"The Houses Competition" Judges' Pick - Year 1 Round 6.
In the office of the wizarding world-renowned Daily Prophet, a lone intern witch is about to learn the truth behind this saying: "Excitement can kill a restless cat."
"Argh! No… No!"
It was the umpteenth time Betty Spotters, all alone in the cramped office of the notorious Daily Prophet, crushed her working draft and tossed the ball of paper over her tense shoulder. Stealing a quick glance at her waistwatch, the young intern journalist couldn't help hissing out a curse. Merlin's pants—the deadline to complete this crap-of-an-article was closing in a few hours, and the mess of crumpled parchments strewed around her workplace only served to worsen her growing anxiety. So much so that the agitation had knocked her glasses askew, slipping off the bridge of her nose before landing on the table with a clatter.
Betty squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. She was at a loss; with her current state of mind, there was no way she would be able to spit out the words to finish this stupid article in a flourish. Who cares about Blaise Zabini's latest rumored girlfriend? Like mother, like son. This news is getting old—boring!
…Oh well. She was no Rita Skeeter, after all.
With the soreness between her eyes easing up after the little break, she put the glasses back on her face and stood up. Didn't the editor order a new stock of ink couple of days ago?
Maybe the drying ink she had been using all this while was the cause of her horrible writing.
Moments later, after a trip to the storage room, Betty was back at her own desk with a new bottle of ink—along with a mouthful of dust. The coughing fit made her slam the ink bottle down harder than intended. Thank goodness she hadn't remove the seal just yet, or else she would have more than her dripping snort to clean up.
Anyway, back to work.
She threw away the old ink bottle in the direction of a lovely—and carnivorous—trashbin, smirking to herself when she scored a point at the satisfying sound of breaking glass. She then returned her attention back to the new bottle of ink, unscrewing the cap slowly, her heart skipping with every round till it popped off, forcing her to reel back at the strong smell of fresh ink.
Together with the smell of rekindled inspiration.
The rest of the night felt like a blur to Betty. In her state of excitement, the quill in her hand danced across the parchment with such finesse that the flickering candlelights around the young journalist seemed to sway with every scratch on the paper.
With an impactful full-stop to denote the finality of her hard work, she put down the ruffled, blackened quill and picked up the completed article. Admiring her flawless cursive penmanship, feeling smug at…
Her wide eyes were dangerously close from bursting out of their sockets as she read on.
What the bloody hell is this?
Betty redirected her exasperation to the new ink bottle she had gotten from the storage room, but soon the furrowed brows shot up as she dashed back to the said room. A handful of knocked-down boxes and bruises from walking into the sharp edges of the metal cabinets later, she finally reached the opened carton. There was a note stuck on the back of the box:
To All Staff,
Please do not—I repeat, DO NOT—use the self-correcting inks from this box as some idiot had accidentally hexed them with a self-swearing curse of sorts. Mr. Willington will come around to collect back this defective stock and exchange a new one tomorrow morning.
Your Beloved Editor,
As the silence of the dead night dragged on, all that was left on Betty Spotter's desk was a pile of ash. Amongst the bits of burned parchment, there was a piece that managed to escape from its doomed fate. A name, distorted by the jinxed ink, that read:
Forum: The Houses Competition
Year/Round: Year 1, Round 6
House: Slytherin (stand-in)
Prompt: [Object] Self-Correcting Ink
Word Count: 636
Rating: T for slight language