Chapter Two ó Eye on the Owls
A/N: (Left in for informational purposes) Anne's letters to her friends are not missing. I left them out, mainly because the ones from them are to give a sense of what's happening in the wizarding world, and more especially what Anne is finding out about the wizarding world from them. Her letters back wouldn't have any new information. It's much the same reason I don't have letters from Theo to his fellow Slytherins - as he mentions, he receives and sends a few, but there's nothing in them that would advance the story.
Chapter Two Eye on the Owls
July 24 1996
Dear Miss Fairleigh,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
Re:Surveillance on Amberley Household
To: Johanna Beaumont, Henry Phillips, Dion Archer, Edith Westfell
To all members of the Owl Post Surveillance Team:
First, congratulations on a job well done. As far as we can detect no member of any of the households which we are keeping an eye on is aware of what we are doing. While this is probably due to the fact that the Death Eaters normally resident in said households are in our custody, it is also due to your handling of the case. Well done.
Second - it has been noted that Theodore Nott (son of Eric Nott), currently staying with Karena and Paul Amberley, appears to be conducting correspondence with a Muggle household in Essex. We have not yet been able to figure out a way to open the letters sent back to him without showing our interference, as the sender is using Muggle envelopes. Enclosed are copies of the three letters sent by Nott jr so far; it is possible he is using some kind of code. I would like all team members to give me their thoughts on this (and also methods of opening and resealing Muggle envelopes.)
Household Surveillance Team
Re: Nott Household
To: Io Hartley, Henry Phillips, Dion Archer, Edith Westfell
Ms Hartley and fellow team members,
As far as I can discern the letters do not appear to be in any code, but there is definitely something suspicious going on. There is no reason for a Death Eater's son to be carrying on correspondence with someone from a Muggle area. The addressee on the outgoing letters has been identified as a Muggle-born witch, age fifteen, with no previous known links to Theodore Nott or his family. It is suspected her name is being used as a cover. This may indicate a breach of security if our surveillance is suspected. I suggest several courses of action.
1)Someone be assigned to research the recipient of Nott's letters
2)A survey of wizarding households in the Essex area to identify any others the letters may be coming from
3)Someone attempt to match the contents of Nott's letter to any identifiable events
4)Ladies and gentlemen, I know at least one of you is Muggle-born. You're Aurors. You're SMART. How in Merlin's name do you open and reseal a damn envelope!
Re: The Nott problem
I know that I'm field surveillance, not communications, but Edith showed me the letters, and after reading them I would like to respectfully suggest that we may be working this into something it isn't. After all, it is entirely conceivable that Theodore Nott DOES have a Muggle-born friend he's writing to, and that she is just using Muggle envelopes because she's Muggle-born. Nothing sinister about it. I know that Nott's father and other relatives are Death Eaters, but that doesn't make him one. I mean, look at my mother - she married a Muggle-born, and her sisters are Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy! I'm not saying the surveillance isn't necessary, just that we may be being overly paranoid, a la Mad-Eye.
There is a war about to start. We can't be too paranoid. And your mother aside, are you seriously suggesting Eric Nott's son is engaging in correspondence with a Muggle-born Hufflepuff?
Also, as you noted, you ARE fieldwork. Please stick to your area.
Re: Muggle Envelopes
To: Dion Archer
Youre Muggle-born, Beaumonts tossed the envelopes problem over to me. How in Merlins name do you open a Muggle envelope and re-seal it? I must admit Im pretty curious about whats inside. I mean, if it is a trick to stop the letters being read, its a pretty good one. You generally dont get that sort of thing I would have expected hexes rather than glue. Then again, I was chatting to Edith, and she says Tonks reckons were making a mountain out of a molehill. She could be right. Just because Theodore Notts father is a Death Eater doesnt mean he agrees with him but then again
Re:Re: Muggle Envelopes
Muggle envelopes are easy. You just get something that steams and use that - the steam melts the glue, and then you can glue them up again if you're careful. Irons are best, kettles just get the paper soaked. (Yes, I have tried this before.) If you can't get a Muggle iron, I'll get one, but we'll need a Muggle Artefact Enchantment Permit. Shouldnt be too hard, Jos really annoyed about this one I think Hartleys on her tail about the letters so shell push it through. Shell be right. Tonks could be onto something, but Im waiting till I can have a squizz at the other letters myself see if it matches up.
