Chapter 4 : An Interview with Mister Wood
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“You have got to be effing kidding me!”
“Edie, that’s so brilliant!”
“--really bleedin’ famous player--”
“--going to look so good on your CV--”
“DID I MENTION PUDDLEMERE?!”
Dean and Seamus have always been beyond supportive mates to me, though they are much more verbal about it after six pints each. It doesn’t hurt that Italy, the team they were rooting for, beat Spain in the football match. I am sitting on my sofa with a congratulatory bottle of ale (the only one they managed to set aside for me) and beaming brighter than I ever have. Seamus and Dean take turns alternatively punching my shoulder, ruffling my hair, hugging me and then shoving me. Men.
I completely missed the football match because I ended up staying at Le Chat Noir even after Rose went home for the night, mentioning something about a guy. I stayed for an hour poring over the notes in the folder, some of which were actually accurate. Apparently Rose hadn’t done much research as there wasn’t a photograph of Wood to speak of. But I wouldn’t be going into the interview completely empty-handed; my obsession with Quidditch has allowed me to glean some information over the years.
Seamus sits back, smacking a hand over his forehead. “I can’t believe you get to interview Oliver Wood!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I fire. “Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m any less passionate about Quid--”
“Jesus Christ, Lennox, I didn’t mean because you’ve got lady-bits!” Seamus interrupts incredulously. “It’s just that I’ve been Wood’s biggest fan since Hogwarts, and have you ever even spoken with him?”
I try to remember. Honestly, I can’t even picture what Oliver Wood looks like. From my calculations he was four years ahead of me, which means he graduated before I had really even gotten into Quidditch. And being from another House didn’t help much either.
“Well, no,” I mumble. “But that doesn’t have anything to do with being a good journalist.”
Seamus ignores me, still on his Oliver Wood rant, “To think we were in school with the tosser, I mean, I never really got to talk Quidditch with him! I tried, but he always just kind of stared at me funny...”
Dean raises an index finger, squinting. “That’s because you followed him everywhere and couldn’t formulate a proper sentence around him. I’m pretty sure he thought you had the hots for him.”
I snort, “Yeah, didn’t you follow him into the Gryffindor locker room before a match once?”
“Even though he was showering?” Dean adds.
Seamus throws up his hands. “All right, all right, yes, yes, let’s not waste time dwelling on the past, mates!” Dean and I erupt into laughter, but Seamus is just studying me with an odd gleam in his eye. “So, where exactly is this interview again?”
“The Hog’s Head at ten. Nobody will be there to get in the way,” I answer suspiciously. Then I realize why he’s looking at me like that. “Seamus, no.”
“Come on Edie, please!” he begs. “I just want to get a look at him!”
Dean quirks an eyebrow. “And you’re sure you don’t have the hots for him.”
“Bugger off!” Seamus beams him in the forehead with a bottle cap and says, without missing a beat, “It’ll be perfect. It can be 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 that a Quidditch player you used to stalk is visiting,” I say. “Besides, I’ll be nervous enough. I don’t need you staring at us from across the room on top of everything.”
“Tell him, sister,” Dean says, clinking bottles with me. Seamus grumbles something and says no more on the matter, apparently quelled.
I take the last swig of my beer. It’s getting far too late--I should have been in bed hours ago, though I know sleep will be hard to find even now. Happiness is still bubbling up inside me as I rise to my feet, stretching my arms widely. With a loud yawn I say, “You two had better stay here again.” Then I point a stern finger at Seamus and add, “No drinking and Apparating.” The last time that happened, the poor bugger Splinched himself and had to magically regrow one of his toes.
“I know, I know,” he mumbles and I see him 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, like usual) and carefully select an outfit for tomorrow morning (rather than scraping dirty clothes off the floor). When I trek back to the kitchen for a glass of water some time later, I notice that my small den/dining room/rubbish storage area is still lit up by the two-way mirror. Seamus is snoring loudly, splayed out on the larger of the two sofas, but Dean is watching a Muggle football match. I fill my glass with water and return to sit beside him.
“I can’t believe this,” I say happily after some silence.
