Rating:
PG
House:
Schnoogle
Characters:
Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Genres:
Alternate Universe General
Era:
The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Spoilers:
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Stats:
Published: 04/18/2004
Updated: 06/08/2006
Words: 97,140
Chapters: 21
Hits: 109,125

They Shook Hands: Year Two (Original Version)

Dethryl

Story Summary:
Harry Potter's holiday with the Muggles has been dreadful. He wants nothing more than to return to Hogwarts, but when he is rescued by a masked wizard in a black robe, it sets off a chain reaction of disasters. Things are no calmer at school as an ancient legend comes to life and a deadly monster stalks the halls. The new Defense professor boasts that he will end the threat, but can even the magical might of the famed Gilderoy Lockhart prevail against the Heir of Slytherin? Nobody knows who it could be, but the prime suspect is none other than Harry himself!

Chapter 03 - Rita Skeeter

Chapter Summary:
Lucius Malfoy's reporter friend has come by to interview Harry for the Daily Prophet to disprove the reports of his abduction. Harry gets to see all his friends from school and finally play some Quidditch. They revive some old jokes, and the mystery of the missing letters is briefly discussed. Everything is going just peachy until Elan gets a strange letter at dinner.
Posted:
04/26/2004
Hits:
4,939
Author's Note:
All chapters are posted on

They Shook Hands : Year Two

An alternate (but realistic!) universe Harry Potter fic
by Dethryl

Chapter Three - Rita Skeeter

"Harry Potter, meet Rita Skeeter."

The blonde witch smiled a brilliant smile at him and gave a slight bow. "Mister Potter, I am so very honoured to meet you," she said in a pleasant voice.

"How do you do?" Harry asked politely.

Mr. Malfoy looked very pleased. "Shall we ajourn to the sitting room?" he suggested. "We might as well be comfortable."

The sitting room was adjacent to the foyer, and Harry tried not to gawk at the expensive furnishings. He sat himself down in a leather chair and studied the reporter.

She claimed a seat on the leather sofa and began pulling things from her handbag. A sheaf of parchment was first, followed by a bottle of ink, a quill pen, and a board attached to a pillow. She set the board on her lap, laid a piece of parchment on it, and readied her quill.

"Mister Potter, were you kidnapped on the night of 31 July?" she began.

"No," Harry said firmly. "I was not kidnapped."

"You left your home of your own free will?" she pressed.

"Yes."

"Were you in the company of Death Eaters?"

"Absolutely not. I left willingly with my friends Elan and Draco Malfoy." Harry gave Miss Skeeter a half-smile. "If Death Eaters had shown up at my house, do you honestly think I'd still be alive?"

Miss Skeeter smiled back at him, as if they were sharing a secret. "No, I suppose not. Mister Potter, why did you leave your home?"

Harry thought very carefully about how much he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. "Why did I leave Privet Drive? How would you feel if you'd grown up not knowing about the wizarding world?" he asked her softly. "If you made strange things happen and couldn't explain them? If the Muggles you lived with hated and feared you? If they tried to stamp the very magic out of you? Would you voluntarily stay there if you had any chance to leave?"

The reporter shook her head. "No, I suppose not."

"Even if Death Eaters had shown up on my door, I still would have gone with them. It was better than staying with the Dursleys. I hate them," Harry said. "I never want to see those Muggles again for as long as I live."

Miss Skeeter was scribbling furiously, trying to get it all down. She had to get another piece of parchment, and she tapped the quill against her lower lip, evidently thinking carefully about her next question.

"Tell me about your escape," she prompted.

"There's not much to tell, really," Harry shrugged. "The Muggles had guests over for dinner, so I was told to stay in my bedroom, make absolutely no noise, and pretend that I didn't exist."

"You didn't get dinner?" Miss Skeeter interrupted him.

"Not what the Muggles were eating, no," Harry said. "They were having a roast, and I was given some bread and cheese."

"Bastards!" Mr. Malfoy burst out. His hand was rapidly clenching and unclenching. He looked very upset. Even Miss Skeeter seemed a bit shocked at this revelation.

"Interesting," she murmured. She looked at Mr. Malfoy. "Lucius, how far do you want me to push this? This could be very damaging to Dumbledore."

Mr. Malfoy smiled beatifically. "Yes, it could, couldn't it? You'll have to ask Harry. I told him that he wouldn't have to answer any question he didn't want to."

