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Chapter 6 : Lynch, Steele And Lloyd
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Warning: Two characters mention a drug as a part of a joke, but they do not use it.
A/N: So, yup, I had to write that warning, just in case. But it’s all done in a light mood, so I hope it doesn’t prevent you from reading. After all, here’s where you’ll learn about Albus’ true reason for not taking Tatum to the wedding. ;) Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not and never will be mine.
Once again, Ash is staring at me from the entrance of my room, her hands crossed tightly over her chest.
I sigh, a little unnerved. „What?“
„He’s cute, you know.“ Her face remains blank, like most times, but I sense a smile in her voice.
„You don’t say?“ I smirk, debating with myself weather to zip or unzip my light leather jacket.
Ash appears slightly surprised by my words.
„I’m not blind, Ash.“ I roll my eyes. „But he’s got too much potential to reduce him to just looks.“
„Too much potential for what?“
I finally face her completely, a little annoyed. „Go on, tell me what you’re really thinking.“
Ash takes in my look, nodding. „You put real effort into it. You never cared much for how you dress. Until two days ago. Until you started hanging out with Albus Potter, that is.“
„So...“ She takes a deep breath. „I think you like him more than you let yourself admit.“
„He’s a friend, Ash. I’m not messing this up.“
„You mean like you messed up your friendship with James by falling in love with him?“
I frown. „What is this, an interrogation day?“
Ash nears me and unzips my jacket, leaving my decollate free from any fabric shields.
„It’s an even if I don’t want to admit it, I care about you day.“ She finally smiles and turns me to the mirror once again, fixing my hair a bit. „Just promise me this. Even if you dare to let your walls fall down again, don’t blame yourself this time around.“
With that, she leaves me to stare at my reflection. My body seems somewhat foreign, what with being in a pair of skinny black jeans and a low cut silver shirt. A strange feeling creeps from the pit of my stomach.
Damn you, Ash! I was perfectly happy being completely care free. And I still don’t exactly know what she wants me to do. What, fall in love with Albus? I can’t do that! Well, ok, I could. But there’s still this one huge idiot who won’t let me, whom Ash seems to have forgotten. James Sirius Potter. The bane of my existence. And, sadly, still the only guy who makes my legs turn into jelly even without that dreaded hex.
But there’s no more time to ponder, since I hear the door bell. Taking a last glance at the mirror, I head out to greet Albus. But when I open the door...
...I am almost strangled with Willow’s embrace.
„Oh my Merlin!“ I return the favour.
The noises we make are loud enough for Ash to creep out of her room again. Willow positively squeals upon spotting her. Yes, Ash and Willow dig each other annoyingly much. I guess it’s inevitable, what with both of them judging me constantly. I suppose that’s how most people in my life bond and more so with each other than me, of course. I really do need Albus in my life, don’t I?
Just when I think about him, he apparates in front of the still open door.
„Oh, bad timing?“ He asks.
Willow turns to me, her eyes as big as those of an owl.
„I don’t know if you remember, this is Willow Lynch, my best friend from Hogwarts.“
Albus takes her hand and shakes it lightly with a smile. „I do remember you, actually. We were in the same house, after all.“
See? Albus is nothing like his brother. He actually remembers people. Even those he never spoke to, I presume.
Willow is giving me the look, throughout. The what is the meaning of this look.
„Maybe we should postpone our date?“ Al suggests.
„Date?“ Willow almost shrieks, but Ash shakes her head in warning, thankfully, so it comes out as a slightly load question.
„It’s just a friendly hang out.“ I roll my eyes.
„Oh, no. Don’t postpone it.“ Will quickly adds. „It’s not like I just got here. But Albus did and you shouldn’t make him wait, that’s rude.“
She laughs and pats my back forcefully.
„But what about your suitcase?“ Albus teases about the big yellow case sitting on the floor, implying he’s well aware that Willow did indeed just arrive.
„Oh, that.“ She stares at it dumbly for a moment before her Ravenclaw brain produces a believable answer. „Just got back from my boyfriend’s flat. Yup, I always take a tone of lingerie since that’s what makes him-“
„All right, I think we heard enough about it.“ I shove Willow inside and take my place beside Albus.
