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Teddy Lupin and the Hunter's Moon, Chapter 16: Mathilde Dubois, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Hunter's Moon, Chapter 16: Mathilde Dubois, pt. 3
After Harry conducts a raid on the werewolf colony near Nurmengard, Greyback's inappropriately young moll, Mathilde Dubois, write a screed for the Daily Prophet which accuses the British Ministry of all of its werewolf-related sins, basically absolving Greyback of all wrongdoing and saying that Harry tore apart a peaceful colony and tore adopted orphans from their caretakers... basically every way she could twist the truth, she did... and then included a not-particularly-veiled threat to retaliate, saying that people would have Aurors to thank for everything that would happen. She makes one big miscalculation, though, in using Remus's situation to support Greyback's pack, and a furious Teddy decides to fight fire with fire, and goes to Honoria Higgs to offer her the interview she'd asked for months ago.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

He arranged to meet her in the anteroom outside the Great Hall after the afternoon's last class, and spent of the day thinking about the interview Uncle Harry had done with Rita Skeeter during his fifth year (and trying not to think of the disastrous one he'd mentioned from his fourth), which had changed the course of the war. He hurried out of Herbology--Professor Longbottom had been distracted, and kept looking out the windows--still smelling of sour fertilizer, and ran up to the castle as the sun set. Honoria was waiting for him, her dark hair up in a bun, trying to look very professional.

She spread out a piece of parchment on a table and held out her quill. "It's a BasiQuill," she said. "Like Quick Quotes, but without the style spells. It just records. You can test it if you'd like. Professor Slughorn doesn't allow Quick Quotes on the Charmer."

"I'm not surprised. How do I test it?"

"Just say 'BasiQuill accuracy test,' then say anything you want. Then say 'End test.' Then read it."

Teddy activated the Quill and said, "This is Ted Remus Lupin. Is this what I said? End test." He looked at it. It had recorded accurately enough. He looked back up at Honoria. "And you'll leave it as it is?"

"I'll make a story of it," she said. "I'm not going to just do a question-and-answer."

"I just don't want to end up looking like I said things I didn't. I heard about the TriWizard interview that Rita Skeeter did."

"Rita knows how to write a story that sells," Honoria said, shrugging indifferently.

"But it wasn't a true story."

"Well, Slughorn won't run anything without checking on it, especially from me."

"What's your angle going to be?"

Honoria narrowed her eyes. "You came to me, Lupin. Not the other way around. I'll be asking the questions. The first one is, why now? You haven't wanted to talk about this all year. Was it the article by Mathilde Dubois?"

"Well... of course it was."

"What can you tell me?" she asked avidly. "Do you know anything about the raid?"

"No. But I know about Greyback. He killed my grandmother's cat. He's been sending me little notes."

"Do you have them?"

"I have one. I burned the other."

Honoria frowned. "But you haven't actually met him?"

"Er... no. I met Mina, the woman who got him out of Azkaban. She showed up at the gate and said they meant to take me."

"Oh." Honoria took out a second, normal quill, and began jotting notes on another piece of paper. "After Mathilde was speaking from the inside, a couple of notes and a dead cat aren't going to get us far."


"You read what she wrote. An insider's perspective. She was there for the raid and saw everything. I don't suppose you could get your godfather to talk to me."

"I don't think so..."

"What about Vivian Waters? Was she part of the pack?"

"My father and mother rescued... I don't know if I can talk about Vivian. Her story doesn't belong to me to tell."

"Could you get her to talk to me?"

"Are you going to make her sound bad?"

Honoria shrugged. "That wouldn't be very interesting. Newsflash, werewolf is bloodthirsty. No, we have to do what Dubois did. Someone nice and innocent and just trying to get along. Only we'll make Greyback the villain!" She said this as though it were a lightning bolt out of a clear blue sky.

"That's not very hard to do," Teddy scoffed.

"After what Dubois did this morning?" Honoria sighed, and looked a lot older than she was. "Rita told me once that she doesn't just write nasty books because they're nasty. She writes nasty books because everyone loves to find out that something they thought was true isn't. People are mad for gossip, and that's why. They can put things together in some new way that makes them feel smarter than they were."

"Smarter for believing something idiotic?"

Another shrug. Teddy had a feeling that she was quoting Rita Skeeter directly. "Smarter because they're not going to be fooled by the 'official' story any more. So if you have someone like Albus Dumbledore, you write about how he was tempted by Grindelwald's psychotic ramblings--and probably his pretty hair, if you read between the lines--and people come out of it feeling like they've twigged to something. If you try to push the other version back, they'll get really defensive."

