respond to his brashness with over-enthusiasm, but right now I don’t feel very playful. Angus notices my expression and looks away. He doesn’t want the awkward experience of seeing me cry any more than I want to be seen doing it. Until now, I’d thought my tear ducts had stopped working. They’ve been dry as parchment for years.

“That wizard that just left, the one with the tattoos, that’s Orestes Flynn,” Angus explains. “He’s business partners with the Murrays.”

“The pub owners?”

“Right. Which makes Flynn a part-owner, see.”

I am in fact failing to see, and whimper, “So?”

Angus rubs his arm. “Well, Flynn was here the night that you booted those Quidditch players.”

I realize why his tattoos looked so familiar. He was the wizard who had demanded another stout after I’d decided to close early. I shake my head in confusion, “Wait—Quidditch players? Plural?”

“Apparently the whole lot of ‘em play for Puddlemere.”

Although this is a shock, I still don’t see what this has to do with anything. Angus continues, “Well, that little fiasco has been in the tabloids. There’s a spread in Crystal Ball right now—” He suddenly goes very red in the face. “Erm, my wife reads it... ‘Course I have no idea...”

If I didn’t feel like I had just swallowed Skrewt Sap, I would point and laugh.

“You know how those tabloids are, they’re complete rubbish. Blow everythin’ out of proportion. Apparently Crystal Ball left out how the players were behavin’. What I’m sayin’ is, well… The Murrays, they reckon we’re getting a lot of bad publicity.”

I try to imagine these Murrays, who I have never met. From the sound of it they’re right Sickle-pinchers who have never operated a business before. They’re rarely even here; for all they know we could be running an underground dragon market. I think of all the corners we cut to save money around this pub. Ironically, I probably could have turned them in for a number of Magical Health Code violations, but never did. And now they’re kicking me out because they want to be celebrity-friendly? Please the press and make some money on the side?

“But they’re just tabloids, Angus! They shouldn’t be taken seriously. You said it yourself. Surely the Murrays know it’s all a load of bollocks.”

“I’m sure that they do. But it’s not just the tabloids.”

Before he even says it, I understand.

“There’s an article in that magazine where you work, too. It says that he was kicked out of this pub. Y’know, verifies it. Dunno how they got the information.”

I have to put a hand out to steady myself. There’s a dull ache in my stomach—did I really dig my own grave like this? Because I dared to bend the rules, just once? To take on a challenge, and try to better myself as a journalist? I cover my face.

Angus puts what I suppose is meant to be a comforting hand on my shoulder, though he immediately retracts it. “‘Parently after that article, Wood’s back to bein’ a bleedin’ celebrity. So there’s all this fuss about him now. The Murrays don’ want us gettin’ a bad reputation, or losin’ customers, so...” he trails off.

“So they’re sacking me.”

Angus grows quiet.

“This isn’t fair!” I exclaim suddenly. “Angus, they can’t do this. I haven’t done anything wrong. Wood was completely out of line. They all were!”

Angus rubs the back of his neck. “And I know it,” he sighs. “I’m sorry. My hands are tied.”

“But it’s illegal!”

“I’m not sayin’ you shouldn’t press charges—”

“Angus, please, I don’t have the money—”

Immediately I stop because it seems that my tear ducts have, in fact, remembered their purpose. There is an unfamiliar stinging sensation in my eyes. A long silence passes, punctuated by the contrastingly upbeat song on the jukebox.

“I’ll owl your final week’s wages.” He says heavily, “I’m sorry, Lennox.”

My eyes lower; I shift uncertainly. This is all so unreal. I thought Angus was fond of me—I can’t believe he’s feeding me to the werewolves like this. But the Murrays probably gave him an ultimatum: it was my job or his. I know he has two girls at Hogwarts to support. As petulant as it sounds, this is all so horribly unfair.

“Fine,” I manage at last, pathetically grabbing my shoulder-bag. I’m not certain if Angus even responds before I slump away, across the stone floors.

I pause at the heavy wooden door. I’ve worked at The Poisoned Apple for almost three years. It was a shoddy job with often seedy customers, but it paid the rent. This dingy little pub was where I’d reunited with Dean and Seamus after being no more than acquaintances at Hogwarts. We’d gotten into an argument about the Holyhead Harpies that resulted in a shouting match and a broken pint glass. It was where I’d had my last drunken snog, albeit some time ago. And where I thought I’d met Viktor Krum, and had actually met Oliver Wood.

Oliver Wood, the person responsible for my being sacked.

I push the door open, feeling Angus’s eyes on me. He really does seem sorry, but what good does sorry do now?

I think I’ll take the long way home tonight.


“Are you going to buy that?”

The magazine stand wizard startles me, and I crinkle the copy of Crystal Ball I’m reading. Honestly, I hadn’t planned on seeking out the tabloid. But as fate would have it, I came across the only magical magazine stand in Diagon Alley along my sulk. The brightly-glowing cover of Crystal Ball had tugged at my periphery until I was forced to turn and look.

It hadn’t made the cover, thank Merlin. And luckily it was part of a collage of photos, each one a different celebrity acting out in public. In my opinion, the picture of Myron Wagtail pouring champagne on a Muggle was much worse. Still, my photograph was there for the world to see. I hadn’t even noticed it being taken, and wondered who could have possibly done it. But there I was, screaming and jabbing my finger at the door while Oliver and his friends cowered beneath me. Although they didn’t use my name—alongside the many exclamation marks and cheesy alliterations—there was mention of a “surly young barmaid.” Yet there was nothing about Oliver destroying the womens’ loo, or the kiss, or the fistfight. Taken out of context, I looked like a complete tyrant.

No wonder they sacked me.

I didn’t get to read much of the article before the wizard pulled me from my thoughts. He’s staring expectantly, the hood of his cloak pulled down against the chilly night. “Oh,” I say, “No, I’m not buying. Sorry.”

He rolls his eyes and I awkwardly place the magazine back on the shelf. My breath hangs in the air as I mope away, wrapping my arms around myself. In my rush to the pub I hadn’t thought to bring a coat. But going home doesn’t seem to be an option. I don’t want to be alone at my flat, but I don’t feel like facing my friends either. So I head towards Alchemy Coffee, where I can sit by myself with the distant company of strangers. Plus I don’t have the fifteen Sickles to spend on a London-priced beer.

Feeling right sorry for yourself, eh Lennox?

Once I am settled down with the cheapest cup of coffee possible, made for somebody the size of a House Elf, I release a sigh. I’m at a small table near the window where I can people-watch. It’s cozy at least, with the fire roaring and the twinkling fairy-lights. And I’m not the only sad fool in here: apparently it’s some kind of music night, as everyone is listening to a dark-skinned wizard with dreadlocks play jazz flute.

This is where the hipsters come die. Or at least to wax philosophical, with their Dragonskine notebooks, I decide. Unemployed, spending the money borrowed from their parents on cheap beer and cigarettes. As I scan the room a young witch with a septum piercing nods at me from her table, like we have something in common.

Oh god. I can’t keep coming back here. I can’t become one of these people.

Cupping my hands around my coffee, I try to think of a plan of action. As much as I want to fight for social justice, it costs money. The last time I made a balance inquiry at Gringotts they may as well have fallen over laughing—I really do need to pull a Grimma Longfinger and get my funds out of there. Justin would probably agree to help me, but I couldn’t ask him for a favour with a good conscience. Not right now, when he’s a wedding to pay for. And as much as I’d love to take the Murrays down, I can’t honestly say that my job at The Poisoned Apple was even worth the Galleons it would cost.

Well, I suppose I’ll be back on the job search tomorrow. Though my last go-around for journalism careers wasn’t fruitful…. Should I even reapply to the same places so soon? I can’t keep straight what is and isn’t professional anymore. Maybe Lisa knows of something opening at St. Mungo’s…?

I let my head drop onto my arms. I can’t bear the humiliation of telling Lisa, who is well on her way to becoming a certified Healer, that I am unemployed. Or Dean, the freelance artist and political cartoonist. Or Auror-in-training Seamus. Not to mention my Mum, or my brothers, or Mr. Ward, or...

An involuntary groan escapes. Rose. I can just imagine her smug satisfaction. I’m not entirely sure when we transitioned from frenemies to just plain enemies, but she’s definitely the last person I want to know about it.

I hear a faint tinkling sound like a small clay bell. It takes a moment before I realize that my two-way mirror is sounding for attention. Fishing around shoulder-deep in my bottomless purse, I at last find the compact. For a moment I clutch it in my hands, collecting myself. I’m not going to tell whoever it is—Seamus, Dean or Lisa—anything yet, I decide.

But when I flip it open, I’m met with a pair of brown eyes I can’t identify.

Here’s the thing with two-way mirrors: unless the other person is holding theirs far away from their face, you can’t entirely see who it is. This makes for humorous conversations, particularly because Dean can never figure out how to prevent me from seeing up his nose. But this person is certainly not Dean. Or Seamus, or Lisa, for that matter. There is a moment of silence, two pairs of eyes blinking at one another.

“Edie?” The Scottish accent tips me off.

“Wood.” I don’t do a very good job masking my surprise, and even bristle at his voice. I’ve just been sacked an hour ago and the wound still stings. Add this to other reasons he’s personally hand-delivered to make me never want to see him again.

“Yeah,” he says, and adds carefully, “Alright?”

I wonder if he’s heard, or if he’s just worried about residual anger from last night.

“Fine,” I reply shortly. Because I don’t know what else to do I take a hurried sip of my coffee, which it turns out is scalding hot. Almost dropping the mirror, I feel the drink burn all the way down.

No doubt I am making a horrible face, because Oliver squints in confusion. “Something wrong? You look, erm...”

“Everything is fan-bloody-tastic.” The bite in my voice quells him for a moment.

I want to ask, “How did you find me?” but unlike Muggle phones, you don’t have to know a secret number. This could be annoying, because anybody could just say your name into their mirror and find yours. Unless, that is, you’ve devoted a whole day to casting charms, like I did. Dean says that it’s just like Muggle caller ID. The magic can sense whether or not I’ve met the person, and if I’ve enjoyed talking to them. If I have, the charms allow the mirrors to link. If not, they’d just be staring at their own reflection.

Oliver seems to regain himself. “Where are you? I hear bad indie music.”

I glance at the stage where a young witch sings about a mermaid’s lost love. Though her fingers work clumsily on the neck of her guitar, I have the feeling it’s been bewitched to play itself.

“I’m at Alchemy Coffee,” I respond. “I reckon it’s struggling-singer-songwriter night—”

Before I’ve even finish my sentence there is a crack and Oliver Wood is sitting opposite me. I jump, nearly knocking over my coffee. “Christ!” I exclaim, and he looks generally confused at my shock. I’m sure his thought processes, which I imagine to be something like QuidditchQuidditchQuidditchFoodQuidditchSexQuidditchQuidditch, did not account for how this may be uncomfortable.

“Would you care to pop in?” I sarcastically finish our conversation.

“Sorry, I’ve just always preferred face-to-face conversations,” he shrugs and holds up his small square mirror, in expensive Puddlemere-themed encasement. “Not the biggest fan of these modern-day conveniences.”

“So why do you have one?” I fire. If I have to listen to one more hypocrite talk about wanting to experience life ‘organically,’ whilst owning a two-way mirror, I’ll claw my eyes out.

My pink-varnished nails are threatening to chip the edges of my coffee cup. Wood eyes them, and evidently not being as dense as I thought, picks up on my anger. “My team manager requires us all to have one,” his voice has the slightest tinge of irritation.

I want to say, Ah, your manager, Philbert Deverill. The man who had to make up for your decision not to donate to St. Mungo’s. But right now I don’t feel like talking.

Oliver explains, as if trying to placate a madwoman, “Bones and Jones, or whoever patented these mirrors, is a Puddlemere sponsor. Trust me, I’d rather be without.”

“How very Jack Kerouac.” My intention is to murmur this to myself, but I sometimes forget how loudly I speak on a regular basis. I blame my younger brothers, who I spent my whole life corralling and yelling at for dinner and bath-time.

Oliver quirks and eyebrow and crosses his arms. Abandoning all pretenses for politeness, he says loftily, “I was actually thinking more Arthur C. Clarke.” I do a rather poor job hiding my shock as he quotes, “‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ As far as I’m concerned, these mirrors are too much like Muggle technology. I prefer face-to-face communication, don’t you?”

After faltering, I regain myself and jab, “Dangerous words, Wood. You know how suspicious the Ministry finds any anti-Muggle sentiment.”

He shrugs offhandedly. “Oh, I’m hardly anti-Muggle. In fact I’m not even a Pureblood. Thought you would’ve come across that in your research…”

I do not like being outsmarted. Pressing my mouth into a thin line, I pretend like his words didn’t hit home. It’s true, though. I’m having a hard time with my research for the article, and it’s making me feel like less of a journalist. Even Wood’s bloodline has remained private—although that’s not entirely a surprise. To make up for all of the prejudices during the last War, it’s not something anyone talks about publicly anymore.

I’m feeling like a wounded animal backed into a corner. Though as much as I’d like to be a tiger ready to attack, I feel more like a sulky kitten. Diverting the conversation back, “So, quoting Arthur C. Clarke. Oliver Wood reads Muggle science fiction?”

“Actually, fun fact, he’s a wizard.”


Where is all of this coming from? This is the same person who said, in his first interview, that the most influential piece of literature he’d ever read is Quidditch Throughout the Ages.

Wood must sense that he’s won, because he grins widely. “I see you’re shocked to learn that I’m not illiterate.” He raps on his skull with his fist, “Reckon I’ve still got a couple more Bludgers to the head before I need to start worrying.”

I run my finger up and down the handle of my coffee mug. I have the distinct feeling that Oliver Wood has just bested me twice, in as many minutes. Maybe I do like him better as a drunk, arrogant idiot.

Suddenly he furrows his brow and looks over his shoulder. The young witch is still singing, and it’s unclear if her pained expression is due to her emotions or her poor attempt to hit the high notes.

“Wow. She really is terrible, eh?” It sounds less like a joke and more like an inability to hide his opinion.

As somebody who suffers from the same affliction, I almost laugh. “So, why exactly are you here?” It doesn’t come out quite as brashly as hoped.

“Oh,” he unzips his brown leather jacket. “I was wondering if you wanted to meet me Friday night.”

The room grows very warm and I pause. “F-Friday night?”

Wood seems to realize what I’ve just assumed. His eyes crinkle as he grins, “Yeah, for our interview.”

I am the biggest dolt in all of London. Making a conscious effort not to slap a hand to my forehead, I say, “The interview. Of course.”

The song has ended; Wood turns and claps loudly amongst the silence. The performer’s eyes land on him and she flushes, bows awkwardly, and hurries off the small stage. A young woman with straight-across fringe appears on the stage. She carries a guitar and tambourine, which she is playing herself. At the flick of her wand, the wooden piano in the corner begins to play. Her mouth opens and a raspy-yet-melodious voice fills the room. I notice the previous singer at her small table, red with embarrassment behind her coffee.

“I feel it all, I feel it all. The wings are wide, the wings are wide.”

In the brief silence that passed between us, Oliver has rallied. He tries again, “Well, I just… I reckoned you and Rose would want some more material. She told me that you’re writing another two articles as a joint effort.”

“She did.” It takes everything in my power not to Confringo my coffee mug.

“I thought it would be a good idea to give it another go. She and I didn’t accomplish much the other night.” He seems to realize his innuendo and now it’s his turn to grow pink.

“Uh-huh,” I run my hands through my hair, a strange pounding in my veins.

I recall Oliver and Rose over at their little table, she usurping the job that she’d begged me to do. I remember the way they sat there, gossiping. Flirting. Trying to make a fool of me in front of my friends. And I’d gone all touchy for one reason or another and ended up humiliating myself.

I suppose in the back of my mind I’d already decided not to help Rose with the articles. After the way she’d behaved I really wanted to leave her high and dry. But that was when I still had a job. And Rose had agreed to twenty-five Galleons per article. That was almost two months’ rent on my shoddy flat. If I wrote the articles for her, I could easily survive with an additional part-time job...

Bugger. Rose wins again.

Oliver is watching me expectantly. “So... Friday.”

“Friday sounds perfect,” I respond curtly. I run my hands over the table in a search for something, anything to do so that I don’t have to acknowledge the churning mess in my head.

“Brilliant. Does The Hanging Moon at eight o’clock work for you?”

My hands stop running over the table.

The Hanging Moon is one of the poshest Wizarding restaurants in all of London. It’s located miles underground, but is so spacious and glamourous that you’d never realize it. Of course I only know this from hearsay. Justin took Lisa there to celebrate their engagement, and even his wallet was thinner afterwards. Lisa said that she spotted Myron Wagtail and the Potter couple there. She also said that there’s a bottle of champagne on the menu that costs the same as her and Justin’s rent. I’ve heard that you can pay extra to have your food char-grilled by a live dragon!

Needless to say, there is no way in hell that I can afford to step foot in The Hanging Moon.

“I was going to suggest it myself,” I say casually.

Oliver’s eyes crinkle again and I get the feeling he can see right through me.

Does he seriously find me being completely skint funny? I want to yell at him; to tell him that it’s all his fault; that he has no idea what it’s like to worry you won’t make your next rent. At least I don’t sit on my meagre fortunes, hoarding them like some sexist Goblin, while people everywhere are losing money. I donate to charity at grocery check-outs, for Merlin’s sake!

Oliver regards me seriously, “We’ll have to wear something nice, of course.”

“Of course,” I reply tersely. No matter what I manage to conjure from my wardrobe, alongside everyone else I’ll look like a House Elf in a sock. What have I just gotten myself into?

Unable to take it any longer, I rise to my feet without warning. “I’d best be going. See you Friday.” I snatch my shoulder bag, ignoring Oliver’s confused glance.

“Sure,” he says. “Friday.”

But I’ve already hurried away from the table and to the door, past the performer as she ends her song, “The truth lies, the truth lied. And lies divide, lies divide.” The door shuts behind me, silencing the last hanging guitar chord, the applause and Oliver Wood’s stupid brown eyes.

Author's Note: Wow, I really do love torturing Edie, don't I? This chapter was really fun to write--it's definitely on the long side, but I *finally* got some decent interaction between Oliver and Edie! I also got a chance to poke fun at hipsters, so I did xD If you didn't pick up on it, Dragonskine was a play on Moleskine, which doesn't belong to me. Also, the song is "I Feel It All" by Feist, which I don't own.

So what do you guys think? Anyone an Ediver shipper yet? (Thanks to CloakAuror9 for the perfect ship name!)

And thanks to inspector. @ TDA for the absolutely gorgeous chapter image!

Chapter 10: And the Award Goes To...
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


I am jolted awake by a loud smack on my window. At first I think it’s Rose, come to finish me off once and for all. But then I see the befuddled gray owl—I recognize it as Mr. Ward’s. Bugger. Tonight is the Wizarding Newspaper Association Gala. I’d forgotten all about it in the week I’ve been avoiding Witch Weekly to work on the second article. It was just too risky to do the research at my desk, when I was supposed to be out running errands. I wonder if anyone’s even noticed my absence. With a groan I drag myself from my warm covers and open the window.

After wrestling the letter from the owl’s talons—the collision had frazzled its tiny brain—it barely misses the window on its way out. Even Ward’s owls are incompetent. I shake my head, breaking the envelope’s wax seal: an over-embellished “W.”


Please arrive at Gringotts at 5:00 to assist with set-up!
Mildred will be there to direct you!
We should only need you until about 9:00!


Artie Ward

Oh, right, only four hours. I toss the letter unceremoniously over my shoulder, stretching widely. I’m also to go wedding dress shopping with Lisa this afternoon, and need to apply for more jobs. The rejections from my first wave of applications came in yesterday. They all read the same thing: “We were impressed by your portfolio, but do not have any positions available at this time.” It’s going to be quite an exhausting day.

At least my mind isn’t muddled with alcohol, as I stayed in last night. I couldn’t have possibly afforded it, but that bit is still a secret. So when I told Seamus and Dean that I wasn’t going with them, they looked as though I’d presented them with an impossible Rubik’s Cube.

“But it’s Taco Tuesday,” Seamus had said slowly. Clearly I must’ve mixed my days up.

“I know,” I shrugged. He and Dean remained in my doorway, very perplexed. “I’m just feeling a bit peaky. You two go on.” Eventually they had shuffled along, still incapable of wrapping their heads around it. But I had research to do.

The interview was only two days away, and Blakeslee told Rose that this article would have to expose his personal life. So the readers of Witch Weekly weren’t interested in my politics. I can’t say I’m surprised. But I can’t allow myself to back down; I want to try and change Witch Weekly, somehow. To show them that there are more important things than nail varnish, and that the celebrities they hold on a pedestal aren’t so grand after all—starting with this assignment. I need to make them see Wood for who he is: selfish, arrogant, and thoughtless. I’ll just have to spin it as juicy gossip.

So while Dean and Seamus went pub-crawling, I spent last night in pyjamas, eating Cauldron Cakes at my shoddy desk. I pored over past issues of Witch Weekly, the Daily Prophet, Which Broomstick, Quidditch Quarterly and countless others in search of information. The only publications that contained anything substantial were the tabloids. Unfortunately they weren’t reliable sources… unless he really was spotted canoodling with a male centaur in Belize. (Part of me wishes he had been, just because the visual image is so entertaining.)

But even the tabloids had little on his refusal to donate to St. Mungo’s. Mostly they were littered with photographs of him acting the way he had at The Poisoned Apple. So apparently the drinking problem isn’t just a rumour. But what good was that to my case? Teenage witches who are already smitten with him won’t think any less of him for partying. Even though his picture hangs in the girls’ dormitories of Hogwarts, Oliver Wood’s real personality—the one that I know—remains out of the public eye. Frustrated, I had eventually settled for watching old Puddlemere matches. My quill was poised as if to take notes, but I don’t think I wrote down anything other than Wood → Wanker.

One thing of interest did present itself, though it had nothing to do with the article. The newest issue of The Oracle Underground, which I purchased even though I barely had the funds, listed a job opening for a reporter. My heart had almost leapt from my chest—my favorite publication was hiring! But it wasn’t even within my grasp; the ad strictly said “three to five years’ experience required.” What could I do? Even my word-twisting abilities couldn’t make my time internship seem equal to years of practical experience.

I rub my eyes, staring out onto the bleary morning. With a sigh, I decide to put everything out of mind. Besides, I’m overdue for a very long bath. Soon I’m reclining in warm bubbly goodness with a nice cuppa and—I’m more than embarrassed to admit—a Gwendolyn Phire paperback. I just want to forget everything, and what better way than mind-numbing drivel? (Because if I ignore the problem it will totally go away, right?) After the bath, I spend a considerable amount of time charming my fingernail varnish bright yellow. By noon, when Lisa contacts me, I’m still in pyjamas.

I agree wholeheartedly to meet at Twilfitt & Tatting’s, calling it a reasonable excuse not to be thinking about jobs. Soon I appear outside the storefront in my parka, returning my best mate’s wave. I’m carrying a giant canister of coffee; my purse contains a headache-relieving potion, a pack of tissues, and an extra pair of dangly earrings in case she forgot. I’m more than prepared for a day-long excursion.

And twenty minutes later we’re leaving with her wedding dress. Or, at least, she’s chosen one and the seamstresses have taken her measurements. It’ll be owled within the week.

“And you’re sure,” I repeat for the thousandth time, as we step out into the bright and chilly September afternoon.

Lisa is beaming like I’ve never seen her. “Honestly, Edie, don’t make me second-guess myself.”

I zip my parka. “I knew you wouldn’t be fussy, but Merlin, ten minutes?”

“You sound so surprised!” she laughs. “Did you think this was going to be an all-day excursion?”

“I brought snacks,” I bewilderedly think of the high-energy granola bars I’d brought. “No offense. You’re far from a bridezilla, but—” I take her gently by the shoulders. “I just want you to have the absolute most perfect wedding day ever. And if you can with this dress, then I’m satisfied.”

“Oh, come on. You know the dress doesn’t really matter to me! Plus I saw you almost crying, which I took as a sign from God.”

“Was not,” I drop my hands. Although I would never admit it—not in a thousand years, not even if you slipped me a Veritaserum—I did feel stirring deep in the cockles of my heart. I’d been right: after some very nonchalant browsing, she found a lightweight lace number that looked like a napkin on the rack and like a thousand-Galleon gown on her shoulders. She was absolutely stunning, lifting her blond waves off her neck and beaming.

Perhaps I had misted up. Just a bit.

Lisa links her arm through mine and we begin to stroll aimlessly. “You’re next, you know,” she grins. Although she has read my mind exactly, I bristle at her words.

“All right, Mum,” I grumble.

Ever since she’s been engaged, I’ve stopped talking to Lisa about my love-life. Not that there’s anything to tell, really. A few flings here and there, but nothing substantial since a year ago, with Cormac. He was too blond and too clean-cut, and honestly a complete dolt. Plus he knew absolutely nothing about literature or politics or music. We were both bored from day one, but we were bored with everything else in our lives too, so we stuck it out. For him, I was just a roof to sleep under and a pair of boobs to ogle. He was proof that I am capable of wrangling a guy. Mostly I brought him around to parties to show him off, and prayed he wouldn’t open his mouth. Lisa probably saw right through it, for the entire six months he and I managed to withstand one another. But I never wanted to come out and talk relationships with her; it’s the only part of our friendship that’s changed since her engagement. I know Lisa wants the best for me. But I don’t want to be patted on the cheek and told that my time will come.

“Maybe I don’t ever want to get married in the first place,” I say suddenly.

Lisa blinks, confused.

“I mean, I seriously cannot imagine having to wake up every day, for the rest of my life, next to the same bloke snoring away. And why should a woman’s existence be nothing but striving towards marriage?” I’m on my soapbox, and my engaged best mate is probably not the person to rant to, but it’s all spilling out. “I’m only twenty-six, what if I just want a well-paying career? And a nice flat, and a pair of trousers without holes?”

But Lisa bumps me gently with her shoulder and grins, “I meant... you’re next up for today. We should find your maid of honour dress while we’re out.”

My face turns beetroot. “Oh. Yeah, of course.”

“What’s going on with you?” she stops me. Her clear blue eyes stare pointedly into mine. “Something’s wrong, I can tell. Out with it.”

“Erm...” I blink at her. My mouth parts, ready to spill everything: that I’ve been sacked, and am completely skint, and that there’s no way in Azkaban I can afford a proper dress. Instead I give her a bright smile. “I’m starving. Are you?”

Though she looks disbelieving, soon we’re at an outdoor table shrouded by a bright green umbrella. We’ve been here a thousand times before, but now I’m scanning the menu for the cheapest items. When I ask our waiter for a glass of water and a small salad, I see Lisa quirk an eyebrow in my periphery. I return the gesture when she, practically vegan for the past ten years, asks for “their largest portion of fish and chips.”

As soon as the waiter is gone I say flatly, “Lisa. I have never, ever, in all my years of knowing you, seen you eat fish and chips. You’re pregnant.”

“Edie! Please!” she flushes. Her voice drops down to a whisper, “Justin and I are… careful. You know that.”

“I’m sorry, I’m only teasing. It’s just a far cry from the usual broccoli sprouts and hummus,” I smile at her adorable embarrassment. She’s really quiet about her and Justin’s bedroom-life. Unless she’s had a few drinks, and then… Merlin. Sometimes even I think it’s too much information.

She fiddles with her napkin for a moment, opening and closing her mouth. When I give her the out-with-it eyebrow quirk, she sighs. “I’m just so nervous about everything with the wedding, and it’s manifesting itself in food. Last night I ate an entire tub of ice cream.” She pauses and adds guiltily, “…covered in chocolate sauce and marshmallows and biscuits.”

“Holy hell, Lisa, you’re becoming a real woman!” I laugh heartily. She has always been so thin; the one sitting off to the side as I demolish any sort of food that comes smothered in cheese.

She tucks a piece of hair behind her ear, still embarrassed. “It’s just... In less than three months, I’ll never be Lisa Turpin again. And I’m so happy with Justin, you know that. But Lisa Turpin is who I’ve been for the last twenty-six years! Can you blame me for being a nervous eater?”

This is the first time I’ve ever heard her express any ill feeling about her marriage. She can’t even talk about Justin or say the word “wedding” without beaming like an idiot. This is definitely a side she wasn’t showing, for one selfless reason or another.

I smile sadly. “No, of course you can’t be blamed. But it’s perfectly normal. I know you don’t have cold feet, and you know that too, somewhere in all that sugar floating around your bloodstream. If anything, you should feel guilty about all the hearts you’ll be breaking, when you’re no longer on the market. Although I think a resounding ‘Finally, thank you!’ from the female half of London is in order.”

She smiles, placated, and pushes her hair behind her ear again. “Thank you. For putting up with me. I know I’ve not been myself lately, going on about floral arrangements and all that rubbish.”

“Oi,” I say, “You’d better take advantage of it while you can. After this wedding, every time you say the word ‘crinoline’ you’re buying me a drink.”

When our food arrives, I’m given a first-hand glimpse at exactly how Lisa has been eating her feelings. The plates are barely set down before she takes a wolfish bite of the fish (using her hands.) I don’t think she’s even swallowed before she’s cramming the chips in as well. Fighting down my laughter, I poke the tiny salad with my fork.

Lisa eyes my meagre portions and says, mouth still full, “You know… they have some really nice dresses over at Kensington’s.”

“Kensington’s,” I repeat flatly.


“The second-hand store.”

Lisa is suddenly very interested in the lemon wedge on her plate. “Look,” I stare at her evenly. “I may not be the wealthiest witch in all of London, but this is your bloody wedding we’re talking about. It’s a monumental day, and it only happens once in your lifetime. And for that reason, I need to look ruddy fantastic.” Before she can question me, I change the subject. “So, let’s get down to it. Exactly how crazy do you want to go for your hen night?”

“I swear to God, if you make me wear or eat anything with genitalia on it, you’re no longer invited to the wedding.”

“Noted.” I take another bite of lackluster lettuce.


I am more than surprised when I arrive early for the Gala that evening. Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf. Or maybe I was just desperate to leave my flat, to avoid telling Dean and Seamus that I’m unemployed. Folding my arms, I stare up at the gleaming white walls of Gringotts. An Auror in a long cloak patrols along the black iron fence. Good thing the Female Goblin Coalition backed out, because he looks particularly heartless. I think of Seamus, and how he’ll be given his Auror’s badge within the year. What would he do, if he were given an assignment like preventing women from speaking out?

I thought the Wizarding World was past all of this.

Then again, it’s not called the Witching World, is it?

A familiar voice calls, “You’re stuck here, too?”

Theo is heading my way, camera swinging from his neck. He’s wearing a black suit and tie with a plaid shirt. “Hiya, Theo!” I call, glad for a familiar face. “Yeah, I’ll be here all night.”

He reaches my side. “Yeah? What has Ward got you doing?”

I falter. “Refreshments.”



Theo looks up at the building and shakes his head. “I can’t believe the magazine is partaking in this, after everything that’s happened. Well, actually I can believe it. Which I reckon is even worse.”

I snort derisively, “You’re telling me. Do you know what ever happened with the protest?” My voice drops off, because the Auror’s head has snapped in my direction. Theo must notice as well, because he casts me a sidelong glance.

“Maybe we should…”


Avoiding eye contact with the Auror, Theo and I silently climb the stone steps. When we reach the apex I push the black wooden doors open, revealing the marble pillars and chandeliers bustling with preparation. Something about it all seems dark and eerie, though. Everything is black and white, from the stone to the crystal to the Goblins in tuxedos. It’s quiet, too, for the amount of people working.

“Well, I’ll be the one with the camera,” Theo says with his perpetual hint of sarcasm.

“I’ll be the one serving Muenster.” We trade small grins and nod, before parting ways.


“You’re late,” Mildred snaps when I finally locate her.

She’s tucked away in a side-room, near the kitchens, hidden beneath the stairs of a back room. These Goblins really do not want you knowing your way around. I had to be escorted the entire way; passwords were whispered to different portraits; multiple keys were used at each door. No wonder it took forever to find her.

I furrow my brow and check my wristwatch. “Late? It’s not five o’clock.”

She’s doing what she does best: standing rigidly and entirely too close. I shift uncomfortably under her stony gaze before giving up. “Welp, sorry I’m late!” I say brightly. “So, isn’t there some sort of getup I need to be wear—oh, God.”

My eyes have fallen on the outfit that hangs to my right. Button-up shirt, checkered green vest, black bowtie, frumpy trousers… really, it couldn’t be worse. Apparently it wasn’t humiliating enough to be denied employment by the publications in attendance. Now I have to serve them bubbly while wearing this. Mildred passes the outfit over, and I distinctly see a grin upon her face. “Best get changed now. We’ll direct you from there.”

“Wonderful,” I mutter, stalking from the room.

As it so happens, passing out flutes of champagne and spinach puffs isn’t so bad. Most people ignore me, to the point of not realizing that I’m standing right there to hear the salacious gossip. The gala’s been underway for only an hour, and I already know which reporter from the Daily Prophet pays off her sources, and which Quidditch Quarterly writer has slept with the majority of his. Theo is hanging back to take photos—or advantage of the free food—so I have somebody to talk to.

Actually, everything’s going quite swimmingly, until I spot Rose walking in. My heart drops into the pit of my stomach; I didn’t think we’d be running into one another. As far as I knew, the gala was for editors only.

I quickly duck behind a very confused-looking Theo. This was probably the worst hiding place, as Rose was undoubtedly scanning the crowd for him. When she makes her way over I step uncomfortably from behind him, and she smirks. She’s wearing a pale pink gown with silver beading; one shoulder is left completely bare, and the other is covered in a long sleeve. She looks absolutely stunning, and I look… erm.

“Edie!” she touches my arm. “I didn’t think I’d see you here. Nice vest.”

Only I can feel the pinch she gives my arm, and peg the glimmer in her eye for mischievousness. “Rose,” I say flatly. “I thought this event was for editors only.”

“Wotcher, Theo,” she smiles, ignoring me. He responds by taking her photograph, which sends her into fits of giggles. “Oh please, I just walked in! At least let me get a drink in my system before you start on that,” she sighs happily. Then she turns as if suddenly remembering I’m there. “Champagne, please.”

I stare incredulously, feeling myself flush with humiliation. How is it that we’re always in this situation—how does she always have the upper-hand? Apparently I’ve taken too long with her request, because with the slightest irritated headshake, she grabs a flute of bubbly for herself.

“I’m here because Blakeslee invited me personally,” she answers at last. “She wanted to express her congratulations for my most recent work. You know the article I wrote about Oliver Wood, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” I say so bitingly that Theo shoots me a strange look. Rose just smiles, a knowing look in her eye. Flicking my eyes at Theo, I murmur quietly, “Rose, this is getting ridiculous. Why are you acting like this? I’m still the one doing you a favour—”

She cuts me off with a trilling laugh. “Are you so sure about that?” she says through her smile. “Yeah, I’m the one who came to you. But if I hadn’t, you’d still be running coffee errands, and filing parchments and, well…” she gestures to my outfit.

I’m furious because she’s right. As torturous it’s been to deal with her, writing these articles is the most exciting thing to happen since my internship began. And possibly since I graduated Hogwarts. But it still doesn’t warrant her trying to publicly humiliate me…again. “Rose, I know Blakeslee liked my article better than any of yours. But you don’t have to be such a dick about it.”

I may as well have just performed an Unforgiveable Curse. Rose almost drops her champagne and her eyes blaze with fire. Abandoning all pretenses of friendliness, she bites, “Honestly, Edie. Don’t you think that if you deserved a journalism career they would have given you one?”

There is a thunderous silence. Two people with wounded vanities stare each other down. Theo clears his throat awkwardly, undoubtedly wondering what we could possibly be talking about. We snap out of our death stares.

“Well,” Rose says at a normal volume. “I’m going to mingle. I believe that’s Conor Fleming over there, speaking with Ward.”

Before I can stop myself, my head snaps in the direction of the editor. He’s conversing with a wizard wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a tweed suit. My heart skips a beat. Conor Fleming, the editor of The Oracle Underground, is here?

Rose says offhandedly, “You know, I hear they have a position opening soon... I really must go chat with him.” Flashing one last smile she plunges into the crowd. I watch as she makes her way to the two men. Is she seriously doing this? As far as I knew, she was content at Witch Weekly. Surely she wouldn’t pursue a job opening solely because I want it…

Then again, it is Rose.

An elderly man approaches the cheese spread, bringing a monocle to his eye. “Now, darling,” he begins in a posh accent, and I visibly tense. “Which of these is the most piquant?”

“Oh, sod off! They all taste like cheese!” I shout.

“I say!” He uprights himself with utmost indignity. I ignore him as he turns away in a huff, but not before grabbing a wheel of brie. Theo is staring in horror. “Sorry,” I grumble when I notice him backing away, “I don’t know what’s gotten into me.” I stare acidly into the crowd, where Rose, Ward and Fleming are engaged in what appears to be stimulating conversation.

It isn’t until later, when the small awards ceremony commences, that I understand Rose’s words: Blakeslee wanted to express her congratulations for my most recent work. When the spokesperson for the Wizarding Newspaper Association calls out the winner for Best Celebrity Interview, I drop the bottle of champagne I was holding. Luckily, Theo was paying attention—with the flick of his wand the bottle freezes midair. But I barely even notice.

Rose Zeller is receiving an award for my work.

The room is sounding with applause as she rises from her table, smiling. I see her cross the small stage to shake hands with the WNA spokesperson. He offers a brief speech, explaining the hard work she put in; the fresh and unique tone that stands out amidst other celebrity interviews. The crowd laughs appropriately at the anecdote that she knew nothing about Quidditch beforehand. At their table, Mr. Ward and Conor Fleming have their heads together, murmuring approvingly.

“That’s it,” I say suddenly.

Theo, cramming a handful of spinach puffs into his mouth, looks at me warily. “What’s it?”

I rip off my bowtie and slam it onto his chest. “Mind the table for me, Theo. I’m going to find Blakeslee.”

“What, now?” he says incredulously. “You don’t really want me to wear the bowtie…?”

I strut into the sea of tables with the burning desire for revenge and resurrection like I’ve never felt before. (God, is this really how people talk after just one chapter of Gwendolyn Phire?) From behind me Theo tries weakly, “Maybe now’s not the best time…”

“It’s as good as any,” I say. “There’s something she needs to know.”

Author's Note: Phew! Quite a long chapter, and I'm sorry if it got a bit tiresome! But I really wanted to end it where I did, and to have some Edie♥Lisa time. (Really I just want to change everyone's minds about Lisa and make you love her!) I decided at the last minute to add in the scene from the gala. You lovely readers made me feel so guilty about giving Edie such a hard time, so I decided she deserved to exact a little revenge ;3

Alright! So, what do we think? Is Edie going to far? Is she even going to tell Blakeslee, or is something going to get in the way? Did anyone miss Theo and Mildred? ;D

And another gorgeous chapter image by inspector. at TDA!

Chapter 11: The Magic Touch
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Chest heaving with rage, I spot Blakeslee at a table with several very important-looking witches. The fire is still burning in me as I march over, but when I stop behind her unnoticed, it’s blown out quick as a candle. I stand awkwardly, realizing how completely insane I must look in my current getup. What am I doing? How exactly had I planned on going about this? I don’t even have proof, for God’s sake! But if I back down now, I may never say anything.

I settle for a good old-fashioned throat clearing. Blakeslee doesn’t notice, though one of the witches quirks an eyebrow. Again I clear my throat, “Pardon me…”

She turns around and surprises me when she says, “Oh, there you are!” Wait, does she already know? That would certainly save me the pain of explaining myself. But after a cursory glance around the table she says, “Three more glasses of champagne, please.”

Well this is off to a brilliant start. I glance over at Rose’s table. She’s spotted me and involuntarily jumped to her feet, clutching the back of her chair. Quickly I turn my gaze back to Blakeslee, “Actually—”

And then Oliver Wood strolls into the dimly-lit room, and I stop. What is he doing here?! Don’t tell me they invited him because of Rose’s article. I mean—my article! But it only takes those two seconds of being thrown completely off-guard to regain myself. The horrible realization hits me: there is no way that Blakeslee will ever believe that an unpaid intern wrote that article.

Blakeslee is staring at me, because I’m still standing with my mouth open and index finger raised matter-of-factly. “Three champagnes, got it,” I dart away before Wood notices.

Crestfallen, I make my way back to the refreshments table, back to where I belong in this scene. Did my blaze of glory really just blow out like that? Suddenly Rose intercepts me, falling in step. “What the hell was that? Why were you talking to Blakeslee?”

“It was nothing,” I lie. “She called me over for more champagne. But maybe I should be asking what you’re thinking. Why is Oliver Wood here?”

Rose pales and looks out onto the sea of tables. Oliver is standing against the wall uncomfortably, hands in his pockets, scanning the room. His tie is loose and his jacket is unbuttoned; I wonder if he’s just rushed over after Quidditch practise. Two middle-aged witches pass by and eye him like a prize hog, but he seems oblivious.

“I didn’t invite him,” Rose murmurs. She turns to me, panic in her voice, “I didn’t invite him! Ward or Blakeslee must have, for the awards ceremony. Thank God he’s late.”

“Yeah, Rose, about that award—”

I don’t think she’s intentionally silencing me when she seizes my arm. “You have to get out of here!” she gasps. “If he realizes you’re not actually employed by the magazine…”

“He’s coming!” I shriek. Before I can think of a better plan, I duck under the table… and apparently just in time. Rose’s high heels swivel around, as Wood’s oxford shoes come to a halt.

“Oliver! So good to see you,” her voice betrays none of her previous fear. In fact I hear nothing but flirtation—of course. I shouldn’t be surprised; she did say she was going to pursue him, after all. I wonder suddenly what his facial expression is like, and if he’s in awe of how beautiful she looks. “Did we drag you all the way out here?”

“Have you seen Edie?” Oliver says. I’m not sure why, but a smug grin appears on my face.

“No, she’s actually not here tonight. She’s… very ill. Here, have some champagne. So how have you been?”

His feet shift around uncertainly. “She’s ill?”

“Yes, alright, she’s ill,” Rose says too hastily. Oliver must have fixed her with a strange look, because she adds, “Poor girl. Been sick for days. She has…” there’s a pause, and then she says all too delightedly, “horrible diarrhea!”

Oliver chokes on his champagne, sputtering and coughing, while my jaw drops to the floor. “Are you completely serious?!” I whisper it so harshly that for a moment, I worry they’ve heard me. But I’m afraid that Rose is not getting away with this one.

Wood sounds like he’s never been so uncomfortable in his life, “Erm. Well. I hope she’s well enough for our interview on Friday.”

“Oh, an interview—” But Rose doesn’t get to finish her sentence.

She’s just tried to flirtatiously shift her weight to the other hip. But the instant the heel of her shoe touches the floor it releases a bellowing flatulent sound. I’m surprised it doesn’t rattle the champagne flutes. I distinctly see Rose freeze, while Oliver has gone quite silent.

“That… that wasn’t…” she starts, but her other shoe has made impact with the marble, and it releases another noise; a really nasty one, this time.

I did say that Charms was my best subject.

“Oh my God…” Rose whimpers. I have to cast another charm, this time to silence my own laughter as she scurries away mortified, leaving a flurry of flatulence in her wake. I am still rolling around when Oliver bewilderedly wanders away. I swear he’s so uncomfortable that I can see it in his shoes. Seamus and Dean will be so proud.

I crawl out from under the table, not giving a damn about who sees me (which is good, because I think I gave the posh Wizard with the brie quite a shock.) I’m feeling entirely too triumphant, considering that I’ve probably just declared war with Rose. But it was about time I fought back. Dusting off my hands, I decide that my work here is finished. I’ll leave Mr. Ward to clear up my station.

After I find a Goblin to escort me back to my things, I change back into my own skirt and jumper, vowing never to wear a bowtie again. But all the while I’m wearing a smug grin. In fact, I’m still laughing when I make my way to the exit, and wipe a tear from my eye.

Unfortunately, my finger is perfectly aimed at my eyeball when Wood rounds the corner ahead, and I barrel into him. The collision jams my finger into my eye and I exclaim rudely, “Fucking hell!”

“Oh, God! Edie? I’m so sorry!” cries Wood, grabbing my shoulders to steady me. Then he laughs. “Quite the mouth you’ve got there.”

I scowl up at him, rubbing my left eye. “Sorry,” he says quickly, pressing his mouth into a line.

“Don’t worry about it,” I mutter, and brush past him. When he begins to trail along beside me like a lost puppy, I furrow my brow.

After a moment he says, “Are you feeling alright, then? Rose said…” he goes red in the face.

“Of course I’m feeling all right. I’ve been here all evening.” Before he has time to consider this I say, “I’m surprised to see you here, though.”

“Well, they invited me, ‘cause of the article and all.”

We’ve gone through the exit and are standing outside, where it’s lightly misting onto the cobblestones. We stand at the base of the steps, and I pull the hood of my jacket up. Apparently Wood’s only got his blazer, the mist damping his hair. Casting a glance at my watch I say, “Well, the gala’s still going on for another hour or so. If you wanted to, y’know...”

Wood shrugs, “I reckon I’ve seen enough.”


With a pathetic smile I kick my foot out and start off in the direction of my flat. He’s still walking with me, and I wonder if he realizes where I’m heading. Where are his mates? Why is he out wandering the streets of Diagon Alley alone? I don’t feel like talking, but I’m beginning to think even that would be better than the silence.

Unable to take it anymore, I try, “What are you up to, then?”

“Well, I uh… I thought I’d go for a pint,” he says, hands in his pockets.

I nod. “Sounds brilliant.”

“Really?” Wood looks at me intently, and I don’t know what the proper response is. Merlin, I was just making small-talk.

“Yeah, really. I mean, beer’s good and all that. Are you meeting up with mates, then?”

He ruffles his wet hair absentmindedly. “Well, no.”

Okay, you’ve got to give me something to go with here. “More of a solitary drinker, then?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. What’s a good pint without good company? At least that’s what my dad always said,” he grins.

I’m surprised that he’s even speaking about his family right now, especially to a (alleged) journalist. I notice that he used the past tense when mentioning his father, and wonder he’s still alive. But that’s hardly conversation for an awkward amble. The rain starts to pick up, and he’s getting quite drenched. I shake my head.

“Here.” With the flick of my wand, I perform a rain-repellant charm and he appears to be standing beneath an invisible umbrella.

“Thanks,” he says appreciatively. “You’re quite good with that. Mine usually have holes in them, so I don’t even bother anymore.”

I can’t help myself for laughing, “You could always practise.”

“I think I’ll leave all my practising on the pitch,” he grins.

“Yeah, how did it go today? I’m sure things are getting intense for you.” He furrows his brow and I explain, “What with that Kestrels match next week. I mean, it’s your first match after being out for two seasons, right?”

“Wow, you’ve really done your research,” he says, impressed.

“Actually, I just watch a lot of Quidditch.”

“Really!” He looks at me with surprise, and I think his step even falters. “It’s just… I don’t mean to sound like a complete bigot, but I don’t know many female Quidditch fans. You know, girls who enjoy watching the sport and not the players.”

I scoff, “And the men who watch women’s beach Quidditch are purely interested in sport.”

“Point taken.”

We’ve reached the entrance to my flat, a bright green wooden door. He looks up at the building, seemingly surprised that we even had a destination, though I don’t know what else he could have possibly thought we were doing. We stand uncomfortably, looking at anything but each other.

He shrugs with one hand, “Well, would you—?”

“This is me, then,” I interrupt. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t—”

“Your apartment?”

“Well yeah, but—”

“—Oh, it’s fine, you didn’t interrupt. I wasn’t saying anything.”

I squint at him, but he’s avoiding eye contact. This is a lost cause, I decide. “Well, cool.”

Oliver nods once, “Cool.” Then there is the most agonizing silence to pass between us yet. It stretches forever, and I am making a desperate blind grab for the door handle behind me. Then it’s opening of its own accord, and then a pair of hands suddenly claps my shoulders and a voice booms in my ear, “EDIE LENNOX!”

I jump out of my skin and release the loudest scream since The Shining; even Wood starts. When I whirl around, I’m shocked to find my eldest brother, Leo. He’s doubled over in laughter with one hand on his knee, the other hovering helplessly in the air as he produces a wheezing sound.

“Fuck off, Leo!” I punch him in the arm as hard as I can. My force actually bowls him over but he’s still just rolling around, clutching his sides. Really, was it that funny?

“Aw, tits! Did we miss it?” somebody calls from inside. Footsteps thunder down the stairwell and then Liam and Luke come tumbling out like two hyperactive corgis. I’m surprised they don’t have blankets tied around their necks like superhero capes; I’m sure they’ve already made a fort with my sofa cushions.

“What the hell is going on?” I bellow, “How did you get here?”

“Seamus let us in on his way out. Said we could hang out until you got home,” Liam shrugs as if my flat were actually communal property.

“Yeah, we’ve come for a visit. Mum said you seem really lonely—”

I clamp a hand over Luke’s mouth, bursting into uproarious laughter to muffle his words. I distinctly see Wood massaging his jaw, the way he did at St. Mungo’s when he was trying not to laugh. “All three of you, then!” I say brightly, wondering if they can hear the horror in my voice. “Well this is just brilliant, isn’t it!”

“I know you!” Liam suddenly shouts, pointing at Wood. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be around teenage boys and cringe at his rudeness. “You used to play for Puddlemere!”

Wood seems self-conscious, but his face breaks into a half-grin. I reckon he’s glad to be a part of the conversation again. “I suppose that’s right,” he says, and extends a hand. “Though I’m still on the team. Oliver Wood. What’re you called, mate?”

“Liam Lennox,” he shakes his hand aggressively. Though he’s only nineteen, he’s almost as tall as Oliver. Pairing this with a smug and impish face, he looks like an overgrown ten year-old. I suppose he’s the most “serious” of the three, though being the youngest he’s often teased for it. “Huge fan, mate, huge fan. Reckon you’ll beat Kenmare next week?”

“Of course we bloody will!” exclaims Wood, and I groan inwardly. It seems they’re bringing out the rough young lad in him, too.

“Back up from that shoulder injury, then?” interrupts my middle-brother. He’s got my freckles and Liam’s smirk. Though he’s the quietest of us, he’s also the most sarcastic, “Wotcher. Luke Lennox.”

While introductions and curse words and guttural man-sounds are flying, I’m fighting the urge to snap at them all to cut their hair. By the time I get around to Leo, the eldest, I want to roll my eyes. His red hair is at least cut reasonably, but he’s certainly the partier of the family—I can tell he’s blazed out of his mind right now. His eyes are barely staying open, and I hope that it’s at least from something tame. For a while there, years back now, he had us all nervous.

“Oi, careful there Leo,” I say. “I can almost see the whites of your eyes.”

It’s hard for me to snap out of mother-mode. My dad ran off when I was six, before Liam was born. I never think about him now, but I did resent having to take his place. Since I’m four years older than Leo, and my mother worked all the time, I was like second-mum. I spent the first ten years of their lives herding them to school, to bath time, outside when they were too rowdy, inside to the dinner table—for most of my young life, I was basically a very hormonal Sheep Dog. Finally, my mum met Andrew in my Second Year, and that took a load off my shoulders. But I think all the work aged me about a century. Un-sticking chewing gum from hair, or clearing up after Dungbombs, or unlocking our frazzled cat from the closet… I’ve had my fill with children. If somebody asks why I don’t want any of my own, I point to these three.

They’re still throwing around Quidditch jargon that even I have a hard time following. I have to admit, it feels pretty cool to be spotted hanging out with a famous Quidditch player. Although I suppose Wood and I weren’t exactly hanging out. And apparently my brothers have looked past it, as I’m struggling to remain a part of the conversation.

In fact I’m sure they’ve forgotten me entirely, until Leo says, “So, Wood. What’s a classy guy like you doing with this one, eh?” and jerks my hood down over my face. I curse loudly and flail my arms, trying to escape as he guffaws loudly. Do you know how annoying it is that all of my siblings are younger than me, and all of them are stronger?

Up until about ten minutes ago, I missed my brothers. I really did.

“Yeah, what’s going on with you two?” Luke says, a conspiratorial smirk on his face.
Thankfully Oliver is oblivious to his implications, and says, “Well, I was heading to get a pint—”

“Oh, let’s all go!” Leo discards me with a shove. Then they’re all barking away about which pub they should go to first, and how the runt’s got the first round. (“I bloody well do not!” Liam shouts.)

Quite literally having to shove my way back into the conversation, I attempt, “I’m not sure that’s such a good—” but they don’t even hear me.

I don’t like the idea of leaving my three extremely talkative brothers alone with Oliver Wood. It would only be minutes before he figures out that I’m not a journalist, let alone until they start on the embarrassing stories.

“Guys, I don’t know—” I try again.

“Aw, c’mon Edie. You don’t have to play mum any more, we’re all legal!” Luke pushes me into Leo, who shoves me back. Apparently this is very fun for them, as they start volleying me back and forth in the tiny space between them.

“Jesus Christ, all right!” I finally shout.

“That’s the spirit,” Leo throws his arm around my shoulder. He smells like Mum and Andrew after they sneak behind the garden shed for magical herbs. What have I gotten myself into? I glance at Wood, who’s smiling at me, and Leo starts off, dragging me along with him. “I know just the place!”


“You have got to be kidding me,” I say flatly, staring up at the blinking sign: Magic Touch. A neon half-naked girl with an oversized pointy hat winks and kicks out her leg seductively. “This is a strip club, Leo.”

“Aw, no way,” he says with false innocence. “Welp, we’ve come this far! Might as well.”

I open my mouth to protest, but then my brothers are all barreling to the door, tails wagging. Liam looks as though he’s died and gone to heaven. I realize it’s probably his first time in a strip club, and he’s here with his sister. I groan and put my face in my hands—I can’t leave them alone with Wood, downing Peach Schnapps or whatever rubbish they serve in places like this. Reluctantly I drag my feet after them, with Wood in tow, and present my identification card to the bouncer.

“No touching the girls,” he warns me, and I give him my best deadpan. He taps his wand on the back of my hand and a disgusting pink heart appears. “Ladies drink free.”

Ah, the three words that make me entirely disregard feminism.

When we step inside, I’m quite disappointed, and not in the way you’d think. I’ve never been to a strip club, but in my head they’re full of flashing lights and confetti and light-up catwalks and beautiful women and married businessmen. Nothing I’d ever want to take part in, but who doesn’t love a little scandal here and there?

Perhaps that’s why I’m let down now: Magic Touch has all of ten customers, most of who have come in by themselves so the room is oddly quiet. I think I’m the only girl in the room. Instead of the heavy energetic beat I’d imagined, the music sounds like it’s coming from a tin can shoved somewhere beneath a table. The dim pink lighting casts unflattering shadows on the girls, who are dancing—maybe undulating is a better word—like they’ve never been so bored. One of them is absently smoking a cigarette. In fact, I have to say the whole thing is downright depressing.

But apparently this is just fine by my brothers’ standards. “Is this what heaven is like?” breathes Liam, earning a punch from Luke. Then they all barrel off to order the first round of drinks. A dancer wearing a short leopard-print robe and pink strappy heels walks past me, smiling flirtatiously.

“I’ll save you a dance, darling,” she murmurs.

“Oh, I’m not—” but she’s already disappeared. I hear cackling from behind me and turn sharply; Wood goes silent and massages his chin.

“This isn’t quite what I had in mind,” he grins. “Your brothers are, uh, spirited.”

I cast him a warning glance. “I’m just here to make sure nobody gets into more trouble,” I say darkly. “Do not think that I’m going to enjoy this.”

“Edie! Shot!” Leo’s arm juts into my line of sight, tiny glass in hand.

Wood looks amused as I glance from him to the shot, the fumes of which are singing my nose hairs, and back to him. At last I snatch the glass and say defensively, “Ladies drink free.” When I knock it back, I’m barely able to choke it down.

“Jesus Christ, what is that?” My esophagus seems to have lost functionality.

“No idea!” Leo exclaims. “What do you say we liven this place up a bit? First dance is on me!”


I don’t know exactly how long we’ve been at Magic Touch, but I’m proud of myself—free alcohol and I’m still the most coherent of our little group. Wood, however, has reverted to the night when I met him as Viktor Krum. He and my brothers are all plastered, slinging their arms around one another. Their sentences have turned into a long series of howls, occasionally punctuated by consonants. After the first dance, one of the girls recognized Wood and that was all it took; they haven’t left his side all night.

Meanwhile I’ve slunk back to the bar, confident that my brothers can’t formulate a proper sentence, let alone reveal that I’m not a journalist. I’ve been sipping on shoddy canned beer, judgmentally eyeing everything before me. Wood has just bought Liam a lap dance. I watch angrily as Luscious Destiny throws her enormous rack in my baby brother’s face—I can’t get past it. It seems like just last week that I was teaching him how to throw a proper punch, to knock out the bully in his year. (Aim for the throat, always.)

Right, so I’m being a total stick in the mud. It irks me sometimes that my brothers have this image of me as “Mum Number Two,” but I’ve never been able to relax around them. In fact, I’ve always had to do the opposite.

When Luscious Destiny turns her bare arse around in Liam’s face, I can’t take it anymore and swivel around on my stool. I come face-to-face with the balding barkeep, who glances me up and down. Oh God, there’s no escape. Slamming down my empty can, I rise to my feet and go to get some air. I extract a fag from my shoulder-bag along the way. Right, fresh air. Outside it’s cold, but it’s at least stopped raining.

The door opens and Wood comes tumbling out, wearing his stupid sunglasses again. “You’re not leaving, are you?” It takes a moment to discern what sounds even came out of his mouth, but I shake my head.

“Nope,” I don’t look at him, dragging on the cigarette.

He points a clumsy finger at my hand, “Y’know thass bad for you?”

“Wait, what?!” I exclaim in feigned shock, but he’s too plastered to comprehend sarcasm.

“Yeah, you really shouldn’t smoke.”

I snort, “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind, Wood.”

He leans back against the bricks and regards me, though I can’t read his expression through his sunglasses. “Why d’you always do that?”

“Do what?”

“Use my lass name.” He stumbles closer. “I told you to call me Oliver, ‘member? That time at St. Mungo’s.”

“I remember,” I say after a moment. Suddenly I’m feeling very self-conscious; I hadn’t noticed that I never call him Oliver. Then he covers his eyes, sunglasses and all, with the palms of his hands.

“I’m sorry, Edie,” he whines and I almost laugh.


“For telling Rose that you fell down. I thought you two were, like, bess mates. I thought you’d—hic—told ‘er. An’ I’m sorry. I’m real sorry. I wasn’ trying to spread—hic—rumours about you, or anythin’.”

This time I can’t help my laugh, though it’s cold and at his expense, “You are wasted.”

“Nah,” he waves me off, though his hand just kind of flails through the air. “C’mon, less go see your brothers. Brilliant guys, real brilliant.”

“I think I’ll stay out here actually,” I mutter, taking the last drag on my cigarette. We’re definitely on the dodgy end of the street, but I’m pretty confident the bouncer could snap somebody’s neck with one hand.

“What!” he exclaims in a high-pitched voice, “Why?”

“I don’t think you want me to start on this.” There’s heat rising to my face. The bouncer looks between Wood and I, probably wondering if he’s going to have to jump in.

“Oh, lemme guess—” he pauses to hiccup again, “is because they’re your little brothers?”

“Yeah, they’re my little brothers,” I repeat mockingly, and then before I can help myself, “and you keep buying them all these dances, and I’m sorry, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but they’re getting all the wrong ideas about women—”

“Aw, c’mon Edie!”

“No!” I shout stupidly, flushing. I’m getting too worked up. My brothers aren’t idiots. Well, not about everything; they at least know how to treat women. Every girl they’ve ever brought around our house has been given plenty of respect. I’m realizing how stupid I sound, but I can’t stop myself. God, what was in that shot?

“Hey, ’s no big deal,” he tries to placate me.

“Yes it is! You’re… you’re corrupting them!”

And then he does the worst thing he could possibly do: he laughs at me. He openly, drunkenly, stupidly laughs, arms hanging at his sides uselessly. “They’re grown men, Edie! Cut the cord already!”

At first, the slap that echoes against the brick buildings surprises me. It takes a moment to realize that it’s my hand that’s stinging, and that Wood’s sunglasses have been knocked onto the cobblestones. He’s gone stiff, a pink blotch on his unshaven cheek. Now that I can see them, I notice his eyes are glazed over, but I don’t think it’s from drink. I’m shocked that my reaction is to feel genuinely guilty. But I’m also far too proud to apologize.

“Alright, that’s enough,” the bouncer brings me back to my senses.

Wood still hasn’t moved. In fact, he’s looking at me like he has no idea who I am. Adjusting my shoulder-bag uncomfortably, I mutter under my breath, “You’re out of control.” I brush past him and head down the street alone.

Author's Note: Sorry, sorry, sorry! I really had intended for Edie to talk with Blakeslee, and even had an entire alternate chapter written. But it screwed up too many things with the plot. So she got a little bit of revenge, at least. And we got to meet Edie's brothers! What did you guys think of Liam, Luke and Leo?

This chapter is definitely more fluffy than others; not a lot of plot development, I know, but I needed to have another one-on-one Ediver interaction before the interview in the next chapter. I wanted another reason for her to be going into it with bad intentions ;3

So, what did you guys think? I'm on the fence about this chapter, so I'd love an honest opinion! Also, I don't own The Shining because Stephen King does.

This lovely CI is brought to you by rebelYELL over at TDA ;3

Entering The Hanging Moon is how I imagine entering Narnia to be.


I’m not proud. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m downright ashamed. I have never bought a dress with the intention of leaving the tags on, wearing it for one day and returning it the next. It’s the kind of bollocks that schoolgirls did on Hogsmeade trips to “borrow” new party outfits. But I’m meeting Wood at The Hanging Moon in an hour, and I’m desperate. Nothing in my wardrobe is nice enough for a supposed professional journalist.

Although Wednesday’s excursion to find a maid of honour dress was successful (and free; Lisa paid for it as a thank-you) it wouldn’t be ready for days. So early this afternoon I dragged myself back to Twilfitt & Tatting’s. I grabbed the cheapest dress I could find, a knee-length green thing, but it still wiped out my savings. It’s the nicest thing I’ve ever worn, cut modestly with its full skirts belted by a small leather band.

I perform a small invisibility charm on the price tag, grimacing at all the zeros. Looks like I won’t be buying dinner tonight, unless I plant a dead fly in my pasta for a free meal.

At 7:30, and only half an hour out, I am a nervous wreck. Shaking out my hands and exhaling, I try to calm myself down. But I still feel like I’m standing on the edge of Astronomy Tower. How in the world am I to get Wood to open up to me about his personal life, after I’ve gone and slapped him? Me! I’ve never hit anybody in my life! Aside from my brothers, though as a rule that’s always considered self-defence.

I’ve really, really mucked it up this time.

Suddenly there is a knock at the door. Before I can answer, Seamus and Dean are walking in. Using a knock as a statement rather than a question is an annoying habit of theirs.

“Lennox! You didn’t want to come to the party, so we’ve brought the party to you!” comes Seamus’s voice. I hear the clinking of bottles. “Half an hour ‘til the Kestrels beat those sorry bastards of Wimbourne!”

My shoulders slump. I stomp unattractively into the den. How many times do I have to tell them? As much as I’d rather be sitting in my lumpy jumper watching Quidditch, I’ve an interview tonight.

“Guys, I’ve told you a thousand times... What.”

We’ve all come face-to-face, and they’re stopped dead in their tracks, staring like I’ve sprouted another arm. Betraying my stress I cry, “What, is it too much?”

“Oh, erm—no,” Dean manages to snap himself out of it, just as Seamus says, “What the hell happened to your hair?”

I put a hand to the French braids that begin at my temples and twist into a loose bun. “What’s wrong with it? Ugh, I knew I would muck it up. I spent hours charming it—read a Witch Weekly how-to for once--”

“Nothing is wrong with it,” Dean interjects before oh-so-articulate Seamus can say anything else. “You just look... different. Where are you going?”

“I have to meet Wood at The Hanging Moon in twenty minutes.”

Seamus lets out a cat-call, “The Hanging Moon? Sounds like a date to me!”

Dean’s eyes narrow suspiciously but I shake my head. “No, it’s not a date, trust me. It’s definitely not because it’s just where Wood wanted to have the second interview. But it’s not a date.”

“So do you reckon it’s a date?” Seamus teases.

Dean crosses his arms. “Ten Galleons says it is.”

My jaw drops incredulously. “That isn’t fair! He suggested the location.”

“Did he choose to meet at eight o’clock on a Friday night as well?” Seamus counters.

“Well, yes, but—”

“And d’you usually dress up like that for work?”

When I can only make sputtering sounds, Seamus grins triumphantly. Then he goes straight to kissy-noises and other, more inappropriate hand-gestures.

“Oi!” I shout, “I just want to look the part of a professional journalist, and I can’t likely do that in trainers, can I? It’s very posh in there!”

“Well I’m sure you’ll blend right in.” Dean’s voice comes quietly. I don’t quite know what to say. He grew up in a poorer family than even Seamus or I, and so he’s got an even bigger distaste for the upper-class. And if he’s grouping me in with them, well…

Seamus crosses the room to gently take me by the arms. “Edie,” he cajoles, “I know you haven’t technically been on a date in ages. But anything that occurs between a guy and a girl, in an expensive restaurant, on the weekend, at this time of night, is definitely one of them.”

I furrow my brow, still in disagreement, but Seamus releases a booming laugh. “Damn Edie, you’ve gone and pulled a famous athlete!” And then he puts me in a headlock, ruffling my carefully sculpted hair.

“Seamus!” I scream. “That took me forever—Dean, help!”

Dean just shifts his weight, arms still crossed. “Seamus, come on,” he says half-heartedly, but I am finally released.

I punch Seamus in the shoulder. “You ass! Now I’m going to be late.”

“To your ‘interview,’ right,” he punches me back.

I look at Dean desperately. He’s the only person who can control Seamus Finnegan at times like this, but he avoids my gaze. Releasing a loud growl, I stomp back to my bedroom to fix the bird’s nest on my head. “You two are the worst mates ever!” I shout, but I can hear Seamus giggling.


The entrance to The Hanging Moon is disguised as stairs leading to the Underground, but it’s always roped off. A faded wooden “Under Construction” sign bats around in the chilly breeze. The rumour is that if a Muggle were to attempt to hop the barrier, they would be assaulted by an odour so foul that they would have to turn around. That’s all that I actually know; the rest I’ll have to improvise.

Miraculously I left my flat on time, arriving at exactly eight o’clock. Seamus and Dean had set up camp with two six-packs, a bag of crisps and three hours of Quidditch ahead of them. Although I was beyond irritated and didn’t want to let them stay, it was the quickest way to get them out of my hair. Literally. It had taken another ten minutes to undo Seamus’s damage.

For the thousandth time, I check that everything is in order. Quill, parchment, recording orb. Check. Excellent. But what if I trip in these shoes? Is my dress too short? It’s chilly, I should’ve worn tights. How much longer do I have to stand here? How in the bloody hell am I to get him to talk? What if he doesn’t even show? Could I really blame him?


I swivel, expecting to face the subject of my interview. Instead I’m surprised to see Jae Chang. He’s paused uncertainly, an artist’s portfolio over one shoulder.

“Wotcher, Jae!” my voice is shrill with nerves.

He grins and makes his way over, eyeing my getup. “Going somewhere special then?”

