Astronomy Tower
Romance Drama
Multiple Eras
Published: 12/01/2002
Updated: 12/01/2002
Words: 12,719
Chapters: 1
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A Theory of Letters


Story Summary:
While Hermione is away on a dangerous mission, she and her husband Harry stay in touch via owl post.

Chapter Summary:
While Hermione is away on a dangerous mission, she and her husband .Harry stay in touch via owl post.
Author's Note:
This short story takes place in the future of my Paradigm of Uncertainty universe, in the year 2031.

A Theory of Letters

A PoUniverse future cookie by Lori Summers

Author's note: I've always wanted to write something in the epistolary format (one of my favorite novels, a book called "Ella Minnow Pea," is an epistolary novel and by the way every single one of you should absolutely READ it!) and here's my attempt. It takes place in 2031, in my "future" fanon, as ill-defined as it has been by my previous cookies. You don't really need to know anything about it, even if you haven't read any other future cookies of mine you'll get the idea.

June 21st

Dear Hermione,

You've been gone for about six hours and I'm already writing to you. Does this seat me in the Needy and Pathetic Section, or do I just get a nice box up in the Loving Husband Balcony? Of course you won't get this until at least tomorrow. I'm not much good at writing letters, unfortunately. With your team under Bubble lockdown looks like I'll just have to adjust.

I miss you already. The kids do, too. It's funny...if you'd been gone to work for six hours, or had gone to London to visit your parents for six hours, we wouldn't miss you at all. But these six hours seem so much worse because we know it's just the first six hours of a very long six weeks. The three of us just sat around and moped all evening. Ron came over and wanted to play chess but no one took him up on it. Laura tried to get Helen to go with her and Ginny to some sale they're having at Madame Malkin's but she had none of it. They ought to know better than to try and tempt her with shopping, she hates it. She finally went to bed about an hour ago.

I'm feeling out of sorts because Ben and I got into a bit of an argument, a really stupid one. It ended up all right...mostly because he at least could muster the maturity to realize we were only fighting because we were both anxious about you being gone for so long. "Try not to worry, Dad," he finally said. "Mum's had to go away before and it's been fine. Let's just try not to get on each other's nerves too much."

He's right, you've gone away before, but never for this long...and never when it was this dangerous. Of course the kids don't know just how dangerous it is...in fact, I don't really know myself, I can only deduce based on the preparations that were being made. I know, we've been over it a hundred times, our jobs have risks, we've accepted them, blah blah. I just can't stand sitting here doing nothing while you're out there putting your life on the line. I know someone has to do it. But why does it have to be you? It ought to be me. I'm the one with the Grand Stupid Destiny to fight evil. I'm the one the fates gave the extra ammo so I could beat back all the naughtiness.

I'm sorry, I didn't want to be such a downer right out of the gate. I'm just...oh hell, if I can't be honest in a private letter then where can I? I'm scared stiff that something will happen to you out there. I'm so scared of it that I don't think I'll sleep a wink while you're away.

I should have gone with you. We should be facing it together. Well...that's just not how it worked out. So tonight I'll go to bed alone and try not to think about where you are. Tomorrow's a busy day, I'm taking the kids out to see the Cannons with the Weasleys. I think a nice big family outing is just the ticket. I hope the weather holds out. Helen can't wait, she wants to record Tormagen's technique so she can replay it and practice it in the backyard. It makes me laugh, it really does. I hope I haven't lost all my Seeker instincts in all the years it's been since I played competitively, but Helen refuses to take any of my advice. I might as well have played back in the Third Age for all she listens to me. I offered to coach her over the summer but she'd have none of it. I suppose when you're fourteen your father is the stupidest person on earth, even if you're as level-headed as Helen.

I hope you've arrived safely at...wherever. I can't believe they won't even tell me where you've gotten off to. I could find out if I really wanted to but I'll be a good boy, I promise. I hope you're not camped out in some swamp and that at least you get to stay in a moderately decent hotel. I hope you aren't stuck bunking with Seven again. And if you're somewhere exotic and some buffed and burnished sex god offers you a massage and a fruity drink with a little umbrella in it, then...well, think of me while you're drinking it.

All my love, your needy and pathetic husband,

June 27th

Dear Harry,

I'm so sorry it's taken me a few days to write you...I've thought of doing it every moment but we've just got so much to do. We're setting up a complete safehouse with an equipped field office (so no, I'm not stuck in a swamp) and it's taking up every spare moment of my time.

I don't think it was needy and pathetic that you wrote me after six hours, I think it's adorable. And you were already seated in a box in the Loving Husband Balcony, never fear. I can't believe it's almost been a week. I miss you and Ben and Helen so dreadfully, but I'm much too busy most of the time to feel sorry for myself. And thanks so much for rubbing it in, because as luck would have it, I am stuck bunking with Seven again. She's a good agent but she snores like a chainsaw.

I thought of all of you at the Cannons game last weekend and wished I could be there. I pictured you sitting between Ben and Helen, all of you wearing something orange, with Ron next to you and the Weasleys gathered all around. I could see it all so clearly. Helen with her Omnioculars stuck on her face, recording everything Tormagen did. Ben probably paying more attention to pretty girls in the stands than to the game. You and Ron laughing about various mishaps that befell you when you used to play. How sexy you always looked in your Quidditich robes at school! And yes, I even thought so way back then. Sometimes I'm sorry you never played professionally, if only because it's a shame I never got to openly admire your butt in nice tight Quidditch trousers.

I know you're afraid for my safety, darling. I wish I could reassure you and tell you not to worry, but it wouldn't do any good so I won't waste the ink. And please, don't wring your hands that you ought to be here with me. As much as I'd love to have you here, we both know it's not possible. We promised each other that we would avoid endangering both of us at the same time whenever we could, remember? If something were to happen, we'd want one of us to be safe to take care of our children. We've never really talked about it, have we? After that first five-minute chat when we agreed to this. Well, this is a letter and I can't see your face so I'll tell you the truth...while I am totally dedicated to the spirit of that agreement, I hate it. I hate it because if I'm doing something dangerous I still want you there with me...and frankly, if I die in the line of duty, I want you there to hold me when I go. I want your face to be the last thing I see, I want to tell you I love you with my last breath. Holy cow, that's awfully morbid, but I can't help it. And it's awfully selfish. The most important thing is that our children are looked after. At least we have the comfort that if something ever did happen to both of us there are at least a dozen people who'd line up to take them in. Ron is already practically a second father to them, Laura loves them like they were her own. They'd be absorbed into the Weasley family so fast it'd make their heads spin. My parents would care for them, Charlotte would care for them, Ginny and Draco would relocate their entire empire if it were needed. And let's call a spade a spade...if you and I both died in some fight against evil, Ben and Helen would be adopted by the entire wizarding world. They'd never want for another thing as long as they lived...except us, I suppose.

