Chapter 5 : A Very Brief Foray into Journalism
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I push my Spellotaped reading glasses up my nose for the umpteenth time, and adjust my legs. They 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 this table found out in the rubbish will have to do. Across from me, Lisa is flipping “ironically” through a Bewitched Bride magazine, “Just for laughs.” But she looks quite intent for someone who isn't interested.
My interview with Oliver Wood did not go as planned, to say the very least. But his rudeness had fuelled my anger, which is now fuelling my writing. I’ve nicked the magical typewriter I sometimes get to use at Charm, as I couldn’t very well be seen writing this at work. After a poorly executed shrinking charm, it fit in my purse but weighed just the same. Sneaking it out on Friday—and trying to appear casual whilst sweating and straining—was quite a chore.
There’s a crick in my neck and, rubbing at the ache, I wave my wand so the parchment rolls itself up to the beginning. Magical typewriters are better for insuring you never lose your work, not to mention if your hands grow tired you can dictate your words.
My stomach growls loudly and Lisa shoots me a look; all I’ve had today is a stale Cauldron Cake found in the back of my cupboard. She nudges the bowl of carrot sticks closer.
“Edie, eat your vegetables.”
Grumpily I take a carrot and pretend it’s cheese. As I munch, I can’t help but warily eye the Recordograph next to me. The bell jar is just brimming with the sounds of Oliver Wood’s transcript—unfortunately his thoughts are completely useless.
Against my judgment, I tap the orb with my wand. As I stare into space I hear my own voice, playing in my ears alone: “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?”
A pause. “That’s a bit heavy-handed for a lifestyle magazine, don’t you think?”
My tension is audible. “Not really, no.”
“Well, obviously I would like to see a decrease in the wage gap, and obviously I want don’t want people to be hungry, and to, y’know, save the oceans and all.”
“You’re not really answering the question.”
“What do you want me to say? Of course I want those things, but isn’t that what anybody wants? Were you hoping I’d say something terrible, like more money funneled into the Quidditch industry?”
My cheeks flush even now with residual embarrassment—and anger at letting him get to me. “So you admit that there’s too much money spent on Quidditch.”
“No, I didn’t say that.”
“Alright, fine. Next question. Do you have any thoughts on the recent events regarding Gringotts and their refusal to employ female Goblins?”
Impatiently, “Don’t you view that as a problem?”
“Of course I do. But what does this have to do with Quidditch?”
“Well, from my perspective—”
“Ah, here we go.”
“—as a professional athlete, you make well over six figures a year. What kinds have actions have you taken to make these changes happen?”
I remember the way he looked at me like I was being completely ridiculous, and maybe it wasn’t exactly the line of questioning I’d had in mind. My prepared list had included things like “So, Wood…boxers or briefs?”
Wood’s voice came very clearly, “Next question.”
“Avoiding it again, are we?”
“I have every right to. Next. Question.” There is the shuffling of paper and then he asks, annoyed, “Is this even what your editor wants you to be asking? I glanced over Charm this week to see what I was getting into and, I have to say, I really doubt that they care about political issues—”
I thwack my wand on the Recordograph once more, silencing it. The whole ordeal is embarrassing, and uncomfortable, and I feel completely unseated from my position of power as the interviewer.
Lisa is looking at me with raised eyebrows. “You look like you just listened to the last five minutes of Grizzly Man. Was he really that bad?”
“Yes. Talk to me about something else; anything.”
She glances down at her reading material. “Well, it’s very interesting—apparently I’m supposed to wax everything before the wedding. Including my arms and chin.”
I squint at the magazine. “Merlin, what kind of medieval torture how-to is that?”
“They recommend the Maid of Honour does the same. You know, moral support and all.”
“No thank you. Let’s get down to brass tacks, though. Will there be coconut cake?”
“I’ll take that into consideration.” She smiles mischievously. “…If you tell me what actually happened with Oliver today.”
I release a walrus-like groan. “Never. It’s too embarrassing, and he’s too annoying.”
Lisa chews thoughtfully on a carrot. “Maybe he’s not as bad as you think.”
“You should know better, you work at St. Mungo’s.”
