Or, Twenty-One Letters to the Order of the Terminally Tardy Toucan
Letter Thirteen - "Hello again."
In the aftermath of Harry's birthday letter, the war between the Defenders of the Camel, the Anti-Elmer Squad, and the Religious Squirrels seemed to lose importance to those involved. It helped that Hermione had realised all of a sudden that she had been neglecting her summer homework (and that none of the other students in residence had so much as looked at theirs), and had taken it upon herself to End Things that very afternoon.
As a result, Elmer was safely confined to a locked room two floors away from Severus' bedroom, Kingsley had been given a big platter of cheese sandwiches to appease his disappointment at the fun ending, and Severus was assured that Elmer could not escape (Dumbledore and Moody had cast the locking spells themselves).
Life at Grimmauld Place quickly returned for what passed for normal, and remained that way until the next morning, an hour or so before lunch.
Severus was sitting in the kitchen, drinking coffee because the tea supply was running dangerously low, when Moody sat heavily in a chair across the table from him and regarded him seriously.
After a few moments of silence, Severus sighed and looked up, meeting the man's gaze and raising an eyebrow. "Yes?"
"I think you might be onto something, Snape."
Severus blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
"About Potter being in the house."
"I've said no such thing, Moody. The boy couldn't possibly be here without our knowing." Severus gave the man a pointed look. "You surely would have spotted him by now."
Moody shook his head and banged his hand on the table. "Lupin said just the other day that you believed Potter to be behind the basement door," he growled.
Severus sighed. "You can't believe everything you hear from Remus, Mad-Eye. In fact, you can rest assured that if it pertains to what I do or not believe in regards to Potter, it is in fact untrue."
Moody grumbled to himself, but didn't reply, and moments later took his leave.
Severus should have known that wouldn't be the end of things.
By the next day, Moody had managed to convince the two oldest Weasley boys, Tonks, and even Minerva, that Harry was somewhere within the walls of Grimmauld Place.
Fred and George, overhearing the conversation, had decided that Moody meant that Harry was literally in the walls, and had taken to knocking on them at random moments, calling out to Harry. Needless to say, they had not received any response.
Ron had attempted to join the search, even though he doubted that Harry was anywhere but Little Whinging, but Hermione had instantly cottoned onto his plan to avoid his homework and had dragged him back to the kitchen by his ear.
The only other person who was involved in the search was Kingsley, who had confided to the former Tea Club that though he didn't believe Moody's theory that Harry was hiding in the house, he missed the adventure of the Camel War and just wanted in on the fun.
Kingsley also confided in the Tea Club (and consequently the five school age members of the household, who had spread their homework over more than half of the kitchen table) that he suspected that something had happened to Moody's magical eye – surely the search would have been moot had the eye been working.
Albus had seemed highly amused at Kingsley's suspicions, though if he knew Kingsley was wrong or perhaps he knew that Kingsely was correct, no one was certain.
That evening, Molly served dinner with several frowns toward the end of the table the students were taking up. Everyone else had crowded around the empty half, aside from the students themselves who had each cleared just enough room for their own plates, and Severus, who had taken his plate and set it pointedly atop a pile of Potions essays (one from each student) and was not taking any particular care against spilling anything. Hermione was far too concerned about the safety of her essay, which was at the top of the pile, to even remember to eat her own dinner.
Midway through the meal, Hedwig flew through the open window holding Harry's letter in her beak, and landed gracefully on the back of an empty chair. She looked around the table with a rather pointed stare, as if to ask why no one had taken the letter from her yet and by the way, where was her dinner?
Neville stood from his seat and took the envelope, and rather thoughtfully plated a few extras from dinner and set them in front of the chair Hedwig had claimed. She hooted at him appreciatively and dug in, while Neville returned to his own seat to open the letter and read it out.
Hello again. It's me, Harry. You may remember me from such letters as the one soaked in lavender oil,'"
Remus snorted. "How could I possibly forget?"
"I've been meaning to ask you about that, Remus," Tonks said. "Are you allergic to lavender or something?"
"Not exactly," Remus said with a shrug. "I've just got a very sensitive nose, being a werewolf, and certain scents just...make me sneeze. Lavender being one of them, which Harry knew full well. That brat."
Neville cleared his throat a little nervously and continued. "'or the previous one that was alarmingly long.
I feel the need, today, to remind you that I am in fact still alive. Actually, thanks to the peculiar talent Crumple-Horned Snorcacks have of reversing botched necromancy, I'm not even a zombie skunk any more.'"
"Thank heavens," Arthur joked.
"'And in case you've been wondering, Hedwig did manage to rescue me from Hubert's bottomless pit just before my birthday. I really ought to fill that in.
In totally unrelated news, I haven't seen Dudley for a couple of days...
There was, as often was the case, several moments of silence after Neville had finished reading, broken only by the sound of Hedwig finishing off her chicken.
Minerva broke it with a sigh. "Albus, perhaps one of us should go and make sure Potter hasn't genuinely lost his cousin down a bottomless hole."
The Headmaster, unsurprisingly, shook his head. "I am certain, Minerva, that both Harry and his cousin are perfectly safe."
"If the boy's down a pit, you're going down to fetch him out," she said ominously.
"Very well, my dear."
Er, hello again. This is Wolfie, letting you know she's not dead. And is, in fact, still writing.
Wolfie will not make promises, because she cannot keep them, but she does have Plans, and ideas for at least the next chapter (you know, cos something's up with Mad-Eye's eye and stuff).
Wolfie hopes everyone enjoyed this chapter.