Oh, do keep telling me all the boring, day-to-day things they're up to. I want to know it all. I know I'm to be gone a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things, but I feel as if I'm missing out on a great deal. And please keep pouring your heart out to me, it makes me feel not quite so far from home. I can't wait for your next letter.

I'd write more now, but my buffed and burnished sex god is here with my massage and fruity drink. I will try to think of you while I enjoy hi...I mean it.

Love always, your massaged and fruity wife,

June 30th

Dear Hermione,

I think Minerva McGonagall is conspiring against me, I really do. Helen got a letter in the owl post today (which was exciting enough by itself, it looked all official and, as she gleefully showed me, was addressed to Miss Helen Potter, Gryffindor Seeker) inviting her to a special Quidditch camp they're holding for a week up at Hogwarts...starting the 10th of July! Helen is beside herself with joy, she can't wait to go, she's spending every spare moment polishing and grooming her broomstick and oiling her leathers. I desperately wanted to forbid her but I just couldn't, there's no earthly reason not to let her go except that I don't want her to. It's just that it's bad enough that my wife's off fighting the dark forces in some distant corner of the globe, now they want to whisk away my daughter, too! The house feels lonesome enough without you, with Helen gone too it'll just be Ben and I rattling around like the last two peas in the can. Honestly, I'm afraid without Helen here to mediate that he and I really will kill each other.

I know, I'm exaggerating. Sirius has reassured me time and again that any difficulties I have with Ben are nothing outside the scope of normal friction between a father and his sixteen year old son. In fact, he tells me that I'm getting off considerably easier than just about every father in the history of fathers, including himself. Maybe he's right, it just feels so strange to fight with Ben. It's not like when he was a kid and he got into trouble every other day...that was him being accident-prone and experimental. He's always been so good-natured and warm. He still is, most of the time. It's as if there's some clock in his head that goes off about once a week and says to him 'Okay, Benjamin! Up and at 'em! Time to challenge your dad's authority, question his intelligence and accuse him of screwing up your life!' So he does, we fight, we slam doors, we stew about it, we talk rationally, and it's over...for another week. It's all so senseless. Arthur says (I know, I oughtn't go running to Arthur with everything, but he raised six sons and they're all terrific so can you blame me?) it's just part of him growing up, becoming a man himself. He's challenging me to see how I react because I'm his model for how to be a man and all that stuff, and he's establishing his own identity and marking his own independence and couldn't he just pee on things to mark his territory like a wolf or something? It'd be a lot less traumatic for me, if smellier.

I'm just terrified I'll say something in the heat of the moment that I'll regret, something that'll scar him for life. I'm making all this up as I go along, I never had a father, I don't know what to do. I'm even more nervous with you gone. You always calm me down when I feel like I'd love to drop-kick him into next week. The funny thing is that I never thought of myself as having much of a temper. Isn't that ironic. Let no one claim that they have no temper until they are the parent of a teenager. But whenever I think I have it bad, I remind myself that Molly and Arthur had two sixteen-year olds at once...and that those two were Fred and George. Then I stop and marvel at the fact that any of them escaped with their lives. I've even found myself pitying Petunia and Vernon. Imagine having to deal with Dudley at sixteen. Granted, he was awful because they made him so, but still. What was I like at sixteen? Was I this obnoxious? At least I was out of the house for most of the year...then again, so is Ben. How do parents whose kids don't go to boarding school survive? I'm wondering if I'll live through this summer.

I have to stop relying on Helen so much, too. I have to get my information about Ben from him, not secondhand from Helen. It's not fair to put her in the middle. Why does she have to be so damned mature? It's so easy to start talking to her like an adult, I have to remind myself she's only fourteen and she shouldn't concern herself with anything other than school, Quidditch and possibly boys (urgh, awful thought). She just reminds me so much of you when you were that age...without the bossiness. Ha! You're far away and can't smack me if I call you bossy! Bossy! Bossy!

I think I've been hanging out with the kids too much, I feel myself losing years of emotional maturity by the second. Pretty soon I'll be running around yelling about girl cooties.

But enough Family Drama. Things at work are ordinary. I've spent the last two days on paperwork for our new field team coordinator. Yes, Napoleon canned another one. Honestly, since Diz left we've gone through ten field coordinators. I told Napoleon that if I'd been as liberal with the pink slips as he is he would have been out of a job his first week. I think I've found a foolproof choice, at last. It better be, it's the last coordinator I'm digging up. If Napoleon fires this one he'll just have to do his own damned scutwork and not come crying to me when he falls behind. So there. And as requested I'm keeping an eye on your division while you're gone. Things seem to be swimming along just fine, Jane's doing a bang-up job filling your practical yet trendy shoes.

Ron came over last night and we stayed up until after midnight doing nothing. It was so great. We just sat around and talked about...well, nothing. At the end of the evening he remembered he'd come by to bring me an important item I'd need while you were away. I was puzzled...then he whipped out a huge bottle of hand lotion and ran off cackling before I could slug him. I suppose it is sort of funny. I mean it's a really enormous bottle. Not that I'll be needing it, not with my head full of thoughts about you and your buffed and burnished sex god. How is he, by the way? I picture him in tight white t-shirts stretched over his rippling muscles, tan from all that fetching of fruity drinks. I think his name must be something Nordic and monosyllabic, like...Lars. Or Knut.

I'm yawning now, I think I must sign off. Notice how well I avoided talking about missing you. Don't feel slighted. It's only because I miss you so much I can't put it in words, and if I try I fear I might just bawl great unmanly tears, so I'm avoiding the topic. Write soon, sweetheart.

All my love, your chapped and sore husband,

July 3rd

Dearest Harry,

I do wish you'd stop fretting about Ben. I keep telling you it's normal, when are you going to believe me? There are a few men on this assignment with sons about Ben's age and I told them about your concerns, and you know what? They laughed in my face. "Your husband and your son fight about once a week?" one of them said, amazed. "How about once a day? Or how about once every damned hour?" They seem to think you're getting off easy, just like Sirius said. I know you worry about it, it's probably just that you've always gotten on so well with both of them that any discord gets blown up all out of proportion. And I know you're paranoid of them turning against you, because you're always paranoid about everyone turning against you. God knows I understand, but sweetheart, our children love you very much. We're very blessed with intelligent, loving kids and we've raised them as best we know how. What more can we do? So you and Ben have a tiff on a semi-regular basis over how late he can stay out or whether or not he can go into London with his friends on the weekend. Big deal! And when you're not having a tiff, is he sullen? Uncommunicative? Resentful? Withdrawn? No! He's his same old good-natured self. Tom, the man who gave me the quote I wrote above, actually got tears in his eyes when I told him that Ben hugs you goodnight every day. "I wish my son did that," he said. So will you stop being such an alarmist?