If this is what she wants, then I won’t protest.
After a quick goodbye, Albus and I are gone. We apparate to The Mayflower again to what I frown. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best pubs I’ve been to. But I feel like this is his and Emma’s place and I’m a whole other person. I don’t want to be a replacement, even if that’s what Al has on mind. I want to be... well, me.
I squeeze his hand once again and he narrows his eyes at me. „Can I take you to my favourite bar, instead?“
He smiles. „What am I to expect?“
„Oh... a little bit of crazy, I guess.“
He nods, as if that doesn’t surprise him at all.
We appear in a small corridor, once again, sheltered by darkness, mere seconds later. When I lead him out, we end up standing in front of a three story building.
„The Sir Richard Steele?“ Albus reads the sign. „I’ve never been here before.“
„Curious. It’s one of the most popular London pubs.“ I tease him to what he rolls his eyes.
I lead him inside, leaving the red and white facade behind.
„Well... this is... random.“ He comments upon inspecting the interior.
I giggle. „Spot on observation.“
I run to the spot next to the stairs, in the right corner, shielded by a shelf covered in books and a few photos. Next to the wooden settle there’s an old fireplace that doesn’t currently work. Actually, the coziest spot in the entire pub.
I plop myself down just below the stairs and Albus takes the seat next to me, nodding. „I approve.“
„I didn’t expect anything less.“
He takes a second to observe the paintings on the ceiling, clearly not over with analyzing the place.
„It’s so old and quirky. Plus the books. Totally you.“
„Hey, you know me for less than a week. How would you know what’s totally me?“ I mock him slightly.
„You’re not that hard to figure out, Tate.“
„I beg to differ.“ I cross my arms, slightly offended, since, after all, I take pride in being a mysterious, brooding Slytherin. „Urgh, and don’t call me Tate.“
„Then how should I call you?“ He completely ignores my protests about being dubbed easily understood.
„Jill. It’s my middle name.“
„No...“ Al frowns. „I want to have a special nickname for you.“
„Because I’m your special buddy?“ I laugh before realizing exactly what I just uttered. „I mean...“
His eyes lit up suddenly. „That’s it.“
„Ty?“ I ponder. „I can deal with that. What should I call you, then? I need a special nickname for you, as well.“
He stares at me intently for a moment, expecting who knows what, and that’s when it comes to me. „Verdant!“
„As in... green?“
„Yes but it also means being inexperienced. So... green for your eyes and inexperienced for, well... that’s self explanatory. And I’m shortening it to Ver.“ I smile proudly.
„I’m not inexperienced.“ He huffs.
„Sorry, but didn’t you tell me it was Emma who took you to pubs to begin with? Besides, I don’t recall any of your girlfriends or notable troubles in your life, considering you’re a Potter. You’ve only ever had a sheltered life.“ I prattle, until I grasp the magnitude of my own words.
Then I stop, mortified I’m already about to lose him as a potential friend. Which, considering my track, isn’t too strange.
„I’m sorry. I went too far. I do that sometimes. Ok, a lot. But...“
„Shhh, Ty.“ He puts a suiting hand on my back. „You don’t have to apologize. Nor should you. Not with me, at least. I like that you say what’s on your mind. Especially if it’s true.“
I observe him, staying silent for once.
„I’ve been holding back my whole life. Seemed much easier. Since... in the rare occasions I did open up, I ended up hurting people or getting hurt myself. I’m not very good at socializing. Even with Emma...“
He makes a pause and I urge him to continue, not letting him know that the other Potter boy already filled me in. „What happened with Emma?“
He looks at me, hesitating, and then sips a bit of his beer. Hey, cut the guy some slack, it’s Sunday.
„It’s good for you, you know. To talk about it.“
He nods, sighing, understanding exactly what I mean. But that doesn’t prevent him from being slightly infirm.
Nevertheless, he speaks up again.„I met her at my Healer studies. Well, our Healer studies. She was training to be one, as well. Bright young witch. Talented beyond belief. I knew immediately I wanted to befriend her. Just like I did with you. You both have... something that instantly pulls me in.“
I smile contently. „What is that?“
Albus ponders about it for a moment. „I don’t know... There’s an air of... joy surrounding you, I guess.“
I burst into laughter.
