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Chapter 15 : Striking Back (the Perks of Fame)
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That was so preposterous that Ginny had read a serious piece about it in the Daily Prophet, saying to be careful with gossip as a base for news publishing.
Everybody expected Ginny's next move, to twist it and turn it into another plot twist in the whole drama. They didn't expect Ginny's next apparition to be in the editing room of the Herald. She walked to the office of her editor, Alcyone Hillfang, as if nothing was amiss. Many of her friends threw her surprised looks and some were full of sympathy. Ginny had a snort at the thought. However misplaced their sympathy was, she could use it.
She knocked at Hillfang's door.
"Hey, boss," she said. "I'm back. My piece on the summit will be on your desk in three hours."
"Hello, Ginny," said the editor, with a smile. "I see you managed no to let this whole mess get to your work."
"Oh, it got to me, alright," said Ginny. "But I won't give them the satisfaction."
"That's the spirit," said Alcyone.
"Actually, I would like a favour," she said.
"Go on," said Alcyone, carefully.
"What would you say, if I told you I can strike back at Weathercap?" said Ginny.
"I'd say, give him hell for me, will you?" said Alcyone.
His own professionalism was only matched by his contempt for the way people like Mark Weathercap worked. He regularly spat on the methods, contents and overall quality of Witch Weekly publications.
"What do you need?" asked Hillfang.
"I need to hijack your editing room," said Ginny. "I need your front page."
Alcyone Hillfang was an experienced news monger. He knew what should be done and shouldn't be done in the direction of a newspaper. Ginny knew he had strong ethics. But he had also a good sense of what sold paper. So his smile was no surprise to her when he said.
"You got it."
Any celebrity's entrance in the editorial room of Witch Weekly was an event in itself. Whether they would be invited for an interview or showing up to file a complaint, the latter being as frequent as the former, their arrival was noticed at once, if only for the battalion of lawyers that usually came with them.
Harry Potter's entrance at Witch Weekly was unlike any entrance the magazine and its affiliates had ever known. He went through the door completely unnoticed. But, where others would have taken advantage of that, Harry got his wand out and pointed it at his throat.
"Sonorus Maxima," he said.
When he cleared his throat, to catch everyone's attention, the walls trembled slightly. Silence fell brutally on the noisy room and all eyes turned to him.
"Got your attention, didn't I?" he said, sending another tremor through the room, making a few people cringe. "Good! Now, will someone be kind enough to show me where Mark Weathercap is holed up, please?"
It was all in all polite, but the volume of his question was enough to crack a few windows. Many people looked at him with horrified glances, but Harry could see one or two smiles, here and there. Someone even pointed toward a golden door, at the other end of the room, toward which a short flight of stairs led.
"Thank you," said Harry, this time shattering the windows that had cracked earlier, while the rest of the room trembled. "Now, should any of you step in my way, even by a toe, they will find themselves either hexed or sued, depending on their level of involvement in the articles that are currently messing with my life. Consider yourselves warned."
As expected, he walked across the entire room unopposed. He reached the golden door, expecting to find the room empty. If Weathercap had done the smart thing and run, then Harry would simply wait for him. But instead of signs of a hasty exit, he found the man sitting at his desk, apparently oblivious of what was going on. Harry smirked.
Sound proofed, he thought. It figures. There's a man who likes to follow his collaborators' work.
He lifted the charm on his throat and with a last meaningful look to the crowd outside, he closed the door with a flourish of his wand. It slammed shut, which had the merit to draw Weathercap's attention.
"This had better be worth it," he said, dryly, "whoever you are..."
Harry had a deadly smile.
"I seem to recall telling you that you wouldn't like it, if I was to show up at your office, Weathercap," he said. "So how's life, old chap? Oh, right, keep that wand out of your hand."
He had pointed his own wand at the editor, who was reacting as if he was under attack. The guy looked at him like was a Dementor of some kind.
"So, where was I? Oh, yes," said Harry went on. "I was mentioning the fact I had warned you about messing with my private life? Not only did you disregard my warning completely, but you went all out with it and plain lied to the public about me. So, alright, I get it. You're upset that I sent a howler to your office, two years ago, without going through your lawyers. But this... insult to journalism you had the gall to call an article regarding me and my friends can't be justified by this alone. So what the hell is wrong with you?"
