A/N:Herein is found the Revised and
Updated version of Discussions, since Adrienne Nott has been buried in a
shallow grave. Poor Theo.
Disclaimer: My last Scots-born
ancestor left in 1860, I'm not rich, and I'm neither married nor pregnant. All
yours, Jo - most specifically the first letter in Chapter Two, which is an
almost direct quote from PS. The Fairleighs, the Amberleys, and the fourth/fifth-year
Hufflepuff students are mine, but don't tell them that.
Chapter One - Summer Time
July 7, 1996
I hope your trip home was okay. Mine was fairly uneventful, except for
Malfoy. He decided to go and ambush Potter, along with Crabbe and Goyle. I
don't know why he bothers; he does it every trip up and down , and he's always
the one who comes out worst. He's not too bright in some areas, revenge being
one of them. When he hadn't returned after an hour, I went to check on the
ambush site; they'd all been hexed until they were nearly unrecognisable and
hung up on a coat rack. Since the nearest compartment happened to be full of
Potter's supporters - various Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws - I drew my own
I was met at the station by my aunt Karena, after all. She's my father's
sister, and quite probably a Death Eater (although I couldn't prove it.) I am
staying with her and her family over the summer. They live in north Wales, in a
small town in the mountains. It's a long way from Yorkshire - from home. I have
my own room, so it's safe enough writing to you, but I miss home so badly it's
almost physical. I was born in the Nott family house, and I had never stayed
anywhere else for more than a week, before Hogwarts. A whole summer, now, and
all because of this war. Their house is…posh. Very nouveau riche, which is what
the Amberley family is, of course; they rose to prominence (and wealth) just
under a century ago, and this house was probably built then. Nothing like my
home. My home was a farmhouse, once. Not fancy, not grand, but with the kitchen
floor worn down from generations of footsteps, endless names carved on the roof
beams. It was built to be a home, not a display cabinet.
But enough of that. How are you, and how is your family? I hope they're
listening to what has happened, they will need to know. Tell me if your sister
gets a Hogwarts letter. What House do you think she will be in?
My OWL results should be arriving in about three weeks. I'm a little worried
about the Astronomy one, given the interruption, and also Transfiguration -
neither has ever been my strong point. But I guess time will tell. That seems
to be what I have to say about most things lately. Thankfully I don't have too
much homework over the holidays, as a lot of courses are mark-dependent; I may
not make it into some of them. But I do have some background reading. If I
recall correctly, you won't have too much - I didn't last summer - but a lot of
Potions. As always.
July 9, 1996
My trip home was nowhere near as eventful as yours seems to have been! Just
noisy. But then, I was in a compartment
with a bunch of teenage girls, so I don't know what I expected. One of my
friends - Gabby - finally worked up the courage to ask out another fourth-year
she's been mooning over for months, so all she could talk about was Chris
Cullen and how wonderful he is. I have never been so relieved to see King's
Cross in all my life. If I ever start to go on like that, you have my
permission to shut me up in any way you feel appropriate.
It's wonderful to be back home. I've missed my family so much, and my
sisters have grown - a lot! Theresa (my next-oldest sister) is getting quite
worked up over the possibility of a Hogwarts letter. I'm quite scared that she
won't get one - I think she's been
showing the signs, but what if she doesn't have enough magic? I know my brother
Edmund was very disappointed when he didn’t get one. He was quite nasty about
me being a witch for a while after that. He seems to have got over it - he's
busy this summer with his cricket team, and apparently he's a good player, so
he seems happy enough.
I know what you mean about homesickness. I was very homesick when I went to
Hogwarts. It was all right for the first month but then it really set in that I
couldn't go home until Christmas, and I moped around for weeks. I suppose it's
worse for you not being able to write to your father. I don't mind being away
from my family, sometimes, but when it gets close to the end of the term all I
want is to go home. To not be able to…no, that's hard. At least you do have
your own space. I shared with my younger sister until I was ten - you don't
want to, trust me!
My parents, now - I have tried to explain to them about He Who Must Not Be
Named and everything, but they don't treat it as quite real. They never have
really believed in magic; oh, they see it in Diagon Alley, they know I'm a
witch, they're happy about it, but they don't think it can ever affect them.
