Dropped in on Katie again today. Still kicking and screaming as crazily as ever. Marcus Flint is still there too. When I came in, he turned on me snarling, though he was slightly less hostile(only slightly), when he saw I wasnít Katieís parents. They donít treat him well. Canít say I blame them.
The truth is, it stings me that we didnít know. Sheíd told her other friends long ago according to Leanne, but she seemed convinced we couldnít take it. Either that or she doesnít view herself as being as close to us as weíve assumed. Five months ago we were all inseparable. I wasnít really expecting her to write too often, since we both know how hectic the seventh year at Hogwarts can be. I wonder now if I should have. She wrote to her boyfriend almost daily, it seems.
Iíve also heard that the season being cancelled is now inevitable. After the disaster at the Pride/Harpies game last Saturday, Jones and Leanhart went to the head of the Games and Sports Department, and heís now meeting with all the captains. He talked with Parkin last night, and when I got to practice, he gave us the news. Iím sure heíll call in the Arrows captain within the next couple of days. Iím really not all that upset; we saw it coming.
Till it stops raining outside,
November 2, 1996
I agree about Katie. If she wasnít still senseless in the hospital, Iíd demand an explanation. I know it seems like the wrong time to be angry at her, but the truth is I am. Iím not even sure why, when I think about it. After all, she could hardly have told us when it all started, if what Marcus says about them getting off at Hogwarts is true. Would she have eventually? Surely she couldnít have kept it from us forever. Yet I donít know that she wouldnít have tried.
Iím going to try to see her tomorrow. I havenít faced her boyfriend yet, but I suppose Iím going to have to. And even after she recovers, now that we know, heíll want to force his company on us whenever weíre with her. Iíd like to think if she was forced to choose between him and us sheíd choose us, but Iím starting to believe sheíd choose him.
And Cei was called into the Department last night, and it looks like weíre both going to be off for the rest of the year. We need to meet and talk face to face. Not just about Katie either; there are a thousand other things that I should tell you face to face, or I just donít want to put in a letter when you just canít know whoís reading them these days. They say the Ministry started reading peopleís mail without even so much as telling them last year, and just started doing so more after Scrimgeour took over, and I would believe the latter.
Till the storm blows over(or really starts),
November 3, 1996
Look, we know youíve been in the hospital with your screaming girlfriend for the past week and a half, and youíve probably just heard stuff about the Quidditch season being cancelled. What you have not heard is our captainís decision that we arenít stopping practice. If you miss another one, you can say goodbye to your spot. Tomorrow, ten oíclock sharp.
November 4, 1996
I know you said there wouldnít be any point in visiting Katie in the hospital, but I decided to have a word with her boyfriend. But somehow they always know Iím coming, and he wasnít there when I visited today.
I did, however, force the Healers to give me some real information about her. I got a long and interesting history about the opal necklace, which Iím sure you donít care about. But I also learned about its victims. Theyíve all been Muggles, and they all died, one of them probably with less contact with the necklace than Katie had. It apparently brushed only the tiniest bit of skin through a tiny hole in her glove. The curse was a slow-acting one, and the latest Dark Arts teacher managed to stop the effect. So what theyíre trying to do at St. Mungoís is exorcize the residue. Itís an extremely slow process, but they insist theyíve seen to it that she canít get any worse. I wish I could believe that, but under the circumstances, thereís no way of telling whether theyíre being truthful or not.
They canít give me a clear figure as to when sheíll be fully cured, but they did warn me she could still be catatonic into the summer. In other words, Iím afraid youíre going to have to brace yourself in for a long wait.
Your Anxious Brother,
November 5, 1996
Remember, remember, youíve only got seven months left until the N.E.W.T.s! Believe me, that is important to remember. I hope your friend Katie gets better soon, or sheís going to be in a terrible quandary.
A little piece of advise for the Potions N.E.W.T. Snape started switching our ingredients on us shortly before Christmas. It took us months to get him to admit to it, at which time he reminded us at how complacent one can become about ingredients that look alike but can do drastically different things. To this day, I still get paranoid about my potions ingredients. Of course, heís a bastard, but he also claimed that Slughorn, who taught him, did the same. So never, and I mean NEVER, put anything in your cauldron unless youíre sure what it is. And for Charms, donít compromise your studying time, no matter how tempting it might seem. Finally, for goodnessí sake, donít stop eating!
Iíve arranged for a few things to arrive at your dorm window next week, but I wonít tell you what they are. I hope theyíll cheer you up.
November 6, 1996
Fifth passed without any remarkable incidents. Everybody thinks the incidents will happen at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw match instead. So itís a good thing Iím going to get to comment, since Iíll be able to explain to everyone whatís going on. Speaking of Quidditch players, I havenít heard anything else from Katie Bell. It might still be rude to ask people, though. I think I might wait another week.
Still no memory eaters.
November 7, 1996
Dear Doctors and Nurses at St. Mungoís Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries,
We donít really know who to address this to, so weíre hoping the school owl carrying this finds the right person. We are a group of first-years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, all members of Hufflepuff House. We have noticed concern all over the school for another student of this school, Miss Katherine Bell, and have noticed also that people are having trouble getting any information about her. We were wondering if it might be possible for someone to send the school news.
Yours most sincerely,
November 8, 1996
Canít come tonight. My girlfriendís in the hospital. Itís a long story.
November 9, 1996
Your father Gauis
November 10, 1996
I said it was a long story.
November 11, 1996
Dear Doctors and Nurses at St. Mungoís Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries,
Several days have passed since our last letter. We are growing more concerned now. If there is no way you can tell us anything about Miss Bell we will understand, but please write us back to say so.
Yours most sincerely,
November 12, 1996
Dear Miss Amos, Mr. Orange, Mr. Parktrot, Miss Rustrade, Miss Halagard, and Mr. Tooms,
As the Healer currently in charge of Miss Bell, I assure you she is doing well, but we cannot disclose details at this time.
November 12, 1996
Heard that Katie Bell is ďdoing well.Ē St. Mungoís refuses to say anything more. Iím worried theyíre lying. At the very least, they arenít mentioning that she still had to be in her fit, unless theyíve actually managed to do an exorcism on the skeleton of whoever first enchanted the necklace, since I think itís very likely he performed a soul-tying to it. For that theyíd need a history of the necklace, but they might have that.
Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw match coming up next week. Professor McGonagall is going to give me lessons about operating the megaphone tomorrow. Apparently itís harder to use than you might think. Hopefully Professor Snape wonít release the Memory Eaters right before the match and make me forget, because that would be embarrassing.
Running low on paint. Could you send me more?
November 13, 1996
My dear sister,
I must ask you to please remember to write me each month, as we agreed. I know you probably just forgot again, but I am left feeling anxious when you donít write. In these times, I have to worry youíre dead.
Maybe right now Iím a little worried about unpleasant surprises. I just found out last week that Marcus has a girlfriend, who used to be a Quidditch rival of his at school, and now is associated with that do-gooder Albus Dumbledore. I wonít say Dumbledoreís right or wrong, but I think we can agree we need to stay out of that mess. Keep your nose down and the Death Eaters will leave you alone. This girlfriend, on the other hand, is in the hospital; he hasnít told me the details but I can figure them out.
Your brother Gaius
November 14, 1996
My Dearest Nephew,
Your father has told me that youíve gotten involved with an associate of Albus Dumbledoreís, and that she is currently in the hospital, and while you have not been gracious enough to provide your own father with the details, I assume she is the young witch discussed in The Daily Prophet as having been exposed to the workings of a certain cursed opal necklace, of which I in fact know more about than you do, but as you have not earned my free confidence you will not get it.
I must beg you to consider this foolishness. You have seen what has happened to her, and while I am aware you no longer wish to have any involvement with the Malfoys, despite their clear willingness to overlook our somewhat unfortunate ancestry, and understand, if reluctantly, why you may feel the need for the disassociation, as their views and affiliations are extremely unpleasant, I think we see what has happened from them learning you have attached yourself to a witch listed in the paper last year as being a potential recruit of Dumbledoreís Army. To her as well, even; right now she is nothing in particular to them outside her association with Dumbledore, and plenty of wizards and witches are associated with him, but if they blame her for your having nothing to do with them, which I believe after this attack we can assume they have, they may have found the best solution would involve her death. Iím sure you donít want to be responsible for that. Next time they may succeed.
