Massive edit as of Monday, 22nd September 2008.
This story is for Gubby (GubraithianFire), as she gave me this challenge. And then, Emma (war and peace), as she truly is a beta extraodinaire even though she had exams. And Mel (Panicstrikyn) for going over it again, and helping me when I completely edited it. And Taryn (Ginwannabe), for the twitty part, though she doesn't know it's here...And then all the people at HPFF forums for helping me :)
Alayn, LoonyWitch, Lucretia Neva, Lizzie C, Yaara and onestop_hpfan.
They all rock harder than rocks. :)
So yeah. It's a 'Neville/Romilda Quirky murder mystery.' And blame Gubby for that.
Ali (Agent A)
P.S. I like reviews.
When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina – you know, those muggle dancers who have their hair tied back so tightly you can see the shape of their skull, and who have the ability to stand on the tips of their toes and jump around. Needless to say, that idea fell through. I was never the most graceful person, and tended to fall over quite a bit, and the shape of my skull wasn’t something people wanted to stare at all day.
The next phase I went through was boxes. I loved them, literally. Those brown cardboard cubes could be filled with anything, from shoes to lollies. And who doesn’t like shoes or lollies? I wanted to be a box maker, not that I was even sure that was a job. A little known fact about me - When I was seven, I went to a birthday party dressed as a box.
But I got over that pretty soon, and just a few weeks later I decided to be an Ecchinologist (someone who studies cheese). But then I was ‘studying’ one day, and found out that unfortunately I was allergic to camembert cheese. And if I couldn’t have every type of cheese, I was going to have to scrap that idea.
When I started school though, from the start of first year, I wanted to be an auror, like Jillian Briggs’ father. Mr. Briggs, though not the top auror, was definitely one cool dad. Way cooler than mine, who was, rather embarrassingly, a brewer of love potions. He always used to say that’s how he got Mum to fall in love with him, and I reckon it’s true. My dad, although I love him, was not the most desirable man when at school. Mum apparently had every male in her year chasing after her.
But that auror dream definitely seemed much more attractive than it had been previously when I met Harry Potter – my first true love. Not that he ever took much of a liking to me, though, I can hardly blame him. I kind of stalked him a little bit for a while.
But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that none (not even one!) of my ideal jobs ever included being a junior reporter at The Quibbler. I wanted to be a textbook author for a while, for Astronomy, but never a reporter. And even if I did want to be a reporter, it would have been a senior one, and for Witch Weekly or something. Not for The Quibbler.
I admit though, it’s certainly gone uphill (way uphill!) since Xenophilius Lovegood sold it. He was one strange, strange man. And his daughter Luna Lovegood, the year above me in Ravenclaw (and friends with Harry) was no less unusual. Apparently he met Newt Scamander, who wrote our Care of magical Creatures textbook, and Luna’s married to Newt’s grandson or something (Rolf), and they’re all one big Scamander/Lovegood family.
I wrote a story on it a while ago. Joy.
I was still waiting for my promotion at the time, and actually spent time trying to write good stories. But, in all honesty it’s my auror scores that gave me this job. Apparently everyone who fails the auror exam becomes a reporter, a junior one at that. Though, in all honesty I did quite terribly, and thus had a terrible resume:
Failed Auror entrance exam
I had no choice. Junior it was. And what that meant, was that instead of being able to cover high profile stories such as robbery, or even murder, I was stuck with stories such as Lovegood/Scamander one and one like:
Thanks to the kind Wetherby family, Nanna Green got her cat back’.
I guess they didn’t learn the accio charm in Nanna Green’s day.
Even though, I admit, my stories for poorly written, it came as a bit of a surprise when I was called to my boss’ office. At the time, I was frightened. I shouldn’t have been though, they couldn’t fire me! I hadn’t done anything wrong!
All the same, I was feeling a teeny bit nervous as I made my way down the corridor. It’s times like these when I wished Professor Trelawney actually spoke the truth. Yes, I idolised her back in school, but I had become more mature since then. Mother was right. Professor Trelawney was a fraud. And a big one, at that.
And Firenze...well, there’s a reason they shouldn’t have had male teachers. Well, no hot male teachers. All I remembered from his classes was me and my friends discussing his...figure. He probably was a fantastic teacher, but some things were a bit distracting in that class. So Divination was not really a worthwhile subject after all.
Again, mother was right. But when was she not? But I bet she wouldn’t have had to be a junior reporter. She would’ve studied for her test, even though she probably wouldn’t have needed to. Sometimes it sucks having a past-Ravenclaw as a parent.
