Chapter Three - Spring


April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot


Birth Announcement in the 'Daily Prophet'
14 March 1998

We hereby proudly announce the birth of our son

Brian Arthur

who was born on 13 March 1998.
All the family are well.

Fleur and Bill Weasley


Fleur and Bill Weasley to just about everyone they know
20 March 1998

Dear Friends,

Please join us for the Name Giving Ceremony of our son
on Sunday, 29 March 1998, 10 o'clock in the morning

at The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole.

Lunch and Afternoon Tea following at the same location.

We are looking forward to seeing you,
Fleur and Bill Weasley


Molly Weasley to Minerva McGonagall
21 March 1998

Dear Minerva,

I know Bill and Fleur have sent you one of the official invitations, but I wanted to invite you personally as well. It has been ages since we saw each other.

Please do come to the namegiving ceremony. It will be beautiful, I just know it. I do hope you do not mind that they decided to name their first son Brian – Bill only told me later that it was one of Dumbledore's names as well and that he chose it for that reason.

Percy is going to be godfather. We are so proud to have him back with us. I still wonder who might have helped him in the Ministry, but that stranger saved out boy's life. Percy thinks it might have been Pettigrew. Well, it would be somewhat comforting to know that there are a few kind-hearted people on You-Know-Who's side.

I apologise that this letter is so short. Bill and Fleur have already arrived here and we have so much to prepare for the feast. Ron will return home again, and of course Harry and Hermione will come with him. It will be a family day.

Do come. I am looking forward to seeing you again.

Yours sincerely,
Molly


Minerva McGonagall to Severus Snape
23 March 1998

Dear Severus,

I recently found out that our plan has worked better than we even thought. We did not only succeed in saving Percy Weasley – he has also made up with his family after the attack. Isn't that good news? He will actually become godfather to Bill's son.

They have named the child Brian. I will attend the Name Giving next Sunday.

Weasley also has no clue who might have helped him. He suspects that the stranger helping him was, of all people, Pettigrew.

Hagrid said he met the centaurs again last night and they predicted 'a turn to the worse at a time soon' – but you know how imprecise that branch of magic is.

Minerva


George Weasley to Ron Weasley
30 March 1998

Hey ickle Ronniekins,

Just wanted to drop you a note because we never got to finish that talk yesterday. You know, it sounds downright silly saying that, but we are really proud of you going out with Harry and helping him with whatever you're doing.

Ron, don't be mad if I offer you a piece of advice as your older brother even if we are not that far apart in years. Last night I had this impression that you were really mad when Harry and Ginny disappeared behind our old broom-shed. Hey, I do know what you're thinking. I don't like to see Ginny kissing anyone – but I reckon Ginny thinks differently and then Harry is the best choice she has. He's your best mate. I know it's weird to see him with Ginny, but our parents have as good as adopted him anyway, so he might as well become part of the family by being Gin's boyfriend.

Gotta go – Fred has ordered a load of stuff for our Muggle products sideline, and we've got to sort that out. Fred says hello. Do tell Harry and Hermione hello from us, and Ron – hehe, if you want to, why don't you give dear Hermione a kiss from me? That way you'd at least get to peck her on the cheek. (Do make your move, for Merlin's sake. It's not like she'd object much – though I fail to understand what she sees in you.)

Bye for now,
George


Nymphadora Tonks to Hermione Granger
4 April 1998

Wotcher, Hermione –

Hey, that was fun, seeing you all again at The Burrow. I know, we do see each other more often with the lessons now, but it is different to get together for a party, isn't it?

Anyway, I just wanted to know when we can go on with the lessons and one more thing. Wanted to ask you at The Burrow, but then I saw you and Ron sit there by the fireside and thought I'd not interfere. Forgive me for being so bold, but I was right in assuming you like him quite a bit, huh?

I know Ginny is a bit mad at you because she did not get to come with you guys again, so Hermione – you know, if you ever want to talk about stuff with another gal just drop me a note, alright?

I've sent you a sketch of the dress I'll wear for the wedding – it's all pink and flashy with sequins, really a bit punk style. What do you think, should I do my hair pink or silver to go with it?

Oh yeah, the other thing I wanted to know: Hermione, would you like to be my bridesmaid? I've also asked Ginny and Fleur, but she said she's not sure if she can make it. They want to go to France real soon and present little Brian to Fleur's family. And anyway, Fleur is not exactly perfect for a bridesmaid, with her being married and all. So I suppose it'll just be Ginny and you, if you like.

Take care, and drop me a note when you all can be at our place again.
Tonks


Bill Weasley to Aberforth Dumbledore
14 April 1998

Dear Aberforth,

Thank you again for your offer to rent that flat behind the Hog's Head to us, but we have decided not to move to Hogsmeade even if we have to give up our London flat.

Hogsmeade used to be a beautiful place to live in and I would have loved to be back in Scotland again after those long years in Egypt, but with the recent Dementor sightings in Hogsmeade we have decided that this is no place to raise a child in. Who knows how long this war will go on?

We will go to France for a while and present little Brian to Fleur's parents – they are so looking forward to seeing their first grandchild. I think we will then finally decide where we want to live in the future.

Thanks again for your offer to help us. You're a good man.

Yours truly,
Bill


Severus Snape to Minerva McGonagall
29 April 1998

Dear Minerva,

I apologise for not writing in a while. The Dark Lord has sent me out of the country one more time. Lucius Malfoy and I were to contact the Irish goblin populations for him – sadly, this undertaking proved to be quite successful.

Minerva, I think it will not take long any more before the Dark Lord attempts to take over the country. Almost every official structure of our world is by now infiltrated with Death Eaters or at least heavily influenced through imperiused witches and wizards.

I believe the Dark Lord intends to take over in a rapid move and then let the country struggle in the resulting chaos for quite some time – who knows, they might in the end beg for his rulership just to re-obtain some form of government.

Today I heard of one particularly cunning detail in the plan – once he has control of the Ministry, he intends lean heavily on Gringotts and freeze the accounts of everyone opposing him. