A/N – Thanks for all the great reviews.
I'm pleased people are liking Crabbe and Goyle, I'm thoroughly enjoying writing them in The Dark Lady series. I know a lot of people are wanting to see Draco taken down a peg or two, and I promise that will happen when he gets too complacent (Not until part 3 though). A few people also seem to want a dark Harry, but I'm afraid that won't be happening in this story. I do have a story planned where he's dark, but that is a future story and won't be ready for a while yet.
I also just want to mention that these next few chapters probably aren't particularly exciting. However what happens in the next few chapters triggers the next big plot line that happens in the story.
"I can't believe this." Harry stormed, throwing the newspaper down onto the breakfast table.
From her position beside him Hermione could clearly see the headline; Questions arise over pardon of Sirius Black. The article, which questioned what evidence the Ministry had to pardon Sirius and claimed the decision should be rethought, was accompanied by Sirius' prison picture that made him look every inch the mass murderer he'd been accused of being. It had been six weeks since they returned from school and the stories about Dumbledore just kept on coming. This was the first one to branch out and include another member of the Order, but Hermione knew more was on the way.
"What exactly does it say?" Ron asked from across the table. While Hermione had read the article before handing it to Harry, Ron had been too busy eating breakfast to concern himself with the news.
"Basically it's calling for the Ministry to re-examine Sirius's case and send him back to Azkaban." Harry spat.
"Surely if he was pardoned in the first place there's enough evidence to prove he was innocent." Hermione said, knowing full well there wasn't the evidence to prove Sirius's innocence. His pardon had been granted because Dumbledore was friendly with the Minister who briefly took over after Fudge's sacking.
"But this Minister is in Lucius Malfoy's pocket, meaning if they look into his case he'll be found guilty again and Sirius will have to run." Harry argued.
"Maybe it won't come to that." Ron offered. "After all, it's just a newspaper article. None of this is actually coming from the Ministry."
"Yeah, but what if this put pressure on them." Harry replied with a sigh. "People reading this might start to complain and they might feel they have no choice but to look into his case again."
"You can't worry about something that might not happen." Hermione told Harry. "You need to forget about the papers and concentrate on school."
"Forget, how can I forget?" Harry glared at Hermione. "Every day something more is written about Dumbledore, tainting his memory. I can't just sit back and do nothing."
"There's nothing you can do, mate." Ron said sympathetically.
"Yeah, it's not as if you can hit back and put the record straight." Hermione remarked flippantly.
Almost immediately Hermione spotted Harry's mind whirring. Her remark had been intended to set Harry thinking about approaching the press, but to be honest she'd had no idea if it would even work. She'd wanted the suggestion to be so subtle that at a later stage Harry couldn't turn around and accuse her of giving him bad advice.
"Why do I get the impression you've got an idea?" Ron asked.
"Because I have." Harry grinned. "I'm going to set the record straight."
"How?" Hermione questioned, acting as though she was confused by what was going on.
"I'm going to talk to a reporter and put an end to these stories." Harry announced.
"Excellent idea, Harry." Ron beamed excitedly at his friend.
"It is isn't it?" Harry smiled proudly, before turning to Hermione who was looking less enthusiastic than Ron. "Hermione, what do you think?"
"I think the idea is fraught with problems. First, you don't know any journalists to get in touch with. Second, I don't think the Order will be happy with talking to the press, they've made it clear they just want to ignore it until it blows over. And third, talking to a reporter doesn't guarantee a good story, you never know how they're going to write the story."
Harry sat for a minute digesting Hermione's reply and formulating answers to her concerns. "Okay, I agree the Order won't like it, but it's something I feel I have to do." He began. "And as for knowing a journalist and controlling the story, I think I know how to do both. We talk to Luna and see if we can get the interview done by someone from the Quibbler."
"You want to publish a denial of these stories in the Quibbler?" Ron asked in disgust. "No offence Harry, but that will make you look insane. Everyone knows the Quibbler is a magazine for nutters. I mean, just look at Luna, the girl's not right in the head."
"The Quibbler is just a stepping stone, and I know it's not ideal but at least we can be sure they'll support us." Harry answered. "Hopefully once the story gets out, the rest of the press will pick it up and run with it."
"What about the Order?" Hermione asked. "Are you going to at least tell them what you're doing?"