They think it's a whole lot of scaremongering, the Death Eaters and everything.
You’d think the Ministry had been at them. I'm going to talk to the Martins
about it. They're the closest wizarding family; Priam Martin works in the
Muggle Liaison office, he's responsible for preparing reports to the Muggle
Prime Minister if there are things he needs to know. He has some Muggle
relatives, and his wife's a Muggle, so he understands their world very well.
His wife is lovely, she took my mother and me to Diagon Alley the first time to
get my school things. It was them who explained about the wizarding world to us
when I got my letter. Elise, their eldest, is going to be a second-year in
Hufflepuff. I baby-sit for them sometimes; I'm trying to save up for a broom
for when I leave Hogwarts, I don't really need one now, since I never play
Quidditch or anything. Do you have a broom? Silly question, you probably do.
Oh dear, this letter is getting quite long, isn't it? I should probably stop
PS What's your owl's name? She's gorgeous!
July 10, 1996
How're you doing? How's your family? I'm so glad to be home, with everything
going on. My parents are really worried, they're suggesting I not go back next
year, honestly, what's their problem? We're not going to be attacked at
Hogwarts! They want me to go to Beauxbatons or something. It's tempting, it'd
be really neat to go to school in France (even if my French isn't that great.)
And a lot of the boys who came over for the Triwizard Tournament were pretty
cute. But it'd be a big change, and besides, I'd miss all of you too much. You
should come over to my house sometime, it's not so far by Floo network, and
your neighbours are connected aren't they? I have no one to talk to, it's dead
boring here, and it's only the first week! I'm going to invite Ellie and Mai
and Gabby too, what d'ya say, we can have a girls-only day! Please?
P.S. And if I went to Beauxbatons I couldn't be Prefect next year, and I've
got my fingers crossed about that.
July 12 1996
Don't worry about long letters, honestly, I'm not exactly going to get much
other correspondence this summer. My aunt's house is pretty far removed from
everywhere, even the nearest town (which is actually more of a village),
typical pureblood paranoia. The only people likely to visit are a) Death Eaters
(and thus far too likely to want to recruit me) or b) family (who are either in
category a, as good as in category a, tiresome little brats, or have been
kicked from the family for not liking those in category a, and thus will not be
visiting.) I've never been all that fond of the relatives I'm staying with.
You'd laugh at four people in a house being too many, but it is. My home is
big, extended over the years to support large numbers of Notts, and I'm used to
space - space and silence. My father and I rattled around in there, I suppose,
but I never noticed.
The only letters I am likely to receive are my OWL results and possible one
from Malfoy if he's bored. But that will be all about him, and after five years
of being in his dorm, that is one topic I know far too much about.
If your sister is going to get a letter, it will probably be about late
July; that's when I got mine, at any rate. But they might send them out at a
different time to Muggle households, I don't know. As for magic, it is actually
quite common for Muggle-born witches or wizards to have siblings at Hogwarts,
possibly more so than for us (given that second or third children are rare in
pureblood families, especially if the eldest child is a son.)
I don't know the Martins, but I do know a little bit about the Muggle
liaison office. They generally have Muggle-born witches or wizards working
there, because they know the Muggles best. According to the Daily Prophet, and
the far more reliable source of my mother, Fudge has decided not to tell the
Muggle Prime Minister anything except that the Dark Lord has returned; he has
already been informed about the Azkaban breakout, and I suppose the incident at
the Ministry too. The Muggles are going to be supremely unprepared, I think,
which will probably lead to quite a few casualties. I hope the Martins can
persuade your parents of the truth of the matter. Then again, they may be
reluctant to let you return to Hogwarts if they get too scared, so it could be
in your better interests for them to be disbelieving.
I do own a broom, but it isn't very good - a Comet 260. Then again, I don't
have a hope in hell of trying out for the Quidditch team, and I've always
preferred watching the sport to playing it, so I guess it doesn't matter all
that much. The Comet line is okay, but if you're saving for a broom, I'd get a
Cleansweep, they're better for long distance flying and that's really the point
of an everyday broom, you don't need massive acceleration or anything. They're
not too expensive either. There's a really good magazine which would probably
have all the information you'd want, it's called Which Broomstick? I think that Quality Quidditch Supplies in Diagon
Alley would have it, or alternatively, you could ask one of your friends if
they have a brother or boyfriend who has a copy they could borrow for you. I don't
think many of the boys at school don't have access to it. Is there an
equivalent obsession for Muggles? I'd hate to not be able to follow Quidditch.
