AN: Thank you so much for all the support! I truly appreciate it!
I need a good speech and a good plan.
Percy wrote down a few sentences, only to pull out a tuft of hair. He crossed out what he'd written until the parchment ripped. Then he crumpled it and threw it into the wastebasket with his other ten failed attempts. After letting out a groan, he opened the drawer and pulled out another parchment.
"What now Michael?"
"Mr. Cuffe is here to see you."
Percy growled. "Send him on in."
Mr. Cuffe pushed Michael aside and locked eyes with Percy. He pulled out a letter from his pocket and unfurled it. "Can you explain this to me?"
"If I could explain it, I would," Percy replied.
Barnabas Cuffe stormed into the office. "Do you realize the sheer volume of letters I've received in response to this, this slanderous garbage?"
Percy's frown deepened.
"My newspaper looks like a joke," Barnabas seethed. "Before today, I could tell people that we refused to report on the epidemic because of the limited information. We could assure them that the Ministry was hard at work resolving the issue, so there was no need to panic. Now though, now that this has come out…"
Percy watched Barnabas throw the paper to the ground.
"This is going to ruin us."
"No, it won't."
"We are going to quell this scandal and regain the respect of your readers."
"What about Draco's campaign? He's already attacked the newspaper in his letter. How can we defend ourselves if he is elected Minister?"
"I'll admit that ignoring the rumors of Draco's possible candidacy was unwise." Percy sat up straighter. "I should not have harbored the delusion of running unopposed. Still, a little friendly competition may help me to refine my positions."
"Well you need to refine them quickly," Mr. Cuffe hissed. "Everyone from former Minister Shacklebolt to the youngest first year Hogwarts student is riding my arse demanding an explanation for why we didn't cover this story."
"Perhaps you could begin controlling the damage by interviewing Minister Scott," Percy suggested.
"He won't so much as grant me an audience," Barnabas replied. "He claims that this is an issue best left to his potential successor, aka you."
"Do you have any official statement you would like me to publish tonight?" Barnabas asked.
"If I did you would already have it."
"Do you plan on having an official statement within a few hours?"
"I can do better than that."
"Yes," Percy steepled his hands. "You can interview me. That way I can explain my positions fully and in a way the common wizard can grasp."
"That plan would work," Barnabas furrowed his eyebrow. "Except nobody believes a thing we say at the moment."
Percy huffed. "The Daily Prophet has seen far worse than a few accusations hurled by Draco bloody Malfoy. We will weather this storm and emerge stronger than ever."
"I wish I shared your optimism," Barnabas argued.
Percy replied, "Right now we need to focus on what we can do. Leave the long-term planning to me."
"Do you have a long term plan?" Barnabas demanded.
Percy's lips curled up. "I may be in the process of developing one."
"Listen," Percy's voice was low. "At the moment your only concerns should be conducting and publishing this interview. Allow me to develop a long-term strategy for defusing this situation."
"If I may sir," Barnabas cut in. "This situation won't be resolved in one day."
"Allow me to deal with it," Percy answered. "Right now, I would like to be interviewed."
"Okay," Barnabas took a deep breath. "Do you have a quill and some parchment?"
Percy scooted the clean parchment, the ink pot, and the quill towards him.
"Are we ready to begin?" Percy asked
Barnabas squeaked. "I believe we are."
"Good," Percy's expression softened. "Let us begin."
"For only five easy installments of nineteen ninety-nine, you can own the entire Shakatak discography."
Rose muted the television. There shows were insufferable enough without being interrupted by commercials every few minutes.
The fireplace erupted. Rose raised an eyebrow. Could Dad be coming back? I did not think he left anything behind. Still, he may have found some new information to share with me.
She strolled over the the fireplace and peeked inside. "Violet?"
"Yes," she replied. "I, I don't have much time, but I do need to speak with you."
"Does Headmaster Longbottom know you are here?"
"He's the one who sent me."
Rose's stomach sank. She stepped back, allowing her sister to enter.
"What is so urgent?" Rose asked.
Violet dusted off her school robes. "On behalf of the Slytherin House, I must give you something."
"Yes," Rose drawled.
Violet she reached into her pants pocket and pulled out a package.
"What is that?" Rose asked.
"Last night the students had another early curfew." Violet engaged the object. "Since none of us was tired, we decided to occupy our time doing something productive."
"We decided to make cards."
The cards were wrapped in an emerald bow. Rose took them and smiled. "Thank you Violet. This is quite touching."
"You are very welcome," Violet answered. "It's the least we could do after you defended us."
"It was my duty to protect you," Rose replied. "There is never any reason to thank me for performing my duty."
"You don't have to be so nonchalant about it," Violet answered. "We all know you did not act out of duty, but rather because you really like us."
Rose rolled her eyes. "I only like my Slytherins when they are not blowing up my cauldrons."
"Well, at the very least reading these cards will give me something to do when Grandma is not inflicting me with her horrendous choices in television shows," Rose replied.
"Oh yeah," there was a spark in Violet's eyes. "Did they ever find Zach on that deserted island?"
"Unfortunately yes," Rose replied.
"Kendall must be so happy about that."
"Yes, she was so happy that she slept with Ryan just as he was being rescued."
"What?" Violet exclaimed.
Rose shook her head.
"That-that can't be true."
"I wish I was joking, but alas, Kendall and Zach may be no more."
"But, but she knows how much Zach loved her. She never gave up on reuniting with him. Just, just why would she sleep with any man after being so in love with Zach?"
"Because the writers decreed it."
"Please tell me she isn't pregnant."
"Unfortunately she is with child."
"No," Violet panicked. "She knows how much having a biological child meant to Zach. She knows how desperately Zach wanted a family, and that he'd only found love with her. If she has another man's baby it will destroy Zach. He'd leave and never come back to her."
The image of her heartbroken father flashed in Rose's mind.
"The writers have to make this right, they just have to."
"If you only came here to discuss that insipid soap opera then please talk to Grandma. I refuse to dwell on it for one more second."
"No," Violet blushed. "I only wanted to see how you were doing and to give you those cards."
"From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your concern," Rose's expression softened. "As you can see, I am quite well."
"Good," Violet embraced her. "I was so worried about you."
Rose returned the embrace. "I was worried for you as well."
"I am fine, as is everyone else," Violet released Rose. "We've been observing our curfew, and have not given your substitute any trouble."
"How do you like her?" Rose asked.
Violet shrugged. "I have not had her yet, but I hear she's adequate."
Rose chuckled. "I am happy to hear it."
"I have to go, but thank you again for protecting us. We truly hope your get well very soon," Violet answered.
Rose replied. "Tell everyone I said, 'thank you.'"
Violet kissed her on the cheek. Then she picked up the floo powder, shouted "Hogwarts," and disappeared into the fire.