A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

"These are dark times, there is no denying..."
Scrimgeour said it first, but we're feeling it in the real world and we know you are too!

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 #23775  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
Location: Daily Prophet HQ • Date: March 2003


His deadline had come and gone when he had rolled his parchment and had sent his last draft towards the Editor in Chief's office. Satisfied with his article, though Evelyn Winters would probably sideline it for having been sent a few minutes after cut off, he leaned back into his chair and stretched his arms behind his head. The pain in his shoulders and neck was alleviated for a brief moment of respite.

The faint glow of desk lamps betraying who had yet to leave their desk, he sighed; they truly had chosen a business that never slept. Arnaud ran a hand through his hair, leaving random strands of brown to stand haphazardly atop his head. Leaning back towards his desk he started putting away the documents, parchments and books he had used for his latest investigation. His bag was already over his shoulder, when he noticed the corner of a parchment sticking out of a book he was about to put away. Grinning as he noticed the distinct scrawl covering the piece of parchment, he hurriedly looked towards the pressroom. Desk lamp glow giving away the presence of the handwriting's bearer he made his way towards her desk. Without as much as a prelude he dropped the cropped piece of parchment on her desk. "Remember when we were young and naive?"
 #23800  by Helena Sun
 
The candescant lamp shone with an indefinite lustre next to the lone figure; a spry witch hunched over her desk with what one could assume to be an encyclopedia in the making. The chaos of loose parchments unfurled before her were but the aftermath of only one weeks worth of procrastination. Except deadlines did not have a tolerance for idle writers, and neither did an editor-in-chief of the most established wizarding newspaper. Especially not the editor-in-chief.

As Helena sat there nibbling on the tip of her quill, she barely noticed a certain reporter weave his way into her direction. It was only he made his presence known with a rather loaded question and a piece of their past did Helena realise that she wasn't the only one burning what muggles called 'the midnight oil.' Arnaud's sudden company certainly startled her and Helena had to stop herself from letting out a squeal. Managing to suppress an icy remark for shattering her concentration, the witch looked up from her work and eyed the man dubiously. "I still am young and naive," she eventually said as her draughty gaze travelled to meet his own. "Arguably, you are too." She swivelled her chair to greet his presence. With a lighter note that betrayed the faintest sign of nostalgia, she gingerly picked up the offending piece of paper. "Where did you find this? This was years ago."
 #23806  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
"Young I will concede. Naive? You eventually convinced me otherwise." His voice trailed off as his mind followed suit.

An intense evening had brought them together, one during which they had been sequestered by thugs and their brutish vampire. Witnessing their boss's wrist being twisted like a twig while they watched helplessly was not a memory he liked to revisit so it remained in the back of his mind while others resurfaced. How he had kissed her that night, desperate for something that felt less demoralizing than what they had witnessed. He thought of working with her subsequently and the various distractions they had sprung upon each other; a tryst in the copy room, a daring hand grabbing a fistful of his shirt while in the middle of arguing about a word and its synonyms, pulling at her hair harder and harder as his hips thrusted just as robustly...

"Between the pages of Hogwarts a History," he explained sensing that his thoughts had impeded his ability to answer her question. The book had become quite helpful when they had intended to expose Umbridge for the deeds she had imposed while ruling upon the school. "What are you working on?" He studied her desk with curiosity while his hip rested casually against her desk.
 #23843  by Helena Sun
 
Helena knew exactly what ran through Arnaud’s thoughts, knew exactly what was going through that fantastic mind of his. It made her feel unsettled, but also thrilled her to bits. Colour crept to her cheek at his comment and restlessly she crossed and uncrossed her legs, twirled a length of hair against her index finger; little gestures that would even suggest that she was flirting with him. Except Helena never flirted, but Arnaud had been one of the more enticing men in her life and she couldn’t help but notice that they were the only ones left in the office.

“How ironic,” came her response about their once shared passion to expose a certain Dolores Umbridge as she worked up the courage to once again meet his gaze. She blushed childishly and cursed herself. Transparency was not something she valued in a personality, and transparent she was being. “It was a bloody good story and as always, it didn’t work out.”