"Where does this come in with Greyback?"

"Because everyone 'knew' the werewolf pack was bad news and Greyback was thrown in Azkaban with the key tossed out for perfectly good reasons--"

"They were perfectly good reasons! He's a murderer!"

"--but now they feel like they're smarter, that they've understood some deeper truth. When the person starts out bad, the gossip's always making him good. And they're not going to believe something that makes them feel duped again."

"But she's the one who..." Teddy slammed his fist on the table and stood up to start pacing. "They'll listen."

"To Harry Potter's godson?"

"He's Harry Potter!"

"But they know better now. He was a hero. Now he's an over-zealous Auror, at best, and Ron Weasley--and they'll all know who she meant--tears screaming children away from their innocent caretakers. They've wised up. And you're all wrapped up in that. Unless you've got more than a dead cat a note, they won't care. If you have anything about what he did to your father..."

"I didn't exactly witness that, either," Teddy said dully.

"Did Vivian Waters?"

He looked down. "I'll talk to her. Will you wait? And if I get her to talk to you, will you be nice?"

She raised an eyebrow. "I think I can beat Mathilde Dubois at this."

"Seeing that you have truth on your side..."

"Oh. Right. I'm sure that will help, too."

Teddy looked at her with deep misgivings, wishing he'd thought twice before approaching her. She'd got kicked off the paper she'd started for being a vicious little gossip. Still, if she wanted to get back onto it, she'd have to impress Slughorn, and Slughorn wouldn't let her slur war heroes.

He nodded, and went upstairs to get his winter cloak. The Marauder's Map told him that Vivian was at Hagrid's, with Hagrid and Professor Longbottom. He checked it carefully for any splashes of red, indicating danger, but there were none. He headed downstairs.

Ruthless was waiting by the portrait hole. "I noticed you had that determined look," she said. "Are you doing something?"


"Can I help?" She looked at him hopefully, and he wished there were something, just so he could let her know he was glad she wanted to, but there wasn't.

He shook his head. "I'm mostly an errand boy in it," he said.

"Exploding Snap when you get back?" she offered, with a tentative smile.

He returned it gratefully. "Sure. I could always use some of your money."

"You wish."

It was forced, but all right. He climbed through the portrait hole and scurried off onto the grounds. The evening was cold and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. His feet left a dull brownish-green trail behind him.

It was deep dusk, and the sky was a glowing midnight blue. The mountains made sharp black shapes against it, and the lake stretched away like an abyss. The Forbidden Forest was fully dark, and Hagrid's cabin, at its edge, cast flickering firelight out into the shadows. As Teddy reached it, he could see the back of Vivian's head. She was gesticulating wildly. The window was closed, but he could hear her voice raised inside.

He knocked on the door.

"Who is it?" Hagrid grunted.

"Teddy Lupin."

"Yer call," he heard Hagrid say, and assumed he was talking to Vivian.

A moment later, the door swung open, and Vivian, the unscarred part of her face a livid shade of red, gave him a distracted greeting and went back to pacing. Teddy had imagined that she might be depressed or upset. He was glad to see that, instead, she appeared to be furious.

"Close the door, Teddy," Professor Longbottom said. "This is family business, not school business."

"It's apparently everybody's business," Vivian cut in. "The damned little"--she called Mathilde Dubois a name Teddy hadn't thought she knew--"and her stack of lies. Of course, she had to find time to tell one truth. I'm glad I never unpacked my bag."

"Yeh're not goin' anywhere," Hagrid said. "Dumbledore didn' let me go. Great man, Dumbledore. An' he shouldn' o' let Lupin go, but I reckon he had his reasons. An' I'm not lettin' you go. Reckon I need someone lookin' out for the grounds when I'm not here."

"I don't see where that's your choice."

"Yeh think I can't keep yeh here?"

Professor Longbottom smiled. "Hagrid, I don't think Vivian meant you couldn't force her to stay."

"Exactly. There are laws, and I'm breaking them. And if they let me out of it, everyone will know they're just playing favorites."

"What if everyone wants you to stay?" Teddy asked.

"Right. That's likely." She turned to him, looking apologetic. "I'm sorry, Teddy. The letters have already started to come. Professor Sprout didn't want me to see them, but I can see through the table. She'd got six of them before the end of lunch."

"So what?" Professor Longbottom said. "That's six. There could be six hundred--or six thousand--who don't want you to go."

"I didn't see any of those, and as Mademoiselle Dubois drew the battle lines, it's not like any potential supporters don't know."

