Chapter 1 : Front Page Material
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Finally finished with their task, legs as long as the Hogwarts Express uncoiled themselves from the crouched position behind an old crate to reveal a girl. She was seventeen years of age. Average height. Average looks. Average shoulder-blade long, dark hair with half of it shaved off (which was currently thrown up into a messy bun). Scrawny, stick like body, that was clothed in all black.
That girl was, is, and will always be Jeanette Addams. But, people call me Nettie. I’ve always liked the name Jeanette, but I love the name Nettie. You should too. Great name, great girl. We’ve got a lot in common.
I’ve been in the journalism biz for about three years. And I’ve been reporting for the Hogs Press since my fourth year. Ever since I caught Timothy Wood, captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team and class-A straight edge, in an empty corridor smoking gillyweed and sniffing vampire dust they’ve considered me their lead investigator.
And I’ve worn the title with pride ever since.
Nowadays, however, news has been getting dry. Stories are getting harder to find. People are getting better at hiding their secrets. At least, the ones that they really want to keep secret not the ‘fake secret’ ones that they want people to find out. And the real secrets are the juicy stuff that keeps people reading.
Black combat booted feet proudly swaggered their way down the corridor and away from the juicy news.
“Just wait ‘til the press gets a look at this.”
I slammed the developed photos down on the desk of Rowan Creevey, my boss and also the biggest arsehole ever born. Seriously, look up the word arsehole in the dictionary. I bet you six galleons that his face will be there.
As much as I wanted to hate his guts, I couldn’t. I had too much respect for him. In a way, that’s sort of how everyone felt. I guess that’s how he got so much power. People just liked to have something to complain about. Something to gossip and groan about at the end of the day, that’s why no one has challenged him yet. As much as we hated him, we needed him around.
I know how people work, and that’s why I’m a reporter.
The forementioned boy picked up the photos and peered at them through horn-rimmed spectacles. Moving photos showed a tall and lanky boy sharing a quick smooch with a short girl with dark makeup and long blonde hair.
“What am I looking at?” he demanded.
“Spotted. Notorious goody-goody’ Calvin McFreedle sharing a midnight snog with infamous renegade ‘jezebel Reid.’ My grin peeked through my poker face.
He stared at me blankly, “And?” I snorted.
“And, this is the story you’ve been asking for weeks. I’ve finally got the proof we need.”
“That rumor fizzled out ages ago. Julia Herbertz and Scorpius Malfoy are in the limelight now.” The boy said as he tossed the photos, and my pride, in the trashbin next to his desk. I was expecting him to say some witty remark to make me wallow in my failure afterwards and, to my surprise, he just sat down. He just sat in his cushy, red chair and studied the scattered papers on his desk. This was strange... well, stranger in his case.
I at least knew him that well.
“Is there anything else you want to tell me?” I reached in my bag and pulled a cherry lollipop from it. It was still, unfortunately, wrapped in it’s paper prison so I got to work at freeing it.
“Yes, actually. There is.” He stood and faced me, “Nettie, you know you’re a great reporter – one of the best we’ve ever had- But, you’re stories have just sort of… missed the mark lately.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked calmly, finally releasing the cherry lollipop from its wrapper prison. It was only able to experience freedom for a moment before it was trapped once again, this time between my jaws.
I’m pretty sure cherry lollipops are my muse, my vise. According to Wednesday, they’ve also become a bit of a signature thing for me. It’s become a part of my image.
Yes, I have an image.
To the oh-so-lucky people of the Hogwarts who haven’t met me, ‘Nettie Addams’ is some badass who strolls down the corridors with combat boots on her feet, a notepad in her arms, and a cherry lollipop in her mouth. And to the rest… well I’m all that and so much more. Most people would consider the ‘so much more’ part to be ‘emotionless bitch’ or ‘freakish loner’; but I prefer the term ‘better than society’.
“I mean that…-“
“Spit it out.”
“I just mean that, they’re dry. Boring. The people don’t want to read about what you’re writing about.” Creevey replaced his glasses on his face and stared me down through them. I shrugged.
Now it was my turn to ask stupid questions. “And...?”