I was excited to read about Helen's camp invitation but I know what you mean about not wanting her to leave the house. Remember when you had to go to New York for two weeks a few years ago? While you were gone I didn't want either of the kids to even go on a sleepover. I just wanted to keep them right close by my side all the time. Oh well, we do what we have to do. I'm sure she's excited to have been invited. Do you think she's considering playing professionally? I think she's good enough that she'll have offers when she graduates. I'm not sure how I'd feel about that. On the one hand she'd be financially independent after only a few seasons, but on the other hand I think it'd be a shame to waste her intellect on a career in Quidditch. It's just...something I've been thinking about.

Does it ever just hit you funny, out of the blue? You and I have two children. Together. Isn't that amazing? I know, we've had these kids for awhile now, this should no longer be newsworthy but sometimes it just strikes me. Once upon a time we were wee ickle firsties at Hogwarts, making our way through our years of school, then those first shaky years of being grownups. All the swing competitions, all the Friday night wine parties, all the adventures we had. And now look at us. In November we'll have been married for twenty four years. We have two real, honest-to-God offspring who are, let's face it, almost grown up themselves. Sometimes I wonder what I would think of my own future if I were to see it when I was twenty-one. If someone had sat us down in that four-story walk up we lived in in Shepherd's Bush and told us that in thirty years this is where we'd be, what would we have thought?

People I know casually often ask me about us. I'm sure this happens to you too, but I don't think as much...people are intimidated by you, you're too high-profile. Me, I'm safe. Approachable. So they approach. They say things like "Gosh, you guys sure seem to have such a great marriage." Or "I've been reading about you and Harry in the Daily Prophet for most of my life! Sounds too good to be true!" Do you ever get the feeling that people are just waiting for some stunning revelation that'll prove it actually was too good to be true? Sometimes I think that everyone would just be delighted if it came out that one of us had been unfaithful, or that we actually hated each other and were sticking it out for the kids' sake, or that one of us was filing for divorce.

Sometimes I'm amazed that nothing like that has actually happened. I don't know if you think about this, but I know that I do. I think about it constantly, and I wonder what I did to deserve such marvelous luck. I think back to when we were first together. Our first few years were not peaceful times for us. We had a lot of challenges for a young couple just trying to define a new relationship and start building a life together. But still I remember how it was when we got married, and how much I loved you. I can remember walking up the aisle and I couldn't take my eyes off you, and it was all I could do not to run up that aisle because I couldn't wait, I couldn't wait to marry you. I was so anxious to get to introduce you to people as my husband, and hear you tell people I was your wife.

Harry, if I haven't told you this in awhile, I'm sorry, because it should be repeated often. Right now at this moment, I love you just as much as I did on the day I married you. In fact, if anything, I love you more now than I did then. I've watched you change and grow, as I've done myself. We worked hard to shape our marriage and keep it healthy, and it hasn't always been easy. We've had our good and our bad times. You made me a mother, and it wasn't something I was certain I was suited for, but you made me feel like I was. I watched you become a father, and I know how scared you were that you wouldn't know how, but you turned out to be a wonderful father, which I never doubted for a second. You've been a better husband to me than I ever thought I'd be lucky enough to have. I can only hope that I've been as good a wife to you.

Blast, now I'm crying again. I'll write more later. Oh, and Sven sends his love. He's a little concerned that he's running out of paper umbrellas.

Love, your emotional and lonesome wife,

July 5th

Dear Hermione,

I love Ben. Ben is wonderful. If I ever start to criticize him ever again, please punch me in the nose. He came upon me right as I was reading your last letter for the third time straight, and yes I was crying big unmanly tears, and he got all concerned. "Dad, why are you crying? Is it bad news? What's wrong? Is Mum okay?" and he sat right down next to me and I told him that no, it wasn't any bad news, that I was just sad because I miss you and I started to apologize and he stopped me. He asked if he could see your letter, and I said okay, and he read it and when he was done he said "Geez, Dad. Don't be embarrassed if this makes you cry. You should only be embarrassed if it didn't make you cry." He hugged me and then he said "I hope someday I have a wife who writes me letters like this."

Is this a normal sixteen year old? Aren't young men supposed to have a hard time talking about their feelings? Where did we go so right with him? I wish I could bottle it up and pass it around so every father in the world gets to have a son like Ben. And it gets better! He was worried because he'd read the part of the letter (which I didn't recall was there until it was too late) where you responded to my concerns about the fights he and I have. So that got us talking about it and we talked and talked about it and it was so great. We brought up a lot of things that we'd never really discussed. He confessed that sometimes he feels like he has to distance himself just so he'll feel less like Harry Potter's Son, and that he's sensed for a long time that Helen was my favorite (that really hurt to hear him say that) and that she was better at everything than he was, but he didn't blame her for this, he blamed me. He laughed and said when he started learning about psychology he found out he was the Oedipal poster boy and that he was still getting over that little-boy sense of competing with me for your love. He said that for a few years when he was a kid he was convinced that you loved me way more than you loved him (don't worry, he knows now that's not true) and he said lots of other stuff that I won't go into but it had all been bottled up for a long time and I was amazed at how self-aware he was, how well he understood himself and his own feelings. When I was sixteen I could scarcely hug you or Ron without feeling all weird.

We stayed up way past his bedtime talking, but I think an exception was warranted. When he finally went off to bed he hugged me goodnight and told me he loved me, and then he said "But you know Dad, this doesn't mean we're never going to fight again," which made me laugh. So he went upstairs and I sat up and yes, I cried some more big unmanly tears. It was just...how do I say this? As parents we tend to think of Ben and Helen are "our kids." Their role is to be our kids, to do what we say sometimes, to challenge us other times, to hang around and eat all the food in the icebox and require rides and clothes and school supplies and cost us a fortune at every opportunity. Tonight it hit me hard that Ben is an actual person, completely separate from you and me. He's an individual with his own way of looking at the world and his own feelings about things. I felt like I was getting to know that person all over again. It was strange and wonderful and at the same time awful, because it reminded me that pretty soon he won't be ours anymore. He'll leave Hogwarts and he'll make his own way in the world.

Anyway, I thought you'd like to know about that. I wish you'd been here...but at the same time I'm glad you weren't. It might not have happened if you'd been around, and I know for certain we wouldn't have talked the way we did if you'd been here. No offense, darling.