„What?“ He smiles, confused by my reaction.
„It’s just... Willow always told me I was crazy. Mum and dad constantly tell me I’m too pushy. And Ash thinks I’m beyond lazy. Are you sure you have the right idea of me?“
„Oh, but it’s not an idea. It’s a deep feeling that goes beyond mere surface. You have gaiety in you, lots of it. You’re just not aware of it because... maybe you’ve been too focused on the negative aspects of your life to see just how many things there are to be gleeful about. But you’ll eventually let go of it, the resentment, I mean.“
I stare at him, my mouth hanging open dumbly. „That’s... somewhat accurate.“
He rolls his eyes, clearly full of himself. „Please, I know I’m spot on. I have a sixth sense about people. That’s why I want to befriend you. And that’s why I wished to do the same with Emma. We were partners for the whole course of our studies. And so we established a great bond. But... Emma saw something more in it. A possibility for a love that I couldn’t offer to her. Not then, anyway.“
„But why?“ I whisper.
This is something James didn’t tell me about. This is something that would also explain why I never heard of Albus’ love life before. It has to be a disillusion of some sort. It always is, isn’t it?
He turns to gaze at me softly. „I was already in love.“
„And not with her.“ I whisper.
„And not with her.“ He repeats, bowing slowly.
We stay silent for a moment, both looking out the window to our right, watching the busy people flee down the street. I feel strangely calm, as if Albus’ confession has made me closer to him in a way that requires no words.
Still, he decides to offer them. „You won’t ask me who she is?“
I shrug. „I don’t think I need to know.“
He smiles at me with clear admiration but goes on to further explain regardless. „I have known her since we were children. But it wasn’t until Hogwarts that I fell in love with her. First year, Potions class. I guess it’s part of the reason why I pursued the Healer career. I always associated potions with happiness after that.“
„Do you still...“ My voice breaks slightly.
I think I’m hoping he says yes, so that we have another bond: irrationally long crushes on people who ignore us.
„She got married a few days ago.“ He just says, trying hard not to rift.
And that’s when everything clicks in my mind.
„Oh, Merlin, will she be there as well? Is she one of the guests along with her husband!?“
Albus turns his head from the window to my wide open eyes once more, a sorrowful gleam in his emerald pair. „I thought she was off on her honeymoon. So I gladly accepted to be your companion. But then I accidentally heard her... heard them talking to Rose about postponing their trip in her honour. And I just... I’m sorry I didn’t tell you immediately. But I wanted to keep it to myself. And that’s easier achieved if I stay alone. I can get lost from the wedding effortlessly only if I have no duties to a consort. I can vanish as soon as the I do’s are over. So I’m not forced to spend time with her... I won’t be able to handle it, not now that she’s married.“
He takes a moment to regain himself before adding. „Besides... I really think the other stuff is true, as well, that Rose will want to pair us up.“
I take his hand gently to what he almost pulls away, surprised by the touch.
„I wasn’t keen on going to the wedding myself. Part of the reason being Rose. But the rest...“ I gaze up at his curious face. „We’re in similarly shitty situations, Pot.“
My eyes then suddenly fill with delight. „Merlin, it was right there! The most perfect nickname ever. Pot for pothead!“
I sit back, laughing uncontrollably. The waiter eyes me from the bar suspiciously.
Albus, on the other hand, shakes his head in amusement. „See. Goes straight from being miserably in love to joking about marijuana smokers. That’s the reason why I want to be friends with you. By the way, that’s a really old jest. Even I, as someone who has less contact with the Muggle culture than you, know that.“
„Whatever, Pot. Hand me that beer.“
„You’re not really sticking to calling me that, are you?“
„Watch me, Pot.“
„I’ll come up with a more offensive nickname, too.“
„Pot isn’t offensive. It’s fun.“
„Well, then, I’ll just call you Ward, because you’re certifiably insane so it suits. Plus, it’s a part of your surname, as well.“ He smirks at me, not letting go.
„Drop it, Pot. You can’t out wit a Slytherin.“
„I think I already did. Multiple times.“
„I’m sorry.“ We turn to the disturbed face of our waiter now standing right above us. „Our other guests are bothered by you.“
„It’s the pot, isn’t it? Or the ward? Or both?“ I wonder.