“And, we’re going to have to let you go if you don’t get your act together.” The boy snorted. My mouth gaped. The Hogs Press was letting me go?
“Y-you can’t let me go..” I stammered, my cool composure slowly melting away. “This is what I do. I am a reporter. Besides, I’m a seventh year banking on this for my future. W-hat paper is going to hire me if I get fired from my school paper?” I could feel droplets of sweat forming on my forehead. That feeling stirring in my gut, it was panic. I’d felt it only a two times before. Once when I was seven when my mother got attacked by that dementor; and once in my third year of Hogwarts when I accidentally got lost in the forbidden forest.
But I don’t like to talk about the latter. Hell, I don’t even remember it. Apparently it was so terrifying that I blacked out and I still don’t really remember it. Whatever. That’s just less stress on my back.
“Tell you what. You get me one more story, One more story that blows every other story out of the water – and I’m talkin’ front page material – and I’ll let you stay. Anything less, and I’m giving the Scamander twins your position on the paper.”
I rolled, not just my eyes, but also my entire head in the direction of the twins. One had his face pressed against the glass and was making a face at the other who was on the ground, doubling over with laughter.
“Yeah, they look like real hard workers.”
Creevey placed a hand on my shoulder. I guessed he was trying to comfort me or something, but it just made the entire situation awkward and creepy. He was the kind of guy who should really stick to making people hate him. Fortunately, the awkward moment only lasted a few moments before he headed for the door, speaking on his way out.
“Sorry Addams, but it’s my final word. Come back with a story or don’t come back at all.”
Monday morning came as a rude awakening to my already hellish weekend. As if nearly getting fired from my ‘job’ wasn’t bad enough, now I had to deal with a long day filled with snot nose brats running about and waving magical sticks in the air. Honestly, some of the kids they entrust magic to now-a-days.
It was… frightening.
Like this one time, in my second year, a boy by the name of Jamie Fenwick used his wand to pick his nose in the middle of Defense Against The Dark Arts class. And he wasn’t just scratching the surface; that kid was digging for gold. You’d think that someone who had just spent half the hour sticking his wand up a boogery death-tunnel would at least have the decency to clean it off before doing any magic or anything. But, no. Instead he just pointed it right at his dueling partner and exclaimed… ‘Engorgio.’
Boogies the size of soup cans flew everywhere with enough force to take down a twelve year old kid. Trust me. I would know.
I was his dueling partner.
I made my way up the grand staircase from the dungeons and didn’t stop until I’d reached the ground floor. But I wasn’t alone on that moving staircase. The pitter patter if tiny footsteps echoed from behind me for a large majority of my journey. It was only when I was about halfway to my destination that I decided to do somethign about it. Turning around, I saw that there was a little blonde girl following me.
“Excuse me, little girl, do you mind?” I asked, pointing down the corridor. I was hoping that she’d get the hint that I didn’t want her around. But, when she didn’t say anything, or do anything but stand there and stare at me like she’d been doing, it was apparent that she didn’t get it.
“Little girl, erm… are you following me?” Nothing. She didn't speak. Her facial expression didn't change. She didn't move. She did absolutely nothing but stand there and stare at me. I placed my hands on my hips angrily.
"What are you doing?" Nothing. “Alright silent wonder, do you have a name?” Silence. “Do you speak?” Nada. “Whatever, Pipsqueak.” I turned on my heel and continued my way to the Great Hall, with the Pipsqueak girl just a step and a half behind me.
Back when she first started following me, I had just assumed we were going the same way. But, just to be safe, I took a shortcut through a secret portrait hole that only I knew about and she followed me through that. After that it was apparent that I had a little stalker on my hands, and not even a good one at that. Instead of entertaining the situation, I decided to just ignore it until it – she – went away.
That was what I did with all of my problems.
I heard whispers on my way down the corridor. They didn’t bother me though, I was used to them. The talk had nothing to do with the five foot nothing blonde pipsqueak trailing me. I heard whispers even before she tagged along. Hell, there was hardly ever a time when I could find myself walking anywhere an not hearing any whispering or giggling. All of it, I knew, was directed towards me. And why shouldn’t it be? I was the legendary school freak after all. I was the emotionless bitch that got back at the world by airing their dirty knickers in public via newspaper. That was the kind of stuff I heard them whispering about. And I was used to it. In fact, I listened for it.
