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Keep Calm and Carry On by my_voice_rising
Chapter 12 : Clink
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 12


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Entering The Hanging Moon is how I imagine entering Narnia to be.

CHAPTER TWELVE



I’m not proud. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m downright ashamed. I have never bought a dress with the intention of leaving the tags on, wearing it for one day and returning it the next. It’s the kind of bollocks that schoolgirls did on Hogsmeade trips to “borrow” new party outfits. But I’m meeting Wood at The Hanging Moon in an hour, and I’m desperate. Nothing in my wardrobe is nice enough for a supposed professional journalist.

Although Wednesday’s excursion to find a maid of honour dress was successful (and free; Lisa paid for it as a thank-you) it wouldn’t be ready for days. So early this afternoon I dragged myself back to Twilfitt & Tatting’s. I grabbed the cheapest dress I could find, a knee-length green thing, but it still wiped out my savings. It’s the nicest thing I’ve ever worn, cut modestly with its full skirts belted by a small leather band.

I perform a small invisibility charm on the price tag, grimacing at all the zeros. Looks like I won’t be buying dinner tonight, unless I plant a dead fly in my pasta for a free meal.

At 7:30, and only half an hour out, I am a nervous wreck. Shaking out my hands and exhaling, I try to calm myself down. But I still feel like I’m standing on the edge of Astronomy Tower. How in the world am I to get Wood to open up to me about his personal life, after I’ve gone and slapped him? Me! I’ve never hit anybody in my life! Aside from my brothers, though as a rule that’s always considered self-defence.

I’ve really, really mucked it up this time.

Suddenly there is a knock at the door. Before I can answer, Seamus and Dean are walking in. Using a knock as a statement rather than a question is an annoying habit of theirs.

“Lennox! You didn’t want to come to the party, so we’ve brought the party to you!” comes Seamus’s voice. I hear the clinking of bottles. “Half an hour ‘til the Kestrels beat those sorry bastards of Wimbourne!”

My shoulders slump. I stomp unattractively into the den. How many times do I have to tell them? As much as I’d rather be sitting in my lumpy jumper watching Quidditch, I’ve an interview tonight.

“Guys, I’ve told you a thousand times... What.”

We’ve all come face-to-face, and they’re stopped dead in their tracks, staring like I’ve sprouted another arm. Betraying my stress I cry, “What, is it too much?”

“Oh, erm—no,” Dean manages to snap himself out of it, just as Seamus says, “What the hell happened to your hair?”

I put a hand to the French braids that begin at my temples and twist into a loose bun. “What’s wrong with it? Ugh, I knew I would muck it up. I spent hours charming it—read a Witch Weekly how-to for once--”

“Nothing is wrong with it,” Dean interjects before oh-so-articulate Seamus can say anything else. “You just look... different. Where are you going?”

“I have to meet Wood at The Hanging Moon in twenty minutes.”

Seamus lets out a cat-call, “The Hanging Moon? Sounds like a date to me!”

Dean’s eyes narrow suspiciously but I shake my head. “No, it’s not a date, trust me. It’s definitely not because it’s just where Wood wanted to have the second interview. But it’s not a date.”

“So do you reckon it’s a date?” Seamus teases.

Dean crosses his arms. “Ten Galleons says it is.”

My jaw drops incredulously. “That isn’t fair! He suggested the location.”

“Did he choose to meet at eight o’clock on a Friday night as well?” Seamus counters.

“Well, yes, but—”

“And d’you usually dress up like that for work?”

When I can only make sputtering sounds, Seamus grins triumphantly. Then he goes straight to kissy-noises and other, more inappropriate hand-gestures.

“Oi!” I shout, “I just want to look the part of a professional journalist, and I can’t likely do that in trainers, can I? It’s very posh in there!”

“Well I’m sure you’ll blend right in.” Dean’s voice comes quietly. I don’t quite know what to say. He grew up in a poorer family than even Seamus or I, and so he’s got an even bigger distaste for the upper-class. And if he’s grouping me in with them, well…

Seamus crosses the room to gently take me by the arms. “Edie,” he cajoles, “I know you haven’t technically been on a date in ages. But anything that occurs between a guy and a girl, in an expensive restaurant, on the weekend, at this time of night, is definitely one of them.”