Weathercap seemed to realize that Harry wasn't about to curse him, so he regained a little of his nerves. A nasty smile came to his face. He was an elegant man, with hair elaborately combed and a tan that showed that he knew how to take a vacation. The smile he had made him look like a jerk from a soap opera.
"You're a public persona, Potter," he said. "That means you're fair game."
"Not to libel, Weathercap," said Harry. "And everything you printed about me is pure lies."
"Prove it," sneered Weathercap. "You can't prove a rumour wrong.
"How about a statement under Veritaserum, attested by the Ministry?" countered Harry.
"Well then a rumour will be printed about how you have so many fans at the Ministry that they would do anything to help you," said Weathercap, his smile growing wider. "The Boy-Who-lived would be using his influence to fake official test? What impact do you think this would have on the public? You can't win against me, Potter. You thought you were above me? That you don't play the same game than me? We'll see how long the famous Harry Potter keeps the public's love if I go all out. How about that? Next, not only have you betrayed your girlfriend with Cho Chang, but you've managed to also seduce you dear friend, Professor Granger-Weasley, further hurting the poor Weasley family. How does that sound?"
Harry had a smirk. Even his evil plans sounded out of a soap opera.
"That sounds pathetic, at best," he said. "But since you won't hear reason, you force me to do something I loathe to do."
"And what is that?" mocked Weathercap. "You're going to curse me? Saint Potter would steep that low and throw away his principles and curse an honest journalist? That's pretty dark, my friend. The public won't forgive you that."
"You think I need to curse you to end you, Weathercap?" said Harry. "That only shows that you're just as stupid as you're incompetent."
This seemed to take Weathercap aback, somewhat, but he kept his hard face.
"Meaning?" he asked silkily.
"Meaning that, before you decided to go after me, you should have done your homework," mused Harry. "You seem to be under the impression that I'm the poor little orphan boy that Rita Skeeter told the world about. Oh, yes, he turned out to be a hero, but really what can he do in the Wizarding World without Dumbledore or his Quidditch contacts? His biggest achievement would be to have won the World Cup, but that's as far as he goes, right? Well, let me clear up something for you, friend. I'm not only an orphan. I'm a last heir."
"What?" said Weathercap, unsure to understand.
"I'm rich, Weathercap," explained Harry. "I choose not to show it off, because I loathe snobs and I fought against people who thought that money gave them every right. So, yeah, I'm not like the Malfoys, but I'm the sole heir to the Potter Line. And I'm also the last heir of the House of Black. Basically, I'm the richest heir of Wizarding England. I don't need the money, so I invested it. The Goblins in Gringotts worship the ground I walk on just because managing my fortune has made them filthy rich. I'm the first investor in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, one of the most successful businesses in the decade. So I'll make it clear, and show you I can play your game. If you don't stop printing lies about me, I won't curse you. But I will go pay a visit to Basil Hollypimton, and buy Witch Weekly Publications from him. I have checked. I can afford your rag, and still keep my family safe from any need for a good generation. So I'll buy you, and of course, as a new owner, I'll decide on a new editorial line. Meaning: you get fired, and I'll use my popularity, as you call it, to make sure you don't ever find a job again."
Weathercap had suddenly blanched. He must have realized that he had misjudged Harry's game.
"You wouldn't! I..."
"Try me," said Harry. "Actually, let's put it to the test, shall we? Tomorrow, the Herald is going to publish a column by one Ginevra Weasley. I think you know her. It's bound to be pretty offensive to you. I guess you ticked her off, for some reason. Maybe she is upset by what she has read about her boyfriend on her way home. So she'll probably vent a little. Now, if Witch Weekly's reaction to this piece exceeds the words 'no comment', I'll send an owl to Mr Hollypimton. Are we clear on that?"
Weathercap was mute in horror.
"Hello? Mark? I asked you something," snapped Harry. "Are we clear?"
"Yes..." he grumbled.
"Good!" exclaimed Harry, brightly. "I'll leave you to your business, now. Oh, by the way, my warning stands for my friends, as well, so don't believe you can just divert your attention to... let's say, Hermione Granger-Weasley, just to avoid being kicked out. My friends are off-limits, and it also includes Cho Chang. Why don't you focus your attention on the people who seek it?"
Weathercap's shoulders slumped, as he was sinking deep into his chair, defeated.
"Have a good day, Mr. Weathercap," said Harry loudly, as he opened the door. "I'm glad we could sort this out."
