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Chapter 4: Reporters, Letters and Decisions
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry’s next few days were spent fixing up the castle; there was so much to be done. Some rooms simply needed a few Reparo spells, whereas others were a complete wreck. One classroom, Harry and the Weasleys found, had been utterly destroyed; the chairs, tables and walls were unable to be fixed due to the dark curses that had reduced them to piles of smouldering wood and stone.
“Like my ear,” George had muttered, darkly.
Harry was grateful for the work; it kept his mind off other things, such as those who had died, and Voldemort’s supporters who were still at large. He would spend hours working with Ginny, Ron and Hermione, talking quietly while repairing what seemed like endless tapestries and smashed-in walls.
However, there were still problems that found their way to Harry, despite his best efforts to keep away from them. He discovered just hours after his talk with Kingsley that reporters from the Daily Prophet and various magazines had been searching for him since he had defeated Voldemort. Harry could not think of anyone he less wanted to speak to, and was glad he had kept out of the way straight after the battle, but unluckily one of them finally found him later that day as he was trying fruitlessly to repair a statue of Saribus the Sober, who was probably the least sober person (or statue) Harry had ever laid eyes on; he reminded Harry of Mundungus.
The bothered-looking reporter appeared behind the statue so suddenly Harry would have sworn he’d apparated, except for the fact there had been no tell-tale crack and anyway, you couldn’t apparate or disapparate in or our of Hogwarts. Harry virtually jumped out of his skin when he saw the reporter’s watery eyes staring back at him, and drew his wand.
The man stepped out from behind the statue, a chunky-looking camera slung around his neck, which reminded Harry, with a dull blow, of Colin. He was a scrawny man who looked slightly rat-like. His face was pointed and red as a beetroot, he had cauliflower-ears and an irritable-looking expression until he saw Harry, on which his mouth split into a toothy smile.
“Mr. Potter! My, my, the man himself, what an honour! Let me introduce myself, I am Porlitus Porlock, reporter for the Prophet, but I expect you’ll know that, of course, I do wirte a lot of front-page articles… how would you like to give an interview on how you finally defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? I can promise you the front page…”
He said all this very fast, without taking a breath, but Harry already knew his answer.
“No, thanks, not now, I’m busy…” he said gruffly.
“Oh, don’t worry about that! You shouldn’t be cleaning the castle like common people! (He gestured to the Weasleys and Hermione) You should be being honoured, house elves waiting on you…”
Hermione gave a very audible harrumph.
“…and, as I said, I can assure you the front page and a very generous amount of galleons too, for this kind of interview…”
Harry interrupted him. “I’m not interested, thanks. And don’t insult these people, they are my friends and fought just as bravely as anyone.”
All of the Weasleys flushed, looking very grateful and slightly embarrassed. For a moment the reporter looked very annoyed, but recovered quickly.
“If you’re not ready for an interview now, if you could just sign this parchment saying you won’t sell your story to anyone else, and you can tell me when you’re ready…”
“Are you deaf? He said no,” said Ron, through gritted teeth.
“I didn’t ask you opinion, boy,” snapped the reporter.
This was the wrong decision. Harry tightened his grip on his wand. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were looking mutinous while Ron and George were cracking their knuckles in a very Crabbe-and-Goyle-like way.
The reporter seemed to realise his mistake and said nervously, “I’ll go, then. Unless one of you wishes to tell your story?”
George opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, Percy had stepped forwards. Harry was surprised; Percy had hardly spoken since Fred had died.
“If you do not leave Harry and my family alone, I shall personally report you to the Minister for Magic. You are violating the wizards’ privacy act under section five, paragraph seven,” said Percy, in a clear and business-like tone. “I suggest you leave now.”
The reporter looked like he had been slapped around the face. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, then seemed to think better of it, and shuffled away, leaving a stunned silence in his wake.
“Wow, Perce. I guess your time at the Ministry wasn’t useless after all. I’ve never heard of the wizards’ privacy act,” said George weakly.
