My page was blank. After six years in the field of journalism, I knew this was not a good sign.
My page was never blank.
Usually, while I was researching someone, I at least had random pictures or phrases written. My research included anything from interviews with my subject and his or her family and friends to thousands of trips to the Ministry to sit and read through record upon record. You could rip my notepad from my hand at any of these times and there would be something there. Sometimes it was in Latin or French or sometimes it was a picture of the person if they had grown up with an abnormally large head and small features, but I digress, there was still something there.
But, at that moment, there was not a mark on my paper and it frustrated me to no end.
“I was born in a muggle hospital about three hours from the family farm,” the minister droned, but my quill remained still. “I was about three weeks early and it's really a funny story...”
There I was, Jane Vantage, 23 years of age, a reporter/columnist at the Daily Prophet for five years, single, and too many other describing words to write, and I was at a loss at what to put on my page. I cannot stress how infuriated, vexed, miffed, disheartened and irked I was. Sorry, sometimes, even a reporter gets caught up in the magic that is a thesaurus.
“She then proceeded to drink my blood and we all turned into harpies.”
I was so absorbed in my own problems that I wasn’t listening to my character. This is writing suicide for even the most seasoned of veterans. Luckily for me, one of the talents that have kept me going is my ability to keep a conversation going. Usually.
“Are you even listening?”
Wait! Wait. You stupid word! Get back into my mouth where you belong, or better yet, onto my notepad.
Unfortunately for me, my thoughts didn’t help the situation I had put myself in. The situation being that I had just insulted my new story’s main character. As I had said before, this wouldn’t be so bad, but when you’re interviewing the Minister of Magic... Let’s just say, you do not want to insult him.
“I’m terribly sorry for wasting your time, Miss Vantage, I didn't realize I was boring you. Are you this way with all of the important people you interview? Or am I simply that special?” The condescending tone the Minister spoke with made me cringe, but I couldn't shut my mouth quickly enough.
“Do you have much time to waste, Minister?”
“If I didn’t, would I still be here talking with you?”
I looked down in my notebook and found new ideas forming. Ideas about a minister who talked back to his staff, who was able to form witty thoughts and who was able to keep up with my fast-talking interview style. Even though that particular style seemed nonexistent today. Sighing, I realized I had to get out of room before I started writing a love letter to the 50 year old Minister of Magic.
The minister looked at me pointedly and I could tell he didn't think this interview had not gone well. Of course, due to my blank paper, I already knew that. I took one last look at the empty space in my notepad before I snapped it shut, deciding that I couldn’t bear to be here anymore. When the minister got up from his chair to shake my hand, I felt the doom descend. My readers were not going to be happy when my usual column was filled with something else, something bland. I gave the minister a once over before I flipped open my notepad one last time and handed it to him. “Give me a name.”
“What kind of name would you like, Miss. Vantage?” He asked patronizingly, but I stood my ground. I needed a story. I needed a different angle since the minister was too stubborn. I would have to deal with him later.
“A name that I can use. I need a story minister and even though the Prophet is expecting a story about you, it is obvious that that is not going to happen anytime soon. Don’t worry, I’ll tell them that you were too busy dealing with ‘Ministry Business’. They won’t mind...” I tilted my head innocently to the side. “As long as you give me a simple, little name,” I finished smoothly before I sat down in his chair, crossed my legs and relaxed with a very triumphant smirk.
The minister eyed my posture disgustedly before snatching a quill and writing something on the notepad. He ripped the paper out, threw all three onto the desk before pointing a finger to the door. “There. A name. Now, GET OUT!”
I smiled pleasantly as I grabbed my notebook, the crumpled piece of paper, his quill and waltzed out. I even had the gall to curtsey and say, “Pleasure doing business with you,” before I shut the door.
“Damn reporters,” I heard him curse before I strutted confidently to the Hall of Records.
OK, so I hadn’t gotten my original story, but I was certain that the name the minister had given would work just as well.
And it might have, if at that exact moment I wouldn’t have turned around and crashed into a moving body. My bag flew out of my hand and the contents were spilt everywhere. The paper also flew out of my hand, but I was too disoriented to notice .