He then went through the editorial room again, leaving the editor's door open, under the eyes of hundreds of employees, who saw their tyrannical boss looked wide eyed in fear. As he stepped into the elevator that would lead him back to the streets of London, he turned to face the gawking crowd and give a salute.
"Make sure to catch the Herald's next issue," he said. "Should be educational to many."
The doors closed right at the end of his sentence. He wouldn't have managed such a perfect timing, had he tried.
A column from the Herald
I LEAVE YOU ALONE FOR FIVE MINUTES...
It is frankly both amazing and disgusting to be confronted to this sad truth: go abroad for a few days and the whole country goes to the dogs. I assume it was the state of mind of Cheldon Ambrosius upon returning from Vienna to London after a major International summit. Most governments of the Wizarding World were represented, and delicate and important issues such as the cooperation between Aurors, trade regulation, and of course the terms of the next Quidditch World Cup were discussed.
And what does Mr Ambrosius find, when he comes back? His entire country is plunged in a wild speculation rally about the personal life of Harry Potter. I think he must have thought he had travelled back in time to the days right after the War, making him think his whole mandate has been null and void.
Now, of course, I'm not writing these lines to speak about politics, although my recent trip with the Minister showed me how fascinating the subject can be and a full report of the summit will be included in next issue. No, I bring up our Honourable Minister's state of mind because I kind of shared it when I set foot back in England a few days ago, although on a much more personal level.
Let me get this straight. I've been dating Harry Potter for more than two years, now. I live with him in Hogwarts Castle. I accompany a delegation to Austria for two weeks and when I return, I find the country gossiping away about my tragic love life and the furious passion he shares with another witch? Imagine my surprise to have travelled in time to the times where Harry was a famous Quidditch player with a crazy love life.
Even worse, the gossip is about Harry's supposed romance with Cho Chang. Now it's not just four years back in the past. I'm suddenly back in Hogwarts as a fourth year student. Seriously? Are you guys for real?
I read all sort of codswallop on my way home. Harry and Cho would have reignited a love that had never truly died since they were fifteen and sixteen respectively. Some of my esteemed colleagues even pushed their gall to claim I had been kicked out of my apartment in Hogwarts without a warning, and that Harry and my brother Ron had fought over this with wand and fists.
The first report about this searing hot love affair was found in the pages of - oh, the surprise – Witch Weekly. And based on this excellent publication, many of my fellow reporters chose to spread the story, even among the esteemed staff of the Daily Prophet. They chose to disregard a very important rule in journalism.
Honestly, I thought we had settled this already. I'll repeat it, here.
When the subject is Harry Potter, and it is found in Witch Weekly, it's a bunch of lies!
Come on! You all know that my boyfriend has stepped on the toes of Mark Weathercap, when he chose to voice his displeasure about a piece written about him through a howler to the editor's office. This is widely known in the world of reporters. And we all know that Mr Weathercap considers this a crime of 'lese-majesty', and so decided a vendetta against 'Mr Potter'. So, in the columns of Witch Weekly, he was called a menace, a madman, a trouble maker, a cheater, a Dark Arts practitioner (of all things!), and basically had his name dragged in the mud at each occasion available. And now, he supposed to be unfaithful to me with Cho Chang?
Let us be serious, here. I have the utmost respect for the readers of Witch Weekly, but even they know that when they want real news, they go pick the Prophet, the Herald, and in the case of one of my good friend, the Quibbler. So Witch Weekly deals in gossip and cooking recipes. And yet, the headlines of the entire country have suddenly started to follow their lead? Are you out of your mind?
I'm still hopefully waiting for a sign that Mark Weathercap has an ounce of ethics, buried in the rotten shell of his heart. But it seems it's not for this year. That this man has yet again succeeded in personally assaulting me and my boyfriend with his newspaper appals me, to be honest, but that he had such a help by so many certified journalists is sickening.
I'll resort to a simple statement of facts, now.
Fact: Harry Potter and I are still living together in Hogwarts Castle and are very much in love, thank you very much. If you don't believe me, come to tell me this face to face, and I'll educate you.
Fact: Harry Potter and Cho Chang haven't been romantically involved behind my back, and in fact haven't been romantically involved since the end of Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. That's eight years ago, fellows. Anyone believing otherwise is either stupid or very gullible, both qualities that make the life of parasites like Mark Weathercap possible.
