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—”
“DID I MENTION PUDDLEMERE?!”
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.”
“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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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.)
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