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Rumour Has It by lightyoureyes
Chapter 1 : Chapter One: Pink Vomit
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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“Professor, you couldn’t possibly-“

 

“I’m sorry Miss Whittle, I have no other choice.”

 

“Can you not give us one more chance?”

 

Professor Longbottom sighed frustratedly. 

 

“Miss Whittle, you know how much I support what you are trying to do, but it is just no longer a viable project. We can’t keep wasting resources, I’m afraid.” 

 

“Please, sir. I’ll turn this around, I know I can.”  

 

His brows were furrowed tightly and the contemplation that graced his features ignited a glimmer of hope. He closed his eyes slowly and sighed again. 

 

Looking at me with a crushing amount of pity, he softly spoke. 

 

“I shall reconsider, Miss Whittle, but I’m not promising anything.” 

 

He gave me a nod and a small smile before swiftly leaving the room. 

 

I groaned while collapsing onto the dusty old chair the school had donated to me. I was pretty sure it had been here since before Dumbledore, but it served its purpose nevertheless. 

 

I wasn’t one to dabble in the art of begging but it was becoming clear I would have to resort it to it one too many times to keep this place going. I looked at our latest issue on the equally aged desk and felt a sharp pang. How could something that we had so tirelessly worked on be so undervalued? I took my glasses off and rubbed my eyes until saw coloured spots in front of my vision. Professor Longbottom’s last words gave me little hope. I knew that we were going into the ground fast. I was starting to accept that students of this school no longer cared about the local news or the history of the fantastic magical building they spent their school year in. 

 

The Hoggy Herald had once been an esteemed newspaper, not like the rag that is the Daily Prophet, but filled with intellectual articles of utmost social and political importance. After the Second Wizarding War, my parents established The Hoggy Herald to encourage witches and wizards to engage in the social and political spheres of the Wizarding World. Yet, here I was, creating nothing more than a canvas for crude doodles and what I was sure several students used as toilet paper. Professor Longbottom was sympathetic to the idea of me trying to keep my parents’ legacy alive, but I couldn’t blame him for making the hard decision when we could barely stay afloat. 

 

Our office had been demoted to the dungeons for Merlin’s sake, how could we have any legitimacy when our fellow Hogwarts folk feared to coming anywhere near the place? How I would ever cope if I was sorted into Slytherin I don’t know, the dungeons are horribly cold and damp. Not to mention that I was sure this particular dungeon was haunted. 

 

“So how did it go?”

 

I jumped and squeaked slightly. I was far too invested in my own thoughts that I didn’t hear what would have been the extremely noisy footsteps of my little brother. He was never one for being discreet. 

 

Once I got my breath back I turned to look at my brother’s hopeful face, before standing up, putting my glasses on and ruffling about with papers on my desk. 

 

“It’s not good news.”

 

I couldn’t look at him, I was too cowardly. 

 

“But did you tell him about that new article? The one about Hermione Weasley’s new proposal for the rights of house elves?”

 

“Yes, and frankly, he made the solid, although brutal, point that a bunch of young teenagers would find it pretty damn boring.”

 

He winced. 

 

“Ouch.”

 

I nodded. 

 

“We can’t give up on this, Con. This is for mum and dad, we can’t let them down.”

 

I turned to properly look at my brother. My sweet little Jude. He was almost sixteen and yet he was the oldest soul I knew. His tousled brown hair was getting ever messier, his pointed features more pronounced and his eyes less youthfully rounded. He was smart and wise beyond his years, but the hope he carried was just a reminder that he still young. Not a boy as such, but a young man. 

 

Jude never needed protection, but his blind determination and devotion, while admirable, would render him constantly disappointed. Like I was. 

 

I wasn’t sure whether to give him the false hope that something would turn around for us and shield him that little bit longer, or to stamp out the last bit of youth within him and reveal the reality. 

 

I didn’t have the heart for the latter. 

 

So, I smiled weakly as I said,

 

“Don’t worry Jude, I’m sure something will come up.”

 

*

 

“What’s the damage?”

 

I dropped onto the bench opposite my Hoggy Herald team, awaiting to hear the dreaded numbers of our sales. I say the word ‘sales’ extremely loosely as no one ever bought copies, so we eventually had to start giving them out for free. That didn’t exactly go the way we wanted it to, it just meant that instead of people having to go out of their way to buy a copy to deface it, they could now just as easily do it for free.

 

“Three.”

 

My head shot up immediately. Stefan and Felicity, the other two unfortunate souls aside from me and my brother that made up the Hoggy Herald, stared at me tentatively.

 

I was amazed. Three sales was the most we had made in months, as horribly sad as it is. 

 

“Three?! That’s the most we’ve had in months!”

 

Despite it being an extremely small victory in the long term, progress was progress. At this point, anything would have sufficed. If we didn’t get any out on first release, the Hoggy Herald would then just be left for students to have their wicked ways with, which was the most likely situation. It wasn’t so much that people hated it, it was that people didn’t care.

