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Chapter 30 : Girl Seeks General Sense of Purpose
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For the next three days, everyone in Heathfield regards me as they would a small child who has dropped its lollipop. The town being up-to-date on gossip is nothing new; a highly revered plaque in the square boasts as much. (Their proudest moment was outing Mrs. Ferris for feeding her coveted peonies the growth hormones found in Giant droppings. She left town.) Now I am finding out that when the gossip is readily available in tabloids, it spreads even faster. Like sadistic truffle-hunting badgers, they quickly uncover the gory bits of my “Celebrity Breakup.” I’m the talk of the town.
My daily walk to the café is a public spectacle. Those less intrusive only turn and stare; others offer words of encouragement or a thumbs-up. Mrs. Barker even breaks away from her spyglasses to offer a sad little wave. Her hedges rustle as she trails after me, peering through the binoculars.
“Poor dear,” Basil the florist clucks as I pass his shop, “Dreadful way to spend New Year’s Eve…”
I cinch the hood of my cloak tight around my face. All of this could be avoided, but I refuse to use the coffee brewer that Oliver gifted me. Not since the Incident.
When I reach the café I feel like I narrowly escaped a zombie apocalypse. Jack, the boy behind the counter, greets me with a sly look. In what he apparently views as small-talk, he says, “Too bad about that Quidditch player.”
“Uh. Well. Yes.”
“Maybe, now that you’re single…”
I have been wearing the same sweatpants tucked into fuzzy boots for three days. “Luscious” is spelled out across my bum. This morning I found a crisp in my hair. There is absolutely no reason for his flirtation.
“Jack, you’re, like, half my age. I used to babysit you?”
“Heard you’ve got a thing for younger men,” he winks.
“HOW did you—”
Knowing about Oliver is one thing; my humiliating sexcapade with Jae is another. I snatch the espresso and whirl around—and no way am I paying—only to see the entire town’s faces pressed against the windows.
“Oh, that is quite enough.”
I throw the door open and bellow, “TAKE A GOOD LOOK, PEOPLE OF HEATHFIELD! THAT’S RIGHT, DRINK IT ALL IN! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LET YOUR HORMONES GET IN THE WAY OF THINGS! NOW I WANT YOU ALL TO BUGGER OFF!”
I jab two fingers into the air repeatedly, blowing raspberries and spilling hot espresso on myself. The crowd stares in horror; a mother shields her child’s eyes. With a final “Humph!” I spin on my heel, nearly slipping on the ice.
“I’M SORRY, DID YOU NOT HEAR ME SAY THAT I DON’T GIVE A—” my voice dies. Conor Fleming, Editor in Chief of the Oracle Underground, is in Heathfield. The coffee drops from my hand, “Shit.”
I’d recognize that extremely handsome face anywhere, even without the trademark tweed jacket and horn-rimmed glasses. “Erm, is now a bad time? I owled you weeks ago and never heard back…”
I have got to start checking my post.
“No, now’s a great time!”
He takes his time eyeing my appearance, “Are you certain?”
“You look terrible,” offers Gregory Gillick, the town grocer.
I bite my tongue to keep from making a sound like a teakettle whistling. Somehow I manage to stammer, “I’m so sorry, I never received a letter—I just moved. It must have gotten lost.”
“Ah,” he looks somewhere between disbelief and disappointment. “Well, my apologies—”
“Wait!” I cry, “Just give me five minutes! I can come to you, wherever you need me. You name the time. I’ll be there, I promise.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.”
“Please?” My face is burning. Hopefully Conor is kinder than I’ve heard.
He adjusts his glasses, sighing, “Well, this is highly unusual, but… Our office, at eleven o’clock.”
“Yes!” I rush forward to shake his hand. “That’s more than perfect, I’ll be there, thank you so much Mr. Fleming.”
“You’ve got something in your hair. Powdered cheese, it looks like.”
“That will be totally gone for our meeting. Promise.”
“I look forward to it.” With a parting nod he Disapparates, leaving behind a faint scent of pricey cologne.
I’m actually wheezing for breath. “Did you lot see that?” I round on the townsfolk. “I have an interview with Conor Fleming. Conor Fleming! Suck on that, tossers!”
I scurry off to prepare for the meeting, ignoring the murmurs, “Honestly, she used to be such a nice girl…”
Heaving for breath, I throw open the door to our house. “I need the loo—NOW!”
After the quickest shower in recorded history, I dry my hair with my wand. Conor is probably irritated with me right now, but that’s okay. I can charm the trousers off of anyone. It’s how I beat out the perfect contender for the Witch Weekly internship, and how I somehow managed to not get fired after breaking into their offices.
