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Chapter 2 : Two
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Maybe you should have chosen a more suited career. - James Potter.
I drummed my fingers on the desk and scanned the parchment in front of me. This was the part of the job I hated . . . the dreaded paperwork. They couldn't just verbally assign me? Oh no, my I-am-so-funny editor has to owl them over. Why do we even allow owls in the office? They smell, shit everywhere and try to peck their way through my new skirt.
I had to make my way over to the England Quidditch Club after work for a press conference. The depressing aspect of working as sports correspondent (apart from it being frightfully boring) is that you never have a match or a release between the hours of nine too five, unless it's on a weekend which is even worse. Tonight's press conference means I'm going to be an hour or so late to my weekly night out.
Speaking of which, Josie has only just recovered from the wine bottle – doctor fiasco. It involved quite a few red faces and muttered apologies when the blonde bombshell of a doctor realised it was in fact himself that had caused the problem because it was his idea to try and balance the bottle on her toe. Which I reminded him of before we left by saying, that he had just wasted at least an hour of valuable healing time.
“Finnigan! Front and center!” Gavin, the head of Sports called from the doorway of his office.
“Damn it,” I muttered to myself.
I slowly got up, and as if in slow motion walked over to him. He gave me a smile that was a little misleading to say the least. After calling me in that 'I eat children for breakfast' tone, and then smiling like that. I think he's just trying to confuse me.
“Come on in, Nelissa,” he said and started back inside. I followed him in and took a seat opposite his chair. “you got my memo?”
“Yeah, I did,” I nodded.
“Well, there's a dinner in a few weeks. It's all smart clothes and caviare,”
“I need you to go,”
“Where is it?” I questioned.
“At England Quidditch club,”
“Again,” I groaned. Why does James Potter host every damn event on the Quidditch social calender?
“What?” Gavin asked.
“Nothing,” I muttered.
“Well, anyone who's anyone is going to be there,”
“They'll be loads of people you can get statements from,”
“Will I get paid over time?” I asked hopefully.
“No, you won't,” Gavin said and started to laugh. He thought I was joking. I wasn't.
“Best get working, and we need at least one statement or question from the big cheese tonight,” Gavin said and stood to shoo me out.
After having the door slammed behind me I started to earn stares from American Phil, who's I-am-so-funny attitude is beaten only by Gavin. I try to avoid Phil when I can. Not only does his accent go right through me, but his face makes me feel despressed. He was standing with a group of women from celebrity news bragging about something, saying things like, “And I said, I said, let me just run this past you Keith,”
* * *
After work I slumped my way out of the office and out into Diagon Alley. The problem with working in Diagon Alley is having to walk past all of the clothes shops, eating places and stalls, which don't tend to close until later on. I always end up buying something nice or eating an iced bun. And I'm meant to be on a diet for Merlin's sake! But I couldn't help gazing lovingly at the cakes in the shop window. It was like a need, the same need I get at the boxing day sale or when I think Gavin's going to give me that promotion. That need is better than sex.
When I arrived at England HQ I was met by polished glass doors and the posh interior of the reception with pictures of Quidditch players flying in black and white on the walls. But as I came to the doors that led to the conference I was met by guarded territory. I had to flash them my badge and tell them my name before they even let me in. I really don't understand it, who in their right mind would assassinate a load of Quidditch buffs?
Inside there were rows of chairs all facing a top table. The room was filling up now and I hurried to get a seat at the back. I didn't really need to ask any questions, I could always just copy someone else's and say they copied me when Gavin asks.
“Budge over, Nel,” a voice said from above me and I looked up to see Emma grinning down at me.
“When did you get here?” I asked and let her take a seat next to me.
“Not long ago. I got stuck between the Quidditch Monthly's,”
“They graced you with their presence?” I joked.
“Here,” Emma said and passed me a glass of something alcoholic.
“I didn't see any,” I said taking it off of her and having a grateful sip.
“You don't have a nose for it like I do,” Emma teased and leaned back in her seat.
“If you can all be seated!” a woman's voice called over the noise.
I cringed a little at the creak of the door opening. Out of a side door walked all of the England officials. I saw James Potter take his seat with the others. His eyes found me and I involuntarily shuddered. I hate when he does that, it's like he knows that I'm there and he's warning me to keep quiet and go home.
The conference started and Emma and I spent our time catching up. I used to pay attention, honest. But you learn that everything they say is useless and all you need are a few statements to go with the pack. Besides, the whole conference is written down and then distributed to everyone anyway, so it's pointless.
“What can you tell us about the rumoured contract between England and the Holyhead Harpies keeper?!” someone called out.
I turned to Emma. “Do you think it's important?”
“Must be,” she said and tapped her chin with a nail file.
“They have the good booze out,” she shrugged and went back to her nails.
I glanced over to the clock. If this hurries up I could still make it out with Josie on time.
I decided to prepare by peering in Emma's bag. She always has everything you need for a night out. I picked out a bottle of nail varnish and discreetly shook it. “Do you mind?” I asked and she shrugged. I opened it and started to paint the blood red liquid over my nails.
It wasn't until Emma elbowed me I realised that James Potter was looking at me because of the smell that had started to fill the room. He was half glaring and half amused. He had a glint in his eye and a smirk on his face.
“Nelissa, could you please put that away?” he asked quietly, as if he were asking me to reach for a jar of sweets in Honeydukes. “If you didn't want to pay any interest to the upcoming season maybe you should have chosen a more suited career,”
Oh believe me, I tried.
“I'm sorry,” I blushed. “It's just, I have an important event to attend,” I muttered.
“Oh?” he asked, his eyebrows raised.
“An award ceremony,”
“For yourself?” he enquired.
“Yes,” I rushed.
Shit. What did I just say?
“But you chose to attend this conference,”
“I am very dedicated to my job, James,”
“I can tell,” he said dryly. “If you would like to leave, I can have the pack and conference notes owled to you,”
“That would be lovely,” I smiled but eyed him suspiciously.
I pushed the bottle of nail varnish into Emma's bag and stood up. On my way out I felt his eyes on me.
“May I ask what the award is for, Nelissa?” James asked politely.
I stilled. I thought I had gotten away with it, I had my hand resting on the doorknob and everything. Then I slowly faced him.
“I invented a potion,” I said. I don't know why I said it, it just came out.
“What does it do?” he asked, his eyebrows raised.
“Oh, it induces laughter,”
“Don't we already have a potion that does that?” he said and he looked like he was holding in laughter.
“This is different,”
“Of course, how silly of me,” he said with a smirk.
I turned and nearly ran out of that door. That's got to be the worst one for a while. Not as bad as when we were allowed onto the Chudley Cannons training pitch and I hit the keeper with a bludger that bashed off my bag. But still pretty awful.
I got past the guards and apparated out as soon as I was able. I needed a drink. When I arrived on the doorstep of the London bar I let out a sigh of relief.
Inside I skirted past people until I stopped in front of Josie. She was sat near the bar on a stool waiting for me with two drinks in front of her.
“You're late,” she teased as I sat down and gestured to the clock that read 8.03.
“Please, don't ask,” I grimaced and took one of the drinks, taking large thankful gulps.
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