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Chapter 29 : Happy New Year?
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“Oh my god, Edie, you’re alive!”
Seamus leaps from his barstool, toppling it, and bursts into very convincing tears. I’m beetroot from where I stand in the doorway. The barkeep says, “The hell, mate?” and Seamus quickly rights his stool, murmuring an apology, before striding over. We’ve never been very touchy (sober) friends, but it’s been forever, and we crush each other in a hug that is mostly back-slaps.
He holds me at arm’s length, sizing me up. “My child, you’ve grown!” I roll my eyes and he says, “You have, I swear it! You can’t wear heels around me anymore.”
In return I ruffle his hair, which no longer hangs in his eyes. “And you’ve been sheared.”
“Part of the deal, I’m afraid. I can legally Crucio somebody in a foot chase, but I can’t have fringe when I do it.”
“Well, I reckon you need to be able to see who you’re Crucio-ing,” I thump his back. “Congratulations, mate. Let’s get you a drink.”
After ages, I finally swallowed my pride and owled him yesterday. Things have been tense. After the wedding, I didn’t leave with him and Dean, even though it was our first reunion as a triad in months. That, paired with my general shitty friend behaviour, left even happy-go-lucky Seamus feeling a bit sore. After a sincere apology—which I think mostly made him uncomfortable—we made plans to celebrate the completion of his Auror training.
We settle into our seats and I order a nice hoppy IPA. To my delight Seamus has ordered an enormous basket of chips, which we both shove in our faces. Between our reunion, the way things are with Oliver, and the fact that the Female Goblin Coalition rally is only days away, it’s shaping up to be a brilliant new year.
I say through a mouthful of potato, “So, is Dean coming along then?”
“Nah, he’s got a thing.”
“Something more important than attending the final playoffs match, for free?”
My apology to Seamus was largely in the form of free VIP tickets to today’s match, now only hours away. In the olden days, the three of us would go get a pint before the match, as the stadiums charge an arm for an ale. (“It’s the responsible thing to do!” we always reassured each other, while chugging beers at barely past noon.) In my owl to Seamus, I’d extended an awkward invite to Dean, but we haven’t spoken since the wedding.
I say cautiously, “Seamus, have you ever… noticed anything? About him? Pertaining to me?”
He waves me off, “Dean? Oh, he’s smitten with you. Has been for ages.”
“C’mon, it’s bloody obvious,” he scoffs. “He practically broke his back to get you that internship. Plus he’s got that thing for redheads, ‘member? First Ginny Weasley, then that exchange student from AIVA—”
“Oh, Catarina? I loved her!”
“Lovely girl. Deported, I’m afraid. Anyway, and now you—or maybe I should say then you. Dunno if his loins are still burning. He doesn’t really talk about it.”
I shake my head in bewilderment. “I honestly had no idea.”
“Well, you’re generally oblivious.”
As I lick the foam from my lip, I try to imagine Dean and I as a couple. But I honestly can’t see it, any more than I could with Seamus. He’s a brilliant friend, and it’s true—he really had to pull some strings to get me my internship. In many ways I get on with Dean better than Seamus. We’ve certainly had the more meaningful conversations of the group. But I’ve seen the way Dean is with girlfriends. He cares about them, but he can be a bit jealous and controlling. Even at Hogwarts I knew about his and Ginny Weasley’s constant arguing—and I was all the way over in Hufflepuff.
Dean needs somebody relaxed and nurturing; someone who can appreciate silence, and who won’t grow bored or irritated when he gets lost in his head.
Absolutely none of those things apply to me.
I push the thought out of my head, “So, any big plans for tonight?”
“Eh. Probably getting pissed with Dean. Haven’t really thought about it much.”
“Yeah, you could have a boring New Year’s Eve… Or you could come with me and Oliver to a posh International Quidditch Association party.”
Seamus’s jaw drops and he punches my shoulder, “Are you fucking serious? Oh my god, Edie, that’s brilliant!”
I nod maniacally. Puddlemere is obviously going to beat the Cannons, which means there will be even more cause to celebrate tonight. Spending New Year’s Eve with professional Quidditch players, drinking expensive champagne? That shit is in my diary, for Merlin’s sake.
