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Lessons in Trust and Loyalty

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Chapter 6

 

August 11, 2000

Dear Harry,

have you you found a good place for us to meet yet? I can’t believe Talia didn’t ask you to visit us for Christmas… By the way do you celebrate Christmas as a wizard? Or are you Pagan? Do you have certain ways to celebrate in the Wizarding World? (I still can’t believe that’s a thing and we never were informed.) Also, can you tell me if druids are supposed to know about you? Because Deaton — he’s our emissary for some reason beyond me, the guy is fishy as hell if you ask me — didn’t seem to notice anything different about us when we got home. Aren’t you supposed to notice that some disturbance in the Force? Sorry, ignore Laura, she doesn’t know when to keep her nose out of other people’s business.

So wasn’t Deaton supposed to notice something different about us? Because there is definitely this new alliance bond, Tali told us she can already feel it settling in, which unfair. I want to feel it too, but she says that we have to wait until the bond is stronger. Which is true, I guess. It took me months to feel the alliance bond with the Ito Pack. But I know I should feel it, it’s been three weeks already. And I can’t believe it takes so long to get a letter here, which is also weird because I know we didn’t give you our address. How can owls find us? Is that a magic thing? You really should have told us more about it, by the way. Now I have all these questions and no one to answer them. Which is rude.

And get an email address already, okay?

By the way, where are you now? Anywhere interesting? Have you met anyone cool? Next time you need to write more about what is happening to you. Because this place is super boring, and now school is about to start. One more really boring year of elementary school. How lame is that? And of course I have to look out for Laura and Derek, too. Did you go to wizard school? Is that a thing? If so, how can I sign up and is there in America?

Anyway, you forgot to wish me happy birthday in your letter, but I forgive you because you didn’t know. But I want your present to be getting an email address and calling me us already.

Take care and write soon,

Peter

P.s.: This owl is really cool, I want one, too!

 

Harry felt his lips twitch when he reached the end of Peter’s letter. The boy reminded him a more laid back Hermione when they first started Hogwarts with his curiosity and seemingly never ending questions. Not that he could fault Peter, how could he when a part of him wished that he had asked all the same questions when Hagrid had first showed him Diagon Alley or even he arrived to Hogwarts. But he had felt so relieved to be away from the Dursleys, so grateful that he had just gone along with things, never really questioning anything really. He had been the perfect little pawn, doing Dumbledore’s bidding without realizing it for so long that by the time he had been faced with what he had to do, there had nothing to be done to change things.

He very much doubted Peter would have done the same in his place. No, the boy would have questioned every order, doubted every lesson and researched every topic that crossed his mind until he had all the answers he needed to make an informed decision. He was so different than Harry had been, and Harry found himself glad for it. He was acting all curious and open in his letter, playing up the complaining preteen, while dropping probably important names and mentions of alliance bonds for anyone to see that his pack is not one to be trifled with. And of course making demands already despite only meeting Harry once.

The boy knew what he wanted and he was determined to get it. It was an admirable trait for sure, but one not many would see in a positive light once the softness of childhood melted away from Peter’s cheeks, Harry was sure of it. The boy burned with such a high intensity already, and unless something terrible happened, his already blazing personality would turn into an inferno that devoured everyone and everything in its heat that tried to oppose him. He was going to be dangerous, when he grew up. There was no doubt about that. But in Harry’s eyes it was a good thing, because the danger simmering in Peter was paired with the same sense of loyalty to his loved ones that filled Harry’s soul as well.

He took a quick glance at Teddy, who was playing with the soft black wolf plush toy Derek had sent him according to Talia’s letter, hugging the wolf to his chest every other minute while constantly blabbing at it. It was one of the sweetest things Harry had ever seen, and he found himself standing up to get the magical camera he had picked up in Riga’s magical district, that resembled much closely to Hogsmade with its picture perfect buildings and residential homes turned into shops than any of the bustling magical streets and squares they had visited in the past nearly ten months. It was a new model, too, a camera without the blinding flash that always left him blinking for minutes, trying to chase the annoying bright spots from before his eyes.

