Chapter 5 : A Very Brief Foray into Journalism
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♔ CHAPTER FIVE ♔
I push my Spellotaped reading glasses back up my nose again. My legs 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 the table I found outside in the rubbish will have to do. I’ve gone and pilfered the magical typewriter I sometimes get to use at Witch Weekly. After a poorly-done shrinking charm, the thing fit in my shoulder-bag but still weighed the same. Sneaking it out on Friday was quite a chore.
I wave my wand and the parchment rolls itself up to the beginning, so I can see what I’ve written so far. Unlike a Muggle typewriter, this is bewitched with an endless roll of parchment. It can also type via dictation, but I prefer the rounded keys.
It’s 6:00 in the evening and my stomach is growling—I haven’t eaten anything except a stale Cauldron Cake I found in my cupboard—but I have to get my thoughts out on parchment. My interview with Oliver Wood did not go as I had planned, to say the very least. But his arrogance had fuelled my anger, which is now fuelling my writing.
As I type away, Lisa is sitting across from me, flipping through magical wedding magazines that she picked from the newsstand in Diagon Alley. Occasionally she makes an “Oooh!” sound when she comes across something particularly adorable in Bewitched Bride. Normally I would find this endearing, but today it sounds more like a Pygmy Puff chattering away.
Warily, I eye the recording orb sitting on my desk. As time had passed and I force-fed him cup after cup of coffee, he had managed to sober up a bit. So things had actually faired decently—I’d gotten him to answer the dirty gossip questions while he was still drunk, and then when he regained himself I received his “serious” answers (in the most convoluted, abstract sense of the word.)
I tap the orb with my wand. My own voice, charmed so that only I can hear it, rings in my ears. “So, 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?”
I recall his disinterested shrug as he'd apparently settled on the first thing that came to mind, “Flattering uniforms for Knight Bus drivers.”
I release an angry groan and thwack the recording orb with my wand. Was he just toying with me? He can’t possibly be as daft as he sounded. When I'd asked how he felt about the effects of Quidditch on society, he had said something along the lines of, “I’m happy to give people something to get good and riled up about.”
But what had really hit a nerve—and almost made me snap Dean’s precious quill in two—was when I asked how he felt about the Female Goblin Coalition strike. He had just stared blankly.
“They’re refusing to give work to female Goblins.”
I prompted impatiently, “Don’t you view that as a problem?”
“Well of course I do. But what does this have to do with Quidditch?”
Wood’s intentions had been... decent, I suppose. At least he answered all of my questions with minimal sarcasm. But in the end, his intentions didn’t matter. A drunk, arrogant idiot is always going to come across as a drunk, arrogant idiot because he is nothing more than a drunk, arrogant idiot. (An ancient Chinese proverb, I believe.)
Straightening in my chair, I finish a sentence about how Wood smelled as if he’d bathed in Firewhiskey rather than ingested it. Lisa’s voice carries over the punching of my typewriter, “How do you feel about tiered cupcakes instead of a wedding cake?”
She furrows her brow thoughtfully, “Or maybe we’ll do a bunch of different puddings…”
A flurry of keys, like the angry pecks of birds, is the only answer she receives.
“Edie?” she lifts her head to peer at me.
“I’m not the one you’re marrying, Lisa. Ask Justin.” Not only am I generally irritated about the interview, but Lisa’s talk of weddings is reminding me of exactly how shamefully single I am. But by the time I suddenly realize how selfish this is, she’s already gone quiet. I slump forward, “I’m sorry...”
“It’s alright,” she says quietly. “You’re stressed.”
“No, it’s not alright. I’m not being a very pleasant maid of honour, am I?”
She smiles sadly. I realize exactly how much I’ve been neglecting that my best friend getting married, just because it makes me feel like a loser. Justin is completely mad about her, but he probably isn’t as informed about tulle and floral arrangements and which songs are too cheesy for first dances. (So far we have ruled out anything by Phil Collins on principle, unless of course, it’s In the Air Tonight. Seamus performs a very impressive interpretive dance, if you give him enough beer.)
Lisa brightens as I rest my face in my hands, giving her my undivided attention, “All right then. Tell me more about these tiered cupcakes. Will there be coconut flavour? Because if not I’ll have to veto your decision, as a friend.”
“I’ll take that into consideration. If you tell me what actually happened with Oliver Wood today.”
I release a walrus-like groan and faceplant. So close.