„No... just... you two in general.“
The next thing I know we’re outside laughing.
„Merlin, that was diverting!“ Albus stops enough to utter this and breath a little.
I smirk at him.
„Want to do that in some other pubs, as well?“
He takes a look at his clock. „We have around two more hours before I have to meet Rose about another emergency. I seriously hate the W.E.T. person badge.“
„That’s more than enough.“ I search for his palm, giddy. „Let’s go!“
And so, we disappear from the Belsize Park to another part of London, looking to wreak havoc and have some much needed fun along the way.
„So... that was fun.“ Albus smiles at me, after we apparate in front of my door.
I nod happily, agreeing.
There’s a short silence interrupted by him again, his voice now determined. „You know what... Let’s go to the wedding together, after all.“
I frown at him. „What?“
„I know, I know. Now I have no excuses for being compared to a whiny teenager anymore. It’s just... If it was anyone else, it would be easier going alone. But... You’re... Someone who insists on calling me Pot, can’t hold a beer and speaks Spanish when drunk. I think, no matter what... We can help each other out on that wedding. We can survive it together.“ He smiles at me and I do, as well.
„El placer seria mia.“
He leans in and kisses my cheek. „I hope you didn’t return the dress.“
„I didnt. I guess I was planning to crash the wedding on my own, anyway.“ I wink as he takes a step back.
He gazes at me for a moment before continuing. „Thanks for the date.“
And with a cheeky grin he’s off, leaving me alone in the corridor.
I open the door only to hit Willow in the face, since she’s obviously been listening to us pressed on it.
„Oh, I’m sorry!“ I crouch down next to her, as she covers her nose with her palm, blood streaming from it.
„It’s all right. I did stick it where it didn’t belong, anyway.“
I help her up and she performs the Episkey spell with her wand. It takes her about a second to beam again and pull me down on the couch.
„Now you owe me the story, from start to end. All of it.“
„You just said you deserved the hit in the face.“
„Don’t test me, Kenward!“
I sigh. „Fiiiiine.“
At this point Ash walks in, as well, levitating a chocolate muffin for each of us. Sitting down, they both face me in anticipation. Well, Ash doesn’t show it as much, but it’s there. I can practically smell it.
„I don’t really know what you want me to say.“
So I tell them.
By the end of the story Ash has made even more muffins and the two of them have eaten about a dozen each, making ah and oh sounds along the way.
„Why is it that the most interesting things happen when I’m not around?“ Will sighs.
„Because you’re constantly away.“ I retort, without trying to make it seem as if I’m accusing her. „Besides, you sometimes do stumble upon them. Like today.“
„Or the last time.“ Willow casts a timid look in Ash’s direction, who’s clearly desperate to avoid her gaze.
The twentieth of December, 2027
I was trying to produce a bearable article for the worst column I had written for and I had written some serious crap in my short journalistic life. Namely, Spells and food: How to seduce him with your magical cooking. I didn’t even know how to make a decent sandwich, so that says it all. To add to the disaster, that’s when my boss, Blossom White, decided to make herself present in my abnormally small office. I greeted my teeth at her pink nails, which she had stuck somewhere in her large bundle of curly red hair, as to rearrange it somehow.
„How is it going, sweetie pie?“
I know, I know. I shouldn’t hate on someone who insists calling people pies, ’cause she probably didn’t know any better. But for me, that was the exact reason I couldn’t stand her and that overly sweet voice of hers.
„Fine.“ I managed to force a smile, which probably just made me look like a crazy person.
„Oh, good. Because I was wondering if you could take some time to go with me to visit my mother this afternoon. I could use company.“
That’s another reason why I detested Blossom White. I was sort of her escort and unable to refuse in fear of being fired. She prevented me from having a personal life of my own! Not that she was the sole responsible for that, but still. I stood by my point.
But my mouth was left hanging open since my answer was cut off by Willow popping in, her face pale and covered in a disturbed expression.
„I promise, I will apparate in front of your door from now on.“ She went on to hug me.
„Oh, dear, did you find a dead body in her flat?“ This was Blossom’s first idea at that statement.