He snuck a few pictures just as Teddy hugged his wolf to his chest again and even kissed its snout, knowing that he would send the Hales a copy, to show them how much the present was appreciated. He sat back behind the dining table he claimed as his workspace for now and pulled a fresh sheet of parchment out of the stack in front of him.

 

20 August, 2000

Dear Peter, 

I hope you had a wonderful Birthday, I’m sorry I missed it without even realising, So far I haven’t had the time to think about an appropriate place for us to meet next summer, but it looks like Teddy and I are going to stay in Russia for a while. The country is huge and apparently is full of magical creatures. We are in Sochi at the moment, maybe we could meet here? This place is wonderful and the sea should be at least as warm as it is now. I’ll mention it to Talia in my letter to her. As for Christmas, we do celebrate it, but I have also started teaching Teddy (and myself) about the Old Ways and we honour the God and the Goddess as we should on each holiday.

I think most Pureblood families (those who only have magical ancestors going back at least a few generations) are actually Pagan. I have only spoken to a few wizards and witches on the continent so far, but religion never came up to be honest. It’s just not something people talk about with strangers. But I have friends back home I could ask if you want to know more. On another note, please, don’t blame your sister for not inviting Teddy and me into your home for Christmas. Despite our budding alliance bond, our relationship is new and far from solid. Bonds need time to settle and rushing them won’t be of any help.

As for druids, I’m really not familiar with the idea of Muggles practicing magic beyond those fake fortune tellers that appear on telly at times, so I cannot say whether this druid of yours is supposed to be feeling any change in you. Technically, any magical residue you might have had on your skin from skin on skin contact with Teddy and me would have been long faded by the time you arrived home, so even fully trained wizards and witches would have had a hard time to sense it. I’m sorry I cannot tell you more. Maybe one of these days I’ll find the time to do some research on these druids and tell you more about them.

I’m sorry about owl post. It’s somewhat time consuming, I know, but I have a solution to our communication problem, I think.. Enclosed to this letter you might have already found a small compact mirror. You can consider it your birthday present. Before you think I’m joking or trying to prank you, it’s not that. You have your cell phones and your computers. Both of which are useful and inventive pieces of technology. Us wizards have something called two-way mirrors. They come in several sizes as it turns out, and basically it’s the magical equivalent of a cell phone. Except it doesn’t have any additional costs beyond the initial price and you can only talk to the person who has the pair of the mirror. The best part, however, is that you can actually see the person you talk to and won’t have to rely on your hearing (no matter how excellent) to understand every nuance of the conversation.

I hope it makes up for the lack of email address or cell phone for now. As it turns out, the Internet is not so widely used in these areas yet. Certainly not to the extent that would allow me to spend this long on writing a message. Now to use the mirror, you need to call out my name while holding it in your hand. If I don’t answer don’t worry, the mirrors are charmed to remind you if you missed a ‘call’. The one I sent you is also connected to the larger mirrors I sent your sister, but make sure you do not use it around Muggles unless you are in danger, please.

As for what is happening to me, we rented a nice cabin near the beach and there is a family of Domovoi living along us as it turns out. So far what I have found out about them that they are nowhere near as complacent as House Elves, and they definitely do not act like slaves. But they get offended if you try to pay them for doing your chores and tend to steal and hide your things to show their displeasures. The good news is that a few well-placed biscuits and chocolate bars have been enough to earn their forgiveness so far. And they seem to be the nurturing kind too, because they tend to dote on Teddy an awful lot. Besides that, nothing much has happened. I have visited my account manager the other day, and did some shopping. A friend might drop by for a few days, but nothing is sure yet. He’s one of the most famous athletes in the Wizarding World and I mean the world not just a country, so he is quite busy. We’ll have to wait and see.

Why don’t you tell me about your studies some more and in turn I’ll tell you more about Hogwarts, the magical school I went to? I’m sure you have several friends you can tell me all about, too.

But I have rambled long enough.

I hope you like your present even if it’s not an email or an owl.

