After his ill-fated trip to the Department of Mysteries that led to the death of his godfather, Harry Potter decides he must take control of his own life. But if a certain Gryffindor know-it-all ha...
No More Mysteries
Chapter 3: Pen Pals
Harry Potter handed his envelope to his Aunt Petunia, who accepted it and added it to her own outgoing mail before turning and leaving Harry's room without aword, shutting the door behind her.
After the not-so-subtle threat the Dursleys had received when they picked him up from King's Crossing, it hadn't proved too difficult for Harry to convince them to help him out. He'd casually mentioned that Hermione fully intended to write him on a regular basis throughout the summer, and would expect Harry to answer each and every one of her letters promptly. Their brief encounter with Hermione had been enough for the Dursleys to decide that doing anything to draw her ire would be avery bad move.
From there, it'd been an easy thing. Uncle Vernon had been reluctant to agree, simply because he hated the idea of doing anything that might be to Harry's benefit. But Aunt Petunia had brought him around by pointing out that, if “the boy” and “that bushy-haired girl” were going to be writing each other regularly, it would be far better for them to do so through the regular post, rather than having “that ruddy owl” travelling back and forth with the letters. The thought of Harry's owl being set loose even more frequently than usual was enough to get Vernon's grudging approval.
With that agreement having been reached, and knowing she'd be anxiously waiting to hear from him, Harry wasted little time in beginning to write his first letter to Hermione. He decided to forgo any discussion of the prophecy, or any mention of his nagging doubts about Headmaster Dumbledore. He wanted to be sure that the Order would not intercept their letters before he included anything that sensitive.
Instead, he'd written this first letter more as a simple letter between friends. Perhaps there were a few things in there that he'd feel rather embarrassed sharing with someone like Remus or Tonks, but he didn't include anything that he absolutely did not want them to read. This first letter was more of a trial run. Now, he just needed to sit back, do his best to pretend the Dursleys did not exist, and wait for Hermione's reply.
“Hermione, that letter from your friend Harry is here.”
With a girlish squeal that would have shocked Harry and Ron had they heard it, Hermione set aside the book she'd been reading, bolted out of her room, raced down the stairs, and snatched the envelope from her mother's hands.
“Excited?” Jane Granger teased, amused at her daughter's reaction.
“Of course! I've been dying to hear from Harry!” Hermione answered emphatically.
“You know, I was surprised when you told us that you and Harry would be writing each other regularly over the summer. I don't remember him being much of a letter writer before now.”
“He's matured. Plus, he said he wants my advice on a few things,” Hermione answered. It was the truth, of course, but she still felt a bit guilty.
If her parents knew everything that Harry (and herself, by proxy) had been through, and exactly what he wanted her advice on, their reaction would likely be much different. Hermione didn't like concealing things from her parents, but she didn't see any other alternative. They wouldn't be able to understand that she'd chosen this life for herself, chosen to stand by Harry, even knowing the danger. Better to keep them in the dark, rather than having to justify the choices she'd made.
“Well, if he wants answers, he's writing to the right person,” her mother said with a grin. “You still haven't really explained why you're using the post, though. Didn't you usually use that owl when you wanted to write to him before?”
“Yes, but since we plan on sending regular letters back and forth, we just thought it would be easier this way. Besides, Harry's aunt and uncle don't really like Hedwig. I'm sure they're happy that we'll be using the post,” Hermione called as she made her way back up the stairs and to her room. She closed the door behind her and took aseat at her desk, eagerly opening the envelope and pulling out Harry's letter. Hermione smiled in anticipation as she began to read.
As you can see, I've convinced the Dursleys to mail this letter for me. Given their hatred for Hedwig, not to mention that they are now scared to death of you, it wasn't even a hard sell. Nice work!
I've spent like 15 minutes trying to figure out the best way to start this letter. Ihaven't come up with anything good so far, so I'm just going to start writing and see what happens.
I'm sure you're reading some book you'd love to talk about, but you know I'm hopeless there. You aren't Ron, so a quidditch talk isn't going to work. Ijust saw you a few days ago, on the train ride back from Hogwarts, so it seems kind of stupid for me to ask how you're doing. Well, Icould ask about your injury. How is that feeling, anyway? I know you kept saying you're “fine”, but I could tell that it was still bothering you a bit. How is it now, honestly? And don't just say “it's fine.” It never works when I say it to you, so why should it work any better when you try to use it on me?
