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Chapter 7 : SEVEN
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“It was the strangest thing,” Evie remarked, stirring some sugar into her coffee. She was sitting in the Coffee Cauldron early Monday morning, catching up with her friend Annabel. Annabel worked as a reporter for Witch Weekly, so the two often crossed paths while working. In fact, that was how they first met each other. It had been a launch party for the new Nimbus broom at Quality Quidditch Supplies. Evie had been there to gather information about the broom and Annabel was there to see which celebrities were in attendance. At one point, someone ran into Annabel and caused her to spill her entire glass of red wine down the front of her shirt. Evie had lead her to the bathroom and helped her clean up, and the two had been friends ever since.
“Are you sure you’re not just making this up?” Annabel asked, wrinkling her slightly upturned nose. “I mean, you could have just been so nervous you were…hallucinating or something.”
“Thanks, Anna,” Evie shot her friend a glare. “And I’m not making anything up. Noah Bradley wasn’t as bad as everyone says he is.” It had been a few days since the interview, and Evie was still trying to process what happened. She had her whole stack of notes in the battered brown bag she had tossed under her chair, and she had a meeting with Ellington in about an hour to go over everything she had gotten.
“So he’s really not that bad?” Annabel was still skeptical, but within good reason. After all, she worked for Witch Weekly. Noah Bradley was their pride and joy. Annabel had once told her that they had an entire team of reporters and photographers devoted to getting something out of the notorious Quidditch player. Annabel had been on the receiving end of a few of his barbed comments, and she had seen more than her fair share of reporters return from a press conference in tears because of him.
“Well, he still acts like a right wanker sometimes,” Evie admitted. “Some questions I would ask him and he would just refuse to answer. He would just cross his arms and stare at the wall!” She groaned, remembering how frustrating the interview had been.
“That sounds more like the Noah Bradley I know,” Anna remarked, taking a sip of her tea.
“But then,” Evie continued, “sometimes we would get off-track and just start talking and he was actually really decent. He would make fun of himself and laugh and tell me I talked too much.” Evie shrugged. “He just seemed like a normal guy.”
“Hold up!” Annabel set her mug down on the little table in the corner where the two had set up camp. “You made Noah Bradley laugh?”
“Well,” Evie faltered at the demanding tone in Annabel’s voice. “I mean, he wasn’t necessarily laughing at something I said, I mean. He was probably laughing at me half of the time….” She trailed off.
“I don’t care what he was laughing at,” Annabel brushed aside Evie’s hesitancy with a wave of her hand. “I can’t believe the tosser actually knows how to laugh!” Evie cracked a grin.
“Well, he does. I mean,” she continued, her hands still cupped around the warm red mug of coffee in front of her, “it’s more of a chuckle really, and it’s kind of hoarse, like he doesn’t use it that often, but – “ She was cut off as Annabel herself began to laugh, a deep belly laugh that always sounded a bit weird coming out of her small body.
“I can’t believe you, Evie!” She chuckled. “You’ve got to be a miracle-worker or something. This is going to be the best article on Noah Bradley that has ever been written!” Evie blushed, ducking her head slightly as her brown hair swung down in front of her face.
“I think that’s a little presumptuous, don’t you?” She muttered, taking another sip of her coffee. And here’s to think she hadn’t even told Annabel about the most surprising part of the interview! Not that she ever would, of course. She promised Bradley she wouldn’t tell anyone, including her best friend. She would take his secret to the grave – well, unless some other reporter cracked him open first and it appeared in the headlines of the Daily Prophet.
“You just wait and see, Evie. This is going to be huge!” Annabel grinned widely at her friend.
“Alright, alright,” Evie chuckled, shaking her head. “Enough about me. How’s life at Witch Weekly?” The smile immediately slid off of Annabel’s face.
“Same old nonsense about whose sticking their tongue down whose throat these days,” she scowled. Evie sighed sympathetically, taking another sip of her coffee.
“Are there any openings in the music department?” She asked hopefully. That was what Annabel really wanted to do. She loved music more than anyone Evie knew, and was constantly traipsing all around the United Kingdom to go to concerts. She had joined Witch Weekly in hopes of someday becoming editor of their music section, but she was still stuck covering events and reporting mindless gossip.
“Not currently,” Annabel sighed. “But evaluations are coming up at the end of the month and if I get a good one, then I might ask if I can switch departments. Hell, I’d be a sodding intern for all I care as long as I don’t have to ask another Quidditch player who he’s currently shagging,” she sighed.