“Yeah, I’m waiting for somebody. We’re going to The Hanging Moon.”

He gives an impressed nod. “Well how posh. So you must be on a date.”

Does setting foot inside this place automatically change a professional meeting into candle-lit canoodling? “No, it’s for work.” Because I don’t want him asking questions, I quickly add, “I’m not even sure if he’ll show.”

“Sounds like just about every date I’ve had,” he grins. I smile back, the joke loosening my shoulders.

“So it’s not a date, then,” he repeats.

“Definitely not.”

“Well then maybe we should consider it. A date, that is.” He shrugs, smiling playfully. “You know, to appease your mum and all.”

My jaw drops. My mother has actually bagged me a guy. I don’t know whether to be ecstatic or humiliated. The first and only other time she did this with a friend’s son, he’d turned out to be gay. He only went through with it because he thought my name was Eddie. We actually ended up having a brilliant time, splitting a bottle of white zinfandel and complaining about men. We still keep in touch, funnily enough.

Jae is still giving me that smirk. I stammer, “Oh. Well, I um…”

Come off it, Edie. Beggars can’t be choosers. An opportunity finally arises, a nice fitty oasis in the No-Shag Desert that is my life, and I’m finding excuses to weasel out of it.

“Should I take that as a yes?” he says cheekily.

I’m not sure if I want to laugh or scowl. But then footsteps echo behind me, and Oliver Wood appears at my side. He glances from me to Jae, standing as he always does: feet planted apart and arms crossed. Although he’s unshaven and his hair tousled, he still looks like a bleedin’ celebrity in a tailored blazer. My shoulders have seized back up.

Well, he bothered to show. That’s good, right? ...Right?

“Jae,” my voice cracks, “this Oliver Wood.”

“The Quidditch player?” he ignores Wood’s outstretched hand. “Isn’t he the one in Crystal Ball—”

“Nope, different guy,” I interrupt. Then I fix him with a weird look, wondering why he’s up-to-date on celebrity gossip.

After an uncomfortable moment of Wood’s hand hovering in the air, Jae at last shakes it. Wood nods curtly but says nothing. There is a moment of silence and I smile with a pathetic shrug. “Well, I suppose we’d better be off.”

“Right,” says Jae. “Edie, let me know when you want to get together.”

I can practically hear Wood raising an eyebrow. I have to admit I want to do the same, since I haven’t actually agreed to anything. I offer a neutral, “See you later.”

Without a second glance at Wood, Jae disappears. In the silence that follows I realize that he hasn’t spoken yet. I turn to him, though my eyes are glued to the buttons of his plaid shirt. I’m embarrassed and slightly thankful that he arrived when he did. What do I do? What do I say? My eyes at last meet his and we look at one another, though I think I’m just wincing.

Finally he says with bright sarcasm, “He was pleasant!”

“Yeah, well, he’s just...” I readjust my shoulder-bag.

“Friend of yours?” He’s rubbing his chin in thought. It looks as though he’s been presented with some Quidditch tactic that needs to be calculated.

“Not really. Sort of.”

“He seemed to like you. I’d say that counts for something.”

Not only did he show up, but he’s being cordial. All of the scenarios I’d mentally played out are thrown to the wind, and I’m left without a prepared response. “Well… I mean, maybe. I dunno. My mum set us up.”

As soon as I say it, I wish I never had opened my mouth. Wood stops rubbing his jaw, face cracking into a grin. “Your mum.”

My cheeks are burning against the chilly air and I say huffily, “I thought I was the one doing the interview.”

Oliver blinks as though suddenly remembering why we’re here. “Of course,” he gestures to the stairwell. “After you. Mind the gap.”

The stairwell does actually open into an abandoned Underground station. I suppose it’s a precaution, were some Muggle with sinus problems to make it past the stench. However, with three taps from Oliver’s wand on a lone flickering lamp, the scene vanishes like a puff of smoke. I try to look nonchalant, as though I’d seen it a thousand times. It’s difficult, though, when the smoke disappears to reveal a golden lift engraved with peacocks and crescent moons.

Oliver gestures for me to step inside. I do, smoothing my hair as he follows suit. The door glides shut without a sound, enclosing us in the small space. Hanging from the ceiling are two velvet handles, not unlike those on the Knight Bus for standing passengers.

“Name, please,” comes a cool female voice, though we’re alone.

“Oliver Wood?” For some reason, I’m struck by the way his tone raises uncertainly.

There is a moment’s pause and Oliver grasps one of the velvet handles. I eye the one hanging before me in blatant confusion. Then the lift plunges down as though the cable had been severed. I shriek, and I think my feet even leave the floor. It feels like we’re falling forever, though Oliver is standing comfortably as if on solid ground—the cords must be enchanted.

The lift comes to an abrupt halt, and I barely keep from toppling over in my wobbly heels. Bracing myself with both hands, chest heaving, I dare a glance in Oliver’s direction.

“You’re sure you’ve been here before?” he says smartly.

“It’s these shoes,” I fire, but his comment is completely forgotten when the door opens.

Stepping into The Hanging Moon is how I imagine entering Narnia to be. Although after a moment it becomes clear that we’re deep underground, at first glance I would never have known. The whole restaurant is one giant room, with soaring ceilings like a cathedral. The natural black stones of the cavern have been polished smooth and flat. Raw chunks of quartz crystal jut out in odd places, and thousands of flickering candles rest in niches carved into the walls. The bottom floor boasts a sleek black bar, filled with multi-colored bottles. Craning my neck, I count at least three tiers with tables that circle along the walls, though the center is left open. I see clearly the restaurant’s namesake: a giant full moon bewitched to hang under the ceiling.

“Your coat?” Oliver says for what doesn’t sound like the first time. He’s standing at a desk, where a smiling young witch stands.

“Ah. Right-o,” I say stupidly and remove my coat—also borrowed from Lisa. From the corner of my eye I swear Oliver is glancing over my green dress.

“It’s all right, most people are a bit gawky on their first visit,” the witch says pleasantly. I distinctly hear Oliver snort, but when I shoot him a look his attention is elsewhere.

A wizard probably in his sixties makes his way towards us, dressed in fine robes and a wide smile. He has a full head of white hair, and his olive skin is surprisingly youthful. I wonder if good genes or Potox Potions are responsible.

“Mister Wood!” he says in a Spanish accent. He and Oliver exchange firm handshakes. “So good to see you. It’s been some time. Will the lovely Miss Ada be joining you this evening?”

With all my worrying, I’d almost forgotten my true purpose for being here. But now I feel my journalism senses tingling. Ada? Could this finally be some information on Wood’s romantic life?

He tenses slightly, “I’m afraid not tonight, Mr. Herrera.”

The wizard, who I’m assuming owns the restaurant, looks at me. “Ah, I see.”

There is a moment of silence while somehow-still-socially-awkward-celebrity Oliver doesn’t think to introduce us. I’m being sized up; studied for any evidence of poverty. I want to crawl under something and hide. Dean was wrong; I don’t blend in here.

At last Herrera clasps his hands together. “Well! It’s a pleasure to see you. Our hostess will direct you to your table.” He shakes Oliver’s hand again, “Please give Miss Ada my regards.”

This time I definitely see it: at the mention of her name, Oliver flicks his eyes at me. There’s something he doesn’t want me to know. But then he’s offering a tight smile to Herrera, “Of course.”

As we climb the spiral staircase, I train my eyes on Oliver’s back. I’ll have to think of a casual way to mention this Ada as the interview goes on. But it’s going to be tricky. Especially if he’s read the first article by now—but there’s no way in Azkaban I’m asking him.

A server passes, coming down the stairs with a tray of champagne flutes. The bubbles rise from the glasses and into the air where they pop in a small fireworks display. I’ve never seen anything like it, and wonder if that’s the bottle that costs Lisa and Justin’s rent. Then it hits me. I know exactly how I’ll get the information out of Wood: by using alcohol against him.

It’s not the nicest scheme I’ve devised. But I hadn’t, for one moment, confused my anxiety about slapping him with sympathy. He still acted like a fool. He’s been a fool since the moment I’ve met him. And I want—no, need—to expose him for what he is. I may not earn readers’ sympathy for our history: from the way he behaved at the pub, to how he cost me my job. But surely they’ll want to know why he didn’t donate to St. Mungo’s.

We’re directed to a small table on the second tier, almost eye-level with the enormous moon. The host waves her wand at the table, and the cursive Oliver Wood floating in the air disappears. I recall the way he said his own name in the lift; his unsure tone.

We settle into our chairs and I release a quiet breath. If I’m going to make him talk, I’ll need to make him feel comfortable. I’ll need to stop being so snarky, temperamental or quick to judge—basically I’ll need a complete change in personality.

“Swanky,” I cast an impressed glance around.

He merely nods, looking as though he were waiting for something. Then I realize what it is: he wants an apology. Oh Merlin, I am not good with those. But I can’t walk away from this empty-handed.

“Listen, Wood,” I say impatiently. He furrows his brows and I try again, more gently, “Erm. About what happened last night. Do you... do you remember?”

He snorts, “Yes, I recall everything, thank you.”

“Right. Well, I certainly feel like I overreacted.” He seems unimpressed, and I take a deep breath. “It’s just that... I spent my whole life taking care of those boys, and seeing that they stayed out of trouble, and that they grew up with the right morals. And I know they’re grown men now. I know I can’t be in control of everything. But I spent so long having to be in control that it’s just hard to shake off sometimes. My dad left when I was six, and I had to take his place--”

Oliver’s eyebrows are knit again, though this time it looks like concern. I’m babbling. “Well. The point is, I’m really sorry. I was completely out of line, and...violence is never the answer!” I finish lamely, complete with fist-pump.

He’s silent, smiling at me. At last he says, “Well I probably did deserve it. Apology accepted.” He offers me a hand. After a moment I accept it and grin despite myself.

“And speaking of apologies,” he leans back in his chair, “I suppose that’s why I actually brought you here tonight.”


“I wanted to get you alone—for the sake of your job,” he adds hastily. “Rose and I got to have a long talk at the pub the other night, but you haven’t had a go at a decent interview yet.”

“Oh, it’s no problem. The first interview was… fine.”

“That was an awful lie, but I appreciate the gesture.”

“Actually,” I begin. He waits patiently while I try to find a professional way of phrasing a lie, “it’s just me writing the article now. Rose has been… reassigned.”

There. Rose won't risk looking like a fool and trying to convince him that I was lying; it's not worth the trouble. That should keep her out of the way of my interviews.

“Well, anyway,” he gestures around the expanse of the room. “I want to make up for the first interview, as my formal apology. Well, for that and… every other interaction, which I’ve managed to muck up.”

I titter nervously. He’s doing it again; trying to be charming. There is a moment of silence and he says, “So… this will make the second article you’re writing?”

“Yes,” I say carefully.

“I don’t believe that many people would care to read three entire articles about me. Your boss must be mental.”

I try to come up with something clever to say, but end up with an indecipherable murmur. I’m waving my hands and blinking a lot. Pretty sure I look like a cat swatting at a string. What the hell is wrong with me?

“So the first article was well-received, then?”

“You haven’t read it?” I try to sound casual, but my voice is cracking like a prepubescent boy’s.

Oliver shakes his head. “I don’t fancy reading my own publicity. It’s a bit weird. Especially the kind of stuff that Witch Weekly usually publishes, about ‘rippling abdominals’ and such. No offense.”

“None taken.”

He grins. “Why, is your article any good?”

“Nope!” I quip, “It’s rubbish, actually. Well I could use a drink.” I snatch up a menu.

“Oh, thank God,” he sighs. “It’s always so uncomfortable when the interviewer doesn’t drink. I’m too nervous without one.”

“Trust me,” I murmur, “you’re not the only one.” But he must hear it, because he smiles to himself. A very well-mannered waiter with good hair comes to take our orders. When I ask for a Peverell Porter, Wood looks impressed and asks for the same.

“That’ll put some hair on your chest,” he says when the server disappears.

A laugh escapes me and I make some vapid comment about it being my favourite beer. For a moment I sit awkwardly, in my natural state, before recalling that I’m supposed to be getting the dirt on his personal life.

Take a step back, I remind myself. This is how he does it; he charms the reporters and they overlook everything he’s done in the past.

If only I had somehow taken a Polyjuice Potion and transformed into Lisa… I’d have him eating out of the palm of my hand. But I suppose I’ll have to work with what I’ve got: my wits and a personal vendetta. Not that either of those are helpful.

The waiter returns with our beers and Oliver thanks him quietly. After taking a sip, he says, “No quill and parchment tonight?”

As it so happens, I am in the process of reaching into my shoulder-bag for said materials. But I stop when my fingers brush against the silver recording orb. An idea crosses me; the very same one I had at his first interview. It’s sneaky. But I’ve done it before… and shouldn’t he know that anything he says tonight is on the record?

I hope the candlelight is illuminating me in a flattering way, and not as though I were narrating a ghost story. “No quill or parchment. I thought we could have it a bit more informal.”

I set the little silvery ball in my lap, tapping it with my finger. It whirs to life, pulsing with a soft silvery glow. Oliver seems oblivious enough, politely awaiting my questions.

Releasing a long breath, I look directly into the eyes of the man across from me. This is the man who punched out a stranger; who kissed me without asking; who refused to donate a fraction of his millions to children in need; who knows nothing about the political state of the Wizarding world; who was the reason I lost my job. I look directly into his eyes and raise my glass.

“Cheers to Puddlemere,” I say.

He grins. “To Puddlemere.”


Oliver Wood, you are going down.

Author's Note: So there's the interview part one! I just couldn't fit it all into one chapter; I feel like there's been so little time spent together just the two of them. I didn't want to gloss over anything. Also, I don't own C.S. Lewis's Narnia. Also, Potox was a jab at Botox injections.

So, what do you guys think? Does anyone dislike Edie yet? She's definitely on her high horse. Please feel free to leave your thoughts, I absolutely love to hear back from you guys. As always, thank you for reading.

Another lovely chapter image by inspector. at TDA ♥

Chapter 13: In a Puff of Smoke
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By the time Oliver's excused himself to the loo, I’ve only pried a tiny bit of information from him--all Quidditch-related. Seriously, he should tell Puddlemere to bugger off and become an Unspeakable. On the bright side, I can now tell readers exactly what it feels like to wear Keeper's padding ("Like a bleedin' troll sitting on your shoulders.") But I haven't found out anything about St. Mungo's, or Ada, or even if he wears boxers or briefs. At this rate, we’ll be here all night.

With Oliver still gone, I place the recording orb back in my shoulder-bag. It's charmed to recognize his voice, so the magic will pick up our conversation. With a reluctant sigh I tap my wand on my pint glass, still half-full. “Tergeo.” When the alcohol disappears, a little whimper escapes me. Another Galleon down the drain. My wand quickly taps the glass again. After some struggle to recall the basic principles of Latin, my glass is full of water roughly the same colour as a beer. There. Now I can be sure to stay focused.

When Oliver returns I’m feeling right smug, and a bit like Gwendolyn Phire: Witch Detective.

The waiter returns with his third beer, and he takes a healthy swig. His shoulders are slumping, and when he goes to scratch his nose it’s clumsy. Seizing the chance, I say conversationally, “So, why exactly don’t you like to read your own publicity?”

“Well,” he hesitates. “Honestly, it probably isn't very flattering. I haven’t played a match in two years, so any time I’ve been photographed, it’s been by the paparazzi. You know, incriminating rubbish. There’s probably something circulating from that night I came into your pub.”

Heat flashes across my chest. I clasp my hands together to keep them from shaking. “Oh, maybe. But who cares, really? You’re just having a bit of fun.”

“'Fun' isn't quite the word I would use." His remorse almost sounds genuine. "Well if there is any evidence of that night, my team mates are sure to have seen it. It’s idiotic, the amount of tabloids they keep up with. You’ve actually met them, they were at the pub when I, erm...”

“Right.” I scrunch my face, “Funny that I didn’t recognize any of them. I’ve been following Puddlemere pretty closely this past season.”

“That’s probably because... they’re on the reserve team.” The last half of the sentence is murmured into his pint.


It’s very unusual for active Quidditch players to spend time with the reserves. There's so much hierarchical bollocks between them. The players are the celebrities. The reserves are the understudies, waiting in the wings for their chance. Oliver spending time with the lesser-thans is quite strange. Unless his team mates don’t want to spend time with him...?

“Actually, they weren't all reserves. Katie’s the assistant manager,” he says through his blush. “She was the, erm, sober one.”

I recall the olive-skinned girl from that night; the one with the startlingly green eyes. “Wait, Katie Bell?” I say, and he nods. I remember her now from the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and as the horrible incident with the cursed necklace. That’s why she looked familiar. "I had no idea she was your assistant manager.”

“Well, Deverill is probably retiring soon." He must realize his mistake, but my eyebrows have already lifted in interest. That was certainly not public information--Deverill has been manager of Puddlemere for twenty-some years. That's almost unheard of in professional Quidditch. He's a legend. I doubt many fans know that he’s being replaced.

Quickly, before he loses his willingness to talk, I blurt the first question that comes to mind. “So do you have a girlfriend?” When he gives me a look, I raise my hands defensively. “Oi, just doing my job. The readers want to know.”

"Well, not that it’s any of the readers’ business... But no. I don’t." To my surprise he adds, "Katie and I broke things off.”

True to form, I can’t hide my shock. “Katie as in your manager?”

“Assistant manager. And we started dating back at Hogwarts, so it’s not like there’s any scandal there. Sorry to disappoint.”

Maths is not my strong suit, but I can calculate a long-term relationship. This makes Lisa and Justin look like a summer fling. “Wow, that’s... that’s over ten years."

Oliver has gone rather quiet, folding a small napkin into smaller triangles. “Off and on,” he shrugs.

“When did that happen? The, erm...”

I he only answers because I’m genuinely incredulous. “You can say 'breakup,' I'm not going to dissolve into tears. Though I'm sure you'd love to write about that. I reckon it was about two years ago now. Before she signed on with Puddlemere.”

“Did you want to marry her?” I surprise myself by asking. He looks at me for a long time in silence. It's not on the record, but I know the answer. I release a breath, “Wow. I’m sorry."

Oliver taps his wand on the paper plane he folded, and it flies over the edge of the balcony. “It’s nothing,” he says as it circulates the moon. “The whole thing was mutual. It's better this way.”

“Of course." But I doubt that a mutual, unimportant breakup would be mentioned two years after the fact. A silence passes as I watch the tiny black plane.

“I’m sorry,” he says suddenly. “But that dress.”

The pale skin of my throat flushes crimson. So he was looking at me earlier. “W-what about it?”

“You’re wearing Kestrel green,” he says as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. If I weren't so humiliated, I would roll my eyes. Of course. Quidditch. “You know we’re playing them this month.”

“They’re still a brilliant team.”

“They’re a rival team,” he corrects with an index finger.

“That doesn’t just automatically make somebody untalented!”

He shrugs, “I think their strategies are sloppy.”

“How can you even say that? They beat Holyhead without even blinking. And every season they send players to the Irish National Team--”

“Oh, don’t even get me started on those ponces.”

“You can't be serious! They’ve won the Quidditch World Cup three of the last five years!” I bellow.

Suddenly I realize that everyone around us is staring. Even the hostess has stomped back upstairs to shoot Mildred-worthy glares. I duck low in my chair, grimacing apologetically. Not helping the matter, Oliver prattles on about Quidditch Cup referees being paid off.

At last the hostess trudges back downstairs. Oblivious, Oliver murmurs heatedly, “O’Leary can only throw with his left arm. Do you know how much of a disadvantage that is to Kenmare? It's idiotic to put a one-armed Beater on the pitch." Grudgingly, I agree with this logic. "For the upcoming match, I told Pearson to aim for O'Leary's good arm.”

"Oh, come on! That's a shoddy thing to do."

“All’s fair in love and Quidditch.”

Please tell me that you have that tattooed somewhere.”

In response, Oliver begins unbuttoning his shirt. My jaw drops--I can't believe he actually has such a tattoo. Also, The Hanging Moon is hardly a place to undress. Thankfully he’s wearing a shirt underneath, and pushes the left sleeve up. On his shoulder are two gold bulrushes against a blue shield. It’s the Puddlemere United crest, which in retrospect doesn’t surprise me at all.

"Dumbledore supported Puddlemere," he reminds me.

Then my eyes fall on a long white scar, directly above the tattoo. It cuts horizontally up his shoulder, circling all the way around to the back like a crescent moon. It must be from the injury that put him out for two seasons; the one Lisa was tending at St. Mungo’s.

He sighs, pulling the sleeve down. “Ah, yes. That.”

"Yes," I say slowly. “What exactly happened? If you don’t mind my asking.”

He shrugs. “I’ve just got bad joints."

"So why the mark, then? I thought magic rarely left scars."

"Have you heard of Harry Potter?" He says cheekily. "I dislocated my shoulder. Ripped it clean from the socket--"

"Gah!" I cover my ears. He throws up his hands exhasperatedly and I quip, "Sorry." I motion for him to continue, eyes squeezed shut as if to keep out the visual.

"...So anyway. I could've gone with potions to heal it, and not had the scar. But that would've taken ages. And I wanted to get back to playing. So they used a bit of Muggle and Magical healing, I reckon, with an incision and then magic."

"But you were still out for two seasons."

"Right. Because I was stupid and impatient, and then I threw it out again. During practise, right before our first match. So I had to stay off it for two seasons and take physical therapy. Serves me right, I reckon."

"Kenmare did alright, though," I try to be comforting. "With your substitute, what's-his-name. Knightley."

He fixes me with a very serious look. "I am not an arrogant man, Edie. But I do know that nobody can Keep like I can."

Well, there's no arguing with that. Except maybe the first bit.

He adds, “Anyway, it still hurts like hell. I have to take intense pain-numbing potions every day, or I can barely lift it. In fact, I shouldn’t be playing at all. They say that soon I won’t have the use of my left arm soon, if I keep it up."

“Christ, then stop playing!” I exclaim incredulously. It’s not my place, but I don't see any other way around it. But Oliver looks at me like I’ve just said the stupidest thing in the world. And then I understand exactly how much he lives for this.

“Oi," he says in an attempt to lighten to mood. "Unlike O’Leary, I can throw with both arms."

Come to think of it, he's right. I've always just assumed that he was right-handed from the way he plays. Sometimes he uses his left arm to block, in a pinch. But that must be a gut reaction; a last-ditch effort to keep the other team from scoring. There's no telling how much those tiny slip-ups are costing him.

Oliver is wearing a strange, somber grin. "Go on, ask me."

I clear my throat, thrown off. I haven't used one of my prepared questions in quite some time. But I can't bring myself to ask about St. Mungo's. Stumbling over my words, I ask, "C-could you talk a bit about your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years? You're approaching the age for retirement--What?" I've stopped because he's laughing humourlessly.

"That's not what what you really came here for, and you know it."

So he knows that I'm trying to expose him.

When I stare in dumb silence, he continues, "I'm not going to defend my decision about the charity. So go on and ask, and we can get it out of the way. Or, here, I'll do it." He leans forward over the table, "I don't want to talk about it."

"That's..." I sputter. "That's not... I don't think that our readers even really know about it..."

I've misjudged how many interviewers have tried to glean this from him. To my surprise, he isn't quite angry. He's fixing me with an even gaze. I don't know what else to do and take another sip from my water-beer. It's empty. Bugger.

Oliver notices and says, “I’ll get you another.”

“Oh, no, please,” I begin. But somehow the waiter is already there with a full pint. I look at him oddly and he winks, mouthing approvingly, “He’s cute!” Before I can respond, he's disappeared.

I bewilderdly turn back to Oliver as he says, “So, it's fair that I get to ask you a question now, right?" I nod numbly and he asks, "If you’re such a big Puddlemere fan, why didn’t you recognize me at The Poisoned Apple?”

“Well,” I reason, “you’ve been out for two seasons. I only really became interested in Quidditch around the time of your injury. You know, putting names to faces and such. I mean, I thought you looked familiar, but..." I laugh, "You do a pretty convincing Bulgarian accent. Why Krum, though?"

With an embarrassed smile he shrugs, "You said it yourself. The accent. It's even more hilarious the more you drink. Course, you'd have to be me to actually believe that..."

"No," I smile, "it was pretty funny, actually. Once I calmed down."

“Ah.” Suddenly he winces, “Sometimes I almost wish you’d never figured it out.”


“I just mean... I was such a complete ass. I’d almost rather you'd gone on thinking that it was Viktor Krum who punched out some stranger. I’d like to blame my teammates for everything, but...”

“Why would you blame them?”

“They encouraged it. I... God, this is humiliating.” He covers his face and sighs loudly. I smile, sipping from my delicious beer. “I suppose it’s a bit of a joke for them to take me out. They know that I get out of control if I drink enough. I'm not proud, but it's a fact. So they kind of... encourage it, for fun."


"Not Katie, though," he adds quickly. "She was there to be sure I made it out alive."

“Still, that’s absoultely dreadful! You call these people your friends?”

He shrugs, “Not really. I kind of prefer to spend time alone."

"Aren't celebrities supposed to be surrounded by friends and... willing ladies?"

"Maybe some of them. But I don't like it. I reckon I spent so much of my life around Katie that I’m used to either her, or myself. God, I sound completely pathetic, don’t I?”

“No," I reassure. “I totally know what you mean. Growing up with those brothers--it’s nice to have some time to myself. And don't feel bad, mate. I have a pretty small group of friends. Just Seamus and Dean, and of course Lisa. So I reckon Justin by default.”

Oliver snorts into his glass, “A riot, that one.”

“Yeah... How exactly do you two know each other?”

He pauses, “He did me a favour a while back.” I nod, deciding to leave it alone.

“Alright," he taps his hand on the table. "In the spirit of a probing interview, I have a confession to make. I actually do remember the night at The Poisoned Apple. Well, just bits and pieces. But I remember, erm... y'know. Kissing you...”

“Well, that makes two of us who wish we could forget!” I joke lamely, drumming a rimshot on the table.

"And I'm sorry," he ignores my awful sense of humour. "I should've asked you."

"Oh, pish posh," I wave him off. With the hands again, Edie. And pish posh? What am I, sixty?

“I remember why.”

“Why what?”

“Why I did it.”

Hey-o.” Apparently, the appropriate thing to do here is take a series of prolonged beer-gulps. This conversation is getting weird. But the nagging curiosity is eating me up and then despite telling myself otherwise, “So... why then?”

He's suddenly very interested in his empty glass. “You were the first girl in some time who didn't recognize me. You approached me like I was any other idiot in your pub."

"Well, to be fair, I wanted my fist to approach your throat."

“You were so angry!” he laughs at the memory. “But it was kind of... nice. To just be seen as any other person, you know?”

“Mmm...not really,” I say honestly. There is a beat of silence and then we burst into laughter. The celebrity and the nobody.

“Oh, I almost forgot. Rose left some notes for you, but they’re...” his face reddens. “They’re at my flat.”

“Ah.” As much as I’m dying to know what happened that night, for once I manage to keep quiet. I don’t even waggle my eyebrows, or elbow him suggestively, or wink exaggeratedly. I think I've just transitioned into adulthood.

“You can stop by on your way home, if you want.”

I brush a piece of my fringe back. "I dunno if that's such a good idea..."

He looks a bit crestfallen, “Or I could bring them by Witch Weekly--”

“No!” I interject. It would be hard to explain if this supposed journalist were discovered brewing her boss’s tea, or extacting sooty owls from chimneys. “I’ll nip by and grab them.”

“Brilliant.” He eyes my glass, which I'm embarrassed to say is already empty, “Ready, then?”

“Well, we should probably pay first. I heard it's now legal to hex people who dine and ditch.”

“Oh, I’ve already taken care of it.”

“Taken care of it?” I repeat uneasily.

“Yeah, when I went to the loo earlier. I told our waiter to put it on my tab,” he says offhandedly. Suddenly I understand why the man had been so... erm... winky. “Don’t look so surprised, it’s the least I can do. You’re writing a bloody article about me.”

“I, erm... Wow. Thank you.”

He rises to his feet, and I'm surprised again by how tall he is. “Of course,” he says politely and offers a hand. I accept it, and can’t help but think that this is beginning to feel less and less like an interview. As soon as I’m on my feet I snatch my hand away, nearly slapping myself in the face. Oliver smiles and leads the way down the stairs.

This time, when we step into the lift, I grab one of the handles. I'm still wobbly in these shoes, and when we shoot upwards I stumble. Oliver puts a steadying hand on my shoulder but quickly drops it. I stare ahead, like the empty space before me were the most interesting thing in the world. I don't realize that we've been silent until we step onto the city street, and I let out a cry at the downpour of rain.

"Effing London weather!" I shout and try to jump back over the barrier. A force stops me, like running into a wall, and I bounce back. I would've landed on my bum if Oliver hadn't been behind me.

"They're closed. We can't get back in there."

"What! God, it's only--" I stop when my watch reads ten-thirty. Were we really talking for that long?

"Time flies," he says, hands in his pockets. All the while we're getting more and more drenched. I'll have to do some serious charms-casting if I want to return this dress.

Hugging Lisa's coat more tightly around myself, I say, "Well we can't Apparate here."

"This way," he turns me gently by the elbow, directing me beneath the awning of a Muggle record store. When he opens the wooden door the small bell tinkles pleasantly. A song by The Cure drifts out into the thundering of the rain.

I'm too cold and wet to ask questions, and dart inside. The incense is as gagging as Trewlaney's classroom. But the raindrops on the windows reflect the city lights rather prettily. The young shopkeep rolls his eyes at the puddles collecting at our feet. I can't help but smile when I see his abnormally large glasses. I wonder if Muggles know that their fashion trends just make them look like Harry Potter. Oliver jerks his head towards the back of the store and I trail behind. We pass rows and rows of vinyl labeled "Doom Metal," "Intelligent Dance Music" and even "Medieval Disco."

Oliver reaches a doorway sanctioned off by beaded curtains, and cautiously parts them. The room behind, whatever it is, is glowing bright red like a photography darkroom.

"In here," he murmurs.

I suppose it's an area for customers to hang out, but it's empty. We've come here to Apparate, but we're so taken by the strangeness of it all that we wander around. Bean bags and vintage armchairs are thrown unceremoniously around the room. When I realize that the light source is a giant plastic nativity set, lit internally by bulbs, I snort. Hipsters. The song playing changes to something familiar, though I'm not sure who it is. I absently sing along, off-key. Oliver catches my eye from where he's flipping through a box of records and smiles.

I'm becoming used to the room. It's nice and warm, and I remove my soaking wool coat. The light almost feels like stained glass. In fact, the whole scene is becoming a bit too perfect. Luckily fate steps in, and I catch my reflection in one of the mirrors. "Oh my God."

My sopping hair is falling out of its bun, and my eyeliner has dribbled black streaks down my face. I wish I could say there's a mermaid-esque quality to it, but I look like a Grindylow washed ashore. Hastily I wipe at my face, though I only smudge the angry black even more.

Oliver steps before me, blocking the mirror. "I didn't want to embarrass you," he answers my unasked question, grinning.

I smudge around some more and huff with embarrassment, "Is it gone?"

He shakes his head, chuckling, "Not quite." Then, with the cuff of his expensive dress-shirt, he cleans my cheeks. I scrunch my face, but then I can feel his breath on my wet lashes. It's been quite some time since a guy has stood this close to me. I clear my throat nervously, feeling the heat rising to my chest again. Oliver removes his hand and seems to study my face a moment. "There," he says finally.

I open my eyes, and the breath catches in my throat. He's standing too close. This isn't professional. I should say something like, "Step back, cowboy," and maybe even wave a finger sassily. But I just stand there, stupid and silent. Everything is fuzzy, from my cold fingers to my drenched feet.

There's something nice about the way Oliver looks in the shadows, though.

Then he murmurs, as if to himself, "I don't think we should..." But even as he's saying it, he's taking that last step closer. He touches the nape of my neck. My blood feels like it's on fire. And I don't know if I'm going to turn and run, or do something else; something opposite, something stupid--

The camera flash, the puff of smoke, is what stops us.

Oliver jumps back and I release a horrified gasp. The bead curtain is clicking, swishing, but the person behind it is gone. We stare at each other in horror for a split-second before Oliver bolts off, to do exactly what I'm not sure. Wrestle him to the ground? Break his camera? It's already too late. I know how magical paparazzi cameras work--what are the odds that a Muggle cares enough about two strangers to take their picture? The photograph will appear on a blank parchment back at headquarters. Then within thirty seconds one of the columnists will have identified Oliver. The photograph will be duplicated and owled to every lonely, gossip-hungry Witch and Wizard in Britain.

Oh God. What if somebody from Witch Weekly sees it? They keep tabs on every magical tabloid, from The Howler to Crystal Ball. It won't be in their favour to have an intern caught snogging their featured celebrity.

"Oh shit," I whisper to the empty room. Suddenly the red light makes everything look like the set of a horror film. "Oh, shit."

I don't find out if Oliver ever catches the photographer. I don't know what happens at all, because I turn and Apparate on the spot. The loud crack punctuates the silence.


My two-way mirror is still showing Quidditch matches, casting light in the sitting room. Seamus and Dean, as expected, are asleep on my sofas. Habit of theirs. I take off my wobbly shoes and tiptoe past. I'm not making a sound, until my toe collides with the tower of empty bottles they've apparently constructed. The crashing lasts for hours and hours (I'm sure of it) and Dean bolts upright, scrambling for his glasses.

"Jesus, Edie!"

"I'm so sorry!" I cry. "Sorry you two! I didn't--" But Seamus hasn't even budged. He's still splayed out on the sofa, quietly snoring. I jab a finger at him, "That is a bloody scientific anomaly."

Dean stretches widely, yawning. "It's late. You missed a good match. Kenmare won again."

"Oh. Well, that's good..."

He eyes my drenched clothes. "What happened? Jump in the Thames?"

"It's raining," I say stupidly, even though it's clearly thundering on the windowsills. He nods, pressing his mouth into a line. Right. A joke. My brain is still addled from everything that's just happened.

"So your interview went well?" he asks, and I detect no malice in his voice. It's a silent apology for the way he acted earlier. I nod, although 'well' isn't exactly the descriptive word I'd choose.

A silence passes. I don't know when he and I began running out of things to say, but it seems to happen more and more. I wish I could give him a proper conversation, but I'm not for it right now. Dean scratches the back of his head. "Well, I reckon I'll get back to sleep."

"Of course," I blurt out. "G'night."

He looks at me strangely, but I'm halfway to my room. I close the door and flick my wand at the soot-blackened fireplace. It bursts to life and I take off the dress, throwing it over a chair to dry. Now that I'm starkers, I eye myself in the mirror.

There's a bit more pudge on my tummy than I'd like. And I wish my thighs didn't touch. I wouldn't scare the horses, but I wouldn't stop people in their tracks either. Especially compared to a natural beauty like, for example, Katie Bell. So why did Oliver Wood feel the need to kiss me?

Actually... did he even kiss me? I must've had an out-of-body experience. I can't recall if his lips even touched mine before the photo was taken. Ugh, God, the photo. I plop down onto my bed, and the mattress squeaks quietly.

From the other room Seamus bolts upright, "WHO'S THERE! I'M AN AUROR!" I hear a pillow hitting his head, followed by Dean grumbling.

Rolling my eyes, I pull the covers up into a cacoon of denial. Maybe it never happened. Maybe I imagined the whole kiss thing because that's what I do with guys. And... Well, I reckon I almost had fun tonight. It was nice talking Quidditch with somebody other than Dean or Seamus. Groaning, I flip onto my stomach and hope to dream of anything else.

I'm almost asleep when I realize that I never got the notes from Oliver's flat.

Author's note: Whew! I feel like so much happened in this chapter. I wrote it, erased it, re-wrote it, and still editing. Were some questions finally answered? I hope that some important things about Oliver's character were revealed.

Obviously I don't own The Cure. Also the second song that starts playing I imagined to be Fade Into You by Mazzy Star (which I don't own)! The back room of the record store was inspired by a super-hipster bar in my town.

Thanks to emccentric for the CI! ♥

Chapter 14: A Funny Thing Happened
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Scrubbing toilets is surprisingly conducive to deep thought. At least, this is true at The Rusty Knight Inn. You're so desperate to put yourself out of the moment, that you'll think about literally anything else. I've made some of my biggest life decisions while cleaning these loos.

I am just realizing how pathetic that is.

The Rusty Knight may have missed me--the cobwebs are proof--but the feeling was not mutual. Nevertheless, I needed a job desperately. Several things helped me come to this realization. One was the two nights of absolutely no sleep I had, after The Hanging Moon. Jittery on coffee and desperate to distract myself, I spent 48 hours cleaning every single surface in my flat. I even sorted my sock drawer (where I found an unopened bottle of Firewhiskey--bonus!) Another factor was the final "Sorry, not hiring" owl I received, this time from the Daily Prophet.

Finally, there was the note from my landlord, Simon. It came in the form of a Madame Puddifoot's receipt spellotaped to my front door. My rent was two weeks late again, and he was quite upset. Simon is a Squib, but continues to glumly reside in a magical area of London. He's a high-strung bloke. Once he had a full-on panic attack when his parakeet, Peony, got loose in his flat. I could hear him screaming and thundering around for hours. Eventually, I felt sorry enough to go upstairs and help. It took all of two seconds with an Accio Peony. He and I have had the rent conversation a hundred times before, and I'm not too worried about it. No matter how angry he gets, he always just ends up awkwardly asking me out for a drink.

Although I knew it was an empty threat, Simon had a point. I needed money. This was made apparent when the Gringotts Goblin actually winced during my balance inquiry. So yesterday morning I swallowed my pride down with my tea. It was time to go back to The Rusty Knight.

This place makes The Poisoned Apple look like a five-star restaurant. If my mum knew that I was back, she'd be begging me to carry Skrewt-Spray again. Knockturn Alley isn't as scary as it once was, but you don't want to be caught there alone. The Rusty Knight is no exception. The curtains are moth-eaten, the rooms are rented by the hour, and I'm pretty sure one of them is actually a brothel.

The innkeep, an ancient woman named Mathilda, hated to see me go two years ago. (I'm particularly good with cleaning charms.) For a few months after, she still owled me her homemade puddings. But I rarely touched them, as the treacle fudge looked more like dragon droppings. She was elated when I came in yesterday, tail between my legs. Well, eventually she was. Her eyesight's so bad, even with enormous spectacles, that she couldn't see me at first. She's practically deaf too, and thankfully didn't hear my cry of shock that she was still alive.

Standing a foot away from her reception desk, I yelled "E-DIE LEN-NOX" twice. When she finally understood, she planted a sloppy kiss on each cheek (I probably still have fuscia smudges.) But she gave my job back, easy as pie. Clearly the place needed some tidying.

So here I am, scrubbing away at toilets on absolutely no sleep. I look like a mental patient, with the dark circles under my eyes a lovely purple. At least they compliment my ratty pink apron, which contains sanitizing potions and a glossary of cleaning charms. The Rusty Knight needs the strongest dose of each.

To separate myself from the messes unearthed in each room--trust me, you don't want to know--I let my mind wander. But it doesn't have to wander long, before coming to rest on Oliver.

I haven't tried to contact him by owl, floo or broomstick. That much I'm quite proud of. Girls like Rose can give an air as unaffected as they please. But the second things get physical with a guy, they show up at his flat with cupcakes and a selection of Weird Sisters albums to pick their song from. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been "checking my appearance" in my mirror every half-hour. But each time I was met with my own brown eyes. It's been surprisngly disappointing.

Which leads me to the question, Why do I care so much?

Alright, so he kissed me. (I think.) What does it matter though? It's not like he hasn't done it before. Forget handshakes; our first formal greeting went straight to liplock. I mean, things did feel different this time. (If it even happened.) Maybe he wasn't drunk, as I'd thought. So maybe he'd actually meant it? That is, if he even kissed me. (Which he probably hadn't.)

Perhaps I just need to talk this all out. To figure out what exactly happened, and where we should go from there. This can't just go unmentioned. Let's not forget, I am writing an article on the guy. And I couldn't give everything away for some silly, maybe-crush.

Could I?

"No!" I throw my scrubby stick at the wall (the occupant in the next room pounds back irritably.) This is ridiculous. I refuse to put my life on hold for someone I barely know.

I pull myself to my feet and face the splotchy mirror. "He is just a guy," I resolve forcefully, gripping the porcelain sink. "You don't even fancy him. Just because he turned out to be nicer than you'd thought. Maybe funnier too. And just because he likes books, and Quidditch, and good beer, it absolutely does not mean--"

My two-way mirror sounds and I jump a mile, shrieking (more wall-pounding from the other room.) I jam into my apron pockets, erratically tossing the potions over my shoulders in my search. When I at last find the mirror, I fumble and nearly drop it in the toilet.

"Oliver? I mean--ah--hello? Hi?"

"Edie." I'm halfway-mortified-halfway-kind-of-excited that it is, in fact, Oliver. "Oh, should I give you a moment? It kind of... looks like you're in the loo."


"I was, I mean, I am. But it's not like... It's not what you'd think..." He's looking more and more confused, and mildly horrified, so I blurt, "I'm at Witch Weekly. I'm getting some of the models dressed for a photoshoot." I call to a rickety armchair in the next room, "Five more minutes, girls!"

I am such an idiot.

But Oliver must buy it, because he looks impressed. "Oh, brilliant." There is a moment of silence and then he grins, "...What?"


"You're smiling."

I catch my reflection. Sure enough, I'm beaming like a complete nutter. "Oh, you know. It's just going to be a... really fantastic photoshoot."

"You'll have to tell me about it sometime," he ventures. I want to kick myself for the fluttering in my ribcage. He wets his lips, which I am trying not to stare at, and a look of concern crosses his face. "Listen, there's something that I need to tell you. Well, a number of somethings, actually."

"Of course," I stammer. "I feel the same way."

"Are you free this afternoon? We could get coffee. You know, at that place with the bad indie music."

"I wish I could. But I've got--erm--work, until six o'clock. What about afterwards?"

"Practise," he says glumly. "The Kenmare match is this weekend, so we're pulling two a day. I'm on my lunch break right now." For some reason, imagining Oliver eating lunch in-between practises is kind of endearing. Wait. Practise. How have I not thought of this before?

Abandoning all shyness I screech, "Oh my God, can I come to your practise?!"

"Erm. I don't think that's a good idea."

"Oh, it'll be totally off the record, I promise. And I'm not, like, a spy for Kenmare or anything, I just happen to like them." I'm blabbering like an idiot, but I've always wanted to see a live Quidditch practise. Especially if there's the chance of speaking with the players. "Oh my God. Is Amelia Jones there right now?"

"She is on the team..."

Trying not to squeal, I say delicately, "Has she ever mentioned anything about fan-mail? Regarding the Wronski Feint from the European Cup?"

He snorts, because of course the wound still stings for wound-up Oliver Wood. "I'm sure she's received loads of post for that, though I doubt it's from fans."

"But I've been dying to know what happened, and she's never answered my letters..."

His lips spread into a huge smile. "You wrote her?"

"Only once or twice..." He quirks an eyebrow and I add, "...a month."

"Wow," he laughs. "I thought only twelve year-old boys wrote their favourite athletes."

"Oi!" I protest, but he continues, "Anyway, it's not really my place to talk about it."

"Of course, you're totally right." Silence. I bite my fist and say in a high-pitched voice, "Could--could you just ask her for me? About that Feint...?"

"Goodbye, Lennox."

"Sorry, sorry! You're right, we shouldn't meet during your practise. But we're both busy, so..." I feel my damned blush returning. "Well, could you not just tell me now then? Whatever it is?"

"I think it'd best be done in person. I have to say it's been on my mind a lot today, but I'd rather wait."

I swallow against the pygmy puffs somersalting in my belly. "I understand. Tomorrow? I could sneak away for an hour."

"Alchemy Coffee at one o'clock?"

"That sounds good," I fight my smile.

"See you then, Edie."

I don't think I even say goodbye before snapping the mirror shut. There's a churning in my belly, a pounding in my heart and a ringing in my head. I don't think I'm cut out for this kind of thing. Whatever "this" is. Last I checked, he was just Wood, and I was brandishing my wand on a crusade to take him down. But I also have the bad habit of not looking past first judgments.

I've always written Oliver off as a thankless, wealthy twat. But it seems that I may have been... wrong? Me? That certainly isn't something I like to admit. And if I was wrong about him, who else have I been unfairly judging? I labeled Mr. Ward an idiot, Mildred as a stuffy old witch, and Rose as a conniving monster. I suppose it's possible that Mr. Ward deserves his job, and that Mildred spoils the grandchildren I've never imagined. Maybe Rose even has an ounce of good in her.


I told you, scrubbing toilets is good for self-realizations.


At six o'clock sharp, I march out of the inn's rickety door. It's nearing dusk, and as a dodgy-looking wizard is hobbling toward me, I turn and Apparate. The air in Diagon Alley is cold when I reappear, and the leaves on the trees are copper and red. In just two weeks it'll be October. In the same time, my second article will be published. I'll have an updated draft on Rose's desk later this week.

Pushing the thought from my mind, I continue along my stroll. When I pass the magazine stand I pause. I haven't stopped here since the night I was sacked. Back then, I was so sure that Oliver Wood was nothing more than an inconsiderate ass. Right now I don't know where I stand.

The curiosity gets the better of me, and I cross the cobblestones hesitently. Hands in my coat pockets, I scan the rows of tabloids. Nobody at Witch Weekly mentioned the photo of me kicking him out of the pub. But it was part of the article I wrote; it made everything juicier. This new photograph could seriously ruin things. Where could it be by now? All of them? None? For old times' sake, I grab a copy of Crystal Ball. The short wizard manning the booth recognizes me and rolls his eyes, but I ignore him, flipping through the pages until I at last find it. Once again, it's part of a larger collage of paparazzi photographs. But there it is.

A huge sigh of relief whooshes from my lungs. I'm unrecognizable. Apparently my back was to the photographer. So my question has been answered. But I can't tear my eyes away from the room, glaring and red like a harsh sunrise. The silly light-up figurines are blurred and out of focus. My coat is draped over one arm, our clothes dripping rainwater as Oliver advances toward me. A tendril of my wet hair clings to my neck; my head turns slightly and I see my cheek flush. I remember that Oliver had just used the sleeve of his shirt, easily five Galleons, to clean the freckled skin there. I study his figure. He's certainly taller than me, but not by as much as I'd thought. From where I stand he's always looked so big.

What really strikes me is the lashes of his one visible eye, slowly closing. The tilt of his head. The way his expression changes from trepidation and worry to something else. The hand on the nape of my neck; the tenseness disappearing from my shoulders as my chin lifts. And then--

The photograph starts over on its loop. It was taken before our lips met; he never actually kissed me.

"You gonna buy that?" the Wizard says harshly, rattling me.

As if a door to the street was opened, the busy sounds of Diagon Alley are sucked back into my head. How long have I been standing here? The Wizard regards me impatiently, and I glance back at the magazine. In the photograph, Oliver gently touches my neck again.

"Actually," I search for my coin purse. "Yes. One copy, please."


With the issue of Crystal Ball hidden in my bag, I make my way home. I fight a shiver as I pull my hood tightly over my head, cursing the damp England chill. All I want to do is sit down on my sofa, in the dark, and try to figure out what to do. It will probably also involve sweets and a beer. When I reach the bright green door to my flat, I murmur the password ("Peanut brittle") and turn the knob. It doesn't move. Frowning, I repeat it, this time ramming my shoulder into the door. Still nothing.

Ugh, has Seamus changed the password again? He finds it so funny. For some reason he's very entertained by women saying dirty words. Crossing my arms I say flatly, "Hippogriff shite." Again I try the knob, but nothing happens.

"Veela tits?"


Neither of his old stand-bys, eh? I growl, stamping my foot like a petulant child. It's freezing out here. I'm going to kill him.

I am wracking my brain for more dirty Seamus-phrases when an owl flies overhead, carrying both a red envelope and a small package. The parcels drop at my feet and my eyes widen in horror. As if it were a grenade, I bolt and do an impressive running leap over a nearby bin. Crouching low, I plug my ears against the oncoming explosion.


I dare a glance around me. Several passers-by have stopped to stare at the girl hiding from a piece of paper, in a pile of rubbish.


"What!" I cry indignantly. "That's ridiculous!"


I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear, "Your mum is a piece of parchment."

There is a break in the screaming, punctuated by Simon's hyperventillation. Cautiously I peer over the bin, but jump again when the Howler adds, "ALSO MY OFFER FOR A DRINK STILL STANDS." Then it tears itself into a dozen pieces and explodes in a puff of smoke.

I can't believe it. I never actually thought Simon would go through with this. But he did lock me out... Maybe I'm not the best with paying the rent on time, but I've never missed a month. I even gave him a free pint or two at The Poisoned Apple! Sulking, I drag myself over to the remaining parcel. Though it's the size of my palm, when I pick it up it's surprisingly heavy. With a groan I realize that it's all of my belongings, given a shrinking charm. Well, at least he saved me the trouble of packing.

I look up at the brick facade. It wasn't the best flat, but it was home. The sinks all leaked and the water never got hot enough. The kitchen fireplace almost burned the whole building down, once. A family of pixies lived in the walls, and ate my Cauldron Cakes if I left them out. But the dodginess is what made it so charming!

It feels strange to be without a home. Thinking about it in those terms makes everything real. My heart picks up and my palms begin to sweat. What am I supposed to do now? Where am I supposed to go? I don't have a place to live.

Shit, I don't have a place to live!

I sit down, right there on the dirty street, head between my knees. After several deep breaths, the lightheaded feeling goes away, and I'm able to think. Time to weigh my options.

I could move in with Justin and Lisa--she did offer. She wouldn't mind one bit, but I know Justin would be put out. Plus, he doesn't wear a stitch of clothing from the second he comes home. I know this because I've made the mistake of Apparating inside their flat, instead of knocking. I will never un-see Justin reading the paper, completely starkers in an armchair. I could crash with Dean and Seamus, but there's a reason why they always come to mine. Their flat is an absolute pigsty. Seriously, I think Dean's closet contains an Acromantula nest in the making. Then there's always my Mum. The Floo commute would be irritating--and, let's face it, so would she--but it's a free place to live. I then recall her habit of throwing me at every available bachelor in Britain, and shake my head. No way.

Miserably, I dig through my bag until I find the mirror. With a heavy sigh, I flip it open and mutter the incantation. As my reflection disappears, I make an effort to put on a smile. Then I wait.

"Lisa!" I say too brightly. "My lovely best friend. Remember that time you said I could live with you and Justin? Well, a funny thing happened..."

Author's Note: Yay, another update! I'm proud with how quickly I churned this one out... but it also makes me nervous. This chapter is on the shorter side, but the last one was sooo long and I wanted to take it easy on you guys! Sorry for any spelling/grammar mistakes. I'm using my new laptop, which doesn't have Word in it yet and I've been writing with WordPad xD

So what do you guys think? What does Oliver have to tell Edie? Will she be able to live with Justin and Lisa? Are are there any Simon/Edie shippers out there? xP

Thanks so much to Eponine @ TDA for the stunning CI. She even put Peony the parakeet in there ♥!

Chapter 15: Motion Sickness
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I can't breathe. As soon as my exhausted lungs can expand, desperate for air, the oxygen is ripped away. Everything aches. All I can smell or taste is my own sweat, hot against my cold skin. I'm not going to make it. Tell my family I love them! Somebody, please, end this Orwellian torture! DO IT TO JULIA!

I slow to a halt. My throbbing feet, stuffed inside trainers a size too small, stop pounding the pavement. I stagger over into the grass and put my hands on my knees, braided pigtails flopping over my shoulders as I hyperventillate. Merlin, I am out of shape. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I glimpse the wooden post and groan. I didn't even run a mile, and I sincerly feared for my life.

A young mother jogs easily past, pushing a twin stroller. I swear the two little faces that peer out are mocking me. I give a sarcastic salute to the woman's retreating back and flop onto the grass. When I roll over, arms splayed out, I make eye contact with two fitties playing football. They seem to be holding back laughter. Of course. I turn away, shutting my eyes.

I've come to the Muggle park, because I won't run into anybody and therefore humiliate myself. Although the morning air is cool, the rising sun is warm. In fact, it's not too bad here. With a deep breath I nestle into the prickly grass. Then, for some stupid reason, I wonder what it would be like to come here with Oliver. I reckon It would be quite nice. Before I know it, I'm playing out scenarios of disgustingly cute things: drinking white wine on a shady blanket, or tackling one another in the grass, or hovering about on his broom. When imaginary-me places a daisy crown on his head, I slap my hands over my face.

"What is happening to me!" I groan aloud.

Aside from the fact that I'm being completely ridiculous, I keep overlooking one, itty-bitty detail: the article.

I can't take back the one that was already published. Well, unless I find a Time-Turner (I briefly considered popping in Bourgin and Burkes during my sleepless anxiety.) There is no doubt in my mind that it would ruin everything. All he has to do is open the September issue of Witch Weekly. Maybe I could say that Rose wrote it? Her name is printed in the magazine...

Yes Edie, a bit more lying should do the trick.

What's really bothering me is this second article. I need the money bad. But everything feels wrong, now. If I could detach myself from the situation--just put on my blinders and write what Blakeslee wants--it would be easy. Especially because this time I have ammunition. Everything Oliver told me would be harmless, were he talking to anybody else. But I was there to unearth deep and personal information, and spin it into gossip.

He revealed Deverill's impending replacement--I know for a fact that it hasn't been leaked yet. And although Oliver said there's no scandal in his and Katie's relationship, he's wrong. He's never been a young witch. If there's one thing I know, it's that young girls confuse "celebrity crush" with "soulmate and personal property." One word of who Oliver Wood dated, and there would be an uproar. Lastly, I know about his shoulder injury. I know that if he keeps using it, he won't have be able to play in just a few years.

I didn't get anything about St. Mungo's, but I've unearthed a goldmine. I'm finally getting to do the kind of work I've dreamt of. But it would surely ruin Oliver's career. Which should mean nothing to me, because I'm just here to pass along the news.

Yes, it should mean nothing.

"Edie?" comes a familiar voice.

I open my eyes, squinting confused into the sun. "Seamus?"

There is the sound of grass beneath feet, and then his head pops into my line of vision. His sandy hair is tousled against the bright blue sky. Clearly he's been running, but he's managing far better than I. "What are you doing here?" I ask.

"I'm training. Aurors do have to chase people, it's not all paperwork." He eyes my blotchy skin, sweaty hoodie and unflattering running shorts. "The question is, why are you here?"

"A bit less shocked, please?" I grumble, pulling myself to a seated--or pathetically splayed--position.

He takes a seat beside me. "Well, not to be a complete ass, but you never exercise. Ever. And you definitely don't wake up early for it. Not unless you're..." Suddenly his eyes light up, "Oh my God. No way."


"You're getting laid!"

One of the fitties goes to kick the football and misses spectacularly. Yeah, he definitely heard that. "Christ, Seamus, keep it down!" I push him, though he's laughing wildly.

"It's true! You only exercise when you're worried about looking good starkers. Lisa even agrees."

Sometimes I hate how well my friends know me. Rubbing my face, as if that would make the blush disappear, I grumble, "As much as I don't like to admit, No. I am not getting laid. Yet."

"Oooh, 'yet,' eh?" he elbows me giddily. "I can't believe you haven't told us about this."

"Seeing as how you're handling it so maturely."

"Come on! Who've you got your eye set on, then? Who's the lucky bloke?"

I gawk at him. God, boys can be really thick. You'd think with three brothers, I'd have come to realize it by now. Who did I supposedly go on a date with last week? Who have I been spending much of my free time with? Who is the only person I've been talking about incessantly?

"Dean?" he guesses.

"What! No, not Dean!" He shrugs as if that were a legitimate guess. Picking a leaf from one of my braids, I murmur, "It's, um... It's Oliver, actually."

His jaw drops into a stupid smile. "You're serious!" When I only grin in embarrassment, he pounds me on the shoulder. "Nicely done, Lennox! Wow, I never would've seen that coming. Seriously. Like, never in a million years, could I have possibly imagined that."

"Thanks?" This is why our conversations rarely go deeper than Quidditch and beer.

Thankfully, he is Seamus, and promptly forgets what we were talking about. "Oi, I stopped by your flat yesterday 'cause I was hungry--"


"--but I couldn't get in. Did you change the password?"

Forgetting my incredulity, I look away nervously. My hands fly to one of my braids and begin to unravel it. "Um, no, actually. I didn't. I... moved out."

Seamus gestures incredulously. "First you're not abysmally single anymore, and now you've moved? What is this? I thought you told us everything!"

I cringe. Dean and Seamus still have no idea that I've been sacked. Nobody does. To keep everything a secret, I've told them that The Poisoned Apple is now lousy with Dragon Pox, and that we'll be reopening in a few months. Of course, Dean and Seamus are probably passing this along to others. (As far as I'm concerned, it's what the Murrays deserve.) But if I haven't told anyone about being sacked, I'm certainly not about to let on that I lost my flat too.

"I'm sorry, Seamus, I've just been so... busy with everything. Moving was a last-minute decision. I meant to tell you, really." A feeling of guilt settles in my stomach. Not only is he right--I haven't told them anything lately--but I'm lying even now.

A heavy silence settles over us. As two incessantly talkative people, this is rare. Hastily I redo my braid, but it looks more like knotted weeds. He squirms uncomfortably, "So... where are you living then?"

My face flushes. "I, erm, moved into Lisa and Justin's spare room yesterday."

As expected, Lisa was more than happy about it. She even decorated my room before I arrived--impressive, considering it took all of ten minutes. I think living with a guy is starting to take its toll. She's got the rest of her life to look forward to Justin's dirty laundry; the almost-empty milk carton put back in the fridge. I told her as much, staring at the potted plants in my new room. (They'll be dead within a week.) But Lisa seized my arm, a crazed look in her eye, "I need one last chance to have a girl flatmate."

And that was that.

I settled in quickly, thanks to rudimentary magic. (Honestly, if I were a Muggle, I would live out of boxes forever.) My new room is more spacious than the last; no longer is my bed shoved against the nightstand so that the drawers can't open. Lisa even put up some curtains and framed my photographs for me. It's a bit more Witch Weekly than I'd prefer, with candles and paper lanterns. Then again, I was using my old room as storage for dirty laundry. Justin even helped a bit, though he was less than excited. He managed a politely grudging expression, and his complaints were down to the occasional grunt. We'll get along swimmingly.

"It's only temporary," I tell Seamus what I'd repeated over and over to Lisa and Justin.

But he only picks at a blade of grass. "Oh. Well that's nice."

I narrow my eyes suspiciously. "Seamus..."

"No, it's brilliant, I'm glad you found a place.

A thought dawns on me. "Wait, are you... jealous?"

"No, why would I be jealous?" He rips out a fist-sized clump of dirt. "I'm not jealous."

I break into a huge grin. "Yes you are! You wanted me to live with you and Dean!" He shrugs one shoulder, not meeting my gaze. And just like that, the awkward silence is gone. I tackle him in a hug, throwing us both onto the ground. "Aww, I had no idea you wanted to be flat-mates!" With his body in my vice-grip, I nuzzle into his shoulder.

"I--don't--" he grunts, "Gerroff!"

But I'm not loosening a bit. Even though I would never move in with them (unless I was one hundred percent sure the Acromantula nest was gone), the thought warms me.

At last Seamus is released, and brushes himself off hastily. "Merlin, you sweat a lot! Does Wood need to know about this?"

I punch him in the arm. He returns the favour. We sit in comfortable silence, which is interrupted when his stomach growls like a Hungarian Horntail. Ignoring my snort, he clambers to his feet. "Well I say we hang this exercise bollocks. Let's go have a proper breakfast then, on me."

I don't even remember the last time I had a hot meal. Quite literally wiping the drool from my chin, I beam, "That sounds absolutely brilliant." Seamus hauls me to my feet and we set off, sweaty clothes and all, for potatoes and eggs and toast.


Hour later, and still full from breakfast, I'm at my typewriter. Before me is a blank page; the same one I've been staring at forever. I'm surrounded by stacks of notes and dog-eared Quidditch magazines. My fingers are resting on the rounded keys, aching to be brought to life. They could illuminate so much; inflict so much damage. But I'm caught in a problem that I wish only had two outcomes. Instead there are a-hundred-and-one possibilities, each one more problematic than the last.

If I don't write the article, I'll barely scrape by. One-third of Lisa and Justin's rent isn't awful, but I have to pay it somehow. But if I do write it, I won't get any credit for my hard work. If I don't, I'm not advancing my career in the only way I can. Then again, to write salacious gossip would compromise my journalistic morals. If I decide not to do it, I'll be letting go of everything for some guy--how many times have I condemned Lisa for putting Justin first? But publishing could mean ruining Oliver's career. He's waited two long years to get back on the pitch. Could I really be responsible for throwing it all away?

I exhale. As if the keys would detonate, I carefully draw my fingers away. Rolling my tense shoulders, I catch my reflection in the standing mirror and grimace. My hair is frazzled, and my mascara is smudged from stressfully rubbing my face. The black blotches remind me of the night in the Muggle record store. The ghost of a smile reaches my lips--in just a quarter of an hour, I'll be heading to Alchemy Coffee. The thought makes my stomach twist in an annoying way.

Maybe I could write the article without mentioning Oliver's shoulder, or Deverill's replacement. Maybe there's something I've missed--something that puts him in a positive light.

My wand roves over the monstrous stacks of parchment. I murmur a Quick-Search Charm for the name Wood. (When I did this in the Witch Weekly archives, I had to trudge through hundreds of pages about furniture and deforestry.) One of the stacks of newspapers begins fluttering, as though there were a breeze. The magic tugs on a parchment towards the bottom, and when it comes zipping out I snatch it. It's a yellowing page torn from the Daily Prophet, dated December 1998. It's completely filled by three columns of very small print. When I study it closer, I realize that it's a list of those who perished in the last War.

My family is very lucky to have gone unscathed. Although my father was a Wizard, we had difficulty proving our bloodline because of his absence. Fortunately, my siblings' birth certificates and my parents' estrangement were chronologically in our favour. Even then Andrew, my Muggle step-father, went into hiding in America for a year. Somehow we all remained safe, but we are the lucky few.

Dean's father was killed by Death Eaters during the First War, so he couldn't prove his lineage. He went on the run during our Seventh Year, before I really knew him. It's not something he often talks about. In fact, it's not something any of us talks about. That same year, Seamus hid in the Room of Requirement with some other students. My mum pulled my brothers and I out of Hogwarts, and homeschooled us. We were safe. But almost everybody I know was in some way affected. Lisa stayed and fought during the Battle of Hogwarts, helping the younger students escape. I, on the other hand, am another story.

I don't want to think about it anymore. But just as I'm about to discard the parchment, my eyes fall on two names amongst the many: Jacob and Iona Wood.

My heart thuds. Oliver once mentioned his father, after the Wizarding Newspaper Association Gala. "What's a good pint without good company? At least that's what my dad always said." Past tense. I swallow against the knot in my throat. Maybe it's just a coincidence. Wood is a very common last name, after all. I even spot a Daisy Lennox on the list, of no relation to me. Jacob and Iona were probably the same: a coincidence.

I am shaken from my reverie by a scratching at the window. I glance over my shoulder and, with a groan, see Mr. Ward's derpy owl. It's trying to get through the solid glass, tearing the flowerbox apart in the process. This can't be good. Ward never contacts me unless I'm needed at Witch Weekly.

I stomp over to open the window, and the owl swoops in, landing on my typewriter with a loud clack! Emitting a shriek, which only sets the bird into a panic, I sprint over to the typewriter. Thankfully the only damage done is the "FjkfdslL7" now on the parchment.

From the other room Justin calls apprehensively, "Alright?"

"Fine!" I try to grab the letter from the stupid animal. At last the note is in my hands. I tear the Witch Weekly seal and read,


So sorry to bother you during your afternoon off!
But you're needed at headquarters immediately!


Artie Ward, Editor of Witch Weekly Magazine

With childlike anger, I crumple the note into a tiny ball and throw it. I have to go; I still have to kiss Mr. Ward's dragonhide boots. As far as he knows, all I've done for the magazine is pour some really nice coffees. And there's no way I can do this and meet Oliver in time.

Though I could contact him by mirror, I opt for a scrap of parchment. For some reason I don't want him to see how disappointed I am. I imagine him sitting at Alchemy Coffee, hands cupped around a steaming mug, leg bouncing nervously in the way I've noticed before.

Oliver-- I'm so sorry. I was just called in to Witch Weekly. My editor says its urgent.
Please let me know another time and place you'd like to meet. I really want to talk with you.


Ignoring the fact that it looks like a business memo, I fold the note over sloppily. Ward's owl has flurried off, so I stomp around the flat until I find Justin's great horned owl, Longfellow. (Yes, as in the poet. Justin is such a tool.) At last I locate him, perched haughtily on a coat rack. Moments later I stand at the window, arms crossed. I watch as Longfellow disappears over the London rooftops, feeling as though I were saying goodbye to something.


To my surprise, there actually is an emergency at Witch Weekly. The whole place is in an uproar, full of flustered journalists speaking in snappy jargon. Somebody trips and throws a stack of parchment like confetti (It falls to me to clear up.) Even laid-back Theo seems irritated, greeting me with a curt nod. It turns out that somebody botched our Varya Wing shipment. Instead of ten different one-of-a-kind dress robe designs, we received one, of which ten were made. We only have a few hours before the giraffe-legged (and, more importantly, very well-paid) models arrive.

I do, however, maintain that I'm not needed here. All I'm doing is Apparating throughout the building to deliver messages, because nobody can be bothered to write a note. With an un-ladylike belch, I hold my churning stomach. I'm supposed to be sipping espresso with Oliver, not suffering from motion sickness.

Eventually I'm able to stay in one room, watching a tense discussion between Theo and Minna, the Director of Photography. Funnily enough, it's actually the most I've seen of the inner-workings of WW. I'm deeply engrossed in their conversation until Minna puts a hand to her brow and stressfully demands a cuppa. Everyone's eyes fall on me.


I decide to walk, and spare myself the nausea. Taking my sweet time in the kitchens, I lazily select the tea while humming a Weird Sisters song. On my way back upstairs, I meander in the direction of my little corner. I'm curious to see how dessicated my plant is. Today the corridor is bustling with people, all wearing rather panicked expressions. Narrowly escaping a paper airplane to the eye, I duck around the corner. Pivoting rather gracelessly, I right myself, and then stop dead in my tracks.

Oliver Wood is here.

He's the only unmoving thing in the corridor, standing as he always does--arms crossed, feet planted apart, chin tilted down in thought. It's cliche, but it's true: my heart skips a beat. Instictively I run a hand through my fringe, straightening the reddish mess. Did I even try to look presentable before leaving the flat? Barely containing a triumphant fist-pump, I remember that I'm wearing my most flattering black trousers. All right. This one's in the bag.

Oliver still hasn't noticed me amidst all the bustle. Checking my breath with my palm (and deciding to stay at least three feet away), I make my way over.

I am mid-stride when several things happen at once. First, Oliver snaps out of his reverie, but he isn't looking at me. Instead, Rose has appeared from nowhere and is standing before him. I freeze mid-step, confused. They're conversing about something. I don't like the way that Rose is looking up at him, or the way her hands are on her hips. I have to admit, she's got that Gryffindor courage--I could never even make eye-contact after that Flatulence Charm. Come to think of it, I haven't seen or heard from her since then. She's probably still upset...

