And thinking about the end of the world,
I waited for the world to begin.
- David Thewlis.
The letter comes with scraggly writing on it that you haven't seen for probably three years; funny how the people that mattered most don't matter. Hagrid's note is short, and he spells two words wrong. You appreciate the news of James' son, and place the letter on your little table - it would be a kitchen table except you don't have a kitchen, just a two-room flat. You put it there with good intentions of answering it later.
I apologize for not replying to your notes sooner, and appreciate the news. It's good to hear of the school after all these years. I'm happy you are enjoying yourself up at Hogwarts, and glad to hear of everyone else.
The rumors that are starting to surface are as disturbing to me as, I'm sure, to everyone - Nicolas Flamel is careful as well as discreet. It's good news to hear he's hidden the stone after the latest incident. Stay on guard. You may tell Dumbledore and Minerva I will pass on anything I hear out here.
The owl comes at quarter past ten in the morning, just as you are putting on your tie and dress robes. The sun is shining. You've received more mail in the last two months than you have in the last two years, as if everyone assumes you need a play-by-play on how James' and Lily's son is doing. Dumbledore mentions him only once, saying he "played astoundingly" in his first Quidditch match, that he would have "done James proud". You think about turning the note over and writing "of course he did" to send back, but you don't.
As to vampires in Romania, I haven't travelled that way in almost a year. Next week I have two days free; I will certainly check things out, as you request. Thank you for the news.
So now you get mail every day, because you've subscribed to and started getting the Daily Prophet again. Living abroad has had its advantages, like foreign newspapers and menus in different languages. You know some French, and some Russian, and a little bit of Romanian. The Daily Prophet owls only take Knuts.
You read them cover to cover for a week or two, but then start to just skim the headlines. McGonagall clips out an article on Spanish fishing wizards being caught near the Czech coast, and actually makes the "something fishy going on" pun.
It has been a while. Let me start by saying I miss you all as well. It's been difficult to get back to England the last years, especially Hogwarts. Strangely enough I find myself missing it more the older I get. I can't imagine myself as a teenager ever thinking fondly on exams and homework, and even Potions. Funny the things that change.
I have considered applying to teach at Hogwarts once or twice, but in truth, I don't know that I would welcome the permanent residence at the school. Surely people would not welcome me. I enjoy teaching, but the anonymity one can assume in another country would melt away. I don't know that I would like to give that up, even if I were assured of a warm welcome and much higher pay.
What else? The news has me worried, I will confess. News of the break-in at Gringotts - obviously you are on top of things, but to have such incidents reported on at all, it's not a good sign. Things on the mainland are hardly better. For years everyone has heard rumors of certain areas of the Black forest being dangerous, moreso than they should be. I can tell you only this: no vampire inspires this much fear. Nothing solid to go on, but people are nervous, especially those close to areas where Dark creatures are more numerous. I heard about the international committee on wizarding creatures issued a full investigation - they're calling it "fact-finding". This kind of quiet reaction, this nameless fear, only comes when people are afraid of the unknown.
You say my letters are too formal, and you have no way to tell what's "really going on", but I don't know how else to word my letters. I can tell you my life is not nearly as interesting as it sounds life at Hogwarts is, and I'll try to visit you soon. I miss you.
Hagrid's twelfth owl finds you in Paris, investigating word of an alchemist that's selling some version of the Elixer of Life. He tells you that James' son is behaving admirably, as a Potter, and that they could be proud of the trouble he gets into. This time, Hagrid spells three words wrong. You put Hagrid's letter on the table of your bed and breakfast room, on top of the note from Dumbledore. You really do intend to answer both of them.
Nothing on the alchemist - he's brewing forgetfulness potions and slipping them into his customers' tea, then taking their purses. I switched cups with him; problem sorted out.
Please tell Hagrid thank you for the Firewhiskey.
They won't let up. Dumbledore sends you to three other countries, checking on false Elixers, and each time you have to pay a post owl in local currency to take envelopes to Hogwarts. You collect Hagrid's letters up, and Dumbledore's instructions, and wrap up your replies to both in one envelope. Sending off one reply will save on postage. A letter from Morocco to England, two-day owl post, is expensive.
You don't need to remember where the Elixer of Life isn't, and you don't need to know how James' son is getting into trouble. You don't put their owls to you in your suitcase when you leave.
I enclose this note along with a full report for Dumbledore. I appreciate the offer but I don't think I'll be able to make it back to Hogwarts this month to see what you have "to show me", even if it can burn down your cottage. I'm sorry, and I'm sorry I didn't reply sooner. Nothing is wrong, you don't have to worry. Last weekend was just the full moon.
I appreciate your blow-by-blow of the latest Gryffindor Quidditch match.
The Daily Prophet has a notice about werewolves spotted in Scotland that you've already read when McGonagall sends it to you. Her letter is warm and worried all at once, for all of its three lines. Postage from Portugal is less than Morocco, you tell yourself.
Regarding werewolves in Scotland - Cornelius Fudge never was a clever man. He has, however, always been just clever enough to make sure he was a popular man. Those two qualities can be highly successful or highly dangerous. Don't worry - you aren't the only one who can see the first little ripples. It's just too bad we can't figure out where the source is and kill it now. Let me know if I can be of use.
Thanks for not mentioning Harry. The others cannot see that it is something - cowardly or not - I don't want to become involved in. Dumbledore cannot see the trees for the forest, James said once.
Hagrid's last note means you have to travel back to the boarded up cottage your parents used to own. It means you have to unpack boxes covered with dust and mildew. It means pulling Spell-o-tape off cartons that have been sealed for years. It means, moreover, giving up precious things that have been taped up, discarded, and hidden away in an attic until such time as they weren't so painful to look at them anymore; giving them up to a child you don't even know.
It means coming back to England.
You try not to write back to him "get stuffed", because you're a grown-up now, and Hagrid's doing the right thing. For a moment, it's still very tempting.
Please find enclosed as many pictures of James and Lily as I could unearth - most of the albums from their wedding were in their house. These are all the photos I have of the two of them. I don't know anyone else that might have some better - only Alastor, and he won't have any of the carefree James and Lily that a child should imagine.
I will most likely be unable to receive mail in the next months. Have a good summer holiday, and give my regards to everyone.