Disclaimer: All maths in this story is real and correct to the best of my knowledge. All arithmancy in this story besides the tiny amount mentioned in the books is stuff I made up. JK Rowling owns the rest.

A/N: Ancient Runes gets a lot of play in fan fiction for things like warding and making magical artifacts, but Arithmancy doesn't get nearly as much attention as the basis for spellcrafting. After seeing only a couple of stories that even attempted to address the subject seriously, I decided to write one of my own, featuring Hermione as a maths whiz instead of a bookworm, based on the world's most gifted real-life child prodigies. That story became The Arithmancer, which concluded at the end of fourth year. Lady Archimedes is the sequel, beginning the summer after Voldemort's return. This story will update every two weeks unless otherwise stated.

The story so far: Hermione tested into Arithmancy in first year and has now completed her N.E.W.T. She has made several major breakthroughs in the field and has published a number of scholarly papers. She has also worked hard to maintain a close relationship with her parents and has told them everything that happened at Hogwarts, even though they made her go to Beauxbatons starting in fourth year because of it.

Sirius is free, and Wormtail is in Azkaban. Barty Crouch Jr. is free and working with Voldemort. Cedric survived the Third Task, but he lost an arm and a leg in a duel with Barty Jr. Harry and Ginny are dating. Hermione is currently unattached, although she went to the Yule Ball with George during a visit to Britain.

Yes, there will be maths, but you won't need to understand it to understand the story. As with The Arithmancer, I will be taking requests for spells. If you have a spell you want to see Hermione or the Death Eaters invent, PM me or leave a review.

The cover art for this story was graciously contributed by paradigmfinch and features Hermione in her basilisk-skin coat given to her by an Indian cursebreaker after third year.


Chapter 1

The summer was young, and spirits were running high for most people in Crawley. Children played outside, families went on holidays or day trips to the cinema or the water park, mothers gardened, and fathers went to football matches—or vice versa in some cases. However, one teenage girl was not yet out enjoying the sun. This was not because the summer had blossomed uncommonly hot and dry, though it had. Nor was it because she was a die-hard academic with a legendary penchant for numbers who preferred to spend her day at a library rather than a water park, although all that was true, too. No, it was because she was haunted by the horror than had befallen two of her closest friends just a few days before.

Hermione Granger considered herself plain, but her wardrobe reflected it more than her face. She was pretty enough, and she knew how to clean up well, and her hair, thanks to a few simple tricks she had devised, she maintained in rich, brown curls that draped loosely about her shoulders—a big improvement over the bushy mass that appeared in her younger photos in the house.

She sat on her bed, quietly contemplating an array of thin wooden wands. The first, accorded a place of honour, was hers—tan in colour, ten and three quarter inches long, made from a woody vine and carved with an intricate ivy motif, with a strand of dragon heart-string at its centre. It was orders of magnitude better than any of the others and perfectly in tune with her magic.

Hermione Granger was a witch, probably the most gifted of her generation in Britain. And if she was gifted in most things, she was a genius in terms of maths, possibly the mostly brilliant arithmancer of the entire twentieth century, and that wasn't just her saying that; it was people who had lived through the entire twentieth century already.

The half dozen other wands on her bed were a mixed bag. Some were store-bought, and some were hand-made. Some had miniscule runes carved into them that you needed a magnifying glass to see, and some were perfectly smooth. The cheapest would burn out like a flash bulb if you tried to use it as anything more than a torch; none would hold up to more than a few months of regular use. All but one had magical plant fibres at their cores, but the last one was different.

She picked up the last wand and held it flat across her palm. The others were mere toys, but this one was a little more advanced. It was made from a hand-picked twig of beech wood from the south of France. At its heart was one of her own hairs, and the glue that held it together was mixed with a drop of her own blood. According to her research, this wand would work only for her, and it would show up on the Ministry Trace as accidental magic, so she wouldn't get in trouble for using it.

She had made this wand so that she could keep using magic through the summer without falling afoul of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery—a privilege that most children whose parents were witches and wizards already enjoyed. But now, at what should have been her moment of triumph, she had another concern: protecting herself. And its protection felt wholly inadequate.