“I know, like Ukraine could actually beat Italy,” Dean says, though we both know what I’m talking about. He rests his arm on the sofa behind me, “I’m happy for you, Lennox.”
Although I’ve always been awkward with sentiment, I manage, “Well it’s all because of your brilliant work landing me the internship. So thanks. It’s been interesting, to say the least, but this whole article would never have happened without it.”
Dean laughs. “Well, don’t thank me yet, Wood might turn out to be a complete arse.”
“True!” I acknowledge, though neither of us is honestly worried. After my glass of water is finished, and it’s late enough that I may actually be able to sleep, I rise to my feet. “Well goodnight, Mister Thomas,” I say.
“I doubt I’ll get any rest with that racket going on.” He looks at Seamus, who releases a grizzly-like snore. “But all the same, goodnight Miss Lennox.”
It crosses my mind to ask if Dean would rather sleep in my room with me, but something about it seems a bit off. I suppose we just haven’t reached that point in our bro-lationship. With a parting grin I head for my room and crawl into bed. And for the first time in what feels like forever, I drift off to sleep genuinely pleased with the way my life’s heading.
Unfortunately, the pleasant feeling only lasts for the six hours that I am unconscious. The morning starts off when I awake thirty minutes later than planned. Then as I am getting ready, I notice that the dress I laid out has an enormous hole in its skirt from when I once drunkenly dropped a lit cigarette on myself. I had totally forgotten about it. In a flurry of panic I rush into the living room and try to awake Seamus, who is surprisingly good with clothes-mending charms. But even grabbing his shoulders and shaking them doesn’t budge him. That 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 shoulder bag when I realize that I can’t locate a quill left right or center, 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 somewhat worried 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.
It turns out there is an absolute downpour in Hogsmeade. And I have just Apparated right into the thick of it.
With the most grace I think I have ever mustered in my life, I leap over a puddle and land beneath the awning of The Hog’s Head. I’m only upset that nobody is there to witness it. Panicking about the time, I quickly mutter a charm and warm air jets from the tip of my wand. Doing the best I can without a mirror, I dry my hair and clothes so that I no longer resemble a lake monster. When I am finally settled I check my watch.
I open the door and poke my head in, but there is only the barkeep and a very old witch already drinking sherry. At least I’ve beaten Oliver Wood. I continue to stand beneath the awning, arms crossed, nervously drumming my fingers. With each splash of footsteps through the puddles my head jerks up excitedly, but it’s never him. It occurs to me that I really should have asked Rose for a photograph--obviously he doesn’t know what I look like. I check my watch again. 10:16.
I decide to head inside and claim a small table, ordering what turns out to be a bucket-sized mug of coffee. No wonder Rubeus Hagrid came here so often, they serve his portion sizes. The mug is almost too big for me to lift with two hands. Not the tastiest of brews, but I ended up not having time for my planned stop to Alchemy Coffee with my hectic morning. On the table I neatly spread out a roll of parchment, Dean’s quill, a small silvery recording orb that I nicked from Witch Weekly to play with forever ago, and the giant folder of Rose’s notes.
Time passes. Soon it’s 10:45 and I’m running out of excuses for this Oliver Wood.
I am rereading the notes for what feels like the thousandth time when I hear the clang of the rusty bell above the door. I glance up and see, to my horror, Viktor Krum striding in. My stomach lurches--I do not want him to recognize the girl who kicked him out of the pub last night. I grab one of Rose’s parchments and hold it so that it covers my face.
After a moment I dare to peek around the corner of the parchment. Krum is standing near the bar, wearing those daft sunglasses even though it’s rainy for one, and two he’s indoors. Why do all celebrities think that the rules of common sense don’t apply to them? Then I realize that he’s probably covering up the black eye from last night’s pub fight. I wonder what he’s doing here and absentmindedly set the parchment back down. But the longer I watch him, the clearer it becomes that he’s waiting for somebody.
Then, several things happen at once. Viktor Krum turns in my direction and does a double-take when he sees me. At the same time I snatch up a page of the Daily Prophet and hide behind it. The bell clangs again, the door is opening, and I see a very hungover Seamus trying his best to look casual as he saunters in. Though I am beyond furious to see him here, I don’t have time to think about it because Viktor Krum is making his way over to me.