Take care and be good for your sister,

Harry

 

Harry folded and slid the letter into an envelope before placing the mirror already waiting next to him between the folds. It was unbreakable thanks to a handy little charm he had cast on it. He had first hand experience in how far Muggles had come in their advancement of technology, but even with their amazing inventions, they still had not managed to figure out how to allow people to communicate face to face from any non-immediate distance. Or cross great distances within moments. Owl post might have seemed slow and unorthodox to a Muggle, but it was still much faster than regular post, especially the intercontinental mail system that involved too much bureaucracy and paper pushing for it to be called effective. Let alone fast.

He hoped Peter would appreciate the gift along with Talia and her kids. They might have only met once, but it had seemed like a bond had really formed between their packs, not to mention Teddy’s smitten state with Derek was just cavity worthy, and if that plush toy was anything to go by, the feeling was definitely mutual. But the bond felt deeper than a childish little crush. It was new, but Harry could feel the warm, pulsing connection in the back of his mind. It felt like a sense of camaraderie, an invisible hand to grab if things went pear shaped, and it made him wonder if it felt the same to Talia and her pack, but somehow he doubted it would be polite to ask.

Instead, he pulled a slightly rumpled copy of the Daily Prophet in front of him and took a look at the headline from three days previous.

 

BRITAIN ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE?

 

If he was a better man, Harry would have curbed the small, vindictive smile that curled his lips after reading the long-winded and obviously angry outraged article on how Magical Britain was suffering from a depression of irreversible proportions and that the Ministry was little more than a crumbling shithole full of headless chickens, who were running around without accomplishing anything. All the while, the article was blaming the Minister himself for signing off on a law that alienated the country’s sole financial shareholders and managers, leaving them with nothing but an empty building and unguarded vaults, many of which had been ransacked upon the goblin’s desertion. The article of course had to mention Harry’s name too, but it was much more polite than Harry had expected, emphasizing on Harry’s negative stance on passing the “Creature Law” and its possible outcomes.

He couldn’t deny that it felt good to see someone agree with him in public, especially after the years of slander he had to endure when he was just a kid. And it wasn’t like Britain’s problems were his any longer. His money was safe in the Bulgarian branch of Gringotts and he could access it from anywhere in the world. Except Britain. But it wasn’t like he had any plans to return. Probably ever. On top of that, everyone important to him was safe on the continent too. According to Mrs. Weasley she and Mr. Weasley were still getting used to the milder weather on the French Riviera, but with Mr. Weasley’s new job as a Muggle-Magical liaison in the French Ministry, they had little to worry about besides enjoying the sea and spoiling their first grandchild.

Harry was happy for them. He was also happy for Luna, who was also traveling and researching magical creatures just like Harry with the help of her fiance Rolf. She sounded content in her last letter, sharing her findings with Harry regarding some weird new creature called Sicklemonger that was supposedly some kind of rodent and fed on silver coins. She had expressed her hope that Harry would include the creature in his blog when it launched, and Harry, who so far hadn’t done more than taken some messy notes on the creatures and beings he encountered, decided to agree. The idea of having a section for rare creatures whose existence was questionable at best but sounded interesting nevertheless was appealing. Maybe Luna could even manage it later on if she wanted to.

But that was neither here nor there yet. From what Thompson had told him in his weekly letters, Harry had gathered that the magical version of the Muggle internet was still some time away. It meant that he had more than enough time to figure out what he wanted to share with the public and what he thought should remain private to ensure the creatures’ safety. He wanted to remain impartial, but he had come to accept that most creatures were not antagonistic by nature. Some could live among humans with no problem and some lived far from civilization for a reason. If someone was stupid enough to disturb these creatures’ natural habitat then they deserved what they got. On the other hand, there were those who stumbled upon a Kelpie accidentally, and without knowing how to deal with the tricky creatures they had no chance to survive the encounter. And of course, there were the outright malicious creatures like Dementors. People needed to know how to defend themselves against them.

All in all, Harry realized that he had a much harder job ahead of him than he had thought at first.

He looked at the only untouched letter, set aside from the small stack he had piled on the table. He wasn’t really sure he wanted to read its contents, but there was very little he could lose. It had been months since the last one he received and whatever it would say, there was not much that could surprise him anymore.

