Chapter 5 : FIVE
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For once in his life, Noah was about to willingly walk into a room that contained nothing but a reporter whose job it was to ask him pointless annoying questions. He never in a million years thought that he’d be in this position. But Wood had given him an ultimatum, so he didn’t really have a choice. And, if he were to be completely honest with himself, he was a little curious about this Evie Pierce girl. There weren’t many girl reporters in the Quidditch world, seeing as it was mainly a male-dominated sport, and blokes were usually the ones crazy enough to skulk around locker rooms and try and prod sweaty and sore players to spill their life story to a complete stranger. But Evie, well, she clearly wasn’t a boy.
She had also tracked him down to the showers. He had been orchestrating his whole afternoon perfectly. He had stayed longer in the meeting room, talking tactics with Declan for much longer than he would have liked. After wasting almost another hour, Noah headed off to the showers, taking a really long time in scrubbing the dirt off of his body. After that, he was planning on disappearing back into the bathroom for a bit to change and maybe comb his hair or something – anything else he could think of to waste time. That way, by the time someone finally found him and dragged him out by his ear to talk to the damn reporter, there would be hardly any time left for a proper interview.
Except this Evie Pierce had poked a hole in his plan. She had actually come into the showers, yelling for him. Considering the shower was running, Noah knew she’d know someone was in there. Besides, his skin was getting kind of pruney from standing under the stream for so long, so he’d shut the water off and wrapped one of the red towels (Amelia had done the shopping and bought everything, including the rug and the couch, in England colors) tightly around his waist.
She had just been standing there, notebook in hand, her eyes widening when they realized that Bradley was actually there and going to speak with her. Despite the fact that she looked a bit pale, she managed to speak up and introduce herself. She was an interesting one, this Evie Pierce, he had decided. She was clearly more than a little nervous – he could see her white knuckles from across the room – and at the same time she was the one bursting in on people in the showers and introducing herself like they were at a fucking cocktail party.
And then she snorted at him. Noah couldn’t believe it! Out of all the damn reporters he’d talked to (and much to his chagrin, he’d talked to quite a few, seeing as they kept sending different ones every time) not one had ever snorted at him. Yelled at, yes. Cursed at, waved fists at, threatened, yes. One wizard had even tried to hex him once. But no one had ever snorted. Who actually snorted, anyway? Noah’s mum snorted sometimes, when he said something particularly stupid. Who was this Evie bird to snort at him?
And then not more than two seconds later she was backing out of the room, babbling like a fifth year girl caught in a broom cupboard about him putting some clothes on and meeting her there. As she disappeared down the hall, Noah had to shake his head. This was going to be a hell of an interview, he could already tell.
Now, fully dressed, Noah opened the door to the meeting room. It wasn’t a very big room – just large enough for a wooden table, big enough to seat the whole team, and chairs around it. Simple and to the point – very much Wood’s style. Currently, only person sitting around the table was Evie Pierce. Her feet were up on the table, the tip of her quill in her mouth as she read something on the pages of her notebook. At the sound of the door, she started, her notebook closing on her lap.
“Oh!” Two spots of color appeared high on her cheeks, and she hurriedly pulled her feet down from the table, placing them both flat on the floor. “You’re ready then.” She began flipping through her notebook at a furious pace, looking for something.
“Yes,” Noah replied, a bit bemused. “You can keep your feet up, if you’d like. Merlin knows your shoes are cleaner than any of ours after practice.” She looked up when he said this, her eyes meeting his. They were green, he noticed, and rather bright. She looked a bit taken aback.
“Oh,” she blustered, “well.” Noah took a seat across from her, not bothering to listen to her try and dig herself out of a hole.
“Listen, Evie Pierce.” He laid both hands on the table, fixing his gaze straight at her. “I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but giving interviews is not my favorite thing in the world. So let’s get this over with as quickly as possible, yeah?” Again, her eyes opened wide, and she snapped her mouth shut.