My owl's name is Bronwyn, if you're really interested. I got her at the end
of last year as a present for doing well in the end-of-year exams - before that
I had to use the family owl, which is unnamed (too sentimental for my parents)
and very cranky. I lived in fear I'd lose a finger. I hope your owl doesn't
have similar tendencies.
PS What on earth is cricket?
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
To: Io Hartley, Auror Division
We need you to set up a team in charge of surveillance of the families of
known or suspected Death Eaters, in Azkaban or not. We think that their post
and possibly surveillance of their households may reveal valuable information
on future Death Eater movements. Because of the official Ministry position for
the last year, we’re running blind here. We are assigning Johanna Beaumont as
your second in charge of analysing the intercepted communications and Aethelred
Fawcett as your second in charge of fieldwork. Please meet with them to
co-ordinate setting up the necessary surveillance as soon as possible.
To: Johanna Beaumont
Jo, you’ll have heard you’re in charge of reading the letters. I’ve dug up
the old owl interception scheme used in the last war and attached it to this.
We just don’t have enough people to cover everyone so you’ll have to concentrate
on the families of known Death Eaters. I don’t anticipate any major problems
with this, but the important thing is not to let them know they’re being
watched — this only works for as long as they’re writing freely. You’ll need to
be aware at all times of the possibility of a ruse, of course. Your team is in
charge of receiving the copied letters and collating any information contained.
July 15 1996
You so have to come to Sarah's in August. We can't all make it 'till then,
you know Ellie's over in France until the first, but the rest of us can. Say
you will? Sarah says you haven't written back. My summer's not going so bad, I
got all the homework out of the way so I have lots of time to laze around. My
tan is getting better every day, what with all this great weather we've been
having. You working on yours? What about your flute playing? You spent all that
time on that at Hogwarts, you should be taking a break now! (Of course, we all
know you were off snogging your secret Slytherin boyfriend…) I don't think this
summer will be too boring. I'm owling Chris a lot - I'm so glad I worked up the
courage to ask him! He's perfect. Sweet
and kind and - yeah, I know, you don't want me to go on about it. I'll go and
daydream instead. You know, you should get a boyfriend. It's fun.
July 16 1996
So much for me thinking I'd written too much. You must have been really on a
roll. I seem to be doing an awful lot of this; I'm getting a few letters from
my dormmates as well — Mai, Sarah, Gabby and Ellie. Mostly gossipy girl stuff,
but it's nice to have some light relief (like Gabby proclaiming I need a
boyfriend…just because she has one.)
Light relief is also coming in the form of babysitting — hard to worry about
the deep issues of life when you’re trying to persuade a seven year old (the
middle Martin child) to go to bed. I enjoy babysitting them. It’s interesting
seeing a wizarding house — although as Mrs. Martin is a Muggle, the Martins
have lots and lots of Muggle things. Then again, that does make it a bit easier
when I'm trying to look after the kids.
Speaking of the Martins, they've had a word to my parents and they seem to
be taking things more seriously now. We sat down and had a bit of a talk about
You-Know-Who, and the Death Eaters, and everything like that. I decided you
were right about not wanting to scare them too much, so I did leave a little
bit out, but I told them enough to let them know that this is serious, it's
real, and it could affect us. But I also pointed out that we're not exactly
frontline targets or anything. My youngest sister, Nicola, has also been asking
why I'm writing so many letters; I told her that it wasn't that many, and it
was to friends. She is the world's most nosy creature, honestly, I wish I could
lock my room. She comes in to look at Gwaihir and ends up going through my
school things! Any and all letters are now stashed safely where she isn't going
to find them. Fortunately she can't read too well, as she is only seven,
because I caught her trying to read my first letter from you the other day (I'd
been out in the garden, and came back in to find her in my room.) Siblings.
Honestly. You don't want them, believe me.