A wand was only worth anything if you could wield it, and she had seen firsthand—well, almost firsthand—how quickly that could be taken away. Her good friend, Cedric Diggory, had lost both his wand and the arm that wielded it in one stroke in a duel with a man named Barty Crouch Jr., servant of Lord Voldemort. That battle had also cost Cedric a leg and had cost a lot of people their peace of mind when Voldemort was somehow brought back from the dead. Hermione's best friend, Harry Potter, Voldemort's number one target, had barely made it out of there with his own life.

With Voldemort back, a new war was sure to start in magical Britain, as bad as the war that had killed Harry's parents and many others. And what made it much, much worse was that the Ministry of Magic was in complete denial about it.

Hence her desire for personal protection.

Most wizards didn't even carry backup wands, which wasn't an unreasonable position. After all, how many muggles—non-magic folk—carried more than one gun, even in America? How many carried more than one knife? And wands weren't cheap: three or four hundred quid, depending on the exchange rate, but a gun or a knife couldn't be snapped like a twig. She'd feel safer with a backup, and even with this latest homemade wand, she worried about it burning out in a real fight.

"Hmm…how much do I have saved up?" she wondered out loud. "Maybe I should just buy a spare."

Hermione had marketed a line of single-use potions kits that used runes to eliminate the need for wands, thus allowing non-magicals to use them. They weren't big sellers, but they got her some pocket change. She also had a one-third silent partnership in a new small business called Creevey Bros. Pictures, which was currently the only business able to pull magical photographs off of Omniocular recordings. She had helped invent the processes, and the Creevey Brothers had insisted she take a share, such as it was. On the other hand, she also had to pay a house elf one galleon per week when he wasn't subcontracted to her school, so she wasn't exactly rolling in it.

Then, there were her spells. Hermione was shaping up to be an excellent spellcrafter. Harry and Cedric had survived facing Voldemort using three of her spells. Now, she was wrapping up her independent study of partial differential equations, and she was finding them much more relevant than before. PDEs were what you used to construct most of the really powerful curses, and if war was coming, she was resolved to pursue that line of study much further.

She barely noticed the doorbell until her mother called up the stairs, "Hermione, there's someone here to see you."

Quickly stuffing the blood-bound wand down her sock (she needed something better for that, too), she made her way to the stairs. Merlin's beard, she was getting paranoid. Only a week, and she already felt naked if she didn't have a wand on her at all times.

At the foot of the stairs, she received a surprise. Standing in her living room was an old wizard in colourful, flowing robes, high-heeled boots, and a pointed hat: Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

"Professor Dumbledore," she said. "What's happening? Has there been any news about Cedric?"

"Mr. Diggory is mending about as well as can be expected under the circumstances, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said. "He will be in the hospital at least another week, however. There is something else I would like to discuss with you today."

"Well, come and sit down," Hermione's mum said. "Can we get you anything?"

"A spot of tea, if you don't mind, Mrs. Granger."

"Of course. Dobby?"

Pop!

A small, wrinkled creature, three feet tall, with bat-like ears and eyes the exact size and colour of tennis balls appeared in the room. "Yes, Mrs. Granger?" he said in a squeaky voice.

"Could you brew up a pot of tea for our guest, please?"

"Yes, ma'am. Good day, Headmaster Dumbledore, sir," Dobby said. He trotted off to the kitchen.

Dobby was a house elf whom Hermione had managed to free from his abusive master, Lucius Malfoy, two years ago, and he was proud to accent one galleon per week to work for her family. While he got the tea started, Dumbledore and the Grangers sat down.

"So what's this about, Professor?" Hermione's dad said. "You're not Hermione's headmaster anymore."

Hermione had spent three mostly pleasant years at Hogwarts, but after she went through four near-death experiences there, Dan and Emma Granger's admittedly long patience had run out with the place, and they transfered their daughter to Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in the south of France, where she spent the past year (except for a few visits related to Harry's unwilling participation in the Triwizard Tournament).

"I'm aware of that, Mr. Granger," Dumbledore said. "This is about another matter. Am I correct in assuming your daughter told you about the return of Lord Voldemort?"

"Yes, she did. She also said your Ministry wasn't doing anything about it."

He nodded: "This is true."

"Are we in danger here?" Mum asked. As a muggle-born and a friend of Harry, Hermione and her parents knew she would be high on Voldemort's kill list if things were to get really bad.

"I do not believe so. Voldemort is likely to use the Ministry's inaction to lie low and recruit followers. In the meantime, if I may have your confidence, I am organising a covert group to work against Voldemort, and no, I'm not asking your daughter to join it—ah, thank you Dobby," he said as the elf brought in the tea. "However, I am offering Hermione a chance to join us at our meeting place for the summer. We have a safe house, which has been placed under the Fidelius Charm, and if you are concerned about her safety, I daresay she will be safer there than here."

"The what charm?" Dad asked.

"It's a way of magically binding a secret so only one person can tell it," Hermione spoke up. "Who's the Secret Keeper, Professor?"

"I am." That was good. The Fidelius Charm sounded good on parchment, but Harry's parents had been betrayed to their deaths by their Secret Keeper. "You may be interested to know, Miss Granger, that the Weasley Family will be moving into the safe house this weekend, and of course, Harry will be later in the summer."

"Hermione hasn't even been home a week," Mum objected. "If there's no serious threat, like you say, we don't want her leaving again so soon."

"That is understandable, of course," Dumbledore conceded.

"When is Harry going to be there?" Hermione asked. Her parents shot her a questioning look, and she added, "I know I don't get to see you two enough as it is, and I do want to stay here longer, but I'd also like to see my friends this summer before I go back to France. If I could get a longer stay in here…"

"In answer to your question, Miss Granger, Sirius has his heart set on the thirtieth of July to bring Harry to Headquarters."

The day before Harry's birthday, of course: fitting, since he was currently stuck with his emotionally abusive relatives for the sake of magical protection, and that was a whole other can of worms. "Then maybe I could go around that time," she offered. "That way, I would still get another month here. And we would still meet up for school shopping before I leave for Beauxbatons, of course."

Dan and Emma looked at each other and reached a silent consensus. "I think part of the summer would be alright," Emma said. "We can discuss the details later."

"Thank you, Mum," Hermione said with relief.

"Very well," Dumbledore said. "Please keep me informed of your decision. Now, there is another matter of some importance, Miss Granger," he added, suddenly becoming much more serious.

"Yes, Professor?" Hermione asked worriedly.

"As you might guess, this information that I've given you is very sensitive, as is other information you might encounter this summer. Owls can be intercepted, as can muggle post—by either Voldemort or the Ministry. It is imperative that when you write to your friends, you do not mention any such sensitive information. The risk of it being found out is too great. This is especially true for Harry, who will be most closely monitored."

Hermione frowned: "Harry's not going to like that, Professor. He's already anxious to know what Voldemort's up to. He'll go stir crazy if we don't tell him anything. And he'll be furious at us. You know he doesn't have many lifelines at the Dursleys."

"I am aware of that, Miss Granger. Nonetheless, it will be safest for Harry and everyone else involved if he is not told any more than he truly needs to know."

Hermione's eyes narrowed at him, while her mum took up the argument: "Professor, she's right. Anyone would hate to be kept out of the loop like that. Isn't there some way to work around it?"

"I wish there was, Mrs. Granger, but this is a very sensitive covert operation. Miss Granger, I will ask you to promise me you won't tell Harry any more than he needs to know. Our organisation cannot risk this information being found out."

"I'm not so sure she should," Mum objected. "It sounds like you're safe enough. We don't want our daughter abandoning her best friend like that."

"I'm afraid I must insist."

"But—"

"Mum," Hermione cut her off. Something seemed off about this request. It wasn't that she didn't trust Dumbledore's judgement, exactly, but it definitely went against her own better judgement. But at the same time, she knew Dumbledore wouldn't take no for an answer, so she thought fast and said, "Professor, I promise I will not risk sending Harry any sensitive information that could be intercepted."

Dumbledore nodded with a small smile: "Thank you, Miss Granger. I am glad you are willing to trust me in this. The tea was very good, Dobby. Unfortunately, I must be going. There is much to do." He turned to go, but stopped and added. "Oh, and Miss Granger, I haven't had the chance to personally congratulate you for your proof of the sixth exception to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration. That was truly some of the best arithmantic work I've ever seen. I wish we had time to discuss it in more detail."

"Uh, thank you, Professor," Hermione said, blushing.

"You're quite welcome, Miss Granger. Good afternoon."

As soon as Dumbledore shut the door and vanished with a crack, Emma turned on her daughter. "Hermione, I'm surprised at you," she said. "You're really going to keep your best friend in the dark just because that man told you to?"

Hermione smiled at her, "No, Mum, I don't believe I ever said that. Don't worry. I have a plan."


In the smallest, poorest-kept bedroom of Number 4 Privett Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, a thin, bespectacled boy lay on his bed, thumbing with annoyance through a copy of the Daily Prophet. He was dressed in decent clothes, although they were getting a bit short for him, but he didn't otherwise put much effort into his upkeep. His black hair was messy and uncombed, mostly covering up the lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.

Harry Potter was not happy being in his relatives' house again, and even less so for having to stay there for over a month. The feeling was mutual. His muggle relatives didn't hold with anything they considered "abnormal", and their interaction with him this week had mostly consisted of things like, "If you're going to be stuck here again, you'd better earn your keep. You can start by weeding the flower beds."

Harry was a marked man in more ways than one. The most evil wizard alive today was back and wanted him dead. He checked the magical news and even tried to listen in on the muggle news for any information on Voldemort's movements, but he got nothing—not that it surprised him. The only thing he had seen that was remotely related was a statement by the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, calling Albus Dumbledore a liar and casting aspersions on Harry's mental stability. After that, nothing.

As he stewed in his thoughts, he heard a small pop. Looking around in alarm, he saw a green-eyed house elf standing beside his bed.

"Dobby?" he hissed. "What are you doing here?" This didn't bode well, he thought. The last time Dobby had shown up in his bedroom, it hadn't gone well for him. He'd wound up locked in and had to be rescued by one of his teachers and a giant purple bus.

This time, though, Dobby was smiling. "I has a letter for Harry Potter, sir," he said, "from Miss Hermione Granger."

"From Hermione?" Harry sat up eagerly. "Where is it?"

"It is here, sir. She is ordering me to give it directly to your hands and not lets anyone else see, sir. She is not wanting you to lets anyone else see, either. Professor Dumbledore is not trusting owls, sir."

Harry's own owl, Hedwig, barked disapprovingly as Dobby handed over the letter."

"Er, thanks, Dobby," Harry said. "Um, if I want to write back to her, do I need to go through you, or can I send Hedwig."

Dobby thought for a minute and said, "It is being best if you gives it to Dobby, sir. Hmm…I wills return tomorrow night to ask you if you has a letter for Miss Hermione, sir."

"Oh. Okay, then. Tell Hermione thanks for me."

"Yes, sir."

Dobby vanished with a pop, and Harry opened the letter.

Dear Harry,

I'm sending this letter with Dobby because Dumbledore is worried about owls and muggle post being intercepted. He sounded a little paranoid to me, but he made me promise not to send you anything important that could be intercepted. He showed up at my house today; he didn't talk long, but I'll tell you what I know.

Dumbledore's putting together a group to fight Voldemort, and they have a safe house. It's under the Fidelius Charm with Dumbledore as the Secret Keeper. The Weasleys are going there this weekend, and Sirius wants to take you there the day before your birthday. Dumbledore offered to take me there this weekend, but I want to spend more time with Mum and Dad first. I'll probably go around the same time you do.

About Voldemort, Dumbledore didn't say anything except that he's lying low to recruit, and we're probably safe here for now. Also, if Dumbledore gives the Weasleys the same talk he gave me, we probably won't hear much from them, but we might learn one or two things.

Cedric's doing better. Mum and Dad say I can visit him tomorrow, so I'll know more about him then.

I hope the Dursleys aren't giving you too hard a time, Harry. You deserve better than to be stuck there all month. Just try to focus on your homework or something and try to ignore what the Prophet or whoever says about you.

It's probably best if you write to me through Dobby. I would guess Hedwig won't be able to reach the Weasleys through the Fidelius, but you can send her to Cedric or Neville or anybody else you want as long as you don't reveal too much. Hopefully, we'll see you soon.

Love from,

Hermione

Well, at least Dumbledore was doing something, even if it didn't sound like much. He didn't sound like he was being very forthcoming, and nothing seemed to be happening at the moment, anyway. Harry wanted to take issue with what Hermione said about the Weasleys. There were seven Weasley kids, four of whom were still in school with him. All of them were good people, and the youngest, Ginny, was his he-wasn't-quite-comfortable-calling-her-his-girlfriend-…-yet. Surely, she would tell him what was going on, even if no one else would. Except then he remembered, Mrs. Weasley would be there, and if anyone could make Ginny follow Dumbledore's wishes, it was Ginny's mother. They might have to play that one by ear.