I suppose some sick part of me wanted to hear everything. Some dark cavern in my heart actually enjoyed the slanderous terms that were silently exchanged about me. Why else would I have given into them and let them become who I am?
After all, normal teenage girls went out on Friday nights to party and snog boys, not to peep on the private lives of the Hogwarts elite and polish their cameras. Hell, most of them didn’t even own cameras. And if they did they certainly weren’t kept in as pristine condition as mine. More to the point; most teenage girls didn’t get whispered about two feet away from them. And if they did, they certainly didn’t enjoy it.
That was all fine and dandy, except today I couldn’t spot my name I couldn’t hear any slanderous terms or giggles. Not even any pointing or ‘ew, look at her hair’ (most girls weren’t accustomed to viewing half shaved heads.) Instead I heard the word 'Clarissa'. All I could make out was 'Clarissa'.
I picked up my pace a little bit hoping to make it to the Great Hall faster. And, upon arriving, my eyes were met with a room filled with chattering students. Though they were up and moving about, most were seated at their designated tables. Gryffindors at the Gryffindor table, Slytherins at the Slytherin table, and Ravenclaws at the Ravenclaw table. Then there were the most amazing, ingenious, intelligent, most cunning, most courageous, people (aka, the Hufflepuffs) who were being awesome at their table.
What can I say? I’m a Hufflepuff. I’m biased.
I swaggered my way through the crowds of people, nearly smacking into about three running ones on the way, and sat down across from a purple haired girl by the name of Wednesday MacMillan.
Yes, I said purple-haired. See, Wednesday MacMillan is something called a metamorphmagus meaning she could change form and stuff. Though, most of the time the only thing that changes is her hair color and that’s only when she feels some extreme emotion.
Like, there was this one time that Al Potter (Wednesday’s arch nemesis) tricked her into thinking that Defense Against The Dark Arts class was being held in the greenhouses one day. So naturally, she went. And when she got there no one and nothing was waiting for her except a booby-trapped door that shot paint and dungbombs at her from across the room. Let me tell you:
An angry Wednesday is a very scary Wednesday. And that’s coming from me, Nettie Addams. The amazing fearless wonder. The girl who laughs in the face of danger and readily walks into it.
Yeah, I would rather battle a Hungarian Horntail than be in her way during one of her rampages.
Anyway, let’s just say you could’ve smashed tomatoes on that girl’s head and it still would’ve managed to be redder than them. She sent James Potter to the Hospital Wing that day, managing to hex him so badly that he completely forgot about what he did or how he got there. All he knew was there was a red hair on his side table when woke up.
If you ask her about it, she’ll still deny it to this day. But, I know what really happened ‘cause I know everything. At least, everything that’s worth knowing about.
“Looks like someone finally decided to get up.” She teased. And, though her voice was pretty much monotone, I still knew she was kidding because I’ve known her long enough to. Anyone else wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, however.
Wednesday did her best to keep her emotions under control; she even took private lessons from some of our professors in an attempt to control her emotional outbursts – and by extension – her transforming abilities. Somewhere in the mix of all of that she sort of lost her personality; then not having a personality became her personality. And that’s alright with me. I’m more than happy to share the ‘freak’ title.
Honestly, Wednesday was probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She’s also one of the only friends I’ve ever had, but that’s all the more reason to consider her my best.
“Good morning to you too sunshine.” I greeted, immediately beginning to pile food onto my plate. “You’re looking rested. Sleep well?”
“Clearly better than you since I had the decency to get up before noon.” I winced at her before she nodded her head in the direction of the blonde pipsqueak standing behind me. “Who’s that?”
I shrugged. “Dunno. She followed me here from the common room.” Wednesday eyed the girl before turning back to me, not even trying to hide the fact that we were talking about her… and that she thought the girl was strange.
“Does it speak?”
“Her… er, she. Does she speak. And no, at least she hasn’t spoken since she’s been around me.” The metamorphmagus took one last look at the pipsqueak girl before shrugging and returning to her meal. "So, did you hear about Hogwarts little vanishing act?"