Speaking of your injury, I want to say again that I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't listen to you, and I'm sorry I nearly got you killed. I know that you, and the others, have told me that it wasn't my fault, and Ishouldn't blame myself. I appreciate that, and I don't completely blame myself, not any more. But I still think that I deserve at least some of the blame for what happened. I should have listened to what you were saying. Because I didn't, the six of us walked right into Voldemort's trap. Was it all my fault? No. But at the least, I should have thought things through a bit more, and not let my emotions keep me from taking your objections to heart. Hopefully, I won't make that same mistake in the future.
Anyway, that's enough of that. I also kind of wanted to ask you about Cho. You seemed pretty convinced that she didn't want to be just friends with me. Why do you think that? I tried to ask you about it on the train, but you seemed like you got sort of angry with me all of asudden. So I figured I'd try again, since even if you get angry again, you can hardly take it out on me through a letter.
Or could you? I wouldn't put anything past you, Hermione Granger.
This is enough for now, don't you think? We've got loads more to talk about, but I'll save that for my second letter. Write back soon, Hermione.
Hermione put the letter down, a small smile on her face. Harry hadn't gotten into any of the important details yet, but she hadn't expected him to. She trusted that he'd be as good as his word, and start writing about the heavier topics in his next letter, once he was sure that the Order wouldn't read their correspondence.
'Speaking of that'...Hermione smiled to herself as she suddenly got an idea. If the Order were monitoring these letters, she and Harry would soon find out. She would make sure of it.
Hermione pulled out a pen and paper and began feverishly working on her reply, putting just as much enthusiasm into writing her letter as she normally put into her assignments at Hogwarts.
Harry was sitting at the kitchen table, minding his own business and eating a sandwich he'd made for himself, when a loud slam caught his attention.
He looked up and saw Uncle Vernon, who had obviously just come in through the front door. The obese man marched over towards the table and slammed an envelope down right next to Harry's plate.
“You've gotten a letter, boy,” Vernon spat before turning on his heel and stomping into the next room, grumbling to himself.
Knowing that the letter could be from only one person, Harry quickly wolfed down the rest of his sandwich and washed his plate before grabbing the unopened envelope and hurrying up the stairs to his room.
Once inside, Harry shut and locked the door before tearing open the envelope and plopping down on his bed. He settled in and made himself comfortable as he began to read.
Thank you for the letter! I was anxiously waiting to hear from you, as I'm sure you can imagine.
As for the Dursleys now being frightened of me: good! It's about time those rotten people were put in their place, and I was more than happy to help. That it led to them agreeing to mail your letters for you is simply a nice bonus.
My injury is fine now. Honestly, it is! It didn't leave a scar, which you already know, and it hasn't hurt for days. You're right, though; it was still bothering me slightly before we left Hogwarts. But it was only some minor pain, and given everything you were going through, Ididn't want to worry you. So I tried to pretend it didn't bother me. I suppose I must not have done a very good job, though I doubt I was as obvious in my denials as you always are. You're simply a terrible liar, Harry. Not that that's a bad thing!
We've been over this, Harry: what happened at the Ministry, what happened to Sirius, was NOT your fault! You weren't thinking rationally at the time. You had a dark wizard in your head, influencing your thoughts and your feelings. If it weren't for that, I honestly believe Icould have gotten through to you, and we could have found some way to confirm that Sirius was not actually in any danger. I don't blame you in the least, and you shouldn't blame yourself, either. You weren't yourself at the time.
So long as we're discussing that day, though, there is something I'd like to apologize to you for. While I was trying to reason with you, I talked about you having a “saving people thing.” I think you took it as an insult or a slight, but I honestly did not mean it that way at all. Yes, you do have a “saving people thing”—and thank Merlin for that! Your “saving people thing” is the reason I'm alive today. Without it, that troll surely would have killed me back in our first year. I'm sure Ginny's glad you have a“saving people thing” too, because otherwise she would have died down in that chamber. So, on behalf of both of us: thank you, Harry!
You always try and save people in danger because you are selfless, brave and kind. How could anyone fault you for that? I certainly don't. Those are all great qualities, and they're a big part of what makes you such awonderful person. I was just trying to make you see that, that time, there might not actually have been anyone that needed saving. Please don't be angry with me.
Could I take my anger out on you through the mail? Of course I could, if I thought you deserved it. But I'm not angry with you, so you have nothing to worry about (this time, at least.) As to why I think Cho may still be interested in more than friendship? I don't have any concrete evidence to support that belief, Harry. It's more a gut feeling than anything else. Call it women's intuition.
And who could blame her for fancying you, anyway? I doubt she could find anyone better.
There; I believe I've covered everything from your letter that needed a response. Your turn, Harry.
Perhaps, next time, we can discuss what Dumbledore told you in his office after you got back from the Ministry?