Percy blushed slightly. “That’s because there isn’t one,” he said, sounding embarrassed. “I just told him that to get him to go away, the scrawny idiot.”
George’s battle-worn face split into a grin.
“Lying to a Daily Prophet reporter, Perce?” he said, in a mock stern voice. “That’s really bad, that is… I might have to confiscate your old prefects badge…”
And they all burst out laughing.
Three days after Kingsley had visited them about their futures, Harry, Ron and Hermione were relaxing by the fire after a long day’s work with Ginny and Arnold (who had been sitting on Ginny’s shoulder through the day; she had retrieved him from the Room of Requirement, where he had been happily munching on the Hufflepuff banners)
Harry wondered where Arnold had been during the battle; he can’t have been in the room or it wouldn’t have changed when they wanted to find the room of lost things, unless the room didn’t register Arnold. Apparently he had snuck into Hogwarts with Ginny when she responded to Neville’s call.
Harry was absent-mindedly twisting his fingers gently through Ginny’s hair when a tap came at the window that made him jump. He looked over to see a handsome screech owl ruffling its feathers and tapping with it’s beak on the window. Harry realised with a jolt that it was Percy’s owl, Hermes, but as Percy was sitting in a chair on the other side of the common room, he could hardly have sent it.
Harry got up to open the window, and expected Hermes to fly over to Percy, but instead he held out his leg for Harry to remove a letter that was attached there. Feeling apprehensive, Harry untied the letter and Hermes fluttered over to Percy, who seemed very surprised.
Harry went back to his seat by the fireplace, turning the letter over in his hands. It was official-looking and Harry saw the Ministry of Magic seal stamped onto the back.
Ron, Hermione and Ginny hadn’t paid much attention when he’d got up; he’d been receiving various owls over the last few days, mainly notes to thank him for saving the world from Voldemort, but some letters asking him to give the writers interviews for their various newspapers. (Rita Skeeter had written 15 times)
Yesterday breakfast had been particularly memorable, when over 100 owls had swooped down on him to try to deliver their letters of appreciation, with the odd letter from Rita. Professor McGonagall had had to cast a complicated charm so that the owls delivered their letters to his bed rather than Harry himself, leading to a four-poster covered in letters and owl-droppings when he got back to his dormitory that night.
However, he was pretty sure this was not a fan letter or a request for an interview, judging by the MoM seal. Curious, he broke the seal and opened the letter.
“What’ve you got there, mate?” said Ron, sleepily. “Is it from some nutter who wants to thank you, or Skeeter?”
Hermione threw him a reproachful look.
“What!?” he exclaimed.
“People who want to thank Harry aren’t “nutters”! Harry’s saved hundreds of lives by defeating Voldemort… (Harry noticed Ron didn’t flinch, although his eyebrows twitched) …so naturally people will want to thank him!”
Ron rolled his eyes at Harry and grinned.
“OK, OK, maybe not nutters. More like nutcases…”
He grinned again. “I’m just pulling your leg, ‘Mione, lighten up!” He winked at Harry.
“So, what is the letter about, Harry?” asked Ginny loudly, as Hermione looked like she was about to retort.
“I think it might be from Kingsley.”
Ginny took Arnold off her shoulder and transferred him to her lap, looking curious. Ron and Hermione’s attitudes changed immediately. Ron looked slightly awed, while Hermione’s expression changed to one of stress.
“Blimey, Harry, you’ve got the Minister for Magic himself writing to you!” said Ron, sounding impressed. But Hermione was looking very worried.
“Will he want to know our decisions? Oh, no, I still really don’t know! We’ve been so busy… oh, I really want to do something to make a difference in the ministry, but I really want to get my NEWTS… but then think of all the elves I could be helping in that time…”
“Calm down, Hermione. Let me read it first,” said Harry, slightly amused. Hermione was acting like she used to do when it was their exams.