“Dean will lose his mind when he finds out!” Seamus says.
“Yeah,” I laugh obligingly before spouting in a high-pitched voice, “Except, d’you think he’d want to come if Oliver’s there? I mean, he doesn’t exactly like him. At all.”
“Well maybe he doesn’t love Oliver, but he loves Quidditch. You remember Dean. Quiet, glasses, obsessed with the Kenmare Kestrels. He’d love to come.”
I stare at him for a long time and he sighs, “Yeah, you’re right. He’d find an excuse to get out of it.”
“But I don’t want you to cancel your plans with him.” I frown. “Is this what it’s going to be like now? I feel like we’re fighting over custody.”
“Don’t worry, Mum, you can have me on weekends!”
I pop another chip into my mouth, “Well at least come to the match today. I’m assuming I still have those seats…” I haven’t heard from Oliver in two days, which is not at all surprising with Katie’s practice schedule this week.
Seamus laughs, “Edie, you’re shagging a professional Quidditch player. You have the seats.” We clink our glasses—again; I’ve forgotten this habit of his. “Now, let’s go watch Puddlemere beat the ever-living shit out of the Cannons.”
And beat the ever-living shit out of them they do. Seamus and I have shouted ourselves hoarse, though only at the appropriate times this go-around. We’re not seated in the same tier of VIP sections—which I suspect was on purpose, to keep me from bungling another match. We aren’t as close to Oliver this way, but I’ve been shamelessly eyeing him nonetheless.
Every shot the Cannons have made in the last thirty minutes, Oliver has blocked effortlessly. The crowds roar deafeningly at his prowess, but he never even acknowledges him. I wish he’d look this way, as I’ve been giving him my best bedroom eyes for the entire match.
“He’s so…focused,” I breathe. Seamus slaps my hand away from twirling my hair.
By the time Amelia Jones spots the Snitch, Puddlemere is already up by 150 points. When we see her skyrocket towards a glint of gold, Seamus and I clutch onto each other. But in a rather anticlimactic moment, wherein the Cannons’ Seeker is completely oblivious, Jones snatches the Snitch expertly—and then it’s suddenly over.
The crowd is deafening. Puddlemere is going to the European Cup.
Seamus and I practically strangle one another in our excitement, screaming and jumping up and down. The bottle of champagne that he brought specifically for this moment is popped, and he sprays it everywhere, shouting to everyone’s protests, “IT’S OKAY, I’M AN AUROR!”
There’s champagne in my hair and I don’t even mind. The absolute best part of the entire match is happening right now, as Oliver plummets to the ground, throws his broom and crashes into his teammates. Showers of royal blue sparks are erupting from an impressive fireworks display, mirrored from thousands of wands below. Over the cacophony, Puddlemere’s team anthem rises, echoing louder and louder until almost the entire stadium is singing in unison, “Beat back those Bludgers, boys, and chuck that Quaffle here!”
Fingers clasped under my chin, I bite my thumb to keep from smiling too hard. Even from this distance, I can see it: Oliver has never looked so happy.
Seamus is wrestling the (now empty) bottle of champagne from another man, shouting, “IT’S A SOUVENIR, GIVE IT BACK!” It’s back in his possession just in time, as I tug on his sleeve and we hurry down spiraling stairwell. When Puddlemere emerges from their locker room, we want to be there.
“Maybe we’ll all go out for beers!”
“Can you—? I mean—” he can’t even fathom the idea, “A night out on the town with Puddlemere?”
We hurry to the gate that surrounds the locker rooms, where dozens of other fans eagerly await the winning team. Seamus leads the way, breaking through the reporters and Wizardazzi, “It’s alright, this girl’s dating Oliver Wood, back off!”
I shoot him a look. Oliver and I haven’t discussed titles, but we are dating, technically. A witch my age says excitedly, “Are you serious? You’re dating Oliver Wood?”
“Uhh—” I stutter when I notice the Press pin on her cloak, and the Quick Quotes Quill hovering over her shoulder. Bugger.
