Interview with a Leech
'She is interviewing the Champions? Really, Albus, can't you protest?'
'She's one of the most widely-read journalists in the wizarding world, Minerva. It would be highly inappropriate.'
'But she's a leech, for goodness' sake!'
'Elizabeth, my dear, please, be reasonable.'
'She's a horrid woman!'
'She called you an obsolete dingbat!'
'Yes, but – '
'Do you remember what she was like when I was younger?'
'You know how persistent she can be, then, Elizabeth, from your childhood. If I banned her, I would not be able to keep my eye on her.'
'But, Albus, can't you - ?'
'No, I am afraid I cannot.'
For most of the morning, Elizabeth hid in the library. She knew Rita Skeeter was around somewhere, and knew well what that woman would do for an interview. At midday, however, she braved the Dining Hall, and lo, who else would be in her seat but –
'Ms Skeeter,' Elizabeth said with a saccharine grin, 'you appear to be in my seat.'
'Do I?' Rita replied just as sweetly. 'Well, then, perhaps this is the opportune moment for me to ask for an interview. You are Harry's godsister after all – '
'Did I not just say "no"?'
'Oh, dear, you're just being silly.' Pulling out her Quick-Quotes Quill, she quipped, 'We could even do it here while we eat so you can get back to the research you were so studiously doing in the library this morning.' Her smile was more of a challenge now.
Not missing a beat, Elizabeth replied, 'It's fine, Rita. I'm always available for you. But would you mind if I kept my own Quill poised and ready to take down what is said, also? Just for my own publicity record, you understand.'
The challenge was replaced by a subtle nervousness as she stuttered, 'No, not at all. That would be perfectly fine.'
'We could even compare notes afterwards, just so we're sure to be on the same page. How does that sound?'
'That sounds wonderful. I look forward to it.'
Elizabeth checked her watch. 'How's just after lunch for you?'
'I'm afraid I'll be interviewing Champions then. After supper?'
'My pleasure, I'm sure. And so you know, I'll be there when they interview the Champions, as well. Especially Harry.'
'Was that a threat, dear?'
'Not at all, Rita, dear. Just a friendly reminder.'
'So we're friends now?'
'Let's not stretch the truth too far, Rita. You of all people know how that can get out of hand.'
As he was walking back to Gryffindor Common Room after supper, Harry was what could only be described as mauled by Elizabeth.
'What did she ask you?' she asked him urgently, pulling him aside into an unused corridor.
'Uh – who?'
'That Skeeter woman, Harry, focus. What did she ask you?'
'Um, I don't know?'
'You… don't know?'
'She asked about my parents, and my feelings of being put into the tournament?'
'If I was scared?'
'Is that it?'
'I think so. It kinda happened really fast.'
'She's horrible, Harry, just… she's the kind of woman who gives reporters a bad name. I'm just… just warning you for when the article comes out. It's not going to be… accurate. At all.'
'No, seriously. You… I really wish I didn't have to say this, Harry, but you have to learn how to talk to the media, especially Rita Skeeter.'
'What are you talking about.'
'Harry… when that article gets published… I know how people like her operate. I especially know how she operates. It's… it's just that… well. I know you won't like what you read.'
'I barely said two words before Dumbledore pulled us out of the cupboard.'
'She dragged you into a cupboard?'
Shaking her head, Elizabeth muttered, 'Just… be prepared for what she'll print, Harry. That's all I have to tell you.' Glancing down at her wrist, she cursed. 'I have to go. I have to talk to her. I'll see you soon, Harry.'
'So. Miss Holmes. How does it feel to have your godbrother in the Triwizard Tournament? The youngest of the Champions?'
'I'm concerned, of course.'
'So you think he won't do well, then?'
'Of course he'll do brilliantly, Ms. Skeeter. I have a healthy amount of worry, just like all the friends and family members of all the other Champions.'
'Of course. So, what can you tell us about the Boy Who Lived? What's he like? Is he as much of a ladies' man as his father was?'
'He's fourteen, Ms. Skeeter. I'm afraid he's a little young for that. And, of course he's just like his father, but I certainly don't remember James Potter of being a womanizer. It's not his fault if he was – and I'm taking this from what Lily used to say, not from my own opinion – handsome and charming.'
'So you didn't think he was handsome and charming? What did you think of the Potters, Miss Holmes, given that you spent so much time with them as a child?'
'They were some of the kindest, most caring people I've ever known. And James was like a father to me. I have no personal opinion of his physical appearance, or of his charm.'
'But what about – '
'I thought we were talking about the Tournament, Rita, not my family life. And please scribble out that bit about me being too emotional to continue with this topic. I simply don't think it's any of your business.'
'So, are you worried that Harry might perish during the months ahead? I've heard that the Tournament can be very dangerous.'
'I'm sure you've already asked me this, Ms. Skeeter.'
'Why, indeed I have.' Shooting her a molasses-sweet smile, Rita rolled up her parchment. 'I think I have enough here, Miss Holmes. Thank you for your time.'
'You're very welcome, Ms Skeeter. And I'll be sending a copy of my notes to your editor, just in case yours are embellished. She's an old family friend, you know.'
'Yes, I know.'
'Like that time you decided to hint that my relationship to Albus Dumbledore was anything but appropriate?'
'Yes, Miss Holmes. I know.'
'Have a lovely afternoon, Ms Skeeter.''Good day, Miss Holmes.'