I'm not entirely sure what's happening as Rose steps closer. She puts a hand on his chest, laughing throatily at something she's just said herself. My spine tingles with anger. Doesn't she know that he came here to see me?

Suddenly, Theo appears before me. I jump, startled, and tear my eyes away from Rose. "There you are," he says, exhasperated. "Minna swears she can't get anything done without that tea."

"Oh, sorry," I murmur. Unable to keep my gaze on his, I glance over his shoulder, and suddenly want to vomit. But it's not from my motion sickness. No. It's because Rose has pushed herself onto her tiptoes, and pressed her mouth to Oliver's.

He goes stiff as a board, hands clenching at his sides. I wait for something; anything. For him to step back, or gently push her by the shoulders. I'd even settle for a melodramatic murmur of, "That's not why I'm here," before he comes to slip his hand into mine. Maybe he'll give her a Bat Bogey Hex? Christ, I'll take anything, anything other than what's actually happening, which is Oliver Wood kissing Rose Zeller.

Oliver Wood is kissing Rose Zeller.

I've witnessed this scene hundreds of times. I've seen it with couples in Diagon Alley; with summer goodbyes at Platform 9 3/4; drunken strangers in crowded pubs. This doesn't feel like I've read in books. No tears are flooding to my eyes; no quaking knees. Instead, even as I watch it, I can't be sure it's actually happening. There's something hollow in my chest, like an empty room after a candle is blown out. It's a strange feeling. And then disillusion, the particularly sadistic Dementor, sucks everything away. As quickly as it all came--the sweaty palms, the pygmy puffs in my stomach, the daisy-crowns daydreams--it's gone.

I have been indescribably stupid. I actually thought that Oliver Wood was interested in me. But he was just trying to throw a journalist off his tracks.

Their kiss was nothing spectacular, and Rose has already pulled away. They'd be idiots to snog in broad daylight here. Even that peck wasn't the most brilliant idea. Smiling behind her fingers, Rose casts a nervously delighted glance. I quickly shift so that I'm better hidden behind Theo, who says irritated, "Edie. What is your--" he glances over his shoulder. "What, Rose and Oliver Wood talking?"

Suddenly I realize just how quickly it all began and ended. He didn't see the kiss. Seriously, am I the only person who witnessed it?

"It's nothing," I say thickly.

Theo is looking at me in an unsettlingly knowing way. I wish I could think of something intelligent to say, but my throat has gone dry. I dare another peek around his shoulder. To my horror, Oliver has begun heading this way down the corridor. Our eyes meet. The colour drains from his face, and he stumbles a bit over his own feet. But then, without so much as a nod, his gaze snaps away. I can't make a sound.

Is this what he wanted to tell me? That he's been with Rose all along?

Theo and I watch as Oliver crosses the marble floors. My eyes bore into the side of his face ashe comes within arm's reach (and definitely within hexing range.) But there's nothing. No words, not even a second glance. I feel as though I were a ghost, unseen to everyone, as he turns the corner goes out of sight. As with the kiss, it's over just as quickly as it began.

Theo and I stand perfectly still. I'm still holding onto the cup and saucer like an idiot. Suddenly an idea strikes me, and I thrust the teacup into Theo's hands. "Something's come up," I say quickly. "I'm feeling very ill."

Clearly he isn't buying it. But he's kind enough to only nod, as I turn and Apparate on the spot.


I overshoot my mother's studio by quite a bit. With all my vibrating nerves, I'm lucky I didn't Splinch myself. After apologizing profusely to the witch I terrified at the local Owlery, I skulk down the street. When I arrive at my Mum's studio, I swing the door open and am greeted by the smell of the firing kiln. Some rubbish sitar music is playing, and I roll my eyes.

My mother's head pokes out from the back. "Daughter!" she cries her usual greeting. Scurrying around the mess of easels, canvases and displays, she envelops me in a crushing hug. "What a surprise! Did we have plans?" And she can't help but add, "Of course, if you used such an archaic tradition as owl-post, I've probably just ignored it..."

"Is Jae here?" I interrupt.

Her mouth falls into a surprised little O, but it's quickly replaced by a delighted smile. "Yes, he is! I've sent him out for more gesso. He should be just down the street--"

"Thanks." I turn on my heel, stomp to the door, and then hurry back over. "It's good to see you too," I plant a kiss on her cheek.

As I march down the streets of Renwick, everyone I pass greets me with delighted surprise. Though most try to stop and chat, I only smile hugely (which probably looks more like baring my teeth) and continue on my way. The unfortunate thing about Renwick is that everybody knows everything about you. Everything. They all remember my sixth birthday, when I was so scared of the Magician my Mum hired that I wet my pants. (Muggles actually adopted this tradition from us; before our eleventh birthdays, all little Witches and Wizards are mystified by magic.) They also remember that I was caught, by the local Auror, in the park after hours with my first boyfriend. I'm sure there are some good memories in the public sphere of Renwick, but these are the kind that stick.

Thankfully it isn't long before I spot Jae down the cobblestones. He's carrying my mother's drawstring bag, full of new art supplies. I've practically sprinted up to him by the time he squints in confusion, recognizes me, and smiles. "Wotcher, Edie--mmmf!"

Grabbing him by the shirt collar, and ignoring that we're basically the same height, I plant my mouth on his. I have to say, it's not my best work. Our teeth bump more than once, but after we get the hang of it, he's not the worst snog. At the very least, it's better than mine and Oliver's first kiss--

Stop thinking about it.

I pull away, still gripping him by the collar. I'm study him closely, as though he were an article that needed proof-reading. Jae's expression is somewhere between a smirk and incredulity. Beside us, Mrs. Barker--surely the town's biggest gossip--is spying quite obviously from behind her hedge.

At last I release Jae's collar and take a step back. "Well?"

He laughs, pushing the fringe from his eyes. "You've quite the silver tongue. Is this how you get all of your suitors?"

I shift impatiently, crossing my arms. "Obviously. Still up for that date, then?"

Jae regards me, taking a step forward. He touches my hand and I feel nothing more than skin-on-skin contact; no butterflies. It's perfect. I suddenly notice just how dissimilar he and Oliver are. Where the former is tall and broad, and genuine to a fault, Jae is small and slight, with mischievous eyes. I reckon that's why I let him kiss me again in broad daylight, for all of the town to see: because he is nothing like Oliver Wood.

Author's Note: Whew. This chapter was really, really hard to write. The scene at WW with Oliver and Rose has been in my mind since I very first got plunnies for this story, but it took a lot of deleting and re-writing. I know a lot's happened in this chapter, but I really felt like every scene was important. Edie and Seamus's conversation needed to happen so that we could see how she allowed herself to fall for somebody too quickly. And, to be honest, I want Seamus in this story as much as possible xD

So what do you guys think? I know the site's been a bit dead lately, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. A big thanks goes to Vendetta @ TDA for the CI ♥

1984 and the quotation, "Do it to Julia!" are the intellectual property of George Orwell.

Chapter 16: Lisa Turpin-Finch-Fletchley Unravels
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I can’t believe it’s only been a week since it all began. Everything has gone from bad to worse, faster than you can say “Hinkypunk.” I went from striving to expose Oliver as a heartless socialite, to almost snogging him, to thinking we were about to start a relationship, to watching him kiss Rose Zeller. And then I all but physically assaulted Jae Chang with my face… as an act of spite. We haven’t even spoken since agreeing on this vague, undetermined “date,” happening sometime kind of soon-ish, maybe.

Needless to say, I have not been sleeping very well.

The thing with kissing Jae in the street—the thing that I hadn’t taken into account—was the uncomfortable walk back to my Mum’s studio. Let me tell you, going from full-on snog to polite conversation is not easy. And true to Renwick behaviour, by the time we’d reached her front door, somebody had already told my Mum what happened.

I was speed-walking by then, eager for some additional company. But inside we discovered my Mum talking with Basil Goodrich, the local florist. At the creak of the door they froze, halfway turned to us in mid-gesticulation.

“Daughter,” my Mum said, and definitely with a smirk. “You’re back.”

“Hello, Edith,” Basil purred, tossing his linen scarf. “Mrs. Barker just told us the most interesting news.”

“That was quick,” remarked Jae under his breath. “What’d she do, send a Patronus?”

After some evasive responses to their questions, Basil at last left. (But on the way out, he nudged me and wiggled his eyebrows.) Shortly after, I made some excuse about heading back home. I did not, however, mention that “home” was now the spare room of my mates’ house. I hugged my mother, who whispered in my ear, “I told you.” After a half-hug-half-handshake with Jae, during which I sputtered, “Good-ater”—a hybrid of “goodbye” and “later”—I stepped into the fireplace. Floo Powder gets your clothes all sooty, and yes, it’s a finite resource. But I was about through with Apparating for the day.

“Diagon Alley!” I shouted, even though my new home was a twenty-minute walk past the magical brick wall. But I just couldn’t explain the change in address to my Mum. It had already been an exhausting day.

Once home, I stood in the threshold of my new room as the door creaked open. With a sigh, I fell face-down on my bed, shoes and all. I could have slept for days. But no matter how long I lied there, I couldn’t find rest. Every time I blinked my bleary eyes, I saw it again—Oliver’s own eye, closing, as he leaned in to kiss me. I had no idea what happened to that copy of Crystal Ball. For all I knew, it was lost during the move.

Good riddance, I thought, checking my watch. Seeing as it was already two in the morning, I pegged it for another sleepless night.

Justin and Lisa were long since to bed, and I didn’t quite feel comfortable in their sitting room. Plus their cat hated me. After five o’clock the sofa was his, unless I wanted a scratch on the arm. Instead, I dragged myself to the typewriter. The same parchment was in the platen, blank except for the FjkfdslL7 Ward’s owl was so kind to type.

Christ, I realized, that was just this morning.

This brings me to where I am having another staring-contest with the typewriter. It’s almost three o’clock, and it feels like there's sand in my eyes. But still I exhale, bringing my fingers to the keys. And then I just vent. Because I can’t tell Lisa, or Justin, or Dean, or Thomas, or even my Mum what’s happened. The typewriter is the only one who I want to know, and I tell it everything. By the time I sit back, pink rays of the early sunlight filter through the curtains. My back is sore and my fingertips are numb. But there it is: the completed first draft of the article. It’s biting, yet somehow professional. Most importantly I’ve done it: I’ve pitted our subscribers, who are largely from middle- to lower-class families, against the elite. I’ve given them a reason to take Oliver Wood down from his marble pedestal. Cautiously, feeling almost afraid of the parchment itself, I unroll the article from the platen, and read.

The Upminster station for the London Underground has long been abandoned; at least, that’s what Muggles believe. A wooden sign reading UNDER CONSTRUCTION bats around in the cool evening breeze. The station appears to have been in the works for years. But I know better, as I stand under a late sky that threatens with rain. The Upminster Underground station is actually the entrance to The Hanging Moon: one of London’s finest Magical dining destinations.

I am waiting for Quidditch celebrity Oliver Wood, who had insisted on the location. As a working-class girl, like the majority of our beloved readers, I was wary of the location. Not all of us have the Galleons for champagne that reaches upwards of three figures (per glass.) But as a professional Quidditch player for Puddlemere United, in a country still financially staggering after the War, Wood grosses 1.6 million per year. So, really, what does a three-hundred Galleon dinner bill matter? The location is peculiar for an interview, and this reporter feels a bit out of her element. But perhaps Wood is just flexing his muscles—figuratively, I hope—before his big come-up. After two years off the pitch, he surely wants to make a good impression. But it’s not just his Quidditch skills that are a bit rusty.

At last he arrives, wearing a collage of mismatched designers. He offers a brief greeting (he’s not one for words, at least before a few pints) and then I am heading into the mouth of the beast; the lion’s den of London elite. The Hanging Moon is all at once what I expected it to be, and what I could never have imagined. Everything is candlelight and polished black stone, murmuring couples and businesswizards. An almost identical replica of the full moon dominates the ceiling, pressing down on us. Despite the designer label I’ve somehow scrounged up for the occasion, I feel wildly underdressed.

Wood seems very friendly with the owner of the establishment: a smiling Wizard much older than his taut skin suggests. Our table is sanctioned off on a little balcony, dimly lit and, need I say, quite posh. Wood is eager to begin the interview; even more to discuss his long-awaited return to the game. The more beer that disappears from his pint glass(es), the more animated he becomes.

His reserved manner disappears entirely when discussing Quidditch. I learn everything there is to know: the chronology of Puddlemere’s Keepers from the thirteenth century on, and that wearing a Keeper’s padding is akin to “A bleedin’ troll on your shoulders.” Wood also points out, upon my mentioning of the Kenmare Kestrals, that they have sloppy tactics. He even goes so far as to say that the Quidditch Cup referees are paid off—how else could Ireland have won? Suffice to say, he’s very opinionated on the matter of Quidditch. But this is nothing new to his fans or acquaintances.

Wood’s brash behavior has shadowed him since his days at Hogwarts, when he was captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He was notorious, even amongst other houses, for 5:00am practices and relentless drills. Practises were prioritized even above OWLs and NEWTs, and in many cases his teammates’ marks suffered. On one occasion, Wood told a young Harry Potter that he didn’t care if he fell off his broom, so long as he caught the Snitch first (one is reluctant to imagine the state of the Wizarding World today, had Harry seriously injured himself, or worse.) Several years later, Wood even ordered Potter to knock Cho Chang, the Seeker for Ravenclaw House, off her broom. Although Quidditch referees are trained to prevent injury to players, oftentimes the pitch is so chaotic that certain incidents cannot be helped. Wood himself sustained multiple injuries while at Hogwarts, including a Bludger to the head that left him severely concussed and unconscious for two weeks. But to be fair, Wood’s stubborn (and, at times, thoughtless) nature is what turned him into a Quidditch superstar.

Unfortunately, his run-ins with injuries did not cease upon graduating from Hogwarts. Some injures even went deeper than skin and bone. Two years ago, Wood split with his girlfriend of over ten years, Katie Bell. Though he claims it was a mutual agreement, and that it is “for the best,” it was certainly not said without sadness. As for physical wounds, he’s had his fair share as Puddlemere’s longest-playing Keeper since the seventeenth century. However, the most traumatic injury for his psyche and career was the dislocation of his left shoulder. It happened during a match against the Wimbourne Wasps in 2003, when Wood reached to block a Quaffle and overextended his arm.

“Ripped it clean from the socket,” he reminisces with a sip from his third pint.

Immediately following the injury, Wood was escorted off the pitch and sent to St. Mungo’s. Eager for his next match, he spent the next month completing intense physical therapy—only to have it all thrown away. Foregoing additional treatment with potions, which take longer but have a more efficient healing process, Wood’s stubborn nature bested him again. “I was stupid and impatient,” he tells me, “and then I threw [my shoulder] out again. During practice, right before our first match.” So, for two entire Qudiditch seasons, Wood paid for his fervor with more Healing.

Although this is a pity, it is not exactly news to those who follow Puddlemere closely. What comes as a surprise is that the injury still affects him. “It hurts like hell,” Wood confesses. Dependent on the pain-relieving potions he takes every day, he otherwise cannot so much as lift his arm. I am shocked even further when Wood reveals that he will not have use of said arm, in several years. While he can block with both hands, more than likely it won’t be enough to keep him with Puddlemere.

What’s more, Wood’s close friend and team manager, Philbert Deverill, is likely to be replaced next year. (This will come as quite a shock to many fans.) Wood’s own ex-girlfriend Katie Bell, Puddlemere’s assistant manager, will most likely be taking Deverill’s place. The potential scandal of romantic history between a team player and manager—not to mention Wood’s ticking Dungbomb of an arm—does not bode well for the Scotsman.

Fortunately for him, the Ministry for Magic has yet to reconsider pensions given to injured athletes. Although Britain’s unemployment rates are up, the economy is down, and social services are being cut, Wood will still be able to maintain a lavish lifestyle. On average, Quidditch players forced into retirement by injury are awarded 60,000 Galleons per year. This sum may not seem like much by comparison, but it is the same wages received by an actively-employed Dragon Tamer or Auror. Wood won’t be raking in the millions, but his Gringotts vault will certainly not be looking bare. This leaves him plenty of time to retire gracefully, settle down, and find employment… just like the rest of us.


I am still in the unfortunate habit of spending my last coins on the Oracle Underground. To my disappointment, there’s a lack of news on the Female Goblin Coalition as of late. The strike has yet to be rescheduled, as Gringotts still has Aurors patrolling the grounds, and Grimma Longfinger has been largely silent. Something about that makes me terribly sad, as I sip my orange juice at the breakfast table. (Because Lisa and Justin are the ideal couple, they eat breakfast together every morning. Sitting at an actual table. And their breakfast does not consist of stale crisps and watered-down coffee.)

“I could definitely get used to this,” I say as Lisa sets a plate of rye toast, cream cheese and smoked lox before me. Justin shoots me a fearful look, which Lisa and I pointedly ignore.

After a moment, he clears his throat. Feigning great interest in the newspaper, he asks innocently, “So, anything worth noting in there? Maybe in the Classifieds?”

I know he is not trying to be a git. Somehow, he just is one.

Rubbing my bleary eyes, I murmur, “Actually, this paper is hiring right now.”

To my delight, the ad for a journalist is still being printed. That means that Rose, despite trying to woo Connor Fleming at the WNAG, was not given the position. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t the best news I’ve heard in a while.

“Oh!” Lisa's voice is high-pitched with interest. She flicks her wand, charming the dishes to wash themselves. It’s only eight in the morning and she’s already done yoga, made breakfast for three, and cleared up. On a Sunday. “That sounds perfect for you. It’s your favourite paper, right?”

Justin makes a show of coughing. I’m beginning to feel like they’re my parents: the overly-supportive Mum, and the father with high expectations. What have I gotten myself into?

“Yeah, it is,” I ignore Justin’s stare. “But the listing’s been printed in the last several issues. That means they haven’t been happy enough with any of the applicants. I doubt they’d consider somebody with as little experience as me.”

“That’s not necessarily true,” Lisa points her wand at me for emphasis. I wonder if she’s hoping to charm me into a more productive life. “I just wish you could somehow tell them that you’re writing the articles. They’re so well-written, Edie, really.”

I blush. As soon as I’d finished touching up the draft, I’d rushed into the den where Lisa was doing her yoga. Waving the parchments over my head like a madwoman, I shouted, “I bloody did it!” Lisa was nice enough to not point out how mental I looked. She quietly read the entire draft while I paced maniacally before the fireplace. When she finished, she sighed.

“Well, it is quite mean,” she offered, and I punched the air triumphantly.


Lisa wipes her hands on a dish towel, looking at Justin imploringly, “You’re sure there's nothing she could do? No way she could prove that she wrote the articles?”

Justin rolls his shoulders as if the mere thought made him tense, “Well, aside from the fact that it's completely illegal—”

I narrow my eyes at him, bellowing in a way that shocks them both, “Oh, thank Merlin there's a lawyer at the table! Without your legal guidance, I could never have possibly deduced that for myself.”

Although taken aback, Justin doesn’t keep from raising his voice, “I’m just saying, Edie, that you could get into a lot of trouble. Plagiarism is a huge offense!”

“Don't you think I’ve realized that?”

“Honestly, no, sometimes I don’t! Do you really believe these silly articles are worth ruining your future career?”

“Oh, well that’s nice. My work is just silly. Thank you, I really—”

“Stop fighting!” Lisa suddenly cries, tears on her cheeks. Justin and I blink in surprise; Lisa rarely raises her voice. But she’s shouting now, “How do you think it feels to have my best friend and fiancé at each other’s throats? We’re all living together, for Merlin’s sake! You two can’t keep doing this!”

We’re still staring, mouths agape. In response to our silence, Lisa throws the towel onto the floor, “Oh, sod it!” She bursts into fresh tears and runs from the room.

I turn guiltily to Justin, but am shocked that his eyes are misty. “Wait, are you crying?” The anger is gone from my voice, replaced by a rather mushy feeling in my stomach. Until now, I’d never seen physical proof of how much he cares for her. If he were an awful person, Lisa wouldn’t give him the time of day. I’ve always known that much.

He pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath. “I’m fine,” he says after regaining composure. “I just hate seeing her upset. The wedding’s really taking a toll on her.”

I realize how little I’ve been there for my best friend, during one of the most stressful times of her life. “Should we go talk to her?” I offer helplessly.

“No, let’s give her a moment.”

“Right.” I look at my untouched breakfast, suddenly not hungry.

He’s right that I’m jeopardizing my career. And I know he’s genuinely concerned for my wellbeing; it’s just easy to forget sometimes. But he has high expectations for himself, and when others don’t meet them (whether mutual or not), he looks down on them. But honestly, the reason it irks me so much is because I do the same thing.

“Sorry,” I say at last. “I know you’re trying to help. It’s just hard to watch you and Lisa sometimes, you know? You’re both so successful, and I’m...” I gesture vaguely, “invading my friends’ house.”

Justin is even worse with feelings than I am. When he can’t think of the proper response, he presses his mouth into a line and nods. Another silence, and then he rises to his feet. “I’m going to talk with her.” But he stops behind my chair, clapping a hand on my shoulder awkwardly. “I read your article. You really should apply for that job.”

I smile up at him; he’s gone quite pink. “Thanks,” I say to his retreating back. Justin waves over his shoulder, and turns it into a head-scratch, before disappearing.

My eyes lower back to the Oracle Underground. Yes, the job posting has been there for weeks. Yes, I’m wildly unqualified. But maybe, just maybe, things could work out? Just this once? I’ve already lost my job, my flat, and my first potential relationship in years. What else do I have to lose? I mean, really—what else is there? I flip back to the Classifieds. This time, though, the ad feels like something accessible; a possibility:

NOW HIRING — Reporter for the greater London area. Applicants must have excellent literary skills, knowledge of current Wizarding World events, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. Apparating License or Floo Network access necessary. Three to five years’ experience required.

I read it once, twice, three times. Thinking of Justin’s charmingly awkward support, I crack a grin. The ad doesn’t seem so scary now. “What the hell,” I murmur, drawing out my wand. “Accio quill and parchment.”


It has been, in the absolute mildest of vocabulary, a mind-fuck of a day. While the old Edie would have gone straight for the Firewhiskey, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. Part of me feels wrong for criticizing Wood’s fondness of drink, if I’m doing the same. Instead of searching for the bottle found in my sock drawer, I decide to take a walk. I would like Lisa’s company, but she and Justin had one of their rare arguments earlier while I tweaked my CV. Murmured voices turned to shouting, and then she stormed into the den. Without looking at me, she grabbed her coat and slammed the door behind her.

I’m feeling pretty rotten about moving in; clearly it’s the reason for their bickering. Two months before the wedding is not a good time to fight. I decide that I’m going to be straightforward with Lisa. When she comes home, I’m going to tell her about being sacked, and that I was evicted (I told them I made the decision to save money), and everything that happened with Oliver.

Fixing my black wooly scarf around my neck, I head into the rainy morning. Mindlessly, I perform a water-repellant charm. I don’t really know where I’m going, but Alchemy Coffee is out of the question. So is the magazine stand. Just because I’m coming clean about Oliver with Lisa doesn’t mean I want to relive it right now.

Suddenly a raindrop lands on my nose. Frowning, I glance up and realize there are holes in the umbrella charm. Without warning, in my mind’s eye I see Oliver standing outside after the WNAG. He looks at me appreciatively as I sheath my wand, “Thanks. You’re quite good with that. Mine usually have holes in them.”

Shaking the thought from my head, I walk faster.

Soon I’m ambling past the shop windows, halfway peering inside, halfway studying my surprisingly miserable reflection. When I reach the Quidditch store, I stop to look at the latest broom model: the Arrow. The sleek wood is stained a deep reddish-black against blonde straw. It really is beautiful. Too bad I was never very good at flying. I turn around to continue walking, and am surprised to see Lisa amidst the crowd. She’s looking at her feet as she walks, hugging herself tightly—she must still be upset. Maybe we can go sip hot cocoa, and I can tell her everything. And, most of all, I can be a good best friend and listen to her problems for once.

“Lisa!” I call brightly. She sees me and a shadow passes over her face. Maybe she doesn’t want to be bothered, but we have to get over this hurdle. We meet in the middle of the street, and I smile pathetically, “Hey… Um, I know you’re upset, but I really need to tell you something.”

She nods, “Okay.”

This is it. Time to be an adult. Time to admit I’m a complete failure at everything; even at telling the truth about being a failure. I shut my eyes, gesturing as I draw in a deep breath.

“I’m unemployed,” I blurt, just as Lisa says, “I’m pregnant.”

We gape at each other—she is what?! That’s not possible; she told me they’re always careful! But then it all begins to make sense: the anxiety, the over-eating, the fights with Justin, the mood swings.

Holy shit. She really is.

But then she’s grabbing my arm sympathetically, and gasping, “Oh my God! Edie, you lost your job? That’s so horrible, I had no idea!”

“How is that any more important than what you just said?!”

She studies me intensely, her blue eyes wide. People diverge and pass by like we’re rocks in a river. I look at Lisa in sadness, and then her brow knits in realization. Suddenly she bursts into tears—and they aren’t tears of joy. She throws herself at me, hugging me so tightly it almost hurts. “I’m pregnant,” she sobs into my shoulder. “Edie, I’m pregnant.”

Author's Note: Wow! So much drama in the last two chapters, I mean really. This chapter was really fun to write. I hope that you guys have a better idea of who Justin is. He's a bit rough around the edges, but so is Edie. I actually have this funny little thought that the reason Lisa likes them both so much is because they're the same person, in so many ways.

What did you think of the twist? I know one person guessed it, and I totally lied in the review response xD Sorry to do that, but I wanted it to be a surprise!

Another lovely CI by afterglow @ TDA! ♥

Chapter 17: Incendio!
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Tears run down Lisa’s (annoyingly symmetrical) nose as she grips her cocoa mug. We’re in a small park just off Diagon Alley, one of the additions in its post-War expansion. As soon as she released me from her vice-hug, I dashed into the nearest café and ordered two cocoas, dumped all of my coins onto the counter, snatched the mugs, and ran. In the park we found a small, concrete bench sheltered from the rain. We sit in silence, as if Lisa hadn’t just spilled a huge secret, until she sniffles, “You really shouldn’t have spent money on me. Especially if you lost your job...”

I rub her arm, a bit awkwardly, “Don’t worry about that right now. So… Does Justin know?”

“No,” she sighs. “Obviously, I’m going to tell him. Just… not right now. He’ll be upset that I waited, but things are so stressful for him. He’s dealing with the Female Goblin Coalition fiasco, now.”

My ears perk up, but I fight the desire to ask. I’ve spent too long not listening to Lisa’s problems.

“Of course we want kids,” she continues, “but we planned on waiting a few years.”

“You know, there are options,” I say carefully.

She looks like I’ve just slapped her in the face. “I’m keeping it, Edie,” she says resolutely, and I drop the subject. But then she wails, “I just wanted three years of marital bliss! We’re supposed to be having newlywed sex, like, four times a day. Not changing diapers! And I’m finally becoming a Healer. I’ll only have a few months before I have to take maternity leave. I was so close to having everything I wanted. A baby just wasn’t a part of it, yet. Is that so selfish?”

“Of course not,” I say with conviction. “It’s anything but selfish. You wanted to be financially and emotionally prepared, before bring a human life into the world.”

At this last bit, she bursts into more sobs. It’s really bizarre to see Lisa lose her composure like this. I pat her hand until she heaves something between a sigh and a groan. “I’m sorry. I’ve been so mental lately. It must be the hormones.”

“You don’t have to be sorry,” I soothe. “How, um, far along are you then?”

“Two months,” she sighs. “I work in a hospital, for Merlin’s sake, how did I not notice this?”

I shrug, “You have a full-time job, and you’re planning your own wedding. It’s easy to get swept up. I mean, at least it isn’t one of those situations where you don’t even know you’re pregnant, until suddenly you’re standing in your own—”

“I get the picture,” she interjects, smiling weakly.

“Sorry,” I smile back. “So I suppose I should find a new place to live, then.”

She looks at me with such guilt that I wish I hadn’t even brought it up. “I’m really sorry, Edie, I know you’ve just moved in. Stay as long as you need. We’ve got months before we need your room.”

“It’s no trouble,” I wave her off. “I’ve managed to save some money lately.”

Lies. But she doesn’t have to know that. I swat away the nagging question, What the hell do I do now? We let the silence envelop us again. It’s actually quite nice, listening to the rain on the leaves. Lisa shuts her eyes, collecting herself. Then something dawns on her, “Well, this certainly throws a hex into our plans.”

“What do you mean?”

“My hen night is next month.”


A bride-to-be is expected to get completely trashed on her hen night. And I’m the only attendee who wasn’t in a Witching Circle in Healer school. (Lisa’s work-friends are more like acquaintances. I’ve met them before; they still embroider their Circle’s runes onto their jumpers. They’ll be handing her shots left and right.) “I reckon you don’t want anyone to know yet.”

“You’d reckon right,” she presses her lips together in thought. “We’ll tell them I’m doing a juice cleanse.”

I make a face. While that sounds on par with being thrown in the stocks for two weeks, it is something she would do. “They’ll fall for it. But you’re going to be dreadfully bored.”

“I’ll just have to watch you make a fool of yourself,” she teases, poking me in the side. My brow knits defensively. I really am trying to turn over a new parchment, but now isn’t the time to mention it (or being evicted, or Oliver.) If she’s feeling better, then that’s all that matters.

So instead of coming clean, I plaster on a smile. “You know me!”

Soon Lisa guilt trips me into returning the mugs to the café, and we set off. The rain hasn’t let up, and it runs off our brightly coloured boots. As we stroll Lisa grows silent, and surprises me when she says, “So, about your article.”

“Yeah?” I grin, but her expression is somber. I remember her reaction to it earlier today. Her only words had been that it was mean. I tease, “Don’t tell me you’re going soft on the guy.”

“That’s just it,” she says. I furrow my brow and she adds, “Oh, don’t think I didn’t appreciate the quality of writing. It’s great journalism, Edie, it’s just… It really is mean.”

I can’t help my scowl. “I thought you were angry about the St. Mungo’s charity. You called him a wanker.”

“That’s not it,” she shakes her head. “You didn’t even mention the charity in this article.”

“Because he refused to talk about it!” I cry.

“I agreed with you about that donation, at least at the time. And Wood was careless to slip up about his manager being replaced. That much is his fault. But… it’s what you wrote about the shoulder injury. That’s quite personal.”

“How can it be so personal if he was willing to talk about it?”

It’s difficult to keep my anger down. She’s supposed to be on my side! If I can’t even convince my best mate that I’m in the right, how am I supposed to convince readers? What could have possibly happened between the first article and now? There’s only one explanation.

“Has he got you under an Imperius Curse?”

“No, no,” she flaps her hands exasperatedly. “You’re right about the injury. He did tell you about it himself. But I think you took it in the wrong direction.”

“Where should I have taken it, then?” I say through clenched teeth.

“You could have been more sympathetic. There are ways to talk about it, without making it sound like it was his fault—”

“It was his fault. He chose not to take potions.”

I may as well have just said, “I’m part unicorn!” the way she’s staring. Regaining herself, she says, “I just don’t understand. Why are you even attacking him like this? You barely know him. Did something happen between you two?”

Hopefully, she does not notice my stumble. Of course she has no idea about what happened between Oliver and me. Because somewhere along the line, I stopped treating my mates like mates. I say offhandedly, “It’s just good journalism. You said it yourself.”

“Right, but the way you used his private information… I have no idea how you even got it out of him, but...” she flushes and blurts out, “it sounds like a petty excuse to publicly humiliate him. I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel.”

“What!” I gape, but she won’t meet my eyes.

Whether or not she’s right isn’t something I want to consider. Sure, I haven’t stopped to think about a lot of things lately. I was expecting backlash over the article—from Wood’s fans, or his team mates, or maybe even star-struck Seamus. But I surely wasn’t expecting it from my best friend.

I recall her tending his shoulder at St. Mungo’s. Surely that was just a fluke in her schedule, or she would have mentioned it before. “Do you… know something?”

We’ve reached the café. Instead of responding, Lisa points to my cocoa mug. “I’ll take that inside for you,” she offers, suddenly polite. Without a second glance she pushes the door open, and it chirps, “Hello, hiya, welcome!” By the time she returns (“Goodbye, thank you, ‘til next time!”) it’s like nothing ever happened.

“Thanks for the cocoa,” she says. But something in her smile tells me that our previous conversation is over.


Ever since my argument with Lisa earlier this week, I’ve done all of my article-writing at Witch Weekly. Still, I can’t wrap my head around her sudden disproval. Of course she’s sympathetic by nature. This would be enough to convince me that nothing else was going on, if she hadn’t been so anti-Oliver just a month ago. The only possible conclusion I can deduce is her hormones. I’ve seen my mum go through that emotional rollercoaster, three times over. Let me tell you, it’s not pretty.

Hiding the article at WW is tricky, but it’s my only other access to a typewriter. I’ve cast charms so that to anyone else, the parchment appears blank. (The first try ended in the parchment shouting everything that was written on it. I narrowly escaped a Mildred catastrophe there.) There’s been a spike in my productivity lately. It’s the result of a complicated formula: too much coffee, a buzz from the cleaning potions used at The Rusty Knight, no sleep, and a personal vendetta.

I glance at my calendar for the umpteenth time. It says aloud, tiredly, “Still the twenty-fifth of September, mate.”

The article is due on Ward’s desk—erm, Rose’s desk—today. She and I haven’t spoken since I declared war via Flatulence Charm. She never even acknowledged the draft I slipped under her door earlier this week. Reckon she’s still a bit touchy. She’s still in the dark about what happened between Oliver and me (though I’d never turn to her for a shoulder to drunkenly cry on.) What’s more, she thinks I’m the same way about the two of them. The thing that’s weighing on me is whether or not to use this. The article could stand to be longer…

“Of course you shouldn’t use it!” exclaims my conscience, which I imagine as a miniaturized Lisa. “Be the bigger person here! Think of how that would make you look to Blakeslee.”

“Fine, I won’t,” I grumble to myself, all the while thinking, At least for now.

“Won’t what?”

Rose’s voice makes me jump out of my skin. I throw a hand to my heaving chest, “Merlin’s beard! Why are you always doing that?!”

She’s standing in my doorway, looking put-together as usual in smart black pumps. Only the slight messiness to her hair, like she’s been clenching it, betrays her stress. With a cool and collected façade, she quirks an eyebrow, “Doing what?”

“Lurking about!” I wiggle my fingers at her exasperatedly.

“I’m hardly lurking, Edie—”

“Oh my God, what do you want?”

She crosses her arms, shifts her weight to the other hip. “It’s about the article,” she says, “Are you aware that it’s to be sent to layout first thing tomorrow morning?”

“Of course I know that,” I snap. Does she think I’m not taking this seriously? Tension crackles in the room. There’s a forty percent chance this will end violently. “I’m giving it a final proofread right now. I’ll be done within the hour.”

“That’s just it,” she examines her fingernails. “I meant to tell you earlier, but it must’ve slipped my mind. I already wrote the second article myself. It’s sitting on Ward’s desk right now.”

My quill drops, “Excuse me?”

I must not have heard right. Rose wouldn’t be so thoughtless. Not to be a completely arrogant twit, but she can’t write the kind of article I did—she said so herself. Blakeslee would be disappointed, and Rose would be to blame. It doesn’t make sense. But then…

“You have got to be joking,” I murmur. It takes everything in me not to go for my wand.

She doesn’t want Oliver to see her name on the article.

“It just wasn’t working out,” she shrugs. “Your article was good, but it didn’t really address his personal life. That’s what Blakeslee wanted.”

“It’s for the sports section!” I cry indignantly. “I talked about his athletic career.”

She ignores me, “So really, there’s no need for you to write the third article. I’ll still pay for all three, of course.”

“I don’t want your bloody money!” I bellow, although I could certainly use it. “We had an agreement!”

“Right,” she says in a voice typically reserved for small children, “and I’m holding up my half by paying you. It’s not like you were getting your due credit, anyway. Honestly, I thought you’d be relieved. Judging by your writing, you can’t stand being around the guy long enough to interview him.”

In my head, I shout, “And you can’t be around your interviewee without shagging him!” But what I actually say is, “This isn’t fair!”

She considers my words, “No, I suppose it isn’t. But it’s the way that this business works, I’m sorry to say. A lot of people just aren’t cut out for it. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Oh, you insolent little—”

Before I know it, both our wands are drawn. I’ve stood up so quickly that my chair has toppled over. We stare each other down like two snarling Kneazles. But suddenly there are footsteps echoing in the corridor. Sheathing her wand, Rose apparently spies the visitor. A look of alarm crosses her face, but it’s instantly replaced with a smile. Meanwhile I’m doing my best to look casual, making a show of leaning across my messy desk. Then Oliver appears in the stone archway, and my elbow slips.

“Wotcher,” he greets Rose with the tilt of his head. Then he notices me and freezes. Rose tries to respond, but only makes a sound like a teakettle whistling. Suddenly I am very interested in my potted plant, which now looks more like sticks of charcoal. I can feel Oliver’s eyes boring into me.

“Well!” Rose suddenly quips, too high-pitched. Our entire argument is forgotten. “Oliver and I have some things to discuss about the article. Shall we get started?”

“Mm,” is his response, but she’s already scurried away. Her heels click down the hall at an almost-run. Throwing him to the wolves, I see. Top-notch lady you’ve got there, mate.

I still haven’t turned to him, though I can glimpse that he hasn’t budged. He’s staring me down as if I don’t actually realize he’s there. Not really one for subtlety, eh? At last I’ve shuffled and re-shuffled every parchment on my desk, and can’t ignore him any longer. Slowly I swivel towards him and gesture violently, as if to say “What?”

In response, he glances over his shoulder and steps inside. I recoil as though I’ve been bitten. Though he looks bewildered by my reaction, he begins to dig around in his coat pocket. Is he looking for his wand? What, is he going to Obliviate his way back onto good terms? Although I’d like to quip something witty like this, my mouth has gone dry. Finally he extracts an envelope from his pocket and thrusts it at me. Though his face is Gryffindor scarlet, he won’t look away.

A note? He wrote me a bloody note? What is this, the Fourth Year?

Because I can’t take him standing there looking stupid any longer, I snatch it from him. He breaks the silence, murmuring, “Open it. Please.”

Unbelievable. Who is he to go around making demands? I grab my wand as if to use it as a letter-opener. Instead I murmur, eyes boring into his, “Incendio.”

The note bursts into flames. It would be a pretty tough gesture, I suppose, had I not forgotten that fire is quite hot. I hold my defiant expression as long as possible as the flame grows. Oliver glances from it, to me, and back. His expression betrays shock and—to my great annoyance—amusement. At last I throw the note into the bin, resisting the urge to blow on my stinging fingertips.

Finally he shakes his head, smiling bitterly. “Fine, Edie. If this is what you want. But don’t tell me I didn’t bloody well try.”

Though I have no idea what he means, I’m not about to ask. Without another word, he turns and leaves. I listen to his footsteps echoing down the corridors. Off to Rose’s office, to do God-knows-what under the disguise of journalism.


I count to three (or try, and only make it to one-and-a-half) and then madly snatch up the bin. “Aguamente!” is the first spell that comes to mind, which I immediately regret. The flames become a bucket of water that hisses with steam. I probe around the mess until at last I find the note. Shamelessly, I try to open it, though the parchment tears. Cursing under my breath, I try a drying charm. But it’s no use. It’s too charred, and what little ink that remains is too runny. Dimly, I realize that I’ll probably never know what Oliver wanted to tell me. Flicking my wand at the door so that it slams shut, I slump in my chair.

Well, there’s no use crying over spilled potion. Back to my old standby: repressing any semblance of emotion. But more important matters are at hand (at least this is what I tell myself.)

Rose said her draft is on Ward’s desk right now. It’s already six o’clock, and he’s gone for the evening. That means until tomorrow morning, he has no idea what the final draft will look like. A sudden thought strikes me. Yes, it is a thought fuelled by an entire cauldron of coffee, and the lack of sleep. Yes, it’s probably the stupidest plan I’ve ever hatched. But desperate times call for desperate measures, or so the cliché goes. And I’m pretty damn desperate.

I’ll need a task force, and I know just where to go. With a maniacal grin smeared over my face, I snatch the article from the typewriter and Apparate from the building.



“Edie!” Dean nearly jumps out of his skin when I reappear in their sitting room. He’s splayed out on the beer-stained sofa, drawing in his sketchbook and listening to some Muggle band on his record player. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been here. But their flat looks the same: poorly lit, the walls covered with posters of the Kenmare Kestrals and West Ham football players. The floor is so littered with balled up sketches, dirty clothes and beer bottles that I can barely see the old carpet. At least a fire is roaring in the hearth, casting a cheery glow around the mess.

Nearly tripping over a rogue football, I hurl myself onto the arm of the sofa. “What are you doing tonight?” I fire, clutching the article so tightly that it crinkles.

I must be leering extra creepily, because he grimaces, “Nothing…?”

Seamus strolls into the room, shirtless and eating two cheese sandwiches. He says with mouth full, “Thought I heard ‘at voice,” crumbs falling onto the floor.

Entirely too gleefully, I exclaim, “Want to help me break into my editor’s office?!”

They exchange looks, eyebrows raised. No doubt that Dean, always the voice of reason, is going to shake his head and say, “That is the worst idea you’ve ever had. You’ll be in such trouble.” Not to mention Seamus reminding me that could lose his Auror’s license for something like that. I could use being shut down. I should just go home and get some sleep; let Rose and Oliver fly off into the stupid sunset. I should spend my time doing something productive, like finding a job, or a new place to live.
Dean and Seamus answer me at the same time:

“Sure, why not.”

“Nothin’ better to do.”

My insane grin is so wide that it hurts my cheeks. “You two are absolutely brilliant,” I pull Dean into a crushing hug; Seamus takes a step back to remain safe. Once again channeling Gwendolyn Phyre, I say with excitement, “Meet me outside Witch Weekly at ten o’clock. Apparate down the street and walk the rest of the way. We don’t want to be heard. There’s an entrance ‘round back… That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

There is a beat of silence.

“Brilliant, gives me time for a kip. Cheers,” Seamus raises a sandwich and exits the room.

“Do we have to wear black?” Dean wonders, rubbing his chin. “We probably should. But I don’t know if I have a proper black jumper. And it’s too cold out for a tee shirt…”

My task force, ladies and gentlemen.

Author's note: I have finally nitpicked this into what I consider an acceptable chapter. In case you didn't catch it, the Witching Circle was a play on sororities, and the runes embroidered on their jumpers were Greek letters ;3 Also, I have to thank Siriusly89 for mentioning Seamus eating a cheese sandwich. It was just so... Seamus-y!

Thoughts? Is Edie's plan a good one, or just a horrible amalgamation of no sleep and a coffee overdose? What about the note from Oliver, and Lisa's reaction to the article? Does anyone want their very own talking, cheerful door? How about a bewildered calendar?

Thanks to à nos étoiles for the lovely CI. And thanks to everyone who has stuck with this story from the beginning. It's getting harder to find time to update, but I'm really in love with KC&CO and promise I'll see it through ♥

Chapter 18: You've Got Moxie, Kid
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I’m feeling pretty stupid in my thief getup. Really I’m just wearing too many pieces of clothing, in varying shades of faded black. To any idiot, I look like a suspicious character—a tormented poet at the least. Adding this to my list of concerns, I can actually feel my stomach twisting into knots. It seems the calming walk isn’t doing the trick. I haven’t forgotten the portraits of snippy models lining WW’s corridors. If one of them sees us, surely we’ll be ratted out. My only hope is a secret stairwell leading from the kitchens to just outside Ward’s office (I’ve used it to lower my sandwich-retrieval time to a new record.) I may be able to shimmy into the corridor without being spotted. But it will be risky.

Ugh, what was I thinking asking Dean and Seamus to help? They’re not exactly the quietest, nor most graceful. Then again, neither am I. I should’ve asked somebody else; somebody small and quick.

A young man is heading my way. The portfolio he carries catches my attention and I realize that I’m near the Antiphilus campus. “Jae?” I call uncertainly.

“Oi, Edie!”

I note that he’s wearing all black, and that he walks nimbly. Maybe I could just—

No! Squeaks my conscience, miniature-Lisa, Stop dragging others into your half-baked schemes!

I shake my head, chasing the thought away. Jae reaches me and eyes my getup suspiciously, “What are you up to?”

“Nothing. Just out for a stroll.”

“Through the vaults of Gringotts?”

“No!” I fire too defensively. “Just through town. Diagon Alley is lovely this time of night.”

A bedraggled wizard stumbles by, pausing to vomit loudly on the street.

“Lovely,” Jae steps closer and crosses his arms. He’s only a bit taller than me, but he’s actually kind of intimidating. “Well I think you’re up to something.”

“Of course I’m not! Why would you even… I mean… honestly! Some people!”

He waits patiently as I attempt to un-fluster myself. “Fine,” he says easily. “In that case, I insist that I join you on your stroll.”

My jaw drops, “Oh, come on!”

“It can be dangerous this time of night,” he smirks.

I can’t believe this. What a cunning, sneaky little… Wait. That’s right: sneaky.

“All right, fine!” I shout in one impossibly long sentence, “I’m breaking into my editor’s office, and it’s a long story, and I promise I’m not stealing anything, or doing anything illegal—”

“—Other than breaking in—”

“—and I can explain everything to you later, but I just really need to get this done, tonight, and there’s no point in trying to stop me!”

Jae looks impressed. Whether it’s by my determination or my lung capacity, I’m not sure. At last he says, “Sounds brilliant. I’m in.”

I’ve opened my mouth to retaliate but falter, “…Oh?”

“Yeah, why not,” he shrugs. I’m amazed by how easily my friends have agreed to this, and am beginning to question my character judgment. “I mean, you don’t seem to have any kind of plan whatsoever. And I reckon there’s some kind of security system we’ll have to get past.”


He winces, sucking air through his teeth, “Worse than guard-dragons, I hear. Well! Breaking and entering it is, then. But don’t think that this counts as our date.”

Although I’m not sure how I feel about Jae Chang as a human being, let alone a potential boyfriend, I still get all giggly. It must be the desired effect, as he puts an arm around me. We set off. It’s hard to walk like this, but I suppose it’s what couples do. And perhaps we’re honing in on couple-dom (Couple-ship? Couple-hood?) We chatter idly along the way, and soon my nerves dissipate. He’s warm and kind of smells nice. By the time we arrive at Witch Weekly, I’m feeling much more confident.

The moon is a thin crescent, shedding little light onto the looming building. It’s much creepier at nighttime, I note. There’s no sign of anyone. Only a few stray fairy-lights flicker in the arched windows, but those are always around. We tiptoe into the dark alleyway beside the building. Dean and Seamus must be here somewhere. For some reason I don’t want them to catch on to Jae and I just yet. Quietly I step out from under his arm.

“Guys,” I whisper, “You there?”

The response is a birdcall so elaborate and poorly-done that it could only be manmade. I roll my eyes. Seamus. Soon he and Dean materialize from the shadows, shoving each other and laughing.

“Shhh!” I hiss, drawing my wand. “Lumos Minimus.” The pinprick of light is enough to see them clearly by, and I roll my eyes. They’re wearing their old Hogwarts cloaks pulled over their heads, with black paint smeared on their faces. “Wow,” I mutter, “you’d never realize you two were up to something.”

“Just a bit of fun,” Seamus defends, again too loudly. “Who’s this, then? Thought you would’ve brought Ol—”

“This is Jae Chang,” I interrupt. “He’s a… friend. He can help us.”

“What’s he got that we don’t have?” Seamus pouts.

Dean murmurs, “An ounce of sanity?”

“No, tactics,” Jae corrects, and for some reason I want to roll my eyes. Seamus giggles at him, elbowing Dean, and I have to quiet them down again. Seriously, what was I thinking?

“So…,” Dean says. “Why exactly are we doing this again?”

I fish around in my knapsack, extracting the article with a flourish. “I need to get this onto my editor’s desk. The article in there now is going to the press first thing tomorrow. I need to stop it.”

They all look at me strangely, but I hold my dramatic pose. Dean murmurs, “I knew I saw a Gwendolyn Phyre book in your flat.”

I shoot him an embarrassed glare, but Jae says, “Right. Let’s get started, then. I think the best plan is for the two of you to guard an entrance. I’ll go inside with Edie.”

Thankfully, it’s dark enough that they can’t see my blush. “Oh, what?” cries Seamus. Dean claps a hand over the Irishman’s mouth, but says, “Yeah, why do you get to go inside?”

“No offense, but you two are about as subtle as a minotaur in a china shop. And too many people will make it easier to be caught. We need as many eyes out here as possible.” When they don’t immediately argue, he continues, “If you see anyone, or run into trouble, send a Patronus our way. We’ll do the same. There’s no point in you getting caught, if you don’t have to.”

“Sounds like you’ve done this before,” Seamus can’t hide his admiration (he is the worst Auror.) But he and Dean exchange glances, mulling everything over. I think they’re just upset to not be included. “Fine,” Dean concedes at last.

I nod, “I’ll send my Patronus once we’re finished. Then we can all meet—”

“At the pub!” Seamus interrupts. “We’ll celebrate with a pint, eh?”

Well, there’s no harm in a little self-congratulations. We agree that this is a sound idea. Dean jogs off to the front of the building, to guard the main entrance. Moments later Seamus disappears into the shadows and gives another birdcall. He’s having entirely too much fun.

Jae and I creep down the alleyway and I extinguish my wandlight. Once around the back, I turn to a very small, wooden door that leads into the kitchens. It’s for House Elf use, and only their magic will open it. But I’ve learned that if you ask nicely enough, the door will also let in a poor, locked-out intern. Then again, that was in the daylight. With a deep breath I wave my wand at the little brass doorknob. It wiggles around as if rousing from sleep. “Who’s there?” the female voice yawns.

“Terribly sorry to wake you,” I say. “It’s Edie Lennox. I’ve locked myself out… again.”

“It’s late,” she snaps. “What business do you have at this hour?”

“I’ve forgot my… my uh… Funny story, really, I’ve just gone and forgotten my…”

If this doorknob had eyebrows, she would be raising one skeptically.

“Edie,” Jae suddenly gasps, coming to stand beside me. “You never mentioned that this building was built in the gothic style.” He runs his hand up and down the stone doorframe appreciatively. Is he… massaging it? “It’s such an underappreciated genre, really, especially with all of this drive towards a more streamlined architectural aesthetic.”

Although to me, he may as well be speaking Mermish, the doorknob squeals, “I know! It’s that Gerkin building. Ever since that eyesore came about, it’s brutalism this, futurism that. We classics are quite neglected!” She whispers, as if delivering a great bit of gossip, “The flying buttresses have it the worst!”

“Oh, you’re so right. And it is such a shame,” Jae clicks his tongue, still caressing the archway. He musses his fringe ever-so-charmingly, “Well I attend AIVA, and let me tell you, contemporary doors are not nearly so kind. Try and ask them to let you back inside, after you’ve locked yourself out.”

The little doorknob giggles and I stare, horrified. Then Jae steps on my foot, ever so slightly. “Oh!” I blurt. “Um, yes, may we please go inside? We just need to—”

“Yes, yes, fine, don’t be so pushy,” she snaps, as if I ruined a very tender moment. But there is a soft click, and the tiny door creaks open. I avert my eyes; it now feels like she’s exposing herself.

“Thank you darling,” Jae winks. I can’t take it anymore. I crawl inside, on my hands and knees, down the little stone corridor lit by tiny torches. Jae follows suit, and as the door swings shut I distinctly hear it smack him on the rump.

It’s not until we clamber to our feet inside the kitchens, brushing the dust off, that I say, “Wow. You just… chatted up a doorknob.”

“What, jealous?” he smirks.

“Oh, stop it,” my face flushes.

The room is very dark, and I nearly topple a stack of cauldrons (thankfully Jae stops it with a quick spell.) Afraid to cast a light, I feel along the wall until I reach the spiraling stairwell. I’ve forgotten that it’s behind a tapestry of the founder of WonderWitch. Miraculously, though, she is missing from her post. I part the fabric cautiously and we begin our ascent. The portraits of models never sleep, and even now we hear their raucous partying. Hopefully they’ll be distracted.

We’re halfway up the stairs when Jae suddenly takes a hold of my hand. I freeze, fearing that we’ve been caught. But he climbs onto the same step, and takes me by my waist. Grinning, he kisses me once, and when I don’t stop him, he kisses me again.

Perhaps snogging in the stairwell isn’t the best way to spend our precious time. But the minutes go by, and soon we’re past the awkward stage of figuring out how the other’s mouth works. My back is pressed against the stone, and his hand is on the bare skin of my waist. He’s a decent kisser, and it’s certainly the most action I’ve had in months. But I can’t stop thinking of Seamus and Dean, standing diligently in the cold, while I’m being felt-up by my Mum’s studio assistant.

I pull away, offering a smile, “We don’t have much time.”

“Right,” Jae licks his lips. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be,” I say, because I reckon it’s what you’re supposed to. My heart is racing, from which danger I’m not exactly sure. At last, we reach the door at the top of the stairwell. I’m embarrassingly out of breath, but Jae bounds up the last few steps. The door creaks open and his head pokes out with mine below it. Ward’s office is a stone’s throw away. To my immense relief, the surly male model who usually dominates the wall is off with the others.

Jae murmurs, “How do we get in?”

I roll my eyes. “My editor does not understand how to whisper. I know his password.” (It’s true; Ward jovially bellows “Mum’s treacle tart!” every time he unlocks his office. I’ve just never thought I’d need to use it.)

My eyes are trained on the door. It almost looks to be pulsating, but it’s just the blood rushing in my head. I take a steadying breath. It’s now or never. Without warning, my muscles release and I bolt for the door. I shout the password, foregoing all attempts at silence. I’m so determined that I don’t register Jae’s hissed whisper, “Wait, stop!” until it’s too late.

Miss Lennox!”

I freeze mid-step, my hand inches from the doorknob. Oh no. Oh, no. What is she doing here so late? Slowly I turn, like a child caught pilfering sweets. Mildred, like Filch with his lantern, has her wand-light trained on me.

Jae rushes out, brandishing his wand. “Don’t hurt her!” he bellows heroically.

I roll my eyes, “Oh, pack it in, she’s not going to hurt me… Are you?”

Her eyes go even narrower behind their spectacles, “They don’t allow it anymore.”

She should really get in touch with Filch.

“Fortunately for you, Miss Lennox, I don’t have the authority to fire interns. I do, however, have the right to know what is going on! What exactly are you doing outside Mr. Ward’s office?”

“I can explain,” I say stupidly. But Jae and I just stand there, neither one brave enough to speak.

“Well someone had better! Breaking into the building after hours! I have never, in all of my years, witnessed such behaviour from one of our own!”

As she works herself into a proper frenzy, I feel my resolve crumbling. It doesn’t matter what I tell her now. We’ve been caught breaking in, and I’m a lowly intern. Disposable. Everything I’ve worked for has gone down the drain. But Mildred stops—there is the sound of footsteps echoing in the stairwell. When a furrow-browed Tallulah Blakeslee emerges, I almost pass out.

I’m finished. I’m bloody finished.

“Mildred, what’s going on?” Blakeslee says. She’s holding a steaming mug of coffee—she must have just gone into the kitchens. We barely missed each other. Her eyes fall on Jae and I, and a look of recognition crosses her face. She says darkly, “What’s the meaning of this?”

“Brutus caught these two sneaking,” Mildred sneers, as though she’d actually said ‘fornicating.’

“Brutus?” Jae whispers, and we hear snickering from behind. The waif with the stupid haircut is back in his portrait, looking quite pleased with himself. I roll my eyes. Models.

“I found them trying to break into Mr. Ward’s office,” Mildred concludes.

Blakeslee’s eyes fall on us and she says gravely, “Is this true, Edith?”

I can’t help my look of surprise. She knows my name? All this time, I thought she saw me as Intern #463; just another in a long line of poor sods who work for free. Suddenly I feel my courage welling up. If I’m going down, I’m going down fighting. Seizing my chance, I step forward.

“It is true, Miss Blakeslee. But there’s something you really should know about the Quidditch articles. You’ve been lied to.” There are signs of interest behind her gray eyes. I venture, “I’d like to speak with you about it. Privately.”

From my periphery, I can see Mildred’s affronted look. But I keep my gaze trained on Blakeslee, even though it’s terrifying (she is really intimidating.) At last her severity dissipates, “Very well. We’ll speak in my office. Mildred, I trust that you’ll keep an eye on this young man.”

“Of course,” she says all too wickedly. Jae gulps.

As Blakeslee leads me round the corner, I hear him try valiantly, “Mildred, is it? May I just say that you look stunning in green—”


“Yes, ma’am.”


It’s like I’m having an out-of-body experience. I watch Blakeslee clip down the hall; see myself dragging behind; know that the article is burning a hole in my knapsack. My heart hammers so loudly I’m convinced she can hear it. We walk for ages before we reach her office, located in one of the tallest spires. She waves her wand at the door and passes through it like smoke. With a deep breath I follow.

Although it’s the middle of the night, the windows are charmed to glow with early-evening sunlight. The room is much larger than the spire would allow, obviously another charm. It’s full of magical and decorative objects, but there’s a rigorous order to it all—each knickknack looks perfectly in place. Blakeslee gestures to a studded dragonhide chair that looks like it may attack. Regardless, I sit as she returns to her desk. Dominating the wall behind her is an enormous black-and-white portrait of a fashion designer whose name I forget. Both gazes stare at me intently. She’s waiting for me to speak.

Kissing my internship goodbye, I pull the article out of my knapsack. I abandon all formality and break the silence with, “I’m the one who wrote the Oliver Wood article.”

Blakeslee shakes her head, “That’s impossible. The assignment was given to Miss Zeller.”

“It was…but then she gave it to me, because she was busy with her other work. We agreed not to tell anyone.”

She goes rigid as a broomstick. “Miss Lennox, this is a very serious accusation. It could cost Miss Zeller her job.” I nod wordlessly and she blinks several times. A silence passes while she tries to wrap her head around this news.

Gently, I prompt, “I did all the research, and the interviews, and wrote the entire article. I saw what was actually published—I don’t think Rose even edited it. And now I’ve written the second one, as agreed. But Rose wrote a different article and gave it to Mr. Ward. That’s why I was sneaking in to his office; to replace it with my own.”

“Why would Rose do that?” Blakeslee still holds her coffee though she hasn’t even taken a sip.

I open my mouth to tell her about Rose and Oliver. But for some reason, I can’t do it. Instead I shrug, “I’m not sure. And I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I don’t think that her article is as good as mine. I doubt she got the kind of interview that I did. I found out something really big about Puddlemere… I don’t think he meant to tell me, but… It’s really big, Miss Blakeslee.”

Her eyes fall on the parchment. Now it feels like marble in my hands. It weighs a ton. Suddenly I don’t know if I should hand it over; if it’s worth ruining a man’s whole career. But Blakeslee eyes me impatiently, and I pass it over with a steady hand.

“Here’s proof that I wrote it. If you don’t believe me, Priori Incantatem should do the trick. It’s deluded in my protective charms, not to mention the magic from my typewriter.”

She nods, considering. The room’s grown very hot and my tongue feels like parchment. I watch as she unsheathes her wand, long and thin like her. After a glance to me, she casts a silent spell.

The ink on the page disappears, and then returns in a flurry of click-clacking keystrokes. At last the watermark appears, glowing softly: Edith Hypatia Lennox. Blakeslee doesn’t look back at me. Her shoulders slump, either in disappointment or shock, or both. Then she begins to read. I am twitching in my seat, being crushed by her silence. Before I can stop myself, the words come rushing out.

“I’m so sorry, Miss Blakeslee, for sneaking around. I just really wanted to prove myself. To me, or the readers, or you—I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking about repercussions when I agreed to write the first article. But I want to be a journalist so badly. More than anything. And honestly, I feel like I’m completely ignored around here.” I don’t even realize that there is anger building in my voice until I’m practically shouting, “I mean, all I do is bring Ward his food! You had me handing out refreshments as the WNAG! I’m twenty-six, for God’s sake!”

Blakeslee looks up from the article, a patient smile upon her face.

“And now I’ve been sacked and lost my flat and my potential boyfriend, and this stupid internship—sorry—is all I have! And nobody will even give me a bloody chance to prove myself! I know I’m a good writer. You said it yourself! Well, sort of… you told Rose that she was a good writer, but really it was my article.”

“Miss Lennox—”

Somehow I’m back on my feet, pacing and flailing my arms, “And quite frankly, Miss Blakeslee, if you want to get rid of me then that’s just jolly good! I know I’m worth more than this—”

“Miss Lennox, you may consider yourself hired.”

“And furthermore!” I freeze mid-pace. “What did you just say?”

Her amused smile is back—the one I saw weeks ago, in Rose’s office. “I said, consider yourself hired.” When I only gawk, she says, “Well I can’t likely have the articles fall through, can I? You said it yourself: you’re a damn good writer. And Witch Weekly has made a promise to its readers.”

“Shit,” I squeak. She quirks a brow and I breathe, “Sorry. I just…I don’t know what to say.”

She snorts, “I think you’ve said quite enough already.”

I don’t believe this. I don’t want to believe this. Every good thing that’s happened with Witch Weekly so far has turned out to be a horrible mistake. But this is real; not some under-the-table deal with Rose. This is the editor in chief offering me a position at her magazine.

“And… what about Rose? I don’t want her to lose her job.” As soon as the words leave me, my face clouds with confusion. Is that really how I feel?

Blakeslee sighs. “I expected much more from an employee like Miss Zeller. There will be dire consequences indeed.”

This hits me harder than expected. Even after everything—all of the petty, childish behaviour and the embarrassment—it boils down to just that. Childish behaviour. Yes, Rose has been horrible, but there may be no way to survive a plagiarism scandal like that. Who in their right mind would hire her? Would I really wish someone to have the life I’ve been living? The not knowing if you’ll make your next rent payment, or feeling worthless, or like you aren’t doing anything with your life?

Mustering my courage, I say boldly, “I’ll write the third article. But only if Rose doesn’t lose her job.”

Blakeslee’s jaw clenches and she glares stonily. I’ve gone and made her angry. But I’m feeling very brave right now. She’s all but said she needs me, at least until the last article is published. Then I’ll probably be sacked, too, but until then…

“I don’t think you realize the gravity of this situation, Miss Lennox. She unrightfully accepted an award by the Wizarding Newspaper Association for an article she didn’t write. This could put our publication in serious trouble.”

“Why? As far as anybody knows, Rose wrote the first article herself. Even if the award had gone to me, it still would have been to Witch Weekly.”

Although there’s no denying my logic, Blakeslee says in a low voice, “Blackmailing is a very serious business, you know.”

“I’m not blackmailing you,” I say honestly, my voice even, “I offered to resign. Then you hired me, and now we’re making a deal. Isn’t this how business is run?”

What is wrong with me? Right now, of my entire existence on this earth, would be the time to filter my thoughts. There is a long silence in which Blakeslee regards me coolly. I force myself not to look away, and finally she says, “It’s not going to be easy, you know. I won’t expect any less from you than I would any other employee.”


I want to jump in the air and cheer and skip around and throw confetti and maybe even hug her. Instead I manage a very shaky, “Yes, ma’am.”

“You’ll have deadlines, and revisions, and a fixed timetable. In fact, you’ll find that your whole life revolves around the magazine. But it’s the nature of the beast.” If she’s trying to be intimidating, it’s not working, because these are the exact words I’ve been waiting to hear. “You must adhere to Witch Weekly’s mission statement, even if you find personal quarrels with it. Don’t think I didn’t notice your political undertones.”

My face flushes but I say, “Of course.” At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ll agree to anything.

“Now,” she sighs. “That’s enough mental exhaustion for one night. Tomorrow I’ll speak with Mr. Ward about the best plan of action. In the meantime, don’t mention this to anyone. You’re quite lucky, you know. If you weren’t such a good writer, you’d be in Rose’s place. I don’t reward bad behaviour. Ever.”

“Thank you,” I say stupidly. I’m certainly making a brilliant impression with my new boss. Oh my God, I can’t even believe it—my new boss. Though annoyed, I swear there is a little gleaming admiration in her eye. I want her to say something like, “You’ve got a helluva lot of moxie, kid,” but I’ll settle for the lessening in her icy glare.

She rises to her feet, smoothing her skirts. “You’ll be covering the Puddlemere match this Sunday.”

It’s not a question. Part of me wants to wince, but what are the odds I’ll be spotted in a crowd of thousands? It’ll be painless. It being Friday night, I have all day tomorrow to plan for the match. I’ve been procrastinating on that front. Of course, that bit I don’t add to my employer.

“We’ll see you at eight o’clock Monday morning.” Blakeslee extends a hand. I clasp it with both of mine, furiously shaking it.

“Oh my God, yes, okay, yes!” I’m floating; I must be. Blakeslee only nods curtly in response, but at least she appears amused by my idiocy.

When I’ve exhausted the handshake to the point of just being uncomfortable, I gather up my things. I almost knock my chair over, seeming to have lost feeling in my hands and feet. As I pass back through the closed door, I hear her chuckle, “We’ve never had so much trouble with an intern.”

Author's Note: A rather long chapter, but FINALLY! Some good has come to Edie. What to say about this chapter, except that it was really fun to write? Especially the bit that involved Jae, he was quite fun this go-round. And I hope the ending wasn't too cheesy. I didn't want Blakeslee to seem to welcoming; in fact she was quite irked.

So! Whaddya think? Surprised that Edie defended Rose? Does anybody want to check Jae into St. Mungo's for flirting with an inanimate object? Please leave your thoughts in a review, good or bad. I really can't express how much I love to read them!!

Thanks to artemis. @ TDA for the gorgeous chapter image ♥

Chapter 19: Nothin' but a Number
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Soon I find myself back in Le Chat Noir, where months ago Rose first offered me the article. To my left is Dean, who rests his elbows on the counter, brow furrowed in concentration. On my right Jae leans back, his arms crossed, wearing a similar expression. Seamus is perched on the end stool, halfway listening to the conversation, halfway eyeing girls. At least we fit in with the hip clientele, as we’re already dressed in black. Seamus and Dean have been receiving some looks, only just recently wiping the black paint from their faces.

The reason everyone looks so confused is that I’ve spent the last twenty outlining my entire history with the articles. Multiple times. Having never attempted it before, I hadn’t realized how tangled the web had become. But they’ve been the perfect audience: gasping indignantly when I was sacked, clicking their tongues when I lost my flat. The only thing I’ve left out is the potential romance, though there have been some suspicious glances.

“…And that’s why we broke in tonight,” I finish for the third time.

They all nod with glazed-over looks. Seamus rubs his chin and blinks about a thousand times, “Okay. Explain it one more time. I think I’ve almost got it.”

I drop my head onto my arms exhaustedly. “Can’t we just go over it later? I’m getting bored, and it’s my life we’re discussing.”

“No way,” Seamus shakes his head fervently. “You’ve been hiding everything for this long, and you’ll just do it again.”

I give him a guilty look. Dean adds, “Besides, it’s not our fault you’ve managed to turn everything into a soap opera.” At our blank stares, he clutches his fist adamantly, “One of these days you’ll understand my Muggle references.”

“Okay,” Seamus points his finger at my face, probably because he sees about three of them. He’s been celebrating enough for the lot of us. “So. You write the first article, and Rose puts her name on it. And your boss is all, ‘Yeah Rose, we’re chuffed, brilliant work, we want two more!’ But she knows she can’t do them justice, so she pawns them off onto you.”