One thing we decided is that when Helen goes up to Hogwarts for her camp he and I are going to go stay at Bailicroft while she's gone. Take a little vacation. I'll take a week off work and we'll go to the beach and we'll go hiking and do whatever comes into our heads. So that's where we'll be starting the 10th, okay?

I got a letter from Emma today. She sounds like she misses us. Her new family isn't a live-in and she feels so disconnected, she says. I wrote her back and told her we miss her, too. I still wish I knew why she left us so suddenly. I really hope she wasn't unhappy. Ben and Helen were so devastated, remember? It was like losing a parent. I didn't think we'd ever find another housekeeper like her and I was right. Gracie keeps the house clean but there's no substitute for a live-in when you've got schedules like us...although you were right, we don't really need that kind of constantly dependable help now that the kids are old enough to look after themselves. I feel like I need that kind of help sometimes, though. I dunno. Emma always...this might sound stupid but she always put flowers around the house. She knew exactly how you like the towels folded and how Helen likes her sandwiches cut and how I like my desk arranged and I could go on and on. I don't know what I'm babbling about. I suppose when someone lives in your house (or rather, above the carport) for twelve years you get to think you know them, that there's some attachment there. Oh well.

I hope your assignment is going well. I don't suppose there's any chance you'll be done weeks early and can come home sooner? Don't be alarmed if you haven't gotten a letter from Helen. She is writing you one and every day she tells me she's going to put it in the owl post but every day she thinks of something else she wants to add or something new happens she's just got to tell you about so it just keeps getting longer and longer. I may have to send out for a heavy-load owl when she finally finishes the damned thing. It may turn into a sort of journal, and you'll be able to just read it yourself when you get back. That's Helen for you, I guess. So much to say, so little time to get it just right.

Anything to report from your end? I know, you're not allowed to tell me anything at all. You could tell me in hypotheticals. All I ask is that when you decide to divorce me and run off with Sven you give me a few days' notice.

All my love, your not at all frantic husband,

July 6th

Dear Harry,

Your last letter just made me glow for days thinking about that talk you and Ben had. How wonderful, and how rare such a thing is. You're right, we ought to remember more frequently how lucky we are in the sort of children we have. Maybe we're getting reparations for all the lousy karma we had in our youth.

I figured as much about Helen's letter, I know her well enough to guess about the reason I hadn't heard from her. I get a letter from Ben every three days like clockwork. He did refer to your chat in his last note. He didn't go into much detail (it's just between guys, you understand) but he said it felt great to get some stuff out and talk to you honestly, you know, man-to-man. He's very big on the "gotta be a man" thing these days. I suppose it's natural at his age to be really defining yourself by your masculinity, but I sure hope he doesn't turn all macho on us! I'm not sure I could take it. Then again I don't know where he'd learn to be macho...you certainly aren't and neither is anyone else we know, with the possible exception of Napoleon, who isn't so much macho as merely indescribable.

And now...sigh...I've got something of my own to get off my chest and come clean about. You mentioned a letter from Emma and you wondered why she left. Well, we've always said we didn't really know why, but that's not entirely true. I knew why she left but she swore me to secrecy. I suppose enough time has passed now, there's no real harm in my telling you, and God knows you can keep a secret.

I don't want to make you feel guilty, sweetie, but the fact is that Emma left because of you. Now don't be alarmed, it's nothing you did or said. She came to me before she gave her notice and I could see right away that she was upset and trying not to cry, naturally I was concerned. She tried to talk to me calmly but she broke down in tears and couldn't even look me in the eye. I know now that she was scared of my reaction to what she had to say. It took awhile, but I managed to get it out of her. The truth is that Emma had decided she could no longer live with us because she'd fallen in love with you. I know, I know, it's very afternoon-serial, but such is life. At first I thought she was kidding, though her tears should have been a tipoff. But no, she was serious. She couldn't stop apologizing, she said over and over again that it was all her fault, it was just her, and swore up and down that you hadn't done anything inappropriate (which I knew, of course), it was just something she fought and fought but couldn't fight anymore. It was just too painful for her to stay with us. She told me she loved me like a sister and she couldn't stand that she had these feelings for my husband and that while it would break her heart to leave Ben and Helen, she had to do it for her own sake.

Naturally I was surprised. Emma had been sure I'd be angry and would throw her out, in fact I think she was shocked that I didn't. Honestly, what sort of ogre did she think I was? A person can't help these things. Besides, I told her, if there's one thing I understand very well, it's loving Harry Potter. She laughed a little and said she was so relieved that I wasn't mad. We talked about it for a little while. I told her I couldn't blame her for feeling that way. After all, you're quite lovable, my dear. You're kind and sweet and handsome, and all that power is quite a turn-on, after all. And of course she saw you every day in your home, playing with your kids, talking to me, being a Dad and a husband and lots of other things that make a man seem even more attractive. It's no wonder, really.

So, regretfully, I accepted her resignation even though I told her I wished there was some way she could stay, but I understood that it would be difficult and awkward for her, especially now that she'd told me. She didn't want anyone else to know. But now I've told you, and you mustn't let on that I did. I'm sure she'd be mortified and quite cross with me. Oh, and don't let it go to your head, buster. Don't start thinking that you are, as Laura used to say, all that and a box of socks. Ha ha! As if you'd get a big head. You, who still manage to be surprised (or at least act surprised) when you get your annual anointing by Witch Weekly as the Sexiest Wizard Alive.

While I'm making confessions I have another one. I did something the day before I left that I've been wracked with guilt over, and there's no one else I could possibly tell about it but you. You'll love me anyway...right? Okay, I'm gathering my resolve...here goes.

I read Helen's diary. I know, I know...it's awful and intrusive and terrible and she'd never forgive me if she found out. I couldn't help myself! I was in her room looking for my black jumper, the one she likes to borrow without asking, and...there it was, open on her desk. You were at work and Ben was at Story's and Charlotte took Helen to London for the day and I knew I wouldn't get caught. So I read it. I felt guilty while I was doing it, I felt guilty after I did it and I knew I shouldn't, but I just couldn't stop myself. Why is it that a mother must also become the biggest busybody in the known universe? I guess it's our lot in life to worry about our kids and want to know absolutely everything.

So you know what I found out? Nothing. Well, nothing that I didn't already know. I found that our daughter isn't doing anything secretly, isn't experimenting with illegal charms, isn't cheating on her schoolwork, doesn't fantasize about running away from home, and doesn't seem to be harboring any great resentments. I found out she has a crush on her friend Haring, which we suspected. I found out she thinks you're overprotective, which you are. I found out that she loves school, is insanely competitive at Quidditch, thinks of herself as far more mature than her big brother and worships Charlotte. All of this, we knew.

