The Sugar Quill
Author: ilene  Story: Breaking News  Chapter: Chapter One: Ted
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Breaking News

Breaking News

Written by ilene

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter One: Ted  

 

From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chapter 1…

 

Mr. Dursley tried to act normally.  When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news.

 

"And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation's owls have been behaving very unusually today.  Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundred of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise.  Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern."  The newscaster allowed himself a grin.  "Most mysterious.  And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather.  Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"

 

"Well, Ted," said the weatherman, "I don't know about that..."

 

*****

 

Ted Tonks looked into the camera, trying to assume a placid, respectable expression, even though he was sorely tempted to grin again as he listened to Jim report on the shooting star sightings.  "Kent, Yorkshire, Dundee..."  Must be Diggle, he thought.  Man never had much sense, though he's a better wizard than he looks.

 

Ted usually enjoyed his time in the studio, as he, with his unique background, derived much more entertainment from his work than most of his colleagues. He wryly remembered the time when, as a young reporter, he'd calmly reported on a "sewer leak" that had actually been caused by a Zonko's employee carelessly transporting Dungbombs and Filibuster's Fireworks together.  When he had returned home, Andromeda had insisted that he remove all of his clothes in the backyard and cast the Scourgify spell on himself before she allowed him into the house.  He'd been impressed, though, when Andromeda had somehow managed to restore his suit to a presentable condition, even though she'd threatened at first to cast Incendio on it.  After all, they hadn’t had much money back then, only a few years out of school, and Andromeda cut off from her family.

 

He'd only been a newsreader for a few months.  He had to admit that he didn't enjoy it as much as his days as a field reporter, even if his suit usually stayed in better shape in the studio, besides the occasional spill of tea or food.  And to be honest, his work had been giving him less and less enjoyment even before his promotion.  His youthful glee at seeing how the Muggles so easily swallowed his cover stories had been replaced by a sense of uneasiness at reporting a "gas explosion" at a Muggle house a few minutes after the Obliviators had erased the Dark Mark floating above it as well as the memories of any witnesses. Sometimes, they’d even set off a real gas explosion themselves, instead of having to deal with any questions on why people who looked so totally healthy could be so totally dead.  Or the "traffic accident" that was caused not by a sleepy driver barreling into a tree, as he had reported, but by Death Eaters who found it great fun to levitate Muggle automobiles, sometimes even making them fly through the air for miles before finally crashing them from heights that usually caused the deaths of the occupants.  He usually tried to convince himself that it was for the best, that the grieving relatives think that their dead loved ones had merely been unlucky, instead of being murdered simply for what they were – and were not.  But sometimes, he wondered if it was fair. 

 

He supposed, however, that it might be a difficult task to convince them of the truth.  His own parents had laughingly thrown his first Hogwarts acceptance letter in the dustbin.  They’d even asked him if he had written the letter himself as a practical joke.  “Now Teddy, we think your stories are wonderful, very imaginative, but…”  He’d had a reputation for having an overactive imagination since he was a small child, even though some of his “stories” had been true, such as the time the wind had blown his hat off his head on a field trip to London, and he had managed to jump over the Thames as he had run after it.  It had taken about half a dozen more acceptance letters, as well as a visit from a Muggle Relations official and another family who had a Muggle-born child in Hogwarts, to convince them that they were for real.  And that was something that his parents had eventually been happy about, not a letter informing them that a loved one had been murdered by Death Eaters.  And he had to admit that the chance that his parents might receive such a letter about him had crossed his mind more than once.  Especially since Bellatrix…

 

