I am not J.K. Rowling, and I do not own Harry Potter (although I do own a copy of all the books and movies), and am certainly not making any money off of this.
I'm writing this purely because I enjoy it, and I hope you do, too.
A Sirius Matter
Chapter 30 – The Truth
Supper on the evening of the first task was a joyous event, celebrating each champion's victory over their dragon, and, most importantly, that none were seriously injured. Harry had managed to talk Charlie Weasley's boss out of announcing Harry's victory over the horntail and gift of its remains. He certainly didn't want the attention that announcement would make. Harry made it a point to walk up and congratulate Cedric on a job well done.
"Thanks, but Krum was the best, no matter what the points say," replied Cedric.
"You really impressed Hermione turning that rock into a dog," persisted Harry. "All Krum did was shoot it in the eyes. He got some of the other eggs smashed."
"I suppose, but judging by what I heard from one of the dragon tamers about your fight with the dragons, you'd have easily taken first place!"
"It was nothing. You'd have done…"
"You didn't tell me you killed a horntail! You just said you escaped the dragons. Those dragon tamers worship you now. I think they're starting a Harry Potter fan club!"
"I hope you're joking," he replied, shaking his head in irritation.
"I don't know about the club, but they're telling everyone they meet about your fight."
"Brilliant! That's just what I need. More attention."
Instead of talking about the first task of the tournament, the next morning's Daily Prophet had an article written by Rita Skeeter that basically said that Harry didn't think that one dragon was enough to face. Therefore he snuck into the fenced in area with the dragons and killed one while they were sleeping. After that, the other dragons woke up and attacked, and he barely made it out alive.
"Ignore it," was the advice that Hermione gave him as he glared at the article.
Harry did his best to ignore the sniggers that came mainly from the Slytherin table. He didn't notice several students from the other houses telling each other what really happened according to the dragon handlers, reminding their classmates of the other lies that Skeeter had written.
While Harry was 'ignoring' the article, several eyewitnesses, such as Charlie Weasley, were not. They apparated to the Daily Prophet headquarters to demand a retraction.
Charlie shouted at the editor, "That so-called reporter of yours just makes up stories to ruin people's reputations! She doesn't even bother to find out the facts! Every one of us saw Harry Potter thrown over the fence and forced to battle three dragons that were very much awake and come out on top! We can even provide you with the pensieve memories to prove it! None of us were approached for an interview about it! This isn't the first time she's lied about Harry either! I don't know why you print her fiction in your paper, but it's going to stop!"
"I don't have to listen to you!" the red-faced editor shouted back at Charlie and the others.
"We'll see about that!" he replied and stormed out of the office, followed by his coworkers.
"What now?" asked one when they exited the building, "Should we send some dragons to destroy the building?"
The others grinned at this idea. After a moment of contemplation, Charlie declared, "Maybe later. First we'll try another solution."
Later that day, Mrs. Weasley was relaxing in the living room of the Burrow with their Wireless on when it was time for a call-in talk show that was listened to by over half the magical population in Europe. She was stunned as she recognized the voice of the current caller.
"Hello, I'm Charlie Weasley, one of the dragon handlers for the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts. I'm an eye witness to Harry Potter's fight with the dragons, and it was nothing at all like Rita Skeeter reported in the Daily Prophet…"
He went on describing what really happened, and then had all the other witnesses give their names to affirm Charlie was telling the truth. He also explained the editor's refusal to print a retraction. Then he went into what he knew about the article about Harry's refusal to compete, which completely omitted Cedric Diggory's part in the tournament.
"Professor Dumbledore himself announced to the school that Skeeter was lying about that! My father, who works for the Ministry, has complained numerous times about how often the Daily Prophet, most often Rita Skeeter, is printing lies about people and events he has personal knowledge about.
"My question to you is why are you still paying for a paper full of lies that only trashes the reputations of innocent people, including the most famous young wizard in our world? I challenge you to boycott it. Cancel your subscriptions. You won't miss any news anyway, but you won't be lining Harry Potter's current enemy's pockets with Galleons."
Although the host of the talk show normally didn't allow a caller to talk for that long, she was actually quite interested in what Charlie had to say.
"I must say that I'm forced to agree with Mr. Weasley," she said. "I've interviewed scores of people after the Daily Prophet has run a story on them and found out that it was pure fiction. I personally stopped receiving that paper over a year ago."
As Molly continued listening to her favorite talk show, person after person floo-called to share another story of either Rita Skeeter or another Daily Prophet reporter lying about them or someone they knew. At the end of the show, she sent a note with Errol, canceling their subscription. She had no idea how many other owls were given similar missions at the same time.
The next morning at breakfast, Harry noted that much fewer newspapers were delivered to Hogwarts. In fact, Seamus Finnegan was the only Gryffindor in his year that got a paper, and he seemed nervous about taking it after he noticed several people glare at him. Harry wasn't one of them. He was simply eating his breakfast. The headline that he never read said, "Several Dragon Breeders from Bulgaria Slander Daily Prophet with Lies!" The paper also offered a discount for people wanting to resubscribe.
Over the next few weeks, the number of Daily Prophets delivered at Hogwarts and every other place kept diminishing more and more. The editor seemed too stubborn to retract any article, and kept accusing others of lying about the lack of truth printed on that toilet paper. A few days after the talk show, Ginny told them about it after receiving a letter from Charlie. Although Harry didn't like getting the attention, he hoped that the Daily Prophet would go out of business.
On the same day that his horntail armor arrived, Harry noticed that nobody received a copy of the Daily Prophet. He turned to his girlfriend. "I can't imagine Malfoy canceling his subscription. What do you suppose is going on?"
Giggling, she explained, "What happened is what we've both been hoping would happen. I heard a rumor yesterday that the Daily Prophet was going out of business. I wasn't able to confirm it since no one in Gryffindor, nor any of our friends from other houses for that matter, subscribe to it. I checked the library and was shocked that even it doesn't receive the paper anymore."
Harry grinned. "Maybe they realized that there's no useful information in it."
Ginny giggled, "What if you feel like reading a bedtime story? Some of that fiction is very entertaining."
"I think they're showing their support of the truth, and, of course, Harry," said Neville.
"I do hope that another newspaper starts soon, though," stated a concerned Hermione.
"Only this time," added Ron, "Maybe for a change it can actually report news."
At that moment, Professor Dumbledore stood up and walked to his podium. "I'd wager that many of you have noticed that the Daily Prophet hasn't been delivered today. That is because, as several of you have probably guessed, it has gone out of business." There was much cheering at this point. "It is a pity, though. I will miss it. No other newspaper was as perfectly suited for wrapping fish freshly summoned out of the lake."
Laughter followed that statement. "The editor learned the hard way that a newspaper is honor-bound to report the truth. Speaking of news, I have an announcement to make, and you can rest assured that it is truthful. At precisely seven p.m. on Christmas Day, Hogwarts will be hosting a Yule Ball in this very room. It is a part of the Triwizard Tournament tradition. It will be open to fourth years and above, as well as their dates. I hope all who can attend will, as it should be an enjoyable event. I wish you all a good day."