I don't know if this makes me feel better or worse. On one hand, I feel so relieved that she seems to be exactly who we think she is, and she doesn't seem to be in the habit of hiding things from us. On the other hand, I feel like I've now violated her privacy for no good reason. I would have felt vindicated in reading her diary if I'd learned something appalling that would require parental intervention, as if the ends justified the means. Except there is no ends, and I'm left with just the dishonest means.

I'm debating whether I should tell her. I think I shouldn't. No good could come from it. I'll just have to be extra careful not to intrude on her again in the future and I'll have to just go on feeling guilty about it.

I did find out one thing that actually made me laugh and want to cry at the same time. There was an entry from about a year ago that was longer than the others, and it started out with her writing that she'd never told anyone the story she was about to record. I got a little nervous. Seems that when she was about seven or eight, she got a ride home from school with Max and his mum, earlier than usual because her Wee Witches club meeting was cancelled. She knew we were both home but we didn't come to the door when she came inside to say hello, so she went looking for us. Well, she found us in the upstairs study and, well...I had to sort of deduce what she was talking about because she didn't write it straight out, but basically she saw us...how do I say this? Oh, hang it, if I can't say it directly to you then I need therapy. She saw me going down on you, okay? When I figured out what she was talking about I almost died of retroactive embarrassment. She said she got scared and ran away and hid in her room. I felt awful. I mean, imagine how that might seem to a little girl who has no idea what's going on! With a little thought I even remembered the day she was talking about, it was one of those rare days that we were both off work and had the house to ourselves. So here comes sweet innocent little Helen and she sees Daddy sitting in a chair and Mummy kneeling in front of him and doing...something...that can't possibly seem right or proper.

Of course I don't feel guilty that I was doing that to you. But I felt awful that Helen saw it and it confused and frightened her. She wrote that she thought you were making me do something bad, and for quite awhile she was mad at you for that. I do remember that day, and that evening she clung to me a lot and didn't want you to tuck her in. She must have gotten over it but she wrote that the incident always stayed with her.

But the reason she was writing about this on this particular day was that earlier that day, one of her neighborhood friends had been showing around a "naughty" book she'd found in her parents' library, I'm guessing some sort of how-to book about sex. Helen, always curious, naturally took a peek and she saw a chapter and a few illustrations about oral sex. She wrote that none of her friends understood why she started laughing when most of them were making "eww" noises. She finally understood what we'd been doing, and that it was okay that I'd been doing that to you, that it was all part of, as she said, "the lovey stuff."

That was the part that made me laugh, and I felt better. Whew. I feel better now, too, having gotten that off my chest. Hmm. Now I've got myself thinking about sex, too. We've managed to nicely avoid that topic in our letters, haven't we? How noble of us, and such rubbish. I think about it every day. I think about you every day. But my hand is cramping up. Maybe in one of my future letters I can go into more detail.

Of course, I don't have to just sit around feeling peckish, as you do. I have Sven. He's only a barely adequate substitute, hee hee.

Love, your busybody wife,

July 9th

My love,

Why why WHY did you have to tell me that story about what Helen wrote in her journal?!? I can barely look her in the face! I'm so embarrassed I might melt into a little puddle right here! Honestly. I got your letter last night and read it after the kids were in bed. I'm amazed that I didn't set the house on fire with my burning face. This morning Helen said "good morning" to me and I almost jumped out of my skin!

I thought I was getting through breakfast all right when Helen suddenly said "Dad, are you mad at me?" I was stunned and told her of course I wasn't. "You haven't said a word to me all morning!" she said. Then I felt even worse. I had to hug her and apologize. Of course I couldn't tell her WHY I was so mortified I could scarcely talk.

Whew. Okay. I feel better now having vented all that. Now I can reasonably respond to your last letter.

First off, I am stunned beyond my ability to express myself by your revelation about Emma. I simply can't believe it! And now more guilt! It's my fault she left! I'm so sorry...although I'm not sure what I could have done differently to have prevented this. I suppose I could have acted like a complete bastard around her, but I confess I didn't anticipate this being a problem. I'm relieved you don't think I did anything to encourage such affection in her. I had no earthly idea that anything like this was going on. I don't think I have anything more to say on this subject. I guess it's just one of those things that can't be helped. And don't concern yourself over my ego...most of the time I'm stunned that you still love me. My first thought when I read of her feelings was to wonder if we didn't work her too hard. She ought to have had more time to go out, maybe she'd have met some decent men and not gotten fixated on me because I was, you know...handy.

And next on to the diary issue. I'll be totally frank with you, Hermione. I think it was very wrong of you to have read it. It would be one thing to read it if we suspected Helen might be engaging in irresponsible or dangerous behavior. As her parents we would have had an obligation to do everything we could to find out what the problem was so we could help her. But Helen has never given us any cause for alarm! She's always been trustworthy and mature for her years. That is not to say that I don't understand the temptation you faced when you found her journal there. Of course I would have been tempted, too, and I can't honestly say that I would have been able to resist. But I would have expected more self-control from you, you're the rational one, the thoughtful parent. I'm Mr. Reactionary, so to speak.

But what's done is done, and we can't take it back. I think it would be a gigantic mistake to tell Helen. The only purpose that would serve would be to assuage your own guilt, and your relationship with Helen might suffer terribly for it. I can't imagine you're willing to take that risk. Of course if she ever found out some other way (I can't think how, but you never know) that you'd read it, I would back you completely. You and I have to be a united front to them. But I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you how I felt on the subject. I'm not angry with you, but I'm...I guess just disappointed that you didn't respect her privacy.

Scolding over. Now to the contents. I laughed myself silly when I read about Helen's entry, but like you I was embarrassed as well. And I felt terrible that she had me painted as the bad guy in that scenario, though it's understandable. I remember that day, too, and I remember wondering if I'd done or said something to make Helen mad at me. Come to learn it was YOU who did it! I'm relieved that it seems like she forgave me before that fateful day when she learned the truth. Let's just be grateful she didn't happen to see me going down on you instead. Merlin knows what she might have made of that!

And then, you cruel, cruel woman, you had to leave me off with those cryptic comments about those little thoughts you've been having about me while you're away. And to torment me further with that offhand remark about Sven, too! You must hate me horribly! What did I do to deserve such a diabolically evil wife? To hint that you're having sexy fantasies about me but refuse to tell me every little tiny detail about them? Like you don't know that I fantasize about you constantly. Every day that goes by that I don't see you it gets worse.

So this is my revenge...I'm not telling YOU anything, either. Ha!