He listened as Jim finished the weather forecast with a joke about a storm of cats and dogs.  Jim, who didn't know that his uncle, another weatherman, hadn't died in a shipwreck while preparing a report on hurricanes in the Caribbean, but had unfortunately come across a band of Dark Wizards holding a "conference" in the Bermuda Triangle – and been killed for it.  Jim had been very angry about "how the suits thought they'd save a little money by hiring an old boat that wouldn't hold a cask of brandy".  He'd even compared it to murder, upon which Ted had cautiously asked what he'd do if his uncle had really been murdered.  "Lock them up and throw away the key, I'd say.  Now, you know there are some who want them to bring back hanging.  I say the Home Office has the right idea for once.  Hanging's too good for them.  Let them rot in jail!  And I hope they live every day, that they spend every waking minute thinking about what they did, and hear the screams of their victims in their dreams.  If there was a way to do that, to drain every happy thought from them and make them miserable dogs for the rest of their lives...well then I suppose I'd be Prime Minister, if I got everything I wanted."

 

And Ted had sighed, and walked into his dressing room, instead of telling Jim that while he probably would never become PM, at least one of his wishes had come true, as his uncle's murderers had been caught, and that one of them, a Briton, had been extradited and was now sitting in a cell in Azkaban, surrounded by the Dementors.

 

The Dementors will have more to feed on now, he thought.  He suppressed another smile.  He could hardly believe it himself, even though some of the owls he'd just mentioned in the newscast had arrived at his home in the early morning before he set off for work, and he had even read the short wire service report about yet another "gas explosion" in Godric's Hollow.  But this one was different.  No Dark Mark floated over the house of James and Lily Potter, even though their dead bodies lay in the rubble.  And their son, Harry, still a baby...the last time he'd seen him, some months ago, he'd just started crawling...Harry was alive.  He had lived, had survived…and for some reason, Voldemort had not.

 

Andromeda's first reaction had not been joy. 

 

"James and Lily!  Dead!  Oh, Sirius will be crushed!  James was like a brother to him, no, more than a brother...though I know he even mourned for that fool Regulus, though he'll never admit it."

 

"But Harry is alive, Andromeda.  And Vo...er, I mean, You-Know-Who..."

 

"How do we know he's really gone, Ted?" 

 

The newscast was over now, and Ted walked to the dressing room, feeling strangely alone, though he was aware that the staff was still discussing the strange happenings of the day...the owls, the "shooting stars", even a sighting of an old woman in a cloak and a hat decorated with a stuffed vulture. 

 

He almost bumped into Jim, who looked more amused than annoyed. Ted's “awkwardness" was a standing joke at the studio. 

 

"Hey, how about..."

 

"Sorry, promised the wife I'd be home early," Ted said.

 

"Ah yes, the old ball-and-chain...and your little girl, too?  You're going to have to invite me over to your place one day, Ted.  I've never seen…Nora, right?"

 

"Close, it's Dora," Ted said.  He wasn't quite up for an explanation of why they'd named their daughter Nymphadora.  Nor was he prepared to explain that the reason he hadn't let any Muggles see Dora was that, until recently, the child simply could not keep the same face, or hair color, for more than a few hours. But she was almost eight now, perhaps the time had come for her to choose a “Muggle face" at least.

 

"Well, see you tomorrow, then," Jim said.  "Watch out for those owls, now, the hairdresser would have a fit if one fell on your head."  With a laugh, Jim strode away.

 

*****

 

Ted rubbed his bleary eyes as he stared into the Floo fire at the head of Mr. Mann, Ted’s boss at the Muggle Relations Office.

 

"Sorry, Ted.  I need you to do a special report, from the scene...another 'gas explosion'.  Don't worry, we'll put a charm on you so that Muggles don't wonder why the evening newsreader is suddenly on the air again."

 

"Death Eaters again?"  Ted felt his shoulders slump.  Of course, even if Voldemort was gone, his followers were still on the loose, some almost as dangerous as him.  The dark visage of Bellatrix came to his mind's eye, a face that might have been beautiful if not twisted with malice – unforgettable, even though he'd only seen his sister-in-law once in the years since he’d finished Hogwarts.  He was also unable to forget what she’d said to him then, even though he often wished he could.

 

“Watch your back, mudblood.  I don’t know what kind of magic you used to seduce my sister, but there are still wizards in this world who aren’t going to let you get away with it. Wizards and witches, who aren’t going to just sit back and let the mudbloods take over!”