I furrow my brow, still in disagreement, but Seamus releases a booming laugh. “Damn Edie, you’ve gone and pulled a famous athlete!” And then he puts me in a headlock, ruffling my carefully sculpted hair.

“Seamus!” I scream. “That took me forever—Dean, help!”

Dean just shifts his weight, arms still crossed. “Seamus, come on,” he says half-heartedly, but I am finally released.

I punch Seamus in the shoulder. “You ass! Now I’m going to be late.”

“To your ‘interview,’ right,” he punches me back.

I look at Dean desperately. He’s the only person who can control Seamus Finnegan at times like this, but he avoids my gaze. Releasing a loud growl, I stomp back to my bedroom to fix the bird’s nest on my head. “You two are the worst mates ever!” I shout, but I can hear Seamus giggling.

*


The entrance to The Hanging Moon is disguised as stairs leading to the Underground, but it’s always roped off. A faded wooden “Under Construction” sign bats around in the chilly breeze. The rumour is that if a Muggle were to attempt to hop the barrier, they would be assaulted by an odour so foul that they would have to turn around. That’s all that I actually know; the rest I’ll have to improvise.

Miraculously I left my flat on time, arriving at exactly eight o’clock. Seamus and Dean had set up camp with two six-packs, a bag of crisps and three hours of Quidditch ahead of them. Although I was beyond irritated and didn’t want to let them stay, it was the quickest way to get them out of my hair. Literally. It had taken another ten minutes to undo Seamus’s damage.

For the thousandth time, I check that everything is in order. Quill, parchment, recording orb. Check. Excellent. But what if I trip in these shoes? Is my dress too short? It’s chilly, I should’ve worn tights. How much longer do I have to stand here? How in the bloody hell am I to get him to talk? What if he doesn’t even show? Could I really blame him?

“Edie?”

I swivel, expecting to face the subject of my interview. Instead I’m surprised to see Jae Chang. He’s paused uncertainly, an artist’s portfolio over one shoulder.

“Wotcher, Jae!” my voice is shrill with nerves.

He grins and makes his way over, eyeing my getup. “Going somewhere special then?”

“Yeah, I’m waiting for somebody. We’re going to The Hanging Moon.”

He gives an impressed nod. “Well how posh. So you must be on a date.”

Does setting foot inside this place automatically change a professional meeting into candle-lit canoodling? “No, it’s for work.” Because I don’t want him asking questions, I quickly add, “I’m not even sure if he’ll show.”

“Sounds like just about every date I’ve had,” he grins. I smile back, the joke loosening my shoulders.

“So it’s not a date, then,” he repeats.

“Definitely not.”

“Well then maybe we should consider it. A date, that is.” He shrugs, smiling playfully. “You know, to appease your mum and all.”

My jaw drops. My mother has actually bagged me a guy. I don’t know whether to be ecstatic or humiliated. The first and only other time she did this with a friend’s son, he’d turned out to be gay. He only went through with it because he thought my name was Eddie. We actually ended up having a brilliant time, splitting a bottle of white zinfandel and complaining about men. We still keep in touch, funnily enough.

Jae is still giving me that smirk. I stammer, “Oh. Well, I um…”

Come off it, Edie. Beggars can’t be choosers. An opportunity finally arises, a nice fitty oasis in the No-Shag Desert that is my life, and I’m finding excuses to weasel out of it.

“Should I take that as a yes?” he says cheekily.

I’m not sure if I want to laugh or scowl. But then footsteps echo behind me, and Oliver Wood appears at my side. He glances from me to Jae, standing as he always does: feet planted apart and arms crossed. Although he’s unshaven and his hair tousled, he still looks like a bleedin’ celebrity in a tailored blazer. My shoulders have seized back up.

Well, he bothered to show. That’s good, right? ...Right?

“Jae,” my voice cracks, “this Oliver Wood.”

“The Quidditch player?” he ignores Wood’s outstretched hand. “Isn’t he the one in Crystal Ball—”

“Nope, different guy,” I interrupt. Then I fix him with a weird look, wondering why he’s up-to-date on celebrity gossip.