P.S. Of course I'm reading a book! Reading is quite enriching, you know. Both fiction and non-fiction. You really should try reading something other than a quidditch magazine sometime.
Harry laughed aloud after finishing the letter. Hermione, clever witch that she was, had just guaranteed that if Dumbledore and the Order were reading these letters, they'd be getting involved shortly. They both knew full well that Dumbledore would not permit him to include the contents of the prophecy in a letter. If he had hidden it from Harry himself for so long, Harry didn't think there was any way he'd risk it being put into a letter that could be read by anyone. If Dumbledore was in fact reading these letters, he'd now interfere in some way, before Harry had the chance to send out his next letter. If that happened, Harry would have to come up with some other way to communicate with Hermione—but Dumbledore would be none the wiser about how Harry was feeling, about Harry's doubting the Headmaster, and his uncertainty about returning to Hogwarts in the fall.
'Nicely done, Hermione,' Harry thought to himself. He tucked the letter into a drawer and went back downstairs to get started on his chores (which, thanks to Hermione and the Order, were much more reasonable these days.) He'd give it several days, give Dumbledore plenty of time to interfere. After that, if there was no action from the Headmaster or the Order, it would be time to tell Hermione just what the prophecy said.
Hermione chewed her fingernails anxiously. She knew it was perfectly natural that she hadn't received a second letter from Harry yet. It hadn't even been all that long since she'd mailed her first letter, and she was sure Harry would wait a bit before replying, to make sure that Dumbledore hadn't caught on.
Still, it was quite nerve-racking, sitting and waiting. If the Order had actually figured out their scheme somehow, how would she be able to help Harry through his current crisis? The thought of sitting in her home helplessly while Harry decided to leave Hogwarts, leave her life, possibly never to return...it absolutely terrified her.
Hermione's attention was drawn to her window, where she saw something she'd been waiting on for hours.
It was the delivery truck, come to drop off the day's post.
“Hermione, the post--” her father began, but she was already running down the stairs and out the front door in her hurry to see if she'd gotten areply from Harry. She picked up the post and examined its contents, sifting through various bills and advertisements until finally, thankfully, she found what she was looking for.
Once back in the house, Hermione haphazardly deposited the rest of the post on the kitchen table and rushed up the stairs, oblivious to her father's amused laugh at her antics.
Grinning in anticipation, Hermione tore open the envelope and began poring over the new letter from Harry.
First off, well done! If Dumbledore were checking the Dursleys' post, there's no way he wouldn't have interfered after that bit you wrote that hinted about the prophecy. Since it's now been several days, and I haven't heard one peep from Dumbledore or anyone else with the Order, I'm guessing this little idea of yours is working. Not like that's surprising, though. How often are you wrong?
Now that we've sorted that out, we can start talking about the really important stuff. Like the prophecy.
I thought about writing about other, smaller things first, but I know you. You'll have been sitting around, waiting on pins and needles to find out what the prophecy says. So I won't keep you waiting. Knowing you, I'm sure you'll be wanting to break it down and analyse it, piece by piece, so I'll let you do just that. Here is what the prophecy said, word for word:
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...
Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...
and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...
and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...."/]
[/There it is, as told to me by Dumbledore. He said that, at first, the prophecy could have been about either me or Neville. We were both “born as the seventh month dies” (at the end of July, obviously), and both of our parents defied Voldemort three times. It seems that Voldemort heard that first part, and decided to eliminate this one who supposedly would have the power to vanquish him.
He came after me first. I don't know if there was any special reason for that, but being the bloody bastard that he is, I'm sure he planned to kill Neville as soon as he was done with me. But you know what happened next. He failed to kill me, but in the process, he gave me the blasted lightning bolt scar that everyone stares at. This was seen as him “marking me as his equal”, and so I became the one that the prophecy refers to.
You know what this means, obviously. Either I kill Voldemort, or he kills me. No matter how many different ways you try to look at this (and I know you'll try loads of them), there's no getting around it. I'm either going to become a murderer, or I'm going to get murdered.
After seeing Voldemort duel with Dumbledore at the end of term, I'd say the second outcome is much more likely. Power he knows not? What does that even mean?
This is one of the reasons I'm so upset with Dumbledore. Probably the biggest reason, even. He's known about this prophecy for years. He's known what I'll have to do. But did he ever tell me? No. He let me go on in ignorance. He said he hid it from me because he cared about me, cared about my happiness, and didn't want to burden me with this. Ido believe him, but that doesn't make me any less angry about it. He should have done more to prepare me for what I'm going to have to do. Because at the moment, Voldemort would destroy me with ease if given half the chance. And I don't really see how I can be happy about anything if I'm dead.