To: Johanna Beaumont
Issue all sorted. Dion memoed me to tell me how to work it. Useful having a few Muggle-borns around the place, isn't it?
Apart from that, I opened, copied, and re-sent the latest letter. I'm telling you, Tonks may have had a point. It's all about music, gossip, and younger siblings. If the writer is Anne Fairleigh, she even mentions she hasn't explained to her parents she's writing to a Death Eater's son! I think these may be on the level.
July 25, 1996
You haven't written back, so I'm writing to you again - because Theresa got her Hogwarts letter yesterday! She is utterly thrilled, and was dancing round the kitchen going on about how she's going to be a witch just like me. Edmund, I'm afraid, stormed off to his room. He really isn't taking this very well, but then, I guess that's not really unexpected; he did want to go so much, and then he didn't get a letter. Mum and Dad are very happy for Theresa, of course, but I can see they're rather worried - they're remembering what I told them about Voldemort, and, of course, I get the Daily Prophet, so now they've started reading it, and it's being so panicky. Did you get that free information guide from the Ministry about how to keep safe? Bit of a joke, I guess. I heard they'd been sent round, but we didn't get one, because we're not a wizarding household - there's just me, and now Theresa. Actually, if you did get a copy, could you send me it? No offence, but you aren't exactly likely to be attacked. Well, maybe by Aurors or something.
That was unfair. Ignore it.
We're taking Theresa to Diagon Alley in a few days to get her school things. I know school isn't for another two months or so, so we'll be leaving most of it, but just the books and her wand, so she can start practising - and reading. There's no rule says you can't try magic before you start school, after all, and she really wants to. I think I'm going to teach her Wingardium Leviosa, that's the first spell we did in Charms, and probably
I'm not sure. I won't be able to demonstrate. But we'll see. I think she'll be a Ravenclaw, she's so into learning and finding things out, I'm being drained dry with questions! I think I'll farm her out to the Martins, they can answer better.
Which brings me to the other thing I meant to write about. The attack, yesterday. Looks like it's started. I got a very scared letter from Ellie. Those people - the Croakers - they lived really near her. She's over in France, at the moment, but she's coming back on the first of August. I think she'll be okay. She isn't Muggle-born. But I'm worried. How did they choose? Alfred Croaker was just a random Ministry worker, he wasn't - not anything special, or his wife, and they were the first to go. Why them? Why anyone, when it comes down to it, what's the point in all this?
Now I'm working myself up. Ah well, I get to go to Diagon Alley on Friday
back in the magic world. I honestly can't wait.
July 26 1996
Glad to hear you and the others had a nice get together at Sarahs. I really wish I could have come although France is really cool. Mind you, Im getting back in five days, so Ill see yall then. I hear Mais asked you over for the weekend I think youll have lots of fun, being in a wizarding house, were all used to it but Ive visited my Muggle relatives houses a few times and its just so different. Funny youve never actually stayed at Mai or Gabbys before, but then we usually communicate by letters, anyway, and half the time half of us are away over the summer. It was you last year off up to Scotland for two weeks, wasnt it?
Im taking lots and lots of photos to show you when I get back. Including one of me with this really nice Beauxbatons boy I met at the beach. His names Phillipe, and hes really great to talk to it turns out that we both take Care of Magical Creatures, so we were talking about that. Hes heard lots about Hogwarts from the students at his school who came over for the Triwizard Tournament.
Gotta go. Still got some tanning to do before we come home!
July 27, 1996
Sorry about not replying. I meant to, but I had to hide your letter quickly when my cousin burst into the room, and to tell the truth, I forgot where I put it. Celia's so damn nosy, it had to be hidden pretty well. She was trying to get information out of me the other day about what her parents are doing. She essentially confirmed my suspicions regarding my aunt, but I didn't say anything to Celia - she is thirteen. Too young for this. Can't she see it's better to not know? The Ministry is curiously blind about women they seem to assume that women are less likely to be involved in Death Eater activities or at the least less dangerous. Its true that you do get a few like Bellatrix Lestrange who are convicted, but from all accounts, including my parents, she was pretty much insane before she went into Azkaban. Shes probably worse now. You must have read in the paper when she escaped about what happened to Neville Longbottoms parents.