 

Ted suppressed a shudder as he tried to concentrate on his conversation with his boss. 

 

"Well, Ted…"

 

"You're not sure?"

 

"Well, who else but a Death Eater would just blow up a street full of Muggles?  It's a bad business, very bad, there might be a dozen dead, from what I've heard.  Oh, and...you might not want to wear your best Muggle clothes, seems the spell blew up a sewer, a real sewer this time."

 

Ted didn't bother to suppress the wry smile that rose to his face with the mention of the Dungbomb incident.  Perhaps he could get Andromeda to Transfigure some rags for him.

 

"I suppose it might be expected, you know what they say about cutting off the head of a monster.  No telling what those Death Eaters might do now.  Well, at least it seems the ones under Imperius are coming back to us...though who knows how many really were forced.  From the way Crouch is going on, they might have to build a whole new wing for Azkaban.  Hard to tell who's on whose side, isn't it?  I'd never have dreamed that Sirius Black –"

 

"Sirius?  Did you say Sirius Black?"

 

"Yes, young Sirius, the black sheep...well, the white sheep, I suppose, or so I did, until I heard he was arrested.  Took a whole squad of Hit Wizards to take him away."

 

"Sirius?"  Ted repeated.  It can't be Sirius, he thought.  There must have been some mistake.  Sirius hated the Death Eaters, hated the Dark Arts...he'd even hinted that he was doing something with Dumbledore to fight them....

 

"Yes, I still find it hard to believe, myself, but, well, pardon the expression, it looks quite black for him, I'm afraid. Had a report from Magical Catastrophes, says Black seems to have gone quite mad, that he was just standing there laughing as if he'd just heard the most hilarious joke in the world.  I suppose we can't be too surprised, though, considering his family.  You know what they say about apples falling from trees...."

 

"Excuse me," Ted said, feeling a surge of anger.  "But my wife is from the Black family, and I assure you that she would no more support the Dark Arts than you or I."

 

"Well, I'm sure you know your wife better than I do, Ted."

 

"Where's the closest grate?" Ted said, gritting his teeth.  His fatigue seemed to have dissipated, and he suddenly felt an urge to run to the scene, to see for himself what had happened. 

 

"We've actually set up a Portkey, Ted.  Just Floo into the Ministry as usual...the Portkey should activate in..." Mann's head looked down, probably at a pocket-watch, "...fifteen minutes. “

 

"I'll be there," Ted said, and stepped back from the fire as his supervisor’s head disappeared with a “pop”.

 

He was about to run upstairs to wake Andromeda, but stopped.  How was he to tell her that her favorite cousin had been arrested, had been arrested for murder, for...Dark activity?  How could he explain that in a few minutes?

 

He sighed, and drew his wand, quickly Transfiguring his nightshirt and dressing gown into a suit.  Then he Summoned a piece of memo parchment and a self-inking quill from the secretary's desk in the corner of the room, and his briefcase from where it was stuffed under the desk in its usual place.

 

Dear Andromeda, he wrote, using his briefcase as a makeshift writing surface.  There's been some breaking news, and I've been summoned into work.  I'll send word as soon as I find out more.  He paused.  What else could he write that wouldn't worry Andromeda even more?  It's not You-Know-Who's doing, however.  That was technically true.  I'll be back as soon as I can.  Give Dora a kiss for me if she wakes up. I love you.  Ted.

 

He tossed his quill onto a chair, and used his wand to direct the parchment to fold into a paper airplane (it would take too long to fold it by hand), and watched as it flew up the stairs.  He kicked off his slippers, and stepped into the “emergency” shoes that he kept by the fireplace.  He took a small swig of voice-modifying potion from a jar on top of the fireplace, and a small pinch of Floo Powder from another. 

 

"Ministry of Magic!"  Ted yelled, throwing the Floo Powder and jumping into the green flames.

//
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