Feeding a lithe hand through her hair, Helena glanced briefly at the pile of parchment scattered on her desk. She feigned a grimace. “Things I was meant to finish earlier this week but left to the last minute. Media reportings on court cases from the war mostly” She admitted guiltily, finding it pathetic that the wizarding world was still trudging their way through the aftermath of war. There was still so much to clean up.
 #23892  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
Amused by his obvious effect on her, Arnaud waited for her eyes to drift back to him. "We could have made it work," eyes blazing with charm, he rattled the cage of their past disagreement. Evelyn had been clear, The Prophet would not publish their story, but Arnaud had argued that they had other options.

Eyes on the documents on her desk he thumbed through a pile of parchments. "Almost done?" Being in her presence with a remnant of their past sitting right there between them, he was intrigued by the tugging strings of nostalgia. "I never did drink that bottle of champagne I got for the day our story would be published." He had tempted fate and she had laughed at him, but it didn't mean the bottle of champagne was destined to remain unpoped.
 #24027  by Helena Sun
 
"We made it work, the world just wasn't ready for it yet," Helena quipped back with a mirthful smile. She put down her quill and neatly shuffled the loose units of parchment into a tidy pile. While it wasn't a ridiculous hour to be working, Helena knew that she was standing on the tipping point between productivity and plain fatigue. She'd come in on the weekend if she really had to.

The witch retrieved her wand from its pine stand on her desk (a rather handy addition to her inventory as Helena was one of those unfortunate witches who seemed to always misplace their wand) and flicked it nonchalantly. An array of miscellaneous items obediently marched their way into Helena's brown handbag. She was done for the day.

Helena shrugged her handbag over her spidery right shoulder. Another flick of her wand and the dull glow of her desk lamp extinguished itself into macabre darkness. A part of her knew that the smartest thing to do would be to go straight home, but it had been a rather mentally-demanding day and champagne sounded better than anything she had heard all week. "Where do you want to go?" queried Helena. She felt the blood in her veins shiver at the many hazards at potential. Her job, for one. Evelyn had made it absolutely and irrevocably transparent that their flitting past relationship was not to be repeated.

"Do you want to go to the park, maybe? Or a bar?" Perhaps for now it was best to remain in the watchful public eye, just in case the champagne was consumed much too excitedly and without any delay.
 #24032  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
While she packed he accioed the bottle of bubbles he had been keeping in one of his desk's drawers.

"The park?" Laughter reached his eyes before it came tumbling through his parted lips. The suggestion had certainly been offered with the intent of preventing them from doing something reckless, yet he stumbled on its juvenile undertones. It reminded him of his younger days in France, days when he had been desperate to hide from the watchful gaze of his chaperons.

"What about the roof?" He pointed upwards as his eyebrows did a similar motion. "Knowing our keeper is close should keep us in line."
 #24070  by Helena Sun
 
If she had been more fickle in disposition, Helena would have initially blushed at her juvenile remark. She was confident however that she had been through enough with Arnaud to know that he would never judge anything she said or did. For he too was a journalist, an article of truth just as she was. The fourth estate, they were called. The press, professionals of journalism. Transparency was an innate structure of their core survival. If Arnaud had anything to criticise Helena on, she could reciprocate with her own unique strength.

It seemed that Arnaud was to be the brain for the evening, not that Helena minded. She was overly exhausted from thinking. It was nice that she didn’t have to grapple for ideas. “The roof sounds perfect, ironic if I daresay,” came her response as she started to loom towards the elevators. “Better than a park, anyway.” She couldn’t help but let out an impish laugh.
 #24074  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
The elevator had dark wooden walls with elaborate carvings, a pale floor, an intricately carved handrail, and no buttons. "Fourth floor," he pronounced once he had entered the small lift. The golden doors slid shut and the elevator rose towards the fourth floor.

He stood behind her, his eyes lost somewhere between the base of her neck and his urge to push her against the wall and press his body against hers. Every passing second pressured against the tension between them. The air became so brittle he felt as though a single movement would make it snap. Make him snap.

Slowly, inexorably, his body tilted towards hers.
 #24213  by Helena Sun
 
As she followed the wizard into the dimly-lit Victorian elevators, Helena could not help but notice how muggy the air was and how compact the elevator was from floor to ceiling. She also couldn't help but realise that they were truly quite alone. She knew the cleaners came and went at a particular hour in the night and that hour had already passed. She also knew for a fact that Lester the security guard didn't leave his post under any circumstances unless there was an occasion of direct intrusion in case he missed anything on the Wizarding Wireless.