But most of the wives of people who were investigated for Death Eater activities and discharged were never tried themselves like my mother and aunt, or Draco Malfoys mother. I know that my mother at least, Im fairly sure there was nothing to investigate, however much she may have known, but my aunt is an entirely different matter. Im far more concerned about her working out what I really think about the Dark Lord than anyone else shes the one Celia inherited her nosiness from, but I think Celia is actually smarter. My aunt certainly tries to keep her precious children from knowing about what really goes on; she agrees theyre too young to know about it. (Not that she knows I think that.) But Celia has picked up more than she thinks. Lucas, at least, will go off and distract himself for five minutes Celia is lost without something to read, and enjoys irritating me.
Quite enough self-pity about my cousins.
Tell your sister congratulations on getting her letter. I think itll be good for you to have some family in Hogwarts, remember the conversation we had about family and missing them? I do, anyway, mainly because I ended up yelling at you and that isnt something I do very often in fact, I dont think I did at any other point. I think I startled myself as much as you.
Your parents are probably right to worry a bit. Hogwarts will not be as safe as it has been for Muggle-borns, now the Dark Lord is in the open many of my House will feel it necessary to be more active in harassing them. I know youve experienced a little of that yourself, but it will be worse for your sister being younger and starting at this time. Look after her. Shed be okay in Ravenclaw its traditionally a bit of an in-between House, some Death Eaters, but mostly fence sitters or those on the other side. We need a good noun for that, by the way; continuing to say "those who oppose the Dark Lord" or something along those lines is so negative. It defines people by what they oppose rather than what they are. Then again, that opposition unifies them. Certainly, I doubt Id be writing to or even know you if it wasnt for the fact the Dark Lord had come back, and I had doubts about him, and wanted to forget the choices and so chose to follow you that day to see where you were going, instead of going to the Quidditch. Funny how such little things matter.
I wonder what Id be doing if I didnt know you? Probably playing the piano, or just brooding. In any case, it would have been a very boring summer. Have I ever mentioned Im glad you write to me? It gives me something to do and to think about. Thanks, I suppose.
Mind you, you are indirectly responsible for an astonishing number of lapses into sentimentality on my part, so it isnt all good. Never mind. I think I can put up with it at least for continued letters. Only a month to go - thank God, and then I can be back at Hogwarts. Where I will have to deal with Malfoy. I have clearly offended some higher deity, or I wouldn't have to deal with all this. Not to mention Crabbe and Goyles idiocy and Zabinis blank stare. It makes Celia's nosiness and Lucas's whining seem almost - almost - agreeable. But what I really want is my father and my old life back. I don't suppose I'll ever get that, will I?
Now Im home-sick for school. Id really better stop now.
P.S. I think we may have got a copy of the information booklet thing you mentioned, so Ill dig around a bit for it. Its probably in the rubbish bin by now.
Here we go Ive put it in. Not much there, to be honest, but you might find it useful. I was nearly caught by Lucas getting it out. There would have been no excuse for that one.
July 31 1996
Thanks for the information thing. Youre right, it was vague, but then the last war was fourteen years ago and they have no idea what You Know Who is going to do next, so what can they write? You probably have a better idea than they do! Not to mention half of it is about putting up wards and that sort of thing, which we cant do. Or not till Im seventeen, and thats not for another two years.
Remember how I was invited to my friend Mais for a weekend in August? Its this one. Ill be away from home from the second till the fifth, just in case you try owling me during that time. Im really looking forward to it, I cant wait to go to a totally wizarding home. Ive been over to my friend Sarahs once, but she has two Muggle grandparents so it was fairly ordinary. Mais parents are both purebloods, and they moved over from another country, so itll be really different. Ill be meeting her younger sister, too, whos starting at Hogwarts this year I think. Her older brother finished last year, he was in Gryffindor so I didnt see him more than once. Mind you, the only seventh-year Gryffindors I even knew the names of were the Weasley twins (being the Weasley twins and having that splendid exit) and Lee Jordan who commentated the Quidditch matches. Its a shame hes gone, he was really entertaining, even if he was a bit biased towards Gryffindor. And against Slytherin, so I suppose you wont mind hes gone so much.
