A/N: I have plenty of fanfiction guilty pleasures. The biggest, by far, was a hopeless addiction to 'everyone reads the books' fics. Before they were banned I gleefully read through them all: the good, the bad, and the hilariously horrid. Yet time and again I found myself jumping to the juicy parts, lapping up the melodramatic reactions to Harry's angst-ridden life. Unsurprisingly, I wished there was a fic that only had the scandals and skipped the rest. In failing to find this, a plot bunny was born.
In this practically canon compliant fic, Rita Skeeter used the delicious scandals from Harry Potter's Hogwarts years to write a series of books about him. These less than factual 'biographies' had just enough truth to mess with our favourite tragic hero's life. What ensues is a PR nightmare, one that has the Potter-Weasley family scrambling as Skeeter publishes book after book. Childhood abuse? Orphan turned psychopath? Scandalous affairs? Dark Lord Potter? Harry might finally be in over his head. Especially as he'll have to come clean about one or two things he 'forgot' to mention to his family.
An ENORMOUS thank you to spellmugwump97, my new beta! I'm thrilled she wants to work with me, for not only has she already come up with brilliant ideas (such as having an excerpt from Skeeter's biography open every chapter) and is patiently correcting my Britishisms, but I've adored her stories for quite some time. You haven't seen Spell's fics? Why are you reading this! Go on then, shoo. Come back once you've finished; the red vines will be waiting.
General Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling is clearly hiding magical powers. My guess? Rita Skeeter decided to try her hand at a new type of biography, one which paid off in dividends. With that being said: no, I'm not the third identity of Rowling/Skeeter, nor am I making any profit from this.
"The scarring of Harry James Potter's childhood began Halloween 1981. On this infamous night, a baby became a legend with two unforgivable words. While history textbooks have covered this family tragedy and national victory en tedium, the far more scandalous events began the next day. For following an ominous lapse of time, another legendary wizard took it upon himself to test the new 'Boy Who Lived' moniker.
Fans of my previous biographical work, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, will be unsurprised to learn that the former Supreme Mugwump, International Confederation of Wizards Member, and Hogwarts Headmaster was less than a saint. But even this author was startled to learn the 'Light Lord' left a baby on a muggle's doorstep with no protective charms on a cold winter's night. So while Wizarding Britain celebrated the end of the First War, the young Mr. Potter was shivering and prey for any free Death Eater. This brutal scene set the stage for the Boy Saviour's next ten dark, lonely, abusive years.
This story thus begins with the peaceful suburb of Privet Drive awakening by a terrified shriek. For in opening her door to put out the milk bottles, Mrs. Petunia Dursley found a crying baby with a bright red lightning bolt scar."
—Prologue excerpt from R. Skeeter's The Rise and Fall of Harry J. Potter.
It was a sleepy day at the Ministry of Magic. The neon green chicken had been caught in the Atrium, the Department of Mysteries hadn't yet had its bi-weekly implosion, and the Department of Magical Games and Sports didn't have their highly illegal hallway Quidditch match (elevators problematically included) scheduled until the following Friday.
Even the Auror Office was oddly quiet. This was not even the ominous silence that preceded an oncoming storm. There was nothing sinister about this tranquility. Abso-bloody-lutely nothing was wrong, and if Senior Auror Ronald Weasley kept repeating this mantra he might even start to believe it.
Ron closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, nibbling on a sandwich. He pointedly ignored the pile of paperwork staring at him accusingly. He was going to relax, damn it. There were no crucial cases pending, Harry was off on a much needed break, and as second-in-command he could arrange his own schedule. So what if he didn't know why he'd been getting funny looks from the other aurors all morning? He'd wait until after lunch to confiscate the books they kept 'subtly' hiding under their desks. But for now? He was going to enjoy an hour of food, laziness, and blessed quiet—
His head jerked up. Bologna, cheese, and bread went flying, and the precariously balanced chair toppled over at the scream. A very familiar, feminine scream…oh. Oh Merlin.