"What? Erm.. no. What're you talking about?" I asked, preocupied by Pipsqueak trying to take a grab at my plate. Ruddy theif.
"You mean you haven't heard?" I sighed.
"Clarissa Hale. Y'know, weird girl. Big glasses. Always by herself."
"I'm aware." I said, egging her to finish her story.
"Well, apparently she's missing. No one knows when she went missing, or where she went. One day she was just... gone." She snapped her fingers, "Just like that."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
I was about to ask more about the topic, but just then the third member of our group, Hugo Weasley, joined us.
“Morning Hugo!” I said cheerily, my mind instantly veered from it's previous fascination with the Clarissa story. He didn’t speak. Instead he just nodded timidly. But, that’s just the way he was, timid.
As long as I’ve known him Hugo’s been the most timid, shy, quiet, scared-of-everything kid I’ve ever met. Ever. Seriously, the boy can barely go to the bathroom by himself in the middle of class in the daylight. And if he’s got to go at night you can forget about it. He’d rather hold it.
I can’t even count how many times when I’ve had to stop ‘Hugo Weasley, nephew of the great Harry Potter, wets the bed’ stories from getting published.
But I don’t mind. If anything, his lack of courage is… endearing. He’s like my little brother, my responsibility, and my sidekick. And I guess, in a way, that’s also what makes him brave. Even though the kid’s afraid of his own shadow, he willingly follows me wherever I go to get any story no matter where it takes us.
That’s what I call Hufflepuff loyalty.
“I’ll explain about her later.” I interjected quickly. I knew he was going to ask about the pipsqueak girl behind me. But, I soon realized that wasn’t what he had in mind. Hugo was far too naïve and open minded to wonder about what other people were doing. It made me wonder why he would even want a job as a reporter.
I’ve even asked him on occasion, but every time I do he just changes the subject. Eventually I learned to leave well enough alone.
“I was actually going to say that I erm.. I heard about what happened in the press room.” He nearly whispered before taking a swig of his marmalade. Merlin, hasn’t he ever heard of small talk?
“What about it?”
“What do you mean ‘what about it?’ You got fired for Godrics sake. That’s a pretty big deal, yeah?” The boy whispered, leaning closer and peering around as if people cared about what we were saying.
As if it were a secret.
“Yeah, and it’s only a matter of time before this gets out… and you know someone’s gonna wanna write a story on this. People feed off the misery of others.” Wednesday stated grimly. She would have continued if I hadn’t of cut her off,
“Ididn’tgetfired.” It was all spewed out in one quick word.
“What?!” The two on the other side of the table asked simultaneously, their confused facial expressions matching. I swallowed the food I’d been chewing.
“I didn’t exactly get fired from the Hogs Press.” They looked at me, clearling wanting me to continue. I sighed before giving in, “Creevey said I had one more chance to wow him with a story.”
“What’re you gonna do? You need to find some kinda story worth his attention, and you know how picky he can be.”
“I guess you guys are gonna have to help me-“
“Forget abouwwit.” Hugo interrupted practically spewing food into every direction. Wednesday made a disgusted face as she wiped bits of pre-chewed toast and marmalade from her cheek.
“Aww c’mon, Hugo. Why not? I need you. And you know how often I admit I need someone’s help.”
“Because if I help you then I’ll have Mr. Creevey breathing down my neck, and that’s the last thing I need. He makes me nervous.”
“Just call him Creevey you spineless coward.” Wednesday interjected cooley before flicking the food in the direction of the Ravenclaw table. Some dark haired girl squealed and inspected the back of her head to find a gooey surprise lodged between her strands of hair. The pipsqueak girl giggled into her hands.
Hugo didn’t respond to her bile. He just shot her a quick look before turning his attention back to me. But, I had already started talking.
“No he won’t. Unlike the rest of the news junkies you actually listen to him. You could murder his entire family and he’d still probably like you better than the rest of us.” I reassured him.
The Hufflepuff boy stopped speaking a moment and stared into space. I could practically see the gears on his brain a’turnin’. He was considering it, and that was better than just blatantly turning it down. Finally, after what seemed like half our breakfast hour he returned to reality looking defeated.
