She curled her fingers around her frosted glass, filled to the brim with lemonade and raised it to drink. She could taste sharp, sour lemon, could feel the chemicals stinging her tongue. It was a harsh, almost gagging sourness. It was a bright fake "I'm full of additives" artificial, synthetic flavour with a bitter, strong aftertaste.
Just like her.
Rita leaned back and glanced at her sheaf of notes, dictated excitedly to Quick-Quotes Quill. The ink glowed, delighted by the secrets tempted malevolently out of Bathilda Bagshot.
She smiled. What an old bat. "Bathilda Bagshot: Doddery or Devious?"
It had a certain ring to it. Maybe the absent-minded old lady would be next after all.
But her shrewd mind focussed back to the present. Albus Dumbledore.
Rita's fingers wiggled with anticipation. This was her one shot. It would be a great success, the pinnacle of her career; or it would be the end of it.
Rita drew back, instinctively hissing. Another biography reaching the shelves first: another work instead of hers praised and discussed; another journalist daring to steal her limelight. It was a disturbing thought.
Me, Myself & I, she thought indignantly. The dominant gossip columnist: Rita Skeeter.
What a career. What a job. She hadn't made herself popular, but she'd made herself famous: people across the UK, from Ottery Saint Catchpole and Lake Windermere to London, Hull and Salisbury. Readers reading and readers arguing.
And that was just the UK.
And here she was, at her zenith. The greatest controversy she had participated in, perhaps the greatest in all of wizarding history all about the so-called "greatest wizard".
Come on, Rita. Pull yourself together. Seize the golden opportunity. All over the country, journalists and authors would be digging out their quills and desperate to be the first.
But she couldn't let that happen. She must be the one who crossed the finish line first. Who cared about the others? No one would really remember them. It must be her.
The sheaf of notes kept popping back into her vision, desperate to be the focus of attention.
Just like her.
There was so much derision, so much humiliating secrecy in between the lines, hoping to be read. So much gossip, her mind boggled. Where to start?
And within a moment, she was ready. It was time to tell the world the truth. Or at least, tell the wizarding world her version of the truth.
And with that, she began to write.