Lies, Damned Lies and Newsprint
Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.

Chapter Three

Ron always wanted to be rich and famous when he was younger. If you had told his younger self that he would one day have a large Muggle photograph sitting on the wall in the Three Broomsticks, he would have been much gratified, if a bit disbelieving.

That feeling of euphoria Ron felt when he walked into the bar was short-lived. It lasted about as long as it took for the dart Dean was throwing to hit his photo, right between the eyes.

The rowdy cheers and laughs that followed tipped Ron off to the fact that he would not be welcomed here by his old companions. He had suspected that they would have taken the news of his job badly. However, he did not know that it would have spread this quickly or that Dean and Seamus would have been able to concoct a new drinking game so fast.

Considering how bad his day had already been, Ron should not have been surprised.

Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, lest they should decide to use him for target practice, Ron turned around to walk out. Yet while many of the current patrons of the Three Broomsticks were already well inebriated, not all were so far gone as to not have noticed the flash of red hair.

One of those patrons was Seamus Finnegan, Dean's partner in crime, and Seamus was not about to let Ron go so easily.

"Well folks, look who's decided to show his ugly mug here!" Seamus said loudly, while pointing wildly at the front door. "It's not other than our favorite weasel!"

Having several dozen pointed glares thrown at his back was not something that Ron had ever wanted to experience. He briefly considered running before deciding not to back down. Yellow was not amongst the Gryffindor colors, no matter how much the Slytherins claimed that Gryffindor gold was actually yellow.

The sea of evil grins that greeted him when he turned around to face Dean and Seamus almost convinced him that the Slytherins were right. At least a yellow Gryffindor would be an alive and breathing Gryffindor. Never being one to like admitting that a Slytherin could ever be right, Ron pushed that thought aside and walked forward to sit at Dean and Seamus's table.

"So how was your day?" Ron managed to ask conversationally.

"It was going perfectly fine," Dean replied. "I've still not found a job thanks to our favorite Wizarding newspaper but—"

"Hate to break it to you, Dean," Seamus interrupted, "but Ron here actually likes the Daily Prophet."

"He does?" Dean faked being shocked. "That can't be!"

"Sorry, Dean but good ole Ron here has decided to work for the Daily Prophet."

"Despite everything that they've done to us?"

"Yes and despite everything they've done to his best friends. He works for Skeeter!"

"I guess that's why we call him the weasel." Dean smiled up at Ron. "So Ron, seeing how you're a traitor and all, would you like to hear about our new game?"

Ron never thought much of the games that Dean and Seamus made until he had imbibed several drinks. Those games were never that fun or clever in Ron's opinion. Yet, as he didn't think he really had a choice when it came to hearing about their new game, he thought he would at least make it seem like he did by agreeing.

"Why not? Bring the new game on."

The whole room roared as Dean picked up a dart lying on the table. Then all the patrons began singing:

Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel.

The singers practically screamed the final word as Dean threw the dart at Ron's picture. It hit the picture on Ron's chin which led to the entire room cheering and everyone quaffing their drinks.

It was the stupidest drinking game Ron had ever witnessed. Ron was insulted that they could not come up with anything better for someone they despised as a traitor to the unemployed.

"Is that all?" he asked. "You take a drink so long as it hits the picture?"

His two year-mates grinned at each other. "You've got it."

"Couldn't you have come up with anything better?"

"Why waste our time inventing a good game to make fun of scum?"

"I don't know," Ron said. "Maybe because if something is worth doing, then it is worth doing well?" That comment emitted no response as his two wayward year-mates were busy with another round of their new favorite game. Madam Rosmerta came by, with mugs filled to the brim to replace the empty ones sitting on the table.

"That's a rather large picture," Ron remarked to her as she set down the mugs.

"Yes it is," she agreed.

"It must be rather easy to hit, considering that it doesn't even move."

"That would make it easier."

"Tell me, does Dean or whoever's throwing ever miss?"

"It hasn't happened yet."

Ron rolled his eyes at the ceiling. "You must love this game."

"You could say that."

Ron got up and started to head out the door. It looked like he would have to find a new watering hole for the time being.

