The cool breeze of September whipped around Anni, her blonde ringlets flying around, covering her rosy cheeks. She sat in the empty bleachers of the Puddlemere United stadium, her journal, camera and quill sat in her lap as her brilliant blue eyes followed the flying figures in the air.
The first game of the Quidditch Season was not to go unnoticed by the press, and Anni knew that it would hurt her career if she hadn’t shown up to the game today. Especially because a Weasley was playing in the game; it was sure to be a major topic. And though she knew many others would be writing for this, she also knew that she had connections with the teams to get the inside scoop.
The game was scheduled against the Chudley Cannons in a few hours, but Anni had shown up for an interview (strictly business) with the Head coaches of the two teams early. She was the only one allowed to interview them, and knew that it would make a major impact on her career. Just starting out, Anni had to be at the top of her game.
Now, she was watching their warm-ups and practice, hoping to snap a few acceptable pictures.
It was the first time in quite a while that Anni had seen a Weasley or Potter, not counting the gossip columns in the Prophet, nor the loose pictures floating around the offices where she worked. In fact, the last time she saw one, other than Rose and Al, of course, who were always with Scorpius, was in July, when she had a run in with James. But today, as her wide eyes followed Freddie Weasley’s figure through the sky, she knew to expect all of them here.
Most of them, at least.
She’d be lying if she said she was looking forward to the game today.
Freddie Weasley was the star rookie beater of the Chudley Cannons. Growing up around him, she knew it had always been a dream of his to be in that position, and Anni was proud of him. Freddie never took anything seriously, and she was thankful he hadn’t messed up this opportunity.
Anni’s mind often wondered back to her days with the Weasleys and Potters when one of them came to mind. She was so close to some of them in the past that she couldn’t quite help it- they were a large part of her past life.
But in the end, Dominique saw to it they didn’t trust Anni anymore, even though it was she who broke the trust between their friendship, not Anni.
Dominique was a cunning, conniving witch. She often fooled people, outwitting them quite often with her way about things. She was an ambitious girl; she always got what she wanted. Anni knew that all too well.
Anni was so lost in thought, she hadn’t realized the field was now empty.
And Freddie Weasley was walking up the metal staircase of the stadium, straight towards her.
He hesitantly sat next to her, running a hair through his oddly colored hair that was a red-tinted black. His caramel skin was the smoothest color she’d ever seen it. His bright chocolate brown eyes were alive and uneasy. His muscular, chiseled features were like a brick in the face they were so prominently obvious.
But to Anni, his best feature was the scar on his eye.
“Anni Powells,” he smiles, cocky and flirtatious. “How long it’s been.”
Anni relaxed a little, but was still unnaturally tense. It had been years since Anni talked to Freddie, and to say she was nervous was an understatement.
“Yes, it has. How are you?” she asks fiddling with the necklace that hung around her throat, a nervous habit she had tried far too many times to break. Freddie glanced down at the necklace, his face contorting into an unreadable expression that threw Anni off, but it was gone as quick as it came.
“Obviously phenomenal,” he shrugs nonchalantly, but Anni could tell by the look in his eyes he was bubbly on the inside. If there was one thing about Freddie Weasley, it was that the man was unnaturally bubbly. “If anyone knows that, it’s you. Blimey, when I made it, I wanted to tell you, but figured it’d be best not to.”
Anni was caught off guard by this. They were good friends up until the summer going into her sixth, his seventh year, but when Dominique started lying, Freddie believed her, not Anni.
Anni understood his decision, and he knew now that he was wrong, but Anni never was one for forgiving quite easily.
And Freddie was definitely never one for owning up to his painstakingly obvious mistakes.
“I was so happy for you, Freddie. I knew you’d be happy when you found out.”
Anni mentally slapped herself for her poorly chosen wording. Her expression morphed to a look of horror that Freddie most definitely did not miss.
“Wait- you mean to say you knew before I did?” Freddie’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion. Anni couldn’t help but think how damn cute he looked like that.
Anni’s godfather, Stephen King, was the coach of the Chudley Cannons. He was looking for a beater and Anni mentioned Freddie. After looking at Freddie play, he told Anni he was going to invite him to try out for a spot on the team.