There are some other problems I've got with Dumbledore, and some of his decisions over the years. But I think you've got enough to think over at the moment, thanks to the prophecy, so I'm just going to finish with some lighter things.
I'll take your word for it about your injury, but I think you overestimate your own ability to lie, Hermione. I don't know how obvious my attempts are, but it was easy enough to tell that you were lying. Well, it was for me, at least. Not sure if anyone else picked up on it, Ron included.
I'm not angry with you for saying I have a “saving people thing.” It's true, after all. I hadn't even given that a second thought until you mentioned it in your letter, so you don't need to worry about it. And you were right in trying to talk me out of going to the Ministry, obviously.
As for saving you from that troll: you're welcome! Though you should probably thank Ron, honestly. He's the one that knocked the troll out. All I did was stick my wand up his nose. (Think that'll work against Voldemort? Maybe I should give it a try.)
I still don't really understand the whole Cho thing, but I'm going to guess you know what you're talking about. You're hardly ever wrong, and I know pretty much nothing about girls. I do think you're wrong about her not being able to find anyone better to fancy, though. Heck, she already did find someone better: Cedric. He was a much better wizard than me, and he actually made her happy, something I couldn't ever do.
P.S. You know what's funny? I remember actually enjoying some of the books on magic I got before we started our first year at Hogwarts. But since then, I've avoided reading as much as possible. I guess Ron rubbed off on me.
The end of Harry's letter brought a brief smile to Hermione's face, but it quickly disappeared as her focus returned to the most important thing she'd just learned: the contents of the prophecy.
The wording of the prophecy seemed clear. It would come down to Harry and Voldemort in the end. Hermione didn't put much stock in Divination, especially after being around the likes of Professor Trelawney. But it was clear that Headmaster Dumbledore believed that this was legitimate, as did Voldemort, so she had no choice but to accept that it would come to pass, through sheer force of will if nothing else.
Not that she needed some prophecy to tell her this, though. She'd always known, on some level, that it would fall to Harry to finish Voldemort off once and for all. After all, if Dumbledore were able to defeat Voldemort himself, surely he would have done it by now? It only made sense that it would be Harry. Harry, who had become the first person in history to survive the Killing Curse. Harry, who had come into contact with Voldemort and his underlings numerous times as a mere schoolboy, and always managed to survive. Harry, who always persevered, no matter the odds. It never could have been anyone other than Harry, really.
Harry would fulfil this prophecy. He would defeat Voldemort. Hermione would make sure of it.
But right now, she needed to put considerable thought into how she was going to reply to this prophecy—and, more importantly, how she was going to reply to Harry's rather negative attitude about his chances of success.
Harry finished reading the letter sent to him by Ron, and laughed in amusement. He'd been tense for the past several days, ever since he'd sent off his 2nd letter to Hermione...the one where he told her exactly what the prophecy said.
One part of him was afraid that, knowing what she did, she wouldn't want to be his friend any longer.
Another part of him was afraid that she would.
Ron's letter, delivered by his rather excitable owl, Pigwidgeon, had arrived at the perfect time. Ron had, of course, asked him how he was feeling after the tragedy that he'd gone through at the Ministry building. But after that, Ron had spent the rest of the letter writing about everything from the latest news about the Chudley Cannons to the twins' ever-expanding list of joke products.
In short: he'd taken Harry's mind off of his troubles, and allowed him to relax for a bit. It was exactly what Harry had needed.
After quickly reassuring Ron that he was doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances, Harry spent the rest of his reply writing about things just as unimportant and—well--normal as Ron had. He gave the letter to Pig, who flew off to deliver it, and decided he should write a little something to send along to Hermione as well. Just a few quick things; nothing of great importance. It was more for appearances than anything else, anyway. He sent Hedwig along with this letter, telling her she could stay out until the following morning if she wanted. He figured Hermione would want to send her back with an equally frivolous return letter.
Far more important, though, was the letter that arrived in that day's post: Hermione's response to the prophecy. After Aunt Petunia wordlessly handed him the envelope in his room, it was with more than a little reluctance that Harry opened it up.
I know how your mind works, Mr. Potter, so let's just get this out of the way right now: I AM NOT ABANDONING YOU. Got it? I'm going to be there to help you, every step of the way, regardless of the danger. And don't be surprised when Ron says the same thing, once you tell him what the prophecy says. (You ARE going to tell him, right? Eventually, at least?)
The three of us have been through thick and thin together, and if you think either of us would let you confront that monster alone when the time comes, you're insane. The prophecy may say that it is you who has to kill Voldemort (and it WILL be you who kills him, and not vice versa), but it doesn't say anything about you doing it all alone.