In the morning, the Grangers headed up to London to visit Cedric in the hospital, and so that Hermione could look for some new maths books—both magical and muggle. She had just sat her N.E.W.T. exam in Arithmancy, but she had already performed far more advanced feats using university-level muggle maths. Most recently, she had proved (with some help) that radioactive elements comprised a sixth exception to Gamp's Law and could not be transfigured (a very good thing, in her opinion). She was getting fan mail for that, which was a bit unnerving.

Meanwhile, she had almost studied enough maths to get a muggle university degree in the subject. She was nearly through the standard partial differential equations curriculum, and she wasn't really sure where to look next. Maybe some real analysis for the autumn term.

"And I think it's time we got a subscription to the Daily Prophet for delivery to the house," she told her parents. "We need to keep on top of things there."

Their first stop of the day was St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. It wasn't easy to find, being made up to look like an abandoned department store front, but once inside, things were straightforward. Hermione told the Welcome Witch she wanted to visit Cedric Diggory, and she was directed to the Artifact Accidents ward—which is what having your leg ripped off by a Portkey was. His arm had been shredded by a Bludgeoning Hex instead, but it was close enough. Upon informing the ward's head Healer, they were announced, and Cedric asked them to come in. As they did, however, a short and tearful Chinese girl nearly bowled Hermione over as she rushed from the room.

"Cho?" Hermione said.

The girl didn't respond as she headed for the exit. Cho Chang was—or had been—Cedric's girlfriend, but Hermione wasn't sure what their situation was now.

Inside the room, Cedric was lying on a bed, leaning back against the headboard. He was paler than Hermione remembered him, and he looked weary, but he was still handsome, despite his injuries. She had had a crush on him last year—still did a little bit, if she was honest with herself, but she had developed a greater interest in George Weasley ever since she had gone with him to the Yule Ball. Not that it mattered with her going to a different school.

Even covered up, you could tell that Cedric was missing a leg, and the bandaged stump of right arm ended just above the elbow, leaving him trying to awkwardly do everything left handed. His parents were sitting by his bedside.

"Hermione, hi. It's good to see you," Cedric said. He smiled, but his weariness coming through strongly. She stepped closer to the bed, and he gripped her shoulder in a weak attempt at a one-armed hug.

"Hi, Cedric. How are you holding up?" Hermione said nervously.

"I'm getting by. Eating's the hardest part," he tried to say lightly. "Of course, I haven't tried to do much that takes more than one hand yet."

Hermione sighed, not sure how to approach him. "Er, I'm glad you're improving," she answered lamely. "Um, oh, these are my parents, Daniel and Emma."

"Pleased to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Granger." Cedric said. He shook their hands left-handed. "These are my parents, Amos and Celeste."

The introductions soon completed, and Mr. Diggory shook Hermione's hand vigorously. "We didn't get a chance to thank you properly, Miss Granger," he said. "According to Cedric, one of your spells saved his life."

"I suppose so."

"No supposing about it. He told us the only reason Barty Junior missed that first curse was because you taught him something faster. And you didn't have to teach him those spells at all. We know you're closer with Harry Potter." He leaned closer and added in a low voice, "We believe him, by the way, about You-Know-Who coming back. I can't believe our Cedric could have gone through all that for a random madman. We can't say it too loud, though, not with the way Fudge has been this week."

"Uh, thank you, Mr. Diggory. I'm sure Harry will appreciate that."

"Mr. and Mrs. Granger, you have a brilliant daughter," he went on. "You must be very proud."

"We certainly are," Dad said. "We could tell she was one of a kind right from the start. It would just be nice if she could stay away from trouble for once."

On that awkward note, Hermione tried to change the subject, though she didn't succeed in making it less awkward. "So, if you don't mind me asking, Cedric, is Cho alright?"

He sighed heavily: "I don't know. She's been in here a few times, but she can't seem to look at me without crying."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pried—"

"No, it's fine. It's not like she's being private about it. Cho wears her emotions on her sleeve, you know? We'll just have to wait and see."

"Oh…um…do you…know how much longer you'll be here?" Still not helping the awkwardness. Come on, Hermione, you can do better than this!

