Chapter 1 : An Unwelcome Visitor
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Practice with the Harpies had gone on for way too long. It had finished at seven, like normal, but Gwenog had insisted on going inside to go over a new strategy of hers, and it had taken hours. By the time the team had left the dressing rooms, their eyelids heavy, the sun was long-gone.
“Why didn’t Gwenog just retire?” Ginny thought angrily to herself. She was a great Quidditch player, and she always got the best out of the team, but she was getting very old to still be playing and her strategy talks were driving Ginny mad.
She turned a corner sharply and almost walked straight into a rather drunken-looking man on the sidewalk.
“Oh, sorry!” she exclaimed. However, she wasn’t sure the man had even noticed her. He was staring blearily at the opposite house, hiccupping every few seconds. Ginny caught a whiff of him, was reminded of Mundungus, and covered her nose with her cloak, quickly getting out of smell range.
A few minutes later, Ginny was walking down a dirty-looking Muggle street called Grimmauld Place. She stopped in a dark patch, between two street lamps, and stared up at the houses marked No. 11 and No. 13. Before anything else happened, however, she froze. The hairs on the back of her neck were tingling, and she had a strange feeling that she was being watched. Glad she had stopped in the shadows, she turned to a clump of bushes to her left and pointed her wand cautiously at them.
For a moment there was silence, and then a rustling came from within the bushes and a figure emerged. Ginny kept her wand trained on the figure.
“Step out into the light,” she ordered sharply.
The figure complied, and as it stepped into the orange light of the nearest streetlamp, curly blonde hair, rhinestone glasses and pencilled-on eyebrows were revealed. The figure smiled, showing three gold teeth.
“Now, why don’t you put that wand away, dear? Come, now, do you think I’m going to hurt you? Or were you expecting someone… else?”
Ginny narrowed her eyes at the figure, being careful to keep herself hidden in the dark. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, what any good reporter does. Trying to get a good old juicy story.”
Ginny heard the relish in her voice when she said “story”, and scowled even more. Thinking quickly, she said;
“You’re Rita Skeeter, aren’t you? I love your work. What type of story are you looking for?”
She kept her tone casual, despite the fact that almost everything she had just said was a lie. She most definitely did not like the old bat’s writing, and she knew exactly what story she was looking for, but this was definitely Rita Skeeter - right down to the crocodile-skin handbag she held in her fingernail-painted, claw-like hand.
Rita smiled widely. “So glad to hear you’re a fan. Have you read my recent article in the Prophet on why Hermione Granger’s house-elf protection act is a load of rubbish? I’ve met her, you know. Horrible temper. A spoilt brat if I ever saw one…”
Ginny coughed purposefully. Rita came out of her rant.
“Oh, yes, why I’m here? Well, I’m wondering if you could help me… I’m looking for the residence of the Potters?”
Despite the fact that Ginny had pretty much known this already, she still felt an angry stab of dislike. The nosy old hag!
“Err… well, actually, I could,” she said, trying to keep the contempt out of her voice.
“Really? What do you know, dear?”
Ginny hesitated. She had a plan, but she didn’t want to blow it. Rita was very sharp, no matter how much of an old bat she was.
“W-Well… I know them,” she said hesitantly, purposely stuttering.
Rita leaned towards her. Ginny took a step back.
A look of confusion flashed across Rita’s face.
“Surely by now you know I’m not going to hurt you? But… you know the Potters? Both of them? What are they like? Where do they live?” Rita sounded slightly hysterical with excitement.
“Erm… they’re very nice people,” said Ginny.
Rita looked disappointed.
“Yes, yes, we all know about saint Potter and his Quidditch-playing redhead girlfriend,” muttered Rita.
“Wife,” corrected Ginny.
Rita made to open her handbag.
“But for how much longer? Can she cope living with the boy-who-lived, the Chosen One, having to live in his shadow all the time?”
Rita’s words made Ginny stop dead. Rita had a point; she was always the other half of the couple, it was always “Harry Potter and that girl who plays for the Harpies” rather than “Harry and Ginny”. For a second, she actually half-believed Rita’s words. But then she remembered the way Harry held her, how he would do anything for her… and it wasn’t his fault he was famous with the whole wizarding world. All he had done was save them from a snake-eyes freak, he hasn’t asked for the fame or the publicity. Feeling disgusted with herself for even thinking that what Rita said could ever be true, she looked back at the journalist, a new anger burning in her eyes.
“They’re coping fine,” she said firmly. Rita looked glum.
“Well, if that’s all you can give me…”
She turned to walk away, but Ginny wasn’t done yet.
“Hey, wait! I know where they live, though!”
Rita turned back to her; the reporter’s face had a greedy look on it.
“What!? You do!? Where? Tell me!”
She looked like an excited child who had been promised sweets.
Ginny nodded, soon remembering that Rita could hardly see her in the dark.
“Yes,” she said, “and I can tell you where. They’ve got a cottage up in Scotland.”
Rita’s greedy expression switched back to the confused one.
“What!? Are you joking? I had good information that they live somewhere around here in London, from sightings of them coming home…”
“I’m sure,” said Ginny in a sure tone, “They walk to a spot around here, then apparate to Scotland. I’ve been up there; they’ve got a really nice place with three bedrooms and a lovely little kitchen…”
“Yeah, whatever, don’t bore me with the details,” said a distracted-looking Rita, waving her hand dismissively. “Where exactly in Scotland?”
“In the middle of a highland. It’s pretty deserted, as they obviously don’t want people finding them, but I’m sure the great Rita Skeeter will be able to find them.”
Rita nodded vigorously. “I’ll get right on it! Thanks! You might be seeing another article appearing in the Prophet soon about your dear friends… thanks again!”
And without hesitation, she turned on the spot and disappirated.
Shaking with laughter at the thought of Rita Skeeter rushing around the Scottish highlands, her glasses askew and grass in her hair, Ginny turned back to the two houses, in between which another house (No. 12) seemed to magically grow.
She began the ascent up the steps to the door. She had a lot to tell Harry about today…
Hi all! I hope you enjoyed my first ever one-shot. It came to me when I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, and I knew I had to write it down! And a quick note for all those who want to keep everything strictly in canon; (I know I do lol) I know Hermione probably would have turned Rita in by now for being an un-registered Animagus, after the biographies she wrote about Harry and Snape, and other stuff she’s bound to have written, but I wanted to use Rita in this story rather than just any reporter, so I’ve kept her out of Azkaban for this :-) Anyway, I hope you liked it, please review! Constructive criticism is welcomed, as are all of your opinions. Thanks again for reading and (hopefully) reviewing!