Bugger, bugger, bugger, he recognizes me.
Then I actually read the paper in front of my face and am confronted with a photograph of the very same person. But this article is not about Viktor Krum, or Bulgaria. It’s about the Keeper for Puddlemere United, Oliver Wood. And the resemblance is unmistakable.
NO EFFING WAY.
The man who claimed to be Viktor Krum is almost to my table. He is taking off his sunglasses. The name I am too horrified to say is on my lips, threatening to spill over, when suddenly Seamus exclaims it for me.
“Oliver Wood!” He throws his hands up in the worst mock-surprise I have ever seen.
Wood forgets me and turns toward Seamus, clearly confused. I am thankful for the distraction because I am incapable of producing more than a gurgling sound at this point. This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening! Wood looks perplexed as Seamus makes his way over, deliberately not meeting my eyes. When the Keeper struggles to shake Seamus’s hand I realize that he is still a bit drunk from the night before.
Everything makes sense. Wood looked so familiar because he bloody plays for one of my top-three Quidditch teams. And he punched out the man who cheered for Bulgaria because he had committed heresy against Puddlemere. Even more shocking: Wood put on a fake accent all night. That’s why his friends were laughing every time he spoke!
What a little twat!
“Finnegan?” he mumbles uncertainly and Seamus looks like he’s going to faint. I can hear Wood’s true Scottish accent clearly now, and drop Dean’s quill to the table before I snap it in half. He furrows his brow. “What are you...?”
“Yeah! Seamus Finnegan!” he quickly interjects. “Fancy running into you here, I had no idea!”
I realize that my legs have pulled me to a standing position and that I am stomping over to break up whatever is about to happen. Seamus claps Wood on the back, who towers over him, and aggressively shakes his hand. By this time I have reached their little reunion and am standing dangerously close to Seamus, arms crossed. He is acting as though I’m not there although my nose is almost touching the side of his face. Oliver is glancing back and forth between us, very perplexed.
“Somebody get this man a pint!” Seamus calls to the bar. “On me!”
I move so that I am standing in-between them, forcing myself into Seamus’s line of vision. “It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, Finnegan,” I say acidly. I only use his last name when I am really, completely furious with him. I see a worried look flicker across his face.
But Oliver Wood just shrugs. “I’ll take a pint.”
My arms drop to my sides and I stare at him incredulously. Not only does he arrive almost an hour late and still drunk from the night before, but he wants to keep drinking?
Seamus has regained control of himself. “Of course! Right away!” he practically giggles and hurries off to find a suitable beer.
Wood watches after him as though he’s still not entirely sure how they know each other.
Thrusting a hand aggressively towards him, I say through gritted teeth, “Edie Lennox. I’ll be interviewing you today.” He smells like a liquor cabinet as he studies my face.
“What happened to Rose?” he asks.
I furrow my brow. “She didn’t tell you?”
Wood shakes his head no and yelps in pain when I accidentally crush his hand with mine. This is really just shaping up to be a marvellous day. “Rose isn’t writing it anymore. I am.”
Seamus returns with two pints, all smiles, and passes one to Wood. I fix the Irishman with a very serious look. Then Wood says, “Cheers!” and completely drains his glass.
Seamus and I are both staring, me in horror and Seamus as though he had just found his future husband. Wood wipes the foam from his lip and smiles pleasantly, as if nothing unusual has just happened. Seamus releases an elated little chirp.
“Right.” Immediately I put my hands on Seamus’s shoulders, forcing him to turn around. “So nice of you, thank you,” I growl and shove as hard as I can. He stumbles forwards and shuffles dejectedly to a corner table with his pint. His eavesdropping will be distracting, but there’s nothing that can be done about it now.
Later, his arse is mine.
“So, shall we?” says Wood from behind me.
I turn around, arms crossed. He is looking at me as though this kind of thing happens every day. “Do you seriously not recognize me?” I fire.
A nervous look crosses his face. “Oh, erm,” he shuffles his feet and winces. After a moment he manages, “So are you...the girl from last night?”