Fact: Cho Chang, Seeker for Puddlemere has announced that she was about to file a lawsuit again the owner of Witch Weekly. She's been joined in her efforts by Ms Angelina Johnson, Captain of the Wimbourne Wasps, still under the trauma of Witch Weekly's coverage of her break-up, last year.
Fact: if I see another word about this nonsense published in any paper, I will personally visit the author and this will be a cause for a challenge to a Wizarding duel in good form. For those who like their chances, I recommend they check my track record, and be advised that I'll make the duel public.
Now that these simple facts have been stated, I will simply remind everyone of the good old days, of a glorious time when the headlines of the Wizarding British press weren't dictated by the spiteful quill of Mark Weathercap, and his odious and unethical manipulation of the truth. I'm not asking such a memory effort. That was two weeks ago.
Now, to quote the words of my esteemed colleague Vanessa Shimpling, directed at Mr Weathercap himself, two years ago.
Can someone just sack the guy, please?
Ron had a snickering laugh as he put down the issue of the Herald.
"I think this is the biggest reason why I'm so proud of my sister," he said. "She has such an amazing quill."
"Well, she'll be glad to hear that, coming from you," said Hermione. "Where is she?"
"She's preparing her return to Hogwarts," said Ron. "It should be fun, too. Too bad it won't be as public."
On the next evening, Ginny apparated in her house, at the edge of Hogsmeade, and casually walked out to head for the Hogwarts grounds. Strolling in the snowed streets of the village, she breathed in the crisp air, getting her wand out of her robes, just in case she might need it to prove her point.
As she reached the Hogwarts Gates, she could see the flock of journalists still camping at the grids, and shook her head in disgust. It had to be a very dull winter indeed if nothing newsworthy was happening, to the point that so many guys in the business needed to spy on her private life to get something to print.
If reporters were one thing, they were perceptive, because they saw coming from afar, but something in the way she moved told them that she meant business and so they didn't charge at her, like last time, to assault her with questions. Ginny only walked to them, without a change in her pace.
"Evening, guys," she said. "Now if you haven't spent all days and night camping out at these gates just so you could hound me and my boyfriend, led in that by – and it's sad in itself – the whim of Mark Weathercap of all people, you may have noticed that the Herald has issued a headline that I signed."
Some reporters showed that they had read the issue and one even gulped.
"If you must know, it is but a tenth of what I'm capable of," Ginny went on, showing off her wand. "I'll be clear and I'll say it only one. If one of you puts a toe in my way as I'm going home, if any of you guys is still here the next time I get out, or if any of you puts even a word about my private life in your respective papers, they'll find themselves not only at the business end of one of my hexes, but the subject of the very next piece I write for the Herald."
She threw look around.
"Any questions?" she asked.
The horde of journalist did the only thing that made sense... they fled like a frightened flock of birds. Between the wizards and witches apparating out of her way, and the ones who hastily stepped out of her path, Ginny really felt like a dragon among sheep. With a little smug smile, she walked to the grids, flicked her wand at them, and they opened to let her through. She flicked her wand without any look back and the grids closed at her heels. She managed to walk the trail up from the grids through the forest without sending a single look behind her.
As she walked by the kailyard, she saw Hagrid, who raised his eyes from a curious kind of frozen vegetable that was sprouting snow in the air, as if was sneezing. Hagrid had been in the process of putting a little scarf around the roots, when he saw Ginny. His smiled made a few bits of ice fall from his beard.
"Alrigh' there, Ginny?" he called in the distance.
She waved back happily and walked on, until she had reached the courtyard, where three students were in the middle of a terrifying snow war. She raised a shield to protect herself from the snow, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Humming a little to herself, she climbed the short flight of stairs that led to the great doors and the entrance Hall. As she crossed the Hall, she walked into Flavia Sinistra, who smiled at her.
"Hello, Miss Weasley," she said. "How was Austria?"
"Cold," said Ginny with a smile. "But the summit was fun."
"Excellent," said the astronomy teacher. "We will see you at dinner, then?"
"Certainly," said Ginny. "I missed the food from the Castle."
She started up the stairs and was greeted by Nearly Headless Nick.
"Oh, Ginevra, my dear," said the ghost, brightly. "Would you know what reason led Harry to get back here on his broom, by this cold? I would advise you to watch him before he catches his death on that thing."
"I'll make sure he doesn't, Sir Nicholas," said Ginny, with a wink that made the ghost turn a lighter shade of silver.