"RON, WHERE ARE YOU?" Hermione Granger's (having happily kept her maiden name after marriage) dulcet tone rang out around the Department. This made many curious heads poke out from their offices, blanch, and take themselves back out of the line of fire. For while their training as aurors had prepared them for many things, they didn't have death wishes. In terms of self-destructive behaviour, getting in the way of this pregnant, furious war hero/politician would certainly top the list. That she was also their boss put another damper on their typically courageous spirits. Still, more than a few listening charms and Extendable Ears wiggled out around corners to listen in.
Ron (taking a deep breath and rubbing his bruised back) hopped up from the floor, knocking a mound of parchment from his desk in the process. He surveyed the exits, trying to reason whether his survival was more likely if he ran for the hills or faced the music. Not that he knew what he was in trouble for (this time, at least). But Hermione hadn't let that little fact slow her down in the past eighteen years.
Just as he'd decided to summon his broom and flee, his brilliant yet deeply scary wife had rushed around the corner. It took all of us auror training to keep the panic from his face, though he had a feeling he'd failed miserably. Since he now had nothing to lose, he tried for a boyish, 'I-don't-know-anything-about-nothing-but-don't-you-look-gorgeous-today' smile.
Ron stepped forward as though he hadn't been about to race away in a panic. "Love? What—GAH!" Ducking, he only just managed to avoid the book his wife waved furiously in the air. "What was that for! Have you gone mad?"
"Give that to Harry." Anger pierced Hermione's voice as she thrust the book into Ron's stunned arms. She grabbed his wrist and unceremoniously pulled him down the hallway, heading past the not-so-subtle eavesdroppers. He made a mental note to add a seminar on sneakiness: aurors shouldn't be this obvious. "Let him know I've started work on the court cases."
"Court cases? Harry? Book?" Ron asked his wife blankly and (foolishly evoking the latter's frustration) forced them to halt. "I'm on duty! I can't just leave and, hold on, why don't you tell him whatever this is yourself?"
Hermione's eyes narrowed. Her husband gulped as her hand swayed dangerously close to her wand. "I'm busy trying to contain this mess. More importantly, I'm not getting in the middle of Harry's and Ginny's hexes while pregnant! Or do you want the blob to be an actual blob?"
Ron blinked, still not knowing what was going on. "Why would they start hexing? No, back up. What in Merlin's balls are you 'containing'?"
"Language!" Hermione groaned restlessly. "If the blob's first word is a curse, I'm the one who'll be hexing."
"Can we stop calling him or her a blob?" Ron said, an unconscious smile appearing on his lips (as it always did) at the thought of Rosie or 'the blob'. "Look, just tell me what's going on."
"Skeeter's back." She ran a hand through her hair, making her usually manageable bob stick up in curly waves. "It was too much to hope she'd stay in the States. Needless to say, she's returned to her favourite target."
"Skeeter. Rita Skeeter?" Ron's hopes for a relaxing day were crucioed to pieces. "Bugger. She's written an article about Harry?"
"I wish." His wife pointed at the book still clutched (almost forgotten) in his hands. "I don't know who she interviewed, but this is mounds worse than any article. She horribly exaggerates everything, so I'm praying the things I don't know about are just lies. But if not, let Harry know that I don't care about any statute of limitations. I'm arresting those monsters on something!"
Apprehensive yet confused, Ron lifted up the assumingly-innocent book. The cover had a large and fairly recent picture of Harry. A good portion of Diagon Alley could be seen in the background, as the shot had clearly been candid and from a small distance. His friend's image was frowning and turning away from the camera. But then the photographed figure spotted him; the downcast expression split into a forced grin and he drew a bit nearer. Ron smiled back at the photo of Harry, musing that the magic was surprisingly good for a self-replicated book. But his attention was diverted when the title caught his eyes.
"The Rise and Fall of Harry J. Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone?" Ron felt a weight drop in his stomach, though he wondered at the mouthful of a title. Photo Harry's grin dropped back into a scowl at the words; he looked at Hermione and began miming something. Ron couldn't make it out. "A biography written by Skeeter. Damn, he'll go ballistic. But who are you arresting? The bug's annoying, but calling her a monster? Also, don't know about any charges. She registered her animagus form years ago."