“Yup,” I say flatly.
Wood massages the corners of his bloodshot eyes. No doubt he is incredibly hungover right now. “I’m sorry,” he says, and he sounds like he really means it. I notice that he’s still in the same clothes from the night before. He looks so pathetic, with his hair tousled and his black eye, that I almost want to forgive him.
Then he says, “I didn’t mean to leave, I just figured, well, you were asleep, and didn’t want to have an awkward morning. Bit ironic now, isn’t it?”
My jaw has dropped.
“Because...we’re having an awkward morning anyway...” he elaborates as though I didn’t quite catch his meaning.
“I’m not the ‘girl from last night,’” I make air quotations. “I’m the barkeep from last night who kicked you and your ridiculous friends out!”
Oliver Wood stares at me blankly. “Who?”
“Really?” An indignant scoff escapes me and I am actually shouting now, “You told me your name was Viktor Krum!” I count off on my fingers his list of atrocities from the night before, “And then you pissed all over the girls’ loo, not to mention threw up in it, and then you kissed me, and then you punched a guy out!”
Oliver’s face has gone from normal, to pale white, to beet red by the time I have finished. Clearly he remembers nothing. It seems he was even more laggered last night than I’d thought. From behind me, Seamus is cackling away and pounding his first on the table. I hadn't told him or Dean anything except that Viktor Krum had come into the pub.
I whirl around, whipping out my wand, “And don’t even get me started on you, Finnegan!”
“Oi!” the barman yells, shaking me from my rage. “If yer goin’ teh do that, take it ou’side!”
Suddenly I remember that we are in public. I push my hair away from my burning face. My first official interview for Witch Weekly is not going how I’d planned, to say the least. Slowly I regain my composure, and the barman settles with tossing me a warning look before continuing to watch us like a Muggle soap opera.
Wood puts a hand over his face in humiliation. “So,” he mutters. “I really did all that?”
He groans. “This is certainly a first.”
“I’m sure it is.”
A long silence passes between us and I imagine going back to the table, collecting my things, and leaving (but not before giving Seamus a sucker punch to the back of the head.) Then I remember Lisa and her granola-eating, mountain-climbing, organic-hemp-vegan-yoga breathing exercises, and inhale deeply. This is my one shot at a journalism career, I think. One shot. I exhale and see that Wood is still looking equal parts drunk and humiliated.
“So, the interview,” he says uncertainly.
“The interview,” I repeat. There is a silence and I say at last, “Let’s just get this over with.”
Wood’s shoulders fall in a relieved way. I don’t offer any further conversation as he lags behind me like to the table. I gesture more violently than intended to the empty chair across from mine, and he plops down. The sudden movement causes him to grab his head in pain and release a pathetic groan. Yeah, he’s definitely feeling the repercussions of last night. If I were a nicer person I would take pity on him, but today I’m not. So instead I take my seat and stare darkly across the table as he massages his temples.
“You don’t have any pain-relieving potions, do you?” he asks weakly.
“No,” I say rather sternly. Then I push my tureen of coffee across the table. “Just drink some of that, it should help.”
As he miserably obeys, a thought strikes me. Maybe last night had actually been the perfect back-story to an expose article--the kind that Mr. Ward would want me to write. The kind that Witch Weekly publishes about celebrities. Washed-up Quidditch heartthrob Oliver Wood black-out drunk, making a complete arse of himself in public. Kissing a complete stranger. Even masquerading as a different person. The readers of Witch Weekly will eat this bollocks up.
I decide right then to leave nothing out.
After a quick glance to be sure that he isn’t looking, I tap the recording orb with my index finger and place it behind the pathetic centerpiece of wilted flowers. A rather wicked smirk spreads across my freckled face. It looks like I’ll be getting my story after all.
“So. Wood,” I say and his eyes meet mine. “Why don’t you start by telling me what you do remember from last night.”
Author's Note: So there you have it, official interactions with Oliver! Unless you count when he was pretending to be Krum... Please let me know what you think, I do so love hearing from readers! Did you like it? Hate it? And did anyone actually fall for my little trick?
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