Miss Skeeter looked back at Harry. "Was that a typical situation, Harry?" she asked gently.

Harry kept his lips sealed. He didn't want to answer that question. Miss Skeeter waited a few seconds for him to respond, and when he didn't, she softly asked him, "What happened next, Harry?"

"I'd been up in my room for about an hour when I saw a wizard out on the front walk," Harry continued. "I knew it was a wizard because the wind caught his robe and made it flap around a bit."

"Was it a black robe?"

"Is wearing a black robe a crime now?" Harry snapped.

Miss Skeeter shook her head. "No, most definitely not," she replied. "And I'll make a point of that. But was this wizard wearing a black robe?"

"Well, yes," Harry said sheepishly. He shouldn't have gotten upset. Miss Skeeter was only trying to help. "He knocked on the front door, and I went to the top of the stairs to see what was going to happen. Uncle Vernon came out of the kitchen and ordered me back to my room. Of course I ignored him. When he opened the door and saw Elan standing there, he got very frightened indeed."

"I see," Miss Skeeter said. "What about the supposed white mask?" she asked him. "That's very important. The whole allegation of Death Eater hinges on it."

Harry glanced at Mr. Malfoy, whose lips were pursed speculatively. "No, he wasn't wearing a white mask," he lied. "His hood was pulled low over his face, but I recognized his voice."

Miss Skeeter made a flourish with her quill and started on a new sheet of parchment. "Now then, did Elan threaten Mister Dursley in any way?"

"No," Harry told her. "He didn't say anything to Uncle Vernon. He just looked up at me and told me to get my things because I was leaving. Uncle Vernon told Elan that he couldn't just come in and take me. First of all, Elan never came into the house." He gave Miss Skeeter a pointed look. "Secondly, a Death Eater wouldn't have told me to get my things. Then Elan just told Uncle Vernon not to talk to him. The only other thing he said was when he told Uncle Vernon not to threaten him."

"Dursley threatened Elan?" Miss Skeeter perked up a bit. "Interesting. What happened then?"

"There's not much more to it, really. We walked down the block, met up with Draco, got on our brooms, and left the village."

"I'm proud of my sons," Mr. Malfoy interjected. "They helped a fellow wizard in need. It is deplorable that a child should be left to rot in such conditions."

Miss Skeeter nodded in agreement. "Well, that appears to cover the facts of the matter." She gave Harry a piercing look. "Is there anything else you would like to tell me, Mister Potter?"

Harry shook his head. He was wondering if perhaps he'd said too much about Privet Drive. He didn't want to remember that place. If he had anything to say about it, he'd never see it again.

"Very good, then," Miss Skeeter said brightly. "The article will be in tomorrow's edition."

"Excellent, Rita. You have my gratitude," Mr. Malfoy said.

Miss Skeeter smirked at him. "I'll think of some way you can pay me back," she laughed. "But would you like to know where the kidnapping report came from?"

Mr. Malfoy's eyes lit up. "Most assuredly," he breathed.

She smirked even wider. "Then make sure to read tomorrow's edition."

Mr. Malfoy laughed at having been taken in. "Ah, Rita," he chuckled. "You never change, do you?"

"Not if I can help it," she said, joining in his laughter. "This interview here is going to do wonders for me at the paper. Do you know how many journalists are going to be frothing at the mouth when they hear that I got a live interview with the Boy-Who-Lived?"

"I'm glad to see that everyone wins," Mr. Malfoy said. He was about to speak again, but was interrupted by the bell. "Who could that be? I wasn't expecting anyone."

"That would be my photographer," Miss Skeeter said brightly. "I thought it would be helpful to run a picture of Harry with the article. It lends credibility."

"Something you always need to worry about, Rita," Mr. Malfoy said dryly. "It's not Bozo is it? You know I won't have him in the house. That camera of his lets off more smoke than a Pepper-Up Potion."

Miss Skeeter made a face at him. "No, I called on Rebecca Jade. You won't have to worry about any of your precious antiques getting damaged by smoke." She got up to answer the door.

"Lucius, Harry, this is Miss Jade."

Rebecca Jade was a short witch who barely looked old enough to have left school. She was smartly dressed in deep blue robes and had drawn her brown hair back in a short ponytail. She looked very star-struck when she caught sight of the scar on Harry's forehead.

