This is the plot bunny that attacked me earlier this week. Always wanted to write a proper Slytherin. Somehow morphed into me and GubraithianFire writing Albus/OCs. It's my first try at first person as well as present tense, so it'll be quite fun! Capers
is my main fic, but writing this is like a fun rant-y stress reliever. Anything goes! Snark, mobs, Russians~ Also, Clemence is a girl, since there has been some confusion over that. As far as I'm aware, it's a French girl name~
Biscuits and deathtraps for Annie for being awesome with the fixing and giving me the idea in the first place, respectively. Pink ponies for Gubby, who is diving in the insanity with me. And finally, Jordan, because she likes being mentioned.
♥ ci by julia/ahoythere
Upon entering the Charms classroom, whispering overwhelm me. The girls in the corner goes silent out of reverence. Possibly fear. But what’s the difference between the two anyway?
Professor Flitwick taps on the board with wand for attention. One of the girls shoves a sheet of parchment underneath her desk, and I catch sight of the bold title before it disappears from view. Witchy Business
. The girl shoots me a dirty look and I respond in kind.
The name is Clemence Fitzgerald.
In the newspaper business, there's a lot in a name. No, not rubbish like "Selena means moon" in Latin or Greek or Parseltongue (Clemence means "merciful" and any halfwit can tell you that I am anything but). I'm talking about the byline, that one very important bit in ten-point serif font, small caps, perfectly kerned in fresh virgin ink saying who wrote the article.
Look a little closer. What it really says is, "It's me you should thank for digging up what you don't have to."
I've tried the responsible-reporting route and it's for the naive. I learned my best lessons from Great-Aunt Rita. You probably know her from The Daily Prophet
or one of her dozen biographies. Rubbish writing. Brilliant businesswoman. She was less than enthused when she had to babysit me ("Children are walking paper shredders"), but apparently I showed a spark or two of talent and it was all uphill from there. Fast-forward seven years and here I am: Machiavellian editor for Hogwarts' hottest news source.
Call me heartless, call me shameless, but I'm only giving the public what they want. If there were no demand, Witchy Business
wouldn't exist in the first place. My critics read the paper, too, and they indulge like everyone else. At least I don't hide my intentions.
I'll have my name on the front page byline of The Daily Prophet
"Where's Janey? It's deadline! I need Protean Charms!
"Sorrysorrysorry, I'm on it!" The bespectacled fifth year rushes past me, parchment in one hand, tea in the other. Although at her dangerous walking speed and caffeine-jitters, there's more tea on the floor than in her cup by the time she reaches the press.
She points her wand at the stack of papers awaiting distribution and mutters a string of Latin and expletives. The main headline blurs into view: DADA Professor: Man, Woman, Troll?
After she throws a thumbs up at me, I return my attention to the master copy, red Easy-Edit Quill poised to strike.
As I'm fixing Pickett's ever-awful word choice, Dom swings by with the new feature photo and slaps it into place. "Perfect gutters all 'round." She pumps a fist into the air and pouts when I don't react. "Ugh, no one ever appreciates good layout."
I roll my eyes and she goes on a series of faux dramatics about 'white space' and 'font choice' on her way to help Janey count copies. Onto paragraph four. "A third year who wishes to remain anonymous reports that she saw Professor Nogget on a morning swim and the amount of hair on his back was 'inhuman'
— Pickett! Who's the third year?"
"Ach, I don't remem — oh! That Irish runt, Bree Delaney."
"Didn't she give us that love triangle story last month? Keep her on tab."
"Got it." His voice is much closer than before and a quick glance to my left reveals him breathing over my shoulder with a clenched jaw. I can feel his usual rant about destroying the flow of my article
at the ready, and I slap his mouth shut as a preemptive measure.
"This article's a complete abuse of commas. I've got semicolons weeping for their brethren," I say, releasing him. "And how many times do I have to tell you, 'ironic' doesn't mean what you think it means."
"Fine, but —" Pickett snatches the quill from me, adds in an em-dash to his third sentence, and raises his eyebrows at me for approval. I wrinkle my nose but let it slide. The boy has no respect for punctuation.