Ginny laughed and trotted up the stairs, heading for the South Tower. So Harry had managed to slip by, using his broom? Well, to each their own methods, but a broomstick was a classic. Reaching the South Tower floor where their apartment was, she didn't even bother to get her key. Harry never locked. She entered the apartments and got rid of her coat on the hanger near the door.
When she made her way into the living room, she was greeted by the sight of Harry, sprawled on the couch, the Herald laid down on his belly, asleep. Clearly he had tried to wait for her, but had failed. Ginny had a chuckle. It was official, her boyfriend was a marmot. He could fall asleep at any time of day, getting whatever sleep he could whenever he could. Smiling, she went to sit beside him.
Harry was a light sleeper, so he felt her and his eyes shot open. The smile he had when he saw her never failed to warm Ginny's heart. Without a word, she began to settle near him.
"Move over, you big tree," she said.
Harry, grinning, made some space on the couch, so she could lay down beside him and snuggle against him. She had a content sigh, once she was settled in his arms. She pulled at the copy of the Herald, looked at the headline, casually. It was hers. She smiled.
"So, how was your day, Hon'?" she asked.
Harry's laugh was contagious, that was one thing you had to know about him. One you had to know about Ginny was that for her, Harry's laugh was arousing.
Needless to say they were late for dinner. Actually, they didn't show up. To be perfectly accurate, they weren't heard from or seen by anyone until late into the next day. Sometimes a private setting is better to catch up on some things.
Harry and Ginny had barely left the bedroom, all day. But eventually, they had to get down to he Great Hall for the next dinner, if only to put an end to the rumours among students. So they dragged themselves to their living room in the afternoon.
"So, apart from this whole mess, how was Austria?" asked Harry, over tea.
"Very interesting," said Ginny. "I can't really print that out, but having seen some delegations if you think our Ministry is complicated, we're the epitome of simplicity, compared to some. But the talks were fascinating."
"Good," said Harry, "I can't wait to read that piece."
"Since it was the reason Weathercap had a chance of nearly plunging our couple into chaos?" joked Ginny.
"I wasn't that assignment that started it," said Harry. "Weathercap would have done it no matter what. You being absent was just a lucky break for him. It gave him an angle. Had you been there, he would have run the story differently, probably with more drama, a long portrayal of you as the distraught, betrayed young maid."
"I guess he would have gone that way," said Ginny. "I do give off a good "innocent and naïve" vibe, compared to Cho, don't I?"
"Luckily for me, I'm but your apprentice in the matters of deviousness," said Harry.
"Bow to me, my servant," laughed Ginny. "Well, I'm still grateful that jerk Weathercap didn't have anyone sent to the summit, or he would have gotten even juicier material."
"Why do you say that?" asked Harry, surprised.
"I was meaning to tell you," said Ginny. "But you must promise not to get mad."
"You know full well that I don't give that kind of promises anymore, Gin", said Harry. "I always end up breaking them. Especially when you begin the story by 'promise not to get mad'."
"I expected you to say that," said Ginny, with a smile. "Anyway, it wasn't such a big deal, so... But there weren't only officials and reporters, there. There was a whole bunch of rich people that were there to keep an eye on their interests. And among them, there was... that guy."
Said on any other tone, it could have worried Harry, but Ginny had let so much contempt and loathing slip through her sentence that he chose to joke about it.
"Alright," he said. "Name of the wizard, nature of the offence and time of death, please."
"Idiot," she said, with an unconvinced slap at his shoulder. "His name was Archibald Weyland Irons, if you would believe that. He emphasized the 'W' enough, like it had a special meaning. He claimed to be a billionaire of some sort, and I happened to look his name up. He's the heir of some pretty big shot in America. Filthy rich."
"Wow," said Harry. "So a billionaire tried to sweep you off your feet. I guess that since you came home, it means he was ugly or such a dumbass that you felt I was worth it."
"Something like that," smiled Ginny. "But that was before I read about you frolicking with that hot Chinese Seeker... What was her name, again? Chang Ho?"
"Play nice, love," chuckled Harry. "So what did he do to piss you off?"
"Well, he tried to be smooth about it," said Ginny. "He was flattering. He was charming, admiring... and on the whole, very annoying, but nothing I couldn't handle. The problem was that, as soon as he got a name and a 'good evening', he considered I was won. It was just a matter of time, for him."
"Taking Ginny Weasley for granted," winced Harry. "Deadly mistake."