I will not ask for any further details about her at this time; I will be generous enough to assume she is a witch who would otherwise be worthy enough of your time, though if you give me her name, you will at least forgive me looking into her family; if she is associated with Dumbledore, they too might be a risk. I will not even object should she be a Muggle-born; after all, we are hardly pure of blood ourselves, and at least Muggle parents, I am sure, will make no trouble. But do consider my words. They are meant only in concern for your security and future happiness.
Please believe I am most sincerely,
Your Aunt Hera
November 15, 1996
November 16, 1996
The attached note is from your son. I tried. When he sends me this kind of response, I truly can do no more. If you wish, and you have it, you may provide me with her name and I will look into that. There is always the chance this situation is not as bad as we believe it to be.
Your most concerned sister,
November 17, 1996
Coach says stop running off like that after practice. Theyíre still mad at you.
November 18, 1996
My dear sister,
The girlís name is Katie Bell. I believe she is a half-blood, though as I have not met her parents, I have no idea whether one of her parents is a Muggle or Muggle-born, or which one is. I donít even know her motherís maiden name. Of course I donít think anyoneís heard much about the name Bell anyway.
I have now managed to get out of Marcus that the two of them have been seeing each other since his final year at Hogwarts, but that they only got serious after he finished school. This is actually a little odd, since she played for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and in fact still does, but heís now trying to get the Falcons to take a look at her(this time off the pitch, of course, does not bode well for her managing to get into professional Quidditch). I fear the level of their association is very deep; while I do not see Marcus as the type to marry early, at least under normal circumstances, these current abnormal circumstances may lead him to do something very rash indeed.
Please tell me all you can find out.
Your brother Gauis
Please wake up
November 20, 1996
My dear sister,
My son is writing tiny notes and leaving them next to the girl unconscious. Please hurry.
Your anxious brother
November 21, 1996
I have researched Katherine Emelye Bell. Her father, more or less pure-blooded, is named Albert Patricus Bell, and he works as a clerk for Bertie Bottís. Her mother, Muggle-born, is also named Katherine; she is apparently nicknamed Kathy while her daughter is nicknamed Katie, so I will refer to them this way to avoid confusion. Her full name is Katherine Anna Bell, nee King, and she works part time in a shop that converts Muggle devices to work on magic. Mrs. Bellís older brother Henry Russell King is also a wizard, though I was unable to locate any further magical births in her family. Katie is an only child.
Academically she is adequate enough: she received six O.W.L.s: 1 E, in Charms, and 5 As, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology Astronomy, and Care of Magical Creatures; she is taking advanced classes in the first three, and her marks in them have been more or less average. Her primary talent appears to be flying, and she is a very good Quidditch player, and Iím sure your son has at some time mentioned playing against her, and losing Hogwartsí Quidditch Cup to the Gryffindor team with her and Harry Potter on it his final year of school. As youíve noted Marcus has talked to the Falcons about her, and Puddlemere is rumoured to have shown some interest. It should perhaps be noted that the list of students involved in Dumbledoreís Army included her all the other members of the team still in school at the time, including the other two Chasers, whom she seems to be particularly close to, and it could be she was merely invited through this connection.
Also, I have learned a little more about the incident involving the necklace: she was carrying it to someone in a package and it accidentally brushed the tip of her skin; which makes me think she probably was not the target of the attack, but possibly under the Imperius Curse to take it towards its true target(I assume she was not carrying it of her own free will). She may well have merely passed by the wrong corner at the wrong time and been targeted by chance. Beyond her attending the infamous first recruitment meeting for the Army there is no further indication of her or any member of her family being involved with Dumbledore, his associates, or any others that are currently working against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
There are also vague tales of her having something of a temper, but such accounts as I have had are not entirely reliable, and I have heard nothing I might not expect from a teenage witch. Nothing either, to be honest, that I do not think it would be just as well for her to have if she is to be involved with your son; I hope you will not be offended when I say he needs a witch able to hold her own against him when need be.