Jae continues, “And so you write the second one in secret. Meanwhile, she starts shagging Wood. She knows her name is stamped on the stories, and doesn’t want him think she’s writing these contemptuous articles,” he says the word lavishly, but I have no rebuttal. They are bloody harsh. “So before the second one is published, she writes another, nicer article, and sneaks it to the editor.”

I finish, “So tonight we broke in to replace it. And Blakeslee wants to see the magazine succeed, so she’s taken me on.”

I don’t add what’s gnawing at my thoughts: will Witch Weekly even keep me on, after the stories are published and they’ve gotten what they need?

Dean says, “But as far as Wood knows, it’s your name on the articles. You’ve been doing all the fieldwork, and the research, and interviewing him. He doesn’t like reading about himself, so he may never even see Rose’s name. What does it matter to her?”

I shrug, “I reckon she’s afraid he’ll change his mind, read it, and toss her in the bin. She’d never admit to paying an intern to do her work.”

Jae shakes his head in disbelief, “He must be lying about that, though. Who doesn’t want to read about themselves?”

“Apparently Oliver Wood,” I murmur, stirring the ice cubes of my now-empty drink.

“Well, I’m sorry Edie, but I’m scared for you,” Dean says. “Who knows what Rose is going to do now? You’ve stolen her spot, and she’s already stark-raving mad.”

“Technically I’ve had the spot all along,” I raise a finger. “And no one will know. I don’t plan to rat her out. Plus, I saved her from being sacked. That counts for something, right?”

Dean knocks back the rest of his pint, “I’d watch your back, mate.”

“Oh, who cares!” Seamus bellows, causing us to jump. He’s long since passed speaking at a normal volume. “Edie’s got a job—a real nine-to-five—and that’s all that matters. Cheers!” We smirk at him, but clink our glasses for the umpteenth time. After taking a giant gulp Seamus squints at me, eyes glimmering conspiratorially, “You’ve left out one thing, though.”

“Impossible, she’s been talking for ages,” Dean teases, and I gently pinch his side.

But Seamus says, “You’ve conveniently forgotten to mention that you and Wood almost… y’know.”

I nearly topple off my stool. I’d forgotten telling Seamus about my almost-feelings, that day in the park. Back when I’d thought something would come of it all. My face has gone three different shades of red in the split-second that Jae and Dean snap their gazes to me. Thoughts racing, I try to recall that morning—but I was so loopy with exercise, I would’ve probably given anyone my Gringott’s key. How much did I tell? What does he know?

Damn it, Seamus. You and your big mouth.

“Almost what?” Jae prompts, and there’s definitely a jealous tone in his voice. Dean casts him a look, but then his eyes are back on me.

I manage to shrug off-handedly, “The point is that nothing ever happened between us. Really,” I add to the three quirked eyebrows. “Besides, Seamus is right—what matters is that I finally have a job.”

Despite the very real elation I feel in my ribcage, my smile feels bitter. It must be the alcohol. At least my companions seem quelled, or at least unlikely to mention it again. Dean looks darkly into the bottom of his glass, but says nothing, and Seamus releases another war-cry. He raises his pint—again—as Jae snakes an arm around my waist. I go stiff, uneasy for us to be seen. Neither Dean nor Seamus seems to have noticed, though. Jae grins in a devilish way that I’m surprised sets my nerves on edge. I rest a hand on his leg beneath the counter. I suppose I could use a distraction.


Jae lives in the bottom floor of a small house—I’m assuming his landlord’s—on the outskirts London. I know this firsthand because the two of us outlasted Dean and Seamus at the bar (the latter got entirely too drunk and had to be Apparated home by Dean.) Jae and I remained at Le Chat Noir until the clanged closing bell was clanged with more than a little spite. The walk to his flat was long, leaving plenty of time to stop and snog along the way.

By the time we stagger through the door, everything is spinning and stars. I can hear the blood in my ears as his mouth crashes into mine. I don’t care that he tastes like old beer or that I barely have to crane my neck to reach his lips. I don’t feel shy anymore. Alcohol will do that to you. I grab his shirt collar and pull him against me, jut my hips. But then he gently touches the back of my neck—and suddenly I am back in that strange Muggle shop with Oliver. The feel of his fingertips. The one eye closing. Before I can even think, I slap Jae’s hand away.

He pulls back, looking more shocked than offended. It only takes an instant to recover—but in my head I’m pulling myself from miles underwater, emerging gasping from that stupid memory.

“Sorry,” I say without sincerity, pulling him back. I bite his lip and feel him smirk. He grabs my face again, kisses harder. This time I force myself not to remember. We stumble backwards into the darkness of his home, legs and arms tangling. A small window casts enough light to barely glimpse the clutter of the small space. My mind hasn’t placed us in his small kitchen until I nearly topple over his small dining table.

“Careful,” he teases quietly. Without response I pull off my shirt like an old skin, dropping it onto the floor. No ceremony, no romance, no butterflies. Only something glinting in Jae’s dark eyes, barely visible. I sit on table and wait.

He takes out his wand, says, “Lum—” before I cut him off.

“No lights.”

Before he can protest my fingers are at the buttons on his collar. He tugs my skirt off in a move that seems far too practiced, but I don’t care. We undress in a hurry, like coming in soaking wet from a storm, except there is no firelight to huddle near. Jae puts a flat hand on my ribcage and, in slow deliberateness, pushes me back onto the cool, polished table.

With my hands resting near my head, I stare at a patch of moonlight on the ceiling, and Jae moves over me like a shadow.


When I wake in the morning, all sense of reckless freedom has disappeared. In its place is a terrible headache. Oh, gin and tonic. You taste like water and feel like a ton of bricks. I pry my eyes open, caked in leftover makeup. I’m in a tangled nest of blankets, pillows and clothes on the living room floor. Thankfully Jae is gone, as there is a considerable amount of drool on my chin. My hair could easily pass for a ball of Gillyweed. After a glance in the mirror and some quick charms—including Accio pants!—I could pass for human again. I stumble to my feet and pad uncertainly throughout the flat, calling, “Jae?”

No response. Rubbing my temple, I head into the kitchen for a glass of water. The place is surprisingly clean, certainly compared to Seamus and Dean’s. In the gray morning light I lean against the counter, sipping water. My bleary eyes notice a framed photograph on the wall. It pictures two children, a boy and a girl, both with jet-black hair and almond-shaped eyes. The girl appears to be about ten—just on the edge of her Hogwarts acceptance letter. After a moment I recognize her as Cho, Jae’s sister. She still has the same heavy fringe. She and the boy (who I’d guess to be about six) are sitting on the floor behind a table full of delicious-looking Korean food, making faces and waving at the camera.

I didn’t know he has a younger brother. I smile at the thought of a young Jae taking this picture of his siblings.

Footsteps thunder in the flat overhead. My eyes follow the sound as it travels across the ceiling. A door slams, and then someone scurries down through the garden. At last Jae’s front door opens.


He soon appears in the kitchen and I offer a small smile. His arms are full of food—namely a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread. “Sorry,” he grins, “My cupboards are totally bare. Thought I’d pop upstairs and grab some food.” He kisses me, never one for shyness, “Good morning.”

“Morning,” I grin sheepishly. I can’t precisely recall the ins and outs of last night, but apparently it wasn’t too horrid. At least he wants me to stick around for breakfast. Suddenly I grin, “Wait, your landlord just gives you food? That’s brilliant! Mine just always asked me to watch after his parakeet.”

He offers a confused grin, “No, not my landlord. My Mum.”

“Oh!” I say brightly, wishing I hadn’t opened my mouth. “You live under your parents. That’s nothing. I stayed with mine for a few years after Hogwarts. Loads of people are doing it now, what with the economy and all…”

He only continues to smile confusedly, and then a horrible thought strikes me. My eyes fly back to the photograph of Cho and the unnamed younger sibling. Cho is only a year above me. How old is that little boy now…?

I turn my back, bracing my hands on the counter. “Um. Who is that, in the photograph?”

He shifts uneasily, “Me and Cho… Why?”

“Oh my God,” I cover my face. Dreading the answer, I ask lowly, “Jae, how old are you?”

He must catch onto my horror, because he responds in a high-pitched voice, “Nineteen?”

“Jesus Christ,” I whirl around. “You’re actually serious!”

“Yes… Why, how old are you?”

“I’m twenty-six, Jae.”

“MERLIN’S BEARD!” The eggs drop onto the floor, splattering everywhere, “That’s like… seven years older than me! You’d already graduated by the time I was a First-Year! You were—you were an adult when I was only ten!”

“You do have a way with words,” I grumble.

He ignores me, not to mention the eggy mess, and rubs his chin. “I reckon that’s why we’d never met. You probably thought it was because I was Cho’s older brother… Well. That’s interesting.” He pauses to give a roguish grin, “I mean, I’d always wondered what it would be like. Y’know… With an older woman.”

My jaw drops. But apparently he has reached a new stage—one that ranges beyond complete insanity—because he misreads my expression as lust, and makes his way over to kiss me.

Scowling, I put my hand up and his lips smoosh into my palm. “Yeah, I’m gonna go.”

After I’ve awkwardly excused myself, I pause outside his front door. I can’t believe this. The one time a guy is genuinely interested in me (or at least certain parts of me.) Of course this isn’t Jae’s fault. But I am furious at experiencing another embarrassing turn of life-events. I feel like some kind of marionette, being played by the Fates, or God, or whatever divine force may be controlling the strings…

Eyes narrowing, I suddenly realize exactly which “force” is to blame.

And her name is Hypatia Lennox.


Renwick looks just as picturesque as always. I march down the perfectly-laid cobblestones, my shoulders heaving with rage. Butterflies dance in the immaculate hedges. Birds sing from the up-to-code rooftops. But this quaint little town hides a meddling old Witch—all right, a middle-aged Witch—under the disguise of resident quirky artist.

It’s a Saturday. My Mum won’t be in her studio, so I head straight to my childhood home. For a moment I’m held up on the stupid gate latch—why have we never gotten the bloody thing fixed?—but soon I am stomping through the garden. The small brick façade is nothing to brag about. It barely contains six people, but it’s done its job over the years. A thousand things are running through my head, ready to explode in another trademark Edie-Hypatia screaming match (How could you set me up with a nineteen year-old?! Did you really think I was that desperate?! Well… So what if I am?!)

I reach the door and throw it open, bellowing, “MUM! GET DOWN HERE NOW!”

But I am only greeted by a very anti-climactic silence.

No one, not even my brothers—who last I heard have all returned to the nest—is here. Releasing a scream, I search around for something to throw, before reminding myself that I’m not thirteen anymore. Instead I drop to the tarnished wood floor. Crossing my arms tightly, I force myself not to hyperventilate.

You’re overreacting, says miniature-Lisa, always the angel on my shoulder. Your Mum just wants to see you happy. She’s overbearing, but at least she’s always there for you. And age doesn’t really matter that much, does it? It was just a fling.

My breathing is almost back to normal, and I flop onto my back. The familiarities around the den help to calm me down. I study the maps on the walls, the old fireplace and the burlap curtains—made from flour sacks when we were particularly skint, and kept for sentimentality. In fact, coming home seems to have been the best solution to this morning’s turn of events. My eyelids are growing heavy. I didn’t sleep well last night, if you catch my meaning. Normally that would make me want to high-five somebody, but maybe I’ll keep this one quiet.

I don’t realize I’ve drifted off until someone is nudging me with their shoe. Opening my eyes groggily, I’m surprised to see Leo eating a pickle sandwich. His hair is much shorter since our last encounter, though done rather poorly. I reckon he did it himself. Judging by the light, it’s early afternoon.

“Oi,” he says. “You’ve been out for hours. Thought you were dead.”

“I appreciate how concerned you were,” I grumble, and he hoists me to my feet. Without awaiting his response I make a grab for his sandwich, “I’m starving, can I have some?”

“Get your own!” he cries, but I snatch it anyway. After a tussle I manage to bite off a big chunk, and he punches me in the shoulder. I punch him back.

Mouth full, I say, “Where’s Mum?”

He takes an unbelievably giant bite, so that I barely understand the response, “Studio. Show coming up soon, remember? Thought she owled you an invite.”

Whoops. I really need to pay more attention to my post. Wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, I realize I am quickly reverting back to childhood-Edie. “I’m surprised to see you here. It’s the weekend, shouldn’t you be out with your hoodlum friends? Catching tadpoles or throwing rocks or whatever it is you do?”

He scoffs, “I’m not seven anymore. Christ. Just nipping in from the pub. Didn’t wanna pay for food. Liam, Luke and a couple of others are there. We just got bloody murdered in a Quidditch match at the park, figured we’d drink away our sorrows.”

I snort, rolling my eyes, and he pinches my arm, “Oi, shouldn’t you be out with that famous boyfriend of yours?”

For one horrid moment I think he somehow knows about Jae, but then I realize who he means. “Oliver is not my boyfriend,” I say more adamantly than intended.

“Not what he seems to think.”

Leo has a reputation for telling lies to elicit a reaction. After twenty years, I’ve learned to notice it. I’m not falling for this kind of rubbish again. Tiredly, I sigh, “What are you on about? He’s dating my coworker.”

He shrugs, “Well, maybe. But when we all went out in London, he said he really likes you.”

“That’s not funny, Leo,” I scowl, though I feel something moving in my ribs.

He gestures incredulously, “Oi, I’m not lying! Honestly. Yeah, we were all pretty pissed that night, but I remember him talking about you. It was a bit pathetic, really, the way he just went on, and on, and on—”

“What did he say?” I find myself asking.

“Well I don’t recall his words exactly. Just that he kept talking about how cool you are, and how cool it is that you like politics and beer and Quidditch and all that rubbish. I tried to explain that you really aren’t all that spectacular—What?”

Apparently I have gone white as a sheet, because even devil-may-care Leo looks concerned. “You alright? Jesus, I was only taking the mick. You’re so sensitive.” He shakes his head and pops the rest of the sandwich into his mouth, “Anyway, back to the pub for me.”

I nod, still incapable of finding words just yet. He makes his way for the door but stops and swivels around. Rubbing the back of his neck, he asks, “Um… staying in town tonight, then?”

I fight a smile at his hopeful tone. For a moment I’m back at the age of thirteen, when my brothers still thought I was the coolest human being (and the tallest girl) they knew. Now, apparently, the only person who feels that way is Oliver Wood. Or at least he used to, before he became involved with Rose…

“Actually,” I mutter, “I could use a night away from London.”

Leo actually smiles—in that messy, impish way of his—and ruffles my hair. I smile back and he disappears through the front door, whistling. Yeah, some fresh air will do me good. And maybe there will be no Edie-Hypatia screaming match, but she at least needs a stern talking-to. But already I feel the anger slipping away, replaced by pleasant nostalgia for my old home. That feeling of sisterly love disappears, though, when I head into my old room. It’s a complete wreck, covered in dirty clothes and half-eaten food and Quidditch gear. Fighting my anger, I accio an old coat from beneath the wreckage and head out into the clear afternoon. A walk would do me some good.

Unfortunately, I’m not quite getting the alone-time I desired. I’ve forgotten that it’s impossible to go outside without stopping to talk with all of Renwick. I find myself wishing for an invisibility cloak. I am just leaving Mr. Patmore’s hedgerow, and pulling my wooly black scarf tighter, when I hear a familiar screech. Pollock, the family owl—a rather small creature—is circling overhead. He drops a brown envelope at my feet, and with a grumpy hoot, flies off. I snort. Some “welcome home” that was.

Curiously, I crouch down to pick up the envelope. There’s something small and round inside. When I open the parcel, a gold badge bearing the word “Press” drops into my palm. The note, written in messy handwriting, reads:


Hope this letter finds you well. Philbert and I are eager to meet you. Wear this badge over your coat to tomorrow’s match. The charms will allow you into Puddlemere’s VIP booth, which has the best bloody view of the pitch.

Here the word “bloody” is poorly scratched out, enough that I can still read it. No wonder she and Oliver were basically soul mates.

I’ve spoken with your editor, Artie Ward, and he suggests you arrive at ten o’clock. The Portkey is a copy of Quidditch throughout the Ages, at the Leaky Cauldron. Just show the barkeep your badge.


Katie M. Bell
Assistant Team Manager, Puddlemere United

PS – Wear blue.

My heart is beating out of my chest. Katie Bell, the assistant manager to a professional Quidditch team, is writing to me. Normally I would be delivering this message to Rose, like her personal owl, but here it is addressed to me. All of the sudden, my new employment is very, very real. A stupid grin spreads across my face. One thing I don’t understand, though, is why she’s eager to meet me. Shouldn’t she be more wary, especially if she’s read the last article? Shrugging the thought away, I rub my thumb over the polished golden badge.

Press. I am the Press. So this is it, then. It’s really, actually happening. I pocket the badge and continue down the street, waving a bit more merrily to my neighbours.

Author's Note: Phew! I think that's the longest it's taken for me to update since I've begun this story... and I'm sorry for the wait! Hopefully this chapter cleared up some things (like the entire history of Edie-Rose-Oliver and the articles), as well as raised some more questions. And I've been waiting to write the unveiling of Jae's age for SO LONG and it was really fun to do... Did it shock anyone? :D

Thanks so much for reading. Please let me know what you think! Liked, disliked? Somewhere in-between? Reviews are always very much appreciated.

Edit: I've changed Katie's voice in her letter to better suit her character. Not a huge difference, but she sounded way too bubbly beforehand. Oooh, also, I've settled on a new title! And thank you to bathtub. at TDA for incorporating it into a gorgeous chapter image. Just look at those little birds! ♥

Chapter 20: The Match
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The door to The Leaky Cauldron creaks as I push on it, beaming like a fool. I’m more than ready for my first day on the job. My Mum even helped bewitch my dress Puddlemere blue (I never did confront her about Jae. It was too uncomfortable to talk about my sexcapades with my Mum.) It’s strange to not be decked out in shamrock, although I am secretly wearing Kestrel green underwear. Seamus would be proud. In fact, today I awoke to a note, owled very late last night, that read, I SWEAR IF YOU DON’T WEAR GREEN TODAY I’M GOING TO— and broke into scribbles. Beneath it, in Dean’s handwriting: Good luck today, you’re a shining medallion and you smell like Christmas.

I’m assuming they’d had a few.

A few heads turn when I step inside, including a very old witch I recognize from The Poisoned Apple. She’s already drinking her sherry, and gives me a dark look. Normally this would make me squirm, but I catch my reflection in a dusty mirror and see my “Press” badge—which I may or may not have charmed to glitter obviously. I march up to the counter with the air of somebody who won’t be huddling in a place like this, listening to the match over a fuzzy old radio. A big pewter cauldron bubbles away, full of what I think is meant to be breakfast.

The barkeep appears from behind a dirty curtain that sanctions off the back. He tilts his chin and, wiggling my fingers excitedly, I blurt, “I’m the press!”

He rolls his eyes but turns to the shelves behind him. They’re filled with books, pint glasses, photographs and magical knickknacks. When he turns around, a battered copy of Quidditch throughout the Ages is in his giant hand. It drops onto the counter with a thud. At my confused stare, he huffs, “It only works if you’re wearing the badge. Go on, then.”

“Brilliant, thank you!”

He only grunts in return. I reach out and, body tensing in anticipation, place my hand firmly on the book.

There is a lurch, like less-nauseating Apparation, and seconds later I am staggering back on flat ground. I shield my eyes from the sun, scanning my new surroundings; a very windy field of tall grass. Judging by the salt in the air, I’m somewhere along the seaside. It’s actually quite beautiful.

Unfortunately, the pitch is nowhere to be found.

In fact, there is nothing in sight, except for a clear sky and what I assume are cliffs, over to my left. I stand for some time, searching, but I am utterly alone. Where are all of the other reporters? My confidence slips. Is this the barkeep’s idea of a joke? Did the Portkeys get mixed up? Should I just wait for Katie? The nervous minutes speed by, and suddenly it’s already ten o’clock. Panicking, I pick a random direction and am about to start sprinting, when somebody calls, “You’re late.”

I whip around, but there’s nobody there. I must be hallucinating all of this. I knew it. The whole new job is too good to be true. It’s probably an elaborate prank put into place by Rose.

But then I hear the voice again, chuckling, “Up here, you halfwit.”

I drop my head back, squinting unattractively. Oliver Wood is descending on his broomstick, already wearing his Puddlemere uniform. He’s probably slept in it for days—even bathed in it, the lunatic. My hands start to tremble, but I clench them into tight fists.

Oliver alights in the grass before me, and casually rests his broom over his broad shoulders. I gawk at the sleek black handle, “That’s the Arrow!” He glances at it nonchalantly, as though it weren’t the most over-glorified piece of housekeeping equipment in Britain. The thing costs my annual wages.

“It is,” he says. “I see you’re wearing blue.”

“Yes. Um. I need to find the VIP section.”

He clicks his tongue, “Ah, that’s right, you’re here on official business today.”

I don’t like his knowing smile, or his teasing nature, or that the last time I saw him I set my own hand on fire. Things were easier when he was too awkward to formulate sentences. Seconds pass; my arms are crossed so tightly that I’m cutting off my air supply. I heave an exasperated sigh, “Can you tell me how to get there? Please?”

That stupid smile is still on his face, and he mounts the broom, “C’mon. The Portkey should’ve taken you over this cliff, but something went wrong. I’ll be sure to let Katie know.” At my uncertainty he rolls his eyes, “You’ll not be in trouble, Edie. Come on.”

Before I can move, a thought strikes me. I push the hair from my face, “Did you… come looking for me?”

He snorts, going quite red, “No, I was flying laps and stumbled across you. Lucky, too—you were about to take off in the wrong direction. Don’t think I didn’t notice.”

“Oh. Well…thanks for the lift.”

He looks away, rubbing his nose, “You’re welcome.”

I eye the broom nervously. It may come as a huge shock, given my athletic prowess and supreme grace, but flying is not my forte. Nevertheless, I gather my courage and swing my leg over the broom. Maybe this won’t be so—

I’ve barely grabbed hold before we’re tearing off the ground. With a shriek I lurch backwards. The wind whips my hair as we ascend; my eyes sting with cold. Over my right shoulder, the sea comes swooping into view, glittering with morning light. I dare a glance to the ground and nearly lose my breakfast.

I hope the wind covers the tremble in my voice, “I—I’m not a very good flyer.”

“Really!” he feigns shock, “You can hold on, you know, I’m not going to bite.” I barely hear his mutter, “Or slap you.”

My cheeks go pink, but I’m not going to argue with someone who could do a barrel-roll at any moment. I grip his shoulders with the force of life, but it feels like an awkward pep-talk. Careful not to touch him, I clutch onto the waist of his uniform.

We’re zooming past the rocky cliffs, which break into a low valley. And then there it is: the pitch. It’s absolutely enormous, and despite the nerves, my grin is back. I recall the much smaller pitch at Hogwarts, and how it was once the most impressive thing I’d seen. But this one is enormous, made to seat thousands of fans. Towering over the pitch are two spires, like those of Hogwarts castle—the VIP sections. The match is still two hours away, but people are already clamouring to their seats. Every now and then, somebody sends a shower of blue sparks into the air, only to be answered by two green ones, and so on.

I’m so excited that I’ve forgotten how I am suspended hundreds of feet in the air, on a flying twig. But at Oliver’s down-tilt of the broomstick, we are suddenly screaming downwards like—well, like an arrow. My stomach is in my throat. I’m reminded of the lift at The Hanging Moon: that awful, exhilarating weightlessness. The towers of the VIP areas are screaming towards us. My body tenses in anticipation.

“We’re going to crash!” I shout stupidly.

Then, with the slightest bend of his wrist, Oliver lifts up on the handle and we glide to a seamless halt. Like a ship docking, we drift to the side, our legs barely bumping the stone. There is a smattering of applause from the VIP early-birds, and if my eyes weren’t still bulging from their sockets, I would roll them. At my first chance I clamber off the broom. I’m scowling until I catch the smile Oliver’s poorly hiding, by massaging his jaw.

I can’t help but laugh, shoving him, “You—UGH!” But with his bulk, the broomstick barely even moves. He gives up the charade and howls with laughter.

“Sorry!” he barely manages, mocking, “We’re gonna crash!” He’s clutching his side with one hand, and resting the other on my shoulder as if he may topple over. It’d serve him right. I cross my arms and try to frown.

“Shut up,” I murmur, but there’s no use. People are looking on with interest, and there’s a warm feeling spreading to my fingers and toes. But then I hear a voice that chills my blood—

There you are!”

Quaffle-eyed, I whirl around. My stomach sinks further than I thought possible. A very flushed Rose Zeller is barreling towards me. Oh no… I’m done for. She already hates me for outing her to Blakeslee, and now she thinks I’m flirting with her boyfriend. She raises a hand over her head, and my whole body flinches. I hide behind my own arm—not the face. It’s all I’ve got.

But there is no impact; no punch to the eye. Not even a slap. Instead she’s doing a weird thing with her arm around me, tightening like a boa constrictor. Strangulation it is, then. A bit less theatrical than the murder I would peg as her choice, but—Wait.

My eyes pop open.

Oh my God.

Rose Zeller is hugging me.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” She points her finger in my face (again I flinch) and feigns admonishment, “You’re late!”

It takes a moment to regain myself. But then I shrug widely, “You know me!” I turn to cast a glance at Oliver, but he’s completely disappeared. I double-take. He was just here, not even a second ago!

Then Rose says, “Here, thought you’d like this.” She passes me a steaming mug of butterbeer, held by a bespectacled boy I hadn’t noticed behind her. I recognize the Witch Weekly pin on his coat: Intern. Now that I’ve moved up, he must be the replacement. He’s staring at Rose like a Labrador would somebody with a bouncy-ball. Oh, if he only knew…

“Thank you,” I suspiciously eye the mug’s contents. There’s a seventy percent chance that it’s poison. The moment her head is turned, I pour it over my shoulder (from far below comes an indignant “Oi!”)

Luckily, Rose is preoccupied with shooting the intern an icy glare. Jumping, he mumbles, “Oh! Sorry, Miss Zeller,” and scurries off. She shakes her head with an apologetic smile.

“Don’t worry, I’ll have him trained properly soon enough. He’s to be your assistant, after my suggestion to Mr. Ward.”

My jaw drops. She’s even gone and got me an assistant? What is happening? Shouldn’t she be furious for what I’ve done?

Then it hits me—Rose owes me one. I mean, she really owes me one. Blakeslee, furious, has probably already given her a talking-to. She must have revealed that I’m the only reason Rose wasn’t sacked. And now I completely have the upper-hand. I’ve ratted her out, and embarrassed her in front of her boss, and then saved her job. She probably thinks I could have her fired with the wave of my wand. Finger to my chin, I ponder whether or not this is true.

Rose misreads my baffled expression. “Oh! I’m not here on behalf of Witch Weekly. I know that’s… that’s your thing now.” There is only a hint of bitterness to her voice. But sure enough, there’s no Press badge on her coat. “Actually, Oliver’s invited me. I assume you…know what’s happening between us.”

There’s something weighing on my chest. “Sure do.”

“It’s such a strange feeling to be dating a celebrity. I doubt I’ll ever be used to it. We can hardly go anywhere without people following us. Paparazzi! Following me! Even Theo’s trying to get his hands on—”

“Sorry, have you seen Katie Bell?” I interrupt, heart hammering in my ears.

In response Rose snaps her fingers, and the nameless intern reappears. “Tell Katie Bell that Edie Lennox has arrived,” she orders. With a curt nod he disappears again.

“Wow,” I say.

“You’ll get used to it. It’s brilliant having somebody to boss around.”

He’s back in seconds—if he had a tail it would be wagging—with a woman in tow. I remember her from that night at The Poisoned Apple; she was the soberest of the lot. For a moment I’m afraid that she’ll recognize me, but her uncertain gaze assures me otherwise.

She extends a hand and says, in a deep voice with no false flatteries, “Nice to meet you, Edie.”

I almost forget to respond. I should be viewing her as a colleague—my first connection in the Quidditch world—but I can only imagine how spectacularly gorgeous she and Oliver must have been together.

She’s very lean, but shorter than I am. Her dark hair has been tangled by the wind and twisted up haphazardly; her wand pokes out from the mess. She hasn’t bothered to dress up, wearing a raincoat and heavy scarf. Like Oliver, she’s here on business. Suddenly I feel frivolous in my dress. Her expression is serene, but a light in her eyes says that she’s always thinking, always planning, always calculating…

Wow. They’re the exact same person.

I glance at the intern. He appears to be waiting for a treat. “Sorry,” I mumble to Katie, “I didn’t mean to have you, like, summoned over here. Did—did Oliver tell you why I’m late?”

Rose gives me a strange look, but Katie nods, “He did. Good thing he went looking for you, too. Sometimes the Portkeys...”

Wait, he did come looking for me? Can everyone see my face burning? Katie’s mouth is still moving and I force myself to tune back in.

“…no harm done. Let’s have a seat, though. I’d like to talk to you before we get started.” With a curt nod at Rose, she says, “Enjoy the match.”

I press my mouth into a pathetic smile, glancing at Rose. I swear she has that old glint in her eyes. But she touches my arm in a chummy way, saying, “We’ll catch up.”

Like an actual castle spire, the VIP tower holds a winding staircase that leads to the different levels of seating. Much nicer than the stadium seats below, these are more like fluffy armchairs. We emerge onto the second tier, and Katie directs me to a row in the front. Along the way I spot Theo and wave. He nods and, in usual fashion, snaps a photograph. What a sight Katie and I must be—a lily-white ginger who can’t even run a mile trailing behind a wiry athlete.

Katie gestures for me to sit, and takes the chair beside me. “I’ll be upstairs with Philbert during the match, but I wanted to talk about the article. In my letter I mentioned being eager to meet you. And I reckon I am, because I’m glad to see a new reporter doing Oliver’s stories.”

She couldn’t possibly know that I’ve been the author all along, but I still gulp, “I see.”

Katie swats at a strand of hair as if it were a mosquito, and looks me squarely in the eye. “Maybe this is pointless to say, but… go easy on him. I read that first article and it was… Well, I know you didn’t write it. But it was harsh. Brutal, even, the way that author talked about him like—” she shakes her head, knitting her brow. “I know how he can seem, especially to people who don’t know him. But Oliver is a really great guy—one of the best, in fact. I just hope he never reads that article. It would gut him.”

I am speechless. Going out of my way to shame Oliver, and becoming the kind of person that made me, was something I’d accepted. But I’d never stopped to think about his loved ones. What if his parents or relatives or mates read those things I said?

Katie sees my expression, “Sorry. Maybe that was out of line. I know we don’t know one another, and it isn’t my place to tell you how to do your job. Sometimes I just really have to speak my mind, you know?”

“I know,” I murmur, smiling. “You two are just alike, in that way.”

She exhales a quiet laugh, “In too many ways, turns out.” I study her, but she’s lost in thought. Then, to my relief she says conclusively, “Best be heading upstairs. Philbert’s probably having a panic attack about now. Enjoy the match.” With a curt nod, she disappears.

I don’t know how long I sit there blankly, trying to wrap my head around everything. I haven’t allowed myself to step back and look at what I’ve done. I was too angry. But does this really make me a monster? Aren’t I just doing my job? Is keeping one athlete in good standing worth keeping my mouth shut? What about everyone else in the country, unemployed or border-lining on poverty? I think of women like Tallulah Blakeslee. She’s made a name for herself, but how many people has she thrown under the Knight Bus? I didn’t think it was possible to be a good journalist without hurting someone—even if Oliver is “one of the best.”

A sudden crackling boom shakes me from my reverie. I jump, clutching the armchair. Lost in thought, the remaining hour before the match has sped by. Now the sky is darkening as if the sun were speeding behind the hills. (It’s a complicated charm used for daytime Quidditch. Dean says it’s like dimming the lights in a Muggle cinema.) A firework erupts into the darkened sky: blue and green sparks take the form of two crossed broomsticks. The stands erupt into cheers.

The commentators’ voices rumble across the pitch like thunder, reverberating in my chest. I peer over the edge; everyone below is going absolutely mental. I remember the excitement of the Kenmare match that Seamus, Dean and I went to. By contrast, everyone in the VIP section is thumbing absentmindedly through their notes or murmuring quietly. A witch younger than me, wearing very short dress robes, passes with a tray of complimentary champagne. I accept a glass, trying to contain myself while everyone else looks like they’re about to fall asleep. When Kenmare takes the pitch in a blur of green, I cross my legs to keep from jumping to my feet.

Yeah, Puddlemere’s my number three favourite team—but this is Kenmare.

There is a shuffling to my right, and then Rose is settling down beside me, “Isn’t this exciting?”

I nod, bitterly wondering if she even knows which team Oliver plays for. And then suddenly they’re taking the pitch, circling wider and wider, high and higher, in a flying “V.” The three rings of Puddlemere’s goals materialize, like wrought iron melded from thin air. Our seats are remarkably close to them. I remember Katie’s words, “Best bloody view of the pitch.”

The players ascend to their places. Against my will, my eyes keep flicking to the three-ring goals just to our left. Oliver has taken his post, poised and tense. The commentator’s voice rumbles, “…And back on the pitch after a two-year hiatus is Oliver Wood, Puddlemere’s longest-playing Keeper for three centuries.”

The stands erupt into more applause and shouting. But either he has chosen to ignore his personal mentioning, or he’s concentrating too hard to notice. I can’t decide which is more decidedly Oliver-esque. Other than a reddening in his cheeks, he appears totally oblivious. But then he turns his head ever so slightly towards us, and his eyes land on…

I choke on my gulp of champagne, coughing and pounding my chest.

“Oh, Oliver’s looking at me!” Rose says, twiddling her fingers in a wave.

I want to smack my forehead. This is just like the Weird Sisters concert, when I thought that Myron Wagtail was eyeing me for three entire songs (I even began planning the names of our children) when in reality I was standing directly in front of his wife.

But I can almost swear, as he glancing this way once more, that I’m the one locking gazes with Oliver. Of course, it’s all in my head. I spot the witch in the short dress, and point frantically to my empty glass, “More, please!”


As the match picks up, I am able to concentrate on things other than Oliver. An hour into it, Rose and I have each knocked back three glasses of champagne. There’s a warm, fuzzy feeling spreading from my lips to my toes. Maybe getting buzzed isn’t the most professional thing to do journalistically, but the bubbly is obviously meant to be drunk. Plus everyone else is doing it—a short old Wizard to my left has gone quite red in the nose. I’m even starting to enjoy Rose’s company.

Obviously this is very strong champagne.

The VIP sections are absolutely brilliant, the players zooming not twenty feet from us. The towers are saturated with protective charms, and the Bludgers ricochet off the invisible force fields right before our eyes. (This led to several bumphing penalties, even though the crowd is in no danger.) At one point, two Beaters slam into the invisible wall so close to us that Rose shrieks and spills her champagne. I am on the edge of my seat as the referee calls a blatching penalty—on Kenmare.

Without thinking, I throw up an angry hand and shout, “OH, COME THE BLOODY HELL ON!”

Everyone in the VIP section whips their heads at me; apparently their completely bored expressions have been hiding some strong Puddlemere feelings. And either I’ve had too much champagne, or Oliver really does look at me this time, furrowing his brow. I cough and settle back in my chair.

The match goes by so swiftly that my outburst is soon forgotten. To my great duress (which I am hiding by biting my knuckles so hard that I’ve given them permanent indentations), Puddlemere is up by 150 points. Even if Kenmare were to catch the Snitch—though it is being particularly elusive today—they would only tie the match. I love Kenmare, I really do, but I don’t think I could sit through another two hours of tie-breaking play.

The problem is, Puddlemere’s Keeper is just too good. As much as I hate to admit it, Oliver is absolutely bloody brilliant. Even more irritating is that my palms start sweating every time he hurls his bulking mass to expertly block the Quaffle. He’s like some kind of centurion, guarding his kingdom. I mean, he does have those broad shoulders… perfect for blocking…

I snap out of it—sucking the drool back into my mouth—when it suddenly happens. Donegal, the Seeker for Kenmare, plummets downwards on her broom. I can barely even see the glint of gold catching the light, but Jones is already hot on her heels. (Much more quickly than she returns fan mail, I note.) I clutch Rose’s wrist and she knits her brow, still not entirely sure of how one “Quidditch-es.” The rest of the stadium has caught on, the volume building into a roar.

“What are you doing?” I mutter, eyes trained on Donegal as she weaves between other players. Rose is smacking my hand, but I ignore her and don’t loosen my grip. “You should’ve waited! You’ll only tie the match!”

Something must be going on, though. Donegal is no idiot; this isn’t her first match. Why would she try and catch the Snitch when they have no chance of winning? Unless…


Kenmare’s Chaser, O’Leary—the one Oliver criticised for only being able to throw with one arm—is seizing his chance. Tearing across the pitch, low to the ground, he’s used the two-second pause wherein everyone’s eyes were on the Snitch. A Puddlemere Beater realizes what’s happening, but is unable to get past the opposing players to stop him. Suddenly O’Leary lifts his broomstick so hard that he skyrockets upwards, almost completely perpendicular to the ground.

Oh my God, he’s going to do it! We’re going to win!

I can see everything in slow-motion, clutching my champagne flute so tightly I’m sure it’ll shatter. O’Leary draws his arm back. At the same time, Donegal is reaching for the golden glint, fingers splayed. Oliver has caught on, but the look of fear on his face tells me something’s off—he’s off-center. The left goal-post is unguarded. O’Leary only has a split-second.

Then a very strange thing happens. Almost everyone in the stadium draws in a collective breath, nearly bursting with anticipation and knotted stomachs, clutching one another’s shoulders in oddly silent, agonizing suspense.

It is that moment of unsettling silence, apparently, that I choose to rise to my feet, thrust both my fists in the air, and shout, “KICK HIS ARSE, O’LEARY!”

Everything happens at once: O’Leary releases the Quaffle with astounding force. I look to see if Oliver will block it, but to my great surprise he has turned to stare at me incredulously. He recovers, but not soon enough—his fingertips only brush against the Quaffle as it sails past him, into the goal. Seconds later, Donegal’s fingers close around the Snitch. It’s over. Kenmare has scored a goal, and caught the Snitch. We’ve won by 50 points.

I am absolutely beside myself, jumping up and down and screaming, my champagne flute long since disappeared. Rose is staring at me in horror. In fact, everybody in the VIP section is. To hell with them, we’ve one! The stadium is absolutely roaring. But then I realize exactly what’s happening, and why everyone is looking at me murderously, and what everyone is screaming about. The Kenmare side is cheering with excitement, yes. But the other half—the Puddlemere half—is roaring with absolute fury, and now I see why.

Oh no.

I made them lose the match.

The enormous live projection, which has been screening the players, is now trained on my face. The stadium is erupting into loud “Boos!” I watch my own face turn white as parchment. Rose covers her face with one hand, and when that isn’t enough, sinks lower and lower in her seat until she’s splayed on the floor. A bright light collides on the invisible forcefield surrounding the VIP sections with a loud CRACK!

They’re hexing me! People are actually trying to hex me right now!

“Oi!” I cry indignantly.

Suddenly there are hands on my shoulders, and Katie Bell is yanking me away. “Best get you out of here,” she says, and I wonder if she’s as furious as everyone else. I glance over my shoulder at the angry mobs. Aurors are flying around the stands on brooms, trying to control the crowds.

Well this has gotten out of hand.

Katie draws out her wand and performs what I’m assuming is a protective charm. “It can be a bit scary when this sort of thing happens,” she explains. “Last time they followed the person home and—well, nevermind.”

I release a squeak and allow her to direct me away. But then I see Oliver. He hasn’t moved at all, floating before the goalposts. He’s staring straight ahead with the same blank look I saw when I slapped him. For a long time he’s very still, and then he puts his head in his hands. It’s the last thing I see before Katie Apparates me away.

Author's Note: Wow. It has been so, so, SO long, and I really apologize. I hope you readers are still out there, and if you are, I really apologize for the delay. This chapter was really hard to write, mostly because Quidditch scenes do not come naturally to me, but I'm already excited to get on to the next chapter!

How did you guys feel about Katie, and her talk with Edie? Or Rose's reaction? Or Puddlemere's loss? Please let me know what you think in a review. Thanks so much for reading!

PS - The amazing Eponine @TDA strikes again! ♥

Chapter 21: Apology Not Accepted
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After being partially responsible for a Quidditch team’s loss, making an old lady cry isn’t so bad. Maybe that makes me a horrible ghoul. But really, could things get much worse than Saturday’s match? The memory still sends me into a panic as I peer from inside the Rusty Knight Inn. I’m searching for rogue Puddlemere fans. Behind me, the ancient Mathilda is muffling her sobs with a kerchief. I offer her one last apologetic glance and head outside. The door slams, billowing the dust that has somehow already accumulated. Mathilda releases one last wail.

Well that was a bloody mess.

It took three times of saying, loudly and slowly, “I QUIT,” for her to understand. Then there was awkward hand-patting while I said things like, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and “I need time to focus on myself.” My shoulder is saturated with Mathilda-snot after a very painful hug—she’s surprisingly strong.

I do feel bad. Really. But I also know that in twenty minutes, she’ll have forgotten the whole ordeal. Soon enough she’ll be shuffling around in her slippers, humming pleasantly to herself.

I glance around one more time for good measure. I reckon I’m a bit paranoid. But after the match ended on Saturday, a Puddlemere fan cast a very impressive Bat Bogey Hex that broke through Katie’s protective charms. As she hurried me away from the roar of a thousand enraged hooligans, I was sneezing tiny winged creatures. She had taken me down the spiral staircase, where a little bronze Quidditch trophy sat in a niche. With a clap on my shoulder, Katie had said bluntly, “Good luck. You’ll need it.”

I whimpered and snatched the trophy, disappearing from the pitch.

In the past two days, I’ve received some very unfriendly owl post (just another reason to never check it, as far as I’m concerned.) Then there are the scornful glances in the streets. Yesterday, a very old witch came at me, shrieking and swinging her handbag. It was quite the spectacle; I actually ran and hid in a bookshop.

Lifting the hood of my parka, I extract a tiny vial from my pocket. Things have settled down considerably since yesterday, but I can’t be too careful. In a rare—and unsettling—act of grace, Rose has given me one of her beauty potions. I now sport a short, choppy blonde hair cut in public. It’s wildly unflattering, but nobody recognizes me. Grimacing, I tip the vial back. The weird, tingly feeling, like my scalp being massaged, tells me that it’s working.

Every time I start to feel indignant—or that everyone is being a teensy bit dramatic—I remember the defeated look on Oliver’s face. The way he buried his face in his hands. Not surprisingly, I have not heard from him. I wonder if he’ll even agree to another Witch Weekly interview.

Strangely, most fans agree that he is to blame. I’m not getting the brunt of their anger. The popular opinion is that he should have been paying more attention. Philbert Deverill attempted to come to Oliver’s aid, in his initial press statement. He tittered, huddled under a tiny umbrella before the sea of cameras, “Well, the sun was out, and it can be very bright. You know how you can get all squinty…” Luckily Katie stepped in and made a vague comment about viewing the loss as a positive lesson, and coming back stronger.

I’m still hiding from the rain under The Rusty Knight. Just as suspected, Mathilda has stopped crying. Through the dirty window I glimpse her cheerfully dusting a lantern. Unable to fight my grin, I pull a scrap parchment from my pocket. I scratch “Quit shoddy job” from my list. Next is “Fix living situation,” followed by “Survive hen night.”

Well, first things first. I know good and well that I cannot afford a place of my own. I doubt I’ll be at Witch Weekly long enough to make decent wages. Quitting The Rusty Knight was not the best move financially, but I need to focus on writing. And since Justin and Lisa are expecting, I can’t loaf around the soon-to-be baby room. How would I explain bunny wallpaper to the next man I drunkenly bring home?

It seems there’s only one option, and I don’t like it. I’ve tried to think of any other—even overlooking the Acromantula nest at Dean and Seamus’s—but the answer is clear. It’s time to suck up my pride, and beg my Mum.


"Oh, we would love for you to move back in!” Hypatia Lennox throws her arms in the air, the tell-tale “embrace me” pose. I shuffle closer, glancing at my stepfather Andrew. He’s not nearly as expressive as Mum—I suppose that’s why they work—with a pleasant, quiet demeanor. But his mouth is pressed in what I think is a smile, beneath the beard. I had told my brothers, when I arrived, that I needed to speak with Mum and Andrew privately. So, naturally, they are all looking on. They’re wearing a myriad of expressions, somewhere between amusement and horror at having to share the loo with a girl. Hugging my Mum, I say for the eighteenth time, “It’s only temporary—”

“Shhh,” she interrupts, smoothing my hair. She’s more than pleased to have her baby birds back in the nest.

“Oi,” Liam is slouching against our bookshelf, skinny arms crossed. “Where are we to keep all our stuff then?”

I haven’t forgotten the Quidditch gear and food wrappers and dirty laundry strewn across my bedroom. Scowling, I pinch his arm, “You’ll figure it out. That’s my bloody bedroom you’re using as a rubbish bin.”

“Language,” my mother chimes.

I roll my eyes, “Mum, please, I’m twenty-six.”

“…And living at home with your parents,” Leo makes a crybaby motion with his fists.

My face turns darker than my hair. “The—the economy!” I sputter, but he roars with laughter. “Well at least I have a real job, unlike you lot!”

“For now,” says Luke, “You said it yourself. They’ll probably sack you as soon as the articles are written.”

I shoot him a glare. That certainly wasn’t something I planned on telling my parents. I can’t believe they’re ganging up on me like this! Like I’ve never even lived here! Ignoring my Mum’s looks, I advance at them, “Why, you little…” Within seconds, we’re all throwing slaps and pinches and hair-pulls, and our bookshelf is teetering precariously.

“Outside!” my Mum points to the door, while Andrew calmly sips his tea, “Go outside and play!”

Extracting myself from the tangle of boy-arms, I sniff boastfully, “I can’t. Because I have to go to work, at my real job, like an adult. Unlike some people I know.”

Really, I don’t go in to Witch Weekly today. But it sounds better than the truth, which is that I have to go buy a dozen false tiaras with certain male body-parts on them. True to form, I’ve forgotten tonight is Lisa’s hen night, and am rushing around doing everything last-minute.

My Mum rubs my arms, “Of course, Pickle. We’re so proud of you. Now, I’ll have that laundry finished by the time you return. Do you fancy a packed lunch?”

She’s barely finished her sentence before my brothers have toppled over with laughter. Somebody wheezes, “Ickle Pickle fancies a treat, Mum!” but I can’t tell which idiot it was.

“Oh, sod off!” I shout, and then whisper, “Yes, please, a cheese sandwich.” Errand-running is always better with a treat. My Mum winks and scurries off into the kitchen, pleased as punch. At least she’s enjoying this.

Andrew is grinning at me knowingly, so I mutter again, “It’s temporary.”

He nods, cheers-ing with his mug, “Of course… Pickle.”

Giving him my best hey-remember-when-I-was-sixteen-and-full-of-angst sneer, I bewitch my suitcases to float up the stairs. I trudge behind them, ignoring my brothers’ hooting. After hesitating on the precipice for some time, I push open the door to my childhood bedroom. It’s been eleven years since I’ve lived at home. I flew the coop quick as I could, to a one-bedroom flat with three roommates, to chase the London dream. But here I am again. Underneath my brothers’ mess, it looks the same: there’s a photograph of Myron Wagtail on the wall, and my stuffed bunny Philip is still perched atop my pillow. The laugher downstairs has finally quelled, and the house is oddly quiet. I end the charm and let my suitcases drop noisily to the floor.

Ah, adulthood.


“Can I help you find anything?” the shop keep’s voice cracks. He looks entirely too young to be working in a place like Use Your Charms. His arms are hanging awkwardly at his sides and one of his shoelaces is untied. But my arms are full of colour-changing feather boas (which I’m pretty sure are actually alive), inappropriately-shaped cupcake tins, and poppers that burst into glitter and sing dirty limericks. I’ll take the help.

“Yes, um, I’m looking for tiaras that have… um….” The kid stares expectantly, but I can’t bring myself to say it. He looks like he’s in the Fifth Year. After Jae, I’m a bit wary of young people. “Ah, how old do you have to be to work here?” I ask in a high-pitched voice.

He blinks, “Seventeen.”

“Right. I’m actually doing great, thanks. Shuffle along, then.”

After performing an Accio spell—which required shouting a word I don’t typically use in public—I have the tiaras. I balk at the cost of it all, but I haven’t been the most emotionally present best friend. Lisa is in a rough place. The least I can do is give her an embarrassing night, complete with inappropriate headwear and baked goods.

Hours later, I’m stumbling down the street, arms full of the aforementioned items, in a dress that is entirely too short. But I’m going to bloody well fit in with these girls. Even if that means wearing leopard-print heels and exaggerating my sex life. Tonight is about Lisa, and she’s going to have a proper hen’s night. It won’t be like the last time I saw them, two years ago, when I was grumping around and trying to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybees. A passing stranger catcalls, and I know it’s because I look like a proper idiot. I could barely squeeze into this tea cozy masquerading as a dress. I found it in the back of my closet, from ten years and ten pounds ago.

At last I see Oswald’s up ahead, and heave a sigh of relief. It isn’t exactly the kind of place I’d picture for a hen’s night—pretty posh, actually. Hundreds of leather bound books line the labyrinthine walls; giant dragonskin armchairs boast fluffy pillows that purr when you pet them.

I push on the heavy wooden door, twenty minutes—and definitely not fashionably—late. The place is very quiet. Soft music is drifting from where a Goblin plucks on something between a harp and guitar. I try to ignore the looks I’m receiving from sensible people, wearing climate-appropriate clothes. From across the room there is a flash of gold hair, and I spot Lisa sitting in a corner with her mates.

My stomach drops. Absolutely none of them are dressed for clubs. They’re all chatting politely, with tiny expensive cocktails in their hands. More than one of them is wearing a pants-suit.

Then I spot the prams.


Several heads turn. I duck behind a giant oak column, my legs quaking.

Are these the same women?! The last time I saw them, they force-fed me pink liquor and made me sing Celestina Warbeck karaoke. By the end of the night, the Patil twins took turns puking in an alley, and Married-Redhead-Whose-Name-I-Always-Forget came within a hair of snogging a stranger. Now they’re quietly chatting about the weather, yawning by eight o’clock, and bringing infants!

I am such an idiot. Everyone else has moved on with their lives, and I’ve brought cupcakes shaped like breasts. I hide my face. Lisa is going to be so humiliated...

“Edie? What are you doing?”

I peek through my fingers to see my beautiful best mate. She’s put her hair up nicely, and is wearing a very modest blue dress. She eyes my attire, “Isn’t that what you wore to Terry Boot’s sixteenth birthday party?”

“Lisa, I’m so sorry, I’m such an idiot, I ruined everything!” I wail. The over-stuffed bag drops from my hands and one of the tiaras falls out.

Lisa turns beetroot but murmurs, always nurturing, “Oh Edie… Did you at least bring a coat?”

I shake my head and whimper, “Heating charm.”

She clicks her tongue and pulls me into a hug, and I immediately jump back. “You’ve got a bump!” I point to her belly, forgetting everything. The very modest dress makes sense.

She snatches my hand, hissing, “Shhh! They still don’t know, remember? I can’t drink anything so I figured we’d have a quiet evening. That way nobody would be suspicious.”

“Uh, I’m counting two prams over there. I doubt they’re going to care if you’ve jumped the gun on starting a family. You’re engaged.”

“Right, but…” she flushes again, “I still haven’t told Justin.”

My jaw drops, “Lisa, you have got to tell him. You’re, what, three months along? You’ve known for ages. What are you afraid of?”

She grows very quiet and her eyes pinprick with tears. Hormones. I’m still not used to this version of Lisa. At last she whispers in shame, “I’m afraid he’ll be mad that I kept it from him. I don’t want him to leave me again.”

“Oh, no…” I pull her into a hug again, tightening my grip. “Look at that rock on your finger, Lisa. That idiot loves you. He is absolutely mental for you. He made a mistake one time, and this is him telling you that he’ll never pull that again. Sorry mate. You’re stuck with him now.” I grin at her. It takes a moment, but she smiles back.

“I’ll tell him first thing tomorrow,” she says resolutely. “I don’t think this is an ideal conversation to have post-stag night. I’d say they’re three bottles deep into the Firewhiskey by now.”

“I’d say you’re right.” I grip her shoulder encouragingly, “Now, dry those eyes. You’ll want to clearly see their faces when I walk over there.”

Lisa laughs, “You do look like a call girl…”

We make our way over together: beautiful Lisa in her floor-length dress, and me in my strategically wrapped hand towel. “Hello,” I wave timidly, recognizing a few of the faces. It’s difficult though, with everyone’s horrified expressions. “I’m Edie Lennox. Remember me?”

Introductions and re-introductions are made. Nobody mentions that I look like the stripper hired for the evening. I do my best to appear enamoured by the babies, even though they look like little aliens with a penchant for drooling. Apparently I give a convincing performance, because soon one is being passed to me. I manage to deflect it like a Quaffle by purposefully knocking over Padma’s drink. I jump up to buy her a replacement. The Galleon is worth not bouncing somebody else’s spawn on my knee. (I’m going to make a spectacular auntie to Baby Turpin.) In fact, the night is going considerably well, until I catch a whiff of familiar perfume.

No. No, no, no, no, please God, no.

The front door has opened, and Rose Zeller is standing in its entryway. I whip my head accusingly at Lisa. This time she’s the one who peeps, “Shit.” Rose offers us a wave, hurrying over. Before she arrives, Lisa whispers in one marathon sentence, “I invited her back when I thought you two were mates and I thought it would be nice for you to have somebody familiar plus I thought it would be fun for you to have another single girl here so you two could kind of band together and have a good time and I’m sorry I forgot.”

“It’s fine,” I lie. “But she’s not single anymore, I’m afraid.”

Lisa quirks an eyebrow, but the question is answered for her. “Rose, how are you? It’s been ages!” cries Married-Redhead-Whose-Name-I-Always-Forget. “I hear somebody is having quite the romance.”

Rose grins, tucking her hair behind her ear. “Oh... Yes, Oliver and I have been spending some time together lately—” I swear to God she looks at me when she says it, “—but that’s not important. Tonight is about Lisa.”

She is immediately met with protests to hear more. Silently I sip from my Firewhiskey. Lisa catches my eye and tries awkwardly, “Yes, tonight is all about me… Let’s talk more about me… you bitches.” But she’s so selfless that nobody is buying it—everyone is bombarding Rose as she shyly evades their questions. I grumpily raise my glass to Lisa at her efforts.


As the night continues, Lisa’s friends drop like Nargles. They disappear one by one, until finally it’s just the bride-to-be, Married-Redhead, Rose and I. At least by now they’ve had enough cocktails to make use of the tiaras. They even politely nibbled at my poor excuse for cupcakes. As fate would have it, a boozy Rose has sidled up next to me, looking though half-lidded eyes. Somehow I’ve managed to steer the conversation away from Oliver, but it’s a losing battle. My urgent hand-signals to Lisa are unfruitful: it appears she’s trying to talk her mate out of getting a divorce.

I’ve completely exhausted the menial work-talk, which means listing my favourite office supplies twice over. I’ve prattled about the parchment-clips that remind you of edits to be made… I’m putting myself to sleep.

Then, just when I let my guard down, “I think Oliver is going to break up with me.”

“Speaking of work,” I mutter.

Rose adjusts her tiara, “We rarely spend time together when we’re not at some kind of public event. I mean, I actually kind of like the media attention.”

And have I mentioned those little parchment-clips?!” I quip hysterically.

“It’s bizarre really—”

“—also those little charms for sorting your post. Quite handy!” I try to strangle one of the fluffy pillows on my armchair. It hisses at me.

“I was even printed in an issue of WitchWatch, can you believe it? I’ve actually been receiving hate mail for it… Mostly from teenagers.”

“—and let’s not forget the Quick Quotes Quill.” I look down and realize that I’ve actually torn bits of stuffing from the pillow. It growls lowly at hops out of my arms.

Rose sighs heavily, “Really, I only see him when he comes to visit me at Witch Weekly, and at special events. D’you think that means something is wrong?”

I can’t help but feel that she’s less concerned with the relationship, and more interested in gossip. It’s the way our “friendship” has always been. We talk about things that are interesting and juicy, only for the sake of avoiding a lull in conversation. Her obsession with Theo, work gossip, and my attempts at pulling guys in bars—but never anything that matters.

“He’s busy,” I say tersely, “he’s a professional athlete.”

“I know,” she rests her chin in her palm. “His practises take up almost all of his nights, but…”

My eyebrow lifts. Unless Puddlemere has completely changed their schedule, I know for a fact that they pull doubles beginning at six in the morning and lasting another ten hours. If Oliver’s coming to see Rose at Witch Weekly, he must be using his only free time of the afternoon, between double-practises. But that would still leave his nights open to spend time with Rose…

“How is…um…how is he?” I hear myself saying, “Y’know. After the match and all.”

Rose studies me and I feel my face turning several shades of pink. Glancing away, I take a sip from my Firewhiskey. It seems she won’t deign to respond, but then she says carefully, “He’s…okay. Oliver doesn’t really talk about that kind of thing. Obviously he’s upset, though.”

I try to sound casual, “Well, any time a Quidditch player loses a match—”

“Of course that’s what it is! Why would he be upset with you?” she snaps. Seeing my stare, she recovers with an indifferent hair-tousle. I realize that she isn’t going to admit that I caused Puddlemere’s loss—that Oliver was looking at me. That I was what distracted him, even though I was sitting directly beside his girlfriend. Until now, I hadn’t even thought about it like that.

Rose murmurs to herself for a moment, searching for a change in conversation. She can’t take that she’s just showed her weak spot. For one wild second I feel genuinely sorry for her. How exhausting it must be, to plan and calculate everything you say and do.

Suddenly she laughs in a chummy way, “I would prefer we had more alone-time, but I’m certainly not complaining about the daytime shags. Let’s just say my desk has not been primarily used for paperwork lately.”

I shoot to my feet, shouting, “Wow, it is so late! How did—when could that have happened? Well I’d better scoot.”

“Oh, of course. Goodnight, Edie,” she says, the old glimmer back in her eye. “See you at work.”

I don’t even glance back at her as I gather my things. She’s drunk, and I’m being suspicious, but our entire conversation felt too conniving. See you at work…where I will most likely be shagging Oliver Wood. Again I wish for a coat. It’s hard storming out with dignity, after you can’t properly bend over to pick up your belongings.

I wave an awkward goodbye to Lisa—Redhead Friend is now sobbing uncontrollably in her arms. I catch the phrase, “…never even says thank you after dinner!” There’s no way in Azkaban I’m going over there. Lisa and I grimace at each other, and I know we’ll be meeting soon to discuss the overall insanity of the night.

Still wobbly in my heels, I head outside. It’s freezing, but I’m so flushed that I don’t notice. Heart pounding, I cross my arms and try to calm down. If I tried to Apparate back to my Mum’s right now, I’d splinch myself into twenty pieces. I close my eyes, taking deep breaths, and when I open them again Oliver Wood is standing in front of me.

I jump a mile, “What are you doing here?”

He’s bundled up in the brown dragonskin jacket, a red scarf knotted at his throat. His expression is entirely unreadable. Not like the last time I saw him, at the match. He had been burying his face in his hands. “I came to make sure Rose gets home in one piece,” he says. We haven’t spoken in forever—I’d forgotten how clearly he speaks; straightforward and with purpose. My legs begin to quake, and I tell myself it’s from the cold. “That’s a new look,” he almost smirks.

I realize I’m still wearing the inappropriate tiara. Snatching it from my head, I pluck a few hairs out and try not to wince. My mouth opens and closes several times before I titter, “I feel like I should say sorry? About the match?” It comes out as a question, punctuated by my nervous laughter.

Oliver shakes his head, his face darkening, “Don’t worry. I didn’t expect you to.”

At first I feel relief. What happened is in the past; it’s nobody’s fault. But then I realize what he really means: that I’m not the kind of person to apologise for my wrong-doings. I won’t admit fault even when it’s my own. He expected nothing more than stubborn silence from me.

“Oh,” I murmur, “Well, I meant…”

“Can you make it home alright?” he interrupts impatiently. The worst part—the thing that makes my stomach sink—is the genuine concern hiding behind his eyes. Wordlessly I nod. He returns the gesture, brushing past me and pushing open the door, “Then goodnight, Edie.”

“’Bye, Oliver,” I murmur, but he’s already gone inside.

Like a completely pathetic moron, I stand at the window and watch as he goes over to Rose. He’s jammed his hands in his pockets, stopping short of the armchair where she’s still seated. He nods curtly to Lisa, ignoring the heads that are turning in his direction. Rose staggers to her feet and he takes her hand in his. She looks like a toddler being guided along as she drinks in everyone’s stares. I turn and walk away before Oliver gets too close.

Snow is flurrying as I make my way down the street. Groups of friends stagger along, booming with laughter. My chest clenches as I think of Dean and Seamus. I have no idea what they’re doing tonight, or where they are. I don’t think I could face them right now, but I don’t want to be alone. In a last-ditch, completely pathetic move, I lean against the cold brick of the nearest building and find my two-way mirror. I stare at my reflection for a long time. The words come out in shame, “Jae Chang.”

Little orange sparks float under the surface of the mirror, like fish in a pond. I wait. After almost a minute I lose hope and am about to end the charm, when Jae’s face appears. The sound of booming music and loud voices is all around him. “Edie?” he shouts, “Is that you?”

“Yeah,” I plaster on a pathetic smile. “I was hoping—”

“I can’t hear you! I’m at this completely mental party. Where are you?”

“I’m in Diagon—”

“What?” he yells again. I’m the lowest scum of the earth, crawling back to him after I’d told myself otherwise. Suddenly his image shifts; somebody else is grabbing his mirror. “Who is that?” a girl laughs—a very pretty girl with coffee-coloured skin. Before she’s able to focus on my reflection, I quickly tap my wand on the mirror and the spell ends. I’m left staring back at my own face, mottled and pink.

Author's Note: So there you have it. Thanks so much to everyone who's stuck with this story. I know updates have been few and far between recently--but it really makes my day to know that some of you still look forward to reading about Edie's misadventures. This chapter's image is by Ande. Isn't it gorgeous?

Thanks for reading, all ♥

Chapter 22: Vanity, Not Love
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


My shoes click powerfully down the marble corridors of Witch Weekly. There’s an important-looking stack of parchments in my arms. People nod politely as they pass. Nobody asks me to fetch them a sandwich, or to organize post. If I ignore the fact that I’ve just Floo’d from my parents’ house, I feel like a proper adult. My clothes have been really laundered; not just doused in fresh fragrance charms after weeks of wearing the same trousers. I’ve even got some spare Sickles for a proper lunch. It’s going to be a brilliant day. And after last night’s humiliating attempt at meeting Jae, I could use one.

I duck, narrowly avoiding a stressed-out owl as it barrel rolls away. When I right myself, my twitchy assistant is waiting for me outside my little cubicle. He’s wearing a different pair of thick glasses, holding a cuppa. I cannot wrap my head around having an assistant, especially because I think we’re the same age. When he sees me, he starts in excitement. “Here you are, Miss Lennox!” he hands the steaming mug over. “Today’s schedule is on your desk, as well as a message from Katie Bell.”

“Thank you, erm…” I never learned his name at the Puddlemere match. It’s my first real day back on the job, since officially taking over Rose’s article. The amount of contracts I’ve signed and charmed and finger printed is staggering. I could very well have signed away my left leg, for all I know.

“Ian,” he finishes for me, adjusting his trendy bowtie. I smile apologetically. “Miss Blakeslee and Mr. Ward are waiting for you in the atrium.”

Trying to look as though this is not a total shock, I thank him again. This must be another assignment that Rose conveniently forgot to mention during the transition. (I’ve already missed a meeting with Katie, scheduled for yesterday. The message on my desk is probably a response to the nine million capitalized “SORRY”s I owled her.)

I lean in closely to Ian, “Erm, remind me of the purpose of this meeting?”

“Oh, it’s the photo shoot for the next issue.”

“Photo shoot!” I gush. Ward mentioned the possibility of a formal introduction for me, their newest writer. But I’ve been expecting a tiny blurb at best. A photo shoot is beyond exciting. I pat my hair self-consciously, murmuring, “I wish they’d told me, I haven’t even properly washed. Well, I suppose there will be a hair and makeup artist…”

Ian stares vacantly, a polite smile on his face, “Of course.” He eyes my giant stacks of parchment, “Shall I organize these for you?” Soon he’s trotting off, pleased to have an assignment. The word “Labrador” comes to mind again. I want to pat his head and give him a treat. I silently vow to never give him the kind of rubbish Intern tasks that I was given.

The stone walls of the atrium rise into a dome, enchanted to let in the sunlight. Stained-glass windows of haute couture models line the walls. Hundreds of paper airplanes and owls dart overhead in a flurry of wings, parchment and feathers rustling. Ward and Blakeslee are waiting near the reception desk, chatting idly with the young and beautiful witch seated there. I swear I’ve never seen the same girl twice.

“Good morning,” I sigh when they turn to me. “This is such an honour, really, to be a part of this photo shoot. I can’t thank you enough.”

Blakeslee smiles strangely, but Ward is blunt as usual, “Why wouldn’t you be a part of it? It’s your job. Wood should be camera-ready by now. Shall we?”

“W-wood,” I repeat, stuttering.

How idiotic of me. It’s not my introductory photo shoot—it’s meant to go alongside my article. I clear my throat. “Oh, actually, wouldn’t Rose be better suited for this? She has more experience with our photography department—”

Blakeslee’s harsh look stops me. I’ve been on thin ice since she caught me breaking and entering. Making a fool of myself at the match was no help either. It appears the ice is melting faster than I thought. “You know, I’d actually love to oversee this,” I peep.

Edie, for once in your life, keep your mouth shut.

I silently follow the two editors, more conscious than ever that I am only here until the articles are published. I doubt I’ll even make a proper name for myself at Witch Weekly.

But I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself, because soon enough we’re in the photography wing of the building. It’s in the dungeons, and has always reminded me of a cheerier version of the Hogwarts Potions classroom. Except for the darkroom—that place is terrifying. An intern once got locked in there for a whole day; by the time they let her out she thought she was Celestina Warbeck.

My heart is hammering so much I think my ribs are about to collapse. It was less than pleasant to see Oliver last night. I certainly didn’t think that it would happen again so soon. We reach a large oak door. Two words have been magically carved into the grains: “Solid Wood.”

“Is that…?”

“The new title for your article?” interrupts Ward, “Yes.”

Well, then.

Inside, the back wall has been bewitched to look like a Quidditch locker room. Several photography assistants, dressed in all black, wave their wands and it becomes a pitch. More wand waving and the clouds roll in, the sun sets, and stars come out. Willing my eyes not to wildly search around for Oliver, I watch the backdrop as it changes.

“Wotcher,” Theo appears behind me. I turn a shaky smile on him, and my heart leaps into my throat—Oliver is standing a ways behind him. He’s watching me over Theo’s shoulder.

“Theo!” I screech, for some reason grabbing his arms and digging my nails into them. He winces but I’ve already gone too far. I pull him into a boa constrictor hug, even though we’ve never so much as shaken hands. He cries out in pain and I immediately let go. “Great day for a photo shoot!”