Why would she let someone she felt could have a dead body inside her flat go see her ill mother? Or... maybe she hoped I would slip more sleeping potion than it was allowed in her mother’s drink instead of her. Why yes, my mind was a dark place.
I threw Will a pleading look so she would save me from my misery and, thankfully, she understood. „Oh, yes. It was dreadful. A man tried to break in but her room mate fought him and... It was her first Avada and she’s still under shock and... She really needs you, Jill.“
„Oh, Merlin! Go, Tatum, go!“ My boss shrieked.
„But what about your mother?“ I added, just for fun.
„She’ll live.“ Blossom said with a tone that wasn’t too cheerful.
See? I wasn’t imagining it, she really did hate her mother.
Willow and I stumbled outside and, on a safe distance, I burst into laughter.
„Right. Laugh all you want. I’m still not apparating directly to your flat anymore.“ Willow cut me off darkly.
„Oh, Merlin. What did you find in there?“
„I don’t want to talk about it.“ She avoided my gaze.
Later on I found out that she caught Ash and her then shag, Tom Whatshisname, in a very disturbing activity.
„I wish it was sex.“ Willow almost sobbed.
„Oh, shut up.“ Ash rolled her eyes.
„Come on, will you two ever tell me what it was?“
„NO!“ They shrieked at the same time.
„I find that utterly discriminating.“ I huffed, offended.
But despite being totally unfair to me, Willow did save my arse from Blossom White and her mother. After that, boss distanced herself from me, which didn’t do wonders for my killer theory, but made me endlessly happy, anyway.
It also marked the beginning of Willow’s apparating outside the flat policy and an end to all her awkward encounters upon arriving to visit us based inside of our apartment.
„I still think it’s bonkers you won’t tell me what it was they were doing.“ I cross my arm and frown at Willow.
„Trust me, it’s better you stay in the dark with this one.“ She shudders.
Darn it, why do I always seek out what is bad for me? Is that just basic human nature?
I end up going to sleep pretty late that night, what with the excitement over Willow coming to visit after nine months, Ash supplying us with muffins to a point of not being able to breath from eating so much and thinking about Albus’ secret love.
And with his silly grin making itself comfortable in my mind, I finally drift off.
Monday morning. The worst thing after James Potter. Because, you know what he did? He brought his mate Wood along to show him where he works and they’re currently making fun of our office. Of my sanctuary.
His father may be a Quidditch god, but Liam Wood is far from being worth of admiration.
„And Kenward, you remember her.“
Wood narrows his eyes at me, humming. „No. I can’t place her.“
„Probably the only girl you didn’t snog.“ James supplies oh so nicely.
„Why, because you did?“ Wood asks, curious.
„Oh, Merlin, no.“ James laughs.
I then point my wand to his chest, unnerved. „One more word and I’ll Langlock you.“
„Is that some kind of spell?“ He wonders, unfazed.
I sigh deeply and lay my wand back on the table, murmuring under my breath. „Peasants.“
„Anyway, let’s see the roof again, it’s brilliant up there.“ James chooses to ignore my whispering.
„Not so fast, James.“
I look up to see Mrs Potter frown at her son and his mate and I beam gratefully.
„You two need to come with me.“
Potter and Wood near her but she stops them. „Not you, Liam. Go home.“
He shrugs and the two boys perform a complicated hand shake. „I’ll see you later, then?“
„This time you buy the pizza.“ James instructs before Wood is gone.
Mrs Potter takes us to a big hall on the second floor, that’s already filled with dozens of people. I’ve never actually been here before so the magnitude of the room amazes me. It’s so bright, as well, unlike most of Daily Prophet’s offices. The people are starting to take places at one single table, its length being some kind of a record, I’m positive.
„What’s this about?“ James asks his mother.
„We’re getting a new Chief today so you better behave.“
She instructs us to sit at two stools which are as far away from the door as possible. It’s inconvenient since the speaker is at the opposite side of the room.
Thankfully, he magnifies his voice. „Thank you all for coming. As most of you already know, our beloved Chief Lee has passed away.“
James and I share a perplexed look.
„Mum, why didn’t you...“
„Shhh.“ She hushes us so we return to listening.