Love, your horny beyond belief husband,

July 10th

Dear Vile Fiend,

You'll pay for that little tease. Your punishment will be to suffer. So I'm not going to tell you how long I laid awake in bed last night. I'm not going to tell you what I was doing, or what I wasn't wearing. I'm not going to tell you about what I was imagining you doing to me, or what I was wishing I could be doing to you. I'm not going to give you any details because I think I might have come up with a few new things to try, and I want them to be surprises.

So there.

Love and wishing you NO sleep tonight,
Evil Temptress

ps (this is the regular Hermione speaking) everything you said about Helen's journal was right. I shouldn't have read it. I wish I could apologize to her.

July 12th,

Dear Evil Temptress,

Oh, so now YOU think you're all that and a box of socks, do you? Well, think again. I slept like a baby after reading your last letter.

In other news, my huge bottle of hand lotion is suddenly half-empty this morning. Huh. That's odd.

Sigh. Enough teasing for now. It's fun, but it also makes me miss you even more, if that's possible.

So here we are at Bailicroft. Ben and I took Helen to King's Cross on the 10th for her trip up to Hogwarts for Quidditch camp. She was so excited she could scarcely talk. Then we came up here and moved right on in. Coming here always feels so good. This house more than any other one feels like my first real home, aside from Hogwarts. The Dursleys don't even register on the map. Our flat in London was a place to eat and sleep, but it never became a home to either of us. Bailicroft was the first place that I ever felt was really mine. There are so many special memories here. This is the house where we fell in love. I can't go through the second-floor living gallery without looking over at the very spot where I first kissed you. This is the house we first lived in as a married couple, this was where we brought our children home to. This is where we brought Ron back to us, this is where so many things that we've shared happened.

Not to mention it's fun. George stuffs us full of food while Justin belts out songs at the piano and people drop by unannounced just to sit around and shoot the breeze. Ben and I can fish in the creek and practice dueling in the backyard, and there are enough people around for a pick-up Quidditch game. Ben loves it here, it's like he magically regresses to age 9. He runs around the house yelling and gorging himself on homemade bonbons. He made a token protest that he was too old and mature to sleep in the Elvis bedroom even though I knew damned well he really wanted to. Justin solved that problem...he told Ben he better sleep in the Elvis bedroom or else he'd wake him up by standing outside his door and playing "Karma Chameleon" on his accordion. So Ben got to save face and stomp off to the Elvis bedroom, grumbling, and an hour later I caught him in there singing "Burning Love" with the karaoke machine with one of the big pompadour wigs jammed on his head.

I'm not sleeping in the Cloister. I can't, not without you. It would just seem so wrong. I'm bunking in that hunter green room next to your old private study, the one with the leather furniture. I always liked that room a lot. The only problem is that Wesley sleeps right across the hall and he likes to play loud music at all hours of the night. He might not be Justin's biological son but boy you sure would think he was. I even think he looks like him. I swear, Justin spoils that boy rotten. Lets him get away with anything. Poor Stephen always has to play the heavy and try to impose some discipline on him. Wesley's a sweet kid, but wild. Even Ben think he's a little extreme. But wild or not, Wesley did get twelve OWLs. He'll probably be Head Boy this year, unless that spackle incident comes back to haunt him. I hope he is. They haven't had a Ravenclaw Head Boy at Hogwarts in years.


Okay, I can't stand it anymore. I swore to myself I wasn't going to write about this but it's been eating away at me for weeks. I have to ask about your mission. I'm terribly worried about how it's going and no one will tell me anything. Then suddenly out of the blue Napoleon gets summoned to join your team a week ago. He wasn't told why, or if he was he didn't tell me. I protested but this was over my head, Argo overruled just about everything I said. We all know what it means when a field team asks for CCO assistance. The fact that your team leader just asked for one agent and not an entire division team tells me it's not a total disaster, but this doesn't inspire confidence in me. You haven't said so much as a word in your letters about your mission. I know you're not supposed to talk about it and I also know you probably don't want to talk about it, but I'm going crazy here. And it's not just that the mission is so important, even though it must be. I care about your mission's success but I care more about your safety.

All right. There, I've asked. If you can't answer me I'll understand. But I hope you'll tell me something. Anything. Have pity on me, suffering from separation anxiety and lack of information.

I love you, sweetheart.

July 16th

Dear Harry,

Well, my time away is more than half over now. I'm closer to the end than to the beginning. That's something, at least.

I've never been away this long when you weren't with me. It's starting to wear me down. I know you'll know what I mean when I say that this job takes a lot out of you, and not just physically. It's nonstop, it's sixteen-hour days, it's constant concentration, it's always watching your back. It's exhausting, and I have no emotional safe haven to recharge myself. I can't find inspiration in my childrens' smiles, I can't find comfort in my husband's arms. I sleep alone, I eat in silence, I work without interruption, I immerse myself in the darkness and the evil that I'm trying to defeat.

A very long time ago you told me that people who do what we do need a sacred place. You told me that I was your sacred place. Well, you are mine, too. You and Ben and Helen. I can't find my sacred place right now. I can read Ben's letters but I can't hear his laughter. I can read yours to tatters but I can't feel your lips on mine. I can picture Helen on her broomstick at Quidditch camp but I can't sit in the stands and cheer for her.

Several times a day now I ask myself if it's worth it. I've been told that six weeks isn't that long to be away from your family, all things considered. To that I'd reply that anyone who'd say such a thing must not have a family, or if they do, they must not love them as much as I love mine. Maybe it isn't that long to a man who hardly talks to his wife and gives his kids pats on the head every night before they go to bed. But it's long for me. My children aren't just extensions of myself. My husband isn't just some guy I live with. Maybe I'm too emotional for this.

And yet at the same time, I've never been more determined to complete a mission successfully. I will see this through or die trying...I'm sorry, I know you hate that expression. I'm not just a wife and mother, I'm also an intelligence agent and a Captain in the Federation Enforcement Corps, and I have a responsibility to my fellow agents and the wizarding world to do this right. So I might hate being away and I might cry myself to sleep because I miss you, but I'll be here until the bitter end and I'll keep fighting until I've delivered the ass-kicking I was sent out here to deliver.

I wish I could tell you more. I'm sorry, I can't. Not just because I'm under orders, but because I don't want you to know. Try not to read too much into Napoleon's assignment. Trust me, it's not what you think. He says hello, by the way. I must admit I was very glad to see him. He was probably surprised when he got here and I hugged him so tight I think I ruptured his spleen. He's a friendly face from home and that meant a lot.

I can't say it again. Those three little words that you said to me in your last letter. I can't write them out. It's obscene. I'm not saying or writing them again until I can say them to your face.


