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The Art of Small Talk by patronus_charm
Chapter 6 : Papa-Paparazzi
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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Chapter 6 - Papa-Paparazzi

I immediately break apart from Oliver, because even if the kiss is proving to be enjoyable (or very enjoyable if you want my honest opinion), having my eyes blinded is probably a much more serious issue and one that I have to deal with. Turning my head away from his face, another flash of white burns into my eyes while I voice begins to speak. Fuck. What’s going on? Is the world ending? Is this it?

‘So Oliver, you kept this relationship on the down-low. Care to give the Daily Owl an inside scoop?’ Rita Skeeter calls out. About fifty feet in the air, she’s balanced upon a broom, green quill poised, parchment at the ready, her eyes staring beadily at the pair of us. She’s clearly after gossip then, so one could say the world is ending. Well, the world is ending for me as I have no hope of a normal life now.

‘Yes, I have kept it quiet, and don’t you think there was a reason for that?’ Oliver growls, breaking out of the hug and squaring up to Rita. ‘I don’t want to give you an inside scoop and I never will. I don’t want to destroy my own life, after all.’

‘Ooh, someone’s in feisty mood today, Oliver! Who even is she? Can you tell us that or will we have to guess?’ Rita’s eyes focus on me, the beetle green eye flickering back and forth between us, the only thing lessening her gaze is her long eyelashes falling in front of her pupil making the gaze slightly less scary.

‘No, I’m not planning on telling you. Given how you like to twist the truth, I’m sure you’ll end up with a name for her any moment now.’ Oliver lets out a sigh before scrunching up his face. ‘Please leave, Skeeter. This is a private box. Go away before someone makes you.’

At this point, George and Angelina walk over with George’s hand resting dangerously on his wand and Angelina’s face bearing a very great resemblance to someone on the brink of committing a murder. At least the feeling in regards to Rita is mutual among us all.

‘But what about Penelope Clearwater? That relationship seemed to be so promising. Are you sure there isn’t anything left between the two of you?’

I feel as if something’s disappeared from my stomach. What? Oliver and Penelope? What? How? When did this even happen? That’s why she’s here. Something’s going on between them. Perhaps Oliver’s dating both of us. Oh shit. What have I gone and got myself involved in? No wonder she hates me. Next time, I’m sticking to whoever Verity sets me up with. Gah, my life always seems to be working out and then things like this happen.

‘There is and never was any relationship,’ Oliver spits out. ‘Just lies from you. Let’s go. I'll see you in a bit, George, Angelina.’

With a quick nod to the two of them, Oliver tugs on my arm, leading me away from the pitch and towards the door leading back into the stadium. We carry on walking like this, him tugging on my cloak and me being pulled dolefully along, until we’re safely away from the stand and in some deserted corridor. What to do now? Start yelling at him for never telling me about Penelope and him? Start plotting the death of Skeeter? Start… ok, I’m out of ideas. Hopefully, Oliver has one.

‘I’m sorry about that.’

‘What was that about you and Penelope? Did you date?’

The words come out of my mouth so fast I’m surprised that they even appear there. Oliver’s face scrunches up again. Clearly, a touchy issue.

‘It was ages ago, towards the end of Hogwarts.'

‘Mm, I see…’ I manage to mutter out.

Oliver walks towards me, resting his hand on my arm. ‘Look, Audrey, it was ages ago. Only for a few weeks too. I’m glad that it did end as Penelope’s a nutcase! She never leaves me alone and always knows where to find me even though I never tell her anything. I wish I had never even spoken to her, let alone dated her.’

His grey eyes gaze at me, looking so sincere it’s hard to pull away from them. He does seem as if he may be telling the truth.

‘Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.’

I almost want to kill myself for saying that. I mean, of course it matters otherwise I wouldn’t be considering murdering Skeeter right this second! Rita Skeeter combined with the Daily Owl is possibly the worst combination ever to be dreamt up. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up to find my name splashed across the cover and everyone judging me for kissing him. That’s without even considering the whole Penelope thing and whether I believe what Oliver said about their relationship.

‘Good. I promise it won’t ever happen again, and Penelope won’t be mentioned anymore either.’

I nod my head in response not knowing what to say. This situation is awkward. I glance at Oliver and see that he’s smiling at me. A few seconds later, he leans in, his lips looming in front of my face. I almost think it’s not going to happen until I feel his lips smash against my own, and I’m not too ashamed to say that I respond accordingly. I really am a pushover when it comes to making up with people.

His arm, which had been lying by his side, touches my spine, edging further and further upwards until it reaches my neck and he clasps onto it, pulling me inwards. I feel my fingers begin to twirl around in his head, the odd texture of smooth and not so smooth (terrible use of adjectives but mind is sort of otherwise occupied) wrapping around my finger.

I know I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s a public place. I barely even really know Oliver. I may get caught in an even more compromising situation by Rita Skeeter than before, but I can’t heed to caution, all my mind can think about is Oliver, Oliver, Oliver. Again, I am such a pushover. No matter how many times I say it, it doesn’t make me change the fact of it.