"No." Harry shook his head. "I know they'll try and stop me and I don't want to fall out with them. I'm seventeen, I'm an adult and this is my decision. I would like it if you two supported me and were there when I was interviewed."
"Of course, we'll be there." Ron volunteered immediately, wondering if he would get a mention as Harry's best friend.
"I'll be there as well." Hermione said when Harry turned to her expectantly. "I just want you to be careful what you say Harry. This could get ugly if you say the wrong thing."
"Don't worry, I know exactly what I'm going to say." Harry smirked.
Hermione suddenly had a sinking feeling about the whole thing. Harry definitely had a hidden agenda and unfortunately she had set the ball rolling and all she could do was wait and see what he came out with. She just hoped whatever it was, she could either work it to her advantage or perform damage limitation quite quickly.
Once Harry had made his decision to talk to a reporter, he wasted no time in getting it sorted. Luna, being the kind and helpful person she was, agreed to help as soon as Harry approached her. Less than a week after Harry came up with the plan, the trio were heading off to meet the reporter in Hogsmeade. Luna had met up with them on the outskirts of the village and accompanied Harry, Ron and Hermione to The Three Broomsticks, which was where the interview was taking place.
"Are you sure it's a good idea to be doing this in such a public place?" Hermione asked as they neared the pub. The Three Broomsticks was the most popular haunt of the Hogwarts students and over a Hogsmeade weekend it was always jam packed with people from school.
"We've booked a private room in the back." Luna told Hermione. "That way you won't be interrupted."
"And that way no-one will know what I'm doing." Harry added. His interview with the press was strictly confidential, he hadn't even told Ginny in case she accidentally let it slip to someone.
A few minutes later the four teenagers arrived at the pub. Slipping through the crowds they made their way to the bar, where Madam Rosmerta directed them to one of the private rooms at the back of the pub. Entering the private room, they found a middle aged witch sitting waiting for them. The witch had long dark blonde hair, which was pulled up in a messy ponytail, deep green eyes and a warm smile. Her clothes were slightly mismatched and a clash of colours and was wearing jewellery shaped like various fruits. All in all Hermione decided that she looked exactly as she'd expected a reporter from the Quibbler to look.
"Everyone this is Lisa." Luna said, making the introductions. "Lisa, this is Harry, Ron and Hermione."
"I thought this was a one on one interview with Harry." Lisa frowned.
"It is." Harry said. "Ron and Hermione are just here for support."
"Yeah, we're going to sit over here." Ron said, talking hold of Hermione's arm and pulling her towards a couple of seats over the other side of the room. "Just pretend like we're not even here."
While Hermione and Ron settled down in their seats, Luna said her goodbyes and left. Harry settled at the table opposite Lisa and the reporter checked that he was okay with her recording the interview. Lisa's recording equipment consisted of an enchanted quill, which copied down the entire conversation.
"That's not a Quick Quotes Quill, is it?" Harry asked warily. He could still remember the couple of times he'd spoken to Rita Skeeter in fourth year and her quill had written all sorts of lies in front of his face.
"Dear me, no." Lisa chuckled. "I wouldn't dream of using one of those. They're incredibly inaccurate and write down any old tosh. This is just a regular quill that will record the conversation word for word. That way I can make sure not to misquote you."
"That's all right then." Harry nodded. "I want this article to be accurate, not like the rubbish that's filling the papers these days."
"Perhaps we can start by you telling me why you wanted to give the interview." Lisa said, her quill starting to write as she spoke. "Luna wasn't really clear on the point of the interview, she just told me it was an exclusive interview with Harry Potter."
"Basically I want to put the record straight and dispute the articles that have been in the paper recently." Harry answered. "The whole lot are lies, and I want people to know that."
"Are you saying you don't believe Dumbledore was responsible for your parent's deaths?"
"Of course he wasn't." Harry replied forcefully. "Voldemort killed my parents. That is the truth, it had nothing to do with Dumbledore. He was a good man and never would have done what the papers are accusing him of."
"You do know that a lot of the reporters are claiming to have seen memories where he confesses, don't you?" Lisa asked.
"And who is he confessing to?" Harry countered. "A mystery source that won't reveal their identity. I don't believe the memories are real, if they were the person making these accusations would have come forward."