“I think you should,” Evie told her. “Merlin knows you’ve put in enough hard work around there. Remember that time you got a quote out of Tony Maddox about the league finals?”
“How could I not?” Annabel laughed. “He almost bit my head off in the process.”
“See, I think he’s much worse than Bradley,” Evie pointed out. “At least he tends to ignore you, or say one thing and move on. Maddox is just nasty.”
“No argument from me there,” Annabel replied with a grin. “Though apparently your precious Bradley got in a bit of a spat at The Crossed Wands the other night.” Evie rolled her eyes.
“He’s not my precious anything,” she pointed out. “But I’ll bite. What happened?”
“One of the girls from the photography department was there with some friends and she saw Bradley there with his friend from the Arrows, Sebastian Gedgrave. They were at the bar when apparently these two blokes were looking for an autograph. Melanie said the bartender told her they were pretty annoying, but apparently Bradley told them, and I quote, to ‘try the gift shop’!” Annabel laughed, taking another sip of her tea, and Evie just shook her head.
“Why am I not surprised?” She laughed.
“And then he left with some blonde wench not long after that,” Annabel finished.
“Again,” Evie replied with a shrug. “Not a surprise.”
“Did he mention anything about that in your enlightening interview with him?” Annabel asked with a teasing smile.
“No,” Evie shot her a look. “In fact, he thanked me for not asking about it.”
“Yeah. He said he doesn’t mind talking about Quidditch, but he’d rather keep his personal life…well, personal.”
“What did you say to that?” Annabel asked.
“I told him that if he wasn’t so good-looking then no one would care about his love life,” Evie responded with a wicked grin.
“You did not!” Annabel laughed, leaning back in her chair.
“I did too!” Evie replied. “I can’t believe I did, but it just came out!” She laughed along with her friend, taking another long sip of her coffee. “I mean, it’s like I said. You get so into it and you forget you’re talking with Noah Bradley. He just seems like a bloke. You know, like one of my brothers or something.” She shrugged.
“Speaking of,” Annabel jumped in, setting her mug down on the table. “How are your brothers?”
“Pretty good,” Evie replied. “Haven’t talked to Alston in a bit, but he’s been pretty busy with work. Some foreign dignitary came to town last week so their department was swamped.” Her eldest brother worked as a liaison in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. “He’s been seeing this girl - Macy? Lacey? Something like that – for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t met her yet, but he seems happy,” she shrugged.
“That’s good. Is Brandon still loafing around?” She raised her eyebrows.
“Yes!” Evie replied exasperatedly. “You know what he did this time? I got him an interview at Gringotts to work in the personnel department and he didn’t even show up to the damn interview!” Evie threw up her hands in the air.
“You’re kidding me?”
“He told me that he knew he didn’t want to work at Gringotts so why bother even showing up?” She gave a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know what to do with him.” Brandon was only a year and a half older than Evie, and he was the brother she was closest to. He was always a blast to be around – loud, exciting, always rocketing at a thousand kilometers per hour from one thing to the next. Unfortunately, he didn’t possess a lot of drive, and had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do with his life, despite being almost five years out of Hogwarts. He switched jobs every couple of months, insisting that he hadn’t found the right one yet.
“So he’s still sitting on the couch?” Annabel asked, sipping her tea.
“Much to Mum’s chagrin, yes,” Evie replied with a grin. Mrs. Pierce had always been a no-nonsense woman. She prized hard work above all, and liked to thinks he had instilled a good work ethic in all of her children. Brandon’s unemployment was like a personal insult to Sophie Pierce.
“You do realize you don’t have to babysit him, right Eve?” Annabel asked, narrowing her brown eyes over her mug. “He is almost 23.”
“I know,” Evie sighed. “But he just needs a push in the right direction, that’s all. And Merlin knows he doesn’t listen to Mum or Dad. If I can just get him an interview at a place he likes, I think he’ll really stick to something.” Annabel sighed, shaking her head.
“You always have to fix everything, don’t you Evie?” She grinned.
“I do not!” Evie replied, affronted. “I’m just helping out a brother. I’m sure he would do the same for me if our roles were reversed.”
“Brandon?” Annabel rolled her eyes. “Totally.”
“Whatever,” Evie replied sulkily, stirring her coffee.
“What about Lucas?” Annabel asked, switching the subject.
“Fine, I suppose,” Evie replied with a shrug. “He writes to Mum and Dad every once and awhile, so I only get updates when I go home. I imagine he’s locked in the library, studying for NEWTs.”