You're stuck with me, Harry, whether you like it or not. And I'd be quite surprised if Ron doesn't feel the same way.
Now that that's settled: you're right, no matter how many different ways I examined the wording of this prophecy, the crux of it is clear. It's either you or him. But honestly, Harry? This doesn't come as any great surprise to me. Of course it'll be you that finishes that monster once and for all. It was you who ended his first reign of terror, and it's you who has continued to wreck his plans, time and again. Since he got his new body at the end of our 4th year, at least a part of me has known that it would be you who stopped him, just like it was you who stopped him the first time.
As I said, though, you won't be doing it alone. I suspect Ron will support you fully. The Order's primary purpose is to bring Voldemort down. Dumbledore, as much as you might dislike him at the moment, will continue to work to oppose the efforts of Voldemort and his followers. And you'll always have me, of course.
Not only are you going to defeat Voldemort, Harry, but you are also going to survive the encounter in one piece. You may doubt your abilities, Harry, but you are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You have already accomplished so many incredible things, and you don't even seem to realise it. And we're going to make sure you're well-prepared before you confront Voldemort for the final time. When the time comes, you'll be ready, and you'll be brilliant. I don't even want to think about what my life would be like without you in it, Harry, so failure is simply not an option. I don't want to hear any more talk of you dying, understand?
I understand why you're so upset at Dumbledore for not sharing any of this with you before now. It is very upsetting to me also. Perhaps you weren't ready to hear the prophecy the moment you walked into Hogwarts, but surely he could have told you at some point over the last five years?
Although, didn't you say in your last letter that Voldemort only heard part of the prophecy? Maybe Dumbledore was afraid that he would be able to use that “connection” between the two of you to hear the rest of it? That's something you should ask him, Harry.
Even if you decide to leave Hogwarts, I still think you should speak with Dumbledore before you actually do so. He deserves the chance to tell his side of things, at the very least, and I doubt he could have done so the last time you spoke with him. You were too frazzled emotionally, after both losing Sirius and hearing the contents of the prophecy. Regardless of what you might think of him, Dumbledore is an extremely powerful and very intelligent wizard. He could be agreat help to you, if the two of you can reach an understanding. I'm not saying you have to forgive him for all of his mistakes, or trust him as fully as you once did. But at least hear him out.
Speaking of his other mistakes, I am quite curious to hear about those as well. Since you first told me of your doubts about the Headmaster during our conversation in the hospital wing, I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about some of his decisions, myself. For instance, being so easily lured out of the castle during our first year, which left it up to us to stop Professor Quirrell from getting the Philosopher's Stone. Or, while we're at it, why move the stone to Hogwarts in the first place? If there was concern about a possible attempt to steal it, why would Dumbledore agree to move it to the school, and possibly put the students at risk?
I've also wondered about what happened with Sirius in our third year. Dumbledore seemed to readily believe us when we insisted that Sirius was innocent. In fact, it hardly even seemed to surprise him. But if he wasn't surprised, couldn't that mean that he had at least some doubts about Sirius' guilt when he was sent to Azkaban? And if he did, why didn't he insist that Sirius received a trial before being condemned and sent away? With all the power he wields in our society, that seems like something that should have been well within his ability to pull off.
Anyway, those are just a couple of things that I've come up with. I'm eager to hear your own thoughts, so be sure to include those in your next letter.
Of course Ron didn't notice that my injury was still bothering me slightly. He can be quite oblivious at times, and besides, I'm sure most of his attention was on you. He was worried about you after what happened to Sirius, just as I was.
Speaking of Sirius...would you like to talk about him? I know it's hard, and Iknow you have many other things to think about, but I'm sure losing him is still weighing on you heavily. Like I said before, you can talk to me about anything, Harry. I'd like it if you wrote about him a bit in your next letter, but it is up to you.
I'm relieved to hear that you aren't angry with me over my “saving people” comment. You might have forgotten about it in the wake of all that happened, but I definitely did not. It didn't come out the way I intended, and I felt quite guilty about it. Thank you for forgiving me, Harry.
You're right, it was Ron who knocked the troll out. But he wouldn't have even been there if you hadn't insisted on helping me, despite barely knowing me at the time. Just another example of what a selfless, caring person you are, Harry. Cho would be lucky to have you, whether you can see it or not.
You've gotten your O.W.L. results, haven't you? I got ten “Outstandings”, and an “Exceeds Expectations” in DADA. Acceptable results, I suppose, though I do wish I'd managed an O in Defence. How did yours go? Did you get the scores you needed to become an Auror after you graduate from Hogwarts (assuming you remain there, that is)?