After nixing one last comma, I tuck my quill behind my ear and check the timepiece at the top of the table. Five minutes 'til six, an hour past deadline — a record.
I spin around and the other three are already walking out with stacks of parchment in their arms. "Oi, can't you guys at least wait for the OK until you start distributing?" I scowl, sliding off my stool and picking up my own bundle.
"We're a gossip
newsletter, Clemence," says Dom with a toss of her hair. Every time she turns around, it's like a shampoo commercial in the making. "No one cares about punctuation."
"Just because we report trash doesn't mean we need to write like trash."
"Yeah, quality over quantity, all that tosh, now let's go. People are waking up soon, and we have four floors' worth of lavatories to hit."
I grumble under my breath and follow the others out, muttering 'Nox'
as I shut the door behind me.
Monday mornings at Hogwarts are a fascinating study. If you pay close attention, you can see the gossip bleed through the school, threading through the fibers of the crowd until it stains everyone. It's beautiful, in a morbid sort of way.
It starts with the tiny staff of Witchy Business
— me, Dom Weasley, Henry Pickett, and new recruit Janey Summerby. Our motto is 'We know everything. If we don't know it, it's not important.'
During the week, we collect our stories. Occasionally we investigate, but for most stories, we're tipped off. You'd be amazed at how much people like to dish, and for those unwilling, a double-chocolate cauldron cake thrust under their nose does wonders. From embarrassing stumbles to torrid love affairs, nothing goes unwritten.
Then the real fun begins.
Let's follow one thread. Piper and Minka, your typical vapid Gryffs, walk in the loo before breakfast. Primp in the mirror, chit-chat idly. They stop by the doorway — what's this? The latest issue of Witchy Business?
They pick it up, scan the headlines. Piper reads about a prank gone wrong. Minka points at the article about the Great Hall catfight two days ago. They titter to themselves as they walk down the hallway and hand it off to another friend, Felicity, who's heading to class.
While Binns drones in the background, Felicity dives into the relationship column, our most frequented section by far. There's a blurb on that cute Ravenclaw boy: he just broke up with his girlfriend. Felicity folds it up and passes it to Nora behind her, who's been clamoring for a look.
Nora keeps it all the way until lunch, where she immediately shares it with her friends at the table. Some have already heard the news — we shan't forget about Piper, Minka, or Felicity; they've been talking. A few whispers go a long way.
That is how, by noon, everybody knows.
Love it or hate it, it's how the system works. I don't make gossip; I just deliver it. Personally, the whole concept bores me, but journalistic integrity and notoriety are inversely proportional.
I think you can imagine which one I like better.
"Brill issue," a short Hufflepuff whispers to me. She gives a wave as she passes by on my walk down the stairs. I nod a thanks. Her name's Clarissa. Tipped me off about the underground wizard's chess ring last year.
Other girls who pass by give a similar acknowledgement. A few are still holding today's issue, although it won't be of much use for long. We wipe and destroy the master copy twelve hours after distribution as a precaution: if we ever get the facts wrong, no one has an archive to trace back to, nor can they edit the master copy for their own deeds.
As I walk past the kitchens, I feel a warmth in my pocket and pull out my compact, a secret two-way mirror Dom and I share. I dodge into an empty corridor and flip it open.
Dom's there, with a grin reserved only for a prime scoop. "Breaking news. You won't believe what Rose just told me."
She pauses for dramatic effect, though in real life, it's not suspenseful; it just makes me impatient.
I didn't expect the mention of Rose. She hates me. Well, most of her family doesn't like me, but that's what I get for stalking them one too many times. Knowing Dom, she probably got her cousin in some slip of the tongue.
My eyes light up. The very last single male of the Potter-Weasleys. Strange one, always keeping to himself, avoiding the flocks of birds wanting to hang off his arm. For all the stories we’ve had on James, Fred, Hugo, and Louis, there’s only been one on Albus, on whether he's secretly snogging that Malfoy boy or not.
"He's got a girlfriend."
It's all downhill from here!
Albus takes a deep breath, exhaling discontent. "Fitzgerald."
The corner of my mouth tilts up and his green-eyed gaze snaps to mine in a squint. Oh, this is going to be fun.