July 17th

If you intended to make me feel better in your last letter you failed miserably. My God, you sounded so resigned, so depressed! How bad is it out there? I'm so worried I can think of nothing else. Ben seems to know what's going on, he's leaving me alone and hanging out with Wesley and George. They took him out to the Burrow this morning and I've spent the day wandering around the woods behind the house.

You're digging in your heels, I can tell. You're squaring your jaw and marching grimly forward. Of course I know what you mean about the job taking it out of you, I told you that years and years ago...but I've never seen it take as much out of you as this assignment seems to be. I know you, Hermione, better than anyone. Reading between the lines of your last letter I see you convincing yourself of something, bullying yourself into submission for what you know you have to do.

If you're in trouble or if you need me, I want you to tell me. I'll do whatever I need to do, I don't care if it's against orders. I value my duty and my oath, but you are my wife. You come first, before anything else. Am I making myself clear?


July 21st

Hermione, please don't do this to me. It's been four days and I haven't heard from you. Are you angry? Was I too abrupt last time? I can't imagine that you could possibly be that angry with me that you'd let me suffer like this.

If you're just busy and occupied with the mission, then I understand. All I ask for is a few sentences so I know you're all right.


July 23rd


Before you start reading this letter, you'd better sit down. And promise me you will read it all the way to the end before you do anything.

Hermione's been hurt. It's pretty bad but she's going to be fine. Do you hear me? She's going to be FINE. Before I tell you anymore I have to say that whatever happens, you MUST stay where you are. I'll explain in a minute. I'm not in a position to give you orders but I'm giving you one anyway. Do NOT come here. You have to STAY HOME.

Okay. Hermione was part of a surveillance team scoping things out for the most dangerous part of this assignment. The team was itself under some surveillance by the targets, so they had to be extra careful. Hermione must have been spotted by the enemy. As she was tailing one of the targets, someone came up behind her, grabbed her and slit her throat.

She was found almost immediately by another agent, who put her in stasis and got her right back to the safehouse. The doctor fixed her throat and she's going to be absolutely okay, she just needs a few days to mend completely and it'll be like she was never hurt at all. The doc says she won't even have a scar. She can't talk right now, but I sat with her for an hour or so this morning and she was smiling and gesturing. She's pretty weak from the blood loss but she'll be fine.

I know what this news will do to you, Harry. I know how badly you'll want to drop everything and rush to her side. I'm going to repeat that you absolutely must not do that. I know you'll want to know why, and I'm not supposed to tell you, but I'm going to anyway...mostly because I'm thinking that if I don't you'll ignore what I said and come here anyway.

Hermione wasn't assigned to this mission, she volunteered. And there's a reason why the details have been kept secret, even from you, or I should say especially from you.

A few months ago some intelligence came through Hermione's division about a group of Circle wizards who were working on a way to target the Mage factor. They developed some wards to detect half-Mages and full Mages. They were hoping to amass a group of captive half-Mages and cross-breed them to produce some Mages for themselves so they could experiment on them, essentially. Their ultimate goal was to develop some sort of selective spell or potion which would kill only wizards with Mage blood. This part, it was discovered, they had already done. What they're working on now is an antidote or counterspell, so that they could protect their own Mages. Think of it. If such a potion existed and a counteragent also existed, they could release the toxin into the water supply. They could eliminate all those with Mage blood on the planet except for those on their side. Eventually they would eugenically produce an all-Mage force dedicated to pure evil.

You can imagine Hermione's horror to learn of this. If such a potion were released she would lose her husband and both of her children. She insisted on being part of the team sent to stop this research. Only agents free of Mage blood were allowed to go, because the Circle team is making extensive use of their detection wards. If you were to come here, for example, they would know about it immediately. So you see why it's so important that you stay where you are.

What I've told you is top secret. You were kept in the dark because Argo knew you wouldn't be able to stay away from the mission and your very blood would be a huge risk. It was decided you wouldn't be told what the nature of the threat was, and it was a controversial decision. Hermione wanted to tell you, I'm told, but she was overruled. When they needed help from CCO they came to me.

Hermione is going to be fine, Harry. No bullshit. She probably won't be participating in the final stages of this assignment, but she'll stay here until the team pulls out. I can't imagine what the next two weeks will be like for you. Maybe I shouldn't have told you anything at all, but I couldn't justify keeping this from you, too. Earlier today Hermione was indicating that she was going to write you, so you'll likely hear from her soon. Try to relax. She's much safer right now than she was before. She's in the safehouse, buttoned up in the infirmary and under medical supervision.

I'll write again if I have anything more to report. Just remember that Hermione went on this mission to protect you and the kids along with all the other half-Mages in the world. Honor her bravery by keeping yourself safe, okay?

Your friend,

July 23rd


I understand. I'll do as you ask. You can't imagine how difficult it is for me to say that, and even more so for me to do it.

Listen to me, Jones. If I can't be there, I'll have to rely on you. I am holding you personally responsible for her safety. Understood?


July 24th

Dear Harry,

I know Napoleon told you what happened to me. I'm all right, honest. I can't really talk at all, but as you can see my handwriting is just as tiny as it ever was.

It was horrible. I'm not sure I can stand to write about it, but I think I have to. Maybe the nightmares will stop if I tell you about it. It was dark. I sensed someone behind me but they were fast, faster than I was. He grabbed me and I felt it. There wasn't any pain. I just felt this horrible sliding sensation, like the flesh of my neck was spontenously coming apart, and then this gush of warmth down my chest. I felt the coldness of the knife and all at once I couldn't breathe. I think I fell on the ground and then...I just woke up here, and my neck was back the way it's supposed to be.

I'm lucky. I really ought to be dead. I was found within a few seconds, and the guy who cut me was caught. I don't know what happened to him but I do know they let Napoleon at him, so draw your own conclusions.

It felt like an endless amount of time between when I felt the knife and when I lost consciousness, though it was really only a second or two. I didn't see my life flash before my eyes, I confess. I did, however, see you. I saw your face in front of me and I was sure I was about to die, and all I could think of was that I'd never see you again. When I woke up here I was relieved, not only to be alive but that I would get to come home when I thought I would, and I'd be back with my family.

I've been having nightmares about my attack. It's awful to wake up like that and not have you here to hold me and soothe me back to sleep. I...don't think I can write any more about it. It's too raw. I'll have to wait until I see you. Then, maybe.