"I can still get her with libel!" Hermione's eyes glinted with restrained anger. Ron only just resisted the urge to lift the large book to protect himself. "But I wasn't referring to 'dear Rita' as a monster. Read the blasted back cover!"
Ron dropped his gaze down as he flipped over the book (shrugging apologetically as Photo Harry silently protested) to read the flowery cursive lines. His expression grew paler with each passing statement. He looked back up at Hermione as he finished, disbelief clear. "Is she implying that…?"
"I'm looking into it." She replied, reflexively hugging her belly. "It must be an awful lie. But he," her voice stilled, lips creasing in worry, "he's always refused to talk about his childhood. I hate to contemplate it, but this might explain so much."
Ron gripped the book in hot anger, flipping it back to the cover and wishing the thing would disappear or burst into flame. "Skeeter lives to make up scandals. This," he waved the unofficial biography in disgust, "is probably just trash. You'll see."
"She got some facts right." Hermione said quietly, fingers twisting a strand of loose hair as anger dwindled to anxiousness. "I skimmed it to find out how much damage there was. It's horribly exaggerated but accurate in the basics. This book only covers our first year at Hogwarts and has everything from Fluffy, Quirrel, to the Mirror of Erised."
"Doesn't mean everything's true." Ron scowled at the book as though it'd personally offended him. Photo Harry didn't seem to mind, but he again started miming something. "Skeeter must've found a source who heard he was estranged from his relatives. So she wrote rubbish based off of…hey. Hermione? What's it saying?"
"The photograph?" Hermione blinked at the miming figure who was looking more and more irritated. The woman then sighed and began addressing the book itself (much to Ron's amusement). "Sorry Harry, but I already told you. I need this copy pristine for at least a day or so—oh no, don't look at me like that! I'll cut off the cover as soon as I talk to the publishers, I promise. Until then I can't burn the book and…yes, I know you're bored, and I understand it's the principle of the matter, but this is important!"
"You're arguing with a photo." Ron said with forced nonchalance, making the other two halt their furious gesturing to look at him. "Which, don't let me stop you. But it's a photo. A mass-produced, magically diminished, barely sentient photo that—"
Photo Harry scowled up at Ron, gesturing at him rudely. He then returned to silently shouting at Hermione.
"—gave me the bird." Ron finished hollowly, surprise coating his tone. "What? Are you kidding me?"
"The Americans must be using a new publishing spell." Hermione gestured for the photo to wait a moment. "It allows photos, even mass-produced ones, to imitate the sentience seen in magical portraits. At least, I'm assuming that's the case. Mainly as the photo's been arguing with me nonstop to rip off the cover and burn the rest."
Photo Harry gave a vehement nod, glad that this at least was understood. He then sent an annoyed look at Ron for good measure.
"But as I keep telling him," Hermione continued in barely restrained patience, making 'Harry''s glare transition back to her, "going to the publishers with a cut up book won't do us any favours!"
Photo Harry clearly didn't give a damn, but Ron shoved all this aside to focus on the main issue.
"Right, I'm leaving this with you." The redhead gave the book back to a protesting Hermione. "What? You don't want the cover ripped off and the Potters will either do that or destroy the thing on sight. I'm assuming neither of you want that."
The photo and Hermione exchanged a glance. Both reluctantly nodded.
"Good." Ron had another thought. "Say, Photo Harry? You know anything about the Durs—"
"Don't bother asking." Hermione cut in as the photo stubbornly crossed his arms. "He seems to have Harry's memories but won't say anything about that. For goodness sake, you silly thing, stop shaking your head! I'm not a gossipmonger. I'm trying to help your real self! I know you're annoyed I won't take the cover off, but you're being ridiculous."
Photo Harry just stared at her, unimpressed. He zipped his lips closed.
"Don't worry about it." Ron looked away from the odd photo to give his worried wife a reassuring smile. "I'm sure it's all lies. Still, this will be a disaster. You said your office's working on PR or whatnot? I'll run over to Harry and Gin since I'm on lunch. If you want to wait in my office I should have them here in a few minutes. Longer if we have to restrain my sister from tracking down the bug. Which is pretty likely."