Later Ron would reflect that he had to really work on his concept of timing for that was precisely when Dean, Seamus and their compatriots thought it would be fun to aim the darts at him.

****

It was nice to be able to walk into Hogwarts again without having to look behind your back for the stray Dementor. There was something to be said about finally having your name cleared.

Sirius Black was most certainly enjoying his current lifestyle.

It had been clear that the Ministry of Magic had made a big mistake when Wormtail was verified to be alive and well amongst the Death Eaters. Faster than you can say lawsuit, one was filed on behalf of Sirius for false imprisonment. After his godson had testified to the effects that the Dementors had, the Ministry of Magic had wisely decided to settle the case. As a result, Sirius had come into quite a bit of money to add to his Gringotts's vault. Although said vault had been substantially depleted by broomstick purchases, it still had contained a fair amount of Wizarding money before the settlement came through. Sirius had decided to spend a fair amount of his time and the money he received in traveling the world, trying to make up for all those years he was locked up in Azkaban.

However, Sirius had not competed with James Potter for the position of Head Boy for nothing. He knew perfectly well that the money would not last forever and so he had already begun to make oblique inquiries into finding employment. His luck so far had been rather bad. Most people were not willing to hire a former convict, although he had been clearly acquitted of the crime. When Dumbledore's letter came, asking Sirius to meet the headmaster and hinting at a possible position, Sirius had been eager to take the bait.

If nothing else, he would at least get a free meal. His years on the run taught him never to look a gift horse in the mouth. Or rather, in his case, to forget looking at the free food and eat it before Buckbeak got to it.

Arriving a bit early, Sirius had wandered the grounds for some time, reminiscing about years past. His memories were often interrupted by students pointing and staring in his direction so he settled on skipping the slow stroll down Memory Lane. Sirius had only ran into one student that he knew—little Ginny Weasley. He had jovially asked how her day was going only to receive a glare and a rather hard stomp on his foot.

So it was Sirius found himself standing outside the headmaster's office, as he had so many times before, trying to keep his weight off of his right foot and wondering what the password could possibly be. He had already gone through all the sweets he could think of when a voice sounded behind him.

"Weasel Pop."

Sirius whirled around to see Dumbledore standing right behind him. "Weasel Pop?" he asked. "I never heard of that."

"I expected that," Dumbledore replied, ushering Sirius in. "But that password seemed rather appropriate for the times we live in."

Sirius was not even going to ask what that meant. He would just cut to the chase rather than try to match wits with the old headmaster. "I believe you hinted that there might be a teaching position I could take next term."

"Yes, I did," Dumbledore said pleasantly as he took a seat across from Sirius. "Minerva has told me that she does not expect to return next year and so we will need a new Transfiguration professor. I thought that you would be the logical choice given that you were able to go through the animagus transformation illegally with the help of your friends."

Sirius chose to ignore the latter half of Dumbledore's remarks. "I would be honored to teach here at Hogwarts next year," he said.

"That is very good to know," Dumbledore replied. "I was concerned about whether I could find an adequate replacement. A Transfiguration professor must not only know his subject through and through but also be scary enough to keep his students on task. The slightest mistake could be disastrous. However, with your already infamous reputation, I am sure that you will have no problems in maintaining control."

That was another comment that Sirius decided it was best to ignore. He inwardly grinned at the idea that the Prankster King would actually be handed a position of responsibility at the school. After he received that letter, he had been hoping to be offered any teaching position, except for Defense Against Dark Arts. Harry was teaching that and Sirius did not want his godson to rise above the so-called DADA jinx. If anyone could do it, Harry could. Sirius just knew that next year was going to be perfect. With any luck, he could convince Harry to team up with him to instruct the younger Gryffindors the time-honored tradition of pulling pranks.

Sirius's smile only grew wider as he thought of what he could do to Snape and the Slytherins, even without resorting to dungbombs and the like. He knew that it had rankled Harry and his friends every time Snape had unfairly taken off points from Gryffindor. Gryffindor had been at a severe disadvantage all those years, especially as McGonagall was obsessed with appearing to be fair. The Gryffindors were not going to have to worry about that any more. Sirius intended to take back all the points the Gryffindors had lost from Snape from the Slytherins.

