(1938-10-13) To Catch a Thief: Putting the Story To Bed
Details for To Catch a Thief: Putting the Story to Bed
Summary: Astoria helps Phil sort through her thoughts and notes so that she can finally put this story to bed.
Date: 13 October 1938
Location: Daily Prophet, Diagon Alley, London
Related: To Catch a Thief: Capture, Ministry Nabs Wanted Man in Daring Daylight Wand Fight; Plot: To Catch a Thief

News of Darnell Glinch's arrest has spurred Phil into action, but also made her realise she needs the help and guidance of a more experienced hand in this. Not even bothering to leave the office she sends an owl off to Astoria, requesting her help to put the story to bed on Sunday evening, just in time for the print run for Monday morning's issue of the Daily Prophet.

Astoria receives the owl in good spirits. Moments later, she arrives in the Daily Prophet, through a fireplace, carrying a small bag in her hand. She moves quickly, towards Phil's desk, while dodging a few memos that zip around the room. One smacks her on the side of the head; it rebounds, shakes furiously, and flies off to the left. Astoria shoots a scowl as it flies away, but soon turns and begins to look for Phil.

Notes jotted down on paper and photographs litter Phil's normally much tidier desk. Crumpled bits of parchment have begun to revolt and build a new civilization where she has thrown them on the floor. The witch herself, our Phil, looks harried and flustered. This is her big story, the one she spent months working on and now…now she can't figure out how to tell it. When there are footsteps she looks up and sighs with relief, "Astoria…oh thank Merlin. I don't know where to begin or what to do."

Astoria looks at the state of the desk, but her expression does not change. Determined, focused, narrow - she eventually looks up towards Phil. "A lover told me that once. In private, of course," she states without much inflection in her voice. A moment later she grins, and her winks nigh-imperceptibly towards Phil.

Phil's face is a picture, frozen in time for a moment and then like a caged bird released — she laughs loudly. "Thank you." Dragging a hand over her face she gestures to her desk. "There is just so much here." She picks up a paper and hands it to Astoria. "I think it is more than one person can write. There are too many questions here." The note is a memo from the Ministry of Magic's Central Department confirming the spell used on Glinch's victims was infact one meant to only be used by ministry employees and no, the cannot explain at present how he learned the spell.

Astoria continues to grin while watching Phil laugh. "Relax," she says plainly. "In a way, every story has already been written. We are merely here to tell it in our own fashion, with our own words." She looks down and skims the memo. A moment later, after several nods, Astoria says, "The capture of Glinch is one story. It is the tale of a villain, his victims, and the heroes who brought him to justice. It is… a story of justice, and hope." Astoria sets the memo aside and focuses on Phil. "The contents of this memo are another story. It is a conspiracy, an unknown quantity - it is a story that will spark mistrust with the government, but one that many patrons long to read. I think that both can be told, but not in the same article. I would choose one or the other, most likely the former, and wait to publish the second."

Thinking about what Astoria has just said to her Phil rearranges some of the notes on her desk along with a pile of photographs. "Would you be interested in writing about that?" She nods to the memo the older witch is holding. "I think the gravitas of your name and experience would make people take note. And you, far better than I, know if such things have ever happened in the past."

"I will co-author it with you," Astoria replies. "As it is your story, and these are your notes, that is only fair - in addition, I believe it will be more agreeable in the minds of readers," she notes with several nods. "Is that acceptable?" she asks.

Phil nods three times in slow succession. "Yes, thank you. I…this is a lot bigger than interviewing Cassius Malfoy." She laughs, a soft and low self-deprecating kind of laugh. "It is true, the old saying about being careful what you wish for." Taking a deep breath she says, "I think it best to start with Mrs Gardner, she was very brave to do what she did. She deserves to be a hero as much as anybody."

Astoria nods slowly. "I think she would be an excellent anchor for the piece. She is normal, and a good-hearted, genuine woman. She would frame the other victims well, too." Astoria leans against Phil's desk and skims a few notes. "I would describe her courage and strength, and Glinch's cowardice." She pauses. "Now there is the issue of the witches and wizards who captured him. Who were they?" Astoria asks.

Pulling a clean bit of parchment over with one hand Phil grabs her quill and inks it with the other. She begins to scratch quill across paper, jotting down the first few points to make in the article as she listens to Astoria. "Yes, it was Takeshi — that odd little healer and a trainee auror named Rena. Both behaved with commendable bravery considering that memo I showed you." Brows furrowed in concentration Phil scribbles a few more things down. "Do you know there are twenty known victims, there is no telling how many muggles he attacked. We may never know."

"Takeshi, truly?" Astoria asks, tone surprised. Her brows knit together, perhaps in confusion, before she shakes her head. "He is a gentleman full of surprises," she remarks. A moment later she adds, "Leave the implications of the Ministry's magic to the second article. Although, the monstrous nature of his crimes is another good focus. Do we know why he committed these thefts? Was he really so destitute? Perhaps in debt with the wrong people?"

"Truly," confirms Phil. She reaches over and using a single finger slides a photograph from the pile so that Astoria can see it. "He had gambling debts, both wizarding and muggle." The photo shows betting slips. "I think he was addicted and couldn't see a way out so he turned to violence. It might be that he's just good with charms and some underworld villain taught him about memory charms. I suppose it will come out in the trial — unless of course he fears the teacher more than Azkaban." She leans back in her chair and looks up at Astoria. "It is also interesting that his parents agreed to help with his capture, don't you think? I wonder why…"

"Ah," Astoria replies. "Well, put that way, he is nearly sympathetic - I do not think I would go that route, but it may be an interesting turn if you cover his trial," she says gently. After a pause, she adds, "It is interesting. Perhaps they were… worried? Afraid of their own son?" she wonders.

"Perhaps so. As you say, it will all come out in the trial no doubt." Phil rubs her hands over her face. "I have been here for hours but for the first time I think I have a handle on it." She smiles up at Astoria, "Thanks to you. This is all thanks to you. Without Mrs Gardner the story wouldn't be half as interesting. Is there anything I can do for you in return?"

"I'm pleased to have been helpful," Astoria replies, "but I have every confidence you would have succeeded. You are a talented journalist, Phil - not that I am opposed to working with you. In fact, quite the opposite." She smiles a little, letting the expression reach her eyes. After Phil's question, Astoria says, "There is, but I have been waiting to tell you about it. It is an assignment, but… I think it would be best to focus on this article, first. When it is concluded, I will cash my favor." Astoria winks and stands up straight.

"After I put this to bed I will send you a bottle of champagne. I think I might head up to the Broomsticks, see what all the fuss is about over Travers and have a drink." Phil stretches her arms above her head and arches her back then grabs her quill. "Thank you again, Astoria. You are a good friend."

Astoria curtsies slightly. "You are most welcome," she answers. At the mention of the broomsticks, Astoria raises an eyebrow. "That might be a welcome diversion. I may join you - or I may write this article. Hm." Astoria glances at the notes. "No, I should probably review these. May I?" she asks.

Phil pushes the notes towards Astoria with a nod. "You can do both if you like." She grins, "I will be here for a bit and the Broomsticks is open late."

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