“Well, I may or may not have suggested you to Stephen over a butterbeer in the Leaky during my sixth, your seventh, year,” Anni says slowly, unsure as to what Freddie’s response would be.
Anni braced herself for the blow, where Freddie told her that he didn’t need her help, that he would have been just fine without her. But it didn’t come.
Freddie didn’t get the chance to respond because his team was coming back out onto the field.
“Right, I’d best be off. Thanks. It was good seeing you, Powells,” he smiles a blindingly bright grin. “Don’t put this conversation in a column or I will see to it you’re fired.”
And there was something about the way he said it, the wink he added, and the sneaky little smile tugging on his lips that Anni was certain of something.
He knew something she didn’t.
She smiles, shaking her head. “I’d never.”
With that, she was left alone, thoughts and mind racing.
Anni weaved her way through the busied office of the Daily Prophet’s building in Diagon Alley, right past Gringotts and within walking distance of Weasley Wizard Wheezes. She had her column for the Chudley Cannon’s win over Puddlemere written up, clutched tightly in her arms, and was bringing it to her boss to check over before putting it in tomorrow morning’s issue.
The atmosphere of her workspace never really was a comfortable feeling for Anni. She loved her job, but wasn’t particularly fond of the gossip floating in the air. It sickened her, especially the shite Rita Skeeter, the old hag, came up with. When they were in school, James informed Anni that he was convinced the woman never aged.
She didn’t understand why it was some people’s highest wishes to destroy someone’s life or stalk them relentlessly. The press was always after a juicy story on the Potters and Weasleys, and Anni found it annoying and, quite frankly, rude.
Approaching the framed door of Mr. Pensky’s, her boss’, office, Anni knocked a few times and heard a muffled ‘come in’ before entering the office.
Portraits and papers were displayed neatly against the walls. A large desk sat in the center of the office, where an elderly man sat, perched over his paperwork, half-moon spectacles resting on the bridge of his long, thin nose. He looked up with dying hazel eyes.
“Ah, Miss Powells. Take a seat, I’ve loads to discuss with you,” his uncharacteristically cheerful voice came. Smiling politely, Anni lowered herself into the black cushioned seat across from his at his carefully carved mahogany desk. She set her papers in the basket on her left labeled ‘To Do’, where he always had her set her paper.
“You’ve been meaning to speak with me?” Anni asks, furrowing her thinly shaped eyebrows. Mr. Pensky pushed aside the paper he was reading and looked up to meet her eyes. He folded his long, boney fingers together and spoke.
“Yes, I am under the impression that you enjoy what you do and are preforming exceedingly well, am I correct?”
The man smiles. “Then I have a proposition for you. Quidditch Central, a new and very hot, Quidditch line is looking for my most exceptional Quidditch writer to work on one of their magazines. If you are unfamiliar with this line, they publish a magazine every month, one for each Professional team. Each team’s edition is available worldwide. I want you to take the opening.”
Anni couldn’t believe it. Actual, true, pure work for Quidditch press. Her own magazine. “What you’re saying, sir, correct me if I’m wrong, that I will follow this team and fill a complete magazine by myself.”
“Precisely,” he nods, eyes truly glistening. “Aside from a few other columns by some others, it would mainly be your work filling the pages. You’re looking at 10,000 galleons per two weeks for this, along with free rooms through Wizarding hotels that often host Quidditch teams for late games or games in foreign countries where it’ll take quite a while to apperate back here. It’s strictly business,” he says the last bit with amusement in his ragged voice. “No gossip or funny business about personal lives of players or any of the works.”
Anni gave this a fair bit of thought as she read over some papers Mr. Pensky handed her. She’d be required to write an article on each player; along with the coach, chances of making it to the cup, goals, schedules, and assumptions on players that are to play the following game, details on each of their games that had been played that month. It was a lot, but Anni could surely handle it.
She nods confidently. “If I take this, what would I be told to do?”
“Well, you are to meet the owner of this magazine line, Angelina Weasley, for an interview tomorrow at eleven in the Leaky. She would inform you of any other details, which team you’ll be following, and have you sign some contacts and what not. Will you take this?”