In short, she is no more objectionable than we already knew her to be, but she is nonetheless dangerous for the reasons already determined. If Marcus is unwilling to give her up, it is not impossible we can talk her out of having anything further to do with Dumbledore, though the accounts of her temper do describe it as strong enough to make this a risky prospect.
However, since she may be unconscious for months still, I would not give up on dissuading him from staying with her before she wakes up. Perhaps we should even attempt to introduce him to someone else. I am aware his physical appearance may complicate this, but I know two young witches who love Quidditch enough they may overlook it. Come meet with me when you have an opportunity and we will talk further.
Your still concerned sister,
November 22, 1996
Will you please quit running off after practice? Youíre driving coach crazy. Your girlfriend isnít likely to wake up yet anyway, right?
November 23, 1996
Yes, weíre still practicing. The brass have been talking about exhibition matches on the continent, where You-Know-Who isnít causing nearly this much trouble, at least not yet. Rumour has it the Harpies and Harriers are very deep in talks about the idea of a ďrematchĒ of the famous one they had back in 1953. Coach is talking about how he wants us to play the Kites; he thinks theyíd be a good matchup for us. I donít know if theyíd be willing to play us, though!
Meanwhile, it is quite aggravating, but half the players we have signed to this team are becoming very unreliable towards either showing up for practice, or doing more than going through the motions if they are here. Some I donít blame; obviously Angela, Olivia, and Harry have reason to be anxious these days, being Muggle-born, and Marcusí girlfriend is actually in St. Mungoís following what apparently there is reason to believe was a Death Eater attack, so while heís one of the worst offenders on team, thatís understandable. But I donít know what Leah thinks sheís about. As pure-blooded as the two of us are, and she was at it again today, saying sheís sure someone followed her home and she thinks someoneís going to attack her boyfriend, whom apparently she is still stupid enough to be dating. Thatís the last thing Marcus at least needs to be hearing about right now.
Though tell the truth, Iím not sleeping so easy at night myself. Not that I think a bunch of dark wizards are about to swoop down on me or anything like that, but sometimes when Iím lying in my comfortable bed at night with Hydra settled in the blankets, I catch myself thinking about what they might be doing at that moment, if theyíre wrecking havoc and causing grief anywhere. Yeah, I know, not like me. Is it weird that sometimes I think Iíve actually gotten more soft-hearted since I signed with this team?
Havenít heard back from Matilda yet. Starting to think Iím not going to; she never was the most reliable of correspondents in the first place.
November 24, 1996
As you requested I went to the Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch match at Hogwarts yesterday, and Iím pleased to say your old team won in fine form. From the conversations I heard, you were right that the primary concern was Ron Weasleyís inconsistency, but he had a very good day, allowing no goals in at all. Still they actually came close to losing, as while Slytherinís main Seeker apparently was ill the substitute nearly caught the Snitch first, but he somehow managed to fumble it, and Harry Potter grabbed it and won the game. The Slytherin team in general didnít seem to be playing that well; I think theyíre missing your friendís boyfriend.
I managed to catch one of the new Chasers, the youngest of them, Demelza Robins, after the game. When I told her I was your sister-in-law, she was more than happy to talk to me. She said it was actually a huge relief that they and especially Ron pulled it together; apparently practices had been going very badly and she had been close to despairing, and they only replaced Katie at the last minute, and they werenít sure how well new Chaser Dean Thomas would do. Obviously even if he rose to the occasion, they still want Katie back. When I told her she shouldnít waste too much of the party talking to me she commented she wasnít sure she wasnít too tired for partying anyway. I suggested she take a long shower, since you told me once that always refreshed you after a game, unless it had been an unusually long one, which todayís wasnít. She thanked me for that.
Unfortunately I couldnít stay after that; most of the crowd had dispelled and I really did need to get home before dark; only the foolish would be out at night under current circumstances. Word of how the game had gone got to the village before I did; all of our friends that I saw were in a very happy mood, except poor Livillus, and he was a good sport, conceded Gryffindor kicked Slytherinís arse fair and square. I was sorry it was too close to sunset to try to go out for a drink with anybody. But your brother had already started getting anxious, he didnít say anything when I came in but I could tell. Also heíd already finished cooking, which of course coming from him says a lot. I hope it will please you to hear heís gotten better at that now; nothing burnt, and not too much or too little either. I think your mother wrote to him about it again.