 

The Hoggy Herald wasn’t defaced out of hatred for it, it was defaced because in the eyes of Hogwarts students, nothing was more amusing than seeing a giant penis being drawn on the Minister of Magic’s head. I was sensing hatred for our ministry and the system more than anything, but if the success, or lack thereof, of my article on that very proposal was anything to go by, the students didn’t care about that either.

 

In light of all this, my supposedly small victory was actually a momentous one.

 

Alas, my team members didn’t look quite so joyous at the occasion.

 

“Well actually they..I mean they didn’t quite-“ Felicity started reluctantly, and looked at Stefan for help, who unsurprisingly stared at the table and offered her nothing. You wouldn’t expect Stefan to have such a wonderful way with words when he did when he was writing, the lad was practically a mute.

 

I looked between the two of them with furrowed brows.

 

“They weren’t sold as such…more given away out of necessity,” Felicity continued with a pained look on her face.

 

“What do you mean by that?”

 

“There may have been a slight incident with some second years and Puking Pastilles…” Felicity finished with a grimace on her face. I can only imagine that she was reliving what sounded like a repulsive experience. I buried my head in my hands.

 

“Are you telling me that the only three copies that have been sold, for the lack of a better term, in months, were used as a sick bag for some idiots who purchased those stupid bloody Weasley products?!”

 

They both nodded.

 

“Actually, the last two were more used to clean it up.” I raised an eyebrow at Stefan, who had finally found his place to speak. Felicity elbowed him in the ribs.

 

If it wasn’t so debilitating, it would have been humorous. If our hard work hadn’t been literally thrown up on, the entire situation would have made me laugh. However, because it was so desperately sad and was such a truthful analogy for the rock bottom we had hit, it made me want to cry. 

 

It was just a bit too tragic for my liking, it was probably the most insulting thing since we found out people – and when I say people, I mean horny teenage boys – were taking copies of the newspaper so they could masturbate over a bloody female Quidditch player who was apparently the ‘hottest bird to straddle a broom’ or something as ridiculous as that. At least they had paid attention to it, although obviously, it wasn’t the article they were interested in.

 

I told myself that the students weren’t into reading news stories anymore, that we as a generation had grown out of it. However, after hearing that two girls read an article in Witch Weekly ten times over about how James Potter was spotted outside a nightclub during the summer, I realised it wasn’t reading news stories itself that was the problem, but the content.

 

It baffled me how someone could write a three-thousand-word article on why Dominique Weasley was the new ‘It’ girl and why people actually wanted to pay for it. In a generation with nothing to fear and nothing that is deemed as news-worthy, I resigned to the fact that this was what it had come to.

 

As lunch appeared on the table, I poked at my food aimlessly.

 

“Well I suppose we could just tell Longbottom that we did actually sell three,” Felicity imputed, “he doesn’t have to know that they were covered in pink vomit during the transaction.” 

 

I winced.

 

“Thanks for sparing me the details.” I replied while shooting her a glare. She shrugged and carried on eating. How she could do that after that image she put in my head, was beyond me.

 

“But that leads to my news,” I started as the two sitting opposite me looked up from their plates.

 

I took a deep breath and rested my elbows on the table.

 

“Longbottom’s shutting us down…there won’t be another issue.” I finished hopelessly. 

 

My friends exchanged looks, but I couldn’t stop staring at the untouched pumpkin and lentil pie that was sitting in front of me. For once, it looked unappetising to me. Most people found it revolting but that meant only more for me. Another example of how my preferences and interests differed extensively from my fellow Hogwarts students.

 

“He can’t do that,” Felicity protested, “we aren’t even bloody charging for it!”

 

“That’s just the problem, apparently we are wasting resources.” I replied bitterly.

 

Felicity rolled her eyes and Stefan just looked down. It seemed harder in a way to tell Stefan, he was such a mild-mannered quiet person, despite the occasional brutal one-liners he came out with. Yet I knew he truly loved what he did, and I could tell the prospect of that being taken away crushed him. 

 

Felicity, on the other hand, would not go down without a fight, which was perhaps why I needed her. She reminded me a lot of Jude, albeit a lot more hot-headed, neither of them would give up so easily. After a few moments of silence, Felicity piped up.

 

“He can give us one last issue,” she decided, “…he owes us that at least.” 

 

Felicity looked at me, determined, but with a hint of pleading. After all, I was the editor in chief, and if the ship was going down I was to go down with it. Stefan looked at Felicity with wide eyes and then stopped at me, awaiting my reply.

 

I knew I had to be realistic about this.

 

“What is one more issue going to do?” I asked her dejectedly. If our last god knows how many issues were a flop, what would one more be? Apart from a further humiliation.

 

Felicity perked up and smiled. She pointed her fork at me and her eyes lit up from beneath her cropped, blonde pixie cut. I wasn’t sure if she had an evil plan or a genius idea, it was hard to tell with Felicity. At this point, I was open to all suggestions.

 

“We will do something no one can ignore."


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