AUGUST 31st, 1999

by Rita Skeeter

Harry Potter, 19, famous for defeating the dark wizard known as Lord Voldemort last year in May, has recently re-entered the country, according to several reliable witnesses.

After having disappeared to a heretofore unknown location for approximately one year, it is rumoured that Mr. Potter has not only returned to Great Britain but has been staying at the popular wizarding establishment, The Leaky Cauldron.

Mrs. Maybelle Whitman, who was shopping for new robes in Diagon Alley, yesterday wrote to reporters at the Daily Prophet informing us that she had caught a glimpse of Mr. Potter being served lunch while occupying a secluded booth at the inn.

Two days before that, Zacharias Smith, a fellow student of Mr. Potter's and a former member of the teenage vigilante organisation known as Dumbledore's Army, had called in to our offices after having seen someone who "looked just like Potter" in Florean Fortescue's ice-cream parlour.

Moreover, the Daily Prophet received complaints last Sunday that the Portkey Office had been completely shut down and closed to the general public for two hours for an unknown reason. Could Mr. Potter's alleged homecoming and this incident be connected? It certainly seems likely, despite the fact that the Department of Magical Transportation refused to respond to several owls from Daily Prophet staff inquiring about the matter.

When our reporters were sent to the Leaky Cauldron to conduct a full investigation on behalf of our readers, the inn's landlord denied the claims, stating that he wasn't letting a room to the teenage war-hero. That said, however, the innkeeper would not allow our reporters to perform an inspection of the premises and threatened to ask the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for a cease and desist order if we did not stop interviewing his patrons.

Mr. Kingsley Shacklebolt, newly appointed Minister for Magic, ex-member of the Order of the Phoenix, and close personal acquaintance of the Boy Who Lived also refused to provide an official statement confirming the rumour, insisting that though he is unaware of Mr. Potter's whereabouts, he believes that the media should discontinue speculation.

Although the Daily Prophet supports our new Minister, and has publicly endorsed many of the legislative and political changes that were proposed by the former Auror during his campaign, our loyalty lies first and foremost in our readers, whom we believe deserve to know whether our national hero has indeed returned to us.

Although as yet unsubstantiated, it is a logical allegation, as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be re-opening tomorrow, and students whose seventh year studies were disrupted by the Second Wizarding War have been invited to return for an "eighth year" in order to sit for their NEWT exams.

Indeed, by late tomorrow afternoon, when Hogwarts Board-elected Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall, officially begins the new term with the customary Welcoming Feast, we shall all find out with absolute certainty whether Mr. Harry Potter has in fact come home to Great Britain.

Harry curses when the owl delivers the Prophet.

He stares at the grey broadsheet newspaper, the headline blaring up at him above a moving picture of his own face, smiling wearily as he stands beside an exhausted looking Hermione and a solemn Ron. They are in front of the castle, and in the immediate aftermath of the Battle, their clothes are torn in some places and streaked with dirt and blood in others.

In the background, people are moving around slowly, cataloguing the dead and helping the injured to St. Mungo's.

Soft hooting sounds distract him from the photograph and he looks up to see Errol on the ledge outside his window, swaying slightly under the weight of the three thick envelopes which have been attached to his leg.

He knows before he lifts the window open, the glass screeching unpleasantly against the wooden panes, that they will be from Ron, Hermione and Ginny.

His eyes clench shut.

His knuckles turn white.

He throws the newspaper into the log fire Tom started that morning.