‘What do you want from me, Penelope? I don’t want to talk to you.’

A cry begins to pierce through the kiss, I tug away a little, wanting to know who it is but Oliver’s not so keen on this idea.

‘Audrey,’ he growls, biting down on my lip.

Again, I go against my common sense and ignore the cries. I turn to Oliver who wraps me even closer and carry on kissing him. This reckless side of me is rather shocking if I’m honest, they could be coming round the corner any minute.

‘Percy, please. Listen to me.’

A spatter of footsteps can be heard. Bang, bang, bang, they go, as their feet slap against the hard wooden floor. I'm rather slow though and it takes a while to figure out where they end up.

‘Er, I’m so sorry to have interrupted you,’ Percy Weasley splutters out, his face matching his hair making him look as if he’s got a tomato instead of a head.

Penelope shoots me a scathing look before sliding up to Percy, her hand dangling beside his. ‘Don’t worry about them, Percy. Let’s leave them to it.’

Oliver gives a nervous chuckle but I can’t even muster that. It’s the way he’s looking at me, Percy being the he. The way his eyes are burning with something, pain? Anger? Shock? Laughter? I don’t know but the sight of it makes me want to run for the wind.

Percy gives me one last look, his brown eyes tracing my body as if he’s collecting evidence against me, before he storms off in the other direction leaving Penelope standing there. Surprisingly, she manages to remain silent, only glaring at me before swiftly following Percy. Well, that was weird.

‘I should go, say something,’ I mutter to Oliver.

‘Why? What’s Percy to you?’

‘He’s… Nothing, he’s nothing. I just feel as if I should say something.’

Oliver cups my chin his hands, forcing me to look up at him, but I can only feel my head strain against his hands, trying to follow the route Percy took.

‘Don’t worry about it. Percy’s just a boring old fart who has no idea what fun is.’

I mutter ok, not really caring or wanting to know whether Oliver hears. He must think that everything’s resolved itself as his fingers find themselves behind my cloak, tracing the bare skin of my back.

‘Come on, Audrey. Don’t worry about him. Just forget it.’

I give a small nod, pretending everything’s alright but there just seems to be this feeling, something there which is holding me back.

*


‘Audrey, is he even going to turn up?’ Verity asks, rocking her butter beer back and forth in the palm of her hand. ‘I mean, does he seriously want to meet up with three women who are quite a few years older than him to discuss his love life?’

‘Well, he doesn’t exactly know about the last bit, so I suppose that will make him more inclined to come.’

‘Yes, after seeing how you manage your love life, it would probably put him off,’ Jemima jokes, winking away at me.

I kick her leg under the table, and I’m glad that I aimed correctly when she lets out a yelp of pain. Ever since that article about me and Oliver came out, I haven’t heard the end of it. Granny Lucy keeps up a tornado of owls asking endless questions about the article, then Dad's asking me why I’m being sighted with all these random men. Then there’s Verity who cursed me so explicitly in Mandarin my ears are still hurting from it. Then Jemima thinks for some absurd reason I’m following in her footsteps when it comes to men and says she’s very proud of me.

‘Shut it, Jemima.’

‘Ooh, someone’s touchy. Or maybe not as touchy as Oliver was judging by that purple oval on your neck.’

‘Good one, Jemima!’

‘Thanks, I was rather pleased with it myself.’

I can hear the harsh slap of their palms as they congratulate themselves about how witty they can be at my expense. In times like these, it makes me wonder whether finding new friends would be a good idea simply for peace of mind.

Self-consciously, I adjust my hair to hide the mark. I refuse to call it a lovebite, they just sound childish and considering that I am twenty four years of age, it’s time that I moved on from that sort of stuff. As I’m moving my own dark strands, I look up and notice Draco’s platinum blonde hair light up as he walks in through the door. Oh the irony of him looking like an angel.

I raise my arm and wave it around a little, trying to avoid looking insane (don’t say that’s the story of my life, because I know that already), and he wanders over, pulling up a chair from the table next to us. I’m just about to greet him, when I notice something.

A silence falls in the pub as soon as I think those thoughts. I’m not even joking, and it’s a proper silence too, not one that just lasts for a few seconds before everyone begins talking and laughing again with no care in the world. And I think I might know why it’s suddenly made an appearance.

‘So, Jemima, Verity, this is Draco Malfoy. Draco, these are the friends I told you about.’

The three of them exchange smiles and how do you dos but that still doesn’t cause the silence to go. It’s blindingly obvious too, with only three people talking out of about fifty.

‘Wow, is it a quite night in here or what?’ I exclaim, leaning back in my seat. All I have going round in my head is shit, shit, shit. I honestly didn’t think bringing him to a public place would be an issue given he works in St. Mungo’s and nothing's happened there but I guess I’m wrong.

Hannah, the barmaid, (a new person I’m not so keen on) glares at me before she begins muttering away. ‘Some people ought to have respect. They should remember it only happened a while ago. They should respect the dead.’