I am fully prepared to say that I’m just a crazed stalker fangirl, and that I made the whole thing up, but her eyes light up in recognition. “Oh, wait! You’re the girl in the photograph, from his romantic Italian getaway!”
Well that certainly didn’t take long. Thanks, Theo.
“Erm, it was just a wedding, actually—”
“What? No!” But the quill is already jotting away. She pulls out a recording orb and I lean over and say loudly, “Definitely not married! It was my best mate’s wedding! We didn’t even go together!”
“The lobster puffs were extraordinary,” Seamus says.
She gives me an exaggerated wink, “Right, not married. Gotcha. So could you tell us more about your relationship…?” she trails off, waiting for a name.
“Her name is Mimi Baskerville,” Seamus interjects and I snort with laughter. He takes her hand flirtatiously, “And I’m Seamus Finnigan, Auror. How do you do?”
“Erm, I’m fine, thanks—Oh! Look, Mimi, here comes Oliver now!”
It’s true: Puddlemere is at last emerging from the locker rooms. The spectators around us erupt into cheers, suddenly becoming more mosh pit than crowd. I spot Oliver in the middle of the group but am unable to do more than be shoved this way and that, while the press jostles for the players’ attention.
“Oliver, Oliver!” cries the reporter woman. “Oliver, come see your girlfriend!”
He finally spots me and I smile embarrassedly, mouthing, “Sorry.”
Glistening with sweat, and looking entirely too handsome, he makes his way over to us. My fingers are tingling; I want to reach over and kiss his face right now. He must be beyond elated. I’m still smiling as Oliver leans down to the recording orb and, looking me in the eye, says, “She’s not my girlfriend.”
There is a stunned silence. I laugh good-naturedly through my humiliation, raising my hands, “Alright, but to be fair, I didn’t use the word girlfriend.”
But he doesn’t respond. Katie has stopped behind him, and is fixing me with a stony look. I smile in confusion. “Oliver,” I begin, but he’s already moving on, walking away without a second glance.
“Was that a breakup we just witnessed?” prompts the reporter, but she’s ignored. What is going on? Have I missed something?
Then I see it.
A young witch is struggling to reach a magazine out to Oliver, crying, “Please, will you sign this?” I catch a glimpse of the cover in her shuffle: Witch Weekly. It’s this month’s issue. Why would he be signing this month’s issue, if there’s no third article in it?
Abandoning Seamus and the reporter, I elbow my way through the crowd. Like a salmon fighting my way upstream, I try to remain alongside Oliver, but he won’t even look my way. Still I see his eyes fall on the magazine. A shadow passes over his face. He ignores the young witch—in fact, he’s ignoring the crowd entirely, heading down the pathway towards the exit without so much as a nod in their direction. At last I reach the crestfallen young witch. I snatch the magazine, ignoring her protests.
I flip through the pages with trembling hands, until I come across it.
The words printed on the page are the very same I wrote yesterday. It’s the article I burned—destroyed—to make sure that nothing like this ever happened.
“No,” I say aloud, tearing through the pages. The photograph from the wedding is there as well. It’s all here. Everything that Oliver entrusted me with—everything that he confided in me—has been published for all of Britain to see. And I have no idea how.
I drop the magazine, pushing my way with more force than ever, shouting at the top of my lungs, “Oliver! Oliver, wait!”
Even if he can hear me over the crowd, he isn’t stopping. He vanishes with the rest of his team, into the tunnel exiting the stadium. At last I push free of the crowd and break into a sprint, following along the exterior of the stadium. I tear around the corner to the main gates just as Puddlemere emerges. They’re mounting their brooms to celebrate Merlin-knows-where. Only Oliver looks sullen. If he gets away now I’ll never find him.
“Oliver!” I shout again, racing over.
But then, out of nowhere Katie rounds on me, unsheathing her wand, “NO, EDIE!” I stop in my tracks, astonished. Her slight height difference seems to have doubled, and she towers over me as she bellows, “Leave him alone!”
“But I have to...” I sputter. She takes another threatening step, fire burning in her eyes, and I back away. The rest of the team has stopped to watch.