And then I reached Mr Brockwell’s office. But I procrastinated. After all, it was better to say I had my job for longer, right? I stood outside the door, studying the handle.
It was quite a nice handle, in fact. For a handle, that is. A nice curved shape and it was smooth and shiny. I didn’t really want to touch it. It might have gotten a fingerprint on its gleaming finish. And then no-one else would’ve been able to admire it!
Okay. I might have been the only person who admires a handle. But you never know, and better to be safe than sorry.
So I stood outside the door, admiring the handle, and trying to figure out a way to open the door without touching it. No luck. You see, I had ‘accidentally’ left my wand at my desk, not knowing in the slightest that my boss had a pretty door handle.
Well. I did know. And I did leave it there on purpose. I was nervous! I didn’t want to lose my job!
Damn morals. Why did I always have to tell the truth? It couldn’t hurt for once, for me not to tell everything. But no! My conscience and I were always in battle. And he (she?) always won. Every time. I didn’t think I had ever lied since school. Except...that one time when I burst into tears half an hour later.
It probably started as repentance for my stalking habits of Potter. But in my defence I wasn’t the only one in love with him. He was a 16 year old boy! Famous, rich and not ugly. Not at all ugly. And I was only 14. What else would you expect? But nevertheless, ever since then, it had been safe to say you could expect the truth from me.
But that also means some people thought I was nasty. I wasn't really; I just didn’t give out compliments because it might've been a lie to say that person was good. You wanted honesty? All you had to do was give me a ring.
Ah. But most magical folk didn’t know how to use a phone. I liked being half-blood. Both my parents were magical, but my dad was muggle-born. So 2 of my grandparents were muggles, explaining my knowledge of muggle things.
I was amazed by muggles. If someone had taken my magic away, I’d have been lost. I’d have been able to do nothing. I probably couldn’t even breathe. Well. I could've. But it was a figure of speech. Anyway. Muggles had adapted amazingly! True, most didn’t know any different, but still, it was astounding!
I couldn’t believe some pure-bloods still looked down on them. Even after the war was over! I found it quite sad. Depressing in a way. I mean, seriously! Muggles invented door handles, while us magical folks were using our wands for everything. And as you may have noticed, I like door handles. A lot.
Oh dear. The door opened. And that meant Mr. Brockwell knew I was there. Damn
"Miss Vane?" He said in astonishment, "I was just about to send someone to find you! How long have you been there?"
I waved my hand casually, thinking up an excuse. "Oh...just got here, I needed to ‘spend a penny'"
He nodded, a tad awkwardly, (I supposed he wasn’t used to ‘women’s habits’) and motioned for me to enter. I did, and I noticed that the indoor handle, the one he had been holding, was covered in dreadful fingermarks. Some people just didn’t recognise the finer things in life.
"So, Miss Vane-" He began, before I interrupted.
"I’m sorry, sir! I didn’t enter because I didn’t want to lose my job!" Those morals would be the death of me.
He stared incredulously at me, while I looked down, blushing at my outburst.
"Pardon?" He finally asked, breaking the awkward silence I had created.
"Well, I wasn’t actually in the loo, I was staring at your door handle. I didn’t come in because you’re going to fire me," I explained rather quickly, hoping to get it done and over with.
Brockwell just smiled warily at me, as if he thought I was crazy, and nodded slowly. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he began backing away slowly. But he didn’t. He just started talking.
"Miss Vane, as I was saying before your...explanation, I came in here to talk about your job,"
I groaned silently. What had I done to deserve this?
"We believe you have been doing a marvellous job here,"
So why was I getting the sack?
"And would like to offer you the chance to move up, and cover a higher story,"
I sat up a little straighter. Me? They were talking about ME? Romilda Vane, chronic procrastinator and honest idiot? They wanted to promote me?
"Sir, are you sure you wanted me?" I asked, gobsmacked. The smart thing to do would have been to smile and thank him. But no. I had to be honest and check that they were talking about me. And if they weren’t, I would have been known as
'Romilda Vane, nice girl, very honest, but a right old twit for not taking the job when she could’ve’
It may have been true, but it didn't mean my work mates had to know me as that!
"You are Miss Romilda Vane, correct?"
"Then yes, I did mean you,"
I let out a sigh which consisted of relief and happiness. I wasn’t sacked. I was promoted! Thank Helga Hufflepuff for that. I could just imagine my mum’s reaction if she heard I was gone . I preferred not to though. I don’t think anyone would’ve wanted to have heard it. Unless they were a sadistic git, or something, of course.