I went down to the park and played football today. You remember I told you about it, my brother plays it? I used to when I went to a Muggle school, but I stopped once I started going to Hogwarts, because its a winter sport so I couldnt do it over the summer holidays. Anyway, some of the girls I went to Muggle school with were down there, and a couple of them were kicking a ball around. Girls dont do that much, its more a boy thing. Do girls play Quidditch just for fun? I know there are lots of girls on the House Quidditch teams, but I dont know whether wizards have the same thing about girls and sports that a lot of Muggles seem to have. Ive never really asked.
Anyway, I saw my old friends there, I was going for a walk with Terry Theresa, that is we were both really bored and I asked if I could join in. I barely see these people anymore, going to Hogwarts; I hate the lying, hate the fact that I have to tell them Im going to some public boarding school. It makes them think that I think Im better than them somehow. I know what youd say; theyre Muggles, Im a witch. But they were my friends, the people I grew up with, the ones I shared everything with before I went away. Sure, we had different interests, they didnt like music, I thought dolls were only mildly interesting, but we were friends. Youll have noticed the "were." Its for several reasons. One, theres the whole public school thing. Two, theres the fact that well, we have nothing in common anymore. It was okay when Theresa and I were kicking the ball around with them, and not really talking, but once we stopped and started to chat we had nothing to say. Ive noticed this happening every summer, but it was never so obvious before now. Their lives have diverged so totally from mine. They wanted to know about the boys I knew, and if we had any dances, and whether I was on the netball team. I wanted to know what subjects they were doing, and who was still at school, whod moved, who was in the orchestra. They thought my life sounded boring; I had to say we didnt have school dances, I didnt really know any boys (yes, I know that sounds stupid when Im writing to you, but you know what they meant. Boys as in liking boys. Anyway. ) I wasnt on the netball team. (Feel free to enjoy the mental image of me trying to play Quidditch.) They were doing subjects they liked but didnt love; they wanted to get out of school as soon as they could; they couldnt tell a quaver from a semi-breve. We stood around for a while, and then Theresa and I went home. I felt so sad, seeing the great divide that had grown up between us. But its because of my magic, because Im a witch not that I would ever tell them that. I cant. And I wouldnt give magic up for anything, for the world, even though it puts me in a world where people might want to kill me because I love it so much, love learning about it and doing it and seeing our world which is so different to the boring, everyday one. I feel sorry for them, because theyll never have that. I can almost understand why some people do think Muggles are lesser, now I think about it; and that scares me, because I dont want to feel that way. My parents and my brother are Muggles! But then it helps me understand you a lot better, too, so I guess its a good thing. I still wish I could have the friendship back but I guess thats part of the price of magic.
P.S. I understand about the cousins. Nicola can be more than irritating but siblings are different. You love them anyway. Cousins can just be pests with no sibling-ship (I know its not a word!) to soften it.
P.P.S. Theres nothing wrong with sentimentality! And I thought Slytherins corrupted poor innocent Hufflepuffs not the other way around.
August 3rd 1996
I suppose you heard about the attack from the paper? Looks like it has started after all. I just got an owl from Ellie, shes in a bit of a tizz about it. To be honest, I would be, too, it was in her town after all and thats way too close for comfort. A whole family gone, just like that. I didnt know either of the kids at Hogwarts but I think Gabby did, one of them was in her Muggle Studies class. I suppose Mai did as well. Im really just
wow, this is all happening so fast, and its real. The Dark Mark, and everything. You Know Who is back, and the Dementors have left Azkaban, and
yeah. Write soon. Have fun at Mais place.
August 5 1996
Mai and Anne,
Hope this letter reaches you okay, three attacks in three days this isnt good. You should be okay, they seem to be targeting Ministry people, but that first one was too close. I mean, I knew those people, the Croakers, there are only five wizarding families in my area and they were one of them. I grew up playing with their kids. Their dad worked for the Department of Mysteries, I guess thats why he was killed after all, that incident with Harry Potter (the latest one, that is) happened there, didnt it? I didnt really think all these attacks would start so soon, the Ministry seems to have been caught off guard. Then again, they spent a whole year denying that You Know Who was back, so I guess they were caught off guard when it turned out to be true. And now weve wasted a whole year with that cow Umbridge not learning any practical defence Fudge really is an idiot.