“Are you alright?” A light, airy voice penetrated the haze of my mind and the only response I was able to give was an unintelligible groan. “Oh! Of all the people I would run into in the Ministry, I should have known it would be you Jane.”
Holding my head in my hand I slowly pushed myself into a kneeling position before looking into the eyes of the brick wall I had run into. A brick wall with an oddly enchanting voice. The moment my eyes met her blue ones everything clicked. “Luna Lovegood,” I started. “Yes, I do rather like to frequent the Ministry. The good stories are always the political scandals.”
Smiling indulgently, Luna bent down and began to gather her papers. “You don’t write about those sorts of things, Jane. The whole Wizarding world knows what you write about.”
“Well, the ones who read the prophet, anyway,” I murmured, suddenly very humbled by her praise.
“No, no,” she assured me. “Once, your writings were mentioned in the Quibbler and you should have seen the fan mail that poured in. You are quite popular and reliable, despite your choice of paper.” I was about to interject, but I wasn’t quick enough. “I’m sorry to say, but it is so hard to believe anything that is printed in the Prophet. Except, of course, your wonderful articles, Jane,” Luna tacked on with a cheery smile .
I shot her a quick smile showing my appreciation for her words. As we both gathered our belongings, she handed me a few sheets of scrap paper that the tumbled from my bag and I noticed an assortment of rings on her fingers. There were so many different kinds that I started to feel dizzy trying to find that one that I liked the best.
I began to wonder why I was acting so odd around her. I supposed deep down, I knew that it was because I wasn’t used to be recognized in public and the praised so prolifically. I didn’t like having the attention centered on me. My job was to give someone else the limelight and I was damn good at it. So, I knew the reason why I despised recognition for my work, but I didn’t like admitting the fact. I liked being the person who breathed life into other people’s stories.
We both stood up together and I couldn't help but be swept up into her rather bubbly nature, even just the way she stood still and silent made me feel unreasonable happy and calm. “So, Miss Lovegood, any chance of an interview with me? This must be the twentieth time I’ve asked and if I’m as good as you believe, then you won’t be able to say no this time.”
“Twenty first, actually, Jane, and the answer is still a no. You know how I feel on the subject. I enjoy your articles, but my voice is the Quibbler.” She smiled one last dreamy smile before she sauntered past me. I had to hand it to her, she knew how to handle people and the way she stood up for the Quibbler was a fierce stand of loyalty that showed her depth. I distinctly remembered reading somewhere that people used to call her “Loony” Lovegood and despite her dreamy outward appearance, this supposed “loon” had a shrewd mind, that even I couldn’t unlock.
This, of course, just drove me to unlock it more.
Shrugging my bag into a more comfortable position on my shoulder, I began to make my way to the Hall of Records, when Luna called out. “Do you need someone who may want to talk?”
What a ridiculous questioned I tsked at her in my head. Whirling around, I could feel a crooked smile begin to creep onto my face. “I am a journalist am I not? What’s the name?”
“You interviewed some of his family members, actually, but in my opinion, his story is the saddest one of all.” Luna took a few, quick steps back in my direction before whispering, “It's George Weasley.”
My eyes lit up. I had avoided talking to George Weasley, feeling that an interview would be too much of an invasion of his privacy. I may be a journalist, but I had my morals. With this information though, the fact that one of his close acquaintances was clearly giving me permission to speak with him, my morals were quelled for a while.
“Why George, Luna?” I asked, not really expecting an answer.
“Because he deserves a happy ending the most.”
I observed Luna carefully as she picked her way down the hallway, only stepping on the black tiles and wondered that if this strange woman could produce lines like that, why I wasn’t reading the Quibbler more.
The rest of my day passed with no more empty notebooks and no more strange meetings with people who made me question my motives. I arrived in my flat, my feelings strangely uplifted and it annoyed me that someone else had been able to do that.
Throwing my bag onto a chair, I headed into the living room and made a beeline for the telephone. The number that I dialed come effortlessly from my memory. “Please be home, please be home,” I chanted out loud.
“Hello?” Her voice soothed over my body and I could feel the tension in my body begin to dissipate.