He unfolded the thick piece of parchment to see neat, smart-looking writing, and read aloud:
Dear Harry (Harry noticed the use of his first name rather than his surname)
I am writing to request a meeting with you, Ron and Hermione to make an official statement that can be released to the wizarding world on your year away and defeat of Lord Voldemort. I understand you may not want to tell everything, and I am sure that not everything you went through would be suitable for release to the public; however, I have had owls pestering me and a lot of Ministry pressure insisting they know what happened for the last few days. I therefore think that the sooner a statement is released, the sooner the wild stories that have been going around will stop, and there will be a lot less pressure for all of us.
I also am wondering whether Ron and Hermione have made any decisions on their careers as of yet. However, they need not decide yet, they have until mid-August for Ron, and Hermione until the Hogwarts term begins on September the 1st. I am planning to issue a statement that anyone who fought in the final battle but has not completed school, or has not been able to find work (Harry thought sadly of Lupin) will be able to gain a job at any Ministry department they please, as high up as I can get them. I have also asked the Gringotts goblins to begin casting the medals I talked to you about. They will be paid so that there is no dispute on ownership.
I hope you and everyone else are well; it is very busy here at the Ministry. I thought you would like to know we have captured several Death Eaters in the last few days, including Avery and Crabbe. Crabbe came quietly after he was informed of the death of his son. Avery was less compliant, but no Aurors were killed or severely injured, thankfully.
Please meet me at the Ministry in my office at 3:15PM tomorrow. If I were you I would bring that wonderful cloak of yours; plenty of people at the Ministry would want to talk to you that I am sure you would not want to talk to. I give the three of you permission to apparate, find enclosed you licences; I do not believe a test is necessary due to the amount of apparition I believe you have been doing over the last year!
See you tomorrow in my office. Best regards,
Temporary Minister for Magic
P.S. I believe this is Ron’s brother’s owl; he has been residing in the Ministry’s Owlery, but I thought he may like him returned.
Harry turned the envelope upside-down and three small pieces of parchment fell out, with their names and “apparition license” written on each of them neatly.
There was a small silence, then…
“I can’t believe he’s given us our licences without taking our test,” said Hermione quietly.
“Don’t complain!” said Ron, snatching his from Harry’s hand. “Anyway, we deserve it; we’ve been apparating halfway across Britain this last year. Kingsley knows he can trust us.”
“Yes, but still…” said Hermione, looking doubtful.
Harry and Ginny exchanged glances; they knew an argument was about to start.
“So then, Ron, have you thought about if you’re gonna take up that Auror offer yet?” said Harry, trying to change the subject. Ron’s expression lightened.
“Yeah, I have and I think I will. It’s such a good opportunity, and George says he doesn’t mind running the shop on his own for a while; he’s still got a few staff to help him out,” said Ron eagerly. “So, I reckon I should say yes! I’ll tell him tomorrow.
Harry grinned. “Great! We’ll go tomorrow at three, then, under the cloak. Sorry, Ginny, but I don’t think you can come.”
“I’m sure Kingsley wouldn’t mind, but I want to finish that classroom on the third floor, anyway.” She yawned. “I think I’m going to bed. Night.”
She kissed Harry, put Arnold on her shoulder again and walked off towards the girl’s dormitories. They sat there for a while, before Harry got up stiffly and said, “I’m going to bed too. See you tomorrow.”
Back in his four-poster (which had been mercifully cleared of owl-droppings by Kreacher) Harry found himself thinking how satisfying it would be to work with Ron in the Auror department, seeking out the last of the Death Eaters and putting them in Azkaban, then coming home to Grimmuald Place, where Kreahcer waited for him with a warm meal and Ginny and their kids welcomed him home, laughing and smiling…
And with these comforting thoughts in his mind, Harry drifted off to sleep.
I hope you all liked it! Next chapter will be the Trio’s meeting with Kingsley and some other stuff… it was supposed to be in this chapter but then I realised I couldn’t fit it in to one. Thanks to all those who have read and reviewed, and if you haven’t, please do! I’m always glad to hear your thoughts, whether they’re positive or negative. Thanks again!