After an uncomfortable moment of Wood’s hand hovering in the air, Jae at last shakes it. Wood nods curtly but says nothing. There is a moment of silence and I smile with a pathetic shrug. “Well, I suppose we’d better be off.”

“Right,” says Jae. “Edie, let me know when you want to get together.”

I can practically hear Wood raising an eyebrow. I have to admit I want to do the same, since I haven’t actually agreed to anything. I offer a neutral, “See you later.”

Without a second glance at Wood, Jae disappears. In the silence that follows I realize that he hasn’t spoken yet. I turn to him, though my eyes are glued to the buttons of his plaid shirt. I’m embarrassed and slightly thankful that he arrived when he did. What do I do? What do I say? My eyes at last meet his and we look at one another, though I think I’m just wincing.

Finally he says with bright sarcasm, “He was pleasant!”

“Yeah, well, he’s just...” I readjust my shoulder-bag.

“Friend of yours?” He’s rubbing his chin in thought. It looks as though he’s been presented with some Quidditch tactic that needs to be calculated.

“Not really. Sort of.”

“He seemed to like you. I’d say that counts for something.”

Not only did he show up, but he’s being cordial. All of the scenarios I’d mentally played out are thrown to the wind, and I’m left without a prepared response. “Well… I mean, maybe. I dunno. My mum set us up.”

As soon as I say it, I wish I never had opened my mouth. Wood stops rubbing his jaw, face cracking into a grin. “Your mum.”

My cheeks are burning against the chilly air and I say huffily, “I thought I was the one doing the interview.”

Oliver blinks as though suddenly remembering why we’re here. “Of course,” he gestures to the stairwell. “After you. Mind the gap.”

The stairwell does actually open into an abandoned Underground station. I suppose it’s a precaution, were some Muggle with sinus problems to make it past the stench. However, with three taps from Oliver’s wand on a lone flickering lamp, the scene vanishes like a puff of smoke. I try to look nonchalant, as though I’d seen it a thousand times. It’s difficult, though, when the smoke disappears to reveal a golden lift engraved with peacocks and crescent moons.

Oliver gestures for me to step inside. I do, smoothing my hair as he follows suit. The door glides shut without a sound, enclosing us in the small space. Hanging from the ceiling are two velvet handles, not unlike those on the Knight Bus for standing passengers.

“Name, please,” comes a cool female voice, though we’re alone.

“Oliver Wood?” For some reason, I’m struck by the way his tone raises uncertainly.

There is a moment’s pause and Oliver grasps one of the velvet handles. I eye the one hanging before me in blatant confusion. Then the lift plunges down as though the cable had been severed. I shriek, and I think my feet even leave the floor. It feels like we’re falling forever, though Oliver is standing comfortably as if on solid ground—the cords must be enchanted.

The lift comes to an abrupt halt, and I barely keep from toppling over in my wobbly heels. Bracing myself with both hands, chest heaving, I dare a glance in Oliver’s direction.

“You’re sure you’ve been here before?” he says smartly.

“It’s these shoes,” I fire, but his comment is completely forgotten when the door opens.

Stepping into The Hanging Moon is how I imagine entering Narnia to be. Although after a moment it becomes clear that we’re deep underground, at first glance I would never have known. The whole restaurant is one giant room, with soaring ceilings like a cathedral. The natural black stones of the cavern have been polished smooth and flat. Raw chunks of quartz crystal jut out in odd places, and thousands of flickering candles rest in niches carved into the walls. The bottom floor boasts a sleek black bar, filled with multi-colored bottles. Craning my neck, I count at least three tiers with tables that circle along the walls, though the center is left open. I see clearly the restaurant’s namesake: a giant full moon bewitched to hang under the ceiling.

“Your coat?” Oliver says for what doesn’t sound like the first time. He’s standing at a desk, where a smiling young witch stands.

“Ah. Right-o,” I say stupidly and remove my coat—also borrowed from Lisa. From the corner of my eye I swear Oliver is glancing over my green dress.

“It’s all right, most people are a bit gawky on their first visit,” the witch says pleasantly. I distinctly hear Oliver snort, but when I shoot him a look his attention is elsewhere.