“Ah, yes,” she smiles sarcastically. “The tragedy that is the children’s ward.”
Peering down at my writing, 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 ten percent 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, each donated fifteen percent, while team manager Philbert Deverill gifted an incredible twenty-five. Wood has consistently refused to comment on the matter.”
Lisa laughs, gesturing incredulously. “But we ended up getting the money, and some to spare! That ward was built ages ago, you know that.”
“Yeah, because Deverill fronted the rest.”
“Edie, come on. Is it worth giving him a bad name just because he pissed you off?”
“He didn’t just piss me off, Lisa, you should have seen him! I mean, we can start with the kissing me without asking—where does he get off on that?”
She nods. “All right, that’s pretty terrible.”
“And then it was just one thing after another. The rudeness, the tardiness to the interview, the refusal to cooperate, the—sass.”
Lisa pauses. Studying the woodgrain of the table, she says carefully, “Just be certain you know what you’re talking about before you print. You could be very wrong about Oliver Wood.”
I crack an awkward smile. “Bit ominous, don’t you think?”
Instead of responding Lisa stretches, rising to her feet, and I feel like a pup whose owner is about to leave for work. “I’ve got to run.”
“But you’ve just got here!” I cry and realize how pathetic I sound. Clearing my throat, I try to act like a normal human. “Where to, then?”
She avoids my gaze. “Erm, cake tasting.”
A scandalized gasp escapes me and she says, quickly, “I know, I know, I said that I would do it with you, but Justin is really into this whole planning thing. It’s weird. Isn’t he supposed to ignore me until the wedding night, and then ignore me again for, like, fifty more years?”
“Well, you’ve already had sex, so he’ll probably just ignore you straight through.”
She laughs, bending over to ruffle my hair in an annoying way. “Sorry, Edie. But I’ll see you soon, I promise.”
I don’t stifle my lion’s roar of a yawn. It’s six o’clock in the morning and I’ve forgotten this hour even exists. As per Rose’s request—demand, really—I am hunched over a table at a coffee shop, ready to hand over my final draft. 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 at Charm I found what I suppose she sees as a cryptic message, left on my desk:
Six o’clock sharp. Come alone.
Despite her attempts at mystique I 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, this deadline didn’t apply to her. 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.”
Other than the “mysterious” note, I haven’t heard much from her, probably not to arouse suspicion. The most we’ve exchanged was an offhand comment she made several days ago at Charm.
As we huddled around the coffee cauldron, she had said, “Well, I suppose now that I’m not officially the journalist on the job, I could ask Wood out for a drink.”
Hot coffee had poured on my foot. “Tell me that’s not why you gave me the article.”
But she had merely raised her mug, saying, “Cheers!” before sauntering away.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Rose is very smart, but—or maybe therefore—has a certain agenda with men.
Again I scan the room for her, coming up short. Just a bunch of early-rising hipsters muttering about smoking too many cigarettes and how many embarrassing photos were Instagraphed last night.
My right elbow rests protectively over a small roll of parchment, complete with a wax seal bearing the Puddlemere twin bulrushes. It’s my final copy, and I have performed a number of water-resistant, flame-retardant, tear-proof charms. I have proofread, edited, rewritten, and reworked. The parchment is only two 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, allowing my eyes to fall on a random paragraph. The phrases “self-entitlement” and “out of control” jump out. I skip down to the final two. By the time I had written it I was practically beside myself in anger towards Oliver Wood.
To no one’s surprise, Wood’s love life has remained majorly out of the limelight. But any readers hoping for a chance run-in with this Keeper may be in luck. In fact, you need not search any further than your local bar.
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 serve high-end Firewhiskey. Drink up, ladies.
There is a whoosh of a small owl, dangerously close to my head, and the latest issue of the Oracle Underground drops to the table. A photograph of Grimma Longfinger is on the front page beneath a blocky headline: STRIKE THWARTED. Disappointment sinks into my belly.