But it’s not the charming that I’m worried about—it’s my portfolio. I couldn’t submit my Quidditch articles when I applied for the job, and I don’t want to even talk about them now. Maybe he’ll find my writing from Hogwarts amusing?
He must’ve liked your portfolio if he was willing to rearrange, I tell my reflection as I adjust my blazer.
My eyes fall on the calendar reflected behind me. This month, the Kestrels jeer and grin, looking smug in their green uniforms. January’s events is looking quite sparse, except for today’s date, which has just become a the perfect storm of happenings.
The rally for Grimma Longfinger starts at 11:00, the same time as my interview. With a groan I realize I’ll have to miss it. There’s no way I could make both and this interview is too important. But that’s not all. Today is the first day of the European Cup.
Right now, somewhere, Oliver is whooshing the nervous breath from his lungs and donning his Quidditch robes. Actually, he’s probably been sleeping in them for a straight week. Maybe he’s rolling his shoulder, trying to ease the stiffness. Maybe he’s looking into his own reflection. Maybe he’s thinking about…
There are more important things.
Tonight I will go back to my wallowing. Soon enough I’ll be eating my weight in Cauldron Cakes and reading Gwendolyn Phire paperbacks again. But right now, I am going to wow the trousers off of Conor Fleming.
“Jesus Christ, get a hold of yourself,” I mutter.
Moments before I leave the house, an owl arrives with directions to the Oracle’s headquarters. (Thank Merlin, as I would have realized, mid-Apparation, that I had no idea where I was going and ended up in a flock of sheep. I shudder to think of the Splinching.)
Following the instructions, I arrive at a Muggle shop called Bag End Books. It’s an unassuming building wedged between two others. Already I imagine myself arriving early on rainy days, taking a few extra minutes to peruse the stacks before heading to work. By the time I locate the History section, I’ve already mapped out my professional wardrobe and where I’ll go for lunch.
At last I find the Portkey: a tattered copy of A Magical History of the Britons. There is a lurching sensation, and then I’m staggering to my feet, nearly tripping over my heels. I’m in a very old, very musty lobby of sorts. The Oracle is, quite literally, underground—I am reminded of the cellar of the Poisoned Apple. (Less rats, hopefully.) It’s quite different from the gleaming white stone of Witch Weekly. But it’s a welcome change.
Before me are two arched stone corridors, between which sits a large wooden desk. It’s littered with parchments that only stack higher and higher as soaring paper airplanes come to rest. A friendly-looking old witch smiles at me.
“Hello, I’m Edie Lennox. I’m here for an interview with Conor Fleming?”
“Oh, lovely. Those interviewers have their work cut out for them. Something to the tune of three hundred people applied.” When I blanch, she says, “Oh, they’ve cut it down to ten interviews. Don’t worry, dear! In fact, you should be proud! It was very difficult to get where you are.”
“Thank you,” I manage. I was selected out of three hundred people? Me and my little to no experience? That’s certainly something.
She directs me down the corridor to the left. As I walk the floors incline, and by the time I reach its end I’ve risen to ground level. The room is enormous. Many tall windows let in enough light to feel cozy despite its cavernous size. The long tables form lines, like those of the Hogwarts Great Hall, but these are filled with people busy at work. The pleasant click-clack of Magical typewriters fills my ears. The openness is refreshing—unlike heavily sanctioned Witch Weekly, where they tossed Interns in the chilly, windowless basement.
A young, trendy witch notices me, “Here for the interview?”
I follow her to one of the doorways lining the wall. A brass plaque bears the words Conor Fleming, Editor in Chief. My heart pounds as she raps on the door. I wipe my hand on my skirt. A sweaty handshake is exactly what I don’t need after earlier.
He opens the door himself, instead of bidding us enter like some royalty. From up close his hair looks bloody fantastic—he probably spent hours styling it to look like he rolled out of bed.
“Edie, hello! So glad you could make it. Please, come in.”
So he’s not grumpy about earlier. I hold back my sigh of relief as he says, “Thank you, Natalie.”
She positively beams. Apparently his charm isn’t lost on her, either.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Fleming, for agreeing to meet with me. It really is such an honour.”
Conor and I shake hands and he gestures to a comfortable-looking chair. I sit up straighter than I ever have in my life, clasping onto my portfolio. When he runs a hand through his hair, I realize that he knows exactly the kind of power he has over women.