"And don't you forget it, Potter," said Ginny, with a smile, while tapping his forehead with her finger. "Anyway, I tried to be polite, then I tried the blunt way, but nothing seemed to deter him. Three days into the summit, I had resorted to stick so closely to Ambrosius that Security would keep the jerk at bay. I think he thought that our dear Minister was either my Dad or I was his trophy girlfriend, which is pretty sick. The only thing useful I got out of this, was that Ambrosius was amused by my predicament. We bonded a little over the Summit and I got a lot of exclusives."
Harry had a snort of laughter.
"One day, he showed up with a river of diamonds," said Ginny, and Harry's laughter died out, as he gaped at her.
"No way," he said.
"Keep that in mind, as well," said Ginny. "Next time you want to skip your turn at doing the dishes, you think back to what I had to give up for you."
"Duly noted," said Harry. "Though you know I would offer you rivers of diamonds, if I though for a minute that you would wear them."
"I know," said Ginny. "I'm so glad I found out you're filthy rich, too."
"Right," said Harry. "So far, he has been a little heavy. What did he do to earn that contempt in your voice."
"When I refused his jewels and told him I wasn't interested," she explained, "he told me that he just had to find the proper incentive."
"What? You're kidding me?" he exclaimed.
"And this is the part where I want you not to get mad," said Ginny. "There nothing you can do about it, anyway. But I could hardly believe the nerve of this guy."
"So he basically implied that you were for sale, and... he was negotiating price?" said Harry.
"Yep," said Ginny.
"So he implied you were a whore," said Harry, between clenched teeth, but he regained control over himself. "Cue in the Avada Kedavra. How did you manage to evade the Aurors?" he added with a grin.
He joked about it, but he could tell that Ginny was just as upset as he was.
"A slap felt actually more satisfying," said Ginny. "I told him that if he ever came into my sight again, hexes would fly."
"That's my girl," grinned Harry. "But you're right, it's better Witch Weekly didn't get word of this guy, or its supplement would have been about the fairy tale of you being rescued from bitterness of betrayal by Prince Charming from overseas."
"Quite nicely put, love," said Ginny. "But trust me, he wasn't even worthy of being the toad."
"Was he at least handsome, to be sure so freaking sure of himself?" asked Harry.
"He was okay," said Ginny. "If you like that type. I'm all set at home, mind you, so I didn't pay attention."
"Why, thank you, my dear Miss Weasley," said Harry. "May I reply in kind by stating that you make gorgeous Chinese Seekers look out of place?"
"You'd better," said Ginny, drawing him closer for a kiss that eventually led to many other things.
At the very next dinner, it was clear the mood had improved greatly in the whole Castle. The students could tell that Professor Potter looked a lot less stressed. After the news coverage of Miss Weasley's return to Hogwarts, most students had now realized that break up was not in the air for the Defence Teacher.
So, at dinner, students saw that not only was Miss Weasley back in the school, but she openly claimed her status as she joined the table with a spectacular kiss, without a care about the few students that remained in the Great Hall.
Kenneth was glad to see his teacher's trouble brought to an end. He had seen the mess he had been in, from rumours and the papers' headlines. He was relieved that things were finally quieting down. Since Potter had given him his support during this whole Duel mess, Kenneth couldn't depart from a fondness for him. And the training sessions they had set up together did a lot to get them closer. Kenneth did learn a lot about his own gifts during the sessions and he like the humourous, easy manner of the defence teacher.
The situation was far better for most of people in the Castle. First, Professor Potter had found his good mood again. Second, Kenneth was much less depressed than before Christmas. His chats with both Potter and Kalindra had opened new horizons for him. He knew that sooner or later, he would have to speak to Julie, and the prospect didn't bother him so much, now.
Ian seemed to be much more stable now. Kenneth had been worrying for him lately, fearing that he could breakdown, under too much pressure. Kenneth had been clear to every student of the Tower that had stayed for the holiday. The first one he would catch calling Ian a freak would suffer his wrath. The duel with Donahue had had the advantage to guarantee him to be listened closely.
But since Christmas, Ian seemed eager to do some research. He was spending most of his time in the library with Joel and Kieran.
What he was looking for remained a mystery for Kenneth. He was hoping that it could help him to get a grip on his powers.
Dinner ended. As Harry and Ginny were walking out of the Hall, discussing the case of Julie with Alexander and Phyllis, Ron caught up with them.