"Rebecca? Rebecca!" Miss Skeeter snapped. "Pay attention."

The photographer shook herself slightly and began taking her camera out of the heavily padded bag she had slung over one shoulder. It was a clunky-looking affair, not nearly as advanced as the camera his cousin Dudley had received for his birthday. Harry sneered at himself. Stop thinking about the Muggles, he thought. If he was so envious of Dudley's camera, he was well-off enough to go buy one for himself.

"Miss Skeeter, you wanted just a photo of Mister Potter?" Rebecca asked Miss Skeeter in a business-like voice. "No, I think we should have him together with Mister Malfoy. Stand up, the both of you," she ordered. Her tone was a bit cavalier, but this was her profession. She most likely knew what she was doing. Harry stood up.

"Now then, Mister Malfoy, stand a little closer to Mister Potter. Slightly behind him, a little closer. Good. Still something missing though," Rebecca trailed off, looking puzzled. "Ah! Yes, Mister Malfoy put your hand on his shoulder. Perfect!"

The camera made a bright flash, and Harry blinked for a few seconds at the blinding light. Then the white spots were fading, and he could see normally again.

"Thank you, Rebecca, that will be all. I'll see you back at the office." Miss Skeeter waved her hand, dismissing the photographer. "Have that developed by the time I get there."

Rebecca Jade nodded as she packed away her camera. She waved her goodbye as she hurried out the door. Mr. Malfoy watched the young woman leave. "She's a bit pushy, isn't she?"

Miss Skeeter nodded. "She takes excellent photographs though. I hear Witch Weekly is trying to lure her away from us. Chances are good they'll probably get her too. Our loss at the Prophet."

"It's been lovely seeing you again, Rita. Can you stay for luncheon?" Mr. Malfoy straightened a nicknack on the end table.

"I'd love to, Lucius, but I need to write this article. Give Cissa a kiss for me, would you?" Miss Skeeter was gathering up her things and replacing them in the handbag that was far too small to logically contain it all.

"I will," Mr. Malfoy promised. He walked her to the front door. "Don't splinch yourself."

"Never," she assured him. "Mister Potter, it was an honour to meet you. I hope you'll call on me if you ever need a friend in journalism."

Harry shook her hand. "Thank you for your help, Miss Skeeter."

She smiled at him. "Call me Rita." With a sudden popping noise, she disappeared!

"Wow, what was that?" Harry exclaimed.

"Apparition," Mr. Malfoy said, going back into the sitting room and collapsing into a chair. "A bending of time and space to move from one point to another." He poured himself a glass of brown-coloured liquid from a crystal decanter and took a large swallow.

"Brandy," he explained. "For the nerves."

"I'm sorry this has been such an ugly situation," Harry told the older man.

Mr. Malfoy waved a hand. "It's not your fault, Harry. I told you that. And it's over now. Rita will take care of everything. I have every faith in her."

"How do you know her?" Harry asked curiously. "You seem like you're old friends."

"She was three years ahead of me in school," Mr. Malfoy answered him. "Though you couldn't tell by looking at her, and she'd never admit it. She was a prefect, a top student, and we were good friends up to the time she left school. We didn't see each other much after that, and she got herself into the reporting business. We renewed our friendship after I finished school, but we still don't see each other that often."

"She seems nice," Harry said.

"Appearances can be deceiving. She can be nice to her friends, but if she decides to skewer you with her quill, Merlin's ghost help you." Mr. Malfoy said. "Well, I'd best get back to my study and start on my paperwork. You and Draco can invite your friends over if you wish. He's no longer confined to his room."

"Thank you, sir," Harry said. "What about Elan?"

"Elan is still in a great deal of trouble," Mr. Malfoy said, frowning. "Regardless of how things have turned out, he was still extremely thoughtless. He is grounded for the near future. And you can tell him that too."

"Yes, sir," Harry said again, and he left the sitting room.

It was a beautiful Saturday outside, and Draco and Harry intended to waste no time in getting out into the fresh air. Elan hadn't reacted too well to the news that Draco was no longer grounded, but he grudgingly took the greater part of the responsibility for the mess that Harry's rescue had caused. He stayed in his room, writing a letter, while Harry and Draco made fireplace calls to their friends.