You did mention tiresome little brats, if I remember correctly, so you do
have some young relatives. I take it those are the ones you're staying with? My
mother's an only child but my father has three sisters and a brother so I have
about ten cousins of different ages, ranging from twenty to two. They live
scattered all over England, France, and even one in New Zealand, so family
gatherings aren't common, but are big.
Thanks for the advice on the magazine - I think I'll get a copy when I go in
to pick up my school supplies. As I said, I probably won't be getting a
broomstick 'till next summer, but it can't hurt to think about it. The Muggle
obsession would, I guess, be football. It's only got one ball and eleven
players per side - there's a goal at each end of a field and you have to kick
the ball into the goal. You can hit it with anything except your hands, except
for the goalie, who stands in the goal to guard it, and can use his hands. I
used to play football at school a bit when I was younger - it was great fun. My
brother plays it in the winter, and so does Theresa, but right now Ed is
playing cricket. That's very complicated, but basically someone throws a ball
at you and you have to hit it with a wooden bat. Then you run a certain
distance, and for every distance you run you score a point. You stand in front
of three wooden sticks, and if you miss the ball and it hits the sticks, or
you're running and someone throws it at the sticks (called stumps) you're out,
and the next person takes your place until everyone on your team is out. Then
you swop sides. It's more fun than that, but I'm not good at explaining.
Oops, here comes dear Nicola again. I am definitely asking for a lock!
PS No, Gwaihir doesn't peck. He's very sweet.
July 16 1996
Of course, even now I'm in France, that's the limit of my French. The scenery
is excellent, the weather's great, and I'm in the French Riviera. What more can
I ask for? The wizarding shops and the Muggle ones are both great, and I am
having lots of trouble deciding what to buy. Clothes, probably, and some
souvenirs. I hope you're having fun back in England, with nothing to do. Only
one and a half months 'till Hogwarts again!
Hope this postcard reaches you okay.
July 19, 1996
Just wondering — you mentioned your dormmates, were those the girls I saw
you with the day that you tripped me up in the corridor? I seem to remember one
of them was Asian, she was giving me some pretty dirty looks — fair enough, I
suppose — and Mai sounds like an Asian name. I never did apologise about what I
said then, did I? Sorry. Even if it is a couple of months too late. I tend to
try to blend in to the company I’m keeping, and when it’s Malfoy — no, that’s
an excuse. I shouldn’t have called you what I did.
Relatives - not too many of those around, unfortunately. At least, I think
it's unfortunately, but I don't know anymore. As I may have mentioned, my dad
was in his fifties when I was born, and his sister, my aunt, is about fifteen
years younger than him - I suspect she was a bit of a surprise to my
grandparents. My mother, as you know, died when I was very young. Cancer. Magic
can only help so far, sometimes. She only had a few relatives - one, Mortimer
Jugson, her uncle, was involved in the Azkaban break-out last year, but he was
re-captured. Since my father was so old when I was born, most of his relatives
are dead now. I have lots of distant cousins - all us purebloods are cousins of
some sort, Malfoy is, the Lestranges are, even Ernie Macmillan in your House is
some sort of relation. But my only close family are my aunt, her husband, and
their two children. My aunt is, as I said, the next thing to a Death Eater if
not one. I know her husband (Paul Amberley) is. They are both very…decisive
people. I know they're happy to have me here, but they're distracted at the
moment. All those people to murder, you know.
My cousins, Celia and Lucas, are absolute brats. Celia is forever trying to
get into my room - she's a third-year Ravenclaw and too nosy for words. That
will get her into trouble she can't handle in this family. Her brother could be all right but he is
alternately ignored or coddled, which has resulted in him being a clingy,
attention-seeking, pesky, and downright irritating. They had a brother, but he
died a while ago. This house - it's too crowded, and with all the yelling and
fighting going on, it feels even more crowded than it is. You are lucky, being at home. Nothing to worry about. Apart
from if-okay, you do have some things to worry about, but you've got all your
family with you. The family you want with you. That counts.
Football and cricket sound rather complicated, but I'd have to say you can't
beat Quidditch. I mean what's the point of a sport where there's only one ball
and everyone stays on the ground? Give me broomsticks any day.