"Can you guys join us for a last drink?" he asked.
"I can't drink", said Phyllis.
"Yeah, I know," said Ron. "But we have something to tell you."
Harry and the others exchanged puzzled looks, then nodded. They followed Ron to the Tower where he was sharing an apartment with his wife. But before they got there, Alexander stopped, as he had seen Ian in one of the Corridors.
"I'll join you in a minute," he said.
When they all entered the Weasleys' apartment, Hermione was already here with Professor McGonagall. She looked delighted but McGonagall was clearly puzzled, as well. They all settled in the couches and Ron served some drinks, and poured some orange juice for Phyllis, who told Hermione not to wait for Alexander.
"If he's speaking with Ian, he's in for a long time," she said.
"Alright," said Hermione. "Now that I'm sure that everyone in here is in the right mood to learn this, I have an announce to make."
She threw a meaningful look to Harry and Ginny, who rolled her eyes, but squeezed Harry's hand tenderly, without a word.
"So, go ahead, 'Mione," said Harry. "What can be so important that you had to wait until Ginny kicked an editor's arse before you could tell us."
Hermione smiled at him. Ron stood up and placed himself behind her, throwing his arms around her waist. With a tender smile, Hermione leant against him.
"Well, I'm pregnant," she said.
They all must have looked thunderstruck, even McGonagall, because Ron chuckled a little.
"Look at your faces, mates," he said.
Harry stood up.
"Wow! Wow! How long have you known this?"
"Two weeks, now," said Hermione. "I thought It would be better to announce it later…"
"Wow!" Harry exclaimed again. "It's really… brilliant!" he finally said, and he pulled Hermione into a frantic hug.
Ginny stood up and hugged Ron. She then kissed Hermione on the cheek, as Ron was giving his best friend a bear hug. Phyllis still hadn't moved.
"That's so great, Hermione," said Ginny, moved to tears.
"Wonderful news, dear," said McGonagall, joining them, and embracing Hermione as well.
Alexander walked in the apartment at this moment. He looked around at the beaming faces, then he turned to Hermione. He smiled cunningly.
"So you finally told them?"
"What? You knew?" exclaimed Ron, his eyes widened in disbelief.
"And you too?" Hermione asked Phyllis, who nodded, grinning. "But how?"
"Well, that wasn't too hard," said Alexander. "First, you two looked pretty excited about something while everyone here was completely stressed out or worried. Second, you're positively beaming, since things got better. Third, you've been absent from your class a whole morning. You! So I guess you had to be at the doctor, weren't you?"
Hermione chuckled and nodded.
"And Last?" asked Ron.
"Last, I happen to know a very good expert of pregnancy, these days," he said, pointing to his wife. "Phyllis guessed it six days ago."
He helped the redhead witch to get on her feet. She hugged Hermione warmly.
"I'm thrilled for you, honey," said the Irish woman. "This little one won't have to wait for too long to have a friend in here."
"It's so wonderful to think that Children will be raised in this Castle," said McGonagall, smiling.
"Speaking about raising a child in the Castle, I wanted to ask you about something, Professor," said Ron. "How do you think we can prevent Peeves from haunting the childhood of our kid?"
"I could talk to the Bloody Baron," said Alexander. "He happens to like me, Merlin knows why. I could ask him to make sure that Peeves leaves the kids alone."
"And there's something else we wanted to ask you, Minerva," said Hermione, timidly. "It was if you would accept to be our child's godmother."
McGonagall gasped and her hand went at her mouth, while tears were getting to her eyes.
"Yes, of course, dearest," she said, hugging Hermione again.
She then kissed Ron on both Cheeks and Ron had wide smile to Harry.
"Are you in for the Godfather thing?" he asked.
Harry smiled back. He was very glad to be offered such a chance.
"Did you have to ask, mate?" he said, taking Ron's arm.
Hermione jumped to his neck and kissed him.
"Thanks, Harry!" she whispered.
"No, thank you, girl," said Harry. "For so many things. I owe you so much in my life that I couldn't even think of refusing. Anyway, you'll repay me the kindness sooner or later."
He saw Ginny blush slightly but she smiled to him. They all drank to the next Weasley kid. Harry wished him or her the same happiness than his or her parents. Then they improvised a little party in the living room.
Done! Okay, next chapter will see the story focus back on the students a little, which is quite logical, since term is about to resume.
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