“Already?” Annabel asked with a laugh. “It’s only December!”
“Well, he’s a Ravenclaw, and a particularly nerdy one at that,” Evie replied with a grin. “What do you expect?” Lucas had always been the most intellectual in the family. Unfortunately, this imbued him with a false sense of self-importance, and when he was home he tended to ramble on about books none of them had ever read and then have the nerve to act all condescending when no one knew what he was talking about. He really grated on their nerves some times - especially Brandon’s - and Evie knew that everyone was hoping it was just a phrase he’d grow out of.
“Oh, bugger,” Annabel cursed, looking down at the thick silver watch on her wrist. “I’ve got to run. If I have any sort of chance at getting this music gig, I can’t afford to muck it up by being late!” She stood up quickly, leaving her empty mug on the table in front of them.
“You go on then,” Evie told the witch with a smile, giving her a brief hug. “Go stalk some Quidditch players, or whatever it is you lot do all day.”
“Oh, very funny, Evie,” Annabel replied with a roll of her eyes. “Anyway, good luck with your meeting with Ellington. I know you’ll do fabulous.”
“I hope so!” Evie replied with a grin. “Oh! Are you covering the World Cup luncheon?”
“You bet I am!” Annabel replied with a smile. “You know I always ask for the Quidditch assignments. Hopefully they seat up at the same table.”
“Hopefully,” Evie replied, picking up her bag from under the table and slinging the worn strap over her shoulder. “I’ll see you then!”
“Love you!” Annabel called as she headed towards the door. Evie, taking a moment to pull on her coat, followed soon after, heading into the icy winter sunshine that bathed Diagon Alley.
Ellington had been silent for quite some time as he leafed through Evie’s notebook. Evie had just been waiting nervously, jiggling her knee up and down as she sat in the straight-backed chair across from Ellington’s desk. It was the second time in the past two weeks she had been in his office with the door closed, and it was making her a little uneasy. Especially considering her boss was looking through her transcripts of the interviews with the team, and she was hoping that it was all up to scratch. After all, he had trusted her with this big assignment, and she prayed to Merlin she didn’t blow it.
“This is some really good stuff, Pierce,” he finally said, setting the notebook down on his desk.
“Really?” Evie asked, brightening slightly.
“Really,” Ellington replied with a small smile. “You’ve got some good quotes there, and a nice framework for an article. And I think that’s the most I’ve ever seen Noah Bradley say to a reporter ever,” he added with a chuckle. Evie beamed at him. She had done okay! Better than that, she had done really well! Oh, she couldn’t wait to tell Annabel!
“Did he give you any trouble?” Ellington asked, his eyes narrowing slightly. “Wood told me to let him know if Bradley was giving you a hard time.”
“Oh no!” Evie replied quickly, shaking her head. She didn’t want to get Bradley in trouble with his coach, even though Wood had asked her the exact same question when she had interviewed him. “I mean, sure he refused to answer some questions, as I’m sure you saw,” she nodded towards the notebook, “but he really wasn’t as bad as I thought he would be.”
“Good,” Ellington replied gruffly. “I told you you could handle him. Besides, I noticed quite a few mentions of Noah Bradley laughing in there.” He gestured towards her notebook with one of his hands. “That’s why I sent you, Pierce. You’re the best we’ve got.”
“Thank you, sir,” she murmured, ducking her head to look at her hand in her lap.
“Alright then, I’ll let you get started writing this thing, then,” Ellington told her, slowly standing up from his desk. The leather chair creaked loudly, and Evie winced slightly at the noise. One of these days, that thing was going to break.
“Thank you very much,” she told him, standing up as well and grabbing her notebook from the desk in front of her. She would be glad to get out of the stuffy little office. It made her nervous. “I’ll get started right away.”
“Evie?” She was halfway to his office door when he spoke her name, her arm already stretched out towards the handle.
“Yes?” She replied a bit hesitantly, turning around to face her boss.
“Just do the same thing you did with those interviews with this article and you’ll be fine,” he told her, giving her a small smile. Evie returned it tentatively. “We’re going to blow this one out of the water, Pierce, just you wait.”
“I hope so,” she murmured as she gave her boss one last grin, heading to the door. She hoped Ellington was right. The hard part of the process might be over now, but Evie still had to write the damn article. Sighing, she headed to her desk, her notebook in hands, settling in for an afternoon of uninterrupted typing.
AN: A bit of a filler chapter, but you get to see inside Evie's head a bit more. And you meet Annabel! Next chapter - Noah's perspective. Thanks for reading!
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