“Yeah, alright, then,” she agreed, nodding. She set her notebook, open to a blank page, down on the table. “Why do you hate interviews so much?” Her brow furrowed slightly as she looked back up at him. “If you don’t mind me asking,” she hastened to add. Noah couldn’t help it – he chuckled lowly, leaning back in his chair.
“Isn’t that your job?” He asked with a small grin. “To ask questions?” He watched as her Quick-Quotes Quill danced across the lined pages of her notebook, leaving his words in its wake.
“Well,” she blushed, glancing back down at the table, “of course, but that wasn’t really a real one. I was just curious.” She shrugged her shoulders. Noah laughed again, his signature low, dry chuckle. He couldn’t help it. There was something so endearing about Evie. She wasn’t some blood-thirsty reporter out to get him in the jugular. She asked him if he didn’t mind her question, for Melrin’s sake! And now she was ‘just curious’. Where was the carefully crafted list of questions? Where were the pictures of his exploits to throw back in his face to try and force him to talk? Where was the steely glint in her eye, the hard set of her mouth, like just talking to him was going into battle?
“You, Evie Pierce,” he informed her, the ghost of a smile still on his face, “are unlike any other reporter I’ve met.” Evie froze, her eyes darting back over to his.
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” She asked cautiously, her shoulders hunched like she was afraid of what his answer was going to be.
“Strangely enough,” he found himself saying, “a good thing.” The second the word ‘good’ left his mouth, Evie’s own stretched into a bright smile. She had a really nice smile, Noah noticed. A lot like Amelia’s – the kind that made you want to smile back.
“Good!” She was obviously pleased. “So, I was watching practice earlier,” she told him, relaxing slightly in her chair. “I don’t understand how you all don’t freeze your bloody arses off! I mean, I was dying in pants and coat, and you lot were running around in little shorts, zipping through the air like it wasn’t almost zero sodding degrees!” At one point, her hand had shot off to the side, her eyes wide as she expressed her amazement. Evie Pierce certainly was an expressive one – Noah could read her every thought on her face. It wasn’t even like reading a regular book, either; she was so animated it was like a sodding picture book, with a sentence per page. Evie was happy. Evie was sad. Evie was amazed that no one on the Quidditch team had frostbite.
“You get used to it,” he replied with another chuckle. “Once you’re flying around, you start to warm up. And then you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you don’t really notice anything.” He shrugged, his large shoulders rising and falling underneath his English National Quidditch team shirt. He had sodding fifteen of them, in white, red, and gray, floating around the locker room and his flat. It seemed as if England was determined to, if they didn’t win the whole thing, at least have them play in style.
“It’ll be warmer, I supposed, by the time the Cup actually rolls around, yeah?” She laughed lightly, a short, breathy little laugh. “Have you ever been to France?”
“Only to play Quidditch,” Noah replied, his thick eyebrows drawing together. Had he ever been to France? Sure, that was where the Cup was supposed to take place, but Noah didn’t really see what it had to do with the interview. This Evie Pierce certainly was an odd bird.
“A lot of people are surprised to discover that this is only your first World Cup,” she continued, leaning back in her chair. “Most people think you’re so established you’d have to have played at least one. How different do you think it’ll be from other international matches you’ve played?”
“More intense, I suppose,” he shrugged. “Particularly as it gets into higher rounds.” Evie, much to his surprise, rolled her eyes.
“That’s a crap answer,” she told him. “But I’ll let it slide. Speaking of higher rounds, how far do you think England will go this year? Last year’s run was the best in a long time, but a lot of the English are saying that this team is even better.”
“What do you mean that’s a crap answer?” Noah demanded, completely ignoring the second part of her question and leaning forward across the table. Who the hell did this little girl think she was?
“I mean that any Magical Maintenance man who played a pick-up game after work with his mates could pull that answer out of his arse,” she told him, crossing her arms across her chest. “I was expecting something a bit better from one of the greatest Quidditch players in the world.” Noah glared, his brown eyes narrowed sharply at Evie.