“Well, that’s not actually the real weather,” he points out—the Quidditch pitch is back to a gorgeous blue day.

“Oh… you,” I titter, playfully shoving him. He rubs his arm, looking at me strangely. Behind him Oliver is massaging his jaw, trying not to laugh. Twat. Theo quickly excuses himself, probably fearing for his life, and I abruptly turn away from Oliver. There’s an oddly large amount of people here. Most I’m certain aren’t even involved with the article, or the photo shoot. Why so many spectators? And where is Rose? Searching for somebody to speak to, I spot Mildred standing rigidly. I decide to try my luck.

Leaning against the wall next to her, I sip loudly from my tea. She doesn’t so much as glance my way. I reckon she’s even less fond of me after she caught us breaking in. “So…” I begin, but she only sniffs and goes to stand elsewhere. “Right, we’ll catch up later,” I call.

And then there’s nothing left to do but acknowledge Oliver. I hardly think Ward and Blakeslee would be happy with how strained our relationship has become. We’ve skipped right over the line of “professional,” and managed to entirely muck up “personal” along the way. But I remember the ice melting under Blakeslee’s impressive glare. I’d best swallow my pride and do my job.

I glance at Oliver again. He’s speaking with Theo, who is gesturing exaggeratedly, trying to explain some photographic concept. He’s always felt stifled here. He’d probably rather be doing some avant-garde nonsense, and not the Hottest Styles to Keep You Looking Cool. Oliver is giving him his undivided attention: feet planted apart, arms crossed, one hand massaging his chin as he analyzes. He’s wearing a dressing robe. I wonder exactly what kind of concept they’re going for here.

Somebody calls Theo over to examine the backdrop, and I seize the opening. Cupping my tea like a talisman to ward off uncomfortable conversation, I make my way. At least I’m wearing clothes that fit me today, and no genitalia-related tiara. “Hello,” I murmur.

“Hello,” he says too civilly. Strangely, I’m thankful for Ward’s probing eyes. I search for something to say, but he interrupts, “So… ‘Solid Wood,’ eh?”

My face turns scarlet, “I swear to God, I did not come up with that title.”

He smirks. He’s being cordial and distant, but I swear there’s some kind of that old mirth in his eyes. “Did you have fun last night?”

I wince, “I made a right fool of myself, if that’s what you mean. Dunno if you noticed.”

“Yeah, I almost didn’t recognize you without the tiara,” he teases. My gaze lifts to his, my lips parted. Are we back to joking with one another again?

“Did Rose make it home okay? She seemed a little, um…”

He stands a little straighter, goes a little more rigid. “She was fine. I saw that she got to her flat in one piece.”

She didn’t stay with him? That seems odd to me, and it makes something in my chest stir. Where is she now, anyway? Why isn’t she here? Theo is watching us from across the room, probably ready to get started. But I have to know. And then, because I’m incapable of not sabotaging our conversations, “So, is that what you wanted to tell me that day? After our interview, when we…” I clear my throat. “You said you wanted to tell me something in person. Was it that you picked her?”

As soon as it’s left my mouth I regret it. Picked her? But Oliver surprises me when he responds evenly, “Yes.”

My stomach sinks. So that’s it. No romanticised nonsense; it was simple and nonchalant. Two women were throwing themselves at him, and he chose one of them. I can feel that awful sinking feeling of wounded pride again. Why does this keep happening? Why is there this magnetic pull between us, if it’s clearly not meant to happen?

He moves as if to touch my shoulders, but stops himself. He wets his lips, “It’s not what you think, Edie. Can we talk about this later? When we’re not…” he gestures vaguely around us.

There’s something burning behind his eyes again, something desperate. I’ve seen it before, but what has it led to? “No,” I put a hand up. “That’s all I need, I think we’re done here.”

He presses his lips together, exhales loudly, bores his eyes into mine. I’ve frustrated him. Good. The silence between us is electric.

“Oliver, we’re ready for you,” Theo calls. He’s watching us knowingly and I can’t meet his gaze.

“Right. Excuse me, Edie.”

He pauses self-consciously, his hands going to the ties of his robe. Wait, what? And then, maintaining complete eye contact, he removes it. And I’m such an idiot, because he’s not wearing the robe for the photo shoot—he’s wearing the obnoxious pair of tiny men’s underwear. He looks completely idiotic, but he’s too competitive to back down. Clearly he’s humiliated—he’s blushing all the way down his neck to his chest…

A weird sound escapes me. There are muscles where I didn’t know muscles could exist. The scar circling all the way around his shoulder is visible, but I barely notice it. He isn’t cut like a diamond, or flawless. There’s definitely physical evidence of his love for a Peverell Porter. But it’s even better; more real. I realize that my jaw has dropped, that I’m staring, that everyone knows I’m staring, and worst of all—that Oliver knows. I swear to God there is smugness under all that embarrassment.

He tosses his robe carelessly, it lands over my head like a lampshade. “Hold that,” he quips and turns on his heel.

Tittering laughter fills the room and I pull the robe off my scarlet face. I wish it were an Invisibility Cloak. Glancing around, I see several WW employees whispering knowingly.

I embarrassed him, so he turned around and did the same to me, tit for tat.

What a spiteful little…

Oliver is awkwardly taking directions from Theo. Apparently he doesn’t do anything halfheartedly. But I can’t watch him stretch out on the locker room bench, looking stonily into the camera lens. The flash of light and puff of smoke jolts me back. Quickly I drape the robe over a chair. Trying to ignore everyone’s looks, I speed-walk from the room. Well, now I understand the large number of women there watching… I pace along the corridor for a moment, hands on my hips, trying to even my breath. Well I was certainly not expecting all of that. Suddenly I stop and look up—Mildred is a ways down the corridor, and spots me. She’s leaning against the wall, flushed and fanning herself. We both freeze. There is an awkward pause. And then for once in our entire lives, Mildred and I share a knowing look.

I am not okay with how attracted I am to Oliver Wood.


My shoulder-bag drops to the floor of the Lennox family den. With the heaviest sigh my lungs are capable of, I slump into our squishy armchair. Thank Merlin nobody is at home, unless Andrew is in our shed playing his music. I couldn’t face my invasive mother or hyperactive brothers right now. It’s been a very strange day. Perhaps I’m being melodramatic. But it’s more than annoying that I had such a visceral, physical reaction to somebody who I’m supposed to be “over.” If I’ve even been “under” Oliver in the first place.

Before I am able to contemplate the different images associated with being under him, I snatch a newspaper from the nightstand. Somewhere in all of the anger—and, let’s face it, sexual frustration—I find dull excitement that it’s an issue of The Oracle Underground. Quickly I thumb through to the back, to the employment section. I wonder if they position for reporter has been filled yet, as I haven’t heard anything back. My eyes scan the parchment in excited curiosity…

But the position is no longer listed. It’s been filled by somebody else. My shoulders slump. This time there wasn’t a rejection letter; not even a “We were impressed by your portfolio, but unfortunately…” I reckon I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it was a very competitive position—I’m sure hundreds of people applied. I should be thankful for my stint at Witch Weekly, however brief. But for some reason my eyes feel like they’re beginning to sting.

Blinking the sensation away, I hear the back door opening and my mother’s high-pitched voice. She sounds like she’s talking to somebody, but instead of footsteps I hear a click-clack trotting across the floors. I furrow my brow.


I turn around and see my Mum, grinning from ear to ear, holding a squirmy little ball in her hands. Whatever it is, it’s making grunting and snuffling noises, and it’s covered in short hair. “Mum, what is that?”

“I’ve got you a dog!” she says proudly, and then it looks at me with the most pathetic face I’ve ever seen. There’s something gooey dripping from its squished-in nose.

“Are you sure?” It looks more like a bug-eyed rat to me. “Mum, what are you doing? I don’t need a dog.”

She sets the thing down and it immediately runs over to me, jumps on my lap, and stares me in the face. But it doesn’t lick or squirm around; just stares. It’s the size of a large housecat, with bat-like ears. My hands are glued to my sides; I’m behaving as though it were a Blast-Ended Skrewt. Hypatia is oblivious, clasping her hands beneath her chin. “I knew this would cheer you up! You’ve been so glum lately. And you can keep her here—”

“That’s a she?” I warily glance down at the oddly still creature, and it whimpers.

“—just until you’re back on your feet. I thought you could use a pet. You’ve never even had one, really. You’re the only person I’ve met whose owl ran away your First Year …”

“For the last time, Mum, owls cannot run!” I bellow.

But she’s right. I haven’t seen Pigeon since Year One and every animal since—owl or otherwise—hated me. So I cannot fathom why my Mum thought one would make a good gift. But Hypatia is notorious for getting an idea into her head, and bulldozing past everything and everyone. Tentatively I reach out and clumsily pat the creature’s head. It doesn’t bite or run away—I even think its curly-cue of a tail wags. What a pathetic little thing. Maybe we’ll get along better than I thought.

Apparently I’m mimicking the dog’s forlorn expression, because my Mum says, “Edie? What’s the matter?”

“Oh, nothing,” I murmur absently.

But my Mum quirks an eyebrow and waits.

Maybe it’s the way this animal’s enormous eyeballs are boring into my soul—or it’s just the fact that I’m so tired of keeping secrets. I don’t know what it is; or why I choose this moment; or especially my mother—but I tell her everything about Oliver Wood.

I tell her how we met in the pub, and how he kissed me, and pretended to be Viktor Krum because he wanted to get a laugh from his stupid teammates. I mention seeing him at St. Mungo’s, and how different he was. How he refused to continue his appointment with Lisa until she made sure I was okay. The way he acted at the pub when he came in with Rose, and how he watched me, and how he came to the WNA Gala. I don’t realize it until I’m relaying the story that he wanted to ask me out for a drink that night, but his shyness got in the way.

My Mum has gotten up to make me a cheese sandwich, because I’m nearing hysteria, when I get to the part about him almost kissing me after the interview. She is in the other room, but the clinking of dishes stops for a moment. After the silence I tell her about the note he gave me that I couldn’t read, all the way through the photo shoot today.
When I’m finished, I lay back in the chair, exhausted and nibbling on the cheese sandwich. My Mum is silent for a very long time—which is incredibly rare. Halfway through my story, the little dog fell asleep on my lap. I’ve been absentmindedly stroking her back. This little bugger isn’t so bad after all.

It’s begun to rain, tapping on the windows lightly. By some miracle, nobody else has returned home. My Mum stares out the window so long that I begin to think she wasn’t listening to me at all. At last she turns and says, “Don’t you realize that you’re trying to convince yourself that you don’t have feelings for him?”

I freeze mid-pet, a feeling in my stomach somewhere between nausea and elation. But I recover quickly, “That isn’t the point. He’s with Rose, now.”

“Well when did you give him a chance?” she throws her arms in the air, exasperated. I’m shocked. Perhaps it’s selfish, but I was hoping for empathy, not to be chastised. “It sounds like there’s a reason he didn’t go after you the way he did Rose—why else would he write you a note?”

I shake my head, “You’re just doing what Lisa does. You’re just trying to make me feel better. Oliver doesn’t like me that way, because—”

“Oh, bugger that!” Hypatia rises to her feet in another dramatic display. “He’s just doing to Rose what you did to that awful Cormac fellow.”

I pause to consider this, but I just can’t see it. Hypatia is nowhere near done, though.

“Edie, you know I love you. But you have got to stop being so critical of people. Yes, he has power and money and he’s not a philanthropist, but you don’t know the whole story!”

“That’s the thing, Mum. I do, because I’m interviewing him—”

“Don’t be so blind,” she interrupts again. I want to tell her to drop the histrionics, but she says, “I’m sorry to be harsh with you, darling, I really am. But somebody has got to tell you. You don’t know everything, because he tried to explain himself on numerous occasions, and you let your wounded pride get in the way. Oliver has tried to apologise, a few times in fact. And you’re going out of your way to hurt him with your articles, because he hurt you. That’s not…that’s not nice. In fact it’s rather wicked, and I think you’re better than that.”

I am stunned into silence. Is this really true? I haven’t really heard anyone else’s opinion on the matter. Then again I’ve kept everything a secret. Lisa tried to say something about my cruel article, but I completely wrote her off. Have I really been so arrogant? Am I actually at fault here?

She sits back down, our knees almost touching. “I love how strong-willed you are. It’s one of my favourite things about you, and I am so proud to call you my daughter. But right now, you have to allow yourself to see the other side to the story. This Oliver fellow isn’t perfect, because he’s human. Merlin knows you’ve made your share of mistakes—we all have.”

My Mum puts a hand on my own, which has gone limp. The dog shifts and grunts in my lap but falls back asleep. “Edie, if you don’t really care about this person, then leave it alone. The damage is done. Write your articles and you’ll never have to speak to him again. But if you do care about him—” her eyes bore into mine, “—and I think we both know which it is, then you need to forgive him. You owe it to Oliver, and you owe it to yourself.”

I honestly can’t think of a word to say. There is a ringing in my head. How arrogant and hurtful have I really been? Suddenly everything that Oliver has ever done—the almost-kiss, his willingness to apologise, the written note, the way he treats Rose—is in a different light. Why haven’t I allowed myself to contemplate another side to this story? Why have I been so utterly biased, unwilling to examine the possibility of another truth? Apart from it being bad journalism, it makes me a rotten person. I want to crawl into a hole somewhere and sleep for days.

I don’t even notice that my Mum has gotten up until she plants a hand on my shoulder; a kiss on my head. “Love you, darling,” she says into my hair. I murmur something back—I think—and the next thing I know, she’s disappeared. The rain has picked up, playing a quiet rhythm on glass. It’s grown much darker outside. My eyelids feel like lead.

I want to sleep for days…

When I awake, still on the armchair, there is a crick in my neck. The dog has disappeared from my lap. Somebody, probably my Mum, has draped a blanket across me. A fire is going in the hearth, and I roll over, trying to settle back down under the weight of everything. My eyes land on the newspaper, lying open on the coffee table. It’s open to a black-and-white photograph of a very small woman being guided by two Aurors. It’s a moment before I recognize Grimma Longfinger, and despite my heaviness I lean closer.

I can barely read the headline in the dying firelight: GOBLIN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ARRESTED.

Author's Note: Phew. That was a bit of a heavy chapter, but it was time for Edie to see things from another person's perspective. Poor Lisa tried to talk some sense into her, but she's just too polite and Edie steamrolled right over her.

So what do you guys think? Is Hypatia right, or is Oliver totally past the point of being forgiven? I reckon this is more of a "fluffy" chapter, in that it's a lot of romanticalish emotions. And I promise the dog is relevant to the story, although it may not seem like it now.

Thanks so much, everyone. The end isn't far away!


(On a related note, the title of this chapter, "Vanity, Not Love" was inspired by a quotation from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and which I do not own.)

Chapter 23: The Opposite of Dreadful
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In the morning, I sit at our small breakfast table. It’s a tight squeeze, wedged in-between the kitchen counter and the wall, but it’s nicely positioned beneath the window. December sunlight drifts in and I watch the sparse snowflakes drifting about. After falling asleep in the armchair so early, I’ve been awake for hours. I massage the crick in my neck and frown at my cup of green tea. My Mum doesn’t keep caffeine in the house, which somehow always catches me off guard. But I reckon a morning without coffee-induced anxiety is in order. I’m training my thoughts on simple things, like how red my hair actually is in the sun. The small—and nameless—dog-creature snores at my feet. There’s an impressive drool puddle beneath its face. I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of magical mutt. There’s something very Snorkack-like in her squishy nose.

I glance at the two parchments on the table. The first one, a note from my Mum, is a polite request that I help her with charming the Christmas decorations this evening. It’s a small way to cheer me up after our talk last night. The second parchment is from Lisa. It came by owl post, several hours ago—while I grumpily blinked myself awake, she was probably ending her overnight shift. The letter was short: I told Justin. He threw up, like a lot, but now he’s excited. Thank you for being supportive. Catch up soon!

Of course he’s excited, you silly twit.
I grin at the thought of Justin vomiting in the bin, and then screaming and grabbing Lisa in a hug. I still can’t believe there’s something resembling a Bertie Bott’s jellybean growing in her belly right now. Times are certainly changing.

I try to imagine everyone’s lives in five years. Lisa would be a certified Healer, while Justin would go down to part-time law. Their daughter—yes, daughter, I’ve decided—will be impossibly pretty, with her hair and his green eyes. She’ll be argumentative and bright. They will probably relocate to a quieter area, I realize. Maybe I could see them on the weekends? But they’ll be so busy…

I look back to her letter. “Catch up soon” now looks more like “Catch up to my perfect life! If you think you can. Loser.”

I don’t want to imagine where I’ll be five years from now. Against my better judgment, I wonder about Oliver. And Rose. How will their careers be? Although I’ve envied them, they’ve both actually passed their prime. With Oliver’s shoulder injury, it’s a miracle he can still play at all. And Rose dug her own grave with the article scheme. Will anyone in the publishing world trust her again? Maybe she and Oliver will stay together. They’re on the same trajectory.

I look down at Nameless Dog, snoozing away. “Looks like it’s just you and me…” I pause. A lock of red fringe is dangling in front of my eyes, “Ginger.”

Ginger releases a particularly loud snore, and I smile into my bitter tea.


When my brothers drag themselves from bed—at the crack of noon—I make my exit. It’s amazing how you can miss your family until the moment you see them. Deciding to take Ginger for a walk, I finagle a wonky Tethering Charm so she won’t run off. Not sure if she can physically run, but with my pet record thus far, I can’t be too careful. We take the Floo to Diagon Alley, which may have given her a panic attack. It’s hard to tell, though. Her breathing always sounds like the Hogwarts Express.

There is more snow in London. The heavy damp air reveals what we’ve all been trying to ignore: winter is here to stay. The shops are already decked out in full-on Christmas regalia. Dozens of different Christmas songs assault my ears from every direction. ‘Tis the season. I cast a Heating Charm on Ginger when her round little body starts shivering.

Remembering the article headline from last night, I slowly meander towards Gringotts. There are even more Aurors here now. I spot at least ten, patrolling the different tiers of the building, and standing on the street corners. Two particularly large men in cloaks guard at the entrance. I stare up at the gleaming white façade and think of Grimma Longfinger. The Oracle Underground said that she magically bound herself to the iron gates in protest. She only made it for several hours before the Aurors forcibly removed her. She’s probably already in Azkaban, locked away for fighting for her cause. I thought this kind of rubbish ended with the War.

Ginger whimpers. The Aurors are glowering down on us, and I feel my skin prickle. “C’mon,” I turn away. The magic in the invisible tether pulls and she trots along.

The cobblestones are slick with ice. Passers-by unsheathe their wands to melt things, and I join in. When we are out of sight Gringotts, something starts pulling on my coat. At first I think it’s Ginger, bumbling along too slowly. But there it is again, pulling harder. I glance down and am surprised to see a folded parchment poking from my pocket. Somebody must have just placed it there. Confused, I search for whoever could have done it. But nobody is giving me a second glance. Scurrying beneath a nearby shop awning, I extract the note.

JANUARY 3, 2007.


My face lights up. This is really happening. Some kind of revolution is rumbling in the ground. The Goblin protests haven’t been receiving as much media attention as, say, Puddlemere’s most recent loss. But maybe this will put them in the limelight. The rally is a month away. How many people can I recruit before then? There’s a tingling in my fingers and toes, like magic.

“What kind of dog is that?”

I cram the flyer into my pocket, crumpling it. A young-ish girl stands a few feet away. She looks to be in that pre-teen phase that I always recall with a grimace. When you can’t decide if you’re supposed to be Devil-may-care or feminine, and so you attempt to straddle that line. She’s wearing wooly tights and a fluffy purple coat, her face dusted with freckles. “What kind of dog?” she repeats expectantly, jutting her chin. Ginger waddles over and sits at her feet, staring up with bug-eyes.

“I—erm—I have no idea, actually,” my voice rises an octave, as it always does when I speak to kids. The girl flicks her lively gray eyes at me. “Do you want to pet her?”

“Yeah,” she kneels and rubs Ginger’s round frame. The dog’s tiny excuse for a tail wags and then, with a great flop, she is on her back for optimal belly rubs. The girl laughs, “Hello, doggy.”

“Her name is Ginger,” I say, embarrassed by my own sickly-sweet voice.

“Really? He doesn’t look like a Ginger.”

“Oh. Sorry.” I have no idea why I apologise. More silence, “Do you have a dog?”

She imperceptibly shakes her head. It’s like I’m not even here. “Well, maybe if you’re very good, then old Saint Nick will bring you one,” I suggest.

This time she looks up, scoffing, “I’m twelve years old. I’m not an idiot. I know Santa Claus isn’t real.”

“Ah. That is, I meant—”

She stands, brushing off her gloves, “You don’t know how to talk to people younger than you.”

“Erm, no, I reckon I don’t. Well, in any case, maybe if you ask your Mum and Dad—”

“Uh, they’re dead?” She says this as if I had missed a gleaming ‘HELLO THERE! I’M AN ORPHAN!’ badge pinned to her coat.

“Ah.” I want to break into a mad sprint. But now I’m feeling quite guilty. So she has no parents—is that why she’s out here alone? Maybe she’s been allowed outside the orphanage for a day, and this is the only social interaction she has. At any rate, she’s kneeling back down to Ginger, so I’m stuck for the time being. Should I buy her an ice cream? A hot chocolate? What do particularly unfriendly children like these days?

“I don’t mind talking about it,” she says, unprompted. “It happened when I was a baby. I don’t really remember them. Besides, I know you’re wondering how they died.”

My face goes several shades of scarlet, “No! I wasn’t!”


She rolls her eyes but doesn’t say anything, scratching Ginger’s chin. The dog is beyond elated to receive this much attention. Attempting to change the subject, I ask, “So, what’re you called, then?”

But she interrupts, “My Mum wanted to come here, to buy me new shoes. My Dad told her it was snowing too much, but she wanted to go anyway, so they had my brother watch me. Anyway, they were going past Olivander’s, you know the wand place? Then the Death Eaters came to kidnap him.” She pauses, looks up, “Remember that?”

Numbly, I nod. It was in 1996; ten years ago. That was the attack that marked the turn of Diagon Alley from a bustling hub to a ghost street. And she’s talking about it as if discussing the weather, “The Death Eaters killed a few people who were standing by. I reckon just because. Anyway, my parents were two of them. My Mum was still holding the shopping bag with my new socks and shoes when the Aurors came.”

My mouth is as dry as parchment. Is this how she’s always told the story, and to complete strangers? Does she think this is her fault? I should say something comforting, but what? I’m not fond of opening up about my family, particularly to strangers. But I say carefully, “I don’t remember my real dad, either. He ran off when I was six, and left my Mum with me and three little brothers. I remember a few things about him, but most of it’s gone fuzzy. That was twenty years ago, though.”

She does the math and her eyes bulge, “You’re twenty-six?” It’s as if I’d said ninety-three.

“Oi! That’s not so old! I’m still cool!” It’s, of course, the lamest thing I could have said.

She sniffs with feigned indifference, “So…what do you remember about him?”

I’ve never really spoken with Seamus and Dean about my Dad. Nor did it often come up with Lisa. My Mum and I like to pretend he doesn’t exist. I don’t want to start talking now. But then I imagine this girl heading back to the orphanage for the Hogwarts holiday.

“Um, well... I remember that he always wore wooly shirts, and they always smelled like smoke. Not cigarette smoke, but like he’d been burning leaves or something. He always had sawdust on his shoes, too. I think he liked to work on our house. Even though he was fine leaving all his hard work, in the end.”

When I finish, she nods with vague interest. “Hmm,” she murmurs, and that’s that. “Oh, and because you asked, I’m Ada.”

“Edie,” we shake hands awkwardly. Ada. Why does that name sound so familiar? It’s common, and I’ve probably heard it a thousand times. But for some reason it’s tugging at the corner of my mind.

There y’are, you little bugger!”

Ada is suddenly lifted into the air by strong arms. She cries in horror, “Oh my God, stop it!” But he throws her over his shoulder like a sack of flour, laughing at her embarrassment. If I weren’t sick with nerves, I would be chuckling along. But then Oliver’s eyes land on me and the mirth disappears.

Seriously?” he barks, surprising even Ada. She drops to her feet and smoothes her hair. Oliver is several paces away, but I’m very aware of his imposing height, “You’re harassing my sister for information? That is pathetic, Edie.”

“No!” I exclaim, horrified. I’ve never seen him like this. “I really had no idea!”

It all makes sense, now. Her blunt speech and expressive, calculating eyes—they’re the same as his. I remember that night, at The Hanging Moon. “Will the lovely Miss Ada be joining you?” Oliver was so uneasy at the mentioning of her name. I had thought he was hiding a secret girlfriend. But it was his much younger sister he was protecting.

Then there’s the long list of war casualties that I had stumbled across, researching for the articles. So Jacob and Iona Wood were of relation. I knew that Oliver had fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, but I hadn’t known that it was so personal for him. But that’s why he returned—because the Death Eaters had just murdered his parents. He had only been twenty, and was left with a two year-old to care for. For me, even helping to raise my brothers was difficult. I can’t fathom the sacrifices that Oliver has made.

And now he thinks I’m trying to glean personal information from her. The worst part is his knowing look. He knows that Ada has just told me about their parents. It must be my nauseas, guilty expression; he can probably read me like a book. I avert my gaze but he says, “So, will this be your next piece de resistance?”

“Oliver, please,” I murmur. “I didn’t even know who she was. Everything is off the record, honestly. She just wanted to pet my dog.”

He studies me for a long time, while Ada cranes her neck up to him. Now that she isn’t supposed to understand what we’re discussing, she’s very interested. But Oliver must decide that I’m telling the truth, because he suddenly looks at Ginger, “Ha! And what is that thing?”

Only I am aware of the strain in his voice. He’s changed the subject for Ada’s sake. I let out an equally forced laugh, “My Mum surprised me with a gift.”

“I want one,” Ada announces.

“No way. Not ‘til you’re seventeen,” he ruffles her hair, much to her horror. “But if you really want a dog, you’ll be getting a real one and not some lap-mutt.”

“Oi!” I cry, but he cracks a genuine smile. Somehow, mercifully, the mood has lifted.

Ada looks at Oliver, “Can she bring him to our house?”

Her,” I whisper indignantly, but then I realize what she’s said. My palms go sweaty. An afternoon spent at Oliver’s home. It’s probably three stories high, full of expensive furniture, and baths like those of Hogwarts.

And it’s probably littered with Rose’s thongs.

“Oliver, don’t you have practise today? Your match against Holyhead is tomorrow.” Of course he knows this. But I want Ada to think I can’t come over.

At the mention of Quidditch something flickers across his face, and I know he’s thinking of their loss. How it was basically our two faults, together. “We’ve already had practise this morning. Deverill wants us to rest.” He sees my wary eye and adds, “We’ll be up at four A.M. doing drills, worry not.”

“Oh, well, I just don’t—”

“Aw, you wouldn’t say no to a couple of orphans, would you?” Oliver smirks, clasping Ada’s shoulders. They watch me with the same mischievous look.

Pulling the orphan card, eh? He’s got a royal flush, and I’m stuck with a pair of sixes. I can’t decide if the feeling in my stomach is elation or dread.

I clear my throat, “I reckon we could pop in.”

Ada allows herself a genuine smile, satisfied. She delivers another pat-pat to Ginger’s head, “Let’s go, then.” She whistles and the dog trots after her, besotted. I avoid Oliver’s stare that bores into my head—he has still not grasped the concept of Yes I see you there; I’m just ignoring you—and trail behind Ada.


This cannot be the right place. The house we’ve Apparated before isn’t much bigger than Lisa and Justin’s. It’s probably Oliver’s guest-room. Or his closet. It’s certainly not the sprawling bachelor penthouse I imagined. He lives in the country outside of London, “A forty-minute broom ride away.” The land itself is the most impressive. There’s a large fenced-in garden and another woody area behind the house. There are no neighbours in sight, only pastures and fields.

It’s snowing harder here, and a thin sheet of white crunches under our feet. As soon as we’re inside the gate, Ada throws a stick for Ginger to fetch. The lazy creature only blinks at her.

“She’s not doing it,” she calls, disappointed. She tries again, to no avail.

Oliver is standing beside me, “Quite the noble hound you have there.”

I give him my best sardonic smile, and he shifts his weight so that our shoulders are almost touching. It’s quite the picturesque moment. Maybe he’s feeling comfortable, but I am still reeling. I need to be alone, to think. Smoothing my hair, I quietly excuse myself to the loo.


My hands grip the porcelain sink. Just an hour ago, today’s biggest revelation was the FGC rally. But learning Oliver’s family history is staggering. In all my research, I never came across anything about a little sister, or the murder of his parents. But of course there was so little information. He’s very careful not to make waves; he wants to remain as private as possible. He doesn’t follow the lifestyle of a famous athlete, and it makes sense now. He lives away from town, in an unassuming house, avoiding the press, rarely taking women home—all for Ada.

Some kind of revelation is staring me right in the eye. It’s too close, too blurred out of focus right now. But I feel that somehow, a question has been answered.

I pull my hair into a half-hearted bun, cooling the skin on my neck. Well, can’t hide in the loo all afternoon. One more deep breath, and then I’m walking down the polished wooden hallway. “Don’t snoop, don’t snoop, don’t snoop,” I murmur for all of four seconds before giving up.

Oliver’s house is surprisingly minimalist. His den is very sparse, with only a dragonskin sofa and armchair. Two of his old broomsticks are crossed over the hearth—a Nimbus 2000 and a Firebolt. On the mantle below them is an array of Quidditch medals and cups and trophies. In the middle is the Hogwarts House Cup from 1993. There is an old piano pushed against a window, and I wonder which Wood sibling uses it. I plunk out a note and the piano bursts into a deafening Ragtime. Nearly screaming, I whip out my wand, “Silencio!” I freeze in silence, whooshing out a breath when Oliver doesn’t come barreling in.

I’d say that’s enough snooping for one day.

Going back the way I came, I pass by a room with the door ajar. Halting in my tracks, and I step carefully backwards. Inside, the walls are a dusty rose colour. I spot a four-poster bed, stuffed animals, and a ruby red armchair. A fairy-light lamp has been draped with a colourful scarf, casting purples and blues. The walls are covered in moving posters of bands—some like the Weird Sisters, while others depict winking, frosty-haired boys. I smile to myself, remembering the age of not knowing which music genre was “right,” and listening to everything under the sun.

“Do you like my room?” Oliver calls sarcastically and I jump. He’s standing with his hands in his pockets, smiling knowingly. “I may go with a darker fuschia, for the walls.”

“I always saw you as more of a lavender fan.”

He stands beside me and looks into the room, “Always snooping for something, eh, Miss Journalist?”

“No, really, I can’t express it enough—meeting her was the least of my intentions. I didn’t even want to come over today.”

“Wow, thanks,” he rolls his eyes, looking very much like Ada.

“You know what I mean. I just… I can’t get over that you have a little sister.”

He shrugs offhandedly. There is a pause and he says, “You look nice with your hair pulled back.”

My heart thuds. “It’s getting long. Erm, could I have some tea? Please?” It’s a bit rude, but it was the first thing to jump to my head. Plus I need something to hold, as I currently can’t find anything to do with my hands.

Oliver tilts his head behind him, “C’mon.”

Moments later I am seated at a bar stool in his kitchen. The walls are cream, with the underlying brick exposed in places. Oliver waves his wand at the hearth, where a small cauldron hangs. Flames leap to life and crackle pleasantly. The smell of burning wood again reminds me of my Dad. If Ada hadn’t asked me about him earlier, I would never have made the connection just now. I’ve gone my whole life feeling indifferent towards him. For all I know, he could be dead.

Oliver breaks the silence, “I was a total shock to my parents. My Mum had me when she was sixteen. They got married and didn’t plan on having any more kids but, well,” he gestures outside. “She’s lived with me ever since.”

I shake my head, “It’s so horrible, what happened to your parents.”

His face darkens for a moment with the memory, but he shakes his head, “It was a long time ago. And Ada can be talkative about it, as you noticed.”

“I had no idea you’ve been raising a young girl.” My eyes are betraying my thoughts, so I say it anyway, “That’s really incredible.”

He puts a hand to his chest, “Do my ears deceive me? Is Edie Lennox admitting that she’s been wrong?”

I laugh bitterly, “It might be.” Then I remember running into him outside, after Lisa’s hen night; the embarrassing five minutes we spoke. I had mucked up what should have been a sincere apology, about the Quidditch match. My Mum's words echo in my head. “If you do care about him, then you need to forgive him. You owe it to Oliver, and you owe it to yourself.” I swallow.

If I care about him…

In the quiet light of his kitchen, I say, “I’ve really misjudged you. I'm sorry, Oliver.”

He stops in his tracks, looking as if he’s waiting for me to shout “Just kidding! You’re a twat.” But when I don’t, he positively beams at me. It's as if I’ve just told him he’s the greatest Keeper of all time. “Well. Apology accepted.” We smile at one another for what feels like ages. For the first time since the Hanging Moon, I let myself entertain that there may really be something here.

The cauldron begins to boil and he turns away. I’m grateful. I couldn’t have taken much more eye contact and kept my trousers on. I glance out the warped glass and see that Ginger is definitely in control of fetch. Every time Ada throws the stick, she sits and waits until Ada gives up and goes to get it. But she’s just as stubborn and determined as her brother. Oliver sees and chuckles to himself.

“She’s just like you, you know.”

“Yes she is, to a fault. Stubborn as a mule and doesn’t have a filter on her mouth. Good throwing arm, too.” A cup of tea is levitating over to me. It’s covered in pictures of kittens, and I can guess who had a hand in the selection.

“I dunno, I’d say you have a filter. It’s hard to tell what you’re thinking sometimes.”

“Maybe you just aren’t very perceptive.” I don’t know what to say and take a sip of tea. “How did that photo shoot turn out, by the way?”

I groan, “Oh, I have no idea—I had absolutely no hand in that. It was all sprung on me last-minute. That must have been so embarrassing.”

He shrugs, “Well, it was your job. I wanted to help out. But that’s where I draw the line, I’m afraid. I will definitely not be reading your hard-won article, now that it’s framed in photos of my skivvies.”

Oh, right, the malicious article where I come at you like an angry Hippogriff. Yeah, best not, mate. But I don’t want to think about the articles right now. This is too… nice.

Oliver comes to sit across from me. His wavy hair is sticking up in odd places, as always, and he hasn’t shaved for a time. I’m trying not to stare at the stubble on his jaw when he says, “So, Lisa and Justin’s wedding. Next week, eh? Have you gotten your plus-one all sorted? That young artsy fellow from the Hanging Moon, perhaps?”

He means Jae. “Ugh, definitely not. I’m not bringing a date. But… how did you know about the wedding?”

“I told you, Justin did me a favour years back. He’s invited me.”

I rest my chin on my fist to keep my jaw from dropping. Lisa somehow failed to mention this? I know she’s busy with the baby, and the wedding, and a full-time job—alright, it actually makes perfect sense that she forgot.

“You’re going,” I repeat. “Will I see Rose there?” I’m trying to sound buddy-buddy, like I’m the perfect wingman for a wedding. But it’s obvious that I’m only testing the waters.

Oliver scratches his nose, “Uh, Rose hates weddings, actually.”

“Oh.” I highly doubt that Rose Zeller, queen of champagne and soirees and fancy dresses and romance, hates weddings. “Well, that’s too bad.” I wonder if he can tell that I am not in the least disappointed.

“Italy though, eh? How lavish,” he luxuriates on the word, and I roll my eyes.

“Oh, but don’t you know? It’s the site where he realized, during his plaintive travels, that Lisa was The One.”

“That’s Justin for you,” Oliver sucks air through his teeth. I wonder again how they could possibly know each other. Maybe it’s from as far back as Hogwarts. It could be anything. But I’ve gleaned enough personal information today. No matter how well we’re getting on, I won’t ask.

A comfortable silence settles. He watches as I sip from the ridiculous kitten mug. Every time I glance at him he smiles down at his hands. Something about that makes me feel very pretty.

When he reaches across to push a lock of fringe from my eyes, I grow still. “Your hair is getting long,” he murmurs and drops his hand. The teacup audibly trembles as I set it down, but he doesn’t tease me. My blood is absolutely humming.

The door swings open and Ada comes in, looking grumpy. The little dog trots behind her, shaking the melted snow from her coat. “Ginger is rubbish with fetch,” Ada announces.

“No luck then?” Oliver extends an arm, and she reluctantly comes in for a side-hug. He squeezes her and she makes a face, trying not to smile. “Maybe next time,” he’s talking to her, but his gaze meets mine.

Next time.

I think my ovaries are about to explode, so I quickly stand. “Well I should scoot,” I make a wild grab for my shoulder bag, nearly knocking the teacup over. “Ha! Whoops!” I say too loudly. They’re watching with the same amused eyebrow-quirk. Merlin, they’re the same person.

“Don’t get up!” I put a hand up to stop Oliver. “I’ll see myself out. Thanks for the tea. Ada, it was wicked meeting you.”

I haven’t said the word “wicked” since I was fourteen. Oliver coughs to cover his laugh, and Ada gives what I think is meant to be a smile. My face has gone fifteen different colours—and I’ve nearly knocked over a houseplant—by the time I get myself and Ginger outside. When the door closes, I release a squeal and bury my face in my hands. My go-to reaction would be to say something like, “That was dreadful. Catastrophic, even.” But the thing is: it wasn’t. Not at all.

“That was brilliant,” I say into my palms, grinning from ear to ear. Ginger snorts in agreement.

A/N: WOW, FLUFF ALERT. AmIright? Another lengthy chapter, or a peace offering for taking so long to update.

So, a bit important: I've gone back to Chapter Twelve and gotten rid of the part in the interview where he reaveals Ada's identity. So if you read an earlier version and are confused, the story has been changed so that Edie never found out until now. I love the idea of Oliver having a twelve year-old sister, and being totally helpless with hair and clothes and the Birds and the Bees and the like.

Thoughts? As always, thank you so much for reading this story. We're getting very near to the end. Hopefully some questions have been answered.

Thank you to Otachi at The Dark Arts, for the lovely chapter image ♥

Chapter 24: Makeshift
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“More up in the front, though.”

“Seamus, I’ve told you, I don’t know what that means.”

He eyes his reflection in dissatisfaction. Meanwhile I impatiently thwack my wand against his chair. After not seeing each other in weeks, his head randomly appeared my fireplace today. He had asked brightly to come over; I had thought to catch up. Really, he just wanted somebody to fix his hair for the wedding.

“Y’know, like, more…” he gestures vaguely to his head.

That isn’t even a complete sentence!”

“Yeesh, calm down,” he chides. “You’re more neurotic than usual, aren’t you? What’s got you so wound up?”

I stammer before landing on, “I have to be in Italy soon.”

This is only partially true—yes, I am anxious about that. Long-distance Portkey travelling always gets me on edge. What’s appealing about spiraling through nothingness across countries? Plus Lisa wants all of the bridesmaids to be there, like, twelve hours early (okay, five.) And I haven’t even begun to think about my Maid of Honour speech.

But mostly I am beside myself because Oliver is going to be at this wedding. And weddings make me particularly, erm… hormonal.

I glance over to my messy bed. The December issue of Witch Weekly is peeking from beneath my pillow. I’d shoved it there when Seamus Apparated into my room, unannounced. I wasn’t, like, reading the magazine to be weird or anything. I was, of course, only interested in my article. Making sure that the margins were to my liking and all. It had nothing to do with the photographs of Oliver. I haven’t dog-eared the page featuring a full spread. And I certainly haven’t memorized the way he looks lying across the locker room bench. His knee drawn, looking somewhere between humiliated and smoldering, lips parted just so, jaw unshaven...

“…So really, that’s what I’ve been trying to say,” Seamus finishes, gesturing to his hair.

I fan myself, “Is it hot in here?”

“You weren’t even listening!”

He’s right. This daydreaming is getting out of hand. I’ve been spending most of the week re-playing images from Puddlemere’s last match against Holyhead. The day after meeting Ada, I rushed from Witch Weekly to sit alone in a dingy pub, and watch the match on their two-way mirror. (Mum doesn’t believe in these newfangled devices.) Puddlemere won by a landslide. After several very impressive saves, Oliver is back on the fans’ good side. The look of pure elation on his face when Puddlemere caught the Snitch was infectious. When I recall it I start grinning like an idiot.

There is a knock at my bedroom door and my Mum pokes her head in, “Edie, do I hear a boy?” Honestly, I’m too distracted to be annoyed at her barging in. Her eyes land on Seamus in obvious disappointment, “Oh, hello Seamus. Ready for the big day then?”

Trust me, you’re not the only one who wishes Oliver was in my bedroom.

In fact, I’ve spent the greater portion of this week imagining what could have happened that day at Oliver’s house. If Ginger would have just played fetch, Ada would not have come back inside, when Oliver had pushed back my hair. There would have been two electric seconds, and then we would have been at each other from across the counter. I would have clambered across it, and he would have suddenly pulled away, muttering, “Watch the kitten mug!” He would have moved it to safety and then in one movement of super-athletic fluidity and prowess, grabbed me by the backs of my knees and slid me over onto his lap. I would have run my hands through the hair that’s always sticking up in places, and he would have squeezed my thighs and…

“Edie, are you feverish?” my Mum’s voice sounds miles away. “You’re quite red.”

I open my mouth but no words come out. Thankfully, Seamus the Talker sighs dramatically, “Anyway, I would be ready, if your daughter could get her act together with this hairstyling!”

My Mum says delicately, “Oh, well you know Edie just isn’t very good at all of that. She could never do her own hair growing up.”

He laughs, gesturing to me with his thumb, “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, am I right?”

“I’m right here!” I shout. “Mum, I have to go. I’m supposed to be all the way in another bloody country. Could you fix this twat’s hair?”

“Language,” she whispers, but nods anyway. “Of course, Pickle. Run along, and I’ll help your friend. Seamus, would you like anything hot to drink? Or perhaps a chocolate biscuit?”

Seamus ooohs excitedly, kicking his feet. Soon they’re giggling together like schoolgirls. Grumpily, I grab the bridesmaid’s dress hanging on my door and stomp downstairs.

She didn’t offer me any biscuits, I pout.


When I first heard that the Turpin-Finch-Fletchleys were getting married in Vernazza, I rolled my eyes. A seaside Italian wedding is just so… Justin. Why can’t he just grumble “I do” in an unassuming garden wedding like the rest of the lot? A little cake, dancing, and bubbly would have suited Lisa just fine. But Justin’s dream wedding probably required a twelve-hour ceremony officiated by the bloody Pope himself, followed by a Pegasus-drawn carriage and trumpets and fireworks and LOOK MUM I’VE REALLY MADE SOMETHING OF MYSELF.

From what Lisa’s told me, though, she has toned it down. The only over-the-top nonsense to be had is the location: old castle ruins barred off to Muggles, and charmed to come to life once we step inside.

So, given my preexisting mental image of this lavish wedding, one can imagine my shock when the Portkey (a nauseating figurine of two birds singing “All You Need is Love,” thank you Justin) drops me directly in the middle of a bar fight. Perhaps “bar fight” is a bit strong—really it’s two drunk, bro-y looking wizards causing a scene in a very posh vineyard.

“Oi!” I duck the spell cast by a bloke in a pastel blazer and loafers. He would have missed spectacularly anyway. He’s so drunk that he topples onto the perfectly preened, sun-dappled, prenuptial grass. The early afternoon sun is high, and little glimpses of the sea peek out from beyond sprawling rows of grape vines and olive trees. It would be very beautiful, were I not almost just hexed in the face.

A hand clasps on my shoulder. I raise my fists in imitation of a 1920s boxer, but it’s only Dean (who doesn’t bother to cover his hoot of laughter.) He scurries me away just as the two men, who are either laughing hysterically or doing some kind of new war-cry, come at one another again. I am led over to the shady little table where Dean has staked out. On the table are two empty wine glasses, a sketchbook and his artist’s quill. Sensing the warm air, I remove my cloak.

“Quite the setup. How picturesquely Mediterranean of you,” I tug on the tie he’s wearing with a gingham shirt and gray suit. His glasses are gone and I can actually see his face now. “What’s all the fighting about?”

“Some of Justin’s law school mates, apparently. Bunch of idiots. They’re arguing over who won the pub crawl of 2001.”

One of them bumps into a nearby display of expensive-looking cheeses and grapes—with a Freezing Charm I stop it just in time. My Maid of Honour senses are tingling. “Lisa never hears about this,” I order, my wand righting the last bottle back to its proper place.

Oh! Lisa! She’s probably losing her mind right now, her little hummingbird heart beating a thousand miles an hour. I’m supposed to be here for her. “Speaking of Lisa, I need to go help her with… getting married,” I fumble. “Why are you here so early, though? Came to get pissed and reminisce with the boys?”

Dean shrugs, “Nothing better to do. And I haven’t seen you in ages.”

He says it and suddenly I’m aware of how true it is. Merlin, when was the last time our little trio spent any time together? (I am not counting Seamus’s “hair appointment” as quality time.) It must’ve been after we all broke into Witch Weekly. That was over a month ago… and only because I begged them for help. I reckon it all got so messy, with my constant lying, that I couldn’t remember what they knew and what they didn’t. Eventually it was easier to avoid my best mates.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Things have just been so insane lately…”

Even I’m aware of how rehearsed it sounds. Dean presses his mouth into a line and nods. There is silence, other than the wind in the trees and the chatter of the crowd. He seems at a loss without his go-to move of pushing his glasses back up his nose. His hands flutter at his sides before he puts them in his trouser pockets.

Shoving him gently, I force a smile, “Well save me a dance at the reception, eh?”

He grins but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes, “Yeah, sure.”

“Two Galleons says they recite that Bible verse. Y’know. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast…”

“Oh, Merlin,” he covers his face. “Alright, I bet you three more that Justin recites some original poetry.” We shake on it, and only a hint of tension remains.

Offering one last pathetic smile, I head out of the vineyard—or start to, before recalling the cheese display. I do a rather impressive back-leap and grab a handful. The skinny attendant witch casts a disdainful look, but I don’t care. I’m on a quest to find an abandoned castle, where a bride in distress awaits. This is a bloody fairytale wedding, after all.


When I finally arrive at Lisa’s changing room, she is not the one in distress. I throw the door open and slam it behind me, leaning heavily. I’ve just sprinted up multiple staircases and am panting like a goat in labor. My eyes lock with Lisa’s. She sits before an enormous mirror, powder brush paused midway to her cheek. There is a beat of silence.

“My mother found you, didn’t she?” she says just as I heave, “Claire is here.”

It’s true. I’ve been detained for the last thirty minutes by Claire Turpin, who is just as beautiful as Lisa in a severe way. She likes me, I have at last realised after ten years of deciphering her code of affection. But she’s a very intense woman, her icy blue gaze enough to render me a babbling idiot. She always seems to know when something has gone horribly wrong in my life, and that’s when she chooses to “check in.” More than anything, she’s interested in my love life.

“I’m sorry,” Lisa groans. “She really does mean well.”

“So what if I don’t have a boyfriend!” I shout the words that I wanted to say to Claire, “I have a job now. I’m a fully-functioning adult!”
Lisa returns to her mirror, “You’ve got cheese on you.”

“Aw,” I try to wipe the residue from my jumper before resolving to lick it off. Lisa snorts, rolling her eyes. I poke her in the back, “Hey. You’re getting married today.”

She flushes beetroot and beams, “I know!”

“And you’re going to have a baby.”

“I know!”

“You’re old.”

She swats my hand and I give her a tight hug, verging on suffocation. “I’m so happy for you,” I say in a rare moment of sentimentality. Weddings, mate, seriously. Her cream-coloured lace dress hangs from the wardrobe door. She’s charmed the waist higher, to hide the small bump in her belly. “I see you don’t want to do the big reveal today.”

“You mean telling Justin’s extremely conservative great-aunt that I’m pregnant? No, thank you. I’m hoping she won’t notice that I’ll be giving birth only six months into the marriage.”

I shrug, “Great-aunt Annette is getting up there. And six months is a long time.”

Lisa laughs in shocked horror, but I can see the cogs turning hopefully. She’s a little more devious than she lets on. I perch on the bed, watching her struggle with makeup charms. This goes on for some time until I tut, “Oh, come here.” As I perform minimal charms (since when has Lisa needed makeup anyway?) we chatter on and on. The open window lets in a warm breeze, the likes of which England hasn’t felt in months. In the distance, a cluster of brightly coloured stucco houses perches over a small harbour. The water is still and very blue.

“So you’ve invited Oliver,” I broach at last.

She drops her head in sudden remembrance, “Oh, I honestly completely forgot about that. It was before you two knew each other. Totally Justin’s doing. I’m sorry, is it going to be awful?”

“Not…completely, no.”

“Have you spoken with him? Is he bringing Rose? I can’t even remember everyone we’ve invited.”

I can’t help my triumphant tone, “Not bringing her, nope.”

Lisa looks at me knowingly. I should tell her everything about Oliver, and how I’ve developed a crush on a famous athlete who is dating my narcissist coworker. But on her wedding day? Seems a little selfish. Also seems like a pretty legit excuse to put it off again.

As delicately as possible, I ask, “How do he and Justin know each other, anyway?”

Lisa looks uncomfortable. Her answer shocks me, “Justin was Oliver’s lawyer. They knew one another distantly, and I reckon became sort of friends during the trial.”

“His lawyer! For what?”

She’s fidgeting now, “Um… I can’t really say… But it has to do with the St. Mungo’s children’s ward—EDIE!”

I’ve lost control of my wand spectacularly. Her left eye, where I have been applying the faintest touch of smoky colour, is now ringed in an explosion of inky black. “Sorry! I can fix it! But you’ve known about this the whole time?”

“Edie, I know your articles are important to you, but I am getting married in a matter of hours and LOOK AT MY FACE!” Her rarely-heard screeching makes me peep a quick apology and set to working the counter-charms. In a matter of moments she is, thankfully, back to normal.

Even though I am dying to ask more about Oliver, the look on her face tells me not to. Yeesh, she is really aggressive these days. The subject is dropped. Ignoring the hippogriff in the room, we set back to our idle chatter. I change into my navy blue bridesmaid’s dress. It’s nice and swishy, with only one shoulder strap and some kind of sparkly waist cinch. I feel pretty, but I can’t let it go. What could Oliver have hired a lawyer for? Does it have to do with the death of his parents, or Ada? Trouble with the Magical Mob? Illegally trading dragon eggs, maybe?

As I twist my hair into some kind of formal-looking knot, I think about Lisa’s reaction to my article. She’d chided me for being mean—I hadn’t realised that it was because she knew something about the St. Mungo’s fiasco. It seems that I haven’t been the only one keeping secrets.


Standing next to four insanely beautiful part-Veelas was not something I had taken into account. Lisa’s other bridesmaids are all family, with impeccable posture and very shiny skin. We look like a “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” puzzles on the Prophet children’s page. Especially after I spent approximately thirty seconds in the sun and am now covered in freckles.

We are all clustered in a small room like sardines, waiting for the music to cue us. Through the crack in the doors, we can see that the atrium of the castle is teeming with guests. Lisa is making a game of pointing out all the people she’s never met, who were eager to escape the London chill. The shattered windows have been magically repaired, and the late afternoon sun streams in. The vines and leafy overgrowth still crawl along the walls, charmed with white flowers and bobbing fairy lights. Benches full of people line the long, hallway-like room. At the head, where Justin is waiting, is a round stained glass window. It looks like the sun, in whites and yellows and pinks.

Alright, so it’s a damn beautiful wedding. Justin did well.

I glance over my shoulder to Lisa. I wish I could be standing with her, but I have to walk in first. She is absolutely stunning, flawless, the most beautiful person to have ever walked the earth—of course. Her blue teardrop earrings are the same colour as her eyes, but nowhere near as bright. She touches her hair for the eighteenth time and I give her a reassuring look that it is still in place. As we all wait in silence, several things are going through my mind.

Lisa doesn’t look like she’s going to bolt. Is she going to bolt? Probably not. But if she does I have to tackle her, that’s all there is to it.

Also, Justin’s brother is at least a head shorter than me. I shouldn’t have worn heels. Hopefully he won’t notice the sweat when we link arms.

And lastly, but more than anything, Oliver is somewhere in that room.

Then Lisa and Justin’s song begins to play, interrupting my thoughts. Within the first two notes I start hyperventilating like a well-exercised pony. Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry. The last thing I need right now is to be swollen-faced and runny-nosed. The doors to our room are charmed open and everyone’s heads turn in one giant wave. I spot Dean and Seamus, the latter of whom is sporting a trendy hairstyle. Nice work, Hypatia. He gives me a hugely inappropriate wave as I wait for the EXACT MOMENT in the song when I am to step out, as previously designated by Justin. I spot the groom and stick out my tongue; he makes a face back.

Under the music is the barely audible sound of a door closing. I glance behind me and my heart stops—Oliver is late, like he is to everything. He’s standing in the enclosure with us, looking embarrassed. He offers a small wave hello to Lisa. They really do know each other. How could I have been left in the dark about this? Everyone in our little huddle is staring at him. Then our eyes meet and I feel my stomach drop, because even though he is surrounded by five stunning Veelas, he is smiling at me.

Justin’s brother Peter links his arm through mine, jarring me. I glance his way—and see that he is positively blubbering. One glimpse of his red, tear-streaked face and I nearly burst into laughter. I glance over my shoulder at Lisa. She’s struggling to keep quiet as Peter blows his nose tremendously into a kerchief. I meet eyes with my best mate and we grin at each other. Then the music is in the exact right spot and I step out, giving Peter’s arm a consoling little pat.


After a blissfully short ceremony—wherein they did not recite Corinthians, but Justin did indeed allude to his own poetry—the applauding guests part like the Red Sea. Half herd themselves like cattle towards cake and hors d’oeuvres, while the others swarm the bride and groom. I distinctly hear Seamus cry, “They have lobster puffs!” He and Dean sprint away. Although I want to hug Lisa and Justin and physically cling to the past, refusing to admit that they are moving on, there is Peter to deal with. He’s refusing to unlink his arm from mine, now sobbing hysterically into my shoulder. Throughout the ceremony he emitted little bursts of emotion at particularly touching moments, such as the exchange of vows and when their cat, Philip, served as ring bearer.

“There there,” I mutter disinterestedly as I pat his head. We’re back in the small room where we began. I’ve whisked him away for the sake of everyone’s embarrassment.

“It was so—so—” he breaks into fresh sobs. “D’you think we’ll ever find a love like that?”

Not if you keep crying in public, mate.

“Am I interrupting?” Oliver raps on the door, glancing from me to the sobbing mess on my arm. He’s clearly trying not to laugh.

“Oh,” Peter says dejectedly, “You’ve already found your somebody. Well, congratulations I suppose. Looks like I’ll be leaving alone tonight. ‘Peter Finch-Fletchley, party of one.’”

“Oh, uh, Peter, this is my… my friend…”

“Oliver,” he interjects, extending a hand which Peter shakes limply. “Edie, darling, shall we have a drink?” Before I can answer he steers me away gently by the elbow.

“Erm, ‘bye Peter!” I call pathetically, “Hang in there, champ!”

Oliver snorts and I shove him. Instead of following the overwhelming mass of people, he grabs two glasses of bubbly from a tray that magically floats by. It’s the expensive kind, with the bubbles that float into the air and pop like fireworks. We head outside onto a stone patio overlooking a flower garden, where a dozen other people mill about. The sun is still over the horizon, settling down into a cool evening.

Although I’m trying not to, I’m staring at Oliver. It’s killing me. I want to know why Justin was his lawyer, but I’m not sure why I want to know. So that I can publish the information? Or because I’m genuinely interested in his past? He catches me staring. I avert my gaze to a young woman with long chestnut hair. Oh no. My heart stops, but with a huge sigh of relief, I realise that it isn’t Rose.

That’s right—Rose. Oliver’s girlfriend.

He hands me one of the champagne flutes but I don’t sip from it. I’m staring at the little fireworks display. I can feel the questions fizzing inside me in the same way. So, we’re just going to sit here and have a pleasant evening, ignoring everything. Chat about how Justin and Lisa are a good match, then I’ll ask how Ada is doing, and he’ll ask me about my plans for the Christmas holiday. How long can I keep my mouth shut?

Oliver begins, “Poor guy. Couldn’t keep it together—”

“Why didn’t you bring Rose?”

Apparently not very long.

He stills and I plow on, “Really. Because I know that she doesn’t hate weddings. And the other day, at your apartment, I swear you almost…” I can’t say anything else. My face has turned perma-beetroot and will never go back to its normal colour.

“Do you really want to talk about it this time?”

I furrow my brow, “’This time?’”

“Yes! I’ve tried to explain all of this a thousand times. I tried to meet with you at the coffee shop, the morning after The Hanging Moon. You never showed up. And then I explained it all in a letter, which you set on fire, you lunatic. And then I bloody tried again during that photo shoot, against my better judgment. It’s become pathetic, really.”

My heart is hammering so loudly I almost can’t hear him. It's happening. Everything is coming to a boiling point here, now, at this wedding. I reckon it’s about time to get it all out on the table. I suppose I’ll hear the full-on rejection story now. About why he chose her over me, and how he’s sorry to have led me on, but he hopes we can remain acquaintances. Maybe I can join them for lunch sometime soon, just to catch up, and he’d really like it if Ada could still play with Ginger. A horrible image surfaces of Oliver and Rose, watching arm-in-arm as Ada finally teaches Ginger how to fetch. Meanwhile I will be in the bag, Clear-Up Charming dog poo.

“Listen,” I start, hot with anger for something that hasn’t even happened yet.

This time he interrupts me, “I only started dating Rose because I didn’t want you to get in trouble for that photo. The one from the Muggle shop, when I wanted to kiss you.”

Thud. “What?”

He scratches his head. I see that his champagne flute is trembling. He’s nervous. “Obviously your boss would be furious. And I know how much your career matters to you.”

You mean my fake career. The one I used in attempting to ruin yours.

This is quite possibly the last explanation I had been expecting, in all of my sleepless nights. This was all something that he did for me? I drop clumsily onto the stone banister overlooking the garden, nearly dropping my glass. Oliver reaches out a steadying hand but doesn’t touch me. “Astonished” doesn’t even begin to explain it.

“But what does Rose have to do with anything?”

“If she and I were dating, then everyone would assume the girl in the picture was her. Instead of you.”

“You saw the picture?”

“I… I found it, yes,” he sits down next to me. Oliver never reads his own publicity. Did he buy a copy, like I did? Tear out the picture and stare at it for hours on end? “Rose likes the publicity, and going to big events, and having her photograph taken. I don’t have feelings for her. She’s a distraction. And don’t give me that look,” he says before I can speak. “She isn’t in love with me either, Edie. Nobody is being wronged here.”

I remember my relationship with Cormac, all those years ago. Neither of us had a shred of emotional investment. We’d used each other. Nobody was hurt in the end. But we’d certainly taken advantage of our situation physically. Part of me wonders if Oliver and Rose are… But I can’t ask. And does it really matter? I’ve slept with Jae since having feelings for Oliver. I have absolutely no grounds for judgment.

“But isn’t Rose worried about her career? She could still get in trouble, maybe.”

He shrugs, “She isn’t the one writing about me.”

Forgetting that I’ve actually spent time on my hair today, I run my hands through it stressfully. I don’t know whether I want to smile or pass out. Oliver puts a hand on the small of my back. I shut my eyes, forcing myself to notice everything: the warmth of his palm, the slight tremble in his fingers.

Things begin falling into place. Rose talking about how she never sees him outside of public events. The way she’s always showed off their relationship, even from the time when she was only interviewing him. “It’s such a strange feeling to be dating a celebrity. We can hardly go anywhere without people following us.” I had distracted him during the Puddlemere match, and Rose had been so defensive about it. There was press there, I realize. There was a chance for me to publicly outshine her again.

She’s in love with the limelight, not with Oliver.

“I thought you would have figured it out,” he says. “Then you were always so hostile that I eventually stopped trying. I thought everything had completely backfired, and that you wanted nothing to do with me.”

“You come to Witch Weekly to see her all the time,” I still can’t let myself believe this. “I see you there almost every time I work.”

He shakes his head, cheeks flushing, “Not to see her.”

The breath whooshes from my lungs and I hunch over in bewilderment. I look up at him. This is the same person who I’ve been blindly fighting against for months. I have been immensely wrong. As pathetic as a Fourth-Year, I whimper, “But I thought you didn’t fancy me.”

Oliver smirks, rubbing my back, “Quite the opposite.”

“This is all true.”

“All of it.”

His hand is still on the small of my back. I realise that I’ve never touched him. Even though I’ve wanted to for so long, I’ve always sat stonily at a distance, watching with hard eyes, a deeper part of me smoldering away, waiting. But it was there. There was never a sudden moment when I realized that I had feelings for him. We have been a long, slow-winding and catastrophic landslide. Everything that fell apart horribly has settled and collected together, and created something imperfect; something very real. Makeshift. And then the landslide was over, and somewhere along the way I’d already fallen for Oliver Wood.

With decidedness, I reach up and place my hand on the back of his neck. He freezes, staring ahead of him. I run my fingers through the wavy pieces I’ve always liked for their unruliness. He closes his eyes. And then, because I really do want to—and because I reckon I owe him at this point—I turn his head towards me, lift my chin, and press my lips against his. This time, I kiss him.

Author's Note - PHEW. It is done. Well, the story isn't done, but there is the big explanation about Oliver and Rose. What does everyone think about that? Is he still a jerk? Was it totally predictable? Is anybody back on the Ediver ship? We're sending out life rafts...

So other stuff. Justin is Oliver's lawyer! And Dean is being sulky again! And Seamus loves lobster puffs!

Well, I hope everyone liked this (SUPER LONG THANK YOU FOR READING) chapter. I've been waiting for this moment for almost two years(!!) and it was gratifying and fun to write.

I do not own the Corinthians "Love is patient" verse, or the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."

(A big thank you to visenya at TDA for this super-sparkly chapter image!)

Chapter 25: Good Decisions
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At the slightest pressure of my fingertips on the nape of his neck, Oliver gives, eagerly. He turns and for a second his forehead rests against mine. His eyes aren’t quite shut—he’s heavy-lidded, waiting. But now I’m afraid to move, and if I even blink, he’s going to disappear. This isn’t really happening. These kinds of things don’t turn out for anyone. Maybe for Elizabeth and Darcy, but they’re yellowing inside the pages of Muggle books.

His lashes are resting on his cheekbones the way they did in the Muggle shop, months ago. I tilt my head, and I kiss him. It’s the tiniest of pecks, like two First-Years hiding in a corridor. I’m testing. When I pull back and study him, his eyes are closed. He could be sleeping, but his hand pulls me back to him. It’s warm and dry like a stone baking in the sun. This time it’s safe to close my eyes.

Oliver kisses me again, and again, and again, and again, and it’s the easiest most natural thing. Like taking to water—I was quick to learn. When my Mum first brought me to the lake I ran in headfirst, scaring her half to death, only to come up paddling and laughing wildly. With Oliver there is no stumbling; no uncertainty. Wherever I move he’s already there, with a hand on my waist or my neck, as calm and all-encompassing as the lake. He’s cautious, afraid I’ll bolt, like some forest creature.

That is most certainly not happening.

I don’t know how much time passes. At last I can’t take it anymore and will myself to pull away. His tongue feels like Firewhiskey—there’s dizziness in my head and warmth my belly, but I need to pace myself before I’m drunk off him. Our eyes open. Even though we’ve been pressed together, I’m startled by how close he is. We sit back and laugh in quiet embarrassment.

“Well,” is all I can manage. I search for my champagne, because it’s something to do. The glass is warm. We must have been at it for some time. I dare a glance. Oliver is leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees. He’s squinting, but the sun is at our backs—I think he’s trying to keep from smiling too widely. Feebly, I loop a finger through his trouser pocket. I’m no good at these things, but still he returns my smile before we have to look away again.

A group of guests across the courtyard laughs at something. Apparently my wedding hormones are in full swing, as the sight makes me feel as bubbly as the drink in my hand. The little old couple…still laughing together after all of these years… Is the sun shining brighter? Did Oliver slip some acid in my drink, or is this how being in like feels?

His hand hovers in the air before resting on my knee, “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”

“Hope I didn’t disappoint.”

In response he leans over and very lightly kisses my collarbone. It’s the lightest of touches but he may as well have just ripped off my pants. Miraculously, I have worn a nicer pair tonight (read: no holes in them.) But that doesn’t matter, because I’ve just made an embarrassingly loud gasping sound. Forget taking like a fish to water—I’m drowning.

“Excellent,” I peep. “Capital.”

Oliver rights himself, “So… what now?”

What now? Well, we should probably find a remote tower where I can rip your trousers off like they’re on fire. Preferably a room with sturdy rafters.

“...probably tell Rose,” he’s saying, interrupting the nice visual. My stomach twists.

“Ah, right. There is the issue of sweet Rose Zeller.” I surprise myself, “Well, she deserves to be told in person, at least. It’s a fake relationship, but you at least owe her a fake dignified breakup.”

“I reckon you’re right,” he says. “So… does that mean that I just fake cheated on her?”

I grimace, “Didn’t really think about that.”

“I didn’t really think about anything, other than wanting to kiss you.”

Very, very sturdy rafters.

I clear my throat, “Should we maybe, just for her sake, take it easy for a bit? At least until you talk to her?”

Shut up shut up why are you even talking, stop moving your mouth, just go find a quiet room somewhere. She’d do the same thing to you.

Oliver runs his hands through his hair, “If that’s what you think is best.”

Clearly, neither one of us is behind the idea. Fighting the urge to punch myself in the face, I say, “I think it is.”

He nods, “I’ll tell her tomorrow.”

Tomorrow? Can’t you just leave the wedding and come back? But I know it’s not possible. Once again, I’ve dug my own grave for Rose’s sake. First by practically blackmailing Blakeslee to keep Rose’s job, and now this. My eyes travel to Oliver’s lips, and when he catches me staring he breaks into a grin.

Is it too late for take-backsies?

He nods resolutely, as if delivering a locker room pep talk, “Right. We’ll just have to make do. We’ll just enjoy the wedding like two normal people. I’ll talk to Rose tomorrow, and we’ll… take it from there.”

I force a smile, “Brilliant.”

And then our eyes lock and we both physically tense, fighting the urge to spring at each other hungrily. So much for self control. Oliver says, “I would walk away right now, if you want to keep that promise.”

I clench fistfuls of my skirt, groaning in frustration. “Ugh, fine.” I move to stand up and pause, a smirk on my lips. Oliver watches me warily before I lean over, grabbing a fistful of hair and kissing him heavily on his jaw. “But you’d better tell her first thing tomorrow,” I say in his ear.

He blinks rapidly, heaving a breath, “You’re horrible.”

“I mean it! 12:01 in the morning, mate!”

“The absolute worst,” he calls to my retreating back, but I can hear the smile in his voice.

We return to the castle several minutes apart, just in case. Plus it’s more exciting this way. But it turns out that our caution is unnecessary. The hundreds of guests are too preoccupied with free alcohol and snacks to even notice we were gone. They mill about the large, roofless hall, or sit at the many white-linen tables. Our view of the sky has been charmed to look like a sunset, all bright oranges and pinks.

I snort again at the lavishness. Justin.