“You have NO RIGHT coming here. Do you have ANY idea how hard he’s worked to keep this information private? DO YOU?” I’ve never been screamed at the way Katie is screaming now. Several team members laugh, and one calls out something that I don’t quite hear, but I don’t think I’d want to.
“It wasn’t me,” I say, and then call, “I swear to you, Oliver, I don’t know how it happened.”
He’s stopped, his back to me. His voice comes so quietly that I almost don’t hear it, “But did you write it, Edie?”
I don’t have a response to that.
There is a silence. Several players shake their heads before disappearing, but I’m not looking at them. Katie watches me like she has a sour taste in her mouth. She sheaths her wand and turns away, giving Oliver’s shoulder a tight squeeze. “See you later?” she says gently.
He nods, but if he speaks I don’t hear him. I feel so helpless, watching at a distance, unable to mend anything; to tell him that I’m so sorry; to tell him that it was all a terrible accident. Katie mounts her broom, shooting me another dark look before she disappears.
Oliver and I are left alone. But I can’t move to him. Even from this distance I can see the tension in his shoulders; the way he’s clutching his broomstick with ghost-white knuckles. He can’t even bring himself to turn and look at me. I stare at the outline of his cheekbone, saying helplessly, “Oliver, please…”
At last he turns around. The worst part is the resigned, exhausted look on his face, as if every horrible thing I’ve ever done has taken a physical toll, “Fuck you, Edie.”
He mounts his broom and sails away without a second glance. I stand on the spot, watching as he disappears, my chest too tight even to cry.
My feet have barely touched the marble floors of Witch Weekly before I'm storming down the corridor, the staircase, and into the fashion wing. Tonight is the magazine’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, and the guests are already beginning to arrive. I’m the only person not wearing designer dress robes. Passersby give me looks, either because they know I shouldn’t be there or because of my fury. When I at last reach Rose’s door, I slash my wand in the air and it bursts open. She gasps in surprise, jumping from where she’s seated at a small mirror.
“WHY DID YOU DO IT?” I advance on her, my wand at her throat as she backs into the wall. She’s just changed into her dress for the evening, and her own wand is on the corner of her desk, out of reach. She’s helpless. “Why couldn’t you just let us be happy?”
“What are you—” She’s trembling.
“Don’t lie to me!” I don’t even realize I’m crying until I taste the hot tears, and suddenly my words are one long, sad howl, “I think I even loved him, you idiot. Why couldn’t you just leave us alone?”
Rose lifts her hands, “Edie, I swear to you, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It wasn’t her, Edith!” Mr. Ward’s lilting voice has a sharp edge that I’ve never noticed. I whirl around, tear-streaked. He’s standing in the doorway in fine dress robes, with several other WW higher-ups I don’t recognize. They all have their wands trained on me.
“Why don’t you just calm down, then, so I don’t have to call the authorities?”
I lower my wand only slightly. This is insane. What am I doing? I wasn’t even in Dumbledore’s Army—since when am I some vigilante who goes around, brandishing weapons at people?
“You did this?” I murmur.
“Yes,” his voice is pleasant as always, but his eyes are hard.
“But how? I destroyed it. I made sure that nobody could ever read it.”
“It was nothing but a little Priori Incantatem on your typewriter. We got the idea from you, ironically, after you used it to prove that the first article was yours. Tallulah and I thought it was a bit odd of you to suddenly give up on writing your third story. Especially when you’d been so opinionated before.”
My eyes scan the crowd, but I don’t see Blakeslee among them. Somehow I doubt that she would find Ward justified in holding me at wandpoint.
“We knew you’d have your last word. You could say we had a hunch!”
His falsely pleasant tone is making me nauseous, and the weight of everything hits me. My wand clatters to the ground and I slump over, bursting into new sobs. It’s the only sound. Though a crowd has gathered, it’s oddly silent.
“But I didn’t ever want anyone to read that. It was personal! It’s ruined everything!”
“It’s in your contract, Edith!” he may as well have just called me ‘Silly.’ “Any written copy you produce on a Witch Weekly typewriter can be used for the magazine’s means. I know the contracts you signed were lengthy, but surely you remember that much.”