“Hate to disappoint, love, but you were fair warned.” He told her, his tone a bit icier. “I’m crap at interviews.”
“Actually, you’re not. You just hate them.”
“Excuse me?” This little witch was really starting to get on Noah’s nerves. First she snorted at him, and then she told him he gave a crap answer, and now she was telling him that he was wrong again? What happened to the tough-looking blokes who came in with their red striped ties and tried to fire questions at him, only to keel over like someone who’d been knocked in the head with a Bludger when he refused to cooperate?
“You told me that you hated interviews, not that you were crap at them,” Evie reminded him. Her face was blank, but Noah was sure he could see the hint of a smirk playing at her lips. “No one’s crap at interviews, Bradley. All you have to do is talk about yourself. Considering that humans are supposedly inherently selfish, they tend to be pretty good at that, don’t you think?” She raised her eyebrows, propping her feet back up on the table.
“What the hell happened to you?” Noah asked, his brow furrowing again. This girl made his head spin. “One minute you can’t even string two words together and you’re blushing like a banshee and now you’re all self-assured and telling me off? What gives?” She sighed, the blank look falling from her face. She looked a bit tired, Noah noticed, as she fixed her green eyes on him once again.
“You know that feeling you get right before a big Quidditch match?” She asked him. Noah just stared at her, not entirely sure where she was going with this. “No matter how many games you’ve played and how many people have told you that you’re bloody brilliant, there’s always that little bit of nerves.” Strangely enough, Noah found himself nodding. “And before a match again the Wasps, a really big game, that buzz gets a little bit bigger, and you find yourself gripping your broomstick a little tighter. And then once the whistle blows and you have the Quaffle in your hands and you’re flying through the air it all sort of falls away, doesn’t it? The crowd’s a blur and the nerves are gone and you’re just focused on the game because this is what you do, this is what you’re good at.” Noah couldn’t even nod. How did this girl get in his head?
“I don’t get it,” he told her shortly, his eyes narrowing. Noah wasn’t a big fan of things he couldn’t explain.
“Well, it’s the same way for everyone,” she replied with a casual shrug. “Before an interview, I get nervous. What if the person’s an arse, what if they’re mean, what if they don’t even take me seriously and I have to report back tot the office empty-handed?” She was really on a roll now, Noah realized as her hands flew out to the sides again. “And you, you were like the Wasps for me. The tough one. So I come in here thinking I’m about to wet my knickers, but once the game starts and I start asking questions and you start answering things sort of click. This is what I do, Bradley,” she told him. “This is what I’m supposedly good at. It’s just like a Quidditch game.” She shrugged again, like it was the simplest thing in the whole damn world.
“Huh,” was all Noah found himself able to say. “You know a lot about Quidditch.”
“You think I would have this job if I didn’t?” She rolled her eyes.
“Stop doing that,” Noah told her, the words slipping out before he realized.
“Doing what?” She sat up a little straighter, pulling her feet down from the table.
“Rolling your eyes at me,” he told her with a glare. “It’s bloody annoying.” And then, as if she wasn’t annoying enough as it was, she laughed.
“I’m terribly sorry to be annoying you, Bradley,” she told him breathlessly, still laughing. She took a deep, shuddering breath, stopping her shoulders from shaking as she looked at him. “You know, you’re not as bad as they say.”
“Hey!” Noah protested. He was an absolute wanker to reporters, and he knew. It kept them away. Who was this little Evie Pierce coming in and saying he wasn’t all that bad? “You just said you about wet your knickers at the thought of talking to you.”
“At the thought,” she told him with a grin. “Now that I’m actually talking to you…” She trailed off, shrugging again.