A string quartet and harp are magically playing themselves on a small stage. Above, bright tropical birds flit around. Once teacups, they are the result of elaborate transfiguration that took four adults an hour to complete, as we scratched our heads and tried to recall our NEWTs. Trays of champagne, grapes, cheeses, and Seamus’s coveted lobster puffs float through the crowd. I spot him strolling behind one tray, popping puffs into his mouth. Dean is most likely trying to blend in with the wall somewhere.

Leaning against a stone column, I try to compose myself. I’ve just snogged Oliver Wood. And he fancies me? And I wrote mean things about him. You’ll deal with that later. But now I can’t snog him again, at least until he fake-breaks up with Rose. Will she even care? Probably. I’ll be sleeping with one eye open, no doubt. Don’t think about that either.

Subconsciously I touch my lips. I want to kiss him again.

My breathing is almost back to normal when Oliver returns from the gardens. An astonished laugh bursts from me. Even though we were only kissing, he’s undone his outer shirt. He makes a show of buttoning it and fixing his tie, looking as if we’d just had a romp in the ruins. When we lock eyes he’s smirking. So much for secrecy. I shake my head at his joke, but it’s no use. I’m beaming again.

Oliver winks—actually winks at me—and disappears into the crowd. My eyes dart around the room, but again, nobody has given a second glance. How can everyone be so indifferent? Don’t they hear the bells and drums and trumpets be going off inside my head?

At that moment Claire Turpin points her wand at the sky, and the sunset turns inky blue, dusted with stars. She’s about to make some announcement, but the crowd is too busy Oooh-ing at the display. When they continue chattering, her sweet little spell turns into a flare of sparks. The room hushes under her icy blue eyes. I spot Lisa, who is visibly trying not to cringe.

In a voice that could pass for endearing, Claire thanks the guests for their attendance. I’m only halfway listening when someone comes to stand very close behind me.

“Lovely reception,” Oliver remarks under his breath.

I play along, “Oh yes, and the decor! So tasteful and understated.”

Shhhh!” hisses an old woman to our left.

Claire’s speech ends, and I couldn’t tell you what was said. There is a smattering of applause as she gives a smile that looks more like bared teeth. The sky remains twinkling with stars, and the music picks up again. Oliver is holding two glasses of red wine, one of which he offers, “You must try the selection.”

“Are the grapes local?”

“I’m offended that you ask.”

“Edie!” Lisa is practically sprinting over, wedding dress gathered in her hands. Her mouth twitches in a polite smile to Oliver, before she says to me, “You’ve gone all red and wonky-eyed. Are you drunk already?”

“No!” I don’t dare glance at Oliver as he shifts uncomfortably.

“Oh, thank Merlin. Take this,” she hands me a glass of Knotgrass Mead. Not my favourite. When I furrow my brow quizzically she says, “I need you, Edie. People are going to be handing me drinks all night. You have to drink them for me.” She says airily to Oliver, “I’m doing a cleanse.”

Taking the hint, he disappears. I can’t help it—my eyes follow after him. Thankfully, Lisa is too panicked to notice, “Please, Edie. You’ve been training for this your whole life.”

That’s a very forgiving way of looking at my drinking habit. But I really didn’t plan on getting trashed tonight. “Why don’t you just pour it out?”

“My Mum spent a fortune on it, as she continues to remind me,” she rolls her eyes. “I feel too guilty.”

“Can’t Justin do it?”

“You know he hardly drinks. Especially with his mother around...” She looks at me imploringly. I want tonight to be special, and to remember everything. But she’s so pretty and she’s asking me and it’s her wedding day...

“Oh, bugger all,” I knock back the glass, sending myself into a fit of coughing and chest-pounding.

“Wow. I mean, you didn’t have to—”

“—I know—”

“—really not meant to drink mead that way—”

“I immediately regret it.”

“Thank you, Edie. I’ll try to go easy on you.” She grabs me in a hug, heaving a sigh, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s your wedding. Wouldn’t miss it,” I grumble, again feeling as though just maybe I might possibly be getting a bit emotional. Blinking it away, I hold her at arm’s length.

Then her mother’s voice is booming over a Sonorus spell, “And now the bride and groom will dance.”

The crowd has stepped back, leaving Lisa and I in the middle of the dance floor. With my hands on her shoulders, and hers on my waist, we look ballroom-ready. There is an awkward mumbling. I spot Seamus in the crowd, doubled over in laughter.

I swear to God, if you make a lesbian joke in front of Claire Turpin…

Justin appears, clearing his throat, “That would be the bride and groom, Edie.” He steps in between us, entwining their fingers in a waltz stance. I roll my eyes theatrically and he flashes an annoying grin. As the music starts I scurry from the dance floor.

Humiliated, I naturally lock eyes with Oliver. Because as a Rule of the Universe, he is now always present for my blunders. Returning his smile, I make my way over before somebody steps in my path.

“Dean,” my disappointment is audible. I hope that he has somehow failed to hear me, but the flash of hurt in his eyes says otherwise. I am really mucking up things with him lately. “H-how are you?”

“I’m fine,” he sounds annoyed. “Where have you been?”

“Other couples will now join in the dancing,” Claire is not asking. She’s telling. Several panicked-looking couples have hurried onto the dance floor under her glare.

With decisiveness I grab Dean’s sleeve, “Looks fun!” I pull him onto the dance floor, which it turns out is like giving a fish a broomstick and saying, “Alright, let’s play Quidditch!” Dean freezes, his hand clamping on my forearm. But I’m determined to fix our friendship.

At last I wrangle him into a sufficient pose. Of course, neither of us has the faintest idea of how to waltz, but at least one of us won’t outshine the other. “Move your feet like this,” I suggest.

“There is absolutely no pattern to that.”

“At least I’m moving! You’re like one of the Queen’s Guard.”

“Well I’m sorry I haven’t been brushing up on my ballroom dancing!”

“Well I do know your hand doesn’t go here,” I pluck it from my shoulder and place it above my hip. He goes quiet again.

At last we’re past treading on one another’s toes and have settled into a doable, albeit clumsy, stride. It is a perfectly passable waltz, to a blind person. “So, how’ve you been?” I pry.

“Uh, good! Really good,” Dean removes his hand from my waist for the umpteenth time. Now to scratch his ear; now to fix his tie; now to run it through his fuzzy hair. I have the feeling he doesn’t like touching me. “Been doing some more work for the Prophet. Not my idea of a reliable source, but it pays the bills.”

“Oh, that’s great. Brilliant.”


One-two-three, one-two-ouch! I knock elbows with another couple; one who apparently takes waltzing very seriously. I turn us so that the posh-looking man can no longer glare down his nose.

Dean wets his lips, “What about you? Plans for the holiday?”

“Oh, I’ll be spending it at home. I’m back living with my Mum and Andrew.”

“Yeah, I heard about that. Seamus.”

“It’s temporary.”


“The economy and all.”

He steps on my toe and we pretend it never happened. More staring around the room. This is horrific. “Should we discuss the weather now? Politics?”

He shrugs, not willing to admit it: something’s changed. We’re not the same anymore, and it’s probably my fault. I wish I hadn’t asked him to dance, so that I could make up a lie about needing to visit the loo. But the song’s only just begun. There are at least another two and a half minutes of this torture, according to statistics.

“I just—” Dean stops, breaking the silence only to begin a new one.

“You just what?”

His anger surprises me, “I just wish you were around more. You’ve hardly wanted anything to do with me—and Seamus,” he stammers, “since you got your job. We never see you anymore, unless you need something from us. We broke into a building for you. We could have gotten into serious trouble, and Seamus could have lost Auror’s license!” His voice rises sharply; several heads turn. When he realizes people are staring, his shyness takes over. He stalks off the dance floor and I trail behind helplessly.

We reach a quiet corner and he says, “Plus you were too wrapped up in that Jae fellow. We hardly spoke.”

I cross my arms helplessly, “I’m sorry, Dean.” He’s waiting for a proper apology, but the words aren’t coming. I’m no good at talking when it matters most. I feel like a complete ass.

“Things just… They got all wonky…” He shakes his head, so I try again, “I stopped telling you everything because I was so embarrassed. Things were bad for me. Really bad. I didn’t want you to know about losing my job, and my flat, and those awful things I was writing about—”

He rolls his eyes and I stop, “What?”

“I just find it ironic that you’ve been devoting so much time to the person who turned your life to shit.”

“It’s not shit, Dean,” I contradict the very thing I just said. “I mean, it’s not perfect, but… I got a job out of it.”

“Yeah, for those ‘awful things’ you wrote about somebody who you’re now defending.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget why you wrote what you did. He made you lose your job, and he’s been nothing but an ass since you met. Obviously you felt very strongly about this, and now you’re letting him walk all over—”

“But I didn’t know him—”

“You’re letting yourself get wrapped up in all of his charming celebrity bollocks!”

I stomp my foot in frustration. “God, why are you being like this?”

He stares at me. It’s like he can’t believe that I don’t understand. Don’t understand what? There are people moving all around us, but they slow into a blur. Something clicks.

He looks away first, blinking hard. I feel sick.


I don’t know what else I would have said. But Seamus and Oliver are suddenly with us. Dean steps away from our little circle, as if Oliver’s very presence disgusts him. Seamus has an arm around the much taller man’s shoulders, standing on tip-toe. The other hand holds a glass of red currant rum, neat.

Oliver looks at me stiffly, an apology for their interruption, “Seamus wants to say hello…”

“They have some really nice liquor here, Edie!” Clumsily holding onto the glass with two fingers, he digs around in his shirt pocket. Oliver snatches the glass just before it is dropped. Oblivious, Seamus extracts a lobster puff and eats it, chewing loudly, “What are you two gossiping about?”

“Nothing,” I blurt.

But Dean says, “We were discussing Edie’s writing.”

I whip my head towards him, horror-struck. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t do something like that to me. He knows that Oliver doesn’t read his own press—he wouldn’t dare give him reason to start. I stare him down but he won’t meet my gaze. The subject is dropped. He just wanted to remind me, again, of how much I’ve changed.

“We weren’t discussing anything,” I repeat.

There is a silence. I am staring down at my feet, because I know Oliver is looking at me, which means Dean is looking at Oliver. Everybody somehow knows that something is up, except for Seamus.

“Lobster puff, anyone?”

I’ve done a bang-up job of ignoring the fact that, no matter how I feel about Oliver now, those articles are still out there. All he has to do is pick up a magazine, and everything is over. How long until he gets curious? It’s childish, but I don’t want to be reminded. Not right now. Not after what happened, just half an hour ago in the courtyard. I want to go on living in my stupid little storybook, where actions don’t have consequences and I am the heroine, not the villain.

“I’m going to the bar,” Dean says sullenly. “Coming, Seamus?”

“Thought you’d never ask. ‘Sides, bartender is quite pretty.”

I squint over at the bar, “Seamus, that’s a man.”

He only looks mildly impressed, “Huh. Right, let’s get those drinks.” He claps Dean on the shoulders. The latter doesn’t meet my gaze before sulking away.

Oliver watches them leave, hands in his pockets. I stare after Dean, the sick feeling still churning in my stomach. Oliver swivels to me and says jovially, “So how long exactly has he been in love with you?”

I drop my arms in defeat. Am I the only person who never realized this? Lisa—sweet guardian angel Lisa—chooses this moment to discreetly hand me a Blishen’s Firewhiskey as she passes, without a second glance. She’d make a great Gwendolyn Phire.

Things that I know: I can’t kiss Oliver, my best mate has just implied that he has feelings for me, and I’m being handed free, high quality Firewhiskey. I drink heartily.

“Let’s take a walk.”

Thankfully, Oliver doesn’t press the Dean question as we stroll through the empty castle. It’s getting darker and darker outside, the December air chilly. I cast a quick heating charm over us. The castle is small—much smaller than Hogwarts—but it still feels like I’m sneaking out of the Hufflepuff common room after hours.

“D’you have the feeling that Mrs. Norris is about to appear, and land us in detention?” My head is light with drink.

“She liked me, actually.”

I give him a doubtful look, “Yeah. Right.”

“Honestly! I used to sneak out to the Quidditch pitch—”

“I heard that you used to spy on Hufflepuff’s nightly team meetings.”

A blush rises to his cheeks, “It wasn’t my fault that they were daft enough to meet in the middle of the third floor corridor, out in the open. Everyone knows it’s the quickest shortcut to the pitch.”

“Of course. Common knowledge.”

“Anyway, I snuck out so often that I started carrying little treats for Mrs. Norris.”

Little treats?” I laugh.

He shrugs, scratching the back of his head in an endearing way, “Y’know. Bits of roast chicken from dinner. I started leaving them along my route, ‘cause I figured she’d pick up my scent. By the time I graduated she was coming when I called her. Never ratted me out, either.”

“Oh, bollocks.”


We burst into laughter, turning into a long corridor. The lack of windows makes it impossibly dark. I extract my wand, “Lumos.”

Our footsteps echo down the corridor, lined with stone sculptures of people who once inhabited the castle. I wonder if they’re Muggles. A bit creepy, actually. Maybe I should do that bit where I snuggle up to him out of fear. We reach the corridor’s end, or at least where the end would be, if the wall hadn’t long since crumbled. We’re on a small cliff overlooking the sea, where the horizon is still faint yellow before darkening to indigo. It’s breezy and the sea air is heavy. This will do nicely. I perch on a felled bit of stone, squishing around until it’s almost comfortable.

Oliver says, “Oh! I almost forgot. I’ve brought you something.” He digs around the pocket of his blazer, which he seems to have charmed to carry all of Britain. Elbow deep, he at last extracts an envelope bearing the Puddlemere seal.

“Don’t set this one on fire.”

Giving him a scowl, I use my wand to pry the seal open. It tears clean from the paper with a satisfying pop. Inside is a short letter, folded and addressed to me. I cast Oliver a confused glance but he’s rubbing the back of his head again. “Well go on, read it.”

I do.

Dear Edie,

I’m sorry to have not written you back sooner. Honestly, I received
so much mail about the European Cup that I stopped opening
the letters. I’m sure Oliver has told you that most of them were Howlers.

As for why I pulled the Wronski Feint, I can’t say. Reckon I just got caught up
in the moment and lost sight of the bigger picture. But it’s nice to
know that supporters like you still have faith in Puddlemere.

Anyway, thanks for your letters.

Amelia Jones

PS - Try not to shout so loudly at the next match.

I read it once, twice, and then a third time just to be sure. Jaw dropped, I stare up at Oliver in astonishment. “Is this…?” He nods slightly and I jump to my feet, shrieking, “Oh my God! Amelia Jones answered my letters!”

Almost a year later (and an embarrassing amount of post) and here I finally have my response. It’s completely childish, but I’m elated. “Amelia Jooones wrote me a leeetter,” I sing-song, skipping in a circle with the parchment waving overhead. All right, maybe I’m a little tipsy. Far below us on the beach, people are staring up at the screaming lunatic.

Oliver’s eyes are glimmering. “Glad you like it. I’ve had that for ages.”

A cool breeze picks up, ruffling his wavy hair. I say more quietly, “I wish I could kiss you right now.”

“I’d say we could bend the rules, just for a few minutes.”

Despite what my conscience is telling me, I step towards him. But if I’m doing wicked things then he is too—Oliver takes my wrist and pulls me to him, our lips crashing together. My arms circle around his neck. I have to stand on my toes to reach him, my chin lifted, but I don’t mind. I don’t mind at all.

My Maid of Honour speech goes smoothly enough, although I’m clearly making it up as I go. I actually use the phrase, “The Beatles once said, ‘All You Need is Love.’” Lisa watches with interest at my improvisation, but is still somehow rendered a sobbing mess by the end. Claire Turpin is not so amused, her eyes boring into me icily over her glass of mead. Thankfully, Peter Finch-Fletchley’s blubbering lament for lost love will be the one that sticks. It ends abruptly when Claire shouts, “Let’s eat cake!”

People seem to think that I deserve alcohol for making a speech. My hand is never empty. Despite my good intentions, by ten o’clock I’ve had far too much to drink.

Oliver keeps his distance when we’re in public. He knows what happened with Dean, which I selfishly don’t even want to think about. Guests mistake my sitting alone, sipping a drink for being in need of a dance partner. Really I’m thinking of the way Oliver’s lips felt on mine, our bellies and hips pressed together.

I am rather inappropriately eating a maraschino cherry when Lisa’s uncle appears, “You look like you could use a dance!”

I spit the cherry out, “Oh! No. I’m fine, thank you, really—”

Naturally I dance the next three songs with him. Thankfully, a wobbly Seamus comes to save the day. He’s very good at Pretend Boyfriend-ing when I need him. We dance like idiots together, which keeps my mind off of Oliver long enough to function. Dean and I don’t so much as glance at one other. Eventually I assume he’s already left until I spot him, heading outside with a drink. I should probably follow him, but I feel like being a selfish ass tonight.

I can’t believe what I’m turning in to. It’s like I have no control over my eyes—all night they follow Oliver, drinking him in. I’m just really allowing myself look at him, for once. He’s no Adonis. His nose has clearly been broken from Quidditch, and his calculating look sometimes appears callous. But I’m struck by how good-looking he really is, especially in this firelight. Everything that I’ve held back is pouring out, thank-you Firewhiskey. But I know that I’m not alone in my sentiments. When I’m talking to Lisa or Seamus, I can feel his gaze boring into me.

It’s half-past midnight when the guests finally head outside. Glasses in hand, everyone is teetering a bit as we line the stone steps. The showering sparks from our wands create a tunnel, and we erupt into cheers when Lisa and Justin emerge from the castle. She looks like she might combust with happiness. Giddy, they scurry down the stairs, the tunnel of white sparks casting a glow over them.

As Lisa passes, she catches my eye. She stops to throw an arm around my neck, the other still linked with Justin’s. “Make good decisions!” she says in my ear, before hurrying away. She and Justin step into the awaiting carriage. We all stand, waving and cheering until they disappear into the darkness.

Make good decisions. Our playful little mantra carries new weight tonight. Looking across the tunnel, I catch Oliver’s eyes. He is already watching me. Nearby firelight casts shadows across his face. He’s smirking in a way that makes my stomach flip.

I don’t want to make good decisions.

When the guests begin to disperse, I don’t waste any time. Firewhiskey is burning in my blood. I cross right over to Oliver, who is in the middle of shaking hands with a kind-faced wizard. I hear the man saying, “You’re playing quite the season indeed! That Holyhead match was truly something.”

“Thank you,” Oliver says quietly, just as I march up to him and snake my arms around his waist. The man shuffles uncomfortably before making his exit.

Despite my idiot display Oliver smiles widely, putting his hands in my hair. “Well, hello. Somebody’s having fun.”

“Take me home.”

He pauses, “Yeah, I wanted to make sure you got home safely.”

“No. Take me to your house. Right now.”

He stares and my resolve sputters out. This is so stupid. I’m half drunk and begging for him like a Puddlemere groupie. How many times has he done this before? I clear my throat, “I… I would love some coffee.”

He smiles and brings my forehead to his lips, “I’ll get my cloak.”

Author's Note: This fic is now officially the fluffiest of fluff to have ever fluffed.

So Dean's feelings for Edie are out in the open. Many of you are probably thinking the in-love-with-my-best-friend thing is a trope (and I suppose it is.) But trust me, it is painful and can ruin a friendship. I don't at all intend to turn Dean Thomas into a villain, because he's lovely. But I want to explore the issue of the "friend zone," and feeling guilty for something you should absolutely NOT feel guilty about.

As always, thank you so much for the reads. Please let me know what you think!

I do not own "All You Need Is Love" because the Beatles do.

Beautiful CI by southpaws @ TDA ♥!

Chapter 26: And What a Mess It's Been
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We appear with a crack outside Oliver’s house. The freezing air around us thickens, righting itself after the vacuum of magic. It stings my cheeks and flushes them red. Sparse snowflakes are falling, but we’ve missed a storm that’s blanketed the garden. We’re standing inches deep in snow. Oliver puts a steadying hand on my shoulder.

“You alright?” Apparating after drinks is never pleasant, but it’s nerves that have my head spinning now. “C’mon,” he says. I take his arm and we trudge through the damp cold.

For all of my Firewhiskey-induced bravery minutes ago, I’m trembling as we step inside. A welcoming fire already crackles in the hearth, but neither of us moves from the doorway. I’ve been here before, but things are always innocent in the daylight.

“Go sit by the fire. I’m sure you’re freezing.”

He ducks into the kitchen. I hear him opening and closing different containers, vessels, vials, searching for something. The pleasant sound of pewter and clay has always comforted me, or at least made Potions tolerable. I drop onto the sofa and exhale hugely, the tension disappearing from my shoulders. My eyes unfocus on the fire.

“What are you doing here?”

I jump out of my skin, but it’s only Ada. Of course she’s here; it’s still the holiday. What was I thinking? That Oliver and I would be having the Sex Olympics with a twelve year-old two rooms over? She’s looking at me expectantly in her pyjamas: pink flannels and an oversized Wicked Witch band shirt.

“Sorry if we—erm, I—woke you. I’m just over for some coffee.”

“We don’t drink coffee.”

I quickly change the subject, “So, you like Wicked Witch?”

“They’re okay. Have you brought Ginger?”

“Uh, no. Ginger’s at home. I’ve just popped over to borrow some coffee.”

“I’ve just told you, he doesn’t drink it.”


Oliver walks in, studying something in his hand, “Found some Astragalus. Keep in on your tongue for a few minutes and you should sober up. You’ll thank me in the morning.” He places the small (and very expensive, might I add) twig in my palm.

Oblivious to Ada, he bends to kiss me and I swoop out of the way, “Look who’s joined us!”

“Ada! Hey! You’re—you’re up.” He leans casually on the sofa. “Bit late for you, eh? Edie’s just come over for some—”

“Coffee,” I smile maniacally.

“You don’t drink coffee,” she says for the third time, exasperated.

He looks at me uncertainly, as if I could verify whether or not this is true. Ada gives us the disenchanted look that only a pre-teen can master. “Whatever.” She rolls her eyes and shuffles away. Neither of us moves until her door latches.

He heaves a breath, “I didn’t think she’d be awake.”

“It’s alright,” I’m feeling very stupid. “I can’t believe I thought we’d be alone.”

There. I’ve said it. The damage is done, and my face is as purple as the Astragalus in my hand. I place it on my tongue. It tastes like sour dirt. I must be making quite the face because he laughs, “Not the best, but it’s saved me from an awful hangover.”

To my amazement, my head stops spinning. I can practically feel the alcohol leaving my bloodstream. No wonder this stuff is so pricey. I remove the Astragalus and awkwardly hold it, spit-soaked, between two fingers.


“Much, thank you,” I smile but am unable to meet his eyes. Now that I’m sober, my persistent behaviour tonight is mortifying. “It’s quite late. I should go.”

His disappointment is visible. “Yeah, of course. Only… sometimes Apparating after that stuff will make you sick.”

“Oh. Well, what do you suggest?”

High above the London skyline, with the wind pulling my hair from its knot, I’m reminded of my fear of flying. Though we’ve cast every safety charm in the book, and I’m practically glued to the broom, my knuckles are still white. I maintain a steady course, trying not to notice how far below the city lights are. Oliver flies in circles around me, barrel-rolling and skyrocketing. Naturally he had an arsenal of broomsticks at his house, including this limited edition Firebolt, which I chose because of its gleaming white birch handle. The thing costs more than my parents’ house, I’m sure.

Speaking of my parents’ house…

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” I shout over the wind. He reaches my side in no time, rocketing from below and then seamlessly slowing to match my speed. He could do this with his eyes closed. “I’m back with my parents temporarily. So… we’ll be going a bit past London.”

“Oh.” I can’t read his expression. “When did that happen?”

After your drunk Viktor Krum impression made me lose my job and I couldn’t make rent. Months ago, we would have been having this conversation as a screaming match. Now I don’t even want to mention it. But it’s a chance to unbraid the lies that I've been tangling together, like a particularly uncoordinated spider.

“I was sacked from the Poisoned Apple. And apparently landlords prefer it when you pay your rent.”

“Sacked.” Even in the darkness, I can see the calculation in his eyes. “Was it… It didn’t have anything to do with me, did it?”

I shrug, trying to smile.

“Oh my God, Edie, I’m so sorry.” He’s working himself into a proper panic. “I had no idea—How did this happen? On what grounds?”

“Please don’t feel guilty, it’s for the best. If anything I should be thanking you. That place really was such a festering—well you saw it,” I’m relieved when he returns my grin. “Besides, now I can focus on my other work.”

“Like the articles.”

My stomach drops as if the broomstick had suddenly plummeted. “The articles.” We ride in silence, because I can’t bring myself to ask: Have you really not read them? I don’t see how it’s possible. If I knew Oliver had written something about me, I wouldn’t rest until I’d found it.

“Let’s head down,” I say. “We should be getting close.”

We sink into the snow clouds, reemerging with our hair dampened. We’re flying over fields and pastures, until at last we reach Renwick. The town is silent at this hour—nearly two o’clock—and glows with streetlights and coloured Christmas bulbs. If it weren’t for my uneasy feeling, it would be quite picturesque. I lead us, flying low over the rooftops, to the wonky front gate of my family’s home. The lights are off and the house is still. We alight and I carefully step off the broom, as if it were made of glass.

“You’re not going to break it,” Oliver teases in a low voice.

“I have never held anything so expensive in my life. I’m not taking any chances.” It’s meant as a joke. But standing in front of my tiny house, with the knowledge that I was sacked hanging in the air, it isn’t funny. If anything, it’s only more obvious: Oliver and I live in two very different worlds.

I clear my throat, trying to undo the damage. “Thank you for the ride. That was fun.”

He sets to shrink-charming the brooms. I reckon he’ll Apparate back home. There’s no point in prolonging the horrible tension, so with a parting nod I fiddle with the gate latch. Why has this thing never been fixed?

“Stupid little—”

“I want you to know that I read them. Your articles.”

Somehow I knew it was coming. The dread in the air between us was a giveaway; something had changed. I am frozen where I stand.

“I’m sorry I lied to you,” he says.

You’re sorry!”

“I read them both, that day I lost the match—after you, erm, distracted me.”

“But the second story hadn’t been printed yet. How did you…?” I stop myself, “Rose.”

“It’s not her fault. I asked for them,” he says. “I went behind your back.”

We don’t look at each other. I’m staring at my knees and he’s facing the road, hands in his pockets. “Those things I wrote were terrible.”

“Yeah, I suppose they were.”

“Do you hate me?”

“Not anymore.”

A peal of laughter echoes down the street. A group of kids staggers around the corner, one still with a bottle in hand. Oliver and I are unnoticed as they pass, chattering loudly, until they round the corner and it’s quiet once more.


“No, stop. Just listen. I did hate you, at first. But I can see why you did it, especially if I got you fired on top of my other horrible behaviour. I don’t think you’re innocent. You wrote some really cruel things, clearly all as means of getting back at me. I told myself to cut ties and not speak to you again. Not agree to a third article—I knew Katie would’ve gotten me out of it. You and I’d just go about our lives separately.”

The thought of never seeing him again makes my stomach twist. “The day you ran into Ada, I was furious. I thought you were trying to get information about our parents, or worse. Things that are no bloody business of strangers. I’ve worked very, very hard to keep my family out of the public eye, Edie.”

“I know you have,” I breathe. “And I completely understand.”

“Anyone else would have walked away from you. Maybe I’m an idiot. But every time I’m around you it’s there. The, erm, spark… or whatever you want to call it. I mean, for two people who should really hate each other, we get on amazingly.”

Despite myself I smile, “Yes, we do.” I stare at him until he meets my eyes in the darkness. “I am so sorry, Oliver. For everything. You’re right; I was trying to get back at you. I knew that it was wrong, and that I liked being around you. But I was too stubborn and had some stupid point to prove.”

He shakes his head, “What a mess.”

“And then some.”

The toe of his shoe connects with a pebble, sending it skittering down the street. “What would’ve happened, if we’d met under different circumstances? If I hadn’t been such an idiot at the pub?”

“I dunno. I’d probably have thought you were attractive, and been too scared to talk to you.”

He scratches his cheek. “You think I’m attractive?”

“Oh, shut up,” I toss the closest object I can find, a bit of tree bark from the garden wall. “Of course you are.” I crane my neck back, looking into the dark cloudy sky, and laugh bitterly, “I don’t even like the kind of writing. It’s not real journalism.”

“So why are you wasting your time with them?”

“It’s a little more difficult than that.”

A single question hangs in the air, but neither of us wants to address it: What about the third article? It has to be written like the others, or I lose my job. It has to be kind, or I lose everything Oliver and I have fixed. It seems hopeless. Surely he has to see that. Even though we’re done lying to each other, nothing has worked itself out yet.

“I want a clean slate with you,” he surprises me. “I just want to stop all of the behind-the-back, lying bullshit.”

“Y-you want to start over?”

“Yes. Can we just… Can we just be normal now, please?” he laughs quietly, but there’s something sincere flickering his eyes. “Can I just, like, take you out for a beer sometime? And meet your friends, and go for walks with that absurd little dog, and argue with you about Quidditch? Maybe set you straight on your opinion of Kenmare? Hell, just talking to you normally would be a start.”

“It won’t be that easy.”

Searching in frustration, he shouts, “Am I the only idiot who feels like we have something?”

My hand shoots up of its own accord, grabbing his tightly. “No. Of course you’re not.” I take a deep breath. “It’s a long story, and I promise to tell you everything. But I wasn’t a journalist when I met you. I was writing the article illegally, and now I’ve finally landed a job, for real. And that job is publishing gossip about you.”

“So leave Witch Weekly. Work for someone you actually care about.”

He is incredibly stubborn. Perhaps it’s why we get on so well. I say evenly, “Look. You’re a brilliant Keeper. Even from the beginning, I’ve been able to see that. You’re one of the most talented professional players today. And you’re dedicated, and passionate, and borderline psychotic.”

He smiles, rolling his eyes, but he can’t disagree.

“Even then, you’re lucky. Do you know how rare it is to step out of Hogwarts and find your dream job? I’ve sent out dozens of resumes and portfolios, and the best thing I got was an unpaid internship. I’m not saying I’m the best at what I do, like you are, but I’m worth something. This job is the way I can get my foot in the door, to do what I really want someday. I don’t feel good about this job, and I’ve lost friends over everything leading up to it, and I almost lost you. But I signed a contract with Blakeslee, and if I break it I’ll probably never find work in the industry again—”

To my complete mortification, I burst into tears. Oliver drops to his knees and grabs both of my wrists as I hyperventilate. I wish I could make him see. I’ve wanted this job so badly, for so long. And now that I finally have it, I’m trapped.

I laugh embarrassedly, “Oh god, I’m so sorry. This crying thing hasn’t happened in, like, years.” I wipe at my face, which is now covered in a paste of snot and mascara.

“Here,” he uses the sleeve of his cloak to wipe away the smudges, just like he did back in the Muggle shop. That night I had resolved to ruin his career, and ended up almost kissing him. The crushing weight of everything comes back tenfold. I manage to control the overwhelming desire to dissolve again.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

“We’ll think of something,” he says resolutely, grabbing the sides of my face. But I don’t believe that he can see an answer, either. All the same he kisses my forehead, lips dusting over the bridge of my nose, my cheeks, the corner of my mouth. “We’ll work something out, Edie.”

And maybe it’s because we both know that this isn’t true; that there is no easy way out. If this is damned to self-combust before it’s taken off, then what’s the point in following the rules?

I murmur, “Come inside. Please.”

His lips part in surprise. But at his wordless nod I grab the sleeve of his cloak, Apparating.

My room hasn’t changed much since I was seventeen, including the fairy lights strung across the ceiling. When we reappear in the soft glow, I hold a finger to my lips, listening. “I don’t think they heard—”

In one swift motion Oliver pulls my hand away, his lips crashing into mine. My body has gone limp under him, and I would have toppled over had he not been holding my waist so fiercely. After a small struggle he pulls the elastic band from my hair and digs his fingers into the mess that falls past my shoulders. When his tongue parts my lips I regain myself, snaking my arms around his neck, bending into him.

Oliver stumbles forward, slamming me loudly into the wall. I grin against his heavy kisses, “Shhh!”

“I don’t care,” he mutters into my neck, biting, licking. He presses his body against mine, pinning me. “I don’t care.”

This is different from earlier. The caution and sweetness have left. Some kind of hunger is gnawing in the cavern of my chest, weakening my knees and boiling my blood.

What was that I said, about things being innocent only in the daylight?

My hands move of their own accord, overcome by some carnal place that I hadn’t known existed. Oliver pulls on the tie of my cloak. Before it’s even fallen to the ground his hungry mouth is on my collarbone, and now the dip in my throat. My grip on his waist tightens, fingers turning to claws.

Capturing his mouth I push against his bulk, driving back until he topples onto the bed. How many times have I thought of this? Wanted it, while I pretended not to? He leans on his elbows, watching. I unzip my dress. The blue silk pools at my feet and I fight the urge to cover my breasts. Oliver has gone still, eyes traveling over my skin.


When the layers of dress- and undershirts are peeled away, he pushes the fringe from my eyes, thumb briefly slipping between my lips. The hands that run over his chest pause over the scar on his shoulder. “Does it hurt?”

“No.” He pulls me against him, the contact of our flesh like hot iron melding. “This most certainly does not hurt.”

I laugh but his hand pushes my hips down, rolling them against his, and when a quiet moan escapes him I have to bury my face in his neck. I don’t want him to see my stupid smile. His fingers wind around the waistband of my knickers, tugging them down before traveling back up my inner thigh. When I cry out he says in my ear, “Shhh, remember?”

Biting my lip in a smile, I pull the last piece of clothing from his hips. His eyelids flutter hazily at my touch, a tremble shooting through him. I watch through my lashes as, with a quiet breath, I lower my weight onto his hips.

Oliver jerks forward, silencing his groan within my mouth. When I begin to move, gasping, his fingers dig into my thighs. He slowly lays back, stomach muscles tensing, my name a murmur on his lips and I watch his eyes burn.

When I return with a glass of water, Oliver is sitting up in bed. His enormous frame barely fit earlier. After we’d—erm—finished, I realized his feet had been hanging far over the edge the whole time. Now he’s studying the photographs spell-o-taped to the wall. Lisa and I in our Seventh Year uniforms, sneaking Chocolate Frogs in the library; my Mum, moving unfinished pottery into her firing kiln; twelve year-old me herding my mud-covered brothers.

“So this is where Edie Lennox grew up,” he says. I’ve soundproofed the room, ironically after all of the questionable noises were done, so we can speak normally.

“The very same room,” I close the door quietly and lean against it, wondering if he knows how much I’m staring. “I’ve never had a boy in here, though.”

“Really! How old were you when you left?”

I sit, the kimono robe I’ve never had the opportunity to wear fluttering nicely. (I doubt he’d still be interested if he saw me in the grubby t-shirt that usually serves as pyjamas.) “Oh, I’ve had a boy in my bedroom—” I nudge him, “—metaphorically speaking, before I moved out. Just not actually in this room.”

He takes a long drink of water, “Where, then?”

“The park, when I was sixteen,” I say and he nearly spits it out. “We were caught, of course, by a police officer. Whole town knows the story. I’m sure they’d love to tell you about it. What about you?”

Drumming his fingers on the glass in thought, he says, “Uh, well. It was with Katie, as you’d imagine, in a bed like a normal person. And I was twenty.”

I knit my brow together, rubbing his arm. “Aww, that’s really sweet, Oliver.”

He nods. A beat of silence and I quip, “Bit old though, loser.”

“Oh, you little—!” he hits me in the face with my pillow. Of course, doing so reveals the latest issue of Witch Weekly, left open to his photo shoot. Our eyes fall on it at the exact same moment, and when I scream he bursts into laughter. I’d forgotten I hid it under the pillow when Seamus popped in.

“It’s not what it looks like!” I’m standing on the mattress in an attempt to wrench it from his hands. Those soundproofing charms had better be doing their job.

“Oh really? Because it looks a lot like bookmarked photos of me in my skivvies!” He holds it at his (apparently enormous) arm’s length, laughing while I flail pathetically. An arm wraps around my waist, pulling me down to him. I bury my face in his armpit, “Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off, fuck off.”

“Karma at its finest,” he sighs, flipping through the pages, “Seriously though? These airbrushing charms are ridiculous! My abs don’t look like that!”

Wrangling himself into the same pose, he eyes me sultrily. He’s right. I will probably journal about real-life Oliver’s triceps for a week, but the photograph’s rippling abdominals are a bit much. Oliver pouts his lips, looking ridiculous, “Tell me I’m pretty.”

Despite my lingering embarrassment I laugh. I lie down beside him, squishing around until he realizes I’m trying to be annoying. It’s surprisingly easy to be this way with him, considering what we’ve been through. Nothing feels strained, at all. It’s natural. It’s… nice.

I yawn into my hand, “Hey Oliver.”


“You’re fun.”

He doesn’t respond but I know that he’s smiling broadly. Draping an arm over my waist, he curls his body towards mine. I have no idea what time it is, but it has to be getting close to dawn. He should leave, soon, before my parents wake up. That much I’m sure we agree on. I should say something, but he makes a very good pillow and I don’t quite feel like moving yet. Soon, though.

The last thing I remember before falling asleep is his fingertips trailing up and down my arm.

When I wake, it’s to a shuffling noise coming from somewhere in my room. I assume it’s Ginger, who has taken to demanding breakfast by standing on my chest and drooling on my face. But when I roll over, I see my brother Liam fishing through my cupboard. My eyes widen in terror. Oh fuck. Oliver accidentally slept over. Normally, this wouldn’t be so terrible—he could Apparate and no one would be the wiser. Unfortunately, nobody in my family has any respect for personal space.

Liam!” I stage whisper. “What are you doing!”

He looks at me like I’m the crazy one, Trying to find my Quidditch padding. Why are you whispering?”

As if on cue, Oliver releases a tremendous snore. If I weren’t so panicked I would be impressed. But Liam turns to the pile of blankets, eyes lighting up, “Who was that? Is somebody under there?”

“It was me,” I say quickly.

“No it wasn’t!” he jabs a gleeful finger at the bed. Oliver’s foot is sticking out from beneath the covers. “You’ve got somebody under there! Oi, Leo!”

“Liam, shut up!” I cry, now madly kicking Oliver in the shin. He has to Apparate, now.

From beneath the covers comes angry bear-like groaning, followed by, “Christ, what is your problem?” Apparently he’s not the friendliest in the morning. He throws the blankets away from him just as Leo and Luke appear at the doorway. I reach my wand and jab it at the door, which swings almost shut before Luke easily bounces it back open.

“Eyyy! Oliver! Great to see you, mate!”

GET OUT OF MY ROOM!” I shriek.

They completely ignore me, coming to stand around us like a royal bedding ceremony. “Bit old for that teen angst stuff, eh Edie?” Leo ruffles my hair, “’Get out of my room so I can blast my death metal!’ This one, I tell you.”

“Alright, Oliver?” Luke says, as if bumping into him at brunch. “Hell of a match last week. Holyhead never saw it coming, did they?”

Liam actually sits on the foot of the bed. “That save you made? Towards the end, when Holyhead’s Beater ended up falling off her broom—that was truly amazing.”

“Thank you…”

“What’s all this?” comes a voice from the hallway.

My arms shoot out, bracing myself. Oliver tosses me a frightened look, “Is that—?”

“Mum, NO!” I bellow. But she enters the room anyway, whisking something in a giant bowl. She notices Oliver, who has gone quite pale, “Ooh! Edie, do we have a visitor? Is this Oliver?”

Naturally, Andrew trails in behind her, engrossed in his newspaper. At the sight of my stepfather Oliver clutches the sheets to his chest, scooting back against the wall as if he hoped it would swallow him. This is the worst train wreck in the history of the world, and I’m helpless to stop it. I release a groan, “Maybe Granny would like to pop in from the afterlife?”

Oblivious, Andrew mutters, “We’ll need to trim the hedges this afternoon. Rain all week…” At the silence, he finally glances over the paper. His eyes meet Oliver’s, which are wide with fear, “’Morning.”

The seconds tick by, while my entire family stares at us. My mother breaks the silence, “Will Oliver be joining us for breakfast? It’s waffle day.”

I scoff, “No, Mum, he will not be staying for waffles,” and gesture at Oliver in Who Is She Kidding fashion. But he’s his head is tilted as he mulls over the idea. My jaw drops. He shrugs.

My Mum gives her most annoying, satisfied smirk yet. “They’ll be ready in fifteen! Come along everyone, let’s give them some privacy.”

“Oh, so you have heard that word before!” Being in this house truly makes me devolve into sixteen year-old Edie.

One by one they shuffle out, my brothers giving sly looks (Liam actually gives Oliver a thumbs-up before closing the door.) Ginger, who made her way in during the commotion, jumps laboriously onto the bed. I pet her with a little more force than necessary, “You really don’t have to do this.”

“It’d be a bit rude to leave after that, don’t you think?” He shrugs, “Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

“You want to stay!”

“I’m starving! I haven’t eaten anything since those lobster puffs Seamus force-fed me. Plus your parents seem nice enough.”

“Oh, they’re plenty nice. But you can be nice and mental at the same time, trust me.” Aren’t all men supposed to run far, far away at the sight of a parental figure? I certainly didn’t want them mingling yet. Or, ideally, ever.

Ginger flops onto her back with a “Hrmph,” her little legs splayed, waiting for belly rubs. Oliver snorts, “I still don’t believe that thing is a dog.”

“This is completely insane,” I say as I oblige Ginger. As if to prove his point, Oliver’s stomach growls tremendously. The seconds pass and I sigh, “All right. Get yourself dressed. Can’t have you looking like a harlot for dining with my parents.”

And that’s how we end up—all seven of us—crammed at our tiny table, my brothers and Oliver apparently competing to see who can eat more, while my mother not-so-subtly asks all kinds of questions. I am silent, willing everything to go by quickly and without incident. My forehead rests in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other. Occasionally I drop bits of sausage for Ginger. Things are going decently enough, considering. Then Oliver nearly chokes on his sixth waffle when my Mum announces, “Well I think you two would have lovely children.”

The burst of sound that follows (forks clattering, three brothers cackling, me screaming, Oliver coughing, Andrew indifferently scraping more jam onto his toast) is deafening.

I remember now why I don’t keep boyfriends.

Author's Note: WHEW. This is the longest chapter yet, and it took forever, and I wrote my first sex scene and all is well. Speaking of that, I want to be clear that I am not making any kind of comment about Oliver being "too old" when he lost his virginity, and that's all I'm going to say.

This chapter just spun out of control as I was writing it. Originally, Oliver wasn't going to have read the articles. Also they weren't going to have sex. The last scene with Edie's entire family was also unplanned. At this point I'm not sure what I had originally intended...

Thank you to Southpaw @ TDA for another gorgeous chapter image. This fic is undergoing a graphic revamp (Oliver was originally Sean Biggerstaff, if anyone can remember that far back) and I'm hopping on the Karen Gillan train. Kate Nash is about as Edie as it gets, but there are a limited number of HQ ginger pictures of her.

Also a big thank you to TooManyCurls for all of the TOS help :)

Please review! They're hard to come by these days but I'd love to know what you think.

Chapter 27: The Unfortunate Truth
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I sweep my finger across my desk, leaving a streak of gleaming wood grain amidst the dust. It looks like whoever once worked here has died. Among the littered items are the solidified remains of a cup of coffee, and a half-eaten biscuit. The desiccated plant is nothing new. When I’d signed all of those contracts weeks ago, it seemed like I would be living at Witch Weekly. But this is the first that I’ve returned in weeks. So much for being a full-time employee. Even my personal assistant is just a roving intern, not specifically assigned to me. (He was still horrified today for not realizing I was coming in, caught without my coffee at the ready.)

After Oliver revealed that he’d read the articles several nights ago, I’d considered not coming back. It’s very likely my absence would have gone unnoticed. I was totally prepared to sweep my problems under a rug. But then, in a caffeinated bout of self-confidence, I decided I wouldn’t go down without a fight. Maybe Oliver and I had been wrong. Maybe I could have him and a career.

My writing was good enough to land me a paid job. Who’s to say it isn’t good enough to create a nice story; one that readers would love?

I drop my bag onto the floor unceremoniously. To keep fueling these positive thoughts, I’ll need more coffee. A quick Tergio and the questionable solids are (basically) lifted from the mug. I stroll leisurely through the corridors. It’s a much more pleasant place to be, now that I’m not running around with Ward’s lunch and proofreading. The afternoon sun reflects off the snow and the corridors are bright. The owls even seem more intelligent these days, having the sense to not collide with one another and fall onto passersby. As much as I want to dislike Witch Weekly, I have a real purpose for being here now.

I hop down the last stairs into the kitchens. Several people mill about and we nod politely. The House Elves have left a platter of freshly baked garlic bread. My stomach rumbles. I clamp a slice between my teeth as I pour my third coffee of the day. Then, with a familiar twist in my stomach, I spot Rose at a corner table.

Oliver was supposed to break up with her the day after the wedding. But his practices have taken up all of his spare time. If Puddlemere beats the Chudley Cannons (which they will, because it’s a complete mystery how the Cannons have made it this far), they’re heading to the European Cup. Though I haven’t seen him, we’ve been owling and there is a note folded in my back pocket at this very moment: Finally got in touch with Rose. Today our fake relationship is officially fake-over.

Rose hasn’t noticed me. She looks tired, a bit less than polished, engrossed in proofing some parchment. I swallow. She doesn’t have feelings for Oliver. He said it himself. We had sex, but it doesn’t make us bad people, because she’d do the same thing to me. The knots in my stomach are unwarranted.

Before she sees me I run back up the stairs, spilling coffee along the way.

My knuckles hover above Mr. Ward’s door. I take a steadying breath. I’ve finished the first draft of my article but it’s barely reached the 1,000 word minimum. Writing an interesting story using only vague, unbiased facts is harder than I thought. Retreating to a corner, I glance uncertainly at the parchment in my hands and find a random paragraph.

After a bumpy start with Puddlemere’s loss to Kenmare, Wood’s heralded return is back, full-swing. Despite the injury in his dominant arm, he has guided Puddlemere United to its spot as one of the top two teams in Britain. Recent wins against the Holyhead Harpies and Tutshill Tornadoes have pitted them in a match against the Chudley Cannons. As the final qualifying match of the season, the winner will be moving on to play the Wimbourne Wasps at the 2007 European Cup. After Puddlemere’s loss last year, Wood is more determined than ever to claim the Cup…

It’s not nearly as interesting as the others, but maybe it’s because I know what I’m withholding. Blakeslee and Ward have no idea that Oliver’s parents were killed by Death Eaters, and that he has a little sister. As far as they’re concerned, this is the most interesting information I could find.

Still, I’m faced with an unfortunate truth: my writing was much better when I didn’t care about morals.

I square my shoulders, marching to Ward’s office and rapping on the door. “Do come in!” he bellows jovially. I am entirely convinced he was once a stage actor. Inside I find him standing on his chair, Aguamente-ing a hanging plant. It looks like hundreds of purple butterflies fluttering on a fern. It’s very expensive—I remember that from where I sat in the very back of the Herbology greenhouse, far away from the plants, on Professor Sprout’s orders.

“Ah, Edith! Hello there!”

I close the door quietly, “Hi, Mr. Ward, I’ve brought my first draft—”

“I’m chuffed that you’re hand-delivering it!” He gestures at an empty chair. I sit, annoyed to be interrupted already, though not entirely surprised. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your position with us.”

He comes around to the other side of his desk, leaning against it comfortably. Our knees almost bump and I scoot my chair back, “Yes, I’ve been wondering about that too.” After the January issue is published, will I be kept on?

“Your contract is up at the end of the month, but I’d like to offer you a full-time position.”

This feels oddly similar to when he asked me to hand out refreshments at the WNA Gala. “Is it with the House Elves? Or an administrative assistant position? I know Mildred’s getting a bit up there…”

“No, of course not! You would be a member of our editorial staff. A writer.”

I still can’t make myself feel excited. Nothing good has ever come of our conversations. There must be a catch somewhere. “That’s… Wow, Mr. Ward, I’m honoured.”

“You’ve done well with Quidditch journalism, but unfortunately our sports section will be absorbed back into the Celebrity Watch after January. Girls are more interested in Oliver Wood’s personal life than his athletic career, apparently. Can’t say I’m surprised.”

I glance at the parchment in my hand, “Well, I’m sure not all girls—”

“There’s an opening in our fashion department. If you accept, you would be assisting with editorials and photo shoots, but primarily we want you for interviews. Designers, models, celebrities with a flair for dress, and the like. I know what you’re thinking, and I agree that you don’t have impeccable fashion sense,” he sizes me up as if I was a horse at an auction, “but your interviewing skills are impressive. Can’t figure out for the life of me how you got Oliver Wood to speak so candidly.”

He looks almost suspicious; the silence lasts a second too long. “People just open up to me. Should’ve been a shrink, I reckon.”

He laughs heartily. I titter along and clench my fists until my knuckles are white, “So… If it’s for the fashion department, I would be working with Rose Zeller. Right?”

“I thought you would have known! You would be taking over Rose’s position.”

“Oh… Is she being promoted?”

He sighs and I realize where this is going, “Unfortunately her performance has been lacking lately. Several of her assignments have been handed in late.” I furrow my brow. That certainly doesn’t sound like Rose. No matter how jealous, I’ve always known that she’s a hard worker. But I think of her slumped at the table this morning. She’d looked so tired…

“We’ve also caught wind that she and Wood are romantically involved which, Edith, creates something called a conflict of interest. Unfortunately Witch Weekly is no longer the place for her.”

And there’s the catch.

I swallow, “Does she know?”

“Not yet. This is very confidential, Edith. I wanted to chat with you before we made any final decisions,” he’s leaning very close with the dire secrecy of it all. I catch a sour whiff of coffee breath.

I wish he hadn’t said anything about this. Not only have I taken Rose’s boyfriend from her, real or not, but I’m now taking her job? I hear my own quiet voice, “When do you need an answer?”

His jaw works side to side in dramatic affectation, “Publication day. That’s two weeks, Edith!” Right, because I never learned how to read a calendar. “Plenty of time to decide. Of course, this offer is all based on the completion of your contract. We’ll need another stunning article. I’m sure we won’t have any problems, but it’s important that you understand.”

His eyes land on the parchment I’m holding. Trying to steady my hand, I pass it over. “Brilliant,” my smile is quaky.

The office is suddenly stifling. Jumping to my feet, I clutch the back of the chair for balance and excuse myself. I don’t even know if I remember to close the door behind me. The corridor is a blur of failing light and passersby as I return to my desk. Two weeks. Yes, that’s plenty of time to decide if I want to completely fuck Rose over (after fake-stealing her fake boyfriend.) But it also means facing her for two weeks, not being able to say a word, knowing that she’s about to lose her job.

I sit at my desk for ages, absently drumming my fingers. I have no idea what to do. Finally I throw my cloak over my shoulders and head into the chilly evening. The sun is sinking fast, the eastern sky turning inky blue. To calm myself I focus on the sound of my boots crunching over the snow. I’ve made dinner plans with Justin and Lisa, before they leave for their Budapest honeymoon tomorrow. Dinner isn’t for another hour, but I can’t stay at Witch Weekly any longer.

Despite my heating charm the cold stings my cheeks. Three days until Christmas and all of the shops are open late, packed with people. The enchanted wreathes hanging from the streetlamps sing “The First Noël.” Now that the shop keeps have agreed on one song, rather than twelve different ones all at once in a horrible racket, it’s quite pleasant. Humming along, I peer into the warm glow of the windows. I still have to find a gift for Andrew, after Luke stole my idea of a Recording Orb for his music.

An hour later I arrive later at the restaurant of Justin’s choice, its name some unpronounceable French word. My paper shopping bag contains a book on the history of jazz music in the first Wizarding War. (When in doubt, buy Andrew something related to a saxophone.) To my surprise, Lisa and Justin are waiting outside. They’re chatting with another couple, bundled against the cold. Just before I reach them, the other couple turns around. It’s Rose and Oliver.

“Look who we ran into!” Justin says. “They’ve agreed to join us for dinner.”

I blink, “Wow.”

“Hello, Edie,” Rose bijou-bijous me, something she’s never done. “How have you been? We didn’t get a chance to chat at work today.”

Obviously she and Oliver are still fake-together. He’s staring at me, because he is the worst at subtle eye contact, so I bore my eyes into Lisa’s. “Wow.”

Oblivious, Justin claps me on the back, “Well, let’s get out of this cold.”

Lisa wrenches the door open in a panic, nearly smacking him in the face. Oliver pauses to wait for me. He quickly catches himself and Rose takes his arm. Definitely still together. I trail after everyone like the maid.

The pretty hostess smiles politely, “Good evening! Four tonight?”

I poke my head out from behind Justin, “Five.”

We’re directed to a table that’s meant to seat six. Justin and Lisa sit beside one another, as do Rose and Oliver, forming a nice little quadrangle. I sit askew with a chair full of cloaks for company. Oliver keeps giving me glances but I ignore him. He’d probably try communicating with obvious hand gestures if I give him the chance. Rose is wearing a long-sleeved black dress, the neckline dipping below her throat. She looks stunning and I can’t remember the last time I bathed. When Justin orders a bottle of expensive pinot noir for the table, I take the liberty of keeping it close at hand.

“We were sorry you couldn’t make it to the wedding,” Justin says to Rose. I am suddenly very interested in my salad fork.

She regains herself, “Oh, I’m sorry too. But I’m sure you two know all about being busy with work. I would have loved to have been there.” The squeeze she gives Oliver’s arm looks a bit too tight. Did she not know that he went?

I can’t help it—I finally look at him. Our eyes meet for only a second. It just so happens to be the same second that Rose is watching, “Edie, did you enjoy the wedding?”

“Yes,” I peep. “So pretty.”

A silence settles over us like the snow now gathering outside. Lisa is wearing a look that says she’s figured it out. About time. All the same I avoid her eyes. Justin, for all of his legal prowess, is clueless. “Brilliant! We thought so too, wouldn’t you say?” he takes Lisa’s hand.

Rose takes Oliver’s hand too, eyes never leaving me. The seconds drag by.

“I need a fag,” I announce, jumping to my feet. Healer Lisa doesn’t even scowl. Yeah, she definitely knows. “I’ll only be a moment. Don’t eat my pasta!” I point at them menacingly with the salad fork. Nobody laughs.

The ancient maitre d’ directs me to the smoking area (after repeating himself four times because I can’t understand his accent.) I climb the staircase to a glass door and step outside onto the wrought iron balcony. Thankfully there is nobody out here, and it’s secluded from Lisa’s severe looks.

There actually is one last cigarette in my bag from months ago. I put it between my lips, hands trembling from the cold. I really should quit. I really should have waited for Oliver to end it with Rose. I really should have written nicer articles. I really should have done a lot. My body is shivering so violently that before I can light the cigarette, it falls from my mouth and lands on the slush-covered cobblestones far below.

I peer down at it pathetically. Tonight of all nights. I can’t sit through an entire meal while Rose squeezes Oliver’s thigh under the table—not without every vice in the book.

This is all so stupid. Why should I feel guilty? Rose doesn’t even really like Oliver. He said so himself. She’s being this way to get a rise out of me, because she’s still mad about the articles.

With a quiet pop, Oliver appears on the balcony and I stare, immobilized. He zips his leather jacket to his neck and comes closer. There are snowflakes sticking to his eyelashes. I should tell him to go back inside—could he be any more obvious? Of course everyone knows we’ve gone to the same place. Well, maybe not Justin.

“Rose knows you’re out here,” I break the silence.

“Probably,” he’s close enough to touch and I can’t bring myself to do it. “I tried to talk to her days ago. She kept putting it off. Then when I finally met up with her tonight we ran into Justin and Lisa.”

It’s like she knew. At Lisa’s hen night, Rose had drunkenly confided that she was worried about a breakup. If she’s only interested in the limelight, why mention it? Being dumped would make her look bad. At the time I’d thought she was trying to get a rise out of me.

“I think she actually cares about you.”

“I was afraid of that.” When he sees my look he says, “Not before the wedding! Really. I didn’t lie to you, Edie, I really thought that she didn’t care. She and I have nothing in common. We barely have anything to talk about. How could she possibly?”

“Because you’re a nice person. You’re likeable.”

“What I’m doing right now isn’t very nice.”

My stomach sinks, “I reckon that’s right.”

He pulls me to him, his other hand going to the back of my head. “Sorry,” he mutters. “I know what it probably looked like when you saw us. I didn’t want you to think…”

“I know,” I make the mistake of looking up at him. His lips meet mine and I feel the heat radiating from him. I regain myself, gently pushing him away, “Wait.” It takes everything.

He looks genuinely confused, “Isn’t this why you came out here?”

“No! I wasn’t speaking in code, I actually wanted a cigarette.”

“Oh. You shouldn’t smoke.” I roll my eyes, but even now I’m looping my finger in his coat pocket. Cautiously he says, “So… should we stop then?”

“Well, I suppose the harm is done.”

The words have barely left me before Oliver is kissing me again. Ignoring my good conscience, I let him. A groan escapes him. The sound makes my stomach twist and I kiss him deeper, clutching his waist. He feels so nice out here in the snow. And so strong, I think, as he easily picks me up and my legs wrap around his waist.

Oh no.

Hold on.

I should probably stop this, a small part of me acknowledges. A very small part. Oliver breaks away to murmur a silencing charm before I pull him back to me. Unable to control myself I find his jaw line, devouring him. I don’t care about the others, sitting uncomfortably at the table, ignoring the painfully obvious: Oliver left to find me. He stumbles forward until I’m pressed against the stone wall, resting on a ledge. His mouth on my collarbone burns against my skin, a sharp contrast to the cold.

And suddenly it's happening again; we're peeling back layers of clothes. Oliver almost tears a hole in my tights trying to remove them. I fumble with his belt, which boats quite possibly the most complicated buckle in the history of ever. It isn’t budging, and I’m losing the rare streak of sexiness I had.


“Here,” he moves to help, and instead slams his head into mine.

“Fuck!” I shout and we both slap a hand to our throbbing foreheads. I lean on the wall behind me and boom with laughter. This is all so ridiculous. Oliver is laughing too, adorably, one eye shut behind his palm.

“You have the foulest mouth, Edie.”

“You have the thickest skull!”

Our laughter slowly dies, replaced by a sobering silence. There’s some kind of bond that comes from two people betraying another. We’ve already come too far. The damage has been done.

He takes me by the chin, kissing me softly. The belt buckle comes undone and I pull his shirttails from his trousers. His stomach muscles tense at my cold fingers and he smiles into the kiss. Snowflakes melt on my bare thighs as I quake with the cold or something deeper. His eyes search me. They’re warm, only a shade darker than my own, and I don’t look away as he pushes his hips against me. There is the moment of silent anticipation…

Oliver releases a shaky groan, and I bury my face in his neck.

My heart pounds I hastily button Oliver’s shirt. His own fingers are typing my cloak back in place. I blanch when I see that the snow has almost covered our footprints—we’ve been out here for far too long. Oliver stands up straight for inspection. “Do we look… normal?” he says, lips swollen, hair mussed, face glowing with sweat.

“We’re fucked. See you in there.” I turn for the door handle and he stops me, smoothing the knots in my hair. After consideration he kisses me once more.

“Might as well,” he shrugs.

I break the kiss, straightening my shoulders and heading inside. We haven’t even worked out a cover story. What just happened out there wasn’t exactly passionate drawn-out lovemaking, but it certainly took longer than smoking a cigarette.

When I reach our table everyone is dead silent, their eyes boring into me. Even Justin has finally caught on. I say brightly, “Oooh! Salad’s here!” and, avoiding everyone’s gaze, tuck in. I am under the delusion of the more lettuce in my mouth, the less I will have to speak.

“How was your cigarette, Edie?” Lisa says tensely. Traitor.

“You know, you really shouldn’t smoke,” says Justin. I nod, gulping down wine.

Rose’s voice comes darkly, “Aren’t you going to ask where Oliver is?”

I can’t meet her gaze, “Loo, I reckon.”

She’s crossed her arms tightly, her food untouched. Suddenly she’s shouting, “You are really pathetic, do you know that? Sleeping with somebody else’s boyfriend?” I knew it was coming but I still stare in horror. Rose smiles in disgust, “Yeah, maybe next time you won’t put your shirt back on inside-out.”

I realize too late that it’s a trap; my shirt never came off. But I’ve cast a fearful glance down, and that was all Rose needed. Her chair topples over backwards and before I can react, she dashes her drink in my face. Several people gasp. Dripping with pinot noir, I’m partially embarrassed and partially annoyed that she pulled such a reality television stunt.

At that moment Oliver returns to the table, trying pathetically, “Whoa… what’s going on?”

“And you!” Rose releases a banshee cry, brandishing her wand. Justin and Lisa cry out, and my “Protego!” comes milliseconds before Rose shrieks, “Tentaclifors!”

Thankfully she is so hysterical that the jinx is weakened. It’s easily absorbed into my shield charm, and Oliver looks offended, “Really? You were going to turn me into a tentacle?”

I close my eyes, sighing at him, just as the maitre d’ reaches us. He’s flanked by two burly wizards from the kitchen, scowling in their white aprons. The maitre d’ launches into an enraged flurry of French, and we all stare uncertainly until he shouts, “Zis ees unacceptable! You must leave! Now!”

While Rose, Oliver and I gather our things, Justin says, “I was wondering… Since she and I didn’t…?” He gestures at Lisa, who is hiding her face in her hands.

The Frenchman sighs in defeat, “Oui, you may stay.”

The burly wizards march us outside while the entire restaurant stares in shock. I don’t dare look at Rose. Once we’re out of earshot, the shorter wizard leans in to Oliver, “Give us an autograph, mate?”

“Uh, sure.”

They fish around for something to write on, and our dramatic display is put on hold while we wait. Rose stares daggers into the side of my face and I pretend to be very interested in my shoes. At last their aprons have been autographed and they clap Oliver’s shoulder good-naturedly.

After they disappear the silence is thunderous. Rose says acidly, “Well?”

Oliver and I glance at each other. What can we say? That we’re sorry? We knew all along what we were doing.

“Rose, I thought—I thought you weren’t interested in me,” says Oliver at last. “Honestly.”

“Why would you think that?” her voice cracks and there’s a pang in my chest. She really does care for him. Does this change everything? Will he choose her again?

He wets his lips, and there’s genuine kindness in his voice, “We should go somewhere to talk.”

“No. I know what that means. ‘We should talk, Rose.’ I’ve heard it a hundred times before and it always means that things are over.” She bursts into tears, turning to me, “I thought we were better friends than this, Edie!”


“Oh…” I say pathetically, but she turns on her heel. I am beginning to realize that I will never understand our relationship.

Oliver and I are left standing as the two worst people on the planet. We cast a long glance at each other. He says, “I should go talk to her.”


He puts a hand on my shoulder, “Hey. Doesn’t change anything.”

“I don’t think anyone else would have us,” I smile pathetically. “Drinks after?”

“So many,” he kisses my forehead and we instinctively glance at Rose. She’s already halfway down the street, and he jogs backwards to catch up, “Ten o’clock?”

I nod and watch Oliver chase after her, trying to decipher the feeling in my chest. This was supposed to be a clean, easy break. Obviously there would be repercussions. But breaking her bloody heart wasn’t something we’d planned on. I watch as he reaches her, but she only keeps walking. With a groan I remember that she’s about to be fired. And I may be the person replacing her.

I check my watch. Eight thirty. No harm in a little pre-drinks drinking.

I’ve almost reached my favourite, particularly seedy Diagon Alley pub when I spot Theo. He’s across the street, carrying what look like some of his photographs and speaking with an older wizard. Although I’m not particularly in a talkative mood, he’s always been nice to me. I could use some cheering up.


When his eyes land on me he is horror-struck. The older wizard spots me, and even though I’ve never seen him before, he abruptly turns and leaves. I falter. Alright, maybe Theo doesn’t feel like talking for some reason. But I’ve already reached his side and it’s too late. Smiling awkwardly, I glance at the picture in his hands. My heart drops into my stomach. It’s a photograph of me and Oliver from the wedding. We’re in the courtyard, his hands on my waist, kissing.

“What is this?” I didn’t even know he was at the wedding. Theo looks away and I snatch the photograph from him, “Were you giving this to Blakeslee? Do you have something against me?”

He won’t look at me. Suddenly I feel that I have been very, very wrong about Theo. I say darkly, “What the hell is going on? Why do you have this picture?”

It hits me: that night in the Muggle shop, when Oliver and I almost kissed, somebody took our photograph. The flash of light, the puff of smoke… They ran. Oliver tried, but he never caught them.


“Don’t be so dramatic,” he says. “They were offering five Galleons for the first photo. Twenty for this one.”


“The tabloids,” he says indignantly. In his mind he’s an artist; he doesn’t like to admit being one of the paparazzi. The man I saw him speaking to must have been with them. They were working out a deal. “It’s nothing personal, Edie. I have rent to pay, just like you.”

“But this will get me into serious trouble at work! They’ll fire me!”

“Then why are you doing it? Wood is a celebrity. A celebrity with a girlfriend, at that,” he means Rose. “Did you really think the paparazzi would ignore you two? They eat this stuff up.”

I still can’t understand why he’s doing it, “But… I thought you were my friend.”

“Why, because we work together?” A crestfallen gasp escapes me and he has the decency to speak evenly, “Look, Edie, I’ve told you: it’s nothing personal. You want to be a real journalist? Well, this is the kind of stuff that happens. You should know better. I read your stories on Wood.”

I shake my head, “That’s different—”

He laughs and I feel my face burn. “The only difference is that you pretend to better than the rest of us! Your writing gave Wood bad publicity, just like my photos. Don’t give me that holier than thou bollocks. You’re just as bad as me.”

He turns and walks away, leaving me with the photograph, “Keep that, I have plenty.”

Author's Note: Whew! Lots of stuff has come to light. But that's what happens when your last two chapters were almost entirely fluff. So Rose does have feeling for Oliver, Edie is being offered to replace her, and Theo was the one who sold them out to the paparazzi. Any surprises there? I've been excited to reveal this aspect of Theo's character for a long time; mostly because Edie was so certain that he was kind of her friend.

This chapter was supposed to be published pre-Christmas, so hopefully all of the holiday mentions are nostalgic and not feeling awkward and late. Ohh, also, I don't own "The First Noel."

Please let me know what you think! ♥

Thank you to afterglow @ TDA for the stunning chapter image! She's been gone for a while and is back with so many beautiful graphics. Go check out her gallery!

Chapter 28: A King on Her Throne
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On Christmas morning, as always, my Mum wakes us before dawn. Even after twenty-six years of repetition I growl, “What are you doing?” furling the covers over my head. She’s standing above me in her lumpy Christmas tree jumper and bauble earrings, a cup of cocoa at the ready. No matter how many protective charms I’ve placed on my door over the years, nothing keeps Hypatia Lennox from her Christmas morning sunrise walk.

It’s dreadfully annoying.

Soon enough, my brothers and I are bundled and grumpy in our living room, blinking in the darkness. Ginger is the only change to this year’s go-around. She’s slumped over in a little jumper my Mum got her, looking as annoyed as the rest of us. But if I have to endure this, so does she.

“Why doesn’t Andrew have to come?” Liam is the one to whine this year, and our mother chimes, “Musicians never wake up early! It’s part of his artistic process.”

As we trek miserably through the snowy streets, carrying our hot cocoas (they’re charmed to be bottomless—we’ve come to realize it’s the only way we’ll survive these mornings) I can’t help but think of Theo.