Or so he thought.

 

15 August, 2000

Dear Harry,

I did not expect these words to come as hard as they seem to do, but there is one thing I would like to… no, I need to emphasise. I and our entire nation owes you. Not only an apology but we are in your debt, yet your reward for defeating Lord Voldemort was us alienating you more than anyone before. For that, and for the injustice unwittingly done to your godson and all the magical creatures who placed their goodwill in our hands, I personally wish to apologise. I am aware that it probably does not mean much coming from someone you once thought of as an ally only to be let down once again, but it is the least I can do in the current situation.

You expressed your opinion on the new law concerning magical creatures and we should have listened. Again. Maybe after the blow the consequences of our decisions has dealt us we will learn to listen. I can only hope. It was never my intention to chase you away from your home, yet I hope that wherever this letter finds you it will be in happiness. I am not asking you to come back and be our hero again. We made our bed and now it is time to lie in it and can only hope that our efforts to redeem ourselves by changing how we think will have a positive outcome in the end. Because changes are essential for progress, but we need to decide whether those changes aid progress or hinder it.

This time it definitely hindered it, and now we are in a situation we will have to fight tooth and nail to get out of. And we will, I can assure you about that. Despite the loss in faith of many, we will do our best to redeem ourselves and bring forth the brighter, peaceful future you had fought for. We will abolish the ‘Creature Law’ and hope to make better ones in the future, but only with the input of those it concerns. Because we have to realise that we know too little of the sacred culture of those we had been deeming of lesser than us, and it is something that has to stop. This society will not survive without everyone standing on equal grounds and for that we need to open not only our eyes and ears but also our hearts.

I hope this letter finds you well, Harry, and that you are enjoying the freedom you have earned a hundred times over.

I wish you the best and I can only hope that one day I will have the privilege to see you again.


Yours,

Kingsley Shacklebolt

 

Harry did not expect an apology. Especially not so soon after he essentially left Magical Britain to rot. But maybe things were really changing, and he could only hope that it was not a mere whim. Perhaps one day they would really go back and see what Kingsley and his people managed to accomplish while they were away. But not anytime soon. Not when there were so many countries to explore and places to see. Perhaps it was cowardly of him to refuse offering his help in settling things between the Wizarding nation and magical creatures, but as Kingsley had said, they had made their bed and Harry was definitely not going to lie in it for their sake.

Forgoing a reply for now, he stood up and walked over to Teddy, crouching down in front of his godson with a wide smile. “Are you ready for lunch and the beach, Teddy Bear?” he asked.

“Beeech!” Teddy squealed, clapping his hands before he clambered to his feet, his wide amber eyes staring up at Harry with excitement. “We gonna beeech!”

“We are going to the beach, yes,” he said, gently correcting Teddy’s speech.

They had a wonderful afternoon after he managed to cajole some actual food that’s not ice cream into Teddy, the only hiccup occurring when Teddy wanted to have swimming lessons with his new friend Wolf. Fortunately, explaining Teddy that the water would hurt Wolf’s fur really badly was enough to make him give the idea up, and by the time they got out of the water Teddy was a pile of pliant goo in his arms, snuffing into Harry’s neck in his sleep. Harry squeezed the small body closer for a second keeping his walk leisure and enjoying the warm late summer air and the gorgeous sight of the sea. To think that he would have probably never experienced the wonders of the worlds if the Ministry hadn’t messed up again. He might have taken Teddy on vacations like Talia did with her children and Peter, but never to this extent. Never exploring places that were not so well known like the ‘great’ western capitals in Europe. He would have unwittingly deprived Teddy of once in a lifetime experiences, and that thought is scary enough to almost be grateful that British wizards in power were morons.

He smiled down at his godson’s serene expression, happy to see how happy Teddy seemed to be and how well he was adjusting to the near constant traveling. Maybe next time they could give a try to getting on a train instead of portkeying or apparating to their next destination. But for now they would enjoy the wonders Sochi offered and see if they could meet any interesting creatures as well.