“My reputation precedes me,” he grinned darkly. That was good, then. If he was scaring young reporters so badly they about peed themselves, that meant he was doing his job. Maybe they’d stop poking their overlarge noses into his private business. Then again, he realized with a small frown, it hadn’t stopped Evie.
“Yes, very much so,” she replied distractedly, picking up her quill for a second and flipping back a few pages. Her eyes scanned over the lines written, searching for something.
“What exactly is my reputation among the media these days, Miss Pierce?” He asked casually, leaning back in his chair once more. He propped both hands behind his head, crossing one leg over the other. What exactly did the little blood-suckers think of him then? What had scared Evie so much?
“Only that you’re a rude, self-centered prat who cares for nothing but himself,” she told him, still reading from her notes.
“Now, hold up!” Noah sat up again. “That’s not true. I care about more than just myself.” He may be a lot of things, but selfish wasn’t one of them.
“Like what?” She looked up, raising her eyebrows.
“Like Quidditch,” he replied, gritting his teeth.
“Alright, Quidditch,” Evie repeated, jumping on his answer. She could easily see that Bradley was getting riled up, and she had no plans to be on the receiving end of his infamous temper any time soon. “What makes you care so much about Quidditch, then?”
He stared at her blankly.
“I mean, like, why do you care about it so much?” She tried again, rephrasing the question. Noah didn’t say anything. Clearly, he had understood perfectly. She sighed.
“Look, Bradley, I know you’re supposed to be difficult to deal with, but this really isn’t that hard of a question!” He just raised his eyebrows.
“For example,” she pressed on, desperate to get something – anything – out of him. “I’ve loved the sport ever since my brothers and I discovered Quality Quidditch Supplies when we roamed around Diagon Alley when we were younger. I was fascinated by the posters of players, zooming through the air on broomsticks. I’d known about flying, of course,” she continued, “but I always thought you just, you know, moseyed around. To see that there was this whole sport built on speed and strength and grace was amazing.
“And then we started listening to games and I loved it for the excitement and the adrenaline and the nail-biting anxiety you feel when you’re listening to two Seekers race after a Snitch in a close game. I love that it can bring entire countries together, like now. I love that you can be down 140 points and no one thinks you’re going to win and then in an instant you can catch the Snitch and come from behind and change everything.” She took a deep breath as she finished up, her cheeks turning pink as she realized just quite how much she had rambled on. Bradley, instead of looking mutinous as he had before, was staring at her with a bemused sort of smile on his face.
“Has anyone ever told you that you talk a lot?”
“Only every day of my life,” Evie replied with breathless laughter. “Now that you’ve listened to me ramble on, though, you’ve got to answer the question.” Her Quick-Quotes Quill hovered in place above the parchment, just waiting to scribble down the next line of dialogue. Bradley’s expression, however, had darkened again. Evie could see him shutting back down.
“Same as you,” he replied gruffly, leaning back in his chair. Evie snorted.
“You mean that your parents work in Diagon Alley and used to let you and your two older brothers wander around when you got bored and you befriended the old bloke who worked at QQS too?” She asked, a bright smile on her face. “What a coincidence!” Bradley scowled darkly. He was getting a bit sick of her sass. Couldn’t she see that he didn’t want to answer the bloody question? Sure, he could toss off a lame answer about liking the rush and all that, but then she’d want to know how he got into the sport and Noah point-blank refused to talk about his dad.
“Alright, then,” Evie pressed on, brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes. Noah had to admit that she was a persistent little thing. “Now that we’ve established that you don’t actually care about Quidditch, then – “
“That’s not true,” Noah growled. Evie raised her eyebrows, daring him to go on. “Don’t twist my words.”
“It’s hard to twist your words, Bradley,” she told him with a smile, “when you don’t say any.”
“Well, then,” he replied darkly, “you must be extra good at it.”
“Are you complimenting my reporting skills?” She asked, her green eyes sparkling with laughter. “Why, thank you, Noah Bradley.”