I’m beyond humiliated. All this time I thought of him as a friend, or at least a work-mate; meanwhile he didn’t think twice before selling me out to the Wizardazzi. When Oliver and I regrouped that night, it turned out to be a glum evening.

The empty bar was playing grainy American folk music, the sole purpose of which is making life horribly depressing. Oliver felt rotten about Rose. He told me that she cried the whole way through—even begged him not to end it, it pains me to say. She’s more terrified of being alone than I thought. Then I told him about Theo, and the photograph, and our impending doom. He barely touched his bourbon as we sat mostly in silence. When we parted it was with a peck on the cheek. With Puddlemere’s practices and Lennox Family Christmas Time (during which my Mum annually takes us hostage) I haven’t seen Oliver in a week.

“Keep up, Edie!” shouts Luke.

“Excuse me for trying to take my time and enjoy the scenery!”

“It’s bloody dark out, you idiot.”

Ginger is trailing so far behind that I’m pretty sure she’s given up on life. I hurry back to carry her, and she squirms with what I believe is gratitude.

We’ve reached the base of the hill that overlooks town, which means our walk is almost over. It also means that we’re going to be entirely too early for the sun, just like every year, and will have to stand in the dark for half an hour with snow soaking our boots because we were too tired to perform any charms. The hill feels steeper this year, and we really let Mum have it, whining and growling like a pack of pups.

“Can you believe—”

“We’re going to catch our death!”

“How dare you, mother!”

“I’ll be reporting this to Magical Child Protective Services.”

We at last crest the hill and I drop Ginger, hands on my knees, heaving for air. I have got to get in shape. Especially if Oliver and I are going to keep… erm. Y’know.

After that night, I’d worried that he’d given up. But a Christmas parcel I received yesterday said otherwise. Inside the box was a posh-looking coffee brewer shaped like an hourglass, and a bag of Bartholomew Binkin’s Bottomless Beans. I’ve read the note, written in Oliver’s messy script, a thousand times: “Reckon it’s time you had one of these, you junkie. Let’s see each other soon.”

Mum takes me out of my reverie, “I was sure it would have started by now…”

My brothers and I have learned to settle for disgruntled glances as we stand, frigid, waiting. Soon enough there is idle chatter, followed by snow-kicking, followed by a full-on snowball fight. The boys attempt once more to play fetch with Ginger, and fail, as the sky begins to tinge with pink.

When the first fingers of sunlight crest over the hills, we grumble along to our Mum’s sing-song, “Another beautiful Christmas Day!”

None of us would ever actually admit that we like watching the sunrise with our Mummy.

“Is everyone warm enough?” she checks and we nod, gulping cocoa with enough marshmallows to send any normal person into a diabetic coma. The countryside below looks pretty bloody perfect, the blanket of snow turning colors with the sky. We stand on the hill together until Andrew has most likely crawled out of bed to start breakfast. And, as it’s the one day a year my mum lets bacon in the house, my brothers and I sprint all the way home with newfound energy.

Unfortunately, bacon is not the main headliner on this year’s Christmas breakfast spread. I greet Andrew with a peck on the cheek, and he points to the table with the spatula he’s using for potato pancakes. There is an envelope with a frightening resemblance to a Gringotts over-withdrawal notice at my place setting.

“An owl came by while you were out. It looked quite angry to be working on Christmas Day. Must be important.”

Cautiously I open the letter, my stomach churning—shouldn’t have had all of those marshmallows. My nosey brothers watch for all of four seconds before losing interest. The script is one I don’t recognize, neat and looping:


My apologies for contacting you on Christmas. However, as we are nearing publication day, I must be frank.

I read over your recent draft submission, and I’m afraid it isn’t up to par with the previous articles. It simply does not adhere to Witch Weekly’s voice. Most of our readers won’t understand, let alone be interested in, the Quidditch jargon. More importantly, there’s very little detail about Wood personally. Perhaps you’ve made the mistake of using your most savoury findings up front. The best course of action is to schedule a final interview, perhaps with one of Wood’s acquaintances or teammates. I’m afraid an entire rewrite is in order.

I understand that you’re new to this. However, I did clearly state that you would be held to the same standards as the rest of my staff. If you need incentive, don’t forget that a strong third article could mean a promotion.

Publication day is the 30th. Please use the next few days to reconsider your angle and to find a new voice. Owl your newest draft to Ward by no later than the 28th. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.


Tallulah Blakeslee

I groan, dropping my head back. Did I really think that she would be charmed by my mediocre sports-writing? Even I knew it was terrible. Once more, there is a lurching sensation that the walls are closing in on me. What more could possibly go wrong? Oliver and I decided to be honest with each other and Rose, but it’s only opened more doors to more problems. Have we not atoned yet?

All along, I’ve thought that I’ve been given an ultimatum: Oliver or a career. But as I stand with Blakeslee’s letter in my hand, I realize that was never the case. I can’t take Rose’s job. Not after everything else I’ve done. I can’t stop Theo from printing the photographs. I can’t betray Oliver’s trust and tell the world about Ada, and the murder of their parents.

There never was a choice. There was always only one answer, and it was handed to me from the beginning. It’s only taken me this long to realize it.

The door to Blakeslee’s office feels like it’s made of lead, but the parchment in my hand is somehow heavier. I could have owled it in, but I needed to do this in person. The office is as starkly black-and-white as ever, the fashion designer’s portrait behind her desk looming. Blakeslee removes her small reading glasses and sets them neatly aside. Today is only the day after Christmas, and I’m early for my deadline, but she’s unsurprised to see me.

“Hello, Edie. You have the article.”

“Yes.” I haven’t moved from my spot just inside. She motions me forward and, incapable of hiding my trembling, I hand the parchment over. It’s visibly shaking.

She regards me for a very long time and I wither under her gaze. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were nervous.”

“Sorry,” I breathe.

Her eyes turn down to the article and I release a tiny breath, shutting my own eyes, waiting for the backlash. It’s only a moment before she notices. With obvious disappointment she says, “You haven’t edited this.”

“Oh, um, I did. There’s less Quidditch jargon, as you suggested, and it discusses more of Oliver’s personal interests. I went to his house, and it’s surprisingly modest—it goes deeper into that as well. Did you know he’s an avid reader? Interesting, for a stupid athlete, heh.”

Sighing, she rubs her eyes tiredly, “What are you hiding, Edie?”

“Oh… I’m…”

“Look at you—wringing your hands, covered in sweat. You know something about Wood, and now you don’t want me to know. What is it, then? The St. Mungo’s Children’s Ward fiasco?”

She’s studying me like I’m some kind of abstract painting. But she’s looking for meaning in the wrong places. I don’t have information about the children’s ward to withhold. She couldn’t possibly know about Oliver’s parents, murdered by Death Eaters, leaving him to raise a sister. It would make a great article.

But Oliver fought so hard, for years, to keep his family private. It would ruin everything. And I can’t do it to him—I won’t.

“What I don’t understand is why you’ve suddenly changed your tune,” Blakeslee says. “Two months ago you would have jumped at the chance to tell the world his secrets. Your first articles were so biased that they were more about yourself than anything. And this…” she shakes her head incredulously. “So what changed? Why are you refusing to do your job?”

There is sharpness in her voice now and I can’t help but look away. But I can hear her bitter smile, “Come, Edie. We both know what this is. If only it were actually something interesting with you—blackmail or threats. But it’s far more predictable; far more insipid. You think you’ve fallen in love.”

My eyes lock with hers. She knew all along. She only wanted to hear me say it; to admit my weakness.

Crying in front of your boss is one of the more self-degrading things you can do, but there’s no stopping the pinpricking in my eyes. “I just hoped my writing was good enough without being cruel.”

“Cruel!” she laughs. “If you were a man doing this, would you be cruel? Or would you just be a hardened reporter, doing whatever it takes to get the job done? You were biased, yes, but never cruel.”

I think of Lisa’s reaction to the way I had written about Oliver, and my mother’s. “But everyone said that I was,” as soon as the words have left my mouth I realize how stupid they sound.

“Edie, if you allow yourself to feel guilty, before you know it you’re apologizing for doing your job. You can’t let yourself be weak. You may think you’re taking the high road right now, but you’re closing doors and ruining opportunities. Now you’re another Could-Have-Been. All for a man.”

Stop it. You’re getting inside my head.

I’ve known for a long time that I feel strongly about Oliver. Even when I tried to ignore it, the feeling was there. But… we certainly aren’t running off to the wedding chapel. I wouldn’t even call him my boyfriend. What if the electric pulse between us has only been the thrill of the chase? In a few days, weeks, or months down the road I could suddenly realize that he wasn’t worth this.

I wish I could say that, looking at Blakeslee now, I have an epiphany. I wish I could say that I see her for what she is: a bitter woman who never allowed herself to fall in love. But I don’t, at all. Instead I see somebody far braver than me. I see a woman who took every chance she was handed, who made a name for herself, who has spilled blood and never thought twice about it. I see a king on her throne.

“I suppose this is your resignation,” she says.

I nod. “Resignation” is a strong word. The job was a dead end from the beginning. Still, when I blink, fat tears run down my cheeks. Hastily I wipe them away.

“Crying won’t get you anywhere.” She rises to her feet, extending a hand for me to shake. “You have to seize what’s yours and never apologize for it. Good luck, Edie.”

By the time I get in touch with Oliver, my face is swollen and puffy. I haven’t been sleeping the past few nights, nor keeping up with a bathing regimen. I’ve worn these trousers for the past two weeks—as much time as it’s been since our last reunion. Ideally things now would be a little more picturesque, but I can’t think of anywhere else to go after leaving Blakeslee’s office. Lisa and Justin are in Budapest and I can’t see Seamus without risking seeing Dean.

Puddlemere United’s practice stadium is in the middle of nowhere, disguised as an old bottling company. I stand before the run-down brick façade, arms crossed against the sleet and cold. Suddenly the building wavers as the protective charms are undone, and for a moment I see it for what it is: an enormous stadium bearing the Puddlemere twin bulrushes. Oliver steps out of the front gate and the stadium flickers back to its disguise.

To my relief, he looks happy to see me. Part of me knew not to let Blakeslee get inside my head, but the other truly feared that things had changed. “I just saw your letter. Katie’s had us on the pitch since six o’clock. Have you been waiting long?”

He pulls me in for a hug, his uniform damp with sweat but I don’t mind. “I dunno,” I say honestly. I could’ve been standing there for seconds or days. Everything feels strange. “I just quit Witch Weekly.”

He holds me at arm’s length, blinking in surprise, “Shit.”

“Yeah.” He only continues to stare and I say, “Are you… surprised?”

“No,” he says. “Well, yes. I’m very surprised. Sorry. I realized after we last spoke that I’d been pushing you towards quitting your job for me. So I kind of, erm, backed off from you. I wanted you to decide what you wanted for yourself.”

“Oh. Well, thank you for that. But…did you really think that after everything, I was going to write about your family?”

He pauses for only a second too long, “No, of course not.” His eyes meet mine but his gaze is moving past me, through me.

Does Oliver still not trust me?

Before I can think of anything to say, he glances up at the sleeting, granite skies. “C’mon. Let’s go inside where it’s dry. I’m on break for the next few hours.”

It takes him performing ridiculously complicated wand movements and several passwords before the arena reveals itself. I silently follow, trying not to stew on his words.

Maybe I’m over-reacting. After all, he has plenty on his mind. The final match of the playoffs is in a matter of days, and even though I’ve insisted that Puddlemere will beat the Cannons, and that nobody understands how they’ve made it this far, Oliver’s still nervous. Even now his hands are clenching and unclenching anxiously.

We’re traveling along the rounded walkway of the concourse, Oliver in the lead, when a passing teammate eyes me with a low whistle. He must be mental. I’m so red and puffy from crying that I look like I’ve had a bad shellfish reaction. I realize that he was part of the group who came to the Poisoned Apple and got me sacked. He’d been such an ass.

“Watch it, Bellingham,” Oliver calls warningly, before taking my hand. “C’mere. I know where we can go.”

Soon we reach a small doorway that leads to an old equipment room. The weak light from a single window illuminates millions of dust motes, and Oliver lights an oil lantern with his wand and sends it floating midair. I glance around. Dozens of cases full of Bludgers, Quaffles and Snitches are stacked in odd places. I study the rows of broomsticks mounted to the walls, most of them damaged, as Oliver sifts around through the clutter.

“A-ha!” he pulls out a bottle of very high quality Firewhiskey and two small glasses. “Bellingham’s private stash. Serves him right.”

I smile warmly and we each take a dusty old trunk, sitting across from one another. As Oliver pours a finger of the gold liquid I say, “Won’t it make practice more difficult?”

“Are you suggesting I’m not the most talented Quidditch player in the world? That I couldn’t do this blindfolded with my hands bound?”

I take the proffered glass, “Easy with the nice imagery there.”

He laughs and a blush rises up his neck. It makes my stomach twist in a pleasant way. The uneasy feeling beings to subside and he raises his drink, “To new beginnings.”

It’s cheesy but I smile anyway, because he’s right. Today wasn’t just an ending. “Cheers.”

I take a sip and he says, “So blindfolds, huh?”

When I snort Firewhiskey shoots up my sinuses which, let me tell you, is only a peg below the Cruciatus Curse. Oliver rubs his jaw, laughing as I stamp my feet in agony.

“You’re the worst,” I croak.

“Sorry,” he puts a hand on my knee, gently swaying it from side to side. “Thanks for the book, by the way. You remembered.”

My Christmas gift to him—and one that I immediately regretted owling—was an anthology of Arthur C. Clarke’s stories. We haven’t spoken about him at all since that night in Alchemy Coffee, months ago, when Oliver bested me in literary facts.

I smile widely, “I was scared that you wouldn’t remember! I felt like such a creep.”

“Need a few more Bludgers to the head before I start forgetting,” he gently squeezes my kneecap. I place my hand over his, sipping only a tiny bit from my glass. I still have to clean out my little nook at Witch Weekly, and I doubt doing so drunk would earn me a positive recommendation for future employers.

I fight down the anxiety that starts bubbling at the thought of another job-search. Thankfully, Oliver says something to distract me, “Erm, so…there’s something I want to tell you. Y’know, in light of us deciding to cut all the lying bollocks. It’s about St. Mungo’s.”

Now seems like an odd time to me. “Oliver, you really don’t have to do this right now. You don’t, like, owe me an explanation.”

“No, I think I do. I wanted to tell you the day you met Ada, but I didn’t want you to hear it as a journalist. I wanted to tell Edie—y’know, stubborn, loud, over-caffeinated. You may know her.”

“I may,” I smile through the worry. What’s he going to tell me? That he couldn’t donate because he’s squandered his fortune on beer and Cheese-Wiz?

Instead he says slowly, “I didn’t donate to St. Mungo’s because of Ada.”

“Oh?” The day I met her, I’d stood in the bathroom mirror of their home, clutching the sink, feeling that some kind of question had just been answered. But I hadn’t known which one.

“Yeah. When our parents died, everything fell to me. We don’t have a big family, and everyone who was still around wasn’t much help. None of my grandparents were ever… particularly kind,” he pauses. “When I tried to settle my parents’ estate, I found out that they were severely in debt. I had no idea. We’d always had a comfortable lifestyle—nothing lavish, but we always ate well, and had a nice house, and were able to go on holidays. I reckon it was right in front of my face, that way. We’d always had money. It just wasn’t actually ours.”

“If you don’t mind me asking… How bad was it?”

“Hundreds of thousands,” he says gravely.

“Oh, God.” Just hearing it makes me sway. My family has always been skint, but we were never that bad off. I’ve never even considered that Oliver could have ever experienced in financial trouble.

“So, obviously, there was no money to cover their funeral costs. And those were astronomical. I dunno if I just got in touch with a bad lot, or if it was the economy in the war, but it was absurd, Edie. And I wasn’t going to just put my parents in a bloody cardboard box in the ground—”

He stops, blinking hard, and I seize his hands in mine. Until now he’s barely spoken to me about his parents. But until now, I was a journalist. I wasn’t somebody he fully trusted. I swallow thickly and push the thought away. “It’s okay,” I squeeze his hands.

“I know there are millions of people who are worse off than we were. I’m lucky to have a job like this, or we would never have gotten back on our feet. But almost all of my first few years’ earnings went to consolidating my parents’ debt. While I was still a Reserve I sold the house we grew up in. Ada and I lived in a two-bedroom flat in Knockturn Alley with Katie. That was when we broke up. It was just too much of a strain on the relationship. And then there were the legal cases…”

He pinches the bridge of his nose. The landslide of information is overwhelming, and I don’t see how there could possibly be more. Gently I say, “Oliver, you don’t have to tell me anything that you aren’t comfortable—”

“No, I want to,” he says resolutely. “You deserve to know. But… this thing I’m about to tell you. It’s what I’m most ashamed about, ever. And…”

He doesn’t finish, and I nod numbly, “Okay.”

“Magical Child Protective Services tried to take Ada away. Because I used to, uh,” he sighs helplessly, “I used to have a drinking problem. Right after my parents died. I took it horribly, and I didn’t act like an adult, and I really let Ada down. I would hire a nanny for the evenings and go out on a bender with my mates.”

Though he can’t look up from the floor he stills, seemingly awaiting some kind of reaction: for me to stand up and leave, or to tell him he’s as terrible as he believes. When I only wait, he goes on.

“This was before they’d really cleared out the Ministry of Death Eaters and, as you know, Ada and I aren’t Purebloods. Not to take the blame off myself,” he says quickly. “Our bloodline certainly didn’t help my case, but I wasn’t always a good guardian to her.”

“You were so young,” I say, “You’d been through so much. I can’t even imagine…”

He finally meets my gaze. “That’s how I know Justin. He did me a huge favour by taking my case. He let me pay him back over five years without interest. We knew each other from Hogwarts, barely, and he wanted to help me. He won the case and I was granted custody.”

I am stunned. Not only have I completely misjudged Oliver in so many ways, but I never would have thought Justin could show so much compassion. Have I ever taken the time to know him as a person, instead of as the man who stole my best friend?

“It took me a long time to get back on my feet,” Oliver says. “I know that’s hard to believe, with a professional athlete’s earnings. But everything that I haven’t spent on my parents’ debt, treatment for my shoulder injury, and paying back Justin—it’s gone to Ada. I’ve paid for all of her Hogwarts tuition in advance, and I’ve set up a trust fund in her name. There’s enough for a flat after she graduates, and now I want to give her enough for university. I know it’s important that she earns her own money, and knows the importance of hard work,” he says forcefully. “But I don’t ever want her to live like we used to, again.”

“You didn’t donate to St. Mungo’s because you wanted to take care of her first,” I murmur.

“It was a hard decision to make. But I owed Ada so much.”

My eyes are glistening. I drop down between Oliver’s knees and pull him tightly against me. After a pause his arms rest heavily around my shoulders. “You’re an exceptional human being, Oliver,” I murmur, feeling his grip tighten.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before. I just… I had to be sure. Ada doesn’t know that I almost lost her. I want to tell her, but I can’t. Not yet.”

“You don’t want her to hear it from a magazine. You want it to come from you,” I rest my forehead against his, cupping his face, “I understand.”

And I do.

Several hours later I’m back at Witch Weekly, clearing out my tiny corner of the building. I don’t even have one of those cardboard boxes that people always seem to have on-hand for sacking. Instead I’m tossing everything into a small pouch I’ve charmed and will probably never empty. Leaving WW would be a difficult experience, were it not for the fact that my mind is swimming. All along, I’d thought that Oliver was some kind of selfish miser, spending his money on some bachelor penthouse and expensive nights out. But I’ve been beyond wrong. No matter how Blakeslee had gotten into my head earlier, hearing Oliver’s story has only made me realize that things will turn out.

The sex didn’t hurt either, I smile, unceremoniously dropping the desiccated plant in the pouch. With Ada back at Hogwarts, we’d Apparated to Oliver’s house for the remainder of his break from practice and, erm, spent the afternoon together. And the best part was: there was nothing to risk. I’m no longer his interviewer and while Rose is still mending, she’s been cut free. Everything was completely, perfectly normal.

Giving a final glance around, my eyes land on the magical typewriter. It was my favourite part of coming to this job. Would they notice if I took it? Probably. Part of me wishes that I could use it to write a third article, exonerating Oliver. He doesn’t care about his publicity or public opinion, I know. But if there was some way to undo the damage I’ve done…

Pausing, I run my fingers over the smooth, rounded keys. They’re tingling with magic. I glance around; it’s still the work holiday and the building is empty. I could have one final run without being caught. Lowering into my chair, I carefully place my fingers on the keys and roll the tension from my shoulders.

One last story to absolve Oliver…

It takes less than an hour to pour everything out onto the parchment. It’s the easiest I’ve ever found writing these articles to be; easier even than when I was fuelled by my own spitefulness. Everything is there. The story of how I met Ada, his reaction, how they have the same mischievous look in their eyes. I’ve written everything I learned today about the costs of his parents’ funeral, and pulling their family out of debt, and Justin’s favour to him, and the way he almost lost Ada.

It’s the article I should have written: brutally honest, raw, unbiased, and it holds him accountable for his alcoholism, even if I personally don’t. It’s good journalism.

Oliver doesn’t want credit for his heroism. He doesn’t care that people don’t know why he didn’t donate to St. Mungo’s. This is what I remind myself as I read the article once, twice more, and unsheathe my wand.


The parchment catches quickly and I drop it in the bin, watching the paper blacken and char. I wait as the flames smolder and die, erasing all evidence, before Vanishing the ashes. Nobody will ever know his story, but I feel somehow that Oliver has been redeemed. I have no more unfinished business with this job. I push in my chair, grab my pouch of belongings, and Disapparate from Witch Weekly for the last time.

Author's Note: Reveal of all reveals (at least for this story?) Sorry about the wait--this chapter was so hard to write. After three revisions I think I'm happy with it. Also, as a note, I know that "hundreds of thousands" of Galleons is an obscene amount to be in debt, and I should have used a conversion from Muggle to Magical money, but it just has more impact than if I said "thousands," because, let's face it, many of us are a couple thousand in debt (yay student loans!)

So how about it, does anyone like Edie now? Hopefully she seems like less of a brat. It's been difficult keeping up with the tone of the story, and staying humorous, while having the main character go through a pretty big transition, in terms of not being such a jerk.

Thanks to DirtyDeedsDoneDirtCheap for the term "Wizardazzi" (and also for reviewing this whole story start to finish in like a week, seriously, cannot get over that.)

It's all winding down, folks!

Thanks to a.leksy @ TDA for the chapter image of Blakeslee, one of my personal love-hates

Chapter 29: Happy New Year?
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“Oh my god, Edie, you’re alive!”

Seamus leaps from his barstool, toppling it, and bursts into very convincing tears. I’m beetroot from where I stand in the doorway. The barkeep says, “The hell, mate?” and Seamus quickly rights his stool, murmuring an apology, before striding over. We’ve never been very touchy (sober) friends, but it’s been forever, and we crush each other in a hug that is mostly back-slaps.

He holds me at arm’s length, sizing me up. “My child, you’ve grown!” I roll my eyes and he says, “You have, I swear it! You can’t wear heels around me anymore.”

In return I ruffle his hair, which no longer hangs in his eyes. “And you’ve been sheared.”

“Part of the deal, I’m afraid. I can legally Crucio somebody in a foot chase, but I can’t have fringe when I do it.”

“Well, I reckon you need to be able to see who you’re Crucio-ing,” I thump his back. “Congratulations, mate. Let’s get you a drink.”

After ages, I finally swallowed my pride and owled him yesterday. Things have been tense. After the wedding, I didn’t leave with him and Dean, even though it was our first reunion as a triad in months. That, paired with my general shitty friend behaviour, left even happy-go-lucky Seamus feeling a bit sore. After a sincere apology—which I think mostly made him uncomfortable—we made plans to celebrate the completion of his Auror training.

We settle into our seats and I order a nice hoppy IPA. To my delight Seamus has ordered an enormous basket of chips, which we both shove in our faces. Between our reunion, the way things are with Oliver, and the fact that the Female Goblin Coalition rally is only days away, it’s shaping up to be a brilliant new year.

I say through a mouthful of potato, “So, is Dean coming along then?”

“Nah, he’s got a thing.”

“A thing.”


“Something more important than attending the final playoffs match, for free?”


My apology to Seamus was largely in the form of free VIP tickets to today’s match, now only hours away. In the olden days, the three of us would go get a pint before the match, as the stadiums charge an arm for an ale. (“It’s the responsible thing to do!” we always reassured each other, while chugging beers at barely past noon.) In my owl to Seamus, I’d extended an awkward invite to Dean, but we haven’t spoken since the wedding.

I say cautiously, “Seamus, have you ever… noticed anything? About him? Pertaining to me?”

He waves me off, “Dean? Oh, he’s smitten with you. Has been for ages.”

“You knew?”

“C’mon, it’s bloody obvious,” he scoffs. “He practically broke his back to get you that internship. Plus he’s got that thing for redheads, ‘member? First Ginny Weasley, then that exchange student from AIVA—”

“Oh, Catarina? I loved her!”

“Lovely girl. Deported, I’m afraid. Anyway, and now you—or maybe I should say then you. Dunno if his loins are still burning. He doesn’t really talk about it.”

I shake my head in bewilderment. “I honestly had no idea.”

“Well, you’re generally oblivious.”


As I lick the foam from my lip, I try to imagine Dean and I as a couple. But I honestly can’t see it, any more than I could with Seamus. He’s a brilliant friend, and it’s true—he really had to pull some strings to get me my internship. In many ways I get on with Dean better than Seamus. We’ve certainly had the more meaningful conversations of the group. But I’ve seen the way Dean is with girlfriends. He cares about them, but he can be a bit jealous and controlling. Even at Hogwarts I knew about his and Ginny Weasley’s constant arguing—and I was all the way over in Hufflepuff.

Dean needs somebody relaxed and nurturing; someone who can appreciate silence, and who won’t grow bored or irritated when he gets lost in his head.

Absolutely none of those things apply to me.

I push the thought out of my head, “So, any big plans for tonight?”

“Eh. Probably getting pissed with Dean. Haven’t really thought about it much.”

“Yeah, you could have a boring New Year’s Eve… Or you could come with me and Oliver to a posh International Quidditch Association party.”

Seamus’s jaw drops and he punches my shoulder, “Are you fucking serious? Oh my god, Edie, that’s brilliant!”

I nod maniacally. Puddlemere is obviously going to beat the Cannons, which means there will be even more cause to celebrate tonight. Spending New Year’s Eve with professional Quidditch players, drinking expensive champagne? That shit is in my diary, for Merlin’s sake.

“Dean will lose his mind when he finds out!” Seamus says.

“Yeah,” I laugh obligingly before spouting in a high-pitched voice, “Except, d’you think he’d want to come if Oliver’s there? I mean, he doesn’t exactly like him. At all.”

“Well maybe he doesn’t love Oliver, but he loves Quidditch. You remember Dean. Quiet, glasses, obsessed with the Kenmare Kestrels. He’d love to come.”

I stare at him for a long time and he sighs, “Yeah, you’re right. He’d find an excuse to get out of it.”

“But I don’t want you to cancel your plans with him.” I frown. “Is this what it’s going to be like now? I feel like we’re fighting over custody.”

“Don’t worry, Mum, you can have me on weekends!”

I pop another chip into my mouth, “Well at least come to the match today. I’m assuming I still have those seats…” I haven’t heard from Oliver in two days, which is not at all surprising with Katie’s practice schedule this week.

Seamus laughs, “Edie, you’re shagging a professional Quidditch player. You have the seats.” We clink our glasses—again; I’ve forgotten this habit of his. “Now, let’s go watch Puddlemere beat the ever-living shit out of the Cannons.”

And beat the ever-living shit out of them they do. Seamus and I have shouted ourselves hoarse, though only at the appropriate times this go-around. We’re not seated in the same tier of VIP sections—which I suspect was on purpose, to keep me from bungling another match. We aren’t as close to Oliver this way, but I’ve been shamelessly eyeing him nonetheless.

Every shot the Cannons have made in the last thirty minutes, Oliver has blocked effortlessly. The crowds roar deafeningly at his prowess, but he never even acknowledges him. I wish he’d look this way, as I’ve been giving him my best bedroom eyes for the entire match.

“He’s so…focused,” I breathe. Seamus slaps my hand away from twirling my hair.

By the time Amelia Jones spots the Snitch, Puddlemere is already up by 150 points. When we see her skyrocket towards a glint of gold, Seamus and I clutch onto each other. But in a rather anticlimactic moment, wherein the Cannons’ Seeker is completely oblivious, Jones snatches the Snitch expertly—and then it’s suddenly over.

The crowd is deafening. Puddlemere is going to the European Cup.

Seamus and I practically strangle one another in our excitement, screaming and jumping up and down. The bottle of champagne that he brought specifically for this moment is popped, and he sprays it everywhere, shouting to everyone’s protests, “IT’S OKAY, I’M AN AUROR!”

There’s champagne in my hair and I don’t even mind. The absolute best part of the entire match is happening right now, as Oliver plummets to the ground, throws his broom and crashes into his teammates. Showers of royal blue sparks are erupting from an impressive fireworks display, mirrored from thousands of wands below. Over the cacophony, Puddlemere’s team anthem rises, echoing louder and louder until almost the entire stadium is singing in unison, “Beat back those Bludgers, boys, and chuck that Quaffle here!”

Fingers clasped under my chin, I bite my thumb to keep from smiling too hard. Even from this distance, I can see it: Oliver has never looked so happy.

Seamus is wrestling the (now empty) bottle of champagne from another man, shouting, “IT’S A SOUVENIR, GIVE IT BACK!” It’s back in his possession just in time, as I tug on his sleeve and we hurry down spiraling stairwell. When Puddlemere emerges from their locker room, we want to be there.

“Maybe we’ll all go out for beers!”

“Can you—? I mean—” he can’t even fathom the idea, “A night out on the town with Puddlemere?”

We hurry to the gate that surrounds the locker rooms, where dozens of other fans eagerly await the winning team. Seamus leads the way, breaking through the reporters and Wizardazzi, “It’s alright, this girl’s dating Oliver Wood, back off!”

I shoot him a look. Oliver and I haven’t discussed titles, but we are dating, technically. A witch my age says excitedly, “Are you serious? You’re dating Oliver Wood?”

“Uhh—” I stutter when I notice the Press pin on her cloak, and the Quick Quotes Quill hovering over her shoulder. Bugger.

I am fully prepared to say that I’m just a crazed stalker fangirl, and that I made the whole thing up, but her eyes light up in recognition. “Oh, wait! You’re the girl in the photograph, from his romantic Italian getaway!”

Well that certainly didn’t take long. Thanks, Theo.

“Erm, it was just a wedding, actually—”

“You eloped!”

“What? No!” But the quill is already jotting away. She pulls out a recording orb and I lean over and say loudly, “Definitely not married! It was my best mate’s wedding! We didn’t even go together!”

“The lobster puffs were extraordinary,” Seamus says.

She gives me an exaggerated wink, “Right, not married. Gotcha. So could you tell us more about your relationship…?” she trails off, waiting for a name.

“Her name is Mimi Baskerville,” Seamus interjects and I snort with laughter. He takes her hand flirtatiously, “And I’m Seamus Finnigan, Auror. How do you do?”

“Erm, I’m fine, thanks—Oh! Look, Mimi, here comes Oliver now!”

It’s true: Puddlemere is at last emerging from the locker rooms. The spectators around us erupt into cheers, suddenly becoming more mosh pit than crowd. I spot Oliver in the middle of the group but am unable to do more than be shoved this way and that, while the press jostles for the players’ attention.

“Oliver, Oliver!” cries the reporter woman. “Oliver, come see your girlfriend!”

He finally spots me and I smile embarrassedly, mouthing, “Sorry.”

Glistening with sweat, and looking entirely too handsome, he makes his way over to us. My fingers are tingling; I want to reach over and kiss his face right now. He must be beyond elated. I’m still smiling as Oliver leans down to the recording orb and, looking me in the eye, says, “She’s not my girlfriend.”

There is a stunned silence. I laugh good-naturedly through my humiliation, raising my hands, “Alright, but to be fair, I didn’t use the word girlfriend.”

But he doesn’t respond. Katie has stopped behind him, and is fixing me with a stony look. I smile in confusion. “Oliver,” I begin, but he’s already moving on, walking away without a second glance.

“Was that a breakup we just witnessed?” prompts the reporter, but she’s ignored. What is going on? Have I missed something?

Then I see it.

A young witch is struggling to reach a magazine out to Oliver, crying, “Please, will you sign this?” I catch a glimpse of the cover in her shuffle: Witch Weekly. It’s this month’s issue. Why would he be signing this month’s issue, if there’s no third article in it?

Abandoning Seamus and the reporter, I elbow my way through the crowd. Like a salmon fighting my way upstream, I try to remain alongside Oliver, but he won’t even look my way. Still I see his eyes fall on the magazine. A shadow passes over his face. He ignores the young witch—in fact, he’s ignoring the crowd entirely, heading down the pathway towards the exit without so much as a nod in their direction. At last I reach the crestfallen young witch. I snatch the magazine, ignoring her protests.

I flip through the pages with trembling hands, until I come across it.

The words printed on the page are the very same I wrote yesterday. It’s the article I burned—destroyed—to make sure that nothing like this ever happened.

“No,” I say aloud, tearing through the pages. The photograph from the wedding is there as well. It’s all here. Everything that Oliver entrusted me with—everything that he confided in me—has been published for all of Britain to see. And I have no idea how.

I drop the magazine, pushing my way with more force than ever, shouting at the top of my lungs, “Oliver! Oliver, wait!”

Even if he can hear me over the crowd, he isn’t stopping. He vanishes with the rest of his team, into the tunnel exiting the stadium. At last I push free of the crowd and break into a sprint, following along the exterior of the stadium. I tear around the corner to the main gates just as Puddlemere emerges. They’re mounting their brooms to celebrate Merlin-knows-where. Only Oliver looks sullen. If he gets away now I’ll never find him.

“Oliver!” I shout again, racing over.

But then, out of nowhere Katie rounds on me, unsheathing her wand, “NO, EDIE!” I stop in my tracks, astonished. Her slight height difference seems to have doubled, and she towers over me as she bellows, “Leave him alone!”

“But I have to...” I sputter. She takes another threatening step, fire burning in her eyes, and I back away. The rest of the team has stopped to watch.

“You have NO RIGHT coming here. Do you have ANY idea how hard he’s worked to keep this information private? DO YOU?” I’ve never been screamed at the way Katie is screaming now. Several team members laugh, and one calls out something that I don’t quite hear, but I don’t think I’d want to.

“It wasn’t me,” I say, and then call, “I swear to you, Oliver, I don’t know how it happened.”

He’s stopped, his back to me. His voice comes so quietly that I almost don’t hear it, “But did you write it, Edie?”

I don’t have a response to that.

There is a silence. Several players shake their heads before disappearing, but I’m not looking at them. Katie watches me like she has a sour taste in her mouth. She sheaths her wand and turns away, giving Oliver’s shoulder a tight squeeze. “See you later?” she says gently.

He nods, but if he speaks I don’t hear him. I feel so helpless, watching at a distance, unable to mend anything; to tell him that I’m so sorry; to tell him that it was all a terrible accident. Katie mounts her broom, shooting me another dark look before she disappears.

Oliver and I are left alone. But I can’t move to him. Even from this distance I can see the tension in his shoulders; the way he’s clutching his broomstick with ghost-white knuckles. He can’t even bring himself to turn and look at me. I stare at the outline of his cheekbone, saying helplessly, “Oliver, please…”

At last he turns around. The worst part is the resigned, exhausted look on his face, as if every horrible thing I’ve ever done has taken a physical toll, “Fuck you, Edie.”

He mounts his broom and sails away without a second glance. I stand on the spot, watching as he disappears, my chest too tight even to cry.

My feet have barely touched the marble floors of Witch Weekly before I'm storming down the corridor, the staircase, and into the fashion wing. Tonight is the magazine’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, and the guests are already beginning to arrive. I’m the only person not wearing designer dress robes. Passersby give me looks, either because they know I shouldn’t be there or because of my fury. When I at last reach Rose’s door, I slash my wand in the air and it bursts open. She gasps in surprise, jumping from where she’s seated at a small mirror.

WHY DID YOU DO IT?” I advance on her, my wand at her throat as she backs into the wall. She’s just changed into her dress for the evening, and her own wand is on the corner of her desk, out of reach. She’s helpless. “Why couldn’t you just let us be happy?”

“What are you—” She’s trembling.

Don’t lie to me!” I don’t even realize I’m crying until I taste the hot tears, and suddenly my words are one long, sad howl, “I think I even loved him, you idiot. Why couldn’t you just leave us alone?”

Rose lifts her hands, “Edie, I swear to you, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“It wasn’t her, Edith!” Mr. Ward’s lilting voice has a sharp edge that I’ve never noticed. I whirl around, tear-streaked. He’s standing in the doorway in fine dress robes, with several other WW higher-ups I don’t recognize. They all have their wands trained on me.

“Why don’t you just calm down, then, so I don’t have to call the authorities?”

I lower my wand only slightly. This is insane. What am I doing? I wasn’t even in Dumbledore’s Army—since when am I some vigilante who goes around, brandishing weapons at people?

“You did this?” I murmur.

“Yes,” his voice is pleasant as always, but his eyes are hard.

“But how? I destroyed it. I made sure that nobody could ever read it.”

“It was nothing but a little Priori Incantatem on your typewriter. We got the idea from you, ironically, after you used it to prove that the first article was yours. Tallulah and I thought it was a bit odd of you to suddenly give up on writing your third story. Especially when you’d been so opinionated before.”

My eyes scan the crowd, but I don’t see Blakeslee among them. Somehow I doubt that she would find Ward justified in holding me at wandpoint.

“We knew you’d have your last word. You could say we had a hunch!”

His falsely pleasant tone is making me nauseous, and the weight of everything hits me. My wand clatters to the ground and I slump over, bursting into new sobs. It’s the only sound. Though a crowd has gathered, it’s oddly silent.

“But I didn’t ever want anyone to read that. It was personal! It’s ruined everything!”

“It’s in your contract, Edith!” he may as well have just called me ‘Silly.’ “Any written copy you produce on a Witch Weekly typewriter can be used for the magazine’s means. I know the contracts you signed were lengthy, but surely you remember that much.”

“No, I don’t,” I say thickly.

“Besides, how do we know that you weren’t planning on selling it to another publication?”

“Of course I wasn’t. Why would I—”

He interrupts me, like he always has, “That would be a breach of your contract. And it certainly wouldn’t hold up in court, on your end.”

It’s a warning. He’s reminding me that I have nothing to fight them with. Even if I somehow had the financial means to take legal action, it could never work in my favour. But what does that matter? The damage has already been done.

Ward is still brandishing his wand, even though I’m unarmed. “I suggest you leave the premises. Shall I escort you out?”

I look at him with more hatred than I’ve ever felt for anyone, and Rose says bitingly, “I’ll do it.”

To my surprise she bends down and picks up my wand for me. Then, with a hand on my shoulder she walks me past Ward, glaring at him stonily. We climb up the staircase to the ground level. There is music playing in the atrium now, the room lit with hundred-candled chandeliers. The guests are staring at my current state, but I don’t even care.

Nothing matters, except that everything Oliver and I have been through, mended, and built upon is gone—all so that Ward could sell his magazine.

We’re silent as Rose opens the heavy oak doors for me. I expect her to shut it behind me without a word, but she follows me outside. Neither of us is wearing a cloak and we stand shivering in the evening light. I am completely miserable, my eyes swollen from crying, and can’t look up from the ground. Why is she being nice? After everything that Oliver and I have done to her, she should have been trying to hex me.

“That was fucked,” she breaks the silence. “He shouldn’t have done that. Publishing the article, threatening you, embarrassing you in front of everyone—it was all wrong.”

I look up from the ground at last, “I’m sorry, Rose. For everything Oliver and I did to you. We didn’t realize how wrong we were, but—” I break off. “I’m so sorry.”

She studies me for a long time, “D’you wanna get a drink?”

I blink in shock, but she doesn’t look like she’s concocting a plan to poison me. “Um, sure… But what about your New Year’s Eve party?”

She rolls her eyes, “Fuck this place. They’re planning on sacking me anyway. Thought they could keep it a secret, but they’re idiots. Wait for me while I get my things?”

When she disappears I pull out my mirror, wiping the black smudges away from my eyes and running fingers through my tangled hair. My eyes bore into my own, forcing myself to get a grip. When Rose reappears minutes later I’m almost back to normal. She’s carrying the contents of her office in one of those cardboard boxes that I’d needed earlier.

“Where’d you find that?” I force a grin. “I had to throw all my things in a sack like an idiot.”

She smirks, the heels of her shoes clicking confidently down the street. “C’mon.”

It seems appropriate that we end up at Le Chat Noir: the place where it all began, months ago. The bar is not nearly as crowded as I expected for New Year’s Eve, but it’s more café than raucous club. Rose looks twelve times as stunning as me in her black knee-length dress, but I’m growing used to our dynamic. We order two bottles of nice champagne.

She raises her glass with a wry smirk, “To having our hearts broken by Oliver Wood.”

I laugh, remembering why we actually got on decently in the beginning, and we cheers.

“So, what are you going to do?” I say. “You’ve been at Witch Weekly for ages. What’s next?”

She sighs heavily, taking her hair out of its elaborate twist. Several heads turn as chestnut waves fall down her back. Judging by her subtle change in posture, she knows that she has their attention. Tonight, though, it makes me grin.

“I have some friends in the music management industry. They’re looking for somebody to help with marketing. If not that, I’ll think of something. I always fall on my feet.”

I nod, wondering where I could possibly work next. Almost twenty-seven (March isn’t getting any farther) with very little experience in my field. Oliver was planning on talking with Katie, about finding work with Puddlemere’s public relations. But that seems highly unlikely now.

Well, there’s always scrubbing toilets at the Rusty Knight.

Rose seems to realize that I don’t have a good answer, and doesn’t ask. I’m grateful. We settle into comfortable silence, staring out the window at the hoards of people. Diagon Alley turns into a madhouse on New Year’s Eve. The streets are full of witches and wizards, in their finest dress robes or most ridiculous costumes. People are leaning out of second-story windows; sparks are shooting from wands. A street band is playing, brass and drums pounding into the bar every time the door opens.

I’m bitterly watching a very happy-looking couple when Rose suddenly says, “Are you fucking serious?”

My stomach lurches when I follow her gaze to a blur of Puddlemere blue. Apparently the team left the posh International Quidditch Association party for a rowdier night. They walk past us, smiling and laughing, still waving Puddlemere’s banners. Right away I spot Oliver. He doesn’t look quite as ecstatic as the others, but not nearly as miserable as I feel.

Adhering to the laws of breakups, he looks gorgeous. More than ever, probably, now that I know I can’t have him. He’s wearing a nice suit and his hair has been somewhat tamed. He’s chatting with a pretty witch with curly black hair. My heart sinks when she touches his arm. It could be completely innocent, but suddenly their midnight kiss flashes before my eyes.

“Of all the bloody places…” Rose mutters into her glass.

I pray that Oliver turns and notices me. That our eyes meet and he stills, a look of understanding washing over his face. That he comes inside, and we take a quiet corner, talking through everything that’s happened. If I could only explain that I had no intention of the article being read; that it was basically a diary entry, only meant for my eyes; it was only a kind of catharsis…

But he doesn’t look my way, and I can’t bring myself to move. The curly-haired witch links her arm through his. The sight makes my breath catch. And then they’ve already passed us by.

I blink rapidly, trying to shake myself back to the present. The sounds of Le Chat Noir fill the vacuum caused by my pounding heart. Quickly, I pour Rose and me new glasses of champagne, eyes downcast.

“Okay, I know you’re upset. But have you tried explaining everything to him? You didn’t mean to publish it.”

“Even if he’d ever see me again, he wouldn’t believe me.” I don’t fully realize this until it’s said out loud. “He didn’t even tell me everything until after he knew I’d quit. Even though we’d already—” I break off. I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but Rose only nods thoughtfully.

“He never trusted me. A part of him always thought that I was using him for a story. Can’t blame him, though. I’ve lied about everything else.”

“You really liked him, didn’t you?”

“Yeah. I did.”

She sips from her drink, “You two should’ve been together. I liked him, yeah, but I think it was mostly that there was somebody around. And he never looked at me the way he looked at you.”

I don’t know what to say. Rose has never been so selfless, but it’s coming when it’s needed the most. My eyes are pinpricking again, horribly—God, when will this stop? But there is, thankfully, a distraction.

The people surrounding us have begun chanting, counting down. It’s somehow already reached midnight. Everyone has started too early, somewhere in the thirties and half of them are two seconds behind. Arms are slung over shoulders, couples lean against one another, and beers are hoisted into the air. I feel disconnected from the sound. Part of me is here in London, the other half lost someplace where I can see Oliver tilting the pretty witch’s chin upwards.

Four… three… two… one!

I squeeze my eyes shut just as their lips meet, blackening the image. Diagon Alley erupts into cheers and fireworks, illuminating the faces pink and silver and blue. People are kissing, couples and friends and strangers alike. The band outside starts a drunken rendition of Auld Lang Syne and people struggle to sing along. Rose and I meet eyes and smile lopsidedly.

“Happy New Year, Edie.”

“Happy New Year.”

Our glasses clink quietly and we watch the rest of the world living.

Author's Note: Happy endings? What are those?

The article being published anyway may seem like a stereotype--probably because it IS--but I tried to approach it differently. Edie had already chosen him over her job; she didn't betray him. It was important that she made that decision on her own before things were mucked up. She's having realizations about journalism, and it takes being fucked over by Theo and Mr. Ward.

Edie and Rose are friends again! Or at least frenemies. I wanted the title of this chapter to have something to do with their mutual heartbreak, but alas, spoilers. And yay Seamus! He's been sadly missing lately!

The next chapter is almost done. After that, there are just three left, and then KC&CO is no more! That means I'll be doing heavy edits, so please tell me what you think! I'd love feedback from you guys ♥

(I don't own Auld Lang Syne or the Puddlemere team anthem.)

Edit 5/26/15: I am a jerk and forgot to credit the wonderful Clarity at the Dark Arts for making me this CI. Thank you! ♥

Chapter 30: Girl Seeks General Sense of Purpose
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


For the next three days, everyone in Heathfield regards me as they would a small child who has dropped its lollipop. The town being up-to-date on gossip is nothing new; a highly revered plaque in the square boasts as much. (Their proudest moment was outing Mrs. Ferris for feeding her coveted peonies the growth hormones found in Giant droppings. She left town.) Now I am finding out that when the gossip is readily available in tabloids, it spreads even faster. Like sadistic truffle-hunting badgers, they quickly uncover the gory bits of my “Celebrity Breakup.” I’m the talk of the town.

My daily walk to the café is a public spectacle. Those less intrusive only turn and stare; others offer words of encouragement or a thumbs-up. Mrs. Barker even breaks away from her spyglasses to offer a sad little wave. Her hedges rustle as she trails after me, peering through the binoculars.

“Poor dear,” Basil the florist clucks as I pass his shop, “Dreadful way to spend New Year’s Eve…”

I cinch the hood of my cloak tight around my face. All of this could be avoided, but I refuse to use the coffee brewer that Oliver gifted me. Not since the Incident.

When I reach the café I feel like I narrowly escaped a zombie apocalypse. Jack, the boy behind the counter, greets me with a sly look. In what he apparently views as small-talk, he says, “Too bad about that Quidditch player.”

“Uh. Well. Yes.”

“Maybe, now that you’re single…”

I have been wearing the same sweatpants tucked into fuzzy boots for three days. “Luscious” is spelled out across my bum. This morning I found a crisp in my hair. There is absolutely no reason for his flirtation.

“Jack, you’re, like, half my age. I used to babysit you?”

“Heard you’ve got a thing for younger men,” he winks.

HOW did you—”

Knowing about Oliver is one thing; my humiliating sexcapade with Jae is another. I snatch the espresso and whirl around—and no way am I paying—only to see the entire town’s faces pressed against the windows.

“Oh, that is quite enough.”


I jab two fingers into the air repeatedly, blowing raspberries and spilling hot espresso on myself. The crowd stares in horror; a mother shields her child’s eyes. With a final “Humph!” I spin on my heel, nearly slipping on the ice.

“Edie Lennox?”

“I’M SORRY, DID YOU NOT HEAR ME SAY THAT I DON’T GIVE A—” my voice dies. Conor Fleming, Editor in Chief of the Oracle Underground, is in Heathfield. The coffee drops from my hand, “Shit.”

I’d recognize that extremely handsome face anywhere, even without the trademark tweed jacket and horn-rimmed glasses. “Erm, is now a bad time? I owled you weeks ago and never heard back…”

I have got to start checking my post.

“No, now’s a great time!”

He takes his time eyeing my appearance, “Are you certain?”

“You look terrible,” offers Gregory Gillick, the town grocer.

I bite my tongue to keep from making a sound like a teakettle whistling. Somehow I manage to stammer, “I’m so sorry, I never received a letter—I just moved. It must have gotten lost.”

“Ah,” he looks somewhere between disbelief and disappointment. “Well, my apologies—”

“Wait!” I cry, “Just give me five minutes! I can come to you, wherever you need me. You name the time. I’ll be there, I promise.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“Please?” My face is burning. Hopefully Conor is kinder than I’ve heard.

He adjusts his glasses, sighing, “Well, this is highly unusual, but… Our office, at eleven o’clock.”

“Yes!” I rush forward to shake his hand. “That’s more than perfect, I’ll be there, thank you so much Mr. Fleming.”

“You’ve got something in your hair. Powdered cheese, it looks like.”

“That will be totally gone for our meeting. Promise.”

“I look forward to it.” With a parting nod he Disapparates, leaving behind a faint scent of pricey cologne.

I’m actually wheezing for breath. “Did you lot see that?” I round on the townsfolk. “I have an interview with Conor Fleming. Conor Fleming! Suck on that, tossers!”

I scurry off to prepare for the meeting, ignoring the murmurs, “Honestly, she used to be such a nice girl…”

Heaving for breath, I throw open the door to our house. “I need the loo—NOW!”

After the quickest shower in recorded history, I dry my hair with my wand. Conor is probably irritated with me right now, but that’s okay. I can charm the trousers off of anyone. It’s how I beat out the perfect contender for the Witch Weekly internship, and how I somehow managed to not get fired after breaking into their offices.

But it’s not the charming that I’m worried about—it’s my portfolio. I couldn’t submit my Quidditch articles when I applied for the job, and I don’t want to even talk about them now. Maybe he’ll find my writing from Hogwarts amusing?

He must’ve liked your portfolio if he was willing to rearrange, I tell my reflection as I adjust my blazer.

My eyes fall on the calendar reflected behind me. This month, the Kestrels jeer and grin, looking smug in their green uniforms. January’s events is looking quite sparse, except for today’s date, which has just become a the perfect storm of happenings.

The rally for Grimma Longfinger starts at 11:00, the same time as my interview. With a groan I realize I’ll have to miss it. There’s no way I could make both and this interview is too important. But that’s not all. Today is the first day of the European Cup.

Right now, somewhere, Oliver is whooshing the nervous breath from his lungs and donning his Quidditch robes. Actually, he’s probably been sleeping in them for a straight week. Maybe he’s rolling his shoulder, trying to ease the stiffness. Maybe he’s looking into his own reflection. Maybe he’s thinking about…


There are more important things.

Tonight I will go back to my wallowing. Soon enough I’ll be eating my weight in Cauldron Cakes and reading Gwendolyn Phire paperbacks again. But right now, I am going to wow the trousers off of Conor Fleming.

Not literally.


“Jesus Christ, get a hold of yourself,” I mutter.


Moments before I leave the house, an owl arrives with directions to the Oracle’s headquarters. (Thank Merlin, as I would have realized, mid-Apparation, that I had no idea where I was going and ended up in a flock of sheep. I shudder to think of the Splinching.)

Following the instructions, I arrive at a Muggle shop called Bag End Books. It’s an unassuming building wedged between two others. Already I imagine myself arriving early on rainy days, taking a few extra minutes to peruse the stacks before heading to work. By the time I locate the History section, I’ve already mapped out my professional wardrobe and where I’ll go for lunch.

At last I find the Portkey: a tattered copy of A Magical History of the Britons. There is a lurching sensation, and then I’m staggering to my feet, nearly tripping over my heels. I’m in a very old, very musty lobby of sorts. The Oracle is, quite literally, underground—I am reminded of the cellar of the Poisoned Apple. (Less rats, hopefully.) It’s quite different from the gleaming white stone of Witch Weekly. But it’s a welcome change.

Before me are two arched stone corridors, between which sits a large wooden desk. It’s littered with parchments that only stack higher and higher as soaring paper airplanes come to rest. A friendly-looking old witch smiles at me.

“Hello, I’m Edie Lennox. I’m here for an interview with Conor Fleming?”

“Oh, lovely. Those interviewers have their work cut out for them. Something to the tune of three hundred people applied.” When I blanch, she says, “Oh, they’ve cut it down to ten interviews. Don’t worry, dear! In fact, you should be proud! It was very difficult to get where you are.”

“Thank you,” I manage. I was selected out of three hundred people? Me and my little to no experience? That’s certainly something.

She directs me down the corridor to the left. As I walk the floors incline, and by the time I reach its end I’ve risen to ground level. The room is enormous. Many tall windows let in enough light to feel cozy despite its cavernous size. The long tables form lines, like those of the Hogwarts Great Hall, but these are filled with people busy at work. The pleasant click-clack of Magical typewriters fills my ears. The openness is refreshing—unlike heavily sanctioned Witch Weekly, where they tossed Interns in the chilly, windowless basement.

A young, trendy witch notices me, “Here for the interview?”

I follow her to one of the doorways lining the wall. A brass plaque bears the words Conor Fleming, Editor in Chief. My heart pounds as she raps on the door. I wipe my hand on my skirt. A sweaty handshake is exactly what I don’t need after earlier.

He opens the door himself, instead of bidding us enter like some royalty. From up close his hair looks bloody fantastic—he probably spent hours styling it to look like he rolled out of bed.

“Edie, hello! So glad you could make it. Please, come in.”

So he’s not grumpy about earlier. I hold back my sigh of relief as he says, “Thank you, Natalie.”

She positively beams. Apparently his charm isn’t lost on her, either.

“Thank you so much, Mr. Fleming, for agreeing to meet with me. It really is such an honour.”

Conor and I shake hands and he gestures to a comfortable-looking chair. I sit up straighter than I ever have in my life, clasping onto my portfolio. When he runs a hand through his hair, I realize that he knows exactly the kind of power he has over women.

“D’you mind if I call you Edie?”

“No, please!” I sound a bit like I just asked him to marry me.

“Well then Edie, shall we jump right in? As you may have imagined, we received an astounding number of responses. In fact, there were many applicants with more experience than you. But we were impressed with your work. As I mentioned earlier, rearranging an interview last-minute is highly unusual for us.”

Honestly, I don’t see why Conor Fleming would be interested in my Hogwarts newsletter samples—particularly the stance I took on whether or not to chop down the Whomping Willow, after it sent another First-Year to the Hospital Wing. But in an interview, you’re supposed to look twenty times more confident than you actually are, and I only smile brightly.

He leans against his desk, shaking his head in admiration, “The way you got Oliver Wood to
finally open up caught our interest. He’s famous for his distaste for people like you and I.”
I force my smile to remain, but he notices the widening in my eyes. “You’re shocked.”

“Actually, yes. The Quidditch articles weren’t a part of my job application.”

“Ah, I see.” He takes off his glasses to polish them. “I feel that I can be candid with you, Edie. Would I be correct in that assumption?”

“Yes, of course!” At this point, I’d tell him he was correct in any assumption, including if he’d said, “I’ll bet you’d like to learn the tuba, in order to serenade me twice daily.”

I force myself to pay attention as he says, “…fact is, we read over your portfolio and, though well-written, the pieces just weren’t what the Oracle is looking for. But then my colleague spotted your interviews in Witch Weekly, and remembered your name from the applicant pool. We simply had to give your application another look.”

So they already had me in the “No” Pile, and changed their mind. All because they realized that I was a conniving little—

“Don’t mistake me,” Conor says, “The material was good, for what it was: a student writing for a school paper. It was very tame. There was nothing wrong with your writing ability, but it simply didn’t supply the voice that we were looking for, and we had to be cutthroat with so many applicants.”

“I understand,” I hope I’m giving a convincing performance.

“Either way, I’m glad that we made the connection between Edie Lennox of Witch Weekly and Edie Lennox who applied to Oracle Underground. We almost let your talents slip by. Your most recent article, in particular, was very impressive.”

“Oh, well… Thank you.”

“It’s practically a news story within itself, isn’t it? An unpaid intern, moonlighting as a journalist, a secret deal made with another employee,” he smiles as if reliving it himself. “Brilliant, brilliant.”

I shift, allowing my voice to drop an octave, “I didn’t realize it was so obvious.”

“People talk. Our job is finding what people don’t want us to—even you.” He flashes a smile. I try my best to return it. “For instance, the Female Goblin Coalition Rally wouldn’t have made as many headlines if the plans weren’t leaked. But they were, thus Gringott’s responded aggressively by hiring Aurors, which caused Grimma Longfinger to act rashly, which in turn got her arrested. In the end it created a better story for the Oracle to write about. It’s all cyclical.” He makes a little whirlpool in the air with his finger.

Contradicting your interviewer isn’t the brightest thing to do, which is probably why I say, “Right, but is that really what’s the most important? I mean, she’s in Azkaban for that.”

“Isn’t it?” Conor raises his eyebrows.

I’m being tested, and I don’t know how to respond.

Fuck, I just blew this interview.

“That’s what we do here. We report the ugly truth. Would you ever consider writing a story about your personal turmoils with Oliver Wood?”

So he’s seen Theo’s photograph, too. Of course he has. It’s his job.

Carefully I evade the question, “I should tell you that I never had any intention of becoming involved with him. That’s…not how I work.”

“There’s no reason to be ashamed. You got the job done, and that’s what matters. That’s why we want you.”

I blink as he returns to his desk. “Want…me?”

Did I not just royally muck this whole thing up?

He grins, “The position is full-time. You’d be covering our Arts and Entertainment section, primarily, but our direction may be a bit different than what you’re used to."

I’ll say. Forget It Girls and awkwardly smoldering teen boys—with the Oracle, it’s interviewing underground musicians, reviewing theatre productions and commenting on the latest avant garde photography show.

“I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t flourish here, Edie,” he says confidently, lacing his fingers together. “The job is yours if you want it.”

“Are you—you’re serious?”

“Absolutely. We’d love to have you.”

“Holy shit…” I heave, the pinnacle of unprofessional. I’m reeling—literally, physically reeling—and steady myself on the armrests.

“Take some time to consider.” I think that he means a few days, but he rises to his feet, “I’ll just refresh my tea.”

Already he trusts me to be alone in his office, with its walls of journalism awards, honourary degrees, and the gleaming black typewriter. I barely manage a nod in response. I have approximately four minutes to decide my fate.

The door clicks shut behind him and I heave a breath. I slump over until my head rests on the portfolio in my lap. My cheek squishes into my headline from the Hogwarts newspaper: Shrieking Shack, Haunted No More?

It was a ridiculous piece I wrote in the (second) Seventh Year. I convinced Lisa to spend the final night of our holiday in the shack for “fieldwork.” It was a terrifying night, but when we didn’t die by the end, I thought I was writing some big exposé dispelling rumours of ghosts. In reality, nobody our age actually believed the shack was haunted. The story was a flop, and the professors quickly realized what we’d done. Lisa and I were scrubbing cauldrons for weeks. To this day, she hasn’t forgiven me.

And now, years later, I am going to do some real good.

There is a quiet rap on the door and Conor returns, eyebrows peaked: Well? He sees the smile on my face and releases a little laugh, “Excellent, Edie!”

I blink back tears and rise to shake his hand, “Thank you so much,” I say. “But I have to decline your offer.”


I run all the way to the rally, gripping my high heels. I dart through the crowds barefoot, heaving for breath, toes freezing as they pound the snow-wet cobblestones. I don’t feel lost. I’m terrified, yes, just as expected—but it’s exhilarating. Conor was still sputtering nonsense when I left. Sticking around, and explaining how I’m slowly realizing that journalism and ethics rarely go hand-in-hand, was pointless. By now he’s probably regained himself. Surely he’s angry that he rescheduled an interview for a job I ended up refusing.

I refused the Oracle Underground.

I’m either the bravest person in London, or its biggest idiot.

The gates of Gringott’s are swarming when I slow to a halt, gawking, covered in cold sweat. Some, it appears, have even slept here: little canvas tents glowing with cheerful oil lamps are popped up. Dozens of picket signs and banners bearing FREE GRIMMA wave in the air. A shop keep has just arrived and is passing around hot ciders for the protestors. The air isn’t hostile, or tense. These people are here to make a positive change.

I can’t believe I almost missed this.

To my surprise, I spot Dean in the crowds. We’ve talked about the FGC, and I knew he was following them in the news, but we’d never talked about the rally. Then again, we would have to actually be speaking for that to have happened.

He doesn’t notice me until I prod his shoulder, “Wotcher.”

“Oh,” he looks as surprised as me. “Hey.”

I don’t hug him this time. I can’t believe I’ve been such a complete idiot for—how long was he been harbouring a crush? Months? Years? Instead of a picket sign, he’s brought a quill and parchment, where the beginnings of a political cartoon are scrawled.

Ignoring the reminder that I just turned down a similar job, I say uneasily, “Um, d’you think… We should probably talk sometime, yeah?”

Neither of us will look at the other. “Sure. Sometime.”

But we both know that will never happen. It’s too broken to fix, and talking it out will only crush the pieces into powder. We can only try to fall back into the way things were, when no questions were asked, and clumsily follow along our old footprints.

But we don’t say that either.

I nod to a group of Aurors, “Seamus over there?”

Dean almost laughs, rolling his eyes, “No, he’s around here somewhere. He wanted to come but he didn’t want to be on opposing sides, so he’s hiding.”

“Sounds like him.”

There’s more silence. I can’t believe that I’m here, worrying about personal relationships while Grimma Longfinger is still locked up in Azkaban. I need something to do, but I don’t have a picket sign, or a banner, or a task. Things are moving slowly, and whoever was supposed to be delivering a speech hasn’t yet come to stand on the stacks of empty crates.

Just to have something to do with my hands, I rifle around my bag, and to my surprise I glimpse a bright blue eye reflecting in my mirror. It’s Lisa. She and Justin must have just gotten back from their honeymoon.

I gesture to Dean before hurrying off, saying to Lisa’s reflection, “Hey! How was Budapest?”

“Edie, I’ve been trying to get ahold of you for ages! I sent you an owl at home, and I tried Apparating to your work but they said you weren’t there anymore and I couldn’t stay because I’m on the clock—”

“What’s going on?” I interrupt her babbling. Whatever it is, she’s completely beside herself.

“Something’s happened.”

“Yes, I gathered that!” And with such little information my mind can’t settle on her news being “I just saw your doppelgangar” or “I’m dying of Dragon Pox.”

“Well, I’m not even supposed to tell you, but I had to Edie, I just thought…” Now she’s mumbling, and the only words I catch are “honour code,” “client confidentiality” and “so much trouble.”


She sighs, “It’s Oliver. He’s here.”

My stomach drops at the mention of his name. “He’s where? What are you talking about?”

“At St. Mungo’s. He was hit with a Bludger during the match today. He’s unconscious—”

But my body is already moving of its own accord, reacting to some kind of electric pulse I’ve never felt before, and I’m suddenly Disapparating.


The lobby of St. Mungo’s smells like potions and dust. My whole body is trembling while I queue to see the Very Unwelcoming Welcome Witch. I notice that I lost a shoe while Apparating. Time has slowed to a complete stop.

I can’t believe I didn’t wait to ask Lisa for more information. Oliver is unconscious—what does that mean? Is he asleep or in a coma? Fuck, could he have permanent brain damage?

A hand goes to my mouth as my stomach turns. That night at Alchemy Coffee, months ago; his words. “You’re shocked that I’m not illiterate. Reckon I’ve got a few more Bludgers to the head before I need to start worrying.”

“Oh, Christ,” I mutter.

At last I’ve made my way through the queue, very nearly losing my temper with the witch behind the desk, and am hurrying through the corridors under the guise of meeting Lisa. He must be somewhere on the ground floor, where they treat Artefact Injuries, but the hospital is enormous and is a Bludger technically an artefact? I mean, it is an object, but you typically think of cauldrons and wands and really it’s just a ball—

“Edie!” Lisa is rushing towards me, but she doesn’t come into focus until she’s already taking me by the shoulders, pulling me into a hug. Dully I register her rounding belly against mine. “You’re white as a sheet!”

“Where is he?”

She groans, “Shit, I knew this would happen.”

“What?” I fire, “Is he okay? Did something else happen?”

I’m practically shrieking and people have turned to stare. Her arm links through mine and she cajoles, “Come here, let’s get you some tea. Oliver is okay.”

Soon we’re in a cozy room for employees, rounded like a house of the Shire. The window ledges are full of cheery potted plants, finished wood and comfortable looking armchairs, which Lisa gently tells me to sit down in. She waves her wand at the cauldron in the hearth and soon there’s a warm mug of chamomile in my hands.


I nod, but I can’t even taste the tea.

“I shouldn’t have told you like that—I just got so panicked, worrying about how I’m not supposed to tell you, but that I thought you should know… And I’m still a bit mad at you for what you did to Rose.” I don’t argue and she sighs, “I’m sorry, I must’ve scared you to death.”

“Lisa, what happened?”

“I’m not entirely sure—I think he was just blocking a goal, and didn’t see the Bludger coming. They stopped him before he hit the ground, but the force must’ve…” she eyes me nervously, “It blew out his shoulder again. He’s out for the season. Maybe for good.”

“Oh, God,” I murmur. “He must be so devastated.”

“He isn’t awake yet. He hasn’t been told.”

I blink hard, swallowing, “But he’s—I mean, with the Bludger, he’s not…”

“He’s pretty banged up. He’ll have a scar on the side of his head, but there’s no brain damage. Just a concussion.”

“Thank God,” I say, though I’m having trouble finding the silver lining. Thinking of him lying there, not knowing that his career is over.

Lisa squeezes my arm, “I've got to get back. I just wanted you to know everything.”

“Thank you,” I hug her tightly and we rise to our feet. In the doorway I say, “I know you technically shouldn’t but… Keep me posted? Please?”

She nods, “‘Course.”

We part ways in the corridor, and when she reaches the corner I pause and wave. When she disappears, it’s less than a second before I’m hurrying on tiptoe back through the corridor, peering into the different patients’ rooms. Surely I’ll be caught soon. For a moment I consider donning the white robes of a Healer, but Oliver will be angry enough if he sees me without a ridiculous disguise.

I hear them before I see them: the jostling, the murmurs, the sounds of photos being taken. The press is here; I can smell the smoke from their cameras. I must be close. Peering around the corner, I see a dozen reporters, all crammed against an invisible Shield Charm. The rest of the corridor is dark and hazy, unseeable behind the spell. I certainly don’t want another brush with the Wizardazzi. But it’s the only way in.

“Excuse me,” I murmur, quietly pushing my way past them. If the charm works the way I think it will, I will pass through with my bronze Visitor badge pinned to my blazer.

