A Meeting

The famous authoress was sitting on the luxurious chair in her office, awaiting the four visitors who had an appointment with her. It was close to a decade since the last book of the series that gave her the name and fame, as well as the riches (which incidentally, and allegedly, made her richer than her Majesty), was published. The number of people who sought to talk to her regarding those books had dwindled over the years.

Quite often, she was asked about the sense behind the pairings that had left many fans disgruntled. Sometimes, she was asked about the real nature of some of the characters, particularly the Headmaster, and the surrogate family of her hero. She was also taken to task about the inconsistency of the abuse of protagonist at the hands of his relatives. That however, had more to do with the publishers' sensibilities. Some people had even called her out on some glaring plot-holes. Then there was the contentious issue of the Potions Master.

It often frustrated her.

It wasn't her fault that the woman who was authorised by (or at least claimed to be) the Ministry for Magic had told her the facts – which people didn't like – were what she had tied into a readable story. She was just the Watson for her source's Sherlock, the chronicler for the events that had actually taken place, even though it (the sequence of facts) wasn't really to her liking.

She had been interviewed once by the actress who played the female lead in the films, and even she had questioned her about the pairings, which was what stuck in most people's craw. It had been a very awkward moment. She could hardly say that it was what the source had told her, that it bloody well wasn't her mistake! So she had to admit something that no self-respecting author worth his or her salt would ever say. She had to admit that it was all according to the plot that she had first imagined, and that the eventual pairing was a matter of wish fulfilment for her. She had to admit that the two protagonists had to be together (just as she believed they should be), even though it went against what she had written, and what had been told to her. She had her doubts, though, and that was why she had allowed a website which hosted stories written by readers to host stories based on her books. Not that these stories were always something she liked. People would take things to the extremes and pair up the villain and the protagonist homosexually, or as they called it, slash. Not that she cared about it or had homophobia. She had had to reveal that the Headmaster was a homosexual and was in love with his villain, anyway. Those stories, which linked the Dark Lord and the protagonist, however insanely senseless, still had their readers, in spite of the clear indication that the protagonist had at least one girlfriend before the woman he eventually married, never mind the fact that the monster had brutally murdered the hero's parents.

Still, the books had created a platform for her to stand on. She was now an internationally renowned and acclaimed authoress. Even though she now wrote under a nom de plume, people could recognise her work and read it. There really wasn't much she could do about something that was the past – it wasn't like she could travel into the magical world and cross-check the facts. It was in the past, and that was where she intended to let things to be.

However, these new visitors were very insistent about the meeting. She had asked her secretary to avoid them as far as possible. But after three months, she had to break her resistance.

At exactly twenty five minutes past five, five minutes before the scheduled time, her secretary intimated her about the arrival of her guests. She paused for a moment before asking her to send them in. Despite her reluctance, she knew that it was best to get it over with. These people had pursued her for three months.

There was a knock and she stood to open the door. She had never really taken a liking to the electric door openers. Opening the door yourself, was, while quaint in the current times, also a way of putting oneself in the position of power.

Dorothy followed her, followed by two men, dressed immaculately, and two women. They were in their mid-thirties, apparently. This Joanne knew only because of the security questionnaire that her office had visitors fill. While one of them could be described as pretty – no beautiful, the other was – there was no other way to say it – an f-ing goddess. She could see that each of them had an air of grace and one of the men (just a shade over six feet in height, and well-built) had a very assiduously maintained stiff upper lip, complete with a thin moustache on his round face. This gentleman had an air of nobility, while also looking fairly careworn, the overall effect causing him to look older than he was. The other man, who had a pair of bright, bespectacled, mischievous green eyes, had no smile adorning his face, but the slight crinkling around his eyes showed that he had found something very amusing. He was also in contrast to the other gentleman, in that, instead of thirty-six, he looked a whole decade younger, and had a boyish charm. He pushed just past six foot three and was quite lean.