I feel like I've prattled on long enough, so it's probably time to end this letter. Take care, Harry, and write back soon!
P.S. Oh no you don't! Don't try and blame it all on Ron, mister! No one's responsible for your lack of interest in reading but you. If you wanted to read, you could. You still can, even. You're not a lost cause yet, you know. I'd be happy to recommend some reading material, if you'd like.
Harry let out an involuntary sigh of relief as he finished reading Hermione's letter. While he still worried about Hermione putting herself in danger simply by being his friend, he had to admit that he was glad to know he still had her support. He'd be lost without her. Especially now, knowing what he would eventually have to do.
She hadn't reacted to the prophecy at all like he'd expected. He thought she would either try and discredit it line-by-line, or just dismiss it as irrelevant nonsense. But she'd done neither. Instead, she'd readily accepted it to be legitimate, and spent a good portion of the letter reassuring him that he would be successful, and also promised to be there with him when the time came to try and defeat Voldemort. He would have something to say about that last bit, but deep down he knew that there was no way he'd be able to change her mind.
She'd also raised some interesting questions about Dumbledore's actions and decisions, which, when added to his own gripes, only served to increase his mistrust of the Headmaster. He definitely had some major thinking to do about Dumbledore, as well as his uncertain future at Hogwarts.
Hermione put down the letter that Pigwidgeon had just delivered from the Burrow, and grinned in anticipation. She'd be seeing Harry soon!
Hermione scrawled aquick reply, and sent it back with Pig. She felt a bit guilty about evading some of Ron's questions, but she didn't want to betray Harry's trust. She was hopeful that Harry would confide in Ron eventually.
Speaking of Harry, it wasn't long after she'd sent Pig on his way that the day's post arrived, with her third letter from Harry included. Hermione opened the envelope with haste, eager as she was to find out more about Harry's mistrust of Headmaster Dumbledore.
Part of me is glad to hear that you've no intention of leaving me, even with the prophecy. Another part kind of wishes you would. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad you're my friend, and I don't know what I'd do without you. But I know that being my friend puts you in even more danger, especially if you really are going to be with me whenever Itake on Voldemort. And if something were to happen to you, I don't think I'd ever forgive myself. That moment in the Department of Mysteries, where you got cursed by Dolohov and I thought you might be dead, was the most terrifying moment of my life. You said that you don't even want to think about what your life would be like without me in it. Well, that goes both ways, so if you're going to fight by my side, you better be careful.
I'm sure I'll fill Ron in about the prophecy eventually, yeah, but I want to make my decision about my future before I tell him what the prophecy says, or what you and I are talking about. He's my best mate and all, but he kind of has a habit of blurting things out without thinking. Iknow I'll have to speak with Dumbledore at some point, but I'd be afraid Ron would give something away before I'm ready. Dumbledore is a very intelligent person, and I don't want to speak with him until I've had a chance to think things over, not to mention discuss them with you. Otherwise, he might be able to manipulate the situation to his advantage.
Speaking of which, you brought up some interesting questions about Dumbledore in your last letter. I hadn't really thought about the risk he put all of his students in by bringing the stone to Hogwarts, or the way he reacted to our pleas about Sirius. I think you're right on both of those, and it makes me even more wary of trusting him.
I've come to question quite a few of Dumbledore's decisions over the past few weeks, but let's start with leaving me on the Dursleys' doorstep. He explained that he left me there because it was the safest place for me to be. Aunt Petunia, being a blood relative of my mother, provided the strongest protection possible when she agreed to take me in, however reluctantly. Some kind of ancient magic.
This makes sense, and I can't fault Dumbledore's decision to leave me there. But why did he allow the Dursleys to treat me so horribly? My first Hogwarts letter was addressed to “The Cupboard under the stairs”, so he obviously had some means of keeping an eye on me. So why didn't he make any effort to persuade the Dursleys to at least treat me like a human being? Putting me here and just ignoring me as he did might have kept me protected, but it sure as hell didn't do anything for the “happiness” he apparently cares so much about.
How about the quality of instructors he offers at Hogwarts? In five years, we've had exactly ONE good teacher in Defence. Aside from Remus, the most effective instructor we had was a bloody Death Eater who used Polyjuice to disguise himself. How pathetic is that?
And that's before we even get to Snape. How that greasy git got hired in the first place is mystery enough, but how in the name of Merlin has he held on to that job for so long? Everyone knows how awfully he treats anyone who isn't a Slytherin. Even the other professors can see it. The man is a bully, but Dumbledore lets him get away with anything and everything. Same thing with Filch. Why does he continue to employ people who treat most of the students like complete rubbish?
