(Disclaimer: Characters etc. not mine!)

23 October 1981

Dear Harry,

I hope that we're reading this together. You, me, your mum, and who knows, maybe a few other little Potters too. I hope that we're laughing at how scared and worried we were back then – meaning now. I hope that the world in which you open this letter is a happier and safer one than the world in which I'm writing it.

But I have to face the facts. There's a chance – a fairly large chance – that my hopes won't come true. There's a fairly large chance that you're reading this letter with just me, or just your mum, or possibly without either of us – with Padfoot, then, or Moony or Letha, or with someone else, someone I don't even know yet. Whoever they are, they had better take very good care of you.

What do you say in a letter you know might be opened years after your death? What do you say to the son whose nappy you changed not ten minutes ago, the son who is at this very moment lying on the floor chewing on his stuffed dog, who will be a young man eleven years old when he reads this letter? What do you say to a boy who might not remember his own father?

One thing for sure. I love you, Harry. I always have. I loved you the instant Lily told me the news. I loved you even more when the Healer put you in my arms (although I thought you might have had the decency not to start crying the second I touched you). And I've loved you more every day I've watched you grow. If you didn't know anything else about me, I'd want you to know that.

My eyes keep doing this funny thing – I can't see too well – so I'm going to let your mum write for a while.

Your father just doesn't want to admit he's crying. He's always hated people "blubbering", as he puts it so very delicately, and he can't stand being caught doing it himself. But enough about him.

Harry, you have no idea how much we love you at this moment. I, too, hope you instead have an idea how much we love you right now, but I, too, am realistic enough to know there's a possibility you don't remember us, or only dimly. I hope, if that's the case, that Sirius takes good care of you, though I'm sure he will. From the moment he saw you, he lost his heart to you. As did we all.

You were probably the most adorable baby there has ever been, Harry. We held parties for every milestone – when you rolled over, when you sat up, when you crawled – the day you learned to walk, good heavens, we were up until the wee hours celebrating.

And then you started talking – "Dada", "Mama", "Pa-fuh", "Mooey" – Remus was rather annoyed when James and Sirius started imitating cows, the day you first called him that. He conjured horns onto both their heads and wouldn't take them off for two days – they had to go to work looking like that. Peter was smart enough to stop when Remus told him to, so he got off.

I hope that you already know this story, and the hundreds of others like it that are inevitable when you get four pranksters like your father, Sirius, Remus, and Peter together. I hope – oh, why not, I'll be a horrible matchmaking woman the way I promised myself I wouldn't be – I hope Sirius has finally got around to proposing, and that he and Aletha are long since married, maybe with one or two children of their own. I hope that Remus has finally found someone to love and be loved by.

But most of all I hope that you are well, my Harry, and that you are happy. I would give my life to make that happen.

So would I.

We love you, Harry James Potter. We love you more than anything.

Never doubt that, and never forget it.

Your father,

James Potter

Your mother,

Lily Evans Potter