The murmurs and whispers grow more and more until they’ve reached a crescendo which becomes hard to ignore. As I’m terrible in these situations, I sit here, mouth clamped shut waiting for someone else to take over. I don’t know what to do. I thought light chit chat would help but it seems as if I made it worse.

Verity slowly eases herself out of her chair and stands, proud and defiant, in front of the others. ‘In case you’ve been wondering, Draco Malfoy has been cleared of all charges. If it wasn’t for his mother, Harry Potter would have died and the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would have conquered us all. Draco didn’t do anything wrong, it’s you who’s causing the wrong by not accepting what the law has to say.’

She glares at everyone for good measure but they’re all too stunned to say anything. I almost want to give her a little clap for that speech she just gave there, and I can feel Jemima’s hands tensing up beside me thinking the same too. I feel so proud of her I almost want to cry. Oh Merlin, I am turning into Granny after all. Soon I'll be putting in curlers in my head before I sleep.

Everyone in the pub sits there for about two minutes (aka – eternity) before a wizened old man stands up and walks towards us. Should I cast a Bubble-Head Charm now to protect me from the tomatoes he’s bound to throw at me or later on? The timing of these is very crucial. Damn, I should stop trying to make the situation all light-hearted when it’s the exact opposite.

‘My wife was killed by the Death Eaters as she was a Muggleborn. I know what evil they did, but I know that evil has gone now so we can believe what the Ministry says about people. I believe that Draco Malfoy is no longer a Death Eater. It’s what the law says, and I go by the law. You can think otherwise but he hasn’t been charged with anything.’

Wow, an innocent night out has turned into a political demonstration with questions over who trusts the Ministry and who doesn’t. It’s all so exciting. Damn it. There I go again. Right, I will prepare some inspiration speech like the old man to support Draco and show what he’s really like.

‘Thank you,’ I hear Draco whisper to the old man who tips his hat in reply before returning to his seat.

We wait for a few moments, wondering if anyone else will come forward with a declaration, but the silence remains, soaking into everything. Oh well, if one person admits that they think Draco shouldn’t be treated as a criminal, I’ll take it as it’s a start, and that’s a lot more than what we had a few minutes ago.

Slowly, (ever so slowly, mind) conversations begin to spring up again allowing Jemima and Verity to really meet Draco.

‘Sorry about my impromptu speech just then, I couldn’t sit there for any longer and let them say those things.’

‘You were a rather good public speaker, Verity,’ I compliment her. ‘I just sat here. Someone needed to do something and you did it. They can’t get away with saying things like that.’

‘Yes, thank you,’ Draco says slowly. ‘No one tends to stand up for me in situations like that, so it was a rather pleasant experience.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘You know, I was speaking to a friend of mine,’ Jemima adds on, ‘Astoria Greengrass, you may know her, and she’s a very old family friend of mine. Anyhow, she says simply because she’s sorted into Slytherin she’s treated like that too. She’s rather the black sheep of her family, if I’m honest, the complete opposite of any of them. She wants to be an artist, who would have thought? Then she’s into all sorts of strange Muggle things such as astrology. You would probably like her, Audrey.’

‘Are you calling me weird?’

‘No, I’m simply saying that you have far too strange obsession with Muggle things. Does she spend all day talking about Muggle things, Draco?’

Draco looks a little startled that he’s been invited into the conversation, but manages to cover it up fairly well. ‘Er, Audrey, has some really interesting ideas about combining Muggle and magical science to make more effective potions, and they have proven to work, so I see nothing wrong with it.’

‘Do you know Astoria, Draco?’ Jemima asks him. She is in a probing mood today.

‘Yes, she was a Slytherin too as you said, and I have met her at a couple of dinner parties and other gatherings. I do know her sister, Daphne, better though as we were in the same year.’

‘Yes, Daphne is such a charm,’ Jemima prattles on. ‘So different to her sister, but then Astoria’s such a charm too. They do get on surprisingly well. Astoria paints for her galley, and Daphne manages it all. Of course the family are distraught to have both daughters rebelling but I recently heard that Daphne is getting married to one Humphrey Warrington so that should smooth things over. Then again, I would be a black sheep to them if they knew what Oscar, her cousin, and I got up to.’

She gives us all a coy look before rocking her head backwards, laughing. Thank goodness, she knows we no longer want the explicit version of her tales because she would have given it to us otherwise.

I breath a sigh of relief. For once, things are working out.
Author's Note: Hello there lovely readers! I apologise profusely for the delay in this chapter, I was way in Italy for ten days which made me out of rhythm with things so that's why it's only just up. Also, the chapter title comes from Lady Gaga's Paparazzi, so all credit to her!

I hope you enjoyed this chapter as there were quite a few plot developments! What do you think Penelope's up to then? And do you think Oliver's all that he seems? Haha, I hope you liked the hints of Astoria/Draco, more and more will appear throughout the story which should be a lot of fun! Thanks for reading, and if you have time, please leave a review as they mean a lot to me! ♥


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