It scares me, how close I came. But the cause was worth it. I know Napoleon also told you what our mission is here, and why I'm here at all. So you know that I had to come, Harry. This wasn't for the wizarding world, or for the I.D. This was for you and Ben and Helen. They went too far, you see. The Circle, I mean. They were trying to find a way to specifically hurt a group of people which includes the three that I love most in the world. I couldn't allow it, I wouldn't. This was a fight you couldn't take on, so I did it instead. I know we're not supposed to let our assignments take on personal meaning, but this one was very personal to me. I had to come. Isobel was dead set against it at first, knowing my motives, but I convinced her. She knew I'd be fiercely dedicated to success...there is, as I told her, no creature on this earth more dangerous than a woman whose family is threatened. If anyone has the right to help fight this it's me. I've got more to lose than anyone else. The Mage factor is so rare, I can almost guarantee that there's no one else in the world who would stand to lose their entire family.

And if you start babbling about this being all your fault because you're a Mage, I will personally yank out your tongue for spewing such nonsense. Got it? Good.

I know you can't be here, but God I wish you were here. I don't think I've ever in my life needed you this badly...but I'll live. Two more weeks and I can come home. I can't wait.

I love you,

July 25th,

Dear Hermione,

If I could reach inside my cells, find that genetic aberration that gave me this cursed Mage identity and yank it out by the roots I would do it. I look back on my life and all I see is what it has cost me. My parents. Two mentors. A best friend's twelve-year imprisonment. All collateral damage from those who came after me because of this. And now it's almost cost me you. If you had died on this mission and I found out why...well, I can't say if I would have been able to live with it.

It's the very definition of unfairness. This power I have is the ultimate weapon against evil. It enables me to do great things to benefit many people, and it has saved my life and yours many times. And yet somehow it's brought death and destruction to those people I love the most. Is this my reward for spending my life fighting evil? To have my family and friends ripped away from me? To nearly lose the woman I've loved my whole life, to never have known my parents?

Getting Napoleon's letter was quite possibly the worst thing that's ever happened to me. First just to learn that my darkest fears had come true and that you'd been hurt. Then to be told I couldn't be with you as you recovered. And then to be told that the reason you'd been there at all was because of what I am, and what our children are because of me. I sat there after reading it and I wondered if I were going mad. I was frozen, I couldn't move. Finally, I came to realize that I was going to do what Napoleon told me to do...nothing. There was nothing I could do, and that was the worst thing of all. I'm glad the kids didn't see me like this, becase I sat there in a chair and I sobbed like a child.

I told Ben and Helen that you'd been injured on your mission, but that you were all right and you'd be home soon. They were very upset, naturally, but they didn't ask too many questions that I didn't want to answer. We just hugged each other and we cried together and we spent the evening pawing through boxes and boxes of photographs so they could make you a big collage to hang above your bed while you recover. You should get it along with this letter, and the ones they wrote. They both seemed to want to talk about you, so we sat up way past their bedtime and I told them story after story. Lord knows I have enough of them. Stories from school, and London, and Bailicroft, and from the carefree early years of our marriage before the kids, and from when they were both little. They ate it up. So did I, actually. It made all of us feel like you were there with us.

All my love,

July 28th

Dear Harry,

Oh, I got the collage yesterday! It's so wonderful! I hung it up right next to my bed and I sit and stare at it for long periods of time. It makes me feel a hundred times better when I can just look up and see you and Ben and Helen waving back at me, smiling at me. I'm writing the kids to thank them too, of course.

And now...I have good news! The mission is over! One of the Circle wizards decided he'd had enough and he defected! He gave us everything we needed to shut the whole thing down much more quickly than we would have been able to without him. There'll be no anti-Mage potion, no Mage detection wards anymore. It's all gone, everyone's been arrested.

So we're starting to pack things up. I can help some, I'm feeling much better. My voice is still a little scratchy and I'm still weak, but by tomorrow or the day after I should be back to normal. Isobel told me this morning that I'm shipping out with the first wave...in three days! That's right, darling. I'm coming home on the 31st.

I hope it's enough of a birthday present for you, because I haven't had time to get you anything else!

Quaking with anticipation,

July 29th

My love,

That is the best news in the history of good news, I think. And it's the best birthday present I've ever received, and that includes my Hogwarts letter. The kids are beside themselves with excitement to see you again. As for me, well...I find my quill unequal to the task. I'll just have to demonstrate to you how glad I am to have you back once you return.

We'll be waiting for you, sweetheart.


[found on the pillow of Harry and Hermione's bed]

You're still asleep. I hope this scratchy quill doesn't wake you, because I like to look up and see you lying there so peacefully, the sun shining in on your skin. I'll leave this for you to find when you wake up.

I'm going to take the kids out for breakfast, just us. I know you'll understand and not feel left out. You've had over a month with them all to yourself, I need some time with them now. When we get back let's plan to spend the entire day together, the four of us.

Being home again is just...indescribable. I was amazed when I arrived at the I.D. and saw all of you waiting for me. Not amazed that you were there, amazed at how different all of you seemed after just over a month away. Ben seemed taller, Helen seemed older, and you seemed even more handsome than in my dreams. I might have been back at the I.D., in England, but I wasn't truly home until I was in your arms. I felt you shaking a little, I think maybe you were trying not to cry. I know I wasn't even trying, I was just letting it all hang out.

Everything in the world seems sweeter now. The air is fresher, the sunshine is brighter, the house is cozier. It must be knowing how close I came to never seeing it again, to being torn away. I hope this feeling can last, because it's wonderful. I feel I've been given a second chance. Is there anything I think I might do differently now? What will I change so I don't waste it? Actually, nothing. I will still be dedicated to my job. I will still dote on my children. I will still be madly in love with my husband. The difference will be that now, I will know how it feels to think I've lost it all. I won't forget. I won't be careless or cavalier. I will know how lucky I am, and remember it.

Last night was unbelievable. I could hardly believe it. We haven't gone four times in one night since before the kids were born. All that practicing with Sven must have paid off. And I fully expect to see that huge bottle of hand lotion in the trash as soon as possible. Seriously, though...last night you took me places I think are probably illegal. I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call the police with all the noise we made...then again, maybe they did. I don't think I'd have noticed if there were police pounding on the door. I don't think I'd have noticed if the house was being napalmed. I can only hope it was like that for you.

At the risk of sounding repetitive and melodramatic...oh hang it, I'll just say what I want to say and who cares if I sound repetitive and melodramatic. I never suspected it was possible to love another person as much as I love you. If you were all I had in the world, then it would be enough. It was you I thought of when I felt a knife at my throat, it was the thought of you and our family that got me through my recovery.

You're my hero, my partner, my truth and my passion. You're my magnetic north, Harry. All my reasons start with you, all my dreams end with you.

Thank you for being mine.


[found on Hermione's still-full suitcase]

You're welcome.

I could reciprocate and write you about what you mean to me, but I won't. I'm tired of letters, I'm not going to write you another one telling you what's in my heart. So if you'll meet me here after the kids are in bed, I'll show you how I feel.

After all, actions speak louder than words.