„ And though we’re in pain over this great loss, we need another person to lead us. Today, we decided who that’s going to be. Dear colleagues, I present to you your new Chief Editor, Miss Sunshine Lloyd.“
My mouth falls open in shock. And I’m not the only one. Confused looks are shared when a petite, black haired girl walks into the room. Even though she’s in a working suit, black of course, she still doesn’t seem older than seventeen. The only thing different is that her hair is long enough for it to be tied in an surprisingly elegant ponytail.
„Thank you, Dorian.“ She salutes the man who introduced her mere seconds ago with her magnified voice, as well.
Then she turns to us, the employees. „Not quite what you excepted, I believe. But if you ask me, it’s time to shake things up a little around here. Wouldn’t you agree? Although I don’t dispute Mr Lee’s vision about this paper, I have my own ideas and I know you’ll enjoy them. Don’t worry, I have enough experience to carry them out.“
I immediately remember our last talk from when I met her at Witch Weekly. Back then I was someone who desperately wanted to get a job there, as well. So I fought for an interview. Oh, had I known Blossom would take over just a few months later, I don’t think I’d ever set my foot there.
I was sitting primly on my chair, waiting for my interviewer to arrive, all the while stealing glances at the office. It was well lit, spacious and filled with newspapers. I could only dream of working in a place like this. So, all right, I knew it was Witch Weekly, but when you’re coming from Daisy’s Daisies (Don’t ask.) everything is a treat. And Daily Prophet just seemed like a far away dream at this point.
Finally, the door opened and I heard footsteps behind me.
„Miss... No way!“
I turned around to see Sunshine Lloyd gape at me. She looked the same, dark baggy clothes, dark make up and long messy hair, her golden-hazel eyes being the only bright detail on her entire petite body.
„Chief?“ I stared at her. „Well, this is a surprise.“
She offered me a brief hug, which was significant coming from her, and sat at her spot opposite me. „Is it, really?“
I smiled. „Well, since you’re once again in a superior position, I guess not.“
She tried not to laugh at the jab. „So, you’ve decided to pursue journalism as well, I see?“
„Guilty as charged.“ I smirk. „Mostly because I’m not good at anything else.“
Sunshine nodded. „I concur.“
There was a short moment of silence before she spoke again. „Sooo... you want to work here?“
„Yes, I do.“
She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at me. „Look, Kenward, I’ll do this just because I somewhat like you. Don’t.“
„Don’t what?“ I was confused.
„Don’t become employed here.“ She frowned at me.
„I don’t understand...“
„Trust me, this is the place people come to when they’re desperate. And what do you get when you gather so many desperate people at one place?“
„A frickin’ hell hole!“ She leaned over the desk and looked straight into my eyes. „Run while you still can.“
Suddenly, a knock was heard and a pretty blond girl peeked in. „Miss Lloyd, Chief wants to see you.“
She sighed. „Fine, I’m coming.“
The girl disappeared quickly enough.
„Should’ve used Muffliato as a precaution. I never learn.“ Sunshine whispered more to herself than me. „Look, come back tomorrow. If you still want to work here, I’ll hire you. But, promise me this, you’ll think it through.“
„I will.“ I lied.
I needed that job! I couldn’t just stay where I was for years to come. As absurd as it sounded, Witch Weekly was a step up in my career. And Sunshine Lloyd wasn’t going to scare me off. For all I knew, she saw me as a rival and wanted me to stay away from her.
Why do I never listen, Merlin?!
I came back tomorrow, of course. Sunshine wasn’t there anymore. Apparently, her boss did hear what she was saying to me (Later, I found out they had Weasley extended ears placed everywhere!) and she got fired. My new interviewer assured me that Lloyd was insane and that I would enjoy working with them profoundly. So I accepted.
And that’s how I got stuck there for three more years.
Sunshine, on the other hand, appears to have made the best of her term of notice. That girl is pure ambition.
In one quick moment she looks over to me and I wave.
„I have to go.“ James announces and leaves the room.
Chief (Huh, it seems her nickname will always be appropriate.) takes the chance to near me, instead.
„I swear, it’s like you’re stalking me, Kenward.“
„I could say the same.“ I smile, offering my hand.