The beautiful lady by the side of the nobleman was dressed in an icy blue designer gown that complemented her eyes and the slightly shiny, platinum blonde locks very well. She pierced the authoress with a gaze that seemed to evaluate her. The other woman too was beautiful in her own right. A brunette, she was resplendent in an understated maroon dress. She seemed slightly peeved at the green-eyed man, presumably her husband, given the annoyed glance she was levelling at him furtively. Both women were average in height, though they carried themselves in a way that accentuated and emphasised their presence, making them seem taller.

It was however, her secretary that caught her attention. Dorothy had met many celebrities over the years, and was well-known to several visitors who came around to her office, and had crossed the starry-eyed shock stage quite some while ago. Right now, however, she was staring at the quartet with barely hidden shock and surprise. She also looked close to fainting.

"Dorothy?" the authoress called.

It shook Dorothy out of her trance. "I am sorry Joanne. Your Grace, Neville Longbottom, Lady Daphne Greengrass-Longbottom; may I present Joanne Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter Series?"

Joanne, who had gone into a slight curtsey as Dorothy started the introductions, in her shock, forgot to rise out of the curtsey. Eschewing all protocol, she stared at the visitors in open-mouthed shock.

Dorothy had still to introduce the other two. "Mr. Harry Potter, Mrs. Hermione Potter nee Granger-Dearborn, may I introduce, Joanne Rowling? Joanne, this is, well..." Dorothy trailed off, unable to articulate the introductions to Joanne, given that she had apparently written about him, or someone bearing the same name.

It broke the restraints on the mirth that the man claiming to be Harry Potter felt. He started chuckling a bit, eliciting blushes from both Dorothy and Joanne, and a less-than-furtive, hard nudge from his wife. Taking charge of the situation, he drew out a stick, he turned towards Dorothy slightly. "Thank you, Dorothy, if I may call you that. I am afraid, that the International Statute for Secrecy demands that you forget this meeting." Glancing at his companions, he said, "If I may be excused for a moment..."

Hermione, Neville and Daphne nodded. With a wave of the stick, which was evidently supposed to be the wand, Dorothy's eyes had gone blank. With the next wave, she was asleep, and levitated to the chair where she sat. Meanwhile, the other three went about securing the office where they were to speak. Joanne cut a very comical figure, still stuck in the curtsey as the four visitors went about casting spells.

With one final wave of Neville's wand, the office was sealed, while Hermione cast an undetectable space expansion charm to accommodate the couches Harry and Daphne had newly transfigured from the comfortable chairs.

By this time Joanne's knees had buckled, and she neatly collapsed into the chair she had been sitting in. "You are real!" she finally rasped.

This set the green-eyed man into another fit of chuckles while the other three looked on in grim exasperation. When the chuckles showed no sign of abating, Lady Greengrass-Longbottom finally spoke, "Yes. We are. Though, I would know why you seem surprised, given that there is a very neat forgery in Hermione's department that states that you are to be accorded the status of a 'Non-Magical in the know'."

"Forgery?" squeaked Joanne.

"Yes," cut in Hermione. "Please don't scare the woman, Daffy. She has been fleeced as it is."

"She did get the best possible bargain out of it, didn't she? And don't call me Daffy! It always reminds me of that spitting black duck who is actually a drake!" Daphne snapped.

"Ladies," came the deep, measured baritone of Lord Longbottom. It brought the two ladies up short. "Madam Rowling, I believe we have got off the wrong foot. Please allow me to reintroduce us all. I am Duke-Magical Neville Longbottom of East Anglia, independent of the Duchy in Norfolk, and Special Advisor to Her Majesty on all Matters Secret and Magical. To my left is my Lady-wife, Dame Daphne Greengrass-Longbottom; GBE. To my right is Sir Harry Potter, GBE, and to his right is his wife, Dame Hermione Potter nee Granger-Dearborn, GBE. We are here in our personal capacity as well as in support of Dame Hermione's professional investigation." He fished a photograph out of his pocket and showed it to Joanne.

Joanne took one glance at the photograph and exclaimed, "That's Rita Skeeter!"

"Just as we feared," responded Sir Harry grimly, all vestiges of carefree boyishness gone from his visage. Joanne was scared and it was visible on her face. Sir Harry observed that, and moved to calm her fears temporarily. "Madam Rowling, given that you are a nomag..."