“D’you mind if I call you Edie?”
“No, please!” I sound a bit like I just asked him to marry me.
“Well then Edie, shall we jump right in? As you may have imagined, we received an astounding number of responses. In fact, there were many applicants with more experience than you. But we were impressed with your work. As I mentioned earlier, rearranging an interview last-minute is highly unusual for us.”
Honestly, I don’t see why Conor Fleming would be interested in my Hogwarts newsletter samples—particularly the stance I took on whether or not to chop down the Whomping Willow, after it sent another First-Year to the Hospital Wing. But in an interview, you’re supposed to look twenty times more confident than you actually are, and I only smile brightly.
He leans against his desk, shaking his head in admiration, “The way you got Oliver Wood to
finally open up caught our interest. He’s famous for his distaste for people like you and I.”
I force my smile to remain, but he notices the widening in my eyes. “You’re shocked.”
“Actually, yes. The Quidditch articles weren’t a part of my job application.”
“Ah, I see.” He takes off his glasses to polish them. “I feel that I can be candid with you, Edie. Would I be correct in that assumption?”
“Yes, of course!” At this point, I’d tell him he was correct in any assumption, including if he’d said, “I’ll bet you’d like to learn the tuba, in order to serenade me twice daily.”
I force myself to pay attention as he says, “…fact is, we read over your portfolio and, though well-written, the pieces just weren’t what the Oracle is looking for. But then my colleague spotted your interviews in Witch Weekly, and remembered your name from the applicant pool. We simply had to give your application another look.”
So they already had me in the “No” Pile, and changed their mind. All because they realized that I was a conniving little—
“Don’t mistake me,” Conor says, “The material was good, for what it was: a student writing for a school paper. It was very tame. There was nothing wrong with your writing ability, but it simply didn’t supply the voice that we were looking for, and we had to be cutthroat with so many applicants.”
“I understand,” I hope I’m giving a convincing performance.
“Either way, I’m glad that we made the connection between Edie Lennox of Witch Weekly and Edie Lennox who applied to Oracle Underground. We almost let your talents slip by. Your most recent article, in particular, was very impressive.”
“Oh, well… Thank you.”
“It’s practically a news story within itself, isn’t it? An unpaid intern, moonlighting as a journalist, a secret deal made with another employee,” he smiles as if reliving it himself. “Brilliant, brilliant.”
I shift, allowing my voice to drop an octave, “I didn’t realize it was so obvious.”
“People talk. Our job is finding what people don’t want us to—even you.” He flashes a smile. I try my best to return it. “For instance, the Female Goblin Coalition Rally wouldn’t have made as many headlines if the plans weren’t leaked. But they were, thus Gringott’s responded aggressively by hiring Aurors, which caused Grimma Longfinger to act rashly, which in turn got her arrested. In the end it created a better story for the Oracle to write about. It’s all cyclical.” He makes a little whirlpool in the air with his finger.
Contradicting your interviewer isn’t the brightest thing to do, which is probably why I say, “Right, but is that really what’s the most important? I mean, she’s in Azkaban for that.”
“Isn’t it?” Conor raises his eyebrows.
I’m being tested, and I don’t know how to respond.
Fuck, I just blew this interview.
“That’s what we do here. We report the ugly truth. Would you ever consider writing a story about your personal turmoils with Oliver Wood?”
So he’s seen Theo’s photograph, too. Of course he has. It’s his job.
Carefully I evade the question, “I should tell you that I never had any intention of becoming involved with him. That’s…not how I work.”
“There’s no reason to be ashamed. You got the job done, and that’s what matters. That’s why we want you.”
I blink as he returns to his desk. “Want…me?”
Did I not just royally muck this whole thing up?
He grins, “The position is full-time. You’d be covering our Arts and Entertainment section, primarily, but our direction may be a bit different than what you’re used to."
I’ll say. Forget It Girls and awkwardly smoldering teen boys—with the Oracle, it’s interviewing underground musicians, reviewing theatre productions and commenting on the latest avant garde photography show.
“I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t flourish here, Edie,” he says confidently, lacing his fingers together. “The job is yours if you want it.”
“Are you—you’re serious?”
“Absolutely. We’d love to have you.”
“Holy shit…” I heave, the pinnacle of unprofessional. I’m reeling—literally, physically reeling—and steady myself on the armrests.
“Take some time to consider.” I think that he means a few days, but he rises to his feet, “I’ll just refresh my tea.”
Already he trusts me to be alone in his office, with its walls of journalism awards, honourary degrees, and the gleaming black typewriter. I barely manage a nod in response. I have approximately four minutes to decide my fate.