She accepts it with a curious look on her face. „Say, wasn’t that James Potter standing by your side erewhile?“
I nod. „Ridiculous, isn’t it?“
„Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see him employed here.“
„He’s just counting his days until he figures out what to do with his life.“ I explain.
„What about Quidditch? I’m sorry, I wasn’t even in the country for the past two years, I’m not familiar with anyone’s whereabouts.“
Out of the country? I should have expected her to go that far.
„He got badly injured. He can’t play anymore.“
„Ah.“ She nods slowly, staring in the direction James ran off with an almost sorrowful expression. „That’s a shame.“
She then turns to me again, her curious gaze back. „What about you? Which department to do work in?“
„I’m Mrs Potter’s assistant.“ I answer proudly. „I want to be a Quidditch journalist one day.“
Sunshine examines me, her lips turned into an amused half smile. „I never took you for a Quidditch kind of person.“
„I wasn’t.“ I retort sincerely. „Not until our seventh year when I took an interest in it... At first it was kind of misplaced, but later on I figured I really do want to write about it.“
Sunshine, well Chief, observes me with care, humming quietly to herself for a while. She’s obviously thinking about my words, but in what way... I’m not really sure.
Suddenly, she instructs me to follow her into her office and I oblige. It’s a luxurious room right next to the one where the announcement was just made. Not to be mistaken for anything else but an office of the person in charge. Chief asks me to sit and I listen to her, making myself comfortable in one of the two chairs opposite her. It feels like I’m floating on a cloud. My bottom has never enjoyed sitting more than now, I must say. All the while, my new boss is looking through some papers, absorbed.
„Look, Kenward.“ Chief suddenly interrupts my thoughts when she gives her paperwork a rest. „Since we can’t seem to shake each other off, what do you think of actually writing about Quidditch under my watch?“
I blink, lost for words until I succeed to utter somehow. „Are you serious?“
„Why not?“ She shrugs. „I believe it’s time young people take matters in their hands around here. It will do wonders for Daily Prophet. I hear it was in quite a rut. No disrespect to Mr Lee, of course, but we can bring back the glory this paper once had. What do you say?“
I blink, still startled. „But what about Mrs Potter?“
„She’ll stay the Senior correspondent, of course, with you becoming her first ancillary. It’s time she starts sharing her knowledge with another journalist. Don’t you think?“
This isn’t the first time I’m being offered a big break, even though you would think that with me being... well, me.
The Fall of 2023
It was early October and my fourth month visiting Mrs Bolt, aka my psychologist. I was sitting back in one of her armchairs, playing with my dark locks, when the woman in question walked in with a big smile on her face.
„I brought you these.“ She offered me a basket of cookies.
„Thanks.“ I bit into one, sighing contently. „So... why did you want to see me?“
It wasn’t my term and we usually stayed faithful to those, so I was a little surprised she called me up.
„I think you’re ready.“ She grinned at me and handed me a piece of paper.
I took it curiously and read what it said.
I looked back up at Mrs Bolt, astounded. „I can’t...“
„Yes, you can, Jill. We’ve figured it out already, remember? Quidditch is something you’d like to write about, no matter how it all started. And Maya is an old friend. She assured me that Quidditch Today is an aspiring paper.“
„It’s not just aspiring. It’s the most famous Quidditch paper in whole England.“ I concluded with a respectful shiver. „That’s why I can’t accept it.“
Mrs Bolt eyed me for a moment, curious. „I hope this is not because you still plan to carry that scheme out.“
I bit my lip. „No. I just... I’m not prepared to jump into it so fast. I need to build up to it. I really do need the experience. I don’t know if you understand.“
Mrs Bolt took the card back, smiling. „I do. I just hope you’re doing this for the right reasons.“
„Don’t worry, I am.“
I wasn’t. Not then, at least. It was too soon after graduation and I was still very much hurt. I wanted to have my revenge, whatever that meant.
I smile at Chief, a determined look in my eyes. „I could handle that.“
She puts her small hand on my shoulder, a reassuring glint in her bright eyes. „And this time no one’s getting fired. Well, maybe except James.“
We snicker at that, before she leads me out to show me my new office.
A/N: The next chapter is probably my favourite among those I have already written, so I recommend that you don’t miss it. ;)
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