Within seconds I am recognized, and the flashes become a rapid strobe light. They have my name wrong, thanks to Seamus at the match, “Mimi! Mimi, are you and Oliver over your breakup?”

“Miss Baskerville, how do will Oliver being off the team affect your relationship?”

Biting my tongue, I shoot an icy glare at the last questioner. How fucking dare you turn this into gossip? I could say it. But it won’t matter. My glaring face in the photograph will be the only thing they take away, along with some irrelevant headline.

Luckily I pass through the Shield Charm, emerging onto the other side. The first thing I see is Ada. My heart sinks. She’s in a chair against the wall, hands folded in her lap, face red and blotchy.

Does she know? Has she read the article and found out?

Oliver almost lost custody of you.

Suddenly I want to run—I’d rather face the cruel witches and wizards on the other side than have to see her right now. But it’s too late. She’s spotted me and some kind of relief passes over her face. Maybe she doesn't know.

Cautiously I sit beside her, hugging my bundled cloak, and a long silence passes. “Ada, I’m so sorry.”

She shrugs, but she’s trying to keep her face from crumpling. I don’t know what to say. I shouldn’t be here, talking to her right now, after everything. I don’t know what to do at all.

“You’re missing a shoe.”

“Yeah,” I laugh quietly. “I was a bit hurried to get over here.”

“He’s still asleep. You can go in, though. I just didn’t want to see it anymore. He looks bad.”

I swallow, “Oh…”

The door opens and a Mediwitch appears, carrying a wooden vial holder full of potions. She smiles politely and disappears down the corridor. The door to Oliver’s room is left open.

“I should go,” I whisper, rising to my feet.

“Why?” Ada says loudly, oblivious.

“I just—”

“Hello?” comes Oliver’s voice, and my eyes close. It’s gravelly, raw from potions, but it’s still the same deep tone I’ve come to know. How long has he been awake? Does he already know that his career is shot?

“Ada? Is somebody bothering you?” It’s killing him that he can’t get up and come protect her; to make sure that nobody from the press is harassing her.

“It’s just Edie,” Ada says, and my heart flatlines.

The silence is cavernous. I can’t move.

“Come in,” his voice is quiet.

I know he’s just doing this for Ada. He doesn’t want to cause a scene in front of her, and certainly doesn’t want to spark the press. She watches me in uncertainty as I exhale, square my shoulders, and enter the room.

When I see him a hand goes to my mouth. He’s sitting against a pile of pillows, with his left arm in a sling. His head is wrapped in a bloody bandage. My eyes well up and I blink, embarrassed.

“That bad?” He isn’t smiling.

“No,” I croak, a terrible lie. There is a beat of silence, and then I'm spouting everything, desperate for him to understand. “I only came here because I didn't think you were awake. But Oliver, I’m so sorry, about—”

“Did Lisa tell you I was here?” So he still doesn't want to hear an apology. I look at him guiltily and he rolls his eyes, “So much for confidentiality.”

“She really didn’t want to. But she thought I’d want to know.”

Whatever sentiment I’d hoped to stir up doesn’t show in his eyes. They're still hard as granite. I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear and he eyes my professional attire, “Going somewhere special?”

“Uh, I had a job interview but I, um, I turned it down.” He raises an eyebrow and I say quietly, “Journalism isn’t turning out to be what I’d thought.”

“Well we’re both unemployed now,” he says darkly. “That should make you happy. That I’m no longer sitting on my throne, or however you described it.”


“Hey, you,” he’s looking behind me. Ada is standing in the doorway with a furrowed brow. Of course she was listening. “Edie was just leaving.”

Her eyes travel to me and I press my mouth into a smile. “Yes, well—”

“‘Bye, Edie,” he says acidly.

I’m not to speak to her. I shouldn’t even be here; I am uninvited and unwelcome. There’s nothing else I can do. Oliver can only be so forgiving, and my behaviour over the past months has pulled the line taught. It’s snapped. And I can't tether it.

Suddenly, I realize it: I am the villain of my own story.

I never get one last look at Oliver, because I leave the room with my eyes downcast. Ada turns and watches me go, confused, but I know that Oliver isn’t even looking at me. This time I don’t pass the Wizardazzi and their cameras. There is no evidence of the way our last conversation has gone. It’s like I was never even here.

Author's Note: Does everyone hate me? This story has gotten a bit dark in the last few chapters, eh? I just can't let these guys catch a break... This was a longer chapter than I intended; originally Oliver wasn't going to be awake when Edie came to the hospital. But, you know... Coffee... Things change last-minute.

One more chapter plus an epilogue. Please let me know what you think! ♥

I don't own either of the two Lord of the Rings references here: Bag End and the Shire; J.R.R. Tolkien does, of course.

Super-cute chapter image by Mintleaf @ TDA!

Chapter 31: Just Edie
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“Excuse me, if I could just get a quote—”

Not for the first time, I’m ignored. The pack of artsy hipsters doesn’t budge from their tight circle formed in the middle of the gallery. Like so many tonight, they seem to have only come for the free wine.

“Brilliant, thank you,” I mutter, searching for anyone not in the Vaguely Aloof and Ironic Club.

Thankfully my Mum hasn’t noticed that people seem indifferent to her art. She’s wearing her Technicolor Dream Shawl, as my brothers and I call it: a vibrant eyesore that trails to the floor, and which people have been tripping over all night. She’s talking excitedly to an elderly couple who arrived by mistake and have been trying to leave for over an hour. They looked particularly frightened by her, erm, anatomical paintings. I refused to allow Daughter to make its debut. Being in the same room as the poorly disguised, abstract lady-bits is torture enough.

Andrew relaxes against a wall. I don’t think he’s said three words since arriving, but he seems content, somehow sipping hot mulled wine even though it’s stifling in here. It’s the warmest May that London has seen in years. All the windows are open, now that the sun has set, but I’m still fanning myself. I unstick a damp strand of hair from my face. I’ve finally grown out of the wildly unflattering—and blonde, MerlinwhatwasIthinking—pixie cut.

“Excuse me,” I approach a kind-faced wizard, “Would you mind if I asked a few questions about the show?”

“For which publication?” he munches a slice of baguette.

I hesitate, “The Daily Prophet.” The words have barely left my mouth before he’s walking away, and I cry out, “They’re cleaning up their act! Really, it’s not so bad anymore!”

The joys of freelancing.

Sighing in defeat, I turn and see a familiar face: Dean has just arrived. Unsurprisingly, Natalie is here as well in a black dragonskin jacket and short dress. She always looks like a petite motorcyclist who’s just as likely to pull out a switchblade as a cupcake.

Dean and I offer tight smiles, and a one-armed hug, “Wotcher Edie.”

I am sure to quickly hug Natalie, even though she’s made no move. Somehow I always make things more awkward. In fact, she’s probably only still cool towards me because I try so hard to be totally casual. Dean has explained dozens of times that our two-week dating attempt was nothing more than an embarrassing mistake.

“Thanks for coming, you two. Mum really appreciates you finding this venue.”

“Of course. Wouldn’t miss it,” he says, and Natalie smiles politely.

I bounce nervously on my toes, “So how’ve you—”

“Seamus around?”

“Oh, yes, he’s—”

“I’ve been good, sorry, yeah.”

“Oh! Good!”

There is silence and Dean offers a beaming smile, Indicator Number One that he is extremely uncomfortable. “We’ll catch up later. Reckon you’re busy.”

I step aside to let them by, saluting awkwardly and regretting it. But I call to his retreating back, “Oi, can I put you down for ‘Compelling work?’” My quill is poised on the parchment as I smile hopefully, a note of our old friendship in the air.

He looks thoughtful. “How about, ‘This exhibition asks more questions than it answers.’”

“Oooh, brilliant!” I jot it down as they disappear to find Seamus. I don’t have the heart to tell them that he’s snogging in a back room with Lena, or whatever the newest girl’s name is. He’s certainly not been lacking in the romance department since he received his Auror’s license. Of course, that could be due to the fake war-stories...

A sudden shrieking noise, like a small rodent being stepped on, momentarily quiets the room. I know the sound too well. Within seconds Lisa and Justin appear, the latter toting no less than three baby bags while pushing a pram.

“Oh, I’m sorry, she’s causing such a scene,” Lisa looks at the tiny bundle in her arms. Poppy Turpin-Finch-Fletchley releases another wail, her tiny two month-old hands grasping. Justin looks as though he’s about to faint with panic, as he always does when Poppy makes any sound he can’t readily identify. There’s something in Lisa’s frazzled hair that looks uncomfortably like baby vomit.

Honestly, it’s quite refreshing to see them without their wits about them.

I put a hand on her shoulder, “Motherhood suits you.”

“Careful, or I’ll make you hold her,” her eyes narrow and I recoil, more serious than she realizes. “We’d best be going. Please tell your Mum we’re sorry. The show looks great, really.”

I hug her, careful not to squish Poppy, “Don’t apologize. I’m so glad to see you two.” It’s rarer and rarer these days.

“Also, we cleared up the hallway as best we could,” Justin says. Lisa’s eyes bulge in a way that clearly says, I thought we weren’t going to tell her.

“The hallway?”

A shadow passes over his face, “Don’t go in there.”

I’m all too familiar with the sheer volume of vomit Poppy is capable of producing. But they’re already leaving, and in the way they always do these days: a flurry of nappy bags, bottles and blankies.

“G’bye then, Edie—”

“We’ll see you soon! Send me an owl!”

“Do we have everything?”

“Where’s the pacifier?”

“I thought you had it. Oh, here it is—”

“Do we have Poppy?”

“No, Justin, I forgot to pick her back up when I left her lying on the floor.”

“Alright, alright… ‘Bye Edie!”

As guests leap away from being mowed down by the pram, I search for anyone to talk to. I can’t help but notice that everyone has coupled off. Even Jae arrived holding someone’s hand. Now that Rose is dating Conor Fleming (if you want to call it that), I’m the only person who attended this thing stag. My brothers were the only exception, when they appeared for all of four seconds before nipping off to a pub.

I glance at my parchment. Looks like I’ll be making up quotations for the story again. No harm; the Prophet’s arts section isn’t exactly the most widely-read in Britain.

After another circle around the room, I settle back against the wall. It’s nice and cool under my sheer black shirt; the one that I thought looked the most Contemporary Art Connoisseur-y. A magical tray of champagne floats past, but I don’t take one. I’ll need a clear head to meet tomorrow’s deadline.

“Edie,” comes a deep voice.

I whirl around. Andrew raises an eyebrow, grinning, “Expecting somebody else?”

“No,” I flush. “You just snuck up on me, that’s all.”

He nods but doesn’t press the issue further. Bless Andrew and his quiet, unassuming self. My Mum wouldn’t stop until she’d pried me open like an oyster. I glance over her way. The elderly couple has finally escaped, but now she’s latched on to Dean and Natalie. They’ll be stuck here all night.

Andrew and I stand, enjoying each other’s silence. When the room starts to feel a bit too crowded I say, “I should get to work. Tell Mum to check the Prophet tomorrow.”

He nods, and doesn’t tell me that I should say goodbye. He’s always the first to notice when I’m not feeling myself. Besides, I’ll see her at the next weekly breakfast she instated after I finally left the nest. I peck Andrew on the cheek and wave to my Mum, but she’s too focused on whatever story she’s telling Natalie, who looks like she may pass out from boredom. I pause at the door, trying to catch Dean’s eye, but he doesn’t notice. I cast another glance around before making a quiet exit.


My shoes drop noisily onto the polished wooden floor. While I massage my ankles Ginger sits, patiently waiting to be picked up. I’ve been cautious of this ritual ever since the fire-sneezing episode. How a dragon and a bulldog crossbred I’ll never know, but my curtains are still singed.

“Still dormant these days? Not gonna burn my hair off?” I lift her into my arms and she only stares.

With a flick of my wand the fairy lights glow to life. The flat is cozy… Then again, there’s no other polite way to describe something this tiny. Remembering, I juggle Ginger and a quill to scrawl RENT TOMORROW SERIOUSLY EDIE on a scrap of parchment, and Spell-o-Tape it to my door. I don’t want Simon to evict me again. I can’t be too careful; not after our first and only date went so poorly.

Foregoing the fresh head of lettuce for a Cauldron Cake, I munch while I pace, Ginger snuffling up the crumbs. My desk is littered with parchment upon parchment of grant information for the Female Goblin Coalition. The stacks teeter precariously, which really is a good thing: more parchments means more receipts due to more funding. It’s what turned my internship with the FGC into a paid job. But right now would be a good time to create something like Muggle computers. My hand cramps just thinking of the transcribing I’ll be doing.

“Alright,” I sit heavily in my chair. “Finish this and write your article, and you can have a beer.”

Hours later, my fingers are smudged with black and my hand is stiff, but I swear it: the stacks haven’t gotten smaller. They must be enchanted. I flip to a new page in the giant leather-bound ledger of grant records. Groaning, I stretch my arms widely. I’ll have to leave this for the morning if I want to get my story done decently. Nobody will read it, of course, but it’s another bit to pad the portfolio.

“Just one more, I promise,” I tell Ginger, who whines. We’re late for her nighttime walk.

I flip over the next parchment and the quill drops from my hand. There, next to the words Donor Name, it says it.

My voice comes in a whisper, “Oliver A. Wood.”

The name feels like stretching an old muscle; one that aches after disuse. I certainly haven’t spoken about him. My friends, if they’ve heard anything, know not to bring him up. He hasn’t even been in the press since he took the position of Flying Instructor at Hogwarts. There’s been no word of him for months. Until now.

My eyes rove down the parchment. There’s nothing remarkable about it. No special notations, or comments, or marks in the margin. It looks exactly like every other name on the FGC’s standardized record form. But it still sends my heart pounding just to read it.

Donor Name: Oliver A. Wood

Value of Donation: Three Thousand Galleons

I almost fall out of my chair. Oliver donated three thousand Galleons to the FGC? Why would he possibly do that, when he’s never done so before—and with good reasoning? I talked his ear off about the coalition and Grimma Longfinger, but I didn’t think he was so interested.

The next piece of information makes me furrow my brow. Date of Donation: January 21, 2007.

He did this only weeks after we’d stopped speaking.


I sink back, biting my thumbnail while my mind races. This could very well mean nothing. Maybe he’s atoning for the St. Mungo’s children’s ward… But he would have just given the money directly to them. Plus the money came after Grimma was freed from Azkaban. If it wasn’t to serve that purpose, then what?

Oliver was so upset that he’d cost my job at the Poisoned Apple. Did he somehow hear that I’d begun interning for the FGC after the rally? Three thousand is almost exactly my annual salary. Could he have possibly known that his money would go towards creating my job?

My hands run through my hair. A thousand questions are buzzing, but I only know one solid fact. Whether done intentionally or not, Oliver is the reason I have a job.

My eyes dart to the inkwell on my desk. I shouldn’t. It would be too weird. Oliver has never made any attempt to contact me, and our last conversation didn’t leave much room for interpretation.

I jump from the desk, pacing. Then I turn on my shower and start to disrobe, turn the water back off, and come back to the desk in my bra and skirt. I boil a kettle for tea, promptly forget that the mug is steeping, and return to stare at the quill and ink. By the time I remember my tea it’s gone cold.

Is this what Muggles mean, when they talk about text message anxiety?

“You’re being ridiculous. You’re an adult. Oliver is an adult. Adults like to catch up with their old friends.”

This old friend just happens to not be your friend anymore.

In one swift motion I sit down, pull out the parchment, blot the quill, and begin writing so that I don’t change my mind.


Hope you’re doing well back at the ol’ Hoggy-Hog!

I shake my head, vigorously scratching that last bit out. A fair amount of editing charms will be in order. Blowing air through my cheeks, I slow my hammering heart, and imagine that I’ll write this letter and never send it. I just need to speak my mind.

I just wanted to write to say thank you. As part of my job with the FGC I track our grants and donations, and I happened to notice your name on our list. Whether you knew this or not, you’re largely responsible for my internship being turned into paid employment. I really can’t thank you enough.

There is a heavy pause. My palms are damp as if Oliver were actually sitting across from me, brown eyes watching, intently as always. I wet my lips.

Maybe this is completely inappropriate, and please don’t feel pressured to even dignify this with a response. I honestly only intended to say thanks here, but now that I’m writing, it just seems like the thing to do. Would you like to meet sometime soon, just to catch up? I can come visit the old stomping grounds at school, or London is always an easy trip from Hogwarts.

I should probably crumple this letter up (or maybe set it on fire? Remember?) because I totally understand why you would never want to see me again, and maybe that’s why I felt okay writing this, because what are the odds that I’ll actually have to face you afterwards, eh?


I hope you’re doing well. I really mean it.

Talk to you soon, maybe.

I pause, quill hovering over the parchment.


The quill scratches out the word “love” so fiercely that it breaks through the parchment. I curse under my breath—I’ll have to find my book of editing charms for that one.

I decide to leave the goodbye as that: just “Edie.”


The heat doesn’t let up. By June there is no such thing as awkward silence or strained small-talk, because “Bloody hot out, eh?” has become a perfectly acceptable ice-breaker.

Personally I am not relishing the sun, and have become one giant freckle. Rose doesn’t seem to mind, her skin browning evenly like a normal person’s. We’re awaiting iced coffees, fanning ourselves in the very long queue of a cafe. I’ve just come back from a meeting with the Quibbler. They’re contracting me to write a short series on the various species of fairies that are being displaced by modern gardening.

“Do fairies even exist, though, or are they like Nargles?” Rose squints.

“Hold on…” I lift a finger, my nose buried in a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. “Yep. They’re real,” I say with some relief.

Rose clicks her tongue in irritation. The queue hasn’t budged in ages while the barista is busy flirting with a girl at the register. “Calm down, he’ll probably flirt with you too,” I mutter.

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” she says, but looks satisfied. “Conor will kill me if I’m late to work.”

“Doubt it. He’s your boyfriend.”

“Well he’ll still be upset.” She sees my quirked eyebrow and grins, “No he won’t.”

“I can’t believe you found the one publication in Britain that doesn’t mind if you’re dating your boss.”

“Hey, you had your chance.”

“Right, but then I wouldn’t get to do play the Bleeding Heart Activist bit.”

She snorts, and the queue shifts a bit. A man behind us shouts with exasperation, “Finally!” (The heat has created two groups of people: those who turn gorgeous overnight, with browned skin and naturally highlighted hair, and those who turn into sweaty grumps. This man has been puffing “Unbe-lieve-able” under his breath for the last ten minutes.)

Something suddenly falls on my head, and I immediately scowl at Rose. She shrugs, Wasn’t me, and I spot an envelope on the floor. (“Unbelieveable!” the man says again, as it is apparently an enormous inconvenience to watch somebody else receive post.) I just glimpse the unfamiliar owl before it darts out an open window. Out of habit I run over the list in my head. But I’ve paid my rent, my bank account hasn’t been over-withdrawn this month, and my library books aren’t overdue.

Frowning, I tear open the wax seal. I immediately recognize the small, messy script. “Holy shit!” I exclaim.


“What?” Rose is already reading over my shoulder.


Thanks for the letter. I’d wondered if you’d stumble across the donation somehow. Exams are ending tomorrow and I’ll be staying on the grounds for several weeks. Feel free to visit any time before July. Just send an owl and I’ll arrange things with the Headmistress.


The letter has as much personal touch as a magazine subscription cancellation. He could’ve been writing to his landlord. Or a rock. Rose, knowing that I tried to mend things, clicks her tongue in sympathy, “Sounds like he’s still angry. That’s too bad, Edie.”

But I’m beaming, reading the script over and over and over, as if it were some actually some kind of sonnet. He could've ignored me. He could've sent a Howler. He could've Apparated here only to smack me on the back of the head, and it all would've been warranted.

“But he wrote.”


By the time I’m standing at Platform 9¾, the letter feels less like a poem and more like a half-hearted response, done out of politeness. Probably because that’s exactly what it is. Still, I was too eager. I’d written him back the day I received his message, even abandoning Rose in the coffee queue, saying that of course I’ll come visit, and would the next weekend work?

His reply was faster, but no more excited:

Certainly. The Hogwarts Express leaves King’s Cross at 9:00 on Friday, so you could be at Hogwarts by 2:00. Just send a Patronus when you arrive. Once you’re in, we can arrange for you to Floo back home.

I’d been so embarrassed by my one-way enthusiasm that I didn’t even respond. Now, standing with my suitcase at King’s Cross, I read this second letter for the thousandth time, analyzing everything.

So he isn’t going to meet me at Hogsmeade Station? It seems childish to be disappointed. But in my mind our reunion was that of a Muggle film: I would step off the train in a nice dress and the billowing steam from the engine parting to reveal Oliver's figure, the same as I remember. Then there would be either a quiet hello followed by a sweet embrace, or he’d be so dazzled by my sun-dappled skin that we’d run to one another, kissing passionately.

Not that I’ve, like, thought about it or anything.

The train whistle blows and I jump from my reverie. Looks like it’s just me.

The Hogwarts Express runs more frequently these days, but it’s also the only way for non-Ministry officials to get into the school. But I like the idea of having run of the whole train. I haven’t stepped foot inside in ten years.

I levitate my leather suitcase up the steps. It’s my first time boarding when I haven’t immediately been swept into the sea of returning students, bright-faced and eager to start the year, tossing sweets, searching for friends or scrawling out last-minute summer coursework. This time it’s eerily silent. The train still smells like polished wood and the inexplicable scent of Earl Grey tea. I take my time finding the best-looking compartment and sit heavily.

About halfway through the trip the Trolley Witch stops by, and I’m delighted to see that she’s the same old lady as when I was a student. She must be pushing ninety.

“Anything from the trolley, dear?” It’s brimming with sweets and sandwiches and butterbeer, even though I’m apparently the only soul on board.

“No, thank you.”

She smiles with a polite nod and slowly rolls away. Less than a second passes before I leap from my compartment, “Actually!”

Five minutes later I’m surrounded by enough Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties and cheese sandwiches to feed the entire First Year, kicking my feet and sipping chilled butterbeer. I hum tunelessly, watching the cow pastures slowly turn into fields and then wild forests. When we pass under a tunnel, I catch my reflection in the darkened window.

I think I look different, mostly because of the chin-length hair. Not drinking a beer every day has made a difference in my muffin top too—although by the time I reach Hogwarts I will have eaten my way back up three robe sizes.

Even with all the sugar coursing through my bloodstream I release a roar of a yawn. I barely slept last night, twiddling the sheets in my hands, buzzing with nerves over today. I wonder if Oliver looks the same. I blink and see him behind my eyelids: tall and broad, with his unruly waves of hair and dark eyes. And the scruff along his jaw, particularly how it felt when I buried my face in it…

When I wake, I look like a sweets addict who has relapsed. I’ve gone on a bender. The compartment is littered with wrappers and there’s chocolate smeared all over my face. Not to mention that I fell asleep with a Cauldron Cake in hand, which has melted all over my smart striped dress. A horrified glance out the window shows that the sun has sunk low. We’re passing over the tell-tale bridge through the mountains—we’re only minutes from Hogwarts.

Shit,” I try my best to Tergio the stains from the dress.

I knew I shouldn’t have skipped my second coffee today. I wan’t supposed to be sleeping! I was supposed to have time to collect myself, and to work on my first words to Oliver. So far all I’ve come up with is a smirk, a lean against some kind of surface, and “Hey, stranger.”

But I haven’t even practised!

“Arriving in five minutes!” booms the conductor’s voice over a Sonorus spell, making me jump. This is a new addition to the ride. Suddenly I feel very old. Will there still be students on the grounds, staring at the No Longer Teenage but Not Quite Fully-Formed Adult Creature before them?

The train pulls into Hogsmeade Station and my palms are suddenly one hundred percent liquid. I wipe them on my mostly-clean dress and set to gathering my things and trying to clear the sweets wrappers. What am I supposed to do with all this extra food? I quickly shove it in my suitcase, which is already brimming. I’m only staying through Sunday and I’ve packed like I’m moving in.

I’m physically trembling as I don my floppy black hat, remove it, don it again, remove it again, and finally decide to just wear the bloody thing as I paid for it. When I step off the train, lugging the enormous suitcase that I’m too nervous to Shrink Charm, I’m actually glad that Oliver isn’t waiting because I look like a proper idiot.

I need to send a Patronus to tell him I’ve arrived. (My Patronus is a hedgehog, essentially the most embarrassing animal besides a platypus.) I’ve never been skilled with them and it takes a moment to conjure a happy memory. Soon the shaking in my hands steadies. I close my eyes, seeing it clear as day: the crumbling facade of the Italian castle, sky fading inky-blue, my letter from Amelia Jones waving overhead. Oliver, eyes glimmering, hands in pockets, laughing as I skip like a fool.

I wish I could kiss you right now.

I’d say we could bend the rules.

Expecto Patronum,” the silver light is watery, but it’ll do. With a resigned sigh at the stupid-looking creature I flick my wand. The apparition scurries off, down the road to the castle.

My heart feels like it’s going to jump out of my throat. I swallow against the hammering, shielding my eyes from the sun. And suddenly there it is, the postcard that everyone sends home to Mum their First Year: Hogwarts castle.

Its windows gleam in the late afternoon sun. It’s just as I left it ten years ago, and still I’m in awe. It feels familiar and foreign all at once. The sun is painting the grounds golden and green. A cool breeze rustles the trees and sends ripples skittering over the Black Lake.

I breathe it in deeply: the pine and the dirt, scents that London has long since forgotten. I haven’t even heard the sound of birds in forever. Not like this. Soon enough I’ll be inside the castle’s stone walls, seeing old portraits, smelling the parchment and the smoke of torches and the food from the Great Hall. The picture is the same—it’s me that’s changed. I won’t really be going back. Ten years ago I was a part of this picture, ingrained in its makeup. Today I’m just a tourist.

At the sound of gravel crunching under feet, my shoulders seize. I’m too afraid to turn around. I want to stay suspended like this, in my excitement and nerves, in the moments before seeing him—before things could go terribly wrong. Part of me thinks that this is enough; that he doesn’t hate me enough to let me visit. I could have just read his letter, accepted that he no longer hates me, and learned to move on.

But the other part of me would always wonder what could’ve happened next.

So I turn around.

Author's Note: This chapter was probably my favorite that I've written in a while! Traveling back to Hogwarts and bombarding you with metaphors for change vs. constance was super fun.

And of course there's how everyone has changed in six months!

Dean and Edie had a fling, and it failed miserably, and now he's got a super cute girl named Natalie. Seamus is up to his neck in dates, and Lisa and Justin had their wee babe. Oliver took a job as flying instructor at Hogwarts and Edie is successful now? Freelance writer and grant manager/publicist for the Female Goblin Coalition... Not bad, eh? Oh, and Ginger was totally part-dragon, huehuehue.

There's only one more chapter to write. I can't believe it.

(Don't worry, I have no idea how I want this to end!)

Absolutely PERFECT chapter image by the talented Mintleaf, at The Dark Arts ♥

Chapter 32: You Can Never Really Go Home
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For the first time in six months, I’m looking at Oliver Wood.

Of course there was the occasional mishap: the photos in the papers, crammed beneath blocky text. (Something like THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS: WOOD ACCEPTS FLYING INSTRUCTOR POSITION.) Some mornings my gaze would meet with his flat paper-grey stare only for a moment, and then I was shsuffling through the pages with such ferocity that my tea was knocked over on more than one occasion.

Of course, this was all before the public lost interest in the perfectly average life of an ex-Quidditch star. Once on Hogwarts grounds, he was untouchable, and eventually the gossip columns turned to more interesting scandals. Soon everyone forgot about Oliver Wood and the sister he nearly lost.

Almost everyone.

The passers-by of Hogsmeade stare at me, the the only person wearing Londonite clothing. As he approaches, even Oliver is wearing the telltale black cloak of Hogwarts faculty, thrown haphazardly over his casual clothes. I wonder what he had been doing before I arrived. Something about his appearance, and its lack of meticulousness, tells me he wasn’t waiting by a window with bated breath.

Beneath the robes, much of his Quidditch bulk is gone. There’s no wonder—I doubt he has much use of his shoulder at all, now. Our gazes repeatedly meet and flitter away. By the way he thumbs his lip it’s clear: he’s nervous too.

And while his approach is agonizing, suddenly it’s over and he’s standing just out of arm’s reach, and I haven’t worked out a single thing to say. My suitcase nearly slips from my sweaty grasp. For all of my daydreaming and script-writing, I can’t unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth.

“Hello,” he says at last.


“Hair’s short.” He glances over my bob.

“Yours too.” Too short for the unruly waves I remember; the ones I waited months to run my hands through.

And then my breath catches. Only now, standing this close, do I see it: the white scar that begins just above his right temple and curls around his ear, almost too perfectly, as if tracing its outline. I have the strong feeling that this short hair is the result of being shaved for medical treatment.

“Is it that bad?” They’re the words he said when I last saw him at St. Mungo’s, when he was bloodied and bandaged and I couldn’t do a thing.

“No.” I regain myself. “Kind of cool, actually.”

“A First-Year asked if I was Harry Potter.”

“What an idiot,” I say, which is pretty mean, and I deserve his look of disproval. “Well, it’s good to see you!” I move to hug him, and then a terrible thing happens.

Despite my arms encircling him, Oliver doesn’t budge an inch. In the end I am straddling his leg, vice gripping him like a koala to a tree. To save my dignity he offers a one-armed half-hug with about as much vigor as a dead fish. This pose lasts entirely too long before I accept that we will not be sharing a passionate embrace. I step away, dusting my skirts as if it would erase the moment.

Oliver’s neck is turning red. Obviously he has absorbed my awkwardness through osmosis.

“The train was nice!” I quip.

“Wonderful.” I don’t think he’s ever said the word “wonderful” in his life, and the ridiculousness of it hangs in the air. He eyes my suitcase. “You certainly don’t pack light.”

My brow furrows. What, one tiny suitcase?

And then, with horror, I recall his letter folded in my pocket: Once you’re in, we can arrange for you to Floo home. Oh my God. He’d meant tonight—I’m only visiting for the afternoon. The weekend that I’d fantasized about for weeks was only a last-minute scribble in his timetable.

My cheeks are smoldering, and I am acutely aware, which only makes me blush more. The absolute worst thing is the look on Oliver’s face.

He feels sorry for me.

“Oh, well, I’m sure there’s space for you—” He’s backpedaling and I hate it.

“It’s quite alright.”

“—I’m sure I could rearrange—”

No,” I say entirely too forcefully. He nods in acquiescence but, because I am a complete idiot, I don’t stop there. “The suitcase is for my trip. I’m leaving from here to visit my boyfriend.” The lie comes so easily it scares me.

There is a very satisfying pause. “Oh?”

“Yeah. His family has a cottage here in Scotland. We’ll be on holiday for the weekend. I didn’t think it wise to tell you for…obvious reasons.”

Perhaps I didn’t need to say that last bit. Oliver speaks slowly, sarcastically, as if making sense of it all. “Right. So you figured kill two birds with one stone. First you’ll tie things up with me, and then it’s off to this cottage in… Where exactly?”

I realize my mistake. Oliver is Scottish, born and bred. He is probably the most Scottish to have ever Scottish’d. He knows this country like the back of his hand, which he uses to drink his Belhaven Best and make rude hand gestures at the English. Meanwhile I have never stepped foot anywhere outside of Hogwarts grounds.

I clear my throat and say airily, “The Isle of Skye.”

“Oh, lovely! I’ve been there on holiday, quite a few times actually.”

Of course you have.

He feigns interest, a fist under his chin. “Now, in which town will you be staying?”

“Ah, you know all of those Gaelic names are unpronounceable.” I know it’s stupid, but I’m glad that we’re arguing. At least we’re talking.

“So you don’t know.”

“No, I do.” I blink as I clearly lie, “Glad…wyn…donelly…ton.”


I flinch. “Yep.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Well. Seems you don’t know the whole place after all.”

He doesn’t even have to come up with a retort, because at that moment my suitcase, bulging with the weight of its contents, springs open. Onto the ground topple no less than a dozen chocolate frogs, two cheese sandwiches, and a mesh thong.


I throw myself onto the pile as if taking a bullet for my skivvies. Oliver snorts audibly as I shove everything back so fiercely that several pebbles and a discarded sweets wrapper make their way in.

Oliver mutters, almost fondly, “Ah, Edie…”

From my crouch I look up and see him rubbing the back of his head. Grinning. Maybe this visit doesn’t have to be a disaster.

“Oi, Wood!”

Two others in Professors' robes are approaching. One is a pretty witch with olive skin, a hawklike nose and dark, severe eyes. The other is mildly familiar: a lanky wizard with a kind face. With a dirt-stained tee shirt and trousers under his robe, he looks more like a Muggle uni student. My eyes bulge when I recognize him.


Slap my face and call me Voldemort, Neville Longbottom got hot.

“Wow—hey!” I stammer. To my right, Oliver is visibly trying not to roll his eyes.

“Edie!” I’m surprised he remembers me. We were never friends, unless you count the time in the Fifth Year when I borrowed his quill and never returned it. “What are you doing here?”

It’s a question with an obvious answer. Even if they haven’t followed the tabloids, surely they’ve heard of Oliver’s tryst with his interviewer and how it went horribly wrong.

“Oh, just visiting the alma mater. Nostalgia and all that,” I say pointlessly.

Neville and the unsmiling witch glance between me and Oliver, who adds, “Then she’s off to visit her boyfriend!”

I don’t like the way that he seems to be only speaking to the witch, almost as if he’s reassuring her. Or that she hasn’t introduced herself yet—I mean, rude.

Neville nods politely, waiting for Oliver to make introductions. When that is clearly not going to happen, he says brightly, “Edie, this is Aurelia Sinistra. She’s our Professor of Astronomy. Edie here is a Hufflepuff alumna.”

“Nice to meet you,” I say.

Her mouth almost twitches in a smile. “Pleasure.”

Don’t remember your Mum being so unfriendly.

I know that I’m not allowed to feel jealous after the stupid lie I just told, but my chest is suddenly tight. I choose this moment to say loudly, “Man, when did all the professors get so hot?”

The joke doesn’t land. At least Neville exhales a kind-of laugh. After another painful silence he shifts his weight. “Well, reckon we should be head back! Oliver, will we be seeing you tonight? We’ve rustled up enough alcohol for the entire school.”

Oliver glowers and he adds, “N-not that we’ll be giving this to any students, of course!”

Even if Neville hasn’t, I’ve read the look on Oliver’s face clearly: whatever is happening tonight, I wasn’t supposed to know about it.

Aurelia Sinistra glances at Oliver again, so I say, “Alcohol, eh? My favorite food group.”

Neville is apparently being physically torn in half, between not being rude to me and not betraying his friend and colleague. I think I hear whimpering.

“Well, it’s just a little get-together for the faculty tonight. It’s nothing special. But—you should come! It’ll be fun. Maybe we’ll convince McGonagall to open her hundred year-old bottle. But there’s no pressure, if you two have plans. Not that you have anything special planned, ‘course…”

He’s getting quite sweaty, and I do feel bad for him, but I don’t want Oliver to win. “Sounds fun,” I look pointedly at the Scotsman.

No response.

“I do love a party.”

He scratches his nose. “Yeah, maybe we’ll stop by, Neville. Thanks.”

The man nearly collapses. “Great, welp, see you in a bit, then! Or not! Ha-ha!”

Sinistra’s look says, Get it together, mate, because apparently she doesn’t actually speak. After offering a tight smile to Oliver, she sets off down the dirt path towards Hogwarts, offering Neville a consoling pat on the shoulder.

I watch them leave while Oliver pretends to be very interested in the ground. “She’s pretty.”

“You mentioned that. ‘Hot,’ I believe was your phrasing.”

I scowl, but I catch the grin he casts down at his feet. My stomach twists. If these visceral reactions keep up, I’ll be visiting Pomfrey soon.

He catches me staring and I look away. “After you.” He gestures to the dirt path under the wrought iron gates.


It’s the final night of the semester, and what students remain are in high spirits, filling the castle with sound. I almost feel like I’m not allowed to be here. A few students pass us and give me long looks—hopefully because I look out of place, and not due to recognition. Any student who acknowledges Oliver is greeted with a quiet “Hello,” which I wish I didn’t find so endearing.

“Here we are,” he murmurs as we reach an unassuming door somewhere near the swinging staircases. A particularly leery portrait of a nobleman watches nosily as Oliver taps his wand on the door in a secret pattern, and it swings open into his small office.

The room is sparse, compared to the rest of the castle with its cluttered furniture, hundreds of paintings and lanterns. A single large window overlooks the grounds, where past the pattern of black iron diamonds, the early evening sun sinks closer to the forested hills. Students dot the paths, chatting in groups. I love London, really—but here you’re ingrained in the magic.

Oliver is watching me, but quickly averts his eyes. “You can leave your things here, for now,” he says. It’s a reminder that I won’t be staying.

I nod, setting the shrunken suitcase on his desk, glancing at the parchments of Professorial notes. Three brooms are mounted above the desk, among them the Arrow and the white birch-handled broom I rode from his house to my parents’, the night we first kissed.

He clears his throat, stepping aside so that I can exit. He’s uneasy with me being near his personal belongings. I try to smile as I wait for him to close the door.

The swinging staircase still makes me nervous and I cling to the stone banisters as we climb, higher and higher, in silence. I’m so out of breath that I probably couldn’t say much, but I wish things weren’t so strained. In fact, I’m so focused on keeping my heaving inaudible and berating myself for all of the Chocolate Frogs I just ate, that I don’t realize we’ve reached the outside until I feel the cool breeze on my face.

I’ve been here before: a walkway that connects the North wing of the castle to the East. I used it as a shortcut in my Sixth Year, from Transfiguration to Herbology. If we kept going until we reached the staircase and headed down, it’d be a quick hop to the greenhouses. But Oliver stops in the middle of the bridge-like structure, leaning against the railing and clasping his hands. It’s quiet and out of the way: no students would have any reason to be here.

I reach his side, willing my breath to even itself. “I forgot how in-shape you have to be to get around this castle.”

He smirks, “It definitely isn't as easy as when we were sixteen.”

I roll my eyes, because he still has the build of an athlete. “Doesn't it all feel different now that you’re Professor Wood?”

“Uh, actually I’m not a professor.” He rubs his head in embarrassment. “Technically it’s Sir Wood. Y’know, like Madame Hooch. But I tell them to call me Mr.”

There is a beat of silence before a snort of laughter escapes me. Oliver is squinting into the sun, but it’s turning into a smile of his own. I shield my eyes from the orange glare, surveying the grounds. “It’s beautiful out here.”

“I’d missed it,” he agrees.

Again my eyes move to the scar on his head, suppressing a shudder. “And how are you…feeling?”

The damned suspicious look is in his eye again, and I hope that my expression betrays that I want to know because I care—not for the sake of a story. His honesty surprises me: “Stupid, still. I knew I couldn’t block the goal and the Bludger. Should have protected myself. Maybe then I’d still…” he trails off.

“That was dirty, what the other team did.”

He only shrugs.

“But you miss it, don’t you?”

“Yeah, of course I do. Like crazy.”

For one wild moment I let myself believe that he isn’t really talking about Quidditch. I pretend that I’m visiting as his Whatever-I-Once-Was, and that we came up here to be alone, and that he wouldn’t mind if I kissed him right now. Our gazes lock for the briefest of moments and then my body is moving of its own accord—but before I can even touch him, Oliver straightens.

“The party is starting,” he says. “If you still want to go.”

Of course I don’t want to go, you idiot. I want to stay here and kiss you until tomorrow.

But instead I push my hair behind my ear. “Yeah, of course.”


The tapestry of a lion and unicorn entwined isn’t familiar, though there are hundreds of its kind within the castle. Surely students pass by every day without knowing a secret lounge for professors hides behind it. Right now, the corridor is quiet. At Oliver’s murmur of the password, warm light appears from behind, where the wall should be. The sounds of tinny jazz and muted conversation drift into the corridor.

Oliver has lent me one of his black professors’ robes, which absolutely swallow me even after a poor attempt at a Shrinking Charm. After my humiliating attempt at a kiss, the only thing I want to do is blend in before I can make my getaway. Oliver parts the curtain and I trail inside after him.

The room is exactly what you would expect of a Hogwarts faculty lounge: overstuffed leather furniture, hundreds of books, a roaring hearth, tall windows overlooking the lake. The skeleton of what appears to be a small dragon hangs from the ceiling.

Several heads turn to note our arrival. From her spot on a settee, Aurelia Sinistra’s gaze lingers, but she turns back to her conversation with an older professor I don’t recognize. But there are none of the whispers I'd feared, and I admonish myself. Of course Hogwarts faculty have more important things to occupy their time than Who’s Dating Who in the tabloids.

“You made it!” Neville can barely hide his surprise, looking dapper in a brown jacket. He turns to the short, plump woman at his side. “Edie, Oliver, this is my wife—”

“Hannah!” I've suddenly recognized her round, rosy cheeks.

“Wotcher, Edie!” Hannah is just as surprised and embraces me against her flannel dress. We shared a dormitory for seven years, but I haven’t heard from her in ages. Of course they got married—she was the only person at Hogwarts more obsessed with Herbology than Neville.

“What are you doing here?” There are flowers in her unruly blonde hair.

“Just visiting a friend.”

I stress the word and read Oliver’s glance as some kind of gratefulness. He presses his mouth into a smile. “Nice to meet you, Hannah.”

They shake hands before her gregariousness takes over, eyes back to me. “So, how are you doing? It’s been, what, ten years? Heard you’re living in London now.”

Linking an arm through mine, she—probably unconsciously—guides me over to a cozy little table. To my surprise Oliver watches over Neville’s shoulder. I force myself to look back at Hannah.

“Yeah, London. It’s, uh, brilliant actually, now that I have a job.”

We natter about where the last decade has taken us, and reminisce on nights of sneaking cheap liquor into the Hufflepuff common room. Preferably it would be Oliver’s eyes I was gazing into right now, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. And I’m grateful for her company. The only other person I recognize is Minerva McGonagall, who I've always liked in the way you admire a very scary bird of prey, but I’m certain she doesn’t remember me. She’s sipping brandy from a tiny crystal cup, laughing darkly at something with a middle-aged witch.

By the time the windows have darkened into nightfall, the music is louder and the conversation follows suit. A very short wizard keeps trying to initiate dancing, to no avail, but it doesn’t stop him from asking Hannah and I repeatedly for a hand. Empty bottles dot the tables about the room but, uncharacteristically, I haven’t had a drop of alcohol. (Seamus would be wildly disappointed at my turning down the chance to drink in front of professors without penalty, but out of habit I’m fearing a detention.)

Oliver and Neville have drawn chairs up to our small table. I can’t help but smile at the Longbottoms—they literally finish each other’s sentences. Neville sits leisurely with his arm draped over the back of her chair, and her cute little glances aren’t missed by me. I’m seethingly jealous. Oliver and I accidentally bumped knees once and haven’t made eye contact since.

He’s enjoying their company, in the middle of a mildly unprofessional gossip session about which students were the most annoying this year. Apparently Oliver had quite the fan club of Second-Year girls, Neville divulges.

I decide to remove the black robes that swallow me, and my hand accidentally slips in an interior pocket in the process, discovering a torn bit of paper. Distracted by Neville’s tale of a Seventh-Year who tried smuggling hallucinogenic plants from the greenhouse, I absentmindedly unfold the paper, tittering along with the others. When I glance down the laughter dies in my throat. The photograph is all too familiar: the red-lit room, my rain-soaked hair, Oliver touching the nape of my neck, the gentle closing of his eyes.

Oliver turns from the cheery laughter and double-takes. He goes rigid as we both stare as the scene from the Muggle music shop replays again, and again, and again. Hannah and Neville are watching, confused, and I should replace the photo and act as if nothing ever happened, but I can’t.

He kept it.

He kept it and it’s as if everyone else in the room has disappeared. For a few fleeting moments it’s only Oliver and me, and for the first time since I’ve arrived today, he’s really looking at me. Like he used to.

And then suddenly the moment is over and he is turning to his friends. “It’s getting late. Edie needs to get to the Floo chimney.”

Hannah and Neville only smile kindly. “Of course.” Neville rises to shake hands. “Chuffed you dropped in, Edie.”

Hannah grabs me in another hug. I don’t know if I even move my arms. “Owl me sometime, okay?”

“‘Course,” I say absently.

I trail after Oliver, dazed, as he nods politely to his colleagues. I don’t even think to say goodbye to Aurelia. The cool, misty feeling of the tapestry brushes over us and we are once again in the silent corridor. We each stare at a different spot in the wall for I don’t know how long.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” His head turns imperceptibly to me.


We don’t mention the Floo chimney again. When we reach a pair of large oaken Oliver pushes them open to the cool air. It’s a clear night, the students back in their dormitories. The moon is a thin crescent shining through one lone wisp of cloud while, off in the distance, Rubeus Hagrid’s hut glows cheerily.

I know before we arrive that he’s heading toward the Quidditch pitch. Of course. We pass through the short tunnel leading into the pitch, emerging onto smooth grass barely lit by the moon. Oliver lights his wand, “Lumos." Suddenly he bellows, “OI, WEATHERLY, I SEE YOU! GET OVER HERE.”

There is a shuffling noise and then two students, a boy and a girl, slump into the cast light of his wand. They have the guilty look of two teenagers who have just untangled themselves from each other. Feeling pervy, I look away.

“You can't give us detention on the last day.” This Weatherly boy is clearly rehearsing a rumor. The girl looks properly embarrassed and I actually feel bad for her.

“You’re right,” Oliver says, “But I can assign some extra reading over the summer. How does a ten-inch parchment on Quidditch Throughout the Ages sound to you, eh?”

The teenagers groan. “That’s not fair, you’re out here with a girl!”

Oliver glances at me. To clear any confusion I state, “I’m not a student.”

The girl snorts, “Yeah. We know.”

So much for feeling bad for her. Oliver grumbles, “Get to your dormitories, now.” Ecstatic that they aren’t in trouble, they scurry away laughing. “SEPARATELY, PLEASE!”

He aggressively shakes the blanket out and sets to starting a small fire that he’ll probably have to cleanse to restore the pitch to its rightful luster. He sits heavily and stares into the small flame. Apparently he's quite distraught now. The silence stretches for ages.

To break the tension I say, “So…I don’t really have a boyfriend.”

He at least grins, down at his hands. “No,” he murmurs in feigned shock.

More silence. I can't let it alone. “And…what about Aurelia Sinistra?”


“Really?” My surprise is genuine. “I mean, she’s gorgeous. And smart, obviously, if she’s a professor—”

“Edie.” I stop. “You saw the photo. Obviously I kept it for a reason. But…”

“Ada,” I finish. My heart is in my throat. “How is she?”

“She’s okay, now.”


“Did she—Did she read the article?”

He sighs deeply this time. “Yeah, eventually.”

“But you got to tell her first? She didn’t hear it from me, did she?”

“No, I told her. She took it how you’d expect. Tried to be indifferent, but things changed after that.

“I don’t think she understood it fully, you know? She’s too young. But she knew that I’d failed her in some way. Probably took it that I didn’t want her around. She wanted to spend some time at our aunt’s late last winter. Didn’t see her for a couple of weeks.”

I can see it clearly: Oliver alone in their quiet house, recovering from his terrible Qudditch injuries. Snow blanketing the yard with no footprints. Scattered hints of Ada’s presence, like the kitten mug and her bed made tightly, undisturbed for weeks.

God, who did he have to turn to?

“But now things are okay,” I hastily wipe a stray tear. I don’t want to cry—he deserves an apology, not to give me his pity. But hearing the quake in my voice, he looks at me.

“Yeah,” he says in a surprisingly reassuring tone. “Things are okay now.”

I draw the words up from the cavern that’s been growing inside me, deeper and wider and more hollow, for six months.

“I am so sorry, Oliver. I don’t deserve to give my excuses, but you have to know that I never meant for anyone to see that story. Truly. My editor published it behind my back.”

He shrugs a shoulder—the one he can still move without pain. “I’d figured as much, eventually. But by then it was too late. I mean, you understand that, right? Even if you didn’t mean to, it happened. And it wasn’t my reputation that I was worried about. It was Ada's.”

“I know. Everything is my fault. I never should have betrayed your trust, and especially Ada’s—”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I’m the one who gave you something to write about. I’m the one that almost lost her.”

“I don’t want it to be like this,” I say stupidly.

He gestures helplessly. “I don’t either, Edie. The problem isn’t that I don’t feel anything for you. You have to know that I still care about you.” I can sense it now: both of us physically aching to touch each other, stuck in our motionlessness. “But what are we supposed to do?”

It’s all too much to overlook. Before I destroyed his relationship with his sister, we were naive enough to think there was an escape route somewhere. But now it’s too far gone. At least for him.

“I care about you too,” I say. His jaw flinches and I swear, for a moment, that even he is close to tears. “I just want you to be happy.”

And I do. It’s the least that I can offer, after everything. If leaving him to mend everything that I’ve ruined is what it takes, then that’s what it takes.

It’s done.

I shut my eyes. My face feels leathery from the warmth of the fire. Because there’s nothing else to say I lie back in the cold grass, feeling disconnected from the moment, and pull the robes tighter around me. Oliver remains upright, elbows resting on his drawn knees.

“This fucking sucks,” I laugh quietly, burying my face in my hands. It’s not the most eloquent thing I could say, but then again I never seem to say the right thing. Overhead is an infinite salt-spill of stars. The most I’ve seen in ages.

Author's Note: OKAY so I lied, this is going to be split into two parts. I just couldn't fit everything into one chapter. I realize it has been almost a YEAR ohmygosh since I updated, but that definitely won't happen this time because, guess what? The next chapter is all written. It will be posted when my eyes are no longer crossing from staring at this fic for so long.

Thoughts would be great! It's taken me so long to write this because I just couldn't produce anything I was really happy with. Any input at all is greatly appreciated. I still consider this fic to be a work in progress.

Perfect CI by starlet* at TDA ♥!

Beautiful graphic by a.leksy at TDA


The tart smell of dirt is what wakes me. I have no idea what time it is. Tiny pale insects are drifting lazily over the pitch, and above that the birds dart, stark black against powder blue. I blink sleep from my eyes, the surprisingly dry grass ground rustling as I stretch my stiff legs. Oliver shifts behind me and I’m brought back to my senses.

That’s right. We tried and failed. And now it’s time to go.

Something warm moves against my back, and I don’t realize it’s Oliver until a cautious hand touches my arm. In my daydream state I watch it slowly encircle me, feel his face burrow into my hair, feel myself being pulled back into the crescent of his torso. It’s so quiet out here.

We stay this way until Oliver says, “The train.”

In the castle, the scents of maple, sizzling bacon and coffee waft into the corridors. I should be ravenous after skipping dinner but couldn’t bring myself to eat. If it were a lighter mood I would explain to Oliver that yes, I’m truly miserable: I’m past the phase of stuffing pancakes into my mouth whilst loudly sobbing.

We pass the Great Hall on the way to retrieve my suitcase, and I peer inside. Hogwarts has apparently allowed inter-house seating on the final days of the term. The remaining students are raucous today, cheerful noise spilling into the corridor while Oliver and I remain unsmiling. And, by sheer coincidence, I spot Ada Wood’s Gryffindor red and gold popping amidst several Ravenclaw-clad girls.

Quickly I look away. I hadn’t asked if she was here because it was none of my business, and Oliver never mentioned it. But already she is rising from her seat to the confused looks of her friends, abandoning her plate.

Excellent. Just what this disaster of a trip needs. A confrontation with a screaming thirteen year-old.

Her voice echoes down the corridor behind us. “Hey!”

Oliver is surprised as she marches over, scowling, hands clenched into fists. She’s grown inches over the past six months, another Amazonian Quididitch championess in the making. Her arms move and I flinch—

And then she’s hugging me. Violently.

Wait—she wants to see me? I try to return the embrace but it’s quickly over, as she’s moved on to punching Oliver in the arm. “You idiot! You didn’t tell me she was coming!”

“Uh, I didn’t…think to?” For what it’s worth, Oliver is as shocked as me.

She hasn’t stopped scowling, but I think it’s an affectionate one as she turns it on me. “You’re not leaving now, are you? Hold on.” Before I can answer, she sprints back into the Great Hall, retrieving her bag and shoving a final piece of toast in her mouth. Her friends are blabbering in confusion and she says irritably, “I’ll be back shortly! Merlin.”

Oliver and I are staring at each other. He shrugs.

Ada returns in a flurry, twisting her hair up with her wand. “I’m walking with you to Hogsmeade. It’s only fair, so don’t say no.”

Oliver raises his hands in defeat before placing one around her much-shorter shoulders. “Alright, then.”


Apparently Ada has not only grown in height over the past half-year: she’s past the pre-teen disenchantment act. We decide to walk to Hogsmeade Station. The sun dapples through the trees, my skin intermittently cool and warmed. In a small gesture of kindness Oliver has taken my suitcase to carry, which is agonizingly sweet, and I wish he hadn’t. He and Ada discuss her exams over chirps of birds and humming insects.

Ada and Oliver have been kicking a pebble as they walked, lazily volleying it like Muggle football. “History of Magic was… eh. But I know I aced Potions and DADA.”

“Ada’s quite gifted with hexes. Learned that the hard way.”

I try to return his smile. Has he somehow forgotten that we are walking to the train station, where I will board the Hogwarts Express and head back to London and probably never see either of them again?

“I owe you another hex for not telling me Edie was here,” she lightly shoves him. “I’ve been so bored. All my real mates are gone for holiday.”

Oliver doesn’t respond, mussing her hair absentmindedly, and she swats him away. “Herbology was dreadful.”

I finally enter to conversation. “If it makes you feel better, I’m the only Hufflepuff in house history to get a T on that exam.”

“It’s not a real subject anyway,” Oliver mutters, winner of the Most Lenient Guardian Ever award.

Ada suddenly gasps, “Have you brought Ginger too? Is she in Hogsmeade?”

Clearly Ada thinks that I stayed at the Three Broomsticks last night, and I’m not going to correct her. Actually, I tried to have an “Adult Sleepover” with your older brother! And failed!

“Nah. My friend Seamus is watching her, which may have been the worst mistake of my life. I did find out she’s part dragon, though.”

“Makes sense,” says Ada as we reach the end of the forest. Hogsmeade is crowded today, with students returning home for the summer and locals heading to London filling the air with cheerful goodbyes. The Hogwarts Express has already arrived and is billowing steam. It sinks my heart. Seeing it means I really am leaving. Both of the Wood siblings are staring at me and I realize that I’ve stopped walking just on the threshold of where the path becomes cobblestones.

“Sorry.” I catch up, chin lifted despite everything. We weave through the crowd until we’re in the thick of it, and now there’s nothing left to do but say goodbye. With Ada’s gaze boring into us, we’ll have to censor our words. Oliver passes my suitcase back to me.

“Well, thank you for having me,” I say.

It sounds so stupid. I can’t believe that this is it. His body is tense as if ready to pull me into an embrace, but he doesn’t. After a quick glance to Ada, he says, “I’m sorry.”

Sorry that it ends like this.

She’s watching acutely, surely aware that something’s amiss. I press my mouth into a smile that will disappear as soon as I turn around. Sucking the air through my teeth, I open my arms. “Have a great summer, you,” I hug her quickly.

“You should bring Ginger over when I get back from Imogene’s!”

I don’t ask her who Imogene is, or where she lives, and what their holiday plans are. Even though I want to stay and chat with her for ages; learn everything that I’ve missed. I can’t believe she still likes me.

“We’ll see,” I only smile tightly and she furrows her brow. “Well. It was really good to see you. You too, Oliver.”

He nods, looking positively miserable. “‘Bye, Edie.”

I weave through the other passengers, rudely cutting in the queue. If I could run, I would. Pushing past children half my size, I board the train and the inexplicable bergamot scent of the Hogwarts Express greets me. I pause in the corridor, trying to slow my breath.

“Oi, move it!” comes a squeaky voice. A queue of children half my size has stacked up behind me.

I murmur an apology before racing down the corridor, to the very last car, the one closest to where the Woods were standing. I’m an idiot but I have to see them one last time. Wrenching open the window, I lean through the billowing steam of the engine. Only a dozen or so people remain milling about the station. It only takes a moment of searching to realize that Oliver isn’t one of them.

They’re gone.

My heart sinks. Did I really think we’d have some black and white Muggle film romance? That he’d chase after the train while I waved my hanky, crying out, “Wait for me?” He has work to do: parchments to mark and next year’s coursework to plan. Bigger things than chasing after a girl, for the thousandth time, who did nothing but betray him in the end.

And, more than anything, he has Ada.

I can’t cry. My eyes are burning but my cheeks are dry as I sink into the seat, hands resting limply at my sides. The shriek of the whistle cuts through the commotion of students. Kids pause in my doorway, see my expression, and find another place to sit. I stare hard into the empty seat across from me as the Hogwarts Express lurches forward. We’ve already departed. It really is too late. Hogsmeade Station slowly drifts past, moving faster, the buildings growing fewer and fewer until they become wild forest.

My eyes have long since bored through the fabric of the empty bench into nothingness, when a shadow materializes outside the compartment. My heart leaps into my throat.

“Anything from the trolley, dear?”

If she weren’t the sweetest old witch in the world, I would have screamed. But I only try to smile back into her wrinkled face, managing a gravelly, “No, thank you.”

“Pleasant visit?”


She nods politely and rolls away. The joyful shouts of students travel down the corridor, carrying plans for their summer holidays, to swim in lakes and write letters and visit family at the seaside. It’s a beautiful day. I can’t feel my hands. There’s a sound in my eardrums like a teakettle screaming, louder and louder like shell shock. I rise to my feet, grab the compartment door, and slam it shut with every bit of force left in me—


And there he is, towering in the doorframe, clutching his throbbing fingers for inspection. “Oh, Christ, I think they’re broken.”

“Oh my God! Oliver, I’m so sorry, are you okay? W-what are you doing here?”

With an irritated grunt he nods his head down the corridor, to where Ada is standing like a centurion, wand drawn. Several curious heads have poked out at the shouting, but she snaps, “Alright, people, as you were!”

“She is terrifying,” I whisper, and Oliver crosses into the compartment.

In the tiny space between benches he starts pacing, back and forth, forgetting his injury in the way that only a Quidditch player could. “I’m a proper idiot, aren’t I? Some kind of masochist or something?”

“What do you—?”

“I knew I was stupid for chasing after a journalist in the first place! I mean, I hate journalists. Especially the kind at Witch Weekly. No offense.”

“None taken.”

“And you were such a terror, really. I mean, don’t normal people just go for drinks and awkwardly get to know one another? Meet each other’s friends and a few years down the road, argue about paint samples? Isn’t that what normal is? What is wrong with me that I went for you? Everyone told me I was stupid for not cutting you out, but NOOOO!” he waves his hands theatrically over his head. The the train car has gone silent but he hasn’t noticed.

“I couldn’t just take the easy road. Captain Wood of Gryffindor had to find a challenge. I just had to pick the last person I had any business falling in love with. And now, after everything you did with Ada! I understand now that you’re sorry, and that it was unintentional, but—” He stops. “Why are you smiling?”

“I’m not.”

“Yes you are. You’re beaming like a bloody idiot.”

I clear my throat, trying my best to press my mouth into a straight line. “Well…you, um, you mentioned… You said that you loved me.”

He blinks, rewinding, and his face turns more beetroot than I thought possible. “That’s not the point.”


“Even if it is the point… What am I supposed to do, huh?”

I open my mouth but Ada shouts, “Stop being so dramatic, you idiots! If you like each other then just be together. God. Is it really that hard to figure out? Seriously, nobody acts like this in real life.”

“Yeah!” comes a second voice. “We saw you on the pitch last night—”

“Shut it, Weatherly!” shout Ada and Oliver in unison, the latter finally closing the compartment door. He sits heavily, rubbing his eyes and muttering, “These kids… Like a fucking circus…”

“You could… trust me?” I quietly answer his earlier question. “I know that’s the last thing that you want to do, and rightfully so. I was terrible to you. I can’t beg your forgiveness enough. But I think that you and I, erm…” It’s my turn to go red. “You said it yourself. It’s weird, right? We should hate each other. But despite it all, we just… can’t. That means something.”

Doesn’t it?

He rubs his scruff in thought. “The Wizardazzi would love it.” I can’t tell if he’s saying it bitterly or if he likes the thought of driving them insane.

“We’d be old news by next Tuesday.”

He’s apparently ticking off a list of concerns he’s thought over. “Maybe, but—we’d hardly see each other. I can’t just Apparate from Hogwarts every day.”

“Then we won’t get sick of each other! And there’s visiting on weekends, and holidays.” I’m talking faster and faster, but now there’s a crack in the door and I want nothing more than to push it open.

“It just seems like a stupid idea.” But now he’s smiling too.

“Our favourite kind.” I gently take his hand and examine his fingers, grimacing. “These are definitely broken.”

“Luckily my last job was basically sustaining injuries for money.” I swear he’s looking at my lips as he wets his own. “Are you good with medical spells?”


“Me too.”

“Well, I can’t exactly Apparate back to the Hospital Wing…” He’s leaning on his elbows, our faces very close now. “Think Lisa could fit me in?”

“In London?” My heart leaps into my throat and I quip, before he can change his mind, “Yes! I’m sure she could.”



“‘Course, you’ll definitely owe me a drink afterwards, for the trauma and such.” He sighs laboriously, dropping his voice, “And I’ll probably need help getting home, with all the pain, and Ada staying at Imogene’s.”

I nod sagely. “It is the least I can do.”

He looks at me in a way that makes me bite my lip to keep from smiling too widely. His poor injured hand tightens around mine. “So is this happening now? Are we going to normal-people date?”

“I dunno, I mean I haven't officially checked ‘yes’ or ‘no’, so…”

“You are such a little shit.” His good hand takes me by the nape of my neck, but I’ve already sprung from my seat and am leaning across the gap, stretching, taking his face in my own hands. Our lips crash together, clumsily at first and then softer, better, sweeter.

“I knew it!” Not only has Ada abandoned her post to peer in, but the kid from the Quidditch pitch is jabbing a finger at us. “And you were trying to rat on me! Oi, everyone, Wood is snogging a hot girl!”

A chorus of “Ooooh” echoes through the corridors, followed by dozens of stampeding feet.

“I SWEAR TO GOD, WEATHERLY,” Oliver bellows just as I gasp, touching my hair, “Did he just call me hot?”


Edie turns and looks at me, and it’s like a drink of Firewhiskey. Burning chest, difficulty finding words, Hogsmeade Station spinning around me: check. And, above all, the impairment of judgment. I should’ve known better. The months I’ve spent telling myself that I made the right decision are suddenly fuzzy and dark, like trying to watch a Muggle television in a sunny room.

Three different drafts of my letter, each one more colourful than the last, are burned in my fireplace. They’re the ones I should have owled when she first contacted me. Some key phrases include “I don’t think it wise,” which evolved into “This is really none of your business,” and the final draft was comprised mostly of curse words scrawled in capital letters.

But of course those weren’t the ones I sent.

Wasn’t it enough that I donated to the FGC at all? Couldn’t she just be happy that I was finally a real philanthropist, or whatever she accused me of not being? Earning her a job wasn’t entirely planned, but I should have double Never-Contact-Me-Again points for that.

The last time I saw her, half a year ago in a hospital bed, I thought I was very clear. I’d surely been furious enough. A particularly grim Mediwitch had just told me I would never play Quidditch again, unless I wanted to completely destroy my left arm until it was just a dangling, useless appendage. (I’d still considered playing, until Ada pointed out how stupid it was, though I can’t entirely be blamed for poor decision-making while concussed.) And then Edie had showed up uninvited, her blotchy pink cheeks the only colour in the eggwhite room, and I’d really let her have it. I’d been angry enough—at myself, at my bad luck, at my stupidity—to keep her away, then.

But here we are, reuniting on our alma mater. If I wanted this weekend to go without incident, I probably should have picked a less wistful place.

Edie spots me just as the low sun glares in my eyes and then, fuck all, I suddenly remember it. Maybe it’s her now-short hair that does it, or the nervous look on her face, or being here at Hogwarts. Something triggers the memory, like smelling a stranger’s perfume and suddenly being back inside Trewlaney’s incense-filled classroom, or the scent of sunscreen reminding you of one exact, precise moment of your last summer.

Whatever the reason, it happens, and I know I’m fucked.

The memory lasts less than a second; less than one of the footsteps bringing me towards her. Still, I see it clearly: Searching through the corridors one sunny afternoon. Seventh Year. Hands clammy because the House Cup is on the line. Need to find Angelina. Her dives need work before the next match. Glancing around a corner. A young, round-faced Hufflepuff with ginger hair, alone, looking up nervously at the sound of my footsteps. I don’t know who she is but she isn’t Angelina and that’s all that matters. I move on down the corridor.

And that’s all it takes.

The memory has absolutely no significance. Never mind that I didn’t even know her—Edie was a child at the time, and I was still enamoured with Katie. But something about it gets inside my head. Something about the fact that we’ve been on the periphery of each others’ lives for over a decade without even knowing it—that, despite all odds, something is keeping us there.

And suddenly I know how tonight will unfold: that even with all of my rehearsed lines (It has to be this way; You can’t take back what you’ve done; I know you’re sorry, but it’s not enough), it’s a losing battle. We haven’t even said hello, and already I’m tumbling backwards down the hill it took six months to climb.

Edie does this awkward little wave and suddenly I’m angry. At myself, more than anything, but she’s cute as hell and it’s infuriating. She’s wearing a stupid black hat like the little Londonite she is. She looks ridiculous. And what is she playing at, with that dress? It is way too short for Hogwarts dress code. What if she’d been here during school hours, eh, with her long legs all bare like that?

It feels like it’s taken ages to cross the cobblestones to where Edie stands, frozen like a deer, and then suddenly in a blink I’m there and we’re looking at each other. My throat is scratchy and dry. I hate that the crown of her head is at the perfect level to rest my chin on, and that her skin is covered in thousands of summer freckles.

The sun is setting her ginger hair blazing. I feel like I just swallowed my pounding heart whole. She’s waiting for me to speak, so I wet my lips.


Edie smiles. “Hi.”

Author’s Note: And there you have it: your cheesiest, happiest ending, with lots of italics and screaming and Ada pointing out that literally NOBODY IS LIKE THIS IN REAL LIFE. She was probably the key character in typing the ending together. Oliver wouldn’t have felt right taking Edie back without his sister’s go-ahead. And Ada, who is largely inspired by my own perpetually-nonplussed younger sister, would have been annoyed at Oliver moping about forever if they hadn’t patched things up.

So, it’s done.

Of course I want to write a thousand epilogues with the many other scenes that I’ve had in my head. If you’re interested in these, or headcanons I never got to explore, or general picspam, take a look at my fic blog (link on my Author’s Page.) Because I can’t let go of the past I will probably continue to update long after this fic is done :)

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped with the creation of this story, whether consciously or not. HPFF staff and validators, who have been so helpful with TOS questions and reading my many, many, many edits of this story; also the artists at TDA who created the story graphics I never could have. To those of you who offered help with this fic, particularly marauderfan and ValWitch21, I am so grateful. And most of all, to you, the reader: this story would not exist without you. Whether you’ve rooted for Edie or hated her all along, I want to think that a lot of you saw yourself in her—the uncertainty of adulthood, feeling inadequate, not knowing when or how to put on your Big Girl Pants. I know I have. And I wrote this story because I wanted others to know that it’s okay to be unsure.

Thank you for reading!