On that same note, what made him think that having Snape teach me Occlumency was agood idea? Snape has never tried to teach me a thing in five years. I get why he didn't want to teach me Occlumency himself, but surely there has to have been someone he could have gone to besides Snape? Even if it were someone who wasn't as skilled at Occlumency, they'd still have done a better job at teaching it to me than Snape.
But still, it all comes back to the prophecy. I don't think I'd have even stopped to think about all of these other things if he hadn't screwed that up so badly. I get not telling me right away. Your point that he might have been afraid that Voldemort could have used our connection to hear it is a good one, too. But how could he not have at least told me that there was something Voldemort greatly desired in the Ministry? That's all he would have needed to say to prevent everything that happened at the end of term. He admitted as much afterwards, when we talked in his office. But, even though Iunderstand that everyone makes mistakes, I'm having a difficult time getting past this one.
What do you think, Hermione? Am I being too hard on him?
Since you asked about Sirius...I miss him, of course, and I still feel a bit guilty about what happened. It's tough, but I've come to accept that Sirius wouldn't want me to sit and sulk or feel sorry for myself. He'd want me to stand up and take action, which is what I'm trying to do (with your help, of course.) Together, I'm hoping the two of us can figure out what my next move should be, whether it's returning to Hogwarts, transferring to a new school, or leaving school behind entirely so Ican focus on preparing for Voldemort. Let me know what you think. I'm not saying I'll automatically go along with whatever you suggest, but I do value your opinion
Oh, since you asked about my scores: I got 7 O.W.L.s, but I only managed an E in Potions. Snape requires an O to continue on with the course, so no, I didn't get the marks I needed to try and become an Auror. Oh well; looks like I'll get my fill of fighting dark wizards anyhow. And at least I won't have to be around that greasy haired git very much, even if I do return to Hogwarts.
Congratulations on your marks, by the way. Extremely well done, but I expected nothing less from you.
P.S. You're right, of course. I probably should do some more reading. Especially knowing what I'm going to have to do in the future. I'll need every bit of knowledge I can get if I'm going to beat Voldemort. Feel free to suggest anything you think might help.
Hermione bit her bottom lip in thought as she finished reading Harry's letter. She had to admit that Harry made some valid points against Dumbledore, as well as against the quality of education offered at Hogwarts. Still, her gut told her that the best place for Harry to be was at Hogwarts. Dumbledore would be able to keep tabs on Voldemort's activities better than anyone else, and he could also be an invaluable source of knowledge and training for Harry. She didn't think there was any other place on Earth that could offer Harry a greater chance of victory.
But in order for that to work, some things would have to change. He and Headmaster Dumbledore would have to have a talk, and reach some sort of mutual understanding. Otherwise, there would be too much distrust on Harry's side.
As Hermione saw it, two things would need to happen for Harry to return to Hogwarts. One, Dumbledore would need to address Harry's problems in astraightforward and truthful manner, and show real regret and agenuine desire to make amends. Two, Harry would need to accept Dumbledore's explanations, and give him a second chance.
If either of those things went wrong, Harry would be leaving Hogwarts, and Hermione wouldn't be able to stop him. She'd have to follow him, wherever he went.
Harry sent off Hedwig with a reply to his latest letter from Ron. This letter had done even more to raise Harry's spirits than Ron's first, though it had more to do with the news Ron provided this time. Ron had written to tell him that his parents had spoken with Dumbledore, and gotten the Headmaster's approval for Harry to come to the Burrow on his birthday. Better still, Dumbledore had even said that Harry would not need to return to Privet Drive afterwards, and would be able to spend the remainder of the summer with the Weasleys. Harry was thrilled to hear this. Being at Privet Drive had given him plenty of time to think things over during the previous month or so, but he was more than ready to leave it behind and spend some time with people he actually liked.
Not to mention, Ron told him that Hermione would be there as well. He'd been in close contact with her, thanks to the letters, but he was still looking forward to seeing her in person for the first time in a month. He wondered if they'd get a chance to talk privately amidst all the hustle and bustle of the party he was sure Mrs. Weasley would throw for him, or if they'd have to save those kinds of discussions for later.
While he looked forward to actually speaking with Hermione face-to-face, he'd presently have to make due with reading her latest letter, which arrived soon thereafter.
First, I just want to say how excited I am to see you again! Just before I got your last letter, Pigwidgeon came by with a note from Ron. I'm sure you'll have heard from him as well by the time you get this letter, so you don't need the details, obviously. I can't wait to see you again, give you a big hug, and wish you a happy birthday! Before that, though, I'll need to get your present. I think I know what I'd like to get you, but I'll need to speak with the Weasleys first.