Otherwise things go on here in Hogsmeade as they have; uneasy and with the shadows seeming to grow longer every morning. There still seems to be no particular reason to go anywhere else, though, at least as far as I or Peter can see; I still feel very strongly London is worse. I hope to see you soon, though Iím not sure where.
November 25, 1996
I donít know why Iím writing this to you like this, since St. Mungoís wonít even tell us if youíre capable of reading it right now, which makes me think you probably arenít. But all of last week I wanted to tell you how badly I wished you were there. But then again, you should be lucky you escaped it. Ron was just dreadful in goal the entire week. Which was bad enough, but then I think I must have gotten too close or thrown too well for him or something, because he snapped and yelled that I was trying to drive him off the team and didnít appreciate how hard he was working and to stop looking at him like that. He wouldnít stop yelling, and Iím afraid I started to cry, and that just made him madder. Iím starting to think itís true what they say, that Keepers are a little crazy(if you were here, you could tell me if all those stories about Oliver Wood are true), but I was so mad at him anyway, I wished Harry wouldíve kicked him out. Saturday morning I even wanted to go to him and insist he call up Corman McLaggen. I know he behaves even worse than Ron, but he wouldíve been okay to put up with for just one game, and I thought at the time heíd be a better player too.
But Iím sure youíd be happy to hear that everything single thing I think most of us did wrong during that week, we did right that Saturday. It was like everything just clicked, after weeks and weeks of hard work. Though maybe it helped that Malfoy apparently was sick(he must have been so disappointed. Probably hoped heíd parade all over us, and had I been in his place, I wouldíve thought so too), and that idiot Harper played instead. We actually got a lucky fumble from him that allowed Harry to catch the Snitch, which was a closer call than any of us wouldíve liked, but a winís a win.
But oh Katie, I still wish so much you were here. Practice went a lot better today, with all of us in good spirits, probably be the best mood weíve been in since losing you, but Dean Thomas whoís our third Chaser right now isnít you and Iím sure Ginny doesnít mind his being here at all but I just want you back. Ron actually got a girlfriend himself this weekend, but he still definitely agrees with me, and I think Harry does too; he never looks too happy when they look like theyíre getting sweet and potentially distracted. People can say what they want about your boyfriend, but at least he isnít here to distract you.
Please come back as soon as possible.
November 26, 1996
Enclosed is a letter from Ariane. Youíve probably heard about how last weekendís match at Hogwarts went from your own sources, but itís always good to read a firsthand account. Next time Gryffindor plays, whether Katie is back or not, I want to go watch in person, and Iíd love it if you came with me, especially if Katie is back there then. I know travel itself can sometimes be dangerous these days and you might be nervous staying in Hogsmeade as well, but remember, we do know how to defend ourselves, thanks to Harry. I was thinking too we should go visit Katie together again. Preferably when we know Marcus wonít be there. I know youíll ask what the point of it would be when she still isnít responding to anyone, but I just wouldnít feel right if we stayed away.
As you can also see from the letter, Ariane and Peter are both fine for the moment, and so are the rest of my relatives. Do tell me about all of yours are doing, and donít forget about Elaineís progress on a broomstick; I want to know if sheís willing to fly over the roof yet(remember what I told you about the first time I did that?) Although if her family has decided to leave the country, I suppose I must understand. Iím kind of wishing I could go sign for a foreign team, tell you the truth. Not even because of safety, so much, but so that I could have a good season to look forward to. We ought to be allowed to go sign for other teams, at least for a season; I think everyone knows by now our own league is not going to see any games played this year. I donít know if it would happen even if You-Know-Who was killed tomorrow. We could even try to sign for the same team. Make it like old times again.
Please be careful, though. To be honest, Iím trying to avoid going anywhere alone as much as I can. Thereís rumour in my area someoneís even vanished, though Iíve heard to conflicting answers as to who, and it might just be people quietly leaving the country. Hoping you stay safe.