The exact details of the interview have gone unmentioned to everyone. Even Seamus is in the dark, as he’d eventually grown bored with staring at the back of Wood’s head and shuffled home. My mood after the interview, however, was quite understood by everyone. When I had finally Apparated from the Hog’s Head, Dean was still at my flat drawing away in his sketchbook. He had lifted his head, but I made a beeline for my kitchen and cracked open a beer.
I flopped down next to him on the sofa. He looked mildly impressed, “Wow, that bad huh?”
Lisa is patting me on the back of my head. “There there,” she says, though I can hear that she’s grinning. At least somebody finds my despair amusing.
“I’m just so disappointed that he’s a complete idiot,” I say, still face-down. “All of that power and money and influence…”
Lisa says carefully, “Maybe he’s not as bad as you think.”
I lift my head, “Don’t you know about the St. Mungo’s charity? You work there.”
She looks away, which means that yes, she does. Peering at the parchment 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 10% 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, donated over 10% each, while team manager Philbert Deverill donated a whopping 25%. Wood has consistently refused to comment on the matter.”
She shrugs, “Well, we ended up having enough money…”
“Yeah, because Deverill fronted the rest.”
She looks me squarely in the eye, “Just be certain that you know what you’re talking about before you publish it.”
A beat of silence passes, and I crack an awkward smile, “Bit ominous, don’t you think?”
She blinks as if coming out of a reverie. “Yeah,” she smiles, “I just don’t want you to get into trouble.” I study her uncertainly, but she holds up a picture of a wedding dress that is partially a live swan. In the photograph it flaps its wings and ruffles its tail.
“What do you think? Honest opinion,” Lisa gives her best solemn stare before bursting into laughter.
I don’t stifle my lion’s roar of a yawn. It’s 6:00 in the morning—I’ve forgotten they have one of those—and I’m hunched at a table awaiting Rose. She asked that we meet here, Alchemy Coffee, so that I could hand over the completed article. 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 when I had arrived at Witch Weekly, I found what she probably considers to be a cryptic message left on my desk:
Bring you-know-what. Come alone.
Despite her attempts to be mysterious I had 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, she did not include herself in that. 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.”
Though she could lose her job for plagiarism, at this ungodly hour nothing other than my being awake feels pressing. She definitely owes me one (thousand.) At least the coffee is good.
Other than the “mysterious” note, I haven’t heard much from Rose. I reckon she’s trying not to arouse suspicion. The most talk we’ve exchanged was an offhand comment she made several days ago. We were both huddling around the coffee cauldron in the WW kitchens. As I had gravitated towards the coffee like a moth to the flame, she said offhandedly, “Well, I suppose now that I’m not officially the journalist on the job, I could ask Wood out for a drink.”
I poured hot coffee on my foot, “Tell me that’s not why you gave me the article.”
Rose had merely smirked and raised her mug. “Cheers,” she’d said and sauntered away.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I suppose I still, at times, expect better of her. Rose is smart—really, she is. After all, she’s the one with the real job.
Again I scan the room for her, coming up short. Just a bunch of early-rising hipsters muttering about smoking too many fags and how many embarrassing photos were Instagraphed last night. My right elbow rests protectively over a small roll of parchment, its seal bearing the Puddlemere twin bulrushes. It’s my final copy of the Oliver Wood article. I have performed a number of water-resistant, flame-retardant, tear-proof charms on each page, not to mention charming several copies. I have proofread, edited, rewritten, and reworked. The parchment is only four 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, my eyes falling on a random paragraph. The words “self-entitlement” and “out of control” jump out at me. I skip down to the ending. By the time I’d written it, my anger towards Wood had been festering so deeply that my words were harsher than intended. I suppose I should feel guilty, but I’m not sure that I do.
hoping for a chance with this Keeper may be in luck. In fact, you need not search any
further than your local pub. Over the past year, Wood has been present for the party
scene in ways that would make even the Weird Sisters blush. Photographs of his
international weekend debaucheries appear in the tabloids on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, this kind of negative attention has eclipsed that of his athletic career.
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 specialize in Firewhiskey. Drink up, ladies.
The sudden whoosh of a small black owl, dangerously close to my head, makes me jump. A copy of The Oracle Underground drops to the table as the owl lands on the chair across from me. A moving picture of Grimma Longfinger on the front page catches my attention. The headline reads FGC STRIKE THWARTED. There’s a sinking feeling in my chest—the rally has been cancelled.
Originally scheduled for next month, I read, it had been kept as quiet as possible by the FGC. But everyone knows how difficult this can be in today’s media. The Prophet did what it does best: turning rumours into front-page, factless stories. Word had gotten out of the proposed date for the protest (according to the Prophet the FGC would be providing complimentary Molotov Cocktails.) In response, Gringotts has heightened security. A large 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 releases an indignant shriek. It sticks out its right foot, wiggling it impatiently so that the small change purse attached to it jingles.