"Might I note, Mr. Black, that should you get into a point war with Mr. Snape then the end result will be that the Ravenclaws will win the House Cup?"

Sirius winced. Dumbledore was right. That did not bode well for his plans. It looked like he would have to compromise with Snape regarding taking off points. However, he could still encourage young, impressionable minds to make Snape's life a misery though.

Dumbledore was talking again and Sirius's attention snapped back to him. He did not want to lose this job offer out of sheer carelessness.

"And besides," Dumbledore concluded, although Sirius did not know what it was a conclusion to, "hiring you will keep the balance on the types of Transfiguration professors we've hired."

"In other words, you mean you switch between hiring men and women for the job?"

"No, I was referring to the fact that last time we hired a cat and this time we are hiring a dog."

****

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a young man about to meet his fiancée's parents, must be in want of a good hiding place. However much his beloved may reassure him that her parents will love him, the truth is one phrase will continue to dominate his thoughts: I must hide.

Harry quickly scanned his surroundings. He was out of luck. There were no large hideous vases, potted plants or Voldemorts to hide behind in sight.

He repressed the urge to groan. Hermione would not appreciate it. She had been telling him for weeks that he had nothing to worry about. "My parents will love you," she had said. "I've told them so much about you and they can't wait to meet you. Especially my father. He's truly the dearest, sweetest man of my acquaintance.1 Besides, you've met them before and nothing's happened."

Harry repeated that last fact to himself. He had met Hermione's parents before and lived to tell the tale. He has known them since the summer before his second year. Of course, a nasty little voice added, that was before you were in a relationship with their precious little angel.

Harry shook his head to get rid of that voice. He had met them after he and Hermione had started dating. In fact, he has had several meetings with both her parents after they announced their engagement. He would live to see the sun rise again.

You've never met them one on one after the announcement. That nasty little voice had returned. This time Harry couldn't get rid of the feeling that it was right. Unfortunately, it was already too late. Even now Hermione was greeting her parents.

He watched his beloved trot up to her parents with a sinking feeling in his stomach. There was no way he was going to survive this meeting. He saw Hermione kiss her mother's cheek and hug her father. Then all three turned to look at him

Hermione smiled warmly at him and Harry felt his heart leap. All of a sudden, he began to believe that things would work out fine. He had nothing to worry about at all. Hermione's parents had to be wonderful, caring people—after all, they had her as a daughter. He looked over at Mrs. Granger. She greatly resembled Hermione, especially when they both wore their hair up like that. Harry then turned his attention to Mr. Granger.

Mr. Granger smiled.

Oh my god, thought Harry, what large teeth he has!

The better to hurt you with, my dear. That nasty little voice didn't miss a single cue.

Harry was just about to start fleeing when Hermione beckoned him over. "Come here and say hello, Harry," she said.

What Harry wanted to do was to scream "I want my mummy!" and run. However, survival instincts honed over many generations took over.2 His face contorted into a vague resemblance of a grin and he meekly replied, "Yes, dear" before walking over.

Harry was really hating those survival instincts of his. Wouldn't it be easier and less painful just to die?

Now I don't want to imply that it is not possible for a man to have a close and loving relationship with his father-in-law. However, there are certain times in life when the relationship between the two will be strained. Usually these situations have specific questions associated with them, such as: "So you think you're good enough for my precious little angel, don't you?" and "So you've knocked up my precious little angel, haven't you?" and also "So you think I'm spoiling my precious little angel's little angels, don't you?"

To counter these times of conflict, there are also times when a man will bond with his father-in-law. Namely, when a man's daughter has finally brought home a beau of her own.

Fortunately for Harry, Hermione's maternal grandfather was not present as he had left the mortal coil a few years back.

This didn't mean he wasn't keeping an eye on things though.

****

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high . . .

Well, perhaps not that high.

To get to the point, up above the sky so high there is a place known colloquially as "The Wedding Lounge." The room got its name because it was the place where those no longer with us went to watch weddings and wedding plans being made. As there are a great number of weddings going on and being planned at any one time, there is usually a battle royal going on over what should be on the main screen. That wasn't true for today.

No one was willing to challenge the raving ghost sitting in front of the main screen for control of it.