“Fine.” He finally breathed. “But only because you deserve this reporting career.”
“Look on the bright side,” Wed added shooting a quick look to Pipsqueak, “at least it’ll give us something else to complain about.”
The common room was filled with gossipy chatter about Clarissa, just like it always was lately. It seemed the school just couldn’t get enough of their little vanishing act. There was a new theory popping up all the time. One minute it was ‘zombie robot’s who’d abducted her’ and the next ‘she was turned into a werewolf and ran off to Australia.’ New day, new rumor, same rubbish. I knew that there was no way any of the kids around Hogwarts were ever going to figure out what really happened to her.
Hugo and Wednesday were in the middle of a heated game of wizard chess. And when I say heated, I mean so intense that Hugo was wearing his glasses and Wednesday’s hair had turned itself red…. That was intense for them.
I, on the other hand, was at the bulletin board right next to the chessboard studying the different flyers and posters scattered about the board. I needed to find some sort of lead on a story I could report for Creevey.
“Hmmmm, what about a story on the newest Nimbus model?” I asked, eyes still scanning the board for new ideas.
“Aphrodite Davis already did that one, erm.. Queen to D4.” Hugo muttered.
“Okay, what about this? ‘Lady gives birth to half-human half-hippogriff’.”
“I did that story last week, remember?” Wednesday added in, “Rook to G5.” I snorted.
“Oh yeah, how could I forget? You were particularly morbid that week.” Whenever Wednesday was onto a great story – well, great in her opinion – she always got even more dark and morbid than usual. It was one of the little quirks that made her so unique and loveable.
That was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.
“Kay, well… what about a story on the Giant Squid?” This caused a snort from both Hugo and Wednesday. I furrowed my brow, turning my back on the board to face my giggling companions. “Oi. What’s so funny? This is serious.”
“Sorry, but… the Giant Squid? Don’t you think that’s a little… erm-“
“Stupid.” Wednesday interjected Hugo.
“I was going to say juvenile but…” He trailed off quietly, returning his attention back to the game at hand.
“Well I need something. C’mon guys, help me out here!” I turned back around to face the board so no one would see the pathetic look of desperation on my face.
I remember it clearly. Hugo was in the middle of his turn, Wednesday was rambling about death and other morbid crap to try and distract him, Pipsqueak was standing over her shoulder silently cheering for her, and there was a draft in the room. A draft so strong that it blew one of the flyers off of the bulletin board and right into my face. It was a missing photo.
And that’s when the perfect story hit me. Literally.
“This is perfect! It’s just what I need to get my name back on the map.” I said, holding the missing photo even closer to my face and inching closer to the wizard chess game as I studied the girl moving in it. She was waving as if she were a princess or something. Something about her seemed awfully familiar, but I just couldn’t place my finger on where I’d seen her before.
“What are you talking about?” Hugo asked, not removing his eyes from the chessboard, “Knight to E5.”
“You kidding me? This!” I repeated, shoving the photo in his face. Hugo moved his head back a bit and snatched it from my hand, but I kept plowing through my monologue. “This… episode. It’s great. The quiet girl that no one knows mysteriously disappears in the middle of the night. Folks eat that up.” Wednesday stood and moved to the other side of the table to take a look at the photo.
“So you’re telling me you’re gonna solve the mystery that even Creevy himself can’t seem to solve?” Her hands were placed firmly on her hips, her dark eyes firmly on me.
“Yup. You guys in?” It could’ve been that I was particularly happy at the moment. I could’ve been the light flickering. It could’ve been my imagination running wild. But, I could’ve sworn I saw a smirk slide across Wednesday’s face, if only for a moment, after my response. That alone told me she was in. And that was why we were friends.
Now all we had to do was convince Hugo to help us.
A/N: mwaha. Attack of the plot bunny! Anywhoozles, pleasepleasepleaseplease leave me a quick little review and lemme know what you think. This is just a basic starter thing and stuff - you know how it is - and I'd like to know if it'd be liked or not before I continue.
Kay, thanks for reading.<33
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