“No, I don’t,” I say thickly.
“Besides, how do we know that you weren’t planning on selling it to another publication?”
“Of course I wasn’t. Why would I—”
He interrupts me, like he always has, “That would be a breach of your contract. And it certainly wouldn’t hold up in court, on your end.”
It’s a warning. He’s reminding me that I have nothing to fight them with. Even if I somehow had the financial means to take legal action, it could never work in my favour. But what does that matter? The damage has already been done.
Ward is still brandishing his wand, even though I’m unarmed. “I suggest you leave the premises. Shall I escort you out?”
I look at him with more hatred than I’ve ever felt for anyone, and Rose says bitingly, “I’ll do it.”
To my surprise she bends down and picks up my wand for me. Then, with a hand on my shoulder she walks me past Ward, glaring at him stonily. We climb up the staircase to the ground level. There is music playing in the atrium now, the room lit with hundred-candled chandeliers. The guests are staring at my current state, but I don’t even care.
Nothing matters, except that everything Oliver and I have been through, mended, and built upon is gone—all so that Ward could sell his magazine.
We’re silent as Rose opens the heavy oak doors for me. I expect her to shut it behind me without a word, but she follows me outside. Neither of us is wearing a cloak and we stand shivering in the evening light. I am completely miserable, my eyes swollen from crying, and can’t look up from the ground. Why is she being nice? After everything that Oliver and I have done to her, she should have been trying to hex me.
“That was fucked,” she breaks the silence. “He shouldn’t have done that. Publishing the article, threatening you, embarrassing you in front of everyone—it was all wrong.”
I look up from the ground at last, “I’m sorry, Rose. For everything Oliver and I did to you. We didn’t realize how wrong we were, but—” I break off. “I’m so sorry.”
She studies me for a long time, “D’you wanna get a drink?”
I blink in shock, but she doesn’t look like she’s concocting a plan to poison me. “Um, sure… But what about your New Year’s Eve party?”
She rolls her eyes, “Fuck this place. They’re planning on sacking me anyway. Thought they could keep it a secret, but they’re idiots. Wait for me while I get my things?”
When she disappears I pull out my mirror, wiping the black smudges away from my eyes and running fingers through my tangled hair. My eyes bore into my own, forcing myself to get a grip. When Rose reappears minutes later I’m almost back to normal. She’s carrying the contents of her office in one of those cardboard boxes that I’d needed earlier.
“Where’d you find that?” I force a grin. “I had to throw all my things in a sack like an idiot.”
She smirks, the heels of her shoes clicking confidently down the street. “C’mon.”
It seems appropriate that we end up at Le Chat Noir: the place where it all began, months ago. The bar is not nearly as crowded as I expected for New Year’s Eve, but it’s more café than raucous club. Rose looks twelve times as stunning as me in her black knee-length dress, but I’m growing used to our dynamic. We order two bottles of nice champagne.
She raises her glass with a wry smirk, “To having our hearts broken by Oliver Wood.”
I laugh, remembering why we actually got on decently in the beginning, and we cheers.
“So, what are you going to do?” I say. “You’ve been at Witch Weekly for ages. What’s next?”
She sighs heavily, taking her hair out of its elaborate twist. Several heads turn as chestnut waves fall down her back. Judging by her subtle change in posture, she knows that she has their attention. Tonight, though, it makes me grin.
“I have some friends in the music management industry. They’re looking for somebody to help with marketing. If not that, I’ll think of something. I always fall on my feet.”
I nod, wondering where I could possibly work next. Almost twenty-seven (March isn’t getting any farther) with very little experience in my field. Oliver was planning on talking with Katie, about finding work with Puddlemere’s public relations. But that seems highly unlikely now.
Well, there’s always scrubbing toilets at the Rusty Knight.
Rose seems to realize that I don’t have a good answer, and doesn’t ask. I’m grateful. We settle into comfortable silence, staring out the window at the hoards of people. Diagon Alley turns into a madhouse on New Year’s Eve. The streets are full of witches and wizards, in their finest dress robes or most ridiculous costumes. People are leaning out of second-story windows; sparks are shooting from wands. A street band is playing, brass and drums pounding into the bar every time the door opens.