Of course I'm not going to leave you, Harry! As if that silly prophecy would keep me away! As I've already said, and will continue to say as many times as it takes for it to sink in: I'm sticking with you to the end, Harry. And I promise to be careful, so long as you do the same.
I understand your reluctance to fill Ron in about the prophecy. He does have atendency to open his mouth without thinking sometimes, I don't deny that. If you want to wait until you've made your decision about Hogwarts before you talk to Ron, I'll support you. But if you do decide to leave, I hope you'll speak to Ron before you go. I think he deserves that, at least.
You've raised several interesting points about Professor Dumbledore. If it had only been hiding the prophecy from you, I'd have argued that you should forgive him and let it slide. I've always held the Headmaster in the highest esteem, but the more I think about them, the more Iquestion some of his decisions. Your doubts towards him are very valid. As to whether I think you're being too hard on him? Honestly, that's for you to decide, Harry. But you definitely need to speak with him.
You asked for my opinion on what your next move should be. After listening to everything you've had to say, I understand why you're so hesitant to return to Hogwarts, so long as it is run by Dumbledore. But, in my honest opinion, Hogwarts is the best place for you to be. As you already know all too well, you are right in the thick of this war, whether you want to be or not. And so is Dumbledore. You might not trust him right now, Harry, but both of you want the same thing. You both want to bring Voldemort down, so he and his followers can no longer harm anyone. If at all possible, the two of you should be working together. Dumbledore is a great wizard, Harry, and his support would be invaluable for you. But in order for that to happen, the two of you need to sit down and talk everything out. You need to tell him exactly what is on your mind, and you need to make it clear that you will not tolerate having things hidden from you any longer.
It's not all up to you, of course. Professor Dumbledore needs to be honest with you, and he needs to stop trying to shield you from things. He needs to keep you better informed, and he needs to do a better job of preparing you for your inevitable showdown with Voldemort.
If he seems reluctant to change his ways, or you think his words are insincere? Then I suppose you might as well leave Hogwarts. If you can't trust him, then there's no point in you remaining there. Better for you to go elsewhere, where at the very least, it might be more difficult for Voldemort to come after you. Can't be any easier than at Hogwarts, at least, since either he or one of his followers have made an attempt on your life every single year.
You'd still need to attend school somewhere, of course. Like you said, you'll need every bit of knowledge you can get against Voldemort, and aside from that, you need school to help prepare you for your life after Voldemort, as well.
I've done a bit of research into the matter, and there have been people who have transferred both to and from Hogwarts in the past. You might have to sit out a term, or you could possibly join late and play catch-up. It all depends on the school you would be transferring to. I'll be happy to tell you more about this if it proves necessary.
And just so there are no surprises later: if you do leave Hogwarts and relocate to another school, I WILL be going with you. I said I'm going to stand by you, and I meant it. I've already spoken to my parents about the possibility of transferring to another school, and they had no problem with it. Not that that matters much, since as far as the wizarding world is concerned, I'll be a legal adult in less than two months. It might be trickier for you, as you'd need permission from the Dursleys. But I'm sure you could get them to go along with it if you have to. Feel free to take advantage of their fear of me, if need be.
I'm sorry to hear that you can't pursue a career as an Auror now, but perhaps it's for the best. Maybe after all this is over, you can find a job that doesn't require you to put your life on the line regularly, and I can stop worrying about you so much!
That's it for now, Harry. I imagine this will be the last letter before I see you on your birthday, so I just want to say that it's been nice to actually be in regular contact with you over the summer, even if it has been under rather difficult circumstances. But of course, these letters still aren't as good as the real thing. I can't wait to see you, Harry! If we get a moment alone, maybe we can talk about all of this some more?
See you soon, Harry!
Harry set the letter down, knowing that he'd be thinking about it quite a bit while he waited to see Hermione in person. She'd given him a lot to ponder. He was still wary of putting trust in Dumbledore, but she made agreat point. If the two of them could work together in the fight against Voldemort, Hogwarts would be the best place for him to be. But could they do it? Could Harry get through to Dumbledore, and make him see that things needed to change? Could Harry put his trust in Dumbledore again, after everything that had happened in the past year?
Harry had no idea. But one thing was for sure: he couldn't wait to see Hermione.
A/N: There, the exchange of letters is now done with. Thank goodness; this chapter was a real chore for me to write. Is it a chore to read as well? If so, I apologize. If you didn't like this chapter, and the letter-writing format, hopefully the next chapter(s) will be more to your liking.