Besides, many different ghosts were interested in the wedding of Harry Potter. As usual, there were bets being made left and right as to how soon would the Boy Who Lived join them.

On the screen, Mr. Granger was slowly crushing Harry's hand.

"That's the way to do it!" shouted Hermione's grandfather. "Give him the Handshake of Doom! Show him what he gets for thinking he's good enough for our little Hermione!"

The odds of Harry's survival began to dip against him.

Mr. Granger was now smiling at Harry again, showing off all of his teeth. The audio was coming through loud and clear. "I'm so glad to meet you face-to-face, Harry. I can't wait to spend some time alone together."

"That's the ticket, my boy!" Gramps was really getting into the spirit of things. "Separate him from Hermione and then lay down the law!"

For some reason, however, wizards and witches began to leave the vicinity. The odds moved in favor of Harry's survival.

"Thou shalt not ever make our baby cry! If you ever argue with her, thou shalt always be wrong! And if you do have the nerve to argue with her, thou shalt face our fists of fury!"

The room was now almost completely empty except for the raving lunatic in the middle.

"Thou shalt only kiss her on the hand for the next five years! At least! Thou shalt not inflict any other forms of affection upon . . ."

Then there was a swish and a flick and a clear female voice calling out, "Wingardium Leviosa!"

And just like that, the balance of the cosmos was restored.

The mother-in-law had arrived and no one was allowed to wish pain upon her son.

****

1 The author would like to note that all men hearing a similar statement from their respective beloveds should think long and hard before asking, "What about me?" To be specific, they should think long and hard about how easily could they run away if the situation should turn bad before popping that question.

2 These survival instincts are part of the classical proofs of the existence of the magical process of natural selection. Nature favors those who are better equipped to deal with common hazardous situations and so they survive to pass on their genes to the next generation. Men who went with their gut reaction in similar situations tended not to leave the room entirely intact.

****
Author's note—The next chapter sees Ron trying to escape with all his body parts intact while Lily and Gramps eagerly await the outcome of Harry's meeting with Hermione's parents. I would really like to know what you think about this fic so please leave a review. Thank you.

Green Eyed Lilys Daughter—I'm happy to know you like the fic. Of course, at the rate that Hermione is eliminating flowers, the wedding's not going to happen for the next ten years. Thanks for the review!
Noodlejelly—Well I can't promise to ship her off or anything too specific, but I can tell you that she's not going to be too happy at the end. ^_^ H/H will get married but at the speed this fic is going, I suspect that might be a fic in and of itself.
Stoneheart—I mentioned the name thing since both you and Nappa brought it up. I thought you would appreciate it if I didn't say anything about you first asking that H/Hr stay together (or rather no D/Hr) and then reversing yourself by saying they have time to wait and explore. ^_~ If it makes you feel better, if Hermione snogs anyone aside from Harry, I will be very surprised. Now that would be an incredible plot twist. Thanks for lettingme know you like this fic.
Nappa—*sigh* It's one thing to dream about one day getting married. I know a lot of girls write the "Mr & Mrs" thing about their current crush. It's another thing to face the reality of marriage and the fact that society will think of you as a Mrs. Someone for the rest of your life (unless you're very strident about keeping your maiden name and that can have other consequences). A couple of my friends have gotten engaged and it seems incredible to me that they are ready to deal with everything. One of them has already started questioning when she made the right decision. The whole "Mrs." deal makes it seem like you're no longer the same person, and to some extent, this is true regardless of what name you go by. And in regards to your remarks about weddings being hard on males as well—that is so typically male, as in "mention a wedding and women's minds can't focus on anything else" and all that. I've no doubt that weddings aren't easy on the men, but in many cases that I've heard of, women have done the bulk of the preparation. Think about Hermione's position—she's trying to arrange for her own wedding after she's graduated with little helpful input from her significant other. Of course, she's feeling the stress. While Harry and the other males might later be reduced to the status of go-fers, she is in a much worse position. In fact, if Warpath!Hermione ever met me while she had her bokken, I expect that she would beat me black and blue for writing this scenario. Good thing she's a fictional character. ^_^ By the way, ever notice that we seem to get into these "he said, she said" conversation over fics?