“Did you have a bad day, Jane?” Her voice wasn’t condescending or sarcastic, my mum knew that I only called her after I had had a bad day. She was my very own journal. It’s only logical that day after day after day of writing everyone else's stories, I wouldn’t want to write down my own. Mine was just so insignificant.
“It wasn’t that bad, I’m just torn. I was supposed to interview the Minister of Magic today, but while I was sitting in the office and he was talking aimlessly, there was nothing going on in my head. And by in my head, I mean on my notebook.”
“That’s unusual,” my mum pointed out and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I snuggled down onto the chesterfield, trying to find some peace within myself.
“I know that, Mum. That’s why I called you, but it doesn’t matter anyway because I’ve found a different story.”
“Really, love? Pity, I was almost excited to hear about the Minister’s amazing life.” This time, I was glad to hear some sarcasm. My mum was never afraid to let me know how she felt about my subjects, the people I was writing about.
“Hilarious, Mum. But I do think you’ll like this next person. I sort of overlooked him because of what he went through during the war-” my mum cut me off smartly.
“We all went through a lot, Jane.”
“I know, but for some reason, it just didn’t feel right invading his privacy.” The silence on the other end of the line made me know that my mother approved of my reason. I continued my story, “I ran into Luna Lovegood at the Ministry and after turning down an interview she suggested that George Weasley would be a good candidate. What do you think? Would it make an interesting story?”
The line was still silent and I nearly crumbled at the thought of not having a story to run next week. If my mum disapproved, I would have nothing to turn in. I held my breath, praying that her slow response would be positive.
“Do you remember the first time you saw him after the war?” My mum asked, but before I could answer she began to laugh. “I’m sorry, love, but I have to go. Your father’s finger is caught in that magical pencil sharpener you bought him for Christmas. I’ll talk to you soon.” She hung up abruptly, cutting off my father’s curse. I smiled fondly before hanging up the phone as well.
While I lounged on the chesterfield, I began to think about her question and before I knew it, I was back, nearly six years ago, standing in front of a long line of people waiting to enter and grieve. I had only been working for a year or so, but people had already begun to talk and whisper about my writing. This was, in fact, the first time I realized just how big I was becoming.
I’ve been told that Fred Weasley was a funny soul, but as I look around at the faces of his loved ones, I am left wondering if they will ever laugh again.
These were the first words I wrote when I attended the funeral of Fred Weasley.
“Are you a member of the family, miss? Or just a friend?” The usher queried in hushed tones. The question stopped me in my tracks. What was I really? I had never spoken to any member of the Weasley family as anything other than a reporter for the Daily Prophet, but there was still a bitter sense of loyalty that tied me to everyone that was gathered there. I was about to answer friend when I spotted the roped off area where reporters and the like were situated. I knew then that that was where I belonged, no matter what connection I felt.
“I’m actually a reporter for the Daily Prophet,” I admitted softly, trying to shake the dejected feeling that had descended down on me.
The usher tried hard not to look disgusted, but he failed miserably. “I am sorry. We already have one reporter here from the Daily Prophet and the Weasley family requested that only one person from each media source attend.” The man looked me hard in the eyes. “And that includes the Daily Prophet.”
Feeling defiant now, I straightened my back and held out my hand. “My name is Jane Vantage, sir.”
Those words were all that was needed. The man’s eyes softened and his hand gripped mine tightly. “I’m so sorry, Miss Vantage. I didn’t recognize you, please follow me.” As he led me towards my competition, my mind was making mental notes of all the important people who were here. The Minister of Magic, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, and I could even see the wriggling blue blanket of Teddy Lupin held in the arms of Andromeda Black. The people’s faces began to blur together and before I tore my eyes away, their grief and despair overwhelmed me.
“Here you are, Miss. Vantage...” The man paused for a moment and rolled back onto his heels. I touched the sleeve of his crisp suit in a moment of support and he managed to gulp down whatever embarrassment he seemed to be battling. “Can I ask you a favor? Could you be nice? I know the Weasley's personally and I’ve read your column before. I was just hoping that you could... Tell it like you always do.”
I stared at this man for a moment before it hit me. How could I have not recognized him? “I’m not sure I know what you mean, Neville.”