And then she was suddenly and so painfully aware that he was leaning in towards her, and she had to take a moment to remind herself that they weren't meant to be anything more, because Evelyn had said so and Merlin forbid that either of them went against her wishes. With reluctance she arched away from him only to find her back ploughing rather ungracefully against the mirror-lined elevator wall.

"Shouldn't we at least wait for the champagne to give us a reason?" Helena couldn't help but say smugly. He smelled familiar, and she could make out the dips and cracks of his complexion that she had often studied so intrinsically late at night under the canopied moonlight that shone into her apartment flat. Helena felt his warmth, that homeliness that she recalled fondly. It took an arcane effort to place her palm against his chest to push him back.
 #24262  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
Offering no resistance whatsoever, he careened away from her. "You're right, let's wait until we have a proper excuse." Though his words implied a specific outcome, his tone was more teasing than determined.

Once the elevator had reached its destination, Arnaud invited her to lead the way. Diagon Alley's lights blurred with the moon's silver hue. Two old chairs and a wooden box sat close to the roof's edge. Before they reached the weathered chairs he offered her the bottle. "Would you do us the honor?"
 #24291  by Helena Sun
 
It took a specific type of concentration to paralyse the palpitating quiver of elation which surged through every fibrous muscle. Helena found that she was reminding herself to not make any stupid mistakes. She had always been sensible, someone full to the absolute brim with sense. But she had a weakness, and that weakness was a keen thirst for self-destruction in all forms and manners. She didn't like what alcohol did to her. She didn't like what Arnaud did to her either.

Tentatively stepping out of the elevator, Helena stepped onto the roof of the Daily Prophet. The city of London winked back at her. Helena turned to face Arnaud as he offered her the bottle of sparkling. Retrieving her wand from her satchel, Helena silently charmed the cork to resist its idle position and projectile itself into the air before disintegrating. Next she conjured two champagne flutes.

The flutes were now full and without hesitation Helena raised her glass to the investigative reporter before her. Lifting back her head she drained the glass as easily as if it were water. Carbon pearls showered her throat and filled her stomach with fire. "To past ambitions," Helena said as she filled up her glass once more. "And to the past generally."
 #24408  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
"Are we already turning into those journalists?" A cheeky smile on his features he clinked his glass against hers. After a sip, he added, "those who constantly think of the good old days?" One evening of nostalgia does not a dinosaur make, but Arnaud couldn't help, but tease.

The champagne was good. Nothing like the expensive bubbles Evelyn had served at the Prophet's New Year's Eve party, but not cheap vinegared champagne either. Flute in hand Arnaud looked at the view; a horizon checkered with light and darkness. "Do you ever think about leaving this place?"
 #24512  by Helena Sun
 
"We already are those journalists," Helena quipped back while rolling her eyes just for the dramatic effect it procured. The bubbles from the sparkling wine tickled her throat but it was not an unpleasant sensation. Helena devoured the last of her glass hungrily. She mused that she had not taken a drink for quite some time, and she concluded that she needed it quite enthusiastically.

Her gaze fell to the flickering lights of early 21st century London. She noted that there were many more buildings in the faint horizon where muggle London fell. Diagon Alley looked quite the same though. She wondered if it would always look the same, despite the rapid development in the outside world.

The young woman's gaze flitted over to Arnaud, yet only briefly before returning to the nightscape before them. She didn't want him to see the loneliness that reflected in such serious eyes. "Where else would we work?" Helena mumbled almost inaudibly, as if she were talking to herself. "The Witch Weekly?"
 #24610  by Arnaud Lacroix
 
"In your fantasies, we run away together uh?" Basking in the confident glory of her admission he licked his lips and grinned. Like hers, his eyes went back towards the view.

He let a moment pass, seconds during which he contemplated what she had said, forced to admit that he had considered it as well. Despite the numerous disagreements they had worked well together, he had no doubt their partnership could extend to other publications. In fact, staying at The Prophet had made it dwindle before it had reached its full potential.

"I've been a freelancer, I wouldn't mind going back to it." Uncertainty had never scared him, he even missed the freedom at times.