The door clicks shut behind him and I heave a breath. I slump over until my head rests on the portfolio in my lap. My cheek squishes into my headline from the Hogwarts newspaper: Shrieking Shack, Haunted No More?
It was a ridiculous piece I wrote in the (second) Seventh Year. I convinced Lisa to spend the final night of our holiday in the shack for “fieldwork.” It was a terrifying night, but when we didn’t die by the end, I thought I was writing some big exposé dispelling rumours of ghosts. In reality, nobody our age actually believed the shack was haunted. The story was a flop, and the professors quickly realized what we’d done. Lisa and I were scrubbing cauldrons for weeks. To this day, she hasn’t forgiven me.
And now, years later, I am going to do some real good.
There is a quiet rap on the door and Conor returns, eyebrows peaked: Well? He sees the smile on my face and releases a little laugh, “Excellent, Edie!”
I blink back tears and rise to shake his hand, “Thank you so much,” I say. “But I have to decline your offer.”
I run all the way to the rally, gripping my high heels. I dart through the crowds barefoot, heaving for breath, toes freezing as they pound the snow-wet cobblestones. I don’t feel lost. I’m terrified, yes, just as expected—but it’s exhilarating. Conor was still sputtering nonsense when I left. Sticking around, and explaining how I’m slowly realizing that journalism and ethics rarely go hand-in-hand, was pointless. By now he’s probably regained himself. Surely he’s angry that he rescheduled an interview for a job I ended up refusing.
I refused the Oracle Underground.
I’m either the bravest person in London, or its biggest idiot.
The gates of Gringott’s are swarming when I slow to a halt, gawking, covered in cold sweat. Some, it appears, have even slept here: little canvas tents glowing with cheerful oil lamps are popped up. Dozens of picket signs and banners bearing FREE GRIMMA wave in the air. A shop keep has just arrived and is passing around hot ciders for the protestors. The air isn’t hostile, or tense. These people are here to make a positive change.
I can’t believe I almost missed this.
To my surprise, I spot Dean in the crowds. We’ve talked about the FGC, and I knew he was following them in the news, but we’d never talked about the rally. Then again, we would have to actually be speaking for that to have happened.
He doesn’t notice me until I prod his shoulder, “Wotcher.”
“Oh,” he looks as surprised as me. “Hey.”
I don’t hug him this time. I can’t believe I’ve been such a complete idiot for—how long was he been harbouring a crush? Months? Years? Instead of a picket sign, he’s brought a quill and parchment, where the beginnings of a political cartoon are scrawled.
Ignoring the reminder that I just turned down a similar job, I say uneasily, “Um, d’you think… We should probably talk sometime, yeah?”
Neither of us will look at the other. “Sure. Sometime.”
But we both know that will never happen. It’s too broken to fix, and talking it out will only crush the pieces into powder. We can only try to fall back into the way things were, when no questions were asked, and clumsily follow along our old footprints.
But we don’t say that either.
I nod to a group of Aurors, “Seamus over there?”
Dean almost laughs, rolling his eyes, “No, he’s around here somewhere. He wanted to come but he didn’t want to be on opposing sides, so he’s hiding.”
“Sounds like him.”
There’s more silence. I can’t believe that I’m here, worrying about personal relationships while Grimma Longfinger is still locked up in Azkaban. I need something to do, but I don’t have a picket sign, or a banner, or a task. Things are moving slowly, and whoever was supposed to be delivering a speech hasn’t yet come to stand on the stacks of empty crates.
Just to have something to do with my hands, I rifle around my bag, and to my surprise I glimpse a bright blue eye reflecting in my mirror. It’s Lisa. She and Justin must have just gotten back from their honeymoon.
I gesture to Dean before hurrying off, saying to Lisa’s reflection, “Hey! How was Budapest?”
“Edie, I’ve been trying to get ahold of you for ages! I sent you an owl at home, and I tried Apparating to your work but they said you weren’t there anymore and I couldn’t stay because I’m on the clock—”
“What’s going on?” I interrupt her babbling. Whatever it is, she’s completely beside herself.
“Yes, I gathered that!” And with such little information my mind can’t settle on her news being “I just saw your doppelgangar” or “I’m dying of Dragon Pox.”
“Well, I’m not even supposed to tell you, but I had to Edie, I just thought…” Now she’s mumbling, and the only words I catch are “honour code,” “client confidentiality” and “so much trouble.”