"A what?"

"A nomag – that is to say, you are a non-magical."

"But I thought the word was muggle?" Immediately, frowns erupted on the faces of all four visitors.

"I assure you, Madam, it is nomag, and that is the least of the lies that have been told to you," Dame Hermione firmly stated. "Anyway, what were you saying?" she asked her husband.

"Yes. As you are a nomag, it is unlikely that you will be implicated in any wrongdoing. The forgery was not just on pen and paper, but magically enhanced also, which led us to the culprits. You see, the woman whom you recognise as Rita Skeeter, is actually Alex Morgan. She has – or now that she has been arrested – had a price on her head for stealing state secrets and treason, as commanded by Her Majesty's Ministry for Magic. That apart, she also has several defamation lawsuits against her."

The colour drained from Joanne's face. She had never thought of this. She had been cheated.

"Please calm down, Madam. As Sir Harry said, you are unlikely to be implicated. Moreover, with the amount of money that Morgan made out of her royalties, which let me tell you, will be confiscated, you will not be touched. We just wish to ask you some questions, which will help us to build the case against her."

Joanne could only mutely nod.

"Well, the first question regarding what disguises she used is moot, considering that she erred by using her real face," Dame Hermione asked, starting the unofficial interrogation. "Are you willing to attest to that as a witness? Generally nomag witnesses are not admissible in court, but with the popularity you have garnered..."

"I am willing to. But is there no way in which I can attest and not come across to your – the magical side?"

Sir Harry was pensive for a moment and looked at his wife and best friends. "You are the boss. You know better than I do."

Dame Hermione nodded after a moment. "It is workable. Neville, could you... rather, would you place her under the protection of your House?"

"You lot don't have witness protection programmes?" Joanne asked, scandalised

Dame Hermione grimaced. "Your books did catch some of the truth. The magical world changes at a glacially slow rate."

"I could, actually," Lord Neville answered. "With the added protection of the Crown, I don't think she will be in trouble."

"Good. Next question then; when did she contact you first?"

"Late - I think the 30th of June, 1992."

The increasing grimness on the faces of all four was a cause for the nomag to worry. "Just after Voldemort's presence was registered for the first time in more than a decade..." muttered Lady Daphne. She then shook her head. "Did she, till the thirty first of October 1999, stay in constant contact with you?"

"Yes. We were in contact till April 2003, actually."

"Oh dear Merlin," muttered Lord Neville. "That was the time we completely wrapped the trials."

The interrogation continued. "Did she, at any point of time, disappear for very long periods of time?"

"Yes. It was in December 1999, I think. Please, wait just a moment. I always dated the notes I made every time we met." The expression on the faces of the four cleared. This was going to be very useful. "Yes, here it is. On the 3rd of December 1999, I received a communiqué from her, telling me about the death of Headmaster Dumbledore. What I gathered from it was that..." she trailed off. It was obvious that Dame Hermione had not been pining after Ron Weasley. "That was when she asked me to suspend all lines of communication as apparently some rogue Death Eaters were after her."

"There were people after her, alright. It was just not the DEs but the Aurors," snarled Sir Harry.

"I entertained a criminal in my office..." Joanne faintly muttered.

"What were you saying you gathered from that communiqué?"

"Well, it was about your – or rather, what she said was your sixth year, and she told me that Dame Hermione was with Ron Weasley and you were with his sister, and Snape killed Headmaster Dumbledore and Dumbledore told you about the Horcruxes and..." she looked at the incredulous faces. "Please tell me that Ron Weasley and his family were not Death Eaters!" Joanne was babbling in panic, and was now desperate.

"No. Well whatever she told you about the sixth year was a truckload of, well, dragon dung." Lady Daphne looked at her companions. "Do we disabuse her of all the wrong notions? Poor thing, Morgan did a number on her. With the number of books sold, it isn't as if we can actually memory charm the world."

"That's true," agreed Dame Hermione. "For the record, Madam, Severus Snape-Evans, who my mother-in-law's family adopted through the child protection services, is very much alive, and so is the Headmaster. Uncle Sev certainly did not kill Dumbledore."

