Chapter 16 : Tattletale
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born 2010 (year not canon)
A little girl was crouching behind some bushes, enviously watching her cousins whisper over a wizard’s set. She pulled at her curly red pigtails, whishing she was just a little older, so she would be allowed to go play with them. As the youngest of the bunch, she always got told off, not really a part of the fun. Granted, Lily wasn’t there either, nor was Hugo, but those two had their own things to take care off. Lily loved spending time in the kitchen whenever they were all congregated at the Burrow, and Hugo was surely sitting somewhere, reading a book.
Lucy watched transfixed as her cousin James produced some bugs out of his trouser pockets. They were dead of course, and slightly squashed, she noticed with wide eyes. What were they going to do with them?
If James and Freddie had that kind of looks on their faces, they were almost always up to something. Lucy leaned forward, intend on hearing what they spoke about. She lost her balance, and stumbled out of the bushes with a little shriek.
"Lucy!" At least seven voices squeaked, yelled or blurted out. Uh uh, she thought as she looked up slowly, trying to grin innocently.
"Lucy! It’s not nice to eavesdrop! Little sneak!" Molly reprimanded her. Lucy hadn’t expected anything else, Molly always tried to be so correct, but who was the one planning pranks that involved bugs?
"What are you doing? I don’t think mother and father will like it!" she tried to stand her ground.
"No, they definitely wouldn’t." Sometimes, it was scary how Jamie and Freddie could act so identical. James grabbed a handful of the bugs, and threw them at her.
She had always found bugs yucky, and having them flung at your face was definitely not nice either. She squealed and ran off toward the Burrow’s back entrance.
That day, seven of Molly and Arthur Weasley’s grandchildren did not get dessert, and from that day on, Lucy had gained her reputation.
Ten years later
Lucy sat on the shores of the Black Lake, scribbling into a notebook. It was her sixth year now, each and every one of her cousin had graduated by now. Thank Merlin. Not that she hated her family, no, but she was the youngest of the Weasley family, and had a bit of a reputation as a gossip among them.
She looked to her side at the sound of a noise. Her friend Annabelle was sitting cross-legged in the grass, a pencil flying over her sketch book working its magic. Annabelle was her closest friend, an artist at heart. Lucy leaned over and let out a peal of laughter at the image. She quickly stifled it though, not wanting to disturb the subject. Devon was lying on his back, a butterfly fluttering close to his face.
Annabelle Phillips was a half-blood, with long brown hair and beautiful brown eyes. Devon Dursley was her Uncle Harry’s cousin once removed, and curiously enough, Devon had the stunning emerald Evans eyes, but blond hair like his father. Devon was a big boy, but such a softie if you knew him, like a big squashy teddy bear. The three of them had made friends after the Sorting Hat had put them into Hufflepuff, all three of them kind of loners. Devon was considered slow and, due to his appearance she guessed, a bully. You’d think after six years people would have realised how wrong they were about him, but apparently not. Annabelle was no social butterfly, she preferred watching her surroundings and expressing herself with her drawings. She, Lucy, was the most inconspicuous of the Weasley children, blending into the shadows. Even her being sorted into Hufflepuff had only been noted at the side, no one had thought it worth mentioning. But she really did not mind. So Devon, Annabelle and her had teamed up, if only to escape boredom.
The last member of their group was Aria. Aria Skeeter. She was a Ravenclaw, smart and diligent. Only that no one wanted to be around her, as everyone had heard the one or other horror story about her mother. Aria acted as if she did not care, but Lucy knew she did. The three Hufflepuffs had avoided her at first, but that had changed one day in second year, when they had found her fighting for composure at being harassed by a group of older students, unified in their dislike of the little girl. Devon’s big stature had certainly helped, they had escaped to plot revenge behind the greenhouses. From then on, Aria had been the fourth member of their group.
Speaking of, a pixie-like figure with a blond bob came charging down the slope from the castle, looking livid. "Uh uh," Lucy uttered, drawing Annabelle’s attention to the approaching girl.
"I cannot believe it!" she yelled as soon as she was in hearing distance. She stomped around a bit, resulting in Devon sitting up and stretching. "Waz goin’ on?" he asked sleepily.
"Aria’s on a rampage," Lucy answered helpfully, pointing to where the blond girl was stomping about.
"She looks ready to explode," Annabelle supplied quietly, still putting finishing touches on her previous drawing from memory.
"Ari?" Lucy tried, as she got up cautiously and took a few steps closer.
Aria was still whirling about, muttering incomprehensible things to herself.
"Stop it!" Lucy said forcefully as she grabbed her by the shoulders.
"Cows! I’ll show them, those ignorant, prejudiced … argh!" she vented.
"Who?" Lucy, Devon and Annabelle asked. "Aria, calm down, and tell us what happened," Lucy coaxed her to sit down.
"Yes, mum," Aria rolled her eyes but sat down nonetheless.
"So, I went to the meeting of the Hogwarts Prophet today, you know how I wanted to join?" This was a rhetorical question, of course. Aria had wanted to be a journalist as long as they knew each other, but nothing like her mother. "Everything went smooth for a while, until that stupid bird Haystings wanted us all to introduce ourselves, and as soon as I said my name, they all went crazy! They don’t even know me, and go ballistic! I need a new name!" she turned abruptly towards the only boy in their group. "Devon, I need you to marry me! Do it!"