"Miss Vane? This is Mr. Jacobs, he’s the detective who you will be working with on the next case," I smiled at Jacobs, wanting to make a good impression.
He grinned back at me, before nodding to Brockwell, who took it as an opportunity to leave.
"Vane?" He asked. I nodded. It was my name after all, but before he could continue, I interrupted him.
"Romilda. Call me Romilda,"
"In that case, call me Jake,"
I stifled a laugh. Jake Jacobs? How could his parents have been so cruel! I knew, if I was to have children, their first name will most certainly fit with their last name. I could see an Eve Vane or a Jack Vane running around.
"It’s not my first name, don’t worry" He winked at me. I guess his parents weren’t as bad as I assumed, "My first name’s Jacky. That’s why people call me Jake,"
And that’s when I began to laugh. Bad idea, I knew, but Jacky Jacobs? The poor man! And he began to laugh as well. Thank god he could take a joke. If I had to work with a bloke who had no humour, I would have been pretty narked.
So after our little laugh-fest, he began to talk work. Damn. Apparently, we already had a case lined up. It was pretty high profile. A murder.
Some people would get a little freaked out at that. I mean, a murder. And I suppose it made me a little sad, but my job was to report the case and how the culprit was caught and thrown into Azkaban. Murdering is bad, kids. Don’t try it. You’ll be the one dead after Azkaban.
So he passed me the file, and I opened it. I had to read it of course, and who could read with the file shut? Not me for one. Continuing on, I opened it, and read the first line.
The murder of Hannah Longbottom, née Hannah Abbot.
That was when I knew why I was given this story. I suppose I was a bit optimistic to think Brockwell gave it to me based on talent. But he did have a relatively good reason. Of course I would have loved it if he gave it to me because he thought I was good, but either way I got the story.
Then the hard part though. I had to live up to his expectations and write a good story WITH the personal twist I could put on it considering I knew Neville and Hannah.
But how could I do that? I was two years below them both, in the same house as only one, and the only time I really interacted with their level was to stalk Harry Potter!
Ever since the Quibbler started to have more stories people would actually read, I had been getting the duds. And then I was given a challenge to put a personal twist on a story about someone I knew in passing.
I hate my boss sometimes.
"So, Romilda...can I call you Romy?" Jake asked. It took a moment for me to register he was talking to me, even though I’ve never met another Romilda and there was no one else in the room.
"What? Oh, yeah, if you want," I responded mildly, still looking at the first lines of the case.
I wasn’t usually a slow reader, but these 8 words were really getting to me, and slowing me down. I was being a bit suspicious, but it was my first mystery case I had to report on. And for all I knew, they could’ve been a subliminal message in the title. You never know!
My mind kept running through those words.
The murder of Hannah Longbottom, née Hannah Abbot.
The. Murder. Of. Hannah. Longbottom. Née. Hannah. Abbot.
"Jake! I think I have a clue!" I shouted, rather loudly. A bit too loudly, seeing as he was standing right next to me looking through his copy of the file. He jumped, and winced as my shout pierced his ears.
I apologised, still quite excited about my clue. He smiled at me, and indicated for me to go on. I coughed, a bit like my old Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge used to, and cleared my throat.
"I have found, that the culprit is someone, or a group of people, with the initials TMOHLNHA," I smiled at my intellect, and waited for the applause which never came. Instead I received laughter.
"I say, Romy, how about you stick to your job, and I’ll stick to mine, ok?" I raised my eyebrow. I had found a clue. He, on the other, had not. "I’m guessing you looked for a subliminal message in the file name?"
I smirked. I knew I was right. Everywhere there were little clues, you just had to look for them.
"I did that on my first case as well," Jake smiled sympathetically, "but it’s never right. You were being a bit paranoid, love,"
Damn. I thought I was right. I was wrong. I was being stupid, suspicious and naïve. At least I tried though.
My dad used to say to learn from my mistakes, and if I did, I’d be the smartest person in the world by now. But I didn’t, and as a result I make the same mistake twice, sometimes more. And as a result of that, people tended to think I’m a bit of a twit. Which when I thought about it, I really was.
Ah well. I was born that way, and what was the point in changing? I was just going to keep most of my ‘twitty’ thoughts to myself, I suppose. Then I could be a ‘twit in disguise’, or something. I liked my twitty ways.
"Romy? You ready to go?"
Ah. That made sense. I packed up my writing supplies, and smiled. But then I realised it was a murder case. Not so good. So I wiped my smile of my face, and nodded to Jake.
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