But Hermione was shaking her head. "I really have to get back to the mountain of work, not to mention stop Skeeter's other biographies from being published. Can you believe she's trying to write one for each of our Hogwarts years? How were they able to keep this publication secret! Just let Harry know that the libel lawsuits will be going out this afternoon and," she hesitated, glancing down at the now-frowning photo, "if you're wrong, the warrants for arrest will be ready even sooner."
Ron chuckled weakly. "Even if I'm wrong, I doubt the 'highly esteemed' Head Auror would sign those probably illegal warrants. You know he's a noble git." He was turning towards the floo exit when Hermione grabbed his arm.
"Don't dismiss the allegation from the start, okay?" She murmured, voice quieter. "If this is real it would explain a lot. Harry's disregard for his own safety, his 'saving-people-thing', even his panic about being a dad before Jamie was born."
"That last one's natural. Merlin knows I was stressed about having Rosie." Ron's attempt at lightheartedness fell through and he ended with a sigh. "Yeah, yeah. I know what you mean."
"I'm only saying that, even if this is true," Hermione said slowly, "he'll deny it."
"Don't worry so much."
"Just don't force it out of him. You wouldn't do that to a regular victim." The photo huffed at the last bit.
"'Victim'? Don't let the real him hear that." Ron's heart sunk lower in anticipation. "Whatever, you'll see it's a lie. It's Skeeter, after all. This isn't real."
"But you can't say that to Harry from the start!" His wife rubbed her eyes gruffly, half-speaking to Ron and half-lecturing the stubborn photo. "He'll clam up and deny it all. Or keep silent, like this bugger." She gave the unimpressed cover a stormy look.
"He'd do the same if he thought I was pitying him, especially for something that happened years ago." Ron pointed out, turning back towards the floo. "I know how to handle this."
Hermione bit her lip, turning her attention from the book. "Maybe I should come with you."
Ron gave a wiry smile. "I'll only need to deal with their godawful tempers. That, and talk Ginny down from bugicide."
She still looked unsure. "Just be gentle."
"With Harry?" He chuckled with true amusement. "Forget about him being the 'Man Who Conquered' and Head Auror. Harry survived the popularisation of Angie's awful nicknames: he's invincible."
Hermione smirked slightly, even while her panic remained. "Don't do anything too stupid."
"No promises on that." Ron said with a mischievous grin, before his expression softened. "It'll be fine, you'll see. Harry will be furious at Skeeter for spreading these lies, Ginny will be apoplectic, and we'll set up enough Ministry lawsuits and Daily Prophet retractions that the only place for this 'biography' will be the bin." The photo sent him a significant look and he backtracked. "After they cut off the covers, course."
"I'm sure." Hermione swatted him away when he tried to kiss her. "We've wasted enough time. Go before they hear about the book from someone else. Get Harry to floo me as soon as possible!"
"Will do." Ron snuck in a quick kiss on his second try, partly turning his attention away from her soft lips to smile down at the unseen blob.
"Go!" His wife pushed him with a smile. "I'll contact Molly and make sure the rest of the family knows."
A/N: While this will be addressed later in the story, 'canon' for this fic is Rowling's work. Skeeter's stories are more tabloid fodder and extreme, but are still based off of canon if you squint. Thus, the first biography's titled "The Sorcerer's Stone" rather than "The Philosopher's Stone".
Just to clear something up: a reviewer felt I was being derogatory towards Americans by using the title "The Sorcerer's Stone" for Skeeter's biography. Dude? I am American. It was a tongue-in-cheek joke. I'm sorry if anyone found this offensive, but I grew up with "The Sorcerer's Stone" and I assure you that the book (alliterative title and all) is dear to my heart. Doesn't matter if it's Philosopher's or Sorcerer's, I love them both.
Finally, while this fic is technically canon compliant for Rowling's books, Pottermore and subsequent interviews have altered some facts. So there are a few minor changes, such as how Ron's an auror, Hermione's Head of Magical Law Enforcement and kept her last name, and there's no real issues with their marriage.