He looked lost for a moment, his shoulders slumping and his hand running through his hair. “I’m not sure either, I guess I’m just glad that there is someone in here and out there who gets it.” He moved to pass me, but before he did, I felt his pleading voice in my ear. “Look at these people. They don’t care about Fred... They one want this story, this chance of a lifetime. You’re different. You show us, teach us something else when we read your column. Please.” He touched my shoulder softly and walked back to the open doors of the building.
I took the empty seat that Neville had shown me and dug my notepad out of my bag. As I flipped it opened I gasped as a tear that had slid down my cheek splashed onto the notepad’s fresh lines. This was the first tear I had ever shed while on the job. Suddenly, the enormity of what I was witnessing hit me and in all my years of knowing exactly what I could do and how well I could do it, I began to doubt whether or not I could write this piece.
I wiped the rest of tears from my eyes before anyone could see them and as I tried to calm myself, I saw George Weasley walking up to the podium. My quill fluttered into my hand and I steadied myself to write.
If a funeral could be considered beautiful, I suppose that is what I would have called it. As the last organ song faded, people began to exit. I stared down at my notepad and the words I had written. I had managed to copy the elegy down exactly and had the names of everyone who spoke and what they had spoken about. Pages and pages were littered with my messy scrawl, but on the first page, where the tear drop had hit, there were no words. I hadn’t even noticed myself writing around it, I had been so absorbed with the funeral.
I began to stand up, dreading the part that was next. The talk with the immediate family. This meant that I would have to confront all of the Weasley’s and ask them impersonal questions that meant nothing. I could sense the restlessness of the reporters around me. They were worried. They were all worried about whether or the Weasley’s would be cooperative, about whether or not they could hold in the buckets of tears they were not allowed to cry during the funeral, but they were mostly worried about how to get a better story than me, than each other.
I knew all of this because they were all my fears as well, including the last one. Following up articles when you had a fan base was exhausting. I had only written a few stories since I started at the Prophet, but when you write about people such as Pansy Parkinson, Ginny Weasley, etc, you tend to draw attention.
“I’m sorry to have kept you all waiting,” a voiced startled me out of my griping and I quickly flipped over a page in my notebook, ready for a barrage of information. Looking up, I saw that it was a different usher, not Neville. It was actually someone much more famous than Neville. Harry Potter.
“Will the Weasley’s see us, Mr. Potter?” Jim Carble asked from behind me. His eager tone made me flinch. Jim was a fellow reporter at the Daily Prophet and he annoyed me to no end. No manners, etiquette, or any general social graces in this man.
I flashed Jim a warning glance, but he shrugged his shoulders and turned his attention back to Harry Potter. Feeling as though I had done my duty to keep the Prophet’s reputation safe, I turned back as well, but the grim look on Harry’s face made me lose my pride rather quickly.
“I’m sorry to inform you all, but the Weasley’s have requested to not have any questions. I assume you all understand why, so if you could please leave the building and have nice day.” The words were said so stiffly, that it was hard to believe them, but still I had to. We had been promised one-on-one time earlier and now, nothing. My colleagues began to grumble, but they reluctantly left their seats and shuffled out the door. I remained, feeling as though I had to get something more.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Potter, I never knew Fred.” I regretted the words the instant they left my mouth, knowing how insulting I had sounded. I bit my lip and steeled myself for a stinging remark.
It didn’t come. Instead, Harry Potter just looked at me and I mean really truly looked at me. I became incredibly nervous, wondering if he only saw a nosy reporter trying to poke her nose into private business, even though, that was my job.
“I wish you would have known him, Miss. Vantage. He would have liked reading what you write about us. I hope your newest article is the best one of them all,” he murmured and before I could stop him, he was gone.
The journalist in me began to scream and kick. “Follow him,” the business side of me urged, but my heart told me not to. The softness of my heart won out and I suddenly found myself unable to breathe. I had to get out of the building before I cracked open and spilled out everything I had ever thought.
I broke into a run, ignoring the stinging of tears in my eyes. I dashed past the numerous chairs towards the bright light of the open doors, but just as I was passing through them, a shadow caught my eye.