The experience of sticking his head into a roaring fireplace was definitely one that Harry didn't care to try just now. He insisted that Draco do it the first time. When the blond-haired boy nonchalantly tossed a pinch of what he called Floo powder, a grey, glittering, greasy substance, into the fire, it turned emerald green, and Draco knelt down and spoke into the flames.

"Villa Zabini," he said, and stuck his head into the fire. "Good morning, Jamie," Harry heard him say. "Is Blaise around anywhere?" There was a short pause. "Blaise, good news! Harry's here with us at the Manor. No, the paper was lying. I don't know where that report came from; Father's looking into it. Look, if you want to come over, you can discuss it with him. Very good, I'll see you soon."

As Draco removed his head from the fire, Harry noticed that he had a light dusting of soot and ash all over. "You're looking a little grubby," he observed slyly.

Draco looked down at himself. "Bother," he said. "Worst part about Floo, I say. You'd think they could clean it up a bit. Anyway, Blaise is going to tell her parents where she's going and should be here-"

"Harry!" Blaise shrieked as she tumbled out of the fireplace. Harry opened his arms to hug his friend but was instead tackled. He staggered, trying not to fall down. He was blinded by Blaise's mane of blonde hair. His ribs groaned as she squeezed him around the middle.

"Let off him, Blaise," Draco laughed. "You just found out that he's alive and well. Don't send him to hospital."

Blaise blew Draco a raspberry. "Harry, when we saw the paper this morning, we flipped."

"You should've seen Father's reaction," Draco muttered. "Look, before we start explaining, maybe we should get the others here?"

Blaise pouted, but Draco could not be swayed. "There's no need for Harry to have to repeat himself a bunch of times."

So Draco made fireplace calls to the Bulstrode Estate, Castle Nott, Parkinson Manor, Moonlight Meadows (Jenna's home), Pike Hollow (Crabbe's home), and Ch√Ęteau des Gargouilles (Goyle's home). One by one, Harry's friends all arrived.

They were all ecstatic to see him hale and hearty. Harry related what had happened to him over the course of the very strange holiday. He told about not getting any letters, the unexpected rescue from Privet Drive, and the fire storm that had resulted.

Tim Nott leaned back in his chair, scratching his chin. "Who was it who sounded the alarm, that's what I wonder," he said.

"I think Father gave us that answer at breakfast," Draco said. "Dumbledore."

"He's been spying on me," Harry growled, not pleased with this revelation. "He's been spying on me, and he let the Muggles treat me worse than a dog."

"That's disgusting," Pansy Parkinson said vehemently. "What sort of man could possibly let things go on, knowing you were rotting away in that place? How can he sleep at night?"

"He's someone who doesn't care about Slytherins," Tim said, as if it were plainer than day. "Why should it matter if a Slytherin student is treated horribly at home. We're all doomed to become Death Eaters anyway, right? So much the better if some of us die while young." Tim's sarcasm was raw and biting.

"I certainly won't be a Death Eater," Harry said flatly. Ho looked around at his friends. "And neither will any of you." There was no argument in that tone of voice.

Blaise squeezed his hand. "Oh Harry, how can you even think that any of us would join You-Know-Who? You're our friend, and we'd die before we turned on you."

"That's right," Millie Bulstrode chimed in. "And besides, why would we sign up with him when you've already defeated him twice before? We're on your side, Harry."

Seeing his friends nod their heads and murmur their assent of Millie's words made Harry feel warm and fuzzy inside. He was about to say something emotional when everyone turned at the sound of Goyle's stomach growling.

Goyle turned a little bit red. "Hey Draco, it's getting close to lunch time. Is there any food around here?"

Draco sighed. "Of course there's food around here, you fathead."

"My head is not fat!" Goyle said, meandering towards the dining room.

Harry laughed. He'd missed that joke. He'd missed his friends. He got to his feet and fell in step with Millie and Blaise, who linked her arm with his. That was another thing he'd missed -- the good sort of physical contact.

* * *

After lunch, the nine young Slytherins hurried out into the fresh summer air. Quidditch was on Harry's mind, and he reveled in being able to mount his Nimbus 2000 and rocket through the sky. He chased the Snitch all over the place, trying to make up in one afternoon what he'd missed in one month of imprisonment with the Muggles. His friends played four-person teams and let him fly free, knowing he needed the release.

