Or, Twenty-One Letters to the Order of the Supremely Suspicious Seagull
Letter Nineteen – "'It's all very mysterious"
Under Hermione's strict timetable, it only took a few days for all of the students' homework to be completed.
Once the last word had been written, the ink had dried, and Hermione had proofread each and every one (Ron ignored all her suggestions, claiming he had already worked harder this summer than any other), they stowed their work in their trunks and abandoned the kitchen in favour of the nearest living area.
Hermione curled up in an armchair with a book on ancient cults she was reading for fun, while Ron was soundly defeating both Ginny and Neville at chess. Once he was done playing them, Hermione was planning to suggest he play four different games at once to give himself a challenge.
Luna was lying on the floor drawing pictures of trains, snakes, and flamingos, humming happily to herself as she drew.
Moody and Albus were also in the room, chatting over yet more tea. From what Hermione could hear, they were discussing Voldemort's suspicious lack of activity over the summer and the pranks that had been pulled at Grimmauld Place. Moody seemed to think the two could be connected.
Severus was, for reasons no one was able to discern, brewing a potion in the corner. Remus, sitting on a nearby couch, had an odd lump of clay in his hand and was prodding it with his wand.
The relative peace was disrupted when the twins burst into the room, shouting. "We found it, we found it!"
Everyone looked up at their entrance, and the rest of the house's occupants emerged from the kitchen at the commotion.
"Found what?" Hermione asked, when it seemed the twins weren't going to volunteer the information.
"Mad-Eye's eye!" George said.
Moody stood suddenly. "My what?"
"Your magical eye!" Fred said brightly. "We thought you'd lost it, and it turns out we were right!"
The Auror seemed caught between confusion and anger, removing the false eye he was wearing and staring between it and the one in George's hand in shock.
"Why did you think I had lost it?" Moody asked finally.
"Well, because you couldn't tell either way whether Harry was here," George said. "Bill and Charlie figured you would have seen him right off if your eye was working."
"The boy is here," Moody growled. "He has to be!"
"If that is the truth, then I am a caterpillar," Luna said, not looking up from her drawings. "And if you are proven correct, then I shall indeed wrap myself in a cocoon and emerge a butterfly."
Everyone just took a moment to stare at Luna, who kept colouring her flamingo.
"Anyway," Fred said after the pause. "Now you can check and know once and for all whether he's here."
"Where did you find it?" Bill asked as Moody took the eye from George and carefully cleaned it off. "We searched everywhere."
George shrugged. "Actually, we should come clean. We weren't even looking, then we walked past Elmer-" Here George paused for Severus' habitual growl and Kingsley's newly added snarl. "-and there it was, dangling from his mouth. He near bit my hands off when I took it from him."
"And then he kept spitting at us until we ran away," Fred added. "Nasty attitude, that camel."
By this time, Moody had inserted his original eye and it was rolling madly around his head as he searched the building. Finally, it settled and he sat down with a huff. "Well, girlie, I suppose you won't be becoming a butterfly anytime soon. Potter is nowhere in this house."
"I know," Luna replied, smiling at the train she had moved onto colouring red. "Harry hasn't been here since last Christmas. I did try to tell you."
"Well if it hasn't been Potter, who has been casting all these spells?" Moody demanded. He turned to Albus. "This just lends weight to my theory! You-Know-Who is behind this!"
The sound of Severus clearing his throat drew attention to his corner. "Actually, the incident at the Ministry before summer has left the Dark Lord with quite a migraine," he said. He gave a rather nasty smirk. "Which is not lessened by even my strongest pain relieving potions."
There were several snickers throughout the room, until Moody realised what Severus had implied. "If it's not the boy, and it's not the megalomaniac, who the hell is behind it all?"
Severus silently stared accusingly at Luna, who looked up from her artwork just long enough to smile at him knowingly and wink.
Minerva, on the other hand, was looking directly at Remus. "Oh, I think I have an idea."
Remus blinked at her, all wide eyed innocence. "Why Minerva, surely you don't think I could have had anything to do with this?"
She snorted. "You were mastermind to a fair few of the more large scale Marauder pranks when you attended Hogwarts, and you are rather fond of Harry. Whether you're working with him or merely on his behalf, I'm uncertain, but I would consider you my main suspect."
"Oh really?" Remus said. "I, personally, suspect Fred and George."
"Who, us?" the twins chorused. "Never!"
"You did create that portable swamp," Ginny pointed out. "Plus you idolise the Marauders and have been causing all kinds of havoc since turning seventeen. I can see where Remus is coming from."
"Well, that's just offensive, don't you think, Gred?"
"Indeed, Forge, quite offensive indeed."
"If it wasn't you two, who do you think it is, then?" Ginny asked.
"Oh, Bill, absolutely," Fred said.
"Bill?" George scoffed. "No, no, brother mine, it is most certainly Charlie."
Bill and Charlie rolled their eyes.
"It's definitely Severus," Tonks said, grinning.
Severus almost upset his cauldron in shock. "It most certainly is not!"
"Are you sure, Severus?" Albus asked, eyes twinkling merrily. "You must admit, you are the last person anyone would suspect to be working with Harry."
"Yes, because I would never agree to work with that brat, certainly not in order to cause such unmitigated chaos!"
"Er, Severus," Molly said hesitantly, eyes on the cauldron, which was bubbling dangerously close to the rim.
"No! I will hear no more of this! I am not working with Potter!"
"Remus, surely you of all people don't believe-"
"No, of course not, I'm the one who has had to listen to your countless rants on the evils of Potters in general and Harry in particular all summer," Remus pointed out, rolling his eyes. "But your camel repellent potion is about to overflow, and you added enough different varieties of snake egg that it will corrode through the floorboards."