“Now don’t go getting a big head,” he replied, the corners of his mouth quirking upwards into a slight grin. Bloody hell. How did one girl have him growling one moment and smiling the next? Noah felt like he was on a fucking roller coaster. He propped his hands behind his head again, wondering how much longer he had of this interview. Not that they had really gotten anywhere. He and Evie Pierce had spent more time bantering back and forth than he did actually answering questions. Which, he supposed, was a good thing. For a moment, neither said anything, and a silence – slightly uncomfortable – fell over the table.
“Why didn’t you ever play Quidditch?” Noah asked abruptly. After all, she clearly loved the sport.
“Not everyone is as naturally talented as you are,” she told him with a kind smile. “I don’t pretend to be any sort of athlete. I can fly alright, I suppose, but fly well, throw a ball, and worry about being knocked off my broom by a Bludger?” She laughed. “I’m not that coordinated.”
“So now you just write about it,” he finished.
“So now I just write about it,” she confirmed with a nod. “What about you? What would you do if you couldn’t play Quidditch?”
“Die,” Noah answered bluntly, not even pausing to think about his answer. Evie started to laugh, but as she caught sight of the deadly serious look on his face, she abruptly stopped.
“I mean, you could coach,” she suggested. “You could do what I do and write about it. You could design broomsticks or open a Quidditch shop or even buy a sodding team!” Noah just shook his head.
“If I couldn’t play Quidditch,” he told her honestly, “I would die.” She stared at him for a moment, and for that brief span of time Noah couldn’t read her expression.
“I’m sorry,” she finally spoke, her voice soft as it floated across the room to Noah. His eyebrows drew together.
“I’m so sorry that you have nothing in your life to care about except for Quidditch.” She gave him a sad sort of smile, and Noah could see the pity in her eyes.
“What are you talking about?” He frowned. “I have plenty of things to care about.”
“Obviously not, if you’d die.” A brief look of confusion crossed her face. “There isn’t one other thing you’d like to stay alive for? Your family?” She seemed not to understand; she couldn’t wrap her head around caring so little about everything else. Noah hesitated slightly. The only thing that stopped him from flat-out telling her that there was nothing was his mum. It would kill his mum if he died. Absolutely kill her. After everything that had already happened, Noah didn’t think that he could do that to her.
“See?” Evie told him gently, sensing his hesitation. “There’s always something. I know for one it would tear my family up. Well,” she added with a small smile. “My dad mostly. He’d probably never get over it. My mum would probably dig me back up from my grave so she could kill me again for causing so much drama.” Noah’s face remained blank.
“What about your family?” Evie asked, moving on to another topic besides Quidditch. “I don’t think I’ve heard anything about them. What do your parents do? Do you have any brothers or sisters?” She was back in interviewer mode now. Noah could see by the look on her face that she thought the worst was over; she thought she was throwing easy questions at him to get him to talk again. Little did Evie know that she had gone from skirting around the boiling cauldron to standing right in the middle of it.
Noah said nothing. He stared stonily straight ahead, his lips pressed into a thin line. He was not going to talk about his family. That was off-limits. Across the table, he heard Evie sigh heavily.
“I’m beginning to see what they mean,” she mumbled, as she propped her elbows on the table, rubbing her hands over her face. For a split second, Noah felt a prick of guilt tickle the edge of his conscious. He pushed it away quickly, clenching his jaw as she stared at the blank patch of white wall above Evie’s head. He could stare at it all day if he had to – as long as it took for her to give up ad leave. After all, Wood said he had to do the interview – he’d never said he actually had to complete it. Bradley’s lips settled into a thin line as sat, breathing evenly through his nose.
He might not make Evie Pierce wet her knickers, but he was sure as hell going to make her regret ever setting foot in this room.
AN: Hey! This is part 1 of Noah and Evie's interview - it was originally one chapter but got a little too long, so I split it up. More drama to come in part 2! Thanks for reading & I'd love to know what you think of it!
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