"They don't know you," Teddy said. He bit his lip, feeling like he was trying to manipulate Vivian into doing something that he'd thought of, but he couldn't think of anything else. He didn't think the Prophet was going to send anyone, mostly because they obviously hadn't already. And Luna Scamander was off traveling again, so the Quibbler was a questionable contact. Honoria Higgs and the school paper were their best bet. "I was talking to Honoria Higgs," he said. He waited for Professor Longbottom to stop looking shocked, then went on. "She wants to try and undo what Mathilde Dubois did..."
47 comments or Leave a comment
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lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: November 19th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay for Honoria living up to her name! I really hope we get to see a finished version of this article, or at the very least the interview. I'm really interested in how they'll address what Dubois wrote (besides saying it's a complete load of bull)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll try to get some of the article in, though I don't want to crowd too many articles in.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: November 19th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
That was a very canny explanation for why people get duped by dippy conspiracy theories, and why they'll continue to find new reasons to believe them even when the old ones have been debunked. Well done. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a subject that interests (and frustrates) me.
From: kobegrace Date: November 19th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Vivian. :( *goes to hug her*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
She could use it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 19th, 2007 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
OK, cheering for Honoria. Deifinitely weird.

I see what you mean about the appeal of gossip. Maybe that's one of the reasons I like fiction. You can have all sorts of different views, get your old views knocked out of the water, argue, debate, and - while it may say an awful lot about human nature - being on one side or the other of an argument doesn't hurt anyone. I can think a character is so warm and fuzzy he should be modeling for beanie babies and he can turn out to be a psycho killer with a chain saw - or vice versa - and no one's hurt by my misjudgement.

Anyhow, here's hoping Mathilde goes down. And gets fleas. And mange. And ringworm. And plain, old worm worms, because the raw meat diet has well known drawbacks that anyone supporting Greyback's lifestyle deserves to get.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Fleas, yes! And fleas carry tapeworms!
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: November 19th, 2007 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Geez, listening to Honoria explain everything makes me wish Teddy would put her head through a wall. Anyone who is an "apprentice" to Rita Skeeter has to be a very sick person.

Good job, Fern. Like how Hagrid is reacting to Vivian wanting to leave the school. He's definitely grown in his years at Hogwarts although I still wouldn't trust him with security. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Hagrid's got the lay of the land all right, but true--he's not to be trusted with big information. Not because he'd deliberately betray it, but because he's... Hagrid.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: November 19th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh Honoria! It looks like you're actually a thoughtful person who has put energy into understanding how the press works. Now you just need to see past popularity and develop a conscience, but you're already showing depths I hadn't expected! I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
At least she's figuring out that she's not going to get popular by acting like she has no ethics. So if you don't have actual ethics, but act is if you have ethics because it's in your self interest, does it make a difference?
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
willowbough From: willowbough Date: November 19th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, while unlikely ever to be sweetness and light, Honoria is showing some trace of ethics and even integrity. And she made some valid points about the approach needed to counteract Mathilde's piece. I hope that Teddy can persuade Vivian to come forward with her story--it would be discouraging in the extreme to discover that nothing has changed since Remus had to resign the DADA post after he was outed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
There's definitely nothing wrong with her brain. She'd also make a good lawyer, but it's probably safer to keep her on the press rather than trying to get guilty defendants off the hook.
kiwi_kimi From: kiwi_kimi Date: November 19th, 2007 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
A clever explanation from Honoria, and a clever way to get it across :-)

Poor Vivian. As if she hasn't had enough suffering in her life. I hope she can stay at Hogwarts somehow - though you may have other plans.

spent of the day "the rest of"?

a dead cat a note Missing "and"?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I managed to miss three consecutive words? :headdesk:

I'm not sure what I'm doing with Vivian, actually. I've got her on stage, and I know she has to get off stage to make room for Hannah, but I honestly am not yet privy to the information about what happens to her.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: November 19th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Definitely looking forward to the Insider's Rebuttal about being one of those "cherished orphans" or whatever that tramp called the kids...

As a journalist (even one who has at least temporarily stepped into other work) it's always a bit painful to read anything Skeeter-related, especially when it comes to motivations and ethics in the press. But I do think you've hit the nail on the head in re. to why people love gossip. Nothing positive is ever as entertaining as theories like (to repeat an old favorite), "Oh, Tom Cruise auditioned young actresses to play his next wife/beard! Katie Holmes actually got pregnant by some other guy and that kid is XX months older than they say, that's why we didn't see her until she was like a year old!"
amamama From: amamama Date: November 19th, 2007 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)
"Oh, Tom Cruise auditioned young actresses to play his next wife/beard! Katie Holmes actually got pregnant by some other guy and that kid is XX months older than they say, that's why we didn't see her until she was like a year old!"