“Oh, right. Sorry,” I murmur.
Like my shoulder-bag, my small 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.) Amidst all the clutter I struggle to extract the required eight Sickles. I swear the owl would release a huffy sigh if it could as I pay up. With a petulant hoot, it flies out the door as it opens.
Rose ducks to avoid a head-on collision before hurrying inside. “Sorry, sorry,” she sighs. As she sits down I catch a whiff of expensive shampoo. “I woke up so late, I barely had time to roll out of bed.” But I notice that her makeup is artfully applied, Twilfitt and Tattings’ clothes carefully selected.
I decide that “Hmm,” is the safest response and fold my newspaper shut. Rose sees what I’m reading and rolls her eyes.
“Can you believe the stories that Oracle Underground publishes? There’s no way they’re doing proper research. It’s all so radical.”
I don’t mention Rose’s dreadful research done for the interview with Wood. Such as learning how to spell ‘Puddlemere.’ I also don’t mention just how aware I am that Rose was declined a position with the Oracle two years ago.
“I need a coffee,” she says tiredly and rises to her feet.
“Oh, sure, I’ll wait,” I call after her, slouching in my seat. I’m becoming the world’s champion at sitting around, waiting. With an involuntary growl I recall how late Wood stumbled into his own interview.
Was it really a week ago already? Everything has been so rushed. Apparently Rose really did pawn the article off last-minute. That meant only ten days to interview Wood, submit a draft to Ward (under her name), edit it, and produce a final copy. The deadline for submissions is today. The new issue comes out this Friday, which means that there are only two days before I knew 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 flirt with the barista. I honestly don’t think she can help it. She only speaks in flirt.
Several moments later Rose returns with her drink. Her eyes land on the roll of parchment tucked behind my elbow. I see her expression waver between interest and unease. She hasn’t read any of the drafts I submitted; she was too busy with other projects. As far as she knows, the whole story could be rubbish.
“All finished,” I say nonchalantly.
“Brilliant.” Suddenly the article is accio’d from beneath me, and I feel like a beetle who has just had a leg plucked by some kid. “Thanks Edie. Of course, there will be some editing before it’s submitted.”
“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, somewhere deep, deep down—very deep—I don’t want Rose to be sacked.
“Speaking of the time,” she glances at the hourglass that rests on the counter, “I’d better get to it now. 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. I am walking around Witch Weekly on eggshells. Every time Mildred arrives with a new assignment, I stare at her so guiltily that she grows uncomfortable and hurries off. Every owl that swoops by is suddenly Rose, descending on me for producing such a rag of an article under her name. Suddenly I am doubting my decision. Forget Rose getting sacked, I could get sacked! Why has this not occurred to me before?!
I literally tiptoe past Mr. Ward’s office at one point, terrified.
But by 2:00 I haven’t been caught. No explosions, no hexes, and no sacking. Maybe this whole ordeal has gone over better than expected? Unable to contain myself any more, I scurry through the corridors, narrowly escaping a soaring paper airplane to the eye.
Coffee mug in hand, I rap on Rose’s office door before entering. She’s in the nice bit of the building, with the gleaming white walls. Inside her office, though, the stone is its natural color with one wall charmed golden-yellow. Covering an entire wall are photographs of Rose meeting celebrities at WW events that I’m never invited to. I notice a calorie-burning cauldron tucked away in a corner.
Rose stiffens when she sees me and starts making shooing motions with her hands.
I roll my eyes. “Oh, come off it,” I grumble and cast a silencing charm around the room. “There, is that better?”
With a glare, she flicks her wand at the heavy wooden door so that it thuds shut, “Better.” She folds her hands on her desk and says tiredly, “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, I mean... 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. “Yeah,” she says, avoiding my eyes. “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—”
I interject hotly, “My article,” just as somebody knocks at the door.
“Rose? It’s Blakeslee,” comes her voice. We both freeze. “May I come in?”
Oh Merlin, it’s over.
Author's Note: There you have it. I'm going to be sure to upload the next few chapters before the queue is closed for Holidays. Please tell me what you think, good or bad! I love to hear feedback from you guys.
Edits 11/5/14: Some minor changes here and there. Again they are mostly Oliver's motivation for giving such a crap interview to Edie. Also, in this new version, Lisa thinks from the beginning that Edie is being too hard on him.
I don't own "In the Air Tonight" because Phil Collins does.
The beautiful CI is by angelic. @ TDA!
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