Originally scheduled for next month, I read, the strike on Gringott’s was kept as quiet as possible. But everyone knows how difficult this can be in today’s media, and the Prophet did what it does best: turning rumours into front-page, misrepresented stories. Word of the protest got out (according to the Prophet the FGC would be providing complimentary Molotov Cocktails) and in response, Gringotts heightened security. A 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 shrieks and sticks out a foot, wiggling it impatiently so that the small purse jingles.
“Oh, right. Sorry.”
Like my shoulder-bag, my 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.) Struggling to extract the eight Sickles, I swear that the owl would roll its eyes if it could. At last, with a petulant hoot it flies out the opening door.
Rose ducks to avoid a head-on collision before hurrying in, sighing, “Sorry, sorry!” I catch a whiff of expensive shampoo. “I woke up so late, I barely had time to roll out of bed.” But her makeup is artfully applied, Twilfitt and Tattings’ clothes carefully selected.
I decide that “Hmm,” is the safest response and fold my newspaper. Rose sees what I’m reading and rolls her eyes.
“Can you believe the stories that rag publishes? There’s no way they’re doing proper research. It’s all so radical.”
I don’t mention her complete lack of research for the Oliver Wood interview. I also don’t mention how I am very aware that Rose was declined a position with the Oracle last year.
“I need a coffee,” she says tiredly.
“Oh, sure, I’ll wait,” I call after her, slouching in my seat. I’m becoming the world’s champion at sitting around, waiting. At least she isn’t an hour late.
Was the interview a week ago already? Everything has been so rushed. Apparently Rose really did pawn the article off last-minute; in this small amount of time I have interviewed Wood, submitted a draft to Ward (under her name), edited it, and produced a final copy. Charm’s new issue comes out this Friday, which means that there are only two days before I know 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 laugh and touch the barista’s arm. I honestly don’t think she can help it. She was unofficially voted Most Likely to Flirt with an Inanimate Object at the staff Christmas party last year.
When Rose returns with her drink her eyes land on the parchment, wavering between interest and unease. She hasn’t read the draft I submitted; she was too busy with other projects. As far as she knows, the whole story could be rubbish.
I try to sound nonchalant. “All finished.”
“Brilliant.” Suddenly the article is Accio’d from beneath me. I feel like a beetle who has just had its leg plucked off by some kid. “Thanks Edie. Of course, I’ll do some editing before the final submission.”
“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, I don’t want Rose to be sacked.
“Speaking of which, I’d better get to it. 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, and I’m walking around Charm on eggshells. Every time Mildred arrives with a new assignment, I stare at her so guiltily that even she becomes uncomfortable and hurries away. Every time Ward asks me for something, I fear I’m going to be sacked. Every owl swooping by is Rose, descending on me for producing such an awful rag under her name. Suddenly I am doubting my decision.
I literally tiptoe past Mr. Ward’s office at one point, terrified.
But by two o’clock I haven’t been caught. No explosions, no hexes, and no sacking… Maybe this whole ordeal has gone better than expected? Unable to contain myself, I scurry through the corridors, coffee in hand.
When I rap on Rose’s office somehow even it sounds panicked, and I accidentally enter without being asked. She’s located in the posh part of the building, with the gleaming white walls and nice floors. Inside her office, though, the stone is its natural color with one wall charmed golden-yellow. Photographs are everywhere, of her friends, and of herself posing with celebrities at the Charm events that I’m never invited to. A calorie-burning cauldron is tucked away in a corner.
Rose stiffens when she sees me and starts making shooing motions.
I roll my eyes and cast a silencing charm around the room. “Better?”
With a glare, she flicks her wand and the heavy wooden door slams shut. “Better. 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, 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, and doesn’t meet my eyes. “Yeah, 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—”
“My article,” I interject hotly, just as somebody knocks at the door.
We both freeze at the unmistakeable voice: “Miss Zeller? It’s Tallulah. May I come in?”
Oh Merlin, it’s over.
Author's Note: This edit was very satisfying to do! A lot of improvements were made to Lisa's character, and she feels much more fleshed out now. I also feel that I had a better grasp of Oliver's character in later chapters, but not this one, and it feels more consistent. Whether you're a new reader or a returning one, let me know what you think in a review! ♥
I don't own the movie "Grizzly Man."
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