A wizard probably in his sixties makes his way towards us, dressed in fine robes and a wide smile. He has a full head of white hair, and his olive skin is surprisingly youthful. I wonder if good genes or Potox Potions are responsible.

“Mister Wood!” he says in a Spanish accent. He and Oliver exchange firm handshakes. “So good to see you. It’s been some time. Will the lovely Miss Ada be joining you this evening?”

With all my worrying, I’d almost forgotten my true purpose for being here. But now I feel my journalism senses tingling. Ada? Could this finally be some information on Wood’s romantic life?

He tenses slightly, “I’m afraid not tonight, Mr. Herrera.”

The wizard, who I’m assuming owns the restaurant, looks at me. “Ah, I see.”

There is a moment of silence while somehow-still-socially-awkward-celebrity Oliver doesn’t think to introduce us. I’m being sized up; studied for any evidence of poverty. I want to crawl under something and hide. Dean was wrong; I don’t blend in here.

At last Herrera clasps his hands together. “Well! It’s a pleasure to see you. Our hostess will direct you to your table.” He shakes Oliver’s hand again, “Please give Miss Ada my regards.”

This time I definitely see it: at the mention of her name, Oliver flicks his eyes at me. There’s something he doesn’t want me to know. But then he’s offering a tight smile to Herrera, “Of course.”

As we climb the spiral staircase, I train my eyes on Oliver’s back. I’ll have to think of a casual way to mention this Ada as the interview goes on. But it’s going to be tricky. Especially if he’s read the first article by now—but there’s no way in Azkaban I’m asking him.

A server passes, coming down the stairs with a tray of champagne flutes. The bubbles rise from the glasses and into the air where they pop in a small fireworks display. I’ve never seen anything like it, and wonder if that’s the bottle that costs Lisa and Justin’s rent. Then it hits me. I know exactly how I’ll get the information out of Wood: by using alcohol against him.

It’s not the nicest scheme I’ve devised. But I hadn’t, for one moment, confused my anxiety about slapping him with sympathy. He still acted like a fool. He’s been a fool since the moment I’ve met him. And I want—no, need—to expose him for what he is. I may not earn readers’ sympathy for our history: from the way he behaved at the pub, to how he cost me my job. But surely they’ll want to know why he didn’t donate to St. Mungo’s.

We’re directed to a small table on the second tier, almost eye-level with the enormous moon. The host waves her wand at the table, and the cursive Oliver Wood floating in the air disappears. I recall the way he said his own name in the lift; his unsure tone.

We settle into our chairs and I release a quiet breath. If I’m going to make him talk, I’ll need to make him feel comfortable. I’ll need to stop being so snarky, temperamental or quick to judge—basically I’ll need a complete change in personality.

“Swanky,” I cast an impressed glance around.

He merely nods, looking as though he were waiting for something. Then I realize what it is: he wants an apology. Oh Merlin, I am not good with those. But I can’t walk away from this empty-handed.

“Listen, Wood,” I say impatiently. He furrows his brows and I try again, more gently, “Erm. About what happened last night. Do you... do you remember?”

He snorts, “Yes, I recall everything, thank you.”

“Right. Well, I certainly feel like I overreacted.” He seems unimpressed, and I take a deep breath. “It’s just that... I spent my whole life taking care of those boys, and seeing that they stayed out of trouble, and that they grew up with the right morals. And I know they’re grown men now. I know I can’t be in control of everything. But I spent so long having to be in control that it’s just hard to shake off sometimes. My dad left when I was six, and I had to take his place--”

Oliver’s eyebrows are knit again, though this time it looks like concern. I’m babbling. “Well. The point is, I’m really sorry. I was completely out of line, and...violence is never the answer!” I finish lamely, complete with fist-pump.

He’s silent, smiling at me. At last he says, “Well I probably did deserve it. Apology accepted.” He offers me a hand. After a moment I accept it and grin despite myself.

“And speaking of apologies,” he leans back in his chair, “I suppose that’s why I actually brought you here tonight.”

“Oh?”

“I wanted to get you alone—for the sake of your job,” he adds hastily. “Rose and I got to have a long talk at the pub the other night, but you haven’t had a go at a decent interview yet.”

