Neville Reads the Prophet

a companion story to Honor a Hufflepuff

Chapter One:

Honor a Hufflepuff

Neville Longbottom was the heir of the House of Longbottom. In all likelihood, there was a seat on the Wizenmont in his future. At least that was what his Grandmother said. Neville knew better than to go against his grandmother. That was why for the last three years he had been one of the first to get to the Great Hall every morning.

It was an important part of his routine. Every morning he arrived at the Great Hall to find that a blueberry scone was at his customary seat, with a tall glass of orange juice. He didn't actually like orange juice, but it was what his Grandmother insisted that he have every morning, so he'd gotten used to it. Just as he sat down, the owl with the early morning delivery of the Daily Prophet would arrive, still warm from the presses.

On this particular morning, Neville had passed the Weasley's still standing guard over Cedric's body as it lay in state. It was perhaps the only time he'd ever seen Ron Weasley up when he got up. He hoped someone would relieve them soon, as he knew that Percy, Fred, George, and Ron had been standing guard since just after Midnight.

Neville unrolled the paper and took in the front page. Since this was the first morning since the end of the Triwizard Tournament, he knew this paper would shape how the wizarding world saw the events of the prior day. "Honor a Hufflepuff" the headline read. The big picture was of the Weasley's standing guard. It did not take Neville long to skim the article for the key points. Vordemort was back, and Cedric Diggory had been killed by him. Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter were co-winners of the Tri-wizard Tournament.

There was a small picture of Harry and Diggory. Harry seemed to be hiding in Cedric Diggory's shadow. A summary of the Tri-wizard Tournament started in the left column under that picture. Below the fold was an editorial titled "A Life Cut Short" about the folly of reviving the tournament by Barnabas Cuff and a statement titled "Honoring Cedric" from Harry.

Neville took a sip of his juice. That was going to throw some oil on to the fire. He couldn't recall ever seeing Harry put out an personal statement to the Prophet. There had to be an official statement from the ministry somewhere, but it wasn't on the front page. Neville turned to page two.

Page two of the Prophet generally had the weather report, localized to your location. Hogwarts was going to have a sunny day with clouds moving in mid-morning tomorrow and rain starting around three. It also was where Czarina Redeemer had her political buys and sells. Neville used to laugh at the column, but his grandmother considered it very insightful, even if it wasn't in depth.

Cornelius Fudge, sell. Neville expected that. Department of International Cooperation, hold. That holding pattern was lasting a lot longer than expected. Lord Malfoy, Lord Riverwald, buy. Unstable times in the Ministry, Neville concluded. Amos Diggory, hold. Neville could see that. It all depended on how Diggory recovered from his son's death. Harry Potter, buy, buy, buy. Neville wasn't sure he'd ever seen a C.R. recommendation in triplicate. He also was sure that he'd never seen Harry listed before.

Page Three was international news. The French Embassy had sent a message of condolences to the Diggorys. The Bulgarians had done likewise. That was expected. The Americans weren't. The Medes and the Persians were fighting again. Some wizard had stolen some sort of statue from a harbor somewhere. Perfectly normal.

Page Four was the continuation of the articles from the front page. Nothing much more significant, just a lot more details. There was an advertisement for Gladrags, as usual. Neville took the opportunity to swipe another blueberry scone.

Page Five was sports. Neville considered this section his favorite. As today would have normally been the day after the last Quidditch game of the season, he was hoping that they had not broken with tradition and left out the Hogwarts Prospects, which every year covered most of the Sports page. They hadn't. Oliver Wood was apparently a shoe in for making a professional team. The question appeared to be if it Puddlemere or Wimborne would get him.

There was an article on Cedric Diggory, who apparently had been watched for next year's draft by Chudley, Wimborne, and Tutshill. Nothing could save Chudley, in Neville's opinion. A new seeker might actually help Tutshill. Wimborne just needed new beaters. Too bad the Weasley Twins probably would go into business instead of Quidditch.

Below the fold was the usual standings. The points gaps were always interesting. Holyhead topping the standings this year. Appleby was just 10 points behind. Chudley was in tenth, he'd have to let Ron know that they'd passed Portree, which appeared have recently acquired a really bad luck streak. Neville checked the injury list. Both beaters, oh after loosing six chasers and a keeper in the last ten games, Portree had no chance this year. Chudley might have broken it's streak of fourteen years finishing last ... no, that wasn't going to happen.

Page Six was Business. Neville just skimmed it. The Longbottoms were mainly in farming, and didn't have many investments. He took a few sips of his orange juice, killing a little time on the page, like he'd gotten into the habit of while he was at home.

Page Seven was Fashion. Neville had never quite figured out how his Grandmother's hat was the height of fashion. Quite frankly, he didn't understand much of page seven, other than the fact that lime green hats were considered to be out.

Page Eight was the Farm Section, which Neville read eagerly. He was going to have to get some of that quadrotriticale for the west fields. There was an advertisement for Welsh Dragon Dung from his usual supplier. He would have to remember the expiration date of that deal. If he timed his orders right, he might be able to get a good three or four month's supply for his personal greenhouse.

Page Nine was the Legal Notices. The Ministry seemed to be very busy at the moment. Call for comments on the design of the new Quidditch stadium that was supposed to be built next year on the Isle of Anglesey. Neville thought the design was bad. There was a notice about hearings for the Couch Affair. That investigation was going to be a lot hotter soon. Then near the bottom of the page was the Ministry's official statement on the end of the Tri-wizard tournament. Tragic accidental death. No mention of Voldemort, nor the Minister having a man kissed. Harry Potter was the winner.

Neville went to close the paper so he could look at the back page, and as he did so, he noticed something. He opened it back up, then closed it again, before starting to laugh. The ministry notice was directly opposite the dragon dung advertizement.

Still laughing he scanned the back page for anything interesting, before folding the paper. He stood, tucked it under his arm, and headed out of the Great Hall.