"The official line is that this person is scared of retaliation." Lisa remarked. "They're scared that people who supported Dumbledore will attack them for telling the truth."
"More like they're scared that their lies will be revealed." Harry snorted.
"And what about the other stories?" Lisa questioned. "A lot of people are claiming Dumbledore had been interfering in the running of the Ministry for years. It's said that he didn't want to lose the power he had as Headmaster, but he wanted to be Minister so he arranged it that Cornelius Fudge got the job, a man he could easily manipulate."
"That's complete nonsense." Harry snapped. "Fudge used to come to Dumbledore for advice. It wasn't Dumbledore's fault that Fudge wasn't up to the job and needed help. All Dumbledore was doing was being a good wizard and helping out where he could."
"And what about the Minister after Fudge?" Lisa inquired. "He held the job for a matter of weeks and in that time quashed the conviction of a mass murderer. There is no proof to back up the pardon he gave Sirius Black."
"Sirius is innocent." Harry insisted. "Dumbledore knew that and all he did was speak up for him."
"Where's the proof?"
Harry frowned briefly, before reciting everything about Sirius's supposed crimes. He told Lisa about Peter Pettigrew and the part he'd played in his parent's deaths, he also mentioned that he was an unregistered animagus and hadn't actually been dead at all. He also told her about the night in third year when Pettigrew confessed.
"And where is this Pettigrew?" Lisa asked. "It seems to me he's the only person capable of proving Black's innocence."
"He ran." Harry spat, remembering the cowardly way Pettigrew had turned into a rat and fled. "He ran back to Voldemort, I saw him the night he returned."
"But Voldemort's dead." Lisa pointed out. "So where's Pettigrew now?"
"Still with the Death Eaters I would imagine." Harry shrugged.
"But the Death Eaters are no more." Lisa said. "Apart from a couple of unsubstantiated incidents a year ago, there's been no sign of Death Eater activity."
"They've been attacking the Order since Voldemort's death, and more importantly they killed Dumbledore."
"The Aurors found no trace of anyone entering the school. Death Eater involvement has been ruled out."
"I don't know how she did it, but I know Dumbledore was killed by Death Eaters." Harry snarled, bunching his hands into fists on top of the table.
"She?" Lisa immediately picked up on Harry's odd phrasing of his words. "Are you saying a woman killed Dumbledore?"
"I don't know if she did it herself, but yes I believe a woman is responsible for Dumbledore's death." Harry stated confidently.
"Who?" Lisa pressed, leaning forward in anticipation of a juicy story.
"Voldemort's daughter." Harry smirked. "Otherwise known as The Dark Lady."
From her position over the other side of the room, Hermione gaped at Harry. The last thing she'd expected was for Harry to reveal her existence, and she really didn't want him to reveal the Order's theory on who The Dark Lady was. Maybe at a later point it would be handy to have the Order publically accusing Narcissa of being The Dark Lady, but not right now, not before she'd established herself in the wizarding world.
"Voldemort has a daughter?" Lisa gasped. She was both thrilled and amazed by the revelation, this interview could be the making of her with such a big revelation.
"Yes." Harry nodded. "And she's now running the Death Eaters. She was the one who ordered the attack on Diagon Alley a year ago and she was the one who arranged that explosion in the muggle world a few weeks after that. And more importantly she was the one who arranged for Dumbledore to be killed."
"Have you seen her?" Lisa asked.
"No." Harry shook his head. "Our information came from a source within her camp. Not everyone was happy she took over from her father."
"Can I speak with this source?" Lisa questioned. "I really could do with more information about The Dark Lady."
"We haven't seen our source since we were informed of The Dark Lady's existence." Harry admitted. "Unfortunately we're not in a position to go searching for them, but we do believe they were being honest with us."
"Why would one of her followers betray her to the Order?" Lisa asked.
"I told you, not everyone was happy she took over. The Dark Lady is supposedly cold and ruthless and potentially far worse than her father." Harry answered. "The world needs to know about her, we need to be prepared. Everyone thinks we're safe with Voldemort gone, but we're not. With The Dark Lady in charge we're in more danger than ever before."
Hermione couldn't help but smirk at Harry's words, even without really doing anything she had the Order running scared of her. Now all she had to do was ensure that they were the only ones that thought that way, to the rest of the world she was going to be the perfect witch who didn't want any more fighting and violence.