Now that's an interesting theory! Never heard that one before... LOL
got_it_bub From: got_it_bub Date: November 19th, 2007 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
God danm that snob. Now what's Vivian gonna do?!?!
love it as always.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Vivian's in a bad spot, definitely.
amamama From: amamama Date: November 19th, 2007 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)
spent of the day the rest of?
tears screaming children away This had me scratching my head a bit, before I cottoned on the the meaning. I was reading tears as the result from crying, not tearing the kids away. *grins* And how can she say they're 'innocent caretakers'? Bleaurgh! Innocent my ...bleep!... Honoria might want to get into Sluggy's good graces, but there is still an attitude there I don't find very comforting.

Poor Vivian, I hope she, together with Honoria, manages to get a story out that will swing the opinion in the right direction. DuBois' rhetoric is too close to several leaders I don't want to think about, I so hope they manage to turn her sword at herself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
And how can she say they're 'innocent caretakers'?
I think she's just analyzing the story Mathilde told, which Teddy wants to counter, more than endorsing it.

jedi_chick From: jedi_chick Date: November 19th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC) (Link)
No matter her motivations, I'm glad that Honoria is determined to write a better article than Mathilde Dubois.

I'm relieved that Vivian is more angry than upset or depressed. It's great that Neville and Hagrid are being supportive of her right now, and I hope that Vivian realizes that there are people who don't want her to go.

On a really random note, I liked the mention of Luna! I was wondering if Teddy was going to think of her as related to his interview.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm relieved that Vivian is more angry than upset or depressed.

I am, too, actually. She's outgrown some of her passivity, I think.
From: smishli Date: November 19th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, the power of the press.

And I just love Honoria! I'm glad she's maturing but still keeping her oh-so-characteristic, erm, "fiesty" streak :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think she's headed more for a career as an editor than a reporter, though she'll do her time in the trenches first, I'm sure.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 19th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Jumping in on the side issue of Honoria's morals/ethics -

In this case, she's doing the right thing. The worrisome thing about her is whether or not she's capable of developing an internal conscience or whether it will all remain exterior - she'll do the right thing if Slughorn will shut her down otherwise but will just as comfortably backflip if he's gone and paper policy shifts.

So, for what she's doing _now_, fine.

But, for characters who have to decide whether or not to trust her later on or knowing whether or not turning their backs on her is an invitation to getting stabbed in the back, the jury's still out.

The really worrisome thing is that Rita Skeeter could write to support Fudge one year and, a couple of years later, be writing pro-Voldemort pieces without turning a hair (it just finally clicked that her Dumbledore biography, with the sly hints about his relationship with Harry being a little on the warped side, provided a not unbelievable _motive_ for Voldemort's otherwise rather crazy charges about Harry having a hand in Dumbledore's death).

I'd like to see Honoria actually deserving her name and developing, if not a sense of compassion, a sense of honor and of right and wrong that goes deeper than figuring how to play those angles in the public's mind.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Tis true.

Someone like Honoria is now or Rita is (apparently on a permanent basis) can function with a minimum of destruction while living in an essentially decent and moral society, because crossing the line means losing a livelihood. But without developing an intrinsic sense of right and wrong, if society changes around her, she'll just go with the flow and keep right on publishing what society wants in the new version--it's no never mind to her.

A rabbi of mine once quoted someone who I don't remember, saying, "Sometimes we dance because we're happy, and sometimes we dance to make ourselves happy"--by that, he meant that sometimes we do good things because of good motives, other times, doing good things leads to an improvement of the soul. (The more traditional forumation is, "The reward for a mitzvah is another mitzvah, and the punishment for a sin is another sin.") If Honoria gets in the habit of doing the right thing, even if she's doing it for the wrong reasons, it may eventually lead to knowing and acting on the right reasons.

The Honoria I see in the future, putting on my misty clairvoyance goggles, is still very ambitious and you do have to be careful to avoid back-stabbing, but her main fault is a tendency to only take an interest in what concerns her directly (eg, when she's getting married, she's all over corruption in the wedding industry, but couldn't care less once she's settled with a child and concerned with the educational toy scam). She enjoys digging for stories, but really enjoys seeing people reading the paper and buying it, which means she doesn't lose her taste for sensationalism. But she ends up living with Corky in Nunuvut (he's a teacher), so she's largely sensationist about the crazy habits of the caribou, with maybe a refreshing dip into school politics now and then.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 19th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Vivian! I hope something works out for her. And it's interesting to see how Honoria has changed. She's certainly sharp! (First year! Honoria was a good tactician, but a poor strategist).
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