“Oh, it’s no problem. The first interview was… fine.”

“That was an awful lie, but I appreciate the gesture.”

“Actually,” I begin. He waits patiently while I try to find a professional way of phrasing a lie, “it’s just me writing the article now. Rose has been… reassigned.”

There. Rose won't risk looking like a fool and trying to convince him that I was lying; it's not worth the trouble. That should keep her out of the way of my interviews.

“Well, anyway,” he gestures around the expanse of the room. “I want to make up for the first interview, as my formal apology. Well, for that and… every other interaction, which I’ve managed to muck up.”

I titter nervously. He’s doing it again; trying to be charming. There is a moment of silence and he says, “So… this will make the second article you’re writing?”

“Yes,” I say carefully.

“I don’t believe that many people would care to read three entire articles about me. Your boss must be mental.”

I try to come up with something clever to say, but end up with an indecipherable murmur. I’m waving my hands and blinking a lot. Pretty sure I look like a cat swatting at a string. What the hell is wrong with me?

“So the first article was well-received, then?”

“You haven’t read it?” I try to sound casual, but my voice is cracking like a prepubescent boy’s.

Oliver shakes his head. “I don’t fancy reading my own publicity. It’s a bit weird. Especially the kind of stuff that Witch Weekly usually publishes, about ‘rippling abdominals’ and such. No offense.”

“None taken.”

He grins. “Why, is your article any good?”

“Nope!” I quip, “It’s rubbish, actually. Well I could use a drink.” I snatch up a menu.

“Oh, thank God,” he sighs. “It’s always so uncomfortable when the interviewer doesn’t drink. I’m too nervous without one.”

“Trust me,” I murmur, “you’re not the only one.” But he must hear it, because he smiles to himself. A very well-mannered waiter with good hair comes to take our orders. When I ask for a Peverell Porter, Wood looks impressed and asks for the same.

“That’ll put some hair on your chest,” he says when the server disappears.

A laugh escapes me and I make some vapid comment about it being my favourite beer. For a moment I sit awkwardly, in my natural state, before recalling that I’m supposed to be getting the dirt on his personal life.

Take a step back, I remind myself. This is how he does it; he charms the reporters and they overlook everything he’s done in the past.

If only I had somehow taken a Polyjuice Potion and transformed into Lisa… I’d have him eating out of the palm of my hand. But I suppose I’ll have to work with what I’ve got: my wits and a personal vendetta. Not that either of those are helpful.

The waiter returns with our beers and Oliver thanks him quietly. After taking a sip, he says, “No quill and parchment tonight?”

As it so happens, I am in the process of reaching into my shoulder-bag for said materials. But I stop when my fingers brush against the silver recording orb. An idea crosses me; the very same one I had at his first interview. It’s sneaky. But I’ve done it before… and shouldn’t he know that anything he says tonight is on the record?

I hope the candlelight is illuminating me in a flattering way, and not as though I were narrating a ghost story. “No quill or parchment. I thought we could have it a bit more informal.”

I set the little silvery ball in my lap, tapping it with my finger. It whirs to life, pulsing with a soft silvery glow. Oliver seems oblivious enough, politely awaiting my questions.

Releasing a long breath, I look directly into the eyes of the man across from me. This is the man who punched out a stranger; who kissed me without asking; who refused to donate a fraction of his millions to children in need; who knows nothing about the political state of the Wizarding world; who was the reason I lost my job. I look directly into his eyes and raise my glass.

“Cheers to Puddlemere,” I say.

He grins. “To Puddlemere.”

Clink.

Oliver Wood, you are going down.



Author's Note: So there's the interview part one! I just couldn't fit it all into one chapter; I feel like there's been so little time spent together just the two of them. I didn't want to gloss over anything. Also, I don't own C.S. Lewis's Narnia. Also, Potox was a jab at Botox injections.

So, what do you guys think? Does anyone dislike Edie yet? She's definitely on her high horse. Please feel free to leave your thoughts, I absolutely love to hear back from you guys. As always, thank you for reading.

Another lovely chapter image by inspector. at TDA ♥


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