Anyway, I hope youre having a good time together, Anne, hows life in a wizarding house? Much different? I think its the little things that are the biggest differences, like how the cookings done. The big things are pretty much the same. Except for TV, theres no TV, but then, you said you dont watch much.
Mai, enjoying having your parents away? Mind you, your brother is probably quite strict. Still, I wish theyd go and leave me alone for a bit. Must be cool having the house practically to yourself, well, and your brother and sister. That reminds me, is Peggy starting Hogwarts next year? Ive forgotten.
August 6, 1996
I got my OWL results back yesterday. I had to show them to my aunt and uncle, of course, and I think they approved. I hope so. I don't want to care about their approval. Still, as I told you so often, family's family. I wish I could tell Dad, but I reckon Ill have the chance at some point soon. I just wish hed been here when I got the letter, you know?
Anyway, I passed everything hooray! except Care of Magical Creatures. But then, I always have done badly at that, so Im honestly not worried. Id probably have dropped it this year anyway. As it is, we do a lot fewer subjects in the last two years, and we have to send in our subject choices in the next two weeks some of them are marks-dependent so we couldnt choose before then. I think Ill be doing Charms, Astronomy, History of Magic, Ancient Runes, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Transfiguration. Possibly Herbology, but probably not. For one, too much work, for another, I always put vicious man-eating plants on about the same mental level as Hagrids interesting that is to say, insane collection of vicious, man-eating animals. Or birds, or reptiles. Or whatever the Blast-Ended Skrewts were. I intend to leave that sort of thing to people who enjoy risking their lives daily to no good purpose. There are some pe! ople in my class who actually like the things. Mind you, the Hippogriffs in third year were fascinating, and the Thestrals were
well, weird. Did you get taken to see them? If you didnt, you might this year. They pull the carriages to and from the train station there arent very many people who can see them. There were only three in my class, Potter, Neville Longbottom that Gryffindor whose parents were put in St. Mungos by Bellatrix Lestrange and me. You have to have seen someone die to be able to see them, so naturally there arent very many who qualify.
My marks arent good enough to continue Potions, not that I mind. You have to be nearly perfect to continue. It was alright, but I always have preferred actually doing the magic I know Snape gives his big speech every year about how only some people appreciate Potions, and I was never one of them. I passed my OWL, I can make the basic ones without poisoning myself or blowing anything up, thats all I want to know. Charms and Transfiguration are much more interesting, there are so many things you can do and they dont take half as long. I can be a little impatient sometimes, and waiting ten days for a potion when a spell will do the work in ten minutes always seemed rather impractical. Do you enjoy the subject much? I know Snape is very hard on the non-Slytherin students, it gets quite ridiculous at times. I mean, Potter and his friends can be extremely rude, but accidentally-on-purpose knocking over Potters potion so he fails is so childish. Hes a teacher. Im just glad I am in Slytherin.
Youll be in for it this year with your OWLs coming up. They really are quite exhausting, and the amount of homework is nothing like what it is in any other year. I think half the point is to get rid of the really useless people by working them to death. Mind you, even Longbottom and Malfoys two lackeys reached the end of the year without having nervous breakdowns, so it isnt working if that is the point. But you do learn a lot in most subjects. Defence Against the Dark Arts was a different story, but youll have a new teacher I must say I really envy you that one. Umbridge didnt teach us anything useful for the exam. Or barely, anyway. I wish wed had Lupin for this year he may have been a werewolf, but he did know his stuff. Practically the only one who did. Or Moody, but since he wasnt who he claimed to be and half-insane besides I suppose it wouldnt be such a good idea. We do seem to get the dregs of the barrel with the Defence teachers. Heres hoping this year will be better.
By the way, I never said you corrupted me. I merely said that you were responsible for a number of lapses on my account. Im sure it can be beaten. I was never sentimental at all before I talked to you. I feel I may be discovering the secret of why Salazar Slytherin wanted to ban Muggle-borns. He knew they were part of a fiendish plot to weaken the wizarding world.
Good God, now Ive contracted frivolity as well. This is serious.
P.S. Hope you had a good time at your friends, what was it, Mai? And dont worry about those girls at the park. Youre part of our world, not theirs. I know you dont want to hear me say that, but its true. Not in any sort of bad way, just how things are. Youre one of us, not them.
P.P.S. I get what you mean about liking. Or not. It made sense, sort of. Actually, never mind.