Harry saw Elan sitting on his balcony at one point, watching the game. He was surprised to see Jamie Zabini sitting there as well. The couple was holding hands and talking. Once, Harry thought he saw them snogging, but the Snitch twisted away from him, and he had to focus on flying.

They played until the sun began to sink in the sky. It was the first time Harry had been able to play with his friends when they were all riding their own brooms, and they were excellent flyers. Draco gave him a bit of a contest when he played as Seeker for the other team, but his Comet 260 was really no match for Harry's Nimbus.

As the day faded away, the friends parted company. Hugging or shaking hands, they all promised to play together on the morrow. Jamie Zabini, who had snuck over despite Elan being grounded, departed as well, and she and Elan had an emotional parting that prompted much giggling from the younger boys and girls.

Shortly following the mass exodus from Malfoy Manor, dinner was served. Harry, Draco, and Elan all filed into the dining room and took seats. Mr. Malfoy strode in with a private sort of smile on his face. It was a look that said, 'I know something you don't know.'

"Good evening, Malfoys," he said, taking his seat at the head of the table. He snapped his fingers and house elves began running into the room carrying trays of food. It smelled heavenly.

"Lucius, you seem in a better mood," Mrs. Malfoy commented, taking a sip from her wine glass.

"I am indeed, my love." Mr. Malfoy clinked his wine glass against hers. "Thanks to Harry, all this 'Death Eater' nonsense will be blown over by the middle of next week. Rita's article should quiet even the most suspicious gossips. You realize it's going to be in the Sunday edition?"

"The Sunday has double the circulation of the daily," Draco contributed around a mouthful of roast.

"Chew your food," Mrs. Malfoy admonished him.

Mr. Malfoy was nodding. "Quite right, Draco. Between Harry's wonderful interview, my very productive meeting with Cornelius Fudge, and a long talk with an old friend of mine, I do believe everything is going to work out perfectly."

"Something's up," Draco whispered to Elan. "He's never this happy."

"Not unless he's about to spring a nasty surprise," Elan muttered back.

Mr. Malfoy was pleasant all throughout dinner. He asked about the Quidditch games they'd played, he talked about the Slytherin team's prospects for the upcoming school year, and he was even civil to Elan. Considering the way he'd blown up at breakfast, this was startling to Harry. Even Draco was unnerved by how normal things seemed to be.

It was nearly time for pudding to be served when the meal was interrupted by the arrival of several post owls. Harry was happy to see that one was bearing his letter from Hogwarts. Whatever strange problem had developed with his receipt of the post, it didn't affect his note from school. He tore it open immediately.

Inside was a form letter instructing him to catch the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross station on the first of September. Included with the letter was the list of the new books Harry would need for the coming year.

Second-Year Students Will Require:
The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 by Miranda Goshawk
Break with a Banshee by Gilderoy Lockhart
Gadding with Ghouls by Gilderoy Lockhart
Holidays with Hags by Gilderoy Lockhart
Travels with Trolls by Gilderoy Lockhart
Voyages with Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart
Wandering with Werewolves by Gilderoy Lockhart
Year with the Yeti by Gilderoy Lockhart

"The new Defence professor must be a big fan of Lockhart," Draco commented. "I think this is every book he's written."

"Must be a witch then," Elan said with a grin.

"Who's Gildeory Lockhart?" Harry asked.

"Oh, he's ruddy famous," Draco answered. "He's travelled all over the world and done all sorts of great things. His books are all based on his experiences and adventures."

"Wow," Harry said. "Defense class should be more interesting than last year, eh, Draco?"

"Very much so," Draco nodded.

"Aren't you going to open your letter, Elan?" Mrs. Malfoy asked.

"What for?" Elan said after swallowing his mouthful. "It's only going to be the same old-" He stopped abruptly, staring queerly at the envelope sitting in front of him.

"Elan, what's wrong?" Mrs. Malfoy asked.

He was stunned. Absolutely stunned. Wordlessly, he only sat and stared at the letter. Harry peered over at it and was confused. His own letter had been sealed with the Hogwarts crest. The seal on Elan's letter bore a strange crest that Harry had never seen before.

"What's Durmstrang Academy?"

to be continued...


Author notes: Cameo appearance by Rabid Fangirl Jayde Lupin.

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