Severus swore and vanished the potion.
Almost the very moment he did so, Elmer slowly poked his head through the door. After sniffing the air for a few moments he seemed to deem it safe enough to enter (likely because Crookshanks was currently in the aquarium room, watching the fish swim around).
Elmer seemed content to avoid the corner Severus was seated in, and Kingsley was quick to join him there. The camel didn't appear to be causing any particular trouble, at least for the moment, and while Severus and Kingsley each kept a wary eye on him, everyone else was content to ignore him and continue their speculation as to who was behind the bigger pranks of the summer.
Hedwig flew in through the doorway not long after, landing on Ginny's shoulder and looking around in confusion, as though wondering why nobody was in the kitchen for once.
Ginny took the letter, but paused before opening it to raise her eyebrows at Kingsley. "I don't know what you're always complaining about, Hedwig doesn't dig in the way you say she does."
Kingsley scowled at both girl and owl. "She has it in for me, I know it." Hedwig hooted at him dismissively before nibbling gently at Ginny's hair.
Grinning, Ginny opened Harry's letter and began to read.
I received a postcard in the Muggle mail from Brazil today.' Brazil? Who does Harry know in Brazil?"
"No one I know of," Hermione said. "Maybe Seamus or Dean or somebody is on holiday there?"
Ginny shrugged. "Maybe. 'Aunt Petunia was oddly horrified by it, claiming it must be cursed and refusing to touch it. For some reason she didn't think it was written in English.'"
"I have a bad feeling about this," Remus sighed.
"'After closer inspection, I now suspect it may be written in'-" Ginny stopped. "Oh dear. 'Parseltongue.'"
"Wait, what?" Tonks said. "Parseltongue? Does that mean it's from You-Know-Who?"
"I really don't think the Dark Lord is in Brazil," Severus said, sounding pained.
"Well, he could have gotten someone else to send it," Remus suggested doubtfully. "But... a postcard? Really?"
"Perhaps we should let Ginny keep reading and we might find out?" Arthur suggested.
As everyone fell silent, Ginny obediently did so. "'Now, I know what you're thinking,'-"
"Oh, I really, really doubt that," Ron muttered.
"-'but I don't have any more ideas as to how a snake would use a quill or a pen than you do.'"
Hermione groaned. "Really, Harry?"
"'It's all very mysterious. Perhaps I should go find a snake in the garden and experiment?'"
"Please let it be a poisonous one."
"Shut up, Severus."
"'I heard about a wizard who could speak with dolphins, I wonder if they can write letters too?
Anyway, the postcard is very pretty, it has a picture of a train on it, and some flamingos in a pond in front.'"
Severus just looked down at Luna, who ignored him for once, keeping her eyes on Ginny.
"Shut up, Severus," Remus repeated.
"I said nothing!"
"No, but I saw the accusation in your eyes. Honestly, how do you think Luna could be carrying out all these pranks and keeping in contact with Harry without anyone knowing about it?"
"Wait, Professor Snape suspects Luna?" George said incredulously.
"Nah, it can't be Luna!" Fred agreed.
Luna just swung her feet in the air and gave her snake markings like a boa constrictor.
Ginny sighed impatiently and kept reading. "'I wish I could keep a flamingo as a pet, it would keep Hubert company- he doesn't get along very well with Hedwig.'"
"I suddenly feel kinship with a Crumple-Horned Snorkack," Kingsley said wearily.
"'Then again, Hedwig is awfully picky as to who she gets along with.' Oh, you are not," Ginny cooed. Hedwig hooted her agreement. Kingsley snorted and shook his head. "'I do hope she isn't causing anyone any pain at Headquarters.
Time for some tea!
"He didn't really get a postcard from a snake, did he?" Neville asked.
"Oh of course not!" Hermione exclaimed. "Don't be silly, Neville, there's just no way."
Neville shrugged. "I don't know, Hermione, this is Harry we're talking about."
She paused. "Good point."
"No!" Luna shrieked suddenly. "No, bad Elmer! Bad! That's a very bad house-camel! Naughty!"
As everyone looked around, Elmer galloped out of the room, several pieces of half chewed paper visible in his mouth. Luna was now standing, staring after him and pouting at the loss of her drawings.
Severus stepped from his corner. "Granger, where is your tiger? I will reclaim Lovegood's ridiculously suspicious drawings."
"Oh, no, it's all right, Professor," Luna said, sighing sadly. "Thank you for the consideration, but it's best that Elmer disposes of the evidence, really. But he will be punished for it."
Hermione frowned. "How, exactly?"
"I'm going to feed him some of Sirius's old underpants."
"That would be acceptable," Severus said, eyeing Luna. "Though I doubt a camel would care."
"Elmer is a very sensitive camel," Luna said blithely. "He refuses to enter Sirius's room, or go near things that smell too much like him. They seem to make him inexplicably nauseous, so he will understand it is a punishment."
"I'm not sure that knocks out my theory that Harry is the camel or if it lends it weight," Arthur mused. Everyone stared at him in shock. "What, you hadn't considered it?"
"Given where he bit Severus, Arthur, I sincerely hope your theory is wrong," Remus said with a barely suppressed laugh.
"As do I," Severus muttered. Luna laughed.
Wolfie still sick. Wolfie loves reviewers. And readers. You are all lovely. Thank you.
Wolfie is also still finding thinking of notes too hard. Therefore Wolfie will stop typing and post the chapter already. Hope everyone enjoyed it.