Hidden Lineages @aaliseliza
Chapter 10

Hermione's were narrowed into slits as she stood waiting in the bank lobby while waiting for Tony to return. The first detail Tony noticed was the false smile plastered on his little sister's face. No doubt she was trying to prevent curious bystanders from noticing a problem.

"Tony, where exactly have you been?" Hermione hissed at him. Rather than answer her immediately, he sent her a lazy grin. "Tony!"

"Relax sis, I had a meeting with my accounts manager. Sorry if it ran a bit longer than expected. We had a few unexpected issues to discuss."

Hermione furrowed as she processed his response, "You don't have an accounts manager at this bank."

"Don't be ridiculous, I just came back from meeting with him. Diversifying your financial portfolio is vital to financial success as is monitoring the family accounts on a consistent basis," Tony answered, swinging an arm around Hermione's shoulders and steering her towards the lobby doors.

"House accounts? Tony we don't have any of those," Hermione sputtered as she walked along with him.

"We do now. There is now a trust set up in your name, and it's quite healthy."

"I am not taking your money!"

"Of course you aren't," Tony answered, "It's your money too, besides it's in your name. Now, let's go deal with that pesky reporter."

"We are not done talking about this," Hermione muttered petulantly as she stalked down the bank steps. Tony followed behind his sister, a smirk plastered on his face. He had no doubt the reporter was going to bear the brunt of Hermione's ire.

Predictably, Rita Skeeter's office was ostentatiously decorated with awards dedicated to herself. Perched next to each one was a framed copy of the article responsible for earning the recognition. The blonde witch's back was to them when the Stark siblings entered the room, and she was furiously dictating a story into a Quick Quills Note.

Hermione set the parchment on fire earning a shriek from the journalist before casting a hasty augmenti to extinguish the flames. Tony lazily dropped into one of the nearby office chairs as he watched his sister smirked nastily at the other woman.

"Hello again Rita," Hermione said, "It seems you have forgotten what happened the last time you tried to publicly smear me."

"You," Rita hissed, her spine stiffening until she was perfectly upright in her desk chair. "Snivelling for a retraction already? My that is certainly a new record, even for you."

"A retraction will be forthcoming unless you'd prefer to deal with litigation for defamation," Tony interjected, drawing a nasty smug grin from the blonde witch.

"Pity you are unfamiliar with wizarding defamation laws," Rita said, snottily. "The article was clearly marked as an editorial, and therefore are exempt from slander litigation. Nor will the ministry permit you to pursue it in your muggle courts either."

Impatient, Hermione slammed a glass jar onto Rita's desk, forcing the reporter to lean away as she hissed back at the younger witch, "I'm registered!"

"Who cares?" Hermione retorted. "Last time I gave you to Sirius Black to look after while I was in school. Since that's no longer an option, I'm rather curious what Tony what could create if he could study your animagus abilities?"

"Dad always wanted to pursue shrinking technology," Tony answered as he watched Rita's face rapidly pale. "No doubt we could use her abilities to develop a version of it. In fact, I'm positive I still have his research in detail, which would give us a leg up on development."

"As if the Ministry of Magic would never risk an international incident by letting anyone experiment on any witch," Rita said, looking unintimidated by the threat. "It's a violation of the Statute of Secrecy."

"Direct family member," Tony answered smirking, "Which means I'm exempt."

"I highly doubt such an exception would be granted if you start experimenting on witches, Mr. Stark."

"There's also the fact the Ministry would have to actually catch Tony to prosecute him," Hermione added before glancing at her brother. "Then there's the corruption amongst Wizengamot members, and the tendency the group has to accept bribes."

Rita looked between the two siblings before asking, "What do you want?"

"A formal apology in public and an immediate retraction," Tony said before Hermione could speak. "You will also agree never to publish anything about the Stark family without prior approval. As a gesture of good will I'll even give you a scoop about the Ministry's decision to interfere with the Goblin Horde."

"You will provide concrete evidence," Rita demanded. "I'll never get it by my editor without it."

"Financial records to support the allegation, but you won't see them until after the retraction is published," Tony said, earning a glare from the witch before she summoned a clean sheet of Quick Quills parchment. Hastily scribbling away once she was finished, Rita shoved the parchment across the desk to Tony.

He scanned it before removing a pen from his pocket and editing the article. Rita scowled at the revisions Tony had made before creating a clean copy with the changes and snapping for an underling.

"Emergency publication. Send it out now and bring me a copy," she ordered, not bothering to greet the staffer. When they returned, Tony scanned the printed copy and Rita dismissed the minion. "Now, let's discuss the incompetence of the Ministry."

"Of course, but you'll be using this Quick Notes Quill which Hermione will be monitoring," Tony said as his sister provided the new parchment. "What can you tell me about the Gringotts break in that occurred during the war?"

"You cannot be serious," Rita said staring at Tony before looking back at Hermione. "Your own sister was responsible for that event. Surely she could give you all the information about it."

Catching the odd look Hermione was giving her brother, Rita pounced, "How is that event connected to the Ministry's interference?"

"Directly," Tony said, passing over the financial records of the damage he'd been given by the bank. "The bank sustained heavy damage, both structural and in lives lost. The Wizengamot held a secret session and prohibited the Horde from recouping their financial losses. They were prevented from even disclosing that the damage existed, much less collect on the debt."

"Surely they would have a good reason to do so," Rita said, her eyes never leaving the parchment in front of her.

"The Horde was also threatened with severe sanctions should they violate the decision," Tony added as an afterthought while Rita poured over the documents in front of her while jotting notes down.

"You had no knowledge of this outstanding debt?" Rita asked Hermione, who shook her head. "Did Mr. Potter or Mr. Weasley?"

"This is the first I have heard of it," Hermione answered, turning to Tony with a suspicious look on her face. "If Harry or the Weasleys had been informed they would have told me."

"The debt has been paid in full."

"I can include that information in the expose?" Rita asked, her eyes gleaming over the thought of proving the Ministry of Magic still remained incompetent.

"Certainly," Tony agreed, easily reading the reporter's train of thought. "Pleasure to meet you Ms. Skeeter. Good luck with your publication."

Rita exchanged a nasty grin with the Stark CEO just before Hermione and Tony left her office.

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