I’m bitterly watching a very happy-looking couple when Rose suddenly says, “Are you fucking serious?”
My stomach lurches when I follow her gaze to a blur of Puddlemere blue. Apparently the team left the posh International Quidditch Association party for a rowdier night. They walk past us, smiling and laughing, still waving Puddlemere’s banners. Right away I spot Oliver. He doesn’t look quite as ecstatic as the others, but not nearly as miserable as I feel.
Adhering to the laws of breakups, he looks gorgeous. More than ever, probably, now that I know I can’t have him. He’s wearing a nice suit and his hair has been somewhat tamed. He’s chatting with a pretty witch with curly black hair. My heart sinks when she touches his arm. It could be completely innocent, but suddenly their midnight kiss flashes before my eyes.
“Of all the bloody places…” Rose mutters into her glass.
I pray that Oliver turns and notices me. That our eyes meet and he stills, a look of understanding washing over his face. That he comes inside, and we take a quiet corner, talking through everything that’s happened. If I could only explain that I had no intention of the article being read; that it was basically a diary entry, only meant for my eyes; it was only a kind of catharsis…
But he doesn’t look my way, and I can’t bring myself to move. The curly-haired witch links her arm through his. The sight makes my breath catch. And then they’ve already passed us by.
I blink rapidly, trying to shake myself back to the present. The sounds of Le Chat Noir fill the vacuum caused by my pounding heart. Quickly, I pour Rose and me new glasses of champagne, eyes downcast.
“Okay, I know you’re upset. But have you tried explaining everything to him? You didn’t mean to publish it.”
“Even if he’d ever see me again, he wouldn’t believe me.” I don’t fully realize this until it’s said out loud. “He didn’t even tell me everything until after he knew I’d quit. Even though we’d already—” I break off. I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but Rose only nods thoughtfully.
“He never trusted me. A part of him always thought that I was using him for a story. Can’t blame him, though. I’ve lied about everything else.”
“You really liked him, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. I did.”
She sips from her drink, “You two should’ve been together. I liked him, yeah, but I think it was mostly that there was somebody around. And he never looked at me the way he looked at you.”
I don’t know what to say. Rose has never been so selfless, but it’s coming when it’s needed the most. My eyes are pinpricking again, horribly—God, when will this stop? But there is, thankfully, a distraction.
The people surrounding us have begun chanting, counting down. It’s somehow already reached midnight. Everyone has started too early, somewhere in the thirties and half of them are two seconds behind. Arms are slung over shoulders, couples lean against one another, and beers are hoisted into the air. I feel disconnected from the sound. Part of me is here in London, the other half lost someplace where I can see Oliver tilting the pretty witch’s chin upwards.
“Four… three… two… one!”
I squeeze my eyes shut just as their lips meet, blackening the image. Diagon Alley erupts into cheers and fireworks, illuminating the faces pink and silver and blue. People are kissing, couples and friends and strangers alike. The band outside starts a drunken rendition of Auld Lang Syne and people struggle to sing along. Rose and I meet eyes and smile lopsidedly.
“Happy New Year, Edie.”
“Happy New Year.”
Our glasses clink quietly and we watch the rest of the world living.
Author's Note: Happy endings? What are those?
The article being published anyway may seem like a stereotype--probably because it IS--but I tried to approach it differently. Edie had already chosen him over her job; she didn't betray him. It was important that she made that decision on her own before things were mucked up. She's having realizations about journalism, and it takes being fucked over by Theo and Mr. Ward.
Edie and Rose are friends again! Or at least frenemies. I wanted the title of this chapter to have something to do with their mutual heartbreak, but alas, spoilers. And yay Seamus! He's been sadly missing lately!
The next chapter is almost done. After that, there are just three left, and then KC&CO is no more! That means I'll be doing heavy edits, so please tell me what you think! I'd love feedback from you guys ♥
(I don't own Auld Lang Syne or the Puddlemere team anthem.)
Edit 5/26/15: I am a jerk and forgot to credit the wonderful Clarity at the Dark Arts for making me this CI. Thank you! ♥
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