Disclaimer: Harry Potter, the world, premise and characters belong to JKR. I'm just fixing it, and sadly own nothing. But Rob, Nick, and the plot are mine.
Author's Note: Companion piece to my fic "Elijah's Cup". Won't make much sense unless you read that first. One-shot.
Summary: Don't believe everything you read. But then again . . . .
IN THE PAPER
"Are you out of your mind?"
He dodged the a wildly waving sheaf of papers, only to get a facefull of feathers from a disgruntled barn owl. "Nick -"
"What do you think we are, Rob? The Quibbler?" The short, chubby editor was fairly vibrating. "Why even bother to imply anything! Why not just come right out and say it!"
The taller man sighed again. "Nick -"
"I thought you had better sense than this, Rob! I mean, look at it!" The draft for the article slammed to the desk. "It's complete and utter -"
"I mean – what?!"
Rob folded his arms, pointed a level hazel stare at the other man, and repeated himself for the benefit of the Daily Prophet's gaping senior editor. "It's true. Every last word of it."
Then he was obliged to whisk a chair under his supervisor, as the man's knees gave out. A wave of his wand filled a glass of water, and brought it to them. "Drink. Head between your knees, Nick. It'll be fine. Just breathe."
At least he hasn't gotten sick yet. Or decided to drop me in St. Mungo's psychological ward. Though the stillness of his friend's body was simply a precursor to the explosion. Nick was by nature a physically demonstrative, jumpy person. It's when the twitching stops that you know you're in trouble.
"Source?" Nick demanded, once his breathing evened out and he could see straight again.
"Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School."
Nick blinked, rubbing at his receeding hairline. "By Merlin's beard . . . ."
Rob almost grinned. "Exactly."
"And he was Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. He would know."
"And," Rob lowered his voice, "rumored also to be the leader of the Order of the Phoenix."
That was something reporters rarely admitted to even knowing about. Or the honest ones didn't, at least; it was those like Rita Skeeter that gave them all a bad name. And what with the . . . rumors they were hearing, of late, it was just safer all around that way.
"Work it," Nick ordered. "Your story. Details. Sources. I want it on my desk no later than Thursday afternoon."
So much for that extension I was planning on asking for. But Rob had worked through the night before, for stories less crucial than this. This would be no different. But it is, he told himself, back at his desk. It means – everything.
Betrayal. Not only of those closest to the long-deceased Potters. But the Ministry had betrayed them all, in a violation of justice so gross it made him ill to think on it.
Rob had been a junior correspondent during the Dark times of You-Know-Who's rise. But coming from a mixed family, like so many in the Wizarding world, he knew the fear that shadowed every thought and action. The hope that it wouldn't be him, that his family would be safe.
And the idea that 'guilty until proven innocent' had taken the place of justice frightened him almost more than the attacks had, that the rumors of such starting again did. It means that we are no better than them.
When faced with the final product, Nick could only wipe a sweating brow, and sip a glass of Rosmerta's Finest kept close to hand for the occasion. "We run it," he decided, critical analysis fading against the import of the information in his hand. "Front page, full headline. Tomorrow morning."
Rob breathed a sigh of relief.
Nick eyed him. "Rob. This is good – your best yet, I'd say. But – this will shake our world." The editor looked shaken, himself.
Rob nodded, face set. He might be a reporter, but contrary to popular belief, he didn't mince words, and he knew the difference between right and wrong. "I know."
PETER PETTIGREW DISCOVERED IN HIDING
PETER PETTIGREW DISCOVERED IN HIDING
June 4, 1994
On October 31, 1981, a tragedy occurred. Halloween became a day remembered for betrayal and murder, though in later years, the horror had passed. The Dark Lord was defeated, his followers locked away. The Wizarding world was safe, and democracy, truth, justice and freedom prevailed.
For years, the Wizarding world mourned the deaths of James and Lily Potter, those who were brave enough to stand against evil. We railed against the untimely demise of their staunch friend Peter Pettigrew, killed in pursuit of the traitor that cost them everything.
Only now, it has come to this paper's attention that Peter Pettigrew is still alive.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as well as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, has confirmed that Pettigrew still lives. "I have seen him myself. He has been tested extensively, and is not a creation of Polyjuice potion or any other spell. We are certain it is him. Down to the stump where his finger used to be."
And now, the Wizarding world has questions to answer.
Where was Pettigrew hiding, these past twelve years? And more importantly, why? Why has he been in hiding all these years, with Black locked away and You-Know-Who defeated? If he were on the side of good, what would he have to fear?
If he were on the side of good. With the many rumors of Death Eaters once again roaming our streets – of back-alley hate crimes, and a resurgence in threats and minor incidents of prejudice and magic that recall dark times, that phrase becomes suddenly important once more.
The Wizarding world finds it easy to forget that while the Dark Lord was defeated twelve years ago, his body was never found. No confirmation, outside the cessation of acts of violence and war, the sudden scattering of his followers, and an uneasy silence from the dark, was ever made.
But the world became "normal" once more, and remarkably swiftly after his fall at the hands of one-year-old Harry Potter. The Dark Lord's staunchest supporter, Sirius Black, was convicted and locked in Azkaban. The world was safe again.
Why, then, would Peter Pettigrew feel the need to hide, in what sources confirm must have been very distasteful conditions?
And the word betrayal takes on new meaning.
"I have been Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot for many years," Albus Dumbledore told this reporter, with sadness in his eyes. "I never presided over, nor was informed of, a trial for Sirius Black. I can state with absolute confidence that none ever took place."
A breach of justice that few find qualms with. Black, after all, is a merciless killer, cold-blooded and ruthless as only one with his heritage could be. The Wizarding world did not need a trial; his guilt had already been proven.
Though we were in times of war, the only thing that separated us from the Dark Lord and his followers was our belief in justice. In a justice that was pushed aside for expediency, for a quick and easy fix to the troubles plaguing our world. A justice pushed aside by our own Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge.
And now new information has come to light. Information that tells the world that Peter Pettigrew is alive. And that Sirius Black was never the Potters' Secret Keeper at all.
"I do not believe Sirius Black to be guilty."
This reporter was astonished to hear Albus Dumbledore say these very words.
"It was too obvious," Dumbledore seems pained by the admission. "Who else would have been the Potters' Secret Keeper? The entire Wizarding world knew that Sirius would have died for James. So if you need to fool a Dark Lord, how better to begin than by fooling the rest of the world?"
It is now that the shocking truth comes out.
Peter Pettigrew, not Sirius Black, was the Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter. Peter Pettigrew, not Sirius Black, betrayed our World's hope to the Dark Lord. Peter Pettigrew, not Sirius Black, murdered thirteen people with one awful, Dark curse.
Peter Pettigrew framed one of his best friends for a crime horrible beyond imagining, and then fled, to hide from both his former friends and the wrath of the Dark Lord's followers.
But his aim was accomplished. Justice faltered.
And the Wizarding world locked an innocent man away in Azkaban, for the rest of his life. Despite his escape, Sirius Black is still hunted like a criminal. Despite the fact that there is now evidence to seriously question his "guilt". Despite the fact that no trial exists in Ministry records. And despite the fact that he is innocent.
In response to pressure from Albus Dumbledore, and anonymous factions of the Ministry which, though numerous, decline to be named, the first trial of Sirius Black is to be held July 17, 1993.
The Wizengamot as well declined to comment, though sources reveal that the entire Wizengamot will be present for the event, as will Peter Pettigrew.
Whether justice will prevail, however, yet remains to be seen.
Rob stared at the headline, at the paper sitting untouched on his desk. 'This will shake our world.'