Till we feel safe in our lives again(will we ever?),
November 27, 1996
My dear sister,
Iím afraid Cassandra made an ill-advised attempt to introduce Marcus to another girl, which was a spectacular failure. You know, of course, that neither of us are at all good at being subtle, but when she read your suggestion of setting him up with someone else, my dear wife jumped at it anyway. Taking more advice from what you wrote, she searched for and found a witch passionate enough about Quidditch to overlook a less than handsome appearance in its players, a very nice young woman named Morgain. Iím afraid all else aside, as a father I am embarrassed by what my son said and did to her in response. She didnít even know about Katie, or at least Cassandra claimed afterwards she didnít, though I think Marcus is making a point of refusing to believe her there.
Now Iím afraid weíve blown any chance we had. He made it clear heís not interested in meeting anyone else we might have been thinking of introducing them to him unless theyíre male, married, decades older than him, or basically obviously not intended as new dates. You could still try to make him talk to some of his younger female cousins, I suppose, but I donít know if heíd talk much. He usually didnít anyway. Our only hope may be that someone on the Falcons seduces him. I think the only good candidate may be their new star seeker, a certain Angela William-Jones, who is a couple years older than him and single, and I know heís got a good friendship with. Muggle-born, apparently, but if we really want to get him away from this girl Iím willing to overlook that. Do you think it would help to talk to her about it?
Your Brother Gauis
November 28, 1996
Well I always said you married a fool, even when you said it was all her fatherís fault(have you had any trouble from him lately, by the way?). And if this Seeker is Muggle-born, I wouldnít advise trying it. Lately the Muggles have been raising their daughters to be strong-willed and to value love above sense, and I think nowadays they view any attempts by a family to exercise reasonable influence on how their children marry to be backwards at best and villainous at worst. I fear that idea has spread amoung wizards too, or at least amoung young witches; I wouldnít be surprised is this Katie Bell subscribes to it too. You do realize, I hope, that this would be an odd choice for her to make as well, especially given the circumstances under which they were first introduced to one another, and such a philosophy is the only explanation I can think of for it.
Still, he is young, and if she spends long enough in the hospital, he may cool on her. Perhaps you should leave it be for a month or so. Maybe if in half a year she is still catatonic, we can arrange for him to meet a nice young witch without him being aware of our involvement, and things can work out from there. Thatís the only approach I can think of at this point.
Your despairing sister,
November 29, 1996
My dear father,
Forgive my taking so long to write; preparing for my N.E.W.T. tests continues to keep me busy, as well as preparing to be called up as Keeper, as Iím sure I must be sooner or later. Perhaps later rather than sooner, as that idiot Weasley had one of his lucky days last Saturday and now everyone has forgotten how terrible a Keeper he is most of the time. I must say the team did not impress me at all. Even with Weasley somehow miraculously playing better than usual, Potter only got the Snitch because the reserve Slytherin Seeker was even more incompetent; had they been playing the normal Seeker, we would have certainly lost. But I know you do not care to hear about this much, so I will write no more about it.
The big news remains what you have already heard. Were I on the Quidditch team full time perhaps I would have more to tell you, but perhaps not, since I cannot help but think anything that passes within those changing rooms must sooner or later come into the Common Room as well. I am sorry to say almost no new safety measures have been taken in response. Unless, perhaps, they were done without us being told about them, but if so, why should they not? We ought to know these things, when it is our safety that is so concerned. But no, I fear next time we go to Hogsmeade we shall see many more students than just one suffer attack, and likely there will even be some deaths.
Fear not that I would be amoung them, however, father. Even if Professor Snape isnít the pleasantest of teachers he is teaching us well, and though I know he would like to say something adverse to my work, he has not for over two weeks now, and I think one of these days he might even be obliged to pay me a compliment. At least I have never antagonized him on purpose, which is more than can be said for certain others.
I am glad to hear that you and my dear mother remain in circumstances much safer than mine, if only because you two do not have to dealing with the foolishness of those in authority in our family home. I hope too that mother has her way with Mr. Fielding; I have no doubt she would know better than him on any matter.
Although my schoolwork and other work continues to consume most of my time, I assure you I should write to you again next weekend at the latest. I believe I may also write Uncle Tiberius, especially as I believe Professor Slughorn is likely to do the same. Until then, I remain,
Your most loving and devoted son,
Cormac Jebain McLaggen
November 30, 1996
When you wake up, will you marry me?