"The Healers say another week or two. I'll be getting a prosthetic arm and leg soon, but I'll need therapy to use them."

"Oh, that's good. I imagine magical prosthetics are really good."

"Not always. Remember Moody? Real or fake, he still walked with a limp."

"Oh…"

"Don't get me wrong; it'll be good to have two arms again, even if they're both rubbish with a quill, but you can't cast spells with a prosthetic. That has to be your real arm. I'll have to relearn everything left-handed for school."

Suddenly, Hermione brightened. "Actually, I think I can help you with that, Cedric?"

"You can?" he said in surprise.

"Yes. I've been teaching myself left-handed casting for the past year, ever since that dementor froze my wand hand. I didn't want to be left without it again. I can come by over the next few weeks and help you with the wand movements."

"Really? You'd do that for me?"

"Of course I would. I wouldn't want you to miss out on a Charms N.E.W.T. for something like this."

Cedric smiled. "You're a good friend, Hermione," he said. "And so's Harry, for that matter. Do you know he owled me his half of the winnings?"

Hermione's eyebrows rose: "No. I know he was talking about it, but I didn't know he'd done it."

"He did. He wrote a letter saying I deserved it because I was actually supposed to be in the Tournament, and I needed it more than he did. I didn't want it, of course. He did better than I did hands down. But his owl flew away before I could try to put it back."

Hermione giggled. "That does sound like Hedwig, alright," she said. "So, if you're interested, I could come back next weekend to see how you're doing, and we can start on the spellcrafting."

"I'd like that, Hermione. Thank you."

"It's no trouble. What are friends for?"


Hermione got her subscription to the Daily Prophet, but to her dismay, there wasn't anything about Harry or Voldemort. There was a fair bit about Dumbledore. Minister Fudge was openly criticising him for "inciting panic" without mentioning what the Headmaster's claims actually were. Multiple, mostly-anonymous quotes speculated that Dumbledore was either lying or going senile, and an editorial questioned whether he was still fit to hold his governmental positions of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards.

"It's positively Orwellian," she ranted to Mum and Dad. "They have complete control of the press. They're talking about him like he's a dissident, and worse, like he's always been suspect. Just because he's eccentric—"

"We know, dear," Mum cut her off. "We don't have a very high opinion of this Minister Fudge, either, but if he controls the press, there's not much you can do."

"I know. I know. But still, people are probably going to be hurt or killed because of this. It's so infuriating! And then, there's what they said about Harry—"

"I thought you said they weren't mentioning Harry," Dad said.

"They didn't till today. And even then, I almost missed it. Look. Here, page 3." She opened up the newspaper to show them. "Three muggle fishermen in a rowboat managed to find themselves thirty feet up a tree after an encounter with the Loch Ness Kelpie, in a tale worthy of Harry Potter."

"Loch Ness Kelpie?" Dad asked.

"Long story. Oh, don't you see? They're making Harry out to be a nutter so no one will believe what he says. He hasn't even said anything except that first night."

"We're sorry, Hermione. Sometimes the government is just criminally incompetent," Mum tried to soothe her. "I'm sure Professor Dumbledore and his group are doing all they can."

"I hope so."

Hermione was still in a bad mood that evening when Ron Weasley's hyperactive little owl, Pigwidgeon, showed up with a letter at her window.

"Oh, hi, Pig," she said, letting him in. "I hope you have some good news."

Hoot!

"Hmm. Nothing gets you down, does it?"

Hoot!

"Well, let's see what the Weasleys are up to, shall we?"

Dear Hermione,

We're moved in at you know where now. We wish you and Harry could be here with us, but you'll probably be glad you're not. It's ugly. Take every complaint Ron's ever made about our house—HEY! Shut up, Ron. Even if it was true, it wouldn't be as bad as this place. It was abandoned, and now it's infested with stuff you probably don't want to know about. The adults are trying to make it more livable.

We can't tell you much more because Dumbledore's worried about owls being intercepted. Of course, they won't tell us a whole lot anyway. That's mostly Mum's doing. We'll find out what we can, though. Also, we thought you should know that Percy left. We probably shouldn't talk much about that either, but the short version is Percy's siding with the Ministry, and he got in a big argument with Dad. It wasn't pretty. We'll tell you more when you get here.

Your friends,

Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny

Well, that was just great. It didn't look like anyone was having a very good summer right now.