"Uncle Sev? I thought he loved..." she trailed off again. It was extremely awkward to speak about people right in front of those in the know or those affected.

"Of course he did love mum, but he loved mum as a sister, which was essentially true, considering that she was his adoptive sister. He even took the Evans name out of respect for his new family," Sir Harry reminded. "The man cared for his family so much that he became a spy for our side, and then a DE, solely to protect them."

"And no, Ron Wesley - not Weasley - and his family aren't Death Eaters. They are very good people, and they helped a lot of people during the war. He is, in fact, one of my best Hit Wizards. In fact, they are among those who are going to file a defamation suit, though their claims, except for Mary – Mary, not Molly – Wesley, the Lady of the House, are a bit dodgy with the way everything is worded in the books. Even her claim is difficult to process, considering that the name has been changed, even though the description is the same. Also, the books seem to have painted her as a kindly mothering lady, which she is. It is actually the perception of the readers where the defamation stems from. It was a big scandal when some newbloods reported that she had Arthur under love potions. We have lots of proof that proves her innocence. She did mention love potions, but that was only to remind us that we should learn how to detect them. I was one of the people she reminded. She is a very gentle soul and remains to this day a very good friend of ours. You see..."

"We can explain that later, Hermione," Sir Harry cut in. "Right now, we need information enough to put Morgan into Azkaban. We can salvage the reputations later. Perhaps a Mary Wesley howler for Morgan from close range will work better than any of the techniques your department can use. That was one thing that she told you truthfully. Even Uncle Vernon was turned into an abusive caricature. It is obvious after all; Morgan was always the unmarked media handler on their side. Any chance to denigrate people on our side or nomags and she would have jumped at it." It was necessary to pacify Hermione before she got into her stride. She was very passionate about her work and protecting people whom she was close to.

"Right," Dame Hermione conceded sheepishly.

"Wait, you said her department. You don't work in the DMLE? And Uncle Vernon was an abusive caricature?"

Harry gave her a very bemused look. "I did just after the war ended. So many did. The DMLE was understaffed and needed help with the arrests. Not anymore though. Sirius, his wife Juliet, and I run a warding and curse-breaking company. His daughter, Io will be joining us soon. His son Polaris is excellent at Quidditch. And yes, before you ask, Sirius is very much alive. The stupid git even dated Morgan for a bit when I was in my fourth year." Joanne nodded. "As for Uncle Vernon, that is Vernon Driscoll, he still is a very strict disciplinarian. I will go so far as to say that his drills - the physical drills that he forced David Driscoll and me to participate in were major contributors to my capability of outlasting my opponents. He was a soldier first. It was only after his father passed away that he took over Grunnings. That's another defamation charge that Morgan will escape, probably, due to the name change."

Joanne couldn't believe it. That much discrepancy was beyond the pale. "Next you'll tell me that Cedric Diggory is alive," she scoffed.

The temperature of the room fell by ten degrees. "Please don't make flippant remarks about people, now that we have established that the truth, and what you were told was the truth, are two very different things. Cedric Diggory was a war hero. He didn't die the wimpy death as you have been told, just as the war wasn't the wimpy one year incident that you have been told. Cedric died two years later, really, while he attempted to smuggle a group of newbloods across the Channel. He was murdered, but the man fought and took down four of the DE scum, including Rabastan, before he succumbed to injuries. No. The one who died that night in the graveyard was Viktor Krum, and that was even after the bastard, Karkaroff, helped bring Voldemort back, or rather because of that."

Joanne nodded. Obviously, the deaths on their side during the war weighed heavily on them.

The interrogation continued for a further hour. By the end, each of the visitors looked positively gleeful. Alex Morgan was caught in a vice, never mind her lawyers and her rights. As they took leave, Joanne requested, "Can you... and will you tell me the real story? It isn't as if it will change anything, but... I can have some closure."

The four exchanged a glance. If it was done right, they could salvage so many reputations without actually having to come out in the open. They could use the same website where people wrote the stories based on the world that the books described – their world, and where most of the character assassination took place. "We will, as a matter of fact. Perhaps, it is time for us to tell our story to the world."