She sighs, “It’s Oliver. He’s here.”
My stomach drops at the mention of his name. “He’s where? What are you talking about?”
“At St. Mungo’s. He was hit with a Bludger during the match today. He’s unconscious—”
But my body is already moving of its own accord, reacting to some kind of electric pulse I’ve never felt before, and I’m suddenly Disapparating.
The lobby of St. Mungo’s smells like potions and dust. My whole body is trembling while I queue to see the Very Unwelcoming Welcome Witch. I notice that I lost a shoe while Apparating. Time has slowed to a complete stop.
I can’t believe I didn’t wait to ask Lisa for more information. Oliver is unconscious—what does that mean? Is he asleep or in a coma? Fuck, could he have permanent brain damage?
A hand goes to my mouth as my stomach turns. That night at Alchemy Coffee, months ago; his words. “You’re shocked that I’m not illiterate. Reckon I’ve got a few more Bludgers to the head before I need to start worrying.”
“Oh, Christ,” I mutter.
At last I’ve made my way through the queue, very nearly losing my temper with the witch behind the desk, and am hurrying through the corridors under the guise of meeting Lisa. He must be somewhere on the ground floor, where they treat Artefact Injuries, but the hospital is enormous and is a Bludger technically an artefact? I mean, it is an object, but you typically think of cauldrons and wands and really it’s just a ball—
“Edie!” Lisa is rushing towards me, but she doesn’t come into focus until she’s already taking me by the shoulders, pulling me into a hug. Dully I register her rounding belly against mine. “You’re white as a sheet!”
“Where is he?”
She groans, “Shit, I knew this would happen.”
“What?” I fire, “Is he okay? Did something else happen?”
I’m practically shrieking and people have turned to stare. Her arm links through mine and she cajoles, “Come here, let’s get you some tea. Oliver is okay.”
Soon we’re in a cozy room for employees, rounded like a house of the Shire. The window ledges are full of cheery potted plants, finished wood and comfortable looking armchairs, which Lisa gently tells me to sit down in. She waves her wand at the cauldron in the hearth and soon there’s a warm mug of chamomile in my hands.
I nod, but I can’t even taste the tea.
“I shouldn’t have told you like that—I just got so panicked, worrying about how I’m not supposed to tell you, but that I thought you should know… And I’m still a bit mad at you for what you did to Rose.” I don’t argue and she sighs, “I’m sorry, I must’ve scared you to death.”
“Lisa, what happened?”
“I’m not entirely sure—I think he was just blocking a goal, and didn’t see the Bludger coming. They stopped him before he hit the ground, but the force must’ve…” she eyes me nervously, “It blew out his shoulder again. He’s out for the season. Maybe for good.”
“Oh, God,” I murmur. “He must be so devastated.”
“He isn’t awake yet. He hasn’t been told.”
I blink hard, swallowing, “But he’s—I mean, with the Bludger, he’s not…”
“He’s pretty banged up. He’ll have a scar on the side of his head, but there’s no brain damage. Just a concussion.”
“Thank God,” I say, though I’m having trouble finding the silver lining. Thinking of him lying there, not knowing that his career is over.
Lisa squeezes my arm, “I've got to get back. I just wanted you to know everything.”
“Thank you,” I hug her tightly and we rise to our feet. In the doorway I say, “I know you technically shouldn’t but… Keep me posted? Please?”
She nods, “‘Course.”
We part ways in the corridor, and when she reaches the corner I pause and wave. When she disappears, it’s less than a second before I’m hurrying on tiptoe back through the corridor, peering into the different patients’ rooms. Surely I’ll be caught soon. For a moment I consider donning the white robes of a Healer, but Oliver will be angry enough if he sees me without a ridiculous disguise.
I hear them before I see them: the jostling, the murmurs, the sounds of photos being taken. The press is here; I can smell the smoke from their cameras. I must be close. Peering around the corner, I see a dozen reporters, all crammed against an invisible Shield Charm. The rest of the corridor is dark and hazy, unseeable behind the spell. I certainly don’t want another brush with the Wizardazzi. But it’s the only way in.
“Excuse me,” I murmur, quietly pushing my way past them. If the charm works the way I think it will, I will pass through with my bronze Visitor badge pinned to my blazer.
Within seconds I am recognized, and the flashes become a rapid strobe light. They have my name wrong, thanks to Seamus at the match, “Mimi! Mimi, are you and Oliver over your breakup?”
“Miss Baskerville, how do will Oliver being off the team affect your relationship?”