Devon spluttered, nearly choking on his own saliva. "That’s not a valid reason to marry!"
"I don’t care! Stupid idiotic mother! You would think she’d have learned, but no! I am getting emancipation! And those stupid prejudiced people here! Just wait and see, I am going to be the most famous journalist you’ve ever seen!"
Oh Lucy knew all about prejudices. Aria lived with her infamous mother, or rather in a flat that was owned by her mother, because Rita Skeeter was rarely at home. Aria often ranted how she thought her mother often forgot she even had a daughter, but that suited her just fine as it also gave her a lot of freedom.
She, Lucy Weasley, had her own issues with her family name, but her sorting seemed to have taken most of the expectations from her. She should really be glad for that.
"It’s so unfair! Half of them would use a Quick Quotes Quill if they only had one, and it would probably be best considering their talent with words!" Aria was still ranting. It was mostly true, the Hogwarts Prophet held a good amount of gossip and rumours, especially since Eloise Throckmorton had taken over as the editor-in-chief.
"We’d be eons better, no question. I bet we’d be able to beat their lousy paper, run them out of the market! Dev could write better articles than those clowns!"
"Oi, what is it with you today? Stop picking on me!" Devon protested.
"Dev, you’re just easily available. And apart from that, I’ve seen your essays, all excellently written."
"Yeah yeah, flattery will get you nowhere," Devon said languidly, turning to the other two to share a quick laugh. But neither Lucy nor Annabelle seemed to agree with him.
"Well, Dev, she’s ranting a whole lot, but that bit is true. You’re awesome. I’d wager anything you’d bag those wannabe-writers any day," Lucy said with conviction. Annabelle nodded in agreement.
"Oh come on, I’m not as good as you!" Devon said in Lucy’s direction.
"Me? Sure, I can unearth gossip, but writing it down is another matter entirely!"
"Not gossip, entertainment. Education, revelation. You’ve got your facts straight, at least, even if others might think of it as nosy." Annabelle supplied.
Sure, she thought scathingly. Especially her family.
"You know, that’s true. Little Luce’s got a knack for discovering things, ‘unearthing the truth’," Aria giggled before Lucy could reply. "I was really not thinking things through before, but it could really work. We’d have all the bases covered," she was getting really excited.
"Which bases?" Devon asked sceptically. "What are you talking about?"
"We’re going to do our own paper, of course!" Aria cried out, swinging her arms around like a windmill.
Devon gaped at her, Annabelle was watching her serenely, and Lucy was speechless. It was official now, Aria had gone mad.
"Aria, it’s all quite good and well writing an essay or a column for a paper, but running it? You have no idea what is necessary to go about that!" Lucy told her, trying to talk sense into her friend.
"Lucy," Aria said in the same tone, "I am a Ravenclaw. I can figure things out. And you know what? We’re magic!" she had leaned closed, as if revealing a state secret. "There must be spells to help with the printing, and editing and things!"
"Great, and then we’ll publish my essays?" Devon asked, uncommonly scathing.
"We could. I bet you the lower years would love to get their hands on some pre-written pieces of genius for their assignments!"
Lucy looked to Devon as he snorted. "Genius, yeah. As if. The staff would probably get suspicious if all of a sudden, people would fail with exactly the same answers."
"Oh come on Dursley, don’t be a spoilsport! We could totally do this! Annabelle, say something!"
Three pairs of eyes turned towards the girl, who had been quiet for most of the discussion.
"I’d think if anyone could pull this off, it’d be Aria. Still, you’d need more staff."
"We could start off small. You could do the layout, and I’d say people would love to see your work. We could start with your ‘Sleeping Devon’ image. Would give you a whole different reputation," Aria jested.
Devon looked confused, then leaned over to look at Aria’s scetch book, and Lucy noticed his ears turning pink. "No one wants to see that," he said.
"Maybe with your shirt off then?" Lucy chimed in, jumping up and out of his reach as he lunged for her.
"Are you really contemplating this, Ari?" Lucy asked, keeping an eye on Devon.
"Yes, I mean, why not? We have Annabelle for the layout, Dev for the editing and quality writing, you for the entertainment section, and me for the rest. Hey, see it as a project. At least we’d have some fun."
Lucy looked at the other two. Aria seemed determined, whether to show up the current staff of the Hogwarts Prophet, or step out of the shadow of her mother, she did not know. Maybe both. Devon still seemed sceptical, but he would be along for the ride if the others were. It was Annabelle who finally looked up with a fierce expression on her face.
"If you really want to do it, I’m in." she sounded unsure, but determined.
Devon nodded hesitantly. "One issue, but I won’t promise anything."
Lucy knew she would not be able to say no now. True, she scribbled down things all the time, but would that be enough to let others read it? Doing research, getting facts and publish the truth? One thing was for sure, she would not have to compete against any of her cousins.
The last thought made her smile. Wizarding World, get ready for the youngest Weasley. "If we go bust, I’ll just blame it all on you," she said in Aria’s direction, and smirked, worthy of her Uncle George.