Skidding to a halt and trying to not trip over my own feet, I backtracked through the doors and came face to face with George Weasley. His eyes were red from what I could only assume as tears and as we stared at each other, the pulsing need to break down and cry began to grow stronger.
“I am so sorry, Mr. Weasley. I-I was just leaving. I didn’t mean to-” George cut me off, his hand covering my mouth so fast that I didn’t even have time to scream.
“Shh,” he hissed, pulling me away from the open doors and into a darkened hallway. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to ask why there was a darkened hallway and why George Weasley had pulled me into it. “Why didn’t you leave with the others?” His hand came off of my mouth and I sucked in a much needed breath.
I was about to reply with a smart remark, something along the lines of wanting to get photos of the grieving family, when I looked into his eyes. I was instantly reminded that I was talking to George Weasley; the man whose brother’s funeral I had just attended. Feeling suddenly ashamed I bowed my head and whispered out, “I was leaving.”
“Wait,” George said as I began to pull away from him. “I know who you are. You’re that reporter my family wanted to be here,” he spit out disgustedly and it was obvious that he didn’t want me here.
“I’m not just a reporter!” I cried, exasperated that that was the only way people saw me. “My name is Jane Vantage and in all honestly I didn’t want to come here today. I didn’t want to write about this depressing funeral. People are expecting me to write something amazing. My prose about Fred Weasley’s brilliant war efforts is supposed to be the most heartfelt thing people have ever read, but I can’t do it. I can’t write apathetically when I’m so emotionally involved.” I couldn’t believe I was spilling by heart out about how I couldn’t stand being here to the family of the deceased. It was not, on my part, professional.
“You didn’t even know Fred,” George whispered. “How could you be emotionally involved?”
I began to feel flustered. In truth, I didn't even know what I meant by that. “I-I don’t know, but I am. I’m sorry for all of this-”
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” George cut me off and I tilted my head to the side, waiting for an explanation. His blue eyes pierced through mine and if circumstances would have been different, I would have felt the need to kiss him.
Hiking up my bag, I stepped away from him and the moment was broken. “I have a story to write,” I sighed.
“Of course you do,” George replied inexpressively. He turned around and began walking away.
“I’m different than the rest of them,” I called out after him. “Your brother’s funeral will be the most read newspaper article in the entire Wizarding world!” George didn’t turn around. “I promise!” I yelled in one last desperate attempt to get some kind of acceptance from him, but I realized that my promises of material things wasn't what he needed. Having Fred back was what he needed.
The telephone woke me up. The loud ringing startled me out of dreamland and it couldn’t have been at a better time. What a depressing dream, of course, the depressing part was that it wasn’t a dream.
Fishing the phone from the between the pillows of the chesterfield, I pressed the talk button. “Hello,” I answered groggily.
“Oh honey!” I recognized my Mum’s soft tones and instantly perked up. I looked at the digital clock my father had bought for me when I moved out and perked back down. Why was my mother calling me at two in the morning? Bloody hell. “Did I wake you? I’m so sorry. I know it’s early there, but I had to tell you something.”
“It’s all right Mum,” I assured her, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “What’s the matter?” I could practically feel my mother’s excitement on the other end of the line.
“I think you should write the article,” she squeaked uncharacteristically.
“Which one?” I queried, sitting up a little too quickly.
“The one about George Weasley. I think it would be good for him... Good for you.”
“Oh, Mum. I don’t know-” She cut me with a tsking sound.
“Just think about it,” she insisted. “I really think it’s a good idea. Trust me.”
Laying back down on the chesterfield I settled the phone between my ear and my shoulder and sleepily agreed, “All right.”
“Good night, love,” my Mum wished excitedly, but my cheek pressed a button and our line of communication was shut off. Not bothering to remove the phone, I snuggled closer to it and fell back to sleep.
George Weasley, here I come.
AN::I wasn't planning on posting this tonight, but something happened that made me realize that time is short and life is precious. Since I love this fic so much, I knew I had to share it. xD I hope you all enjoy it. The title is thanks to LadyLexieLou. I have a wonderful beta, AnnaKay, and hopefully, with the both of us, this fic will see completion! And any mistakes that are found are mine alone!
Disclaimer: All familiar characters belong to J.K. Rowling, but the plot and Jane are mine.
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