Biting my tongue, I shoot an icy glare at the last questioner. How fucking dare you turn this into gossip? I could say it. But it won’t matter. My glaring face in the photograph will be the only thing they take away, along with some irrelevant headline.
Luckily I pass through the Shield Charm, emerging onto the other side. The first thing I see is Ada. My heart sinks. She’s in a chair against the wall, hands folded in her lap, face red and blotchy.
Does she know? Has she read the article and found out?
Oliver almost lost custody of you.
Suddenly I want to run—I’d rather face the cruel witches and wizards on the other side than have to see her right now. But it’s too late. She’s spotted me and some kind of relief passes over her face. Maybe she doesn't know.
Cautiously I sit beside her, hugging my bundled cloak, and a long silence passes. “Ada, I’m so sorry.”
She shrugs, but she’s trying to keep her face from crumpling. I don’t know what to say. I shouldn’t be here, talking to her right now, after everything. I don’t know what to do at all.
“You’re missing a shoe.”
“Yeah,” I laugh quietly. “I was a bit hurried to get over here.”
“He’s still asleep. You can go in, though. I just didn’t want to see it anymore. He looks bad.”
I swallow, “Oh…”
The door opens and a Mediwitch appears, carrying a wooden vial holder full of potions. She smiles politely and disappears down the corridor. The door to Oliver’s room is left open.
“I should go,” I whisper, rising to my feet.
“Why?” Ada says loudly, oblivious.
“Hello?” comes Oliver’s voice, and my eyes close. It’s gravelly, raw from potions, but it’s still the same deep tone I’ve come to know. How long has he been awake? Does he already know that his career is shot?
“Ada? Is somebody bothering you?” It’s killing him that he can’t get up and come protect her; to make sure that nobody from the press is harassing her.
“It’s just Edie,” Ada says, and my heart flatlines.
The silence is cavernous. I can’t move.
“Come in,” his voice is quiet.
I know he’s just doing this for Ada. He doesn’t want to cause a scene in front of her, and certainly doesn’t want to spark the press. She watches me in uncertainty as I exhale, square my shoulders, and enter the room.
When I see him a hand goes to my mouth. He’s sitting against a pile of pillows, with his left arm in a sling. His head is wrapped in a bloody bandage. My eyes well up and I blink, embarrassed.
“That bad?” He isn’t smiling.
“No,” I croak, a terrible lie. There is a beat of silence, and then I'm spouting everything, desperate for him to understand. “I only came here because I didn't think you were awake. But Oliver, I’m so sorry, about—”
“Did Lisa tell you I was here?” So he still doesn't want to hear an apology. I look at him guiltily and he rolls his eyes, “So much for confidentiality.”
“She really didn’t want to. But she thought I’d want to know.”
Whatever sentiment I’d hoped to stir up doesn’t show in his eyes. They're still hard as granite. I tuck a strand of hair behind my ear and he eyes my professional attire, “Going somewhere special?”
“Uh, I had a job interview but I, um, I turned it down.” He raises an eyebrow and I say quietly, “Journalism isn’t turning out to be what I’d thought.”
“Well we’re both unemployed now,” he says darkly. “That should make you happy. That I’m no longer sitting on my throne, or however you described it.”
“Hey, you,” he’s looking behind me. Ada is standing in the doorway with a furrowed brow. Of course she was listening. “Edie was just leaving.”
Her eyes travel to me and I press my mouth into a smile. “Yes, well—”
“‘Bye, Edie,” he says acidly.
I’m not to speak to her. I shouldn’t even be here; I am uninvited and unwelcome. There’s nothing else I can do. Oliver can only be so forgiving, and my behaviour over the past months has pulled the line taught. It’s snapped. And I can't tether it.
Suddenly, I realize it: I am the villain of my own story.
I never get one last look at Oliver, because I leave the room with my eyes downcast. Ada turns and watches me go, confused, but I know that Oliver isn’t even looking at me. This time I don’t pass the Wizardazzi and their cameras. There is no evidence of the way our last conversation has gone. It’s like I was never even here.
Author's Note: Does everyone hate me? This story has gotten a bit dark in the last few chapters, eh? I just can't let these guys catch a break... This was a longer chapter than I intended; originally Oliver wasn't going to be awake when Edie came to the hospital. But, you know... Coffee... Things change last-minute.
One more chapter plus an epilogue. Please let me know what you think! ♥
I don't own either of the two Lord of the Rings references here: Bag End and the Shire; J.R.R. Tolkien does, of course.
Super-cute chapter image by Mintleaf @ TDA!
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