Anni laughed at the irony of being pulled back into the Weasley/Potter life again. She had a hunch after encountering James all those months ago that she’d find herself in it again.
And she had.
“I’ll take it.”
“And you’ll be back for supper, right? We’re going out tonight, my friend.”
Scorpius Malfoy’s voice called after Anni’s petite figure as she slid on a jacket, ready to apperate to the Leaky Caldron were she was meeting Angelina. She laughed.
“Yes, Scorpius, I’ll be back for supper. Where’s Rose? Take her out.”
He moans. “I need to have a laugh and be reckless. That screams you and Al, not Rose. So we’re going out with Al today.”
Anni inwardly groaned. Albus Potter was one of the many of Dominique’s family that still didn’t have a liking towards her. She truly hated being mixed in with him, although she’d never tell Scorpius that.
“Okay, mate, I’ll see you.” With that, she turned on the spot.
She appeared just outside the Leaky amongst the crowd of ongoing witches and wizards. A familiar warmth, a warmth that only returning home could give you, filled Anni as she smiled up at the crooked, old sign that hung above the doorway, sporting the words ‘The Leaky Cauldron’. Hoping Hannah would be around, Anni took a deep breath and pushed open the doors.
Her eyes instantly landed on Angelina as she sat at the bar. She knew Angelina well enough, so their exchange shouldn’t be quite as awkward or terrifying as any other interview.
Although, Angelina had heard some horrid things about Anni before, whether or not they were true.
Anni found herself walking up to the barstool next to Angelina.
“Hello,” she said awkwardly, sliding onto the barstool.
The greeting was awkwardly stated. Anni wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Anni Powells,” Angelina breaths, looking Anni over. Anni felt heat rise to her face and she nodded, smiling sheepishly.
“Oh my god!” Angelina squeals, enveloping Anni in a bone-crushing hug. “How are you? Oh, James will be ecstatic you decided to accept the job! I haven’t seen you in forever! My, how much you’ve grown!”
Angelina’s voice held a motherly tone to it, and Anni couldn’t help but feel welcomed. She smiled brightly, but her forehead creased in confusion. “James? What has he do to with this, exactly?”
“Oh,” Angelina waves a hand in the air lazily, as if the topic hadn’t mattered at all. “You’re following the Falmouth Falcons, if you take the job, and I’m sure you know James in on that team.”
Anni’s jaw dropped a bit. “No way! Oh, this is so exciting! There are so many familiar faces on that team! I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to handle all of this! What if it’s too much? Oh my Merlin.”
Angelina laughs delightfully. “Dear, we asked for Mr. Pensky’s best for a reason.”
Anni nods understandingly as she sat. Angelina went over rules, agreements, salary, coordination, and all that jazz. Anni agreed to everything after thoroughly reading through the contracts twice each.
As she signed the last one, Angelina squealed, much resembling her daughter, Roxanne, who was naturally a happy girl, though, Roxanne was not all that friendly to people she held a grudge against, or wasn’t a big fan of.
“You start next Tuesday, 7 a.m. on the spot. The coach will tell you practice dates, game dates, when players can be interviewed, the works. Remember- nothing personal. But you’d never. First practice is at Falmouth Falcon’s stadium. Oh, it’s so exciting to be working with you! The family can see you again! Freddie had told me about seeing you the other day, and how much he realized he missed you! And I must say; thank you for that. He really had missed you through his seventh year, you know. Damn boy was too scared to owl you about getting his position. Pestered me for days!”
Anni laughs, draining the last drops of her butterbeer. Freddy and Anni had once been very close during those first five years of Hogwarts for Anni. She knew him so well and was always sneaking around, pulling pranks and getting into detention with James and him, along with Aiden Wood and Charlie Finnegan.
She stood, Angelina following suit.
“It’s been a pleasure,” Anni smiles sincerely. They hugged one last time before parting, Angelina disapperating on the spot.
Anni, overwhelmed with excitement, raced up the steps to the flats above the bar, searching for Hannah and Neville so she could share the news.