Have you been playing your flute much? It must be hard, with so many people
in your house. Does anyone else in your family play music? My mother played the
harp, I know, which is why my father insisted I learn the piano. I'm very glad
of that now, of course. None of the Amberleys (my aunt's family) are musical
but they have an old piano, so I can practice. It's charmed so that only the
person playing can hear it. If Celia and Lucas are being too noisy, I can just
sit down and drown them out. It's perfect.
Oh, and by the way, why is your owl named Gwaihir? I've never heard that
before. Bronwyn is Bronwyn because - well, because I like the name, if it comes
down to it.
July 21 1996
Yeah, Mai's Asian. Her family's from Vietnam, actually, her parents came out
here about - oh, ten years ago. Not sure why, I think her father used to be
some sort of diplomat but retired from that and decided he wanted to stay in
England. She's quite smart, Mai, definitely the most sensible of my friends.
Gabby lives up to her name no end, plus, her world begins and ends with boys.
I've never quite got that. I mean, boys are perfectly okay as friends and all
that. I mean, here I am, writing a letter to one. You. It's just going out and
everything to do with that. Why do people spend so much time thinking about it?
But - I think I'm digging myself into a large hole here, so I'll just stop.
Yes. So, Gabby is boy-obsessed, and my friend Ellie - tall, dark hair, you
probably saw her - isn't too much better. She does pay attention to the world
around her, which is a bonus. Sarah, the other fourth-year Hufflepuff girl, has
her head screwed on, but tends to gossip, and takes things a bit seriously. Her
break-up with her boyfriend meant she didn't talk to him for the rest of the
year. What's the point in that?
But you don't want to hear about my girlfriends and their lives. Celia
Amberley…think I might know her, well, by sight, anyway. Average height, quite
dark but blue eyes, nose always in the air.
Music? My family is fairly musical, more than most. My mother plays the
piano a bit, my sister Theresa plays the 'cello, Edmund the violin, although
he's given it up for sport. Nicola doesn't play anything, she'd drop it. The
amount of plates we lose every year by getting her to set the table, you
wouldn't believe it. Still I suppose she might be okay on the piano, it's kind
of hard to drop that on anyone. I could believe she'd end up tipping it over,
though - it'd just be so Nicola. To tell you the truth, I'm probably giving you
an unfair picture of her; she's a totally adorable kid at times, especially
when she's asking me to read her a story or she's listening to me play the
flute. She's so quiet, it's the only time she is. Tucked up in the corner like
a little mouse. She loves to listen to music, any sort, and to dance to it as
well - she's starting ballet classes next year, she's been begging Mum to let
her for ages.
I've been playing the flute quite a bit, for Nicola, and just for me. And
for my parents, once; they were impressed I'd kept up practice over the school
year so much. I told them about you. Don't go all thin-lipped on me; just that
I'd found someone who played the piano, or rather, you'd found me, and we'd been
playing together. Yes, I mentioned your name, no, not your House, and God knows
nothing about your family. I've had quite enough trouble persuading my parents
that Death Eaters are a danger as it is without complicating things.
I should probably go to bed now. It's getting a bit late. Summer evenings
are so deceptive.
PS Gwaihir is named after a bird in a Muggle book. Don't ask.
And don’t worry about the corridor thing, I’d nearly forgotten, to tell the
truth. I did feel quite hurt at the time, since you never apologised
afterwards, but it would be impossible to be around you for five minutes if I
couldn’t take some flak.
July 21, 1996
I'm glad you're coming to Sarah's on Friday! It feels like forever since we've
seen you. I know it’s only been about three weeks, but the holidays are just so
boring — nothing’s happening. I wish something interesting would happen, then
I’d have something to write about! As it is, it’s dead quiet where I am. Mind
you, I suppose that there are a lot of things that could be happening which we
don’t want to, so. That reminds me — do you want to come and stay for the
weekend in August? My parents are going away, they’re leaving my brother in
charge — you remember him, he just finished Hogwarts. Anyway, they say I can
have a friend over for that weekend, so d’you want to come? It’d be the third
to the fifth. I thought it’d be good for you to stay in a wizarding household
and see how it is. And then maybe I can come over later in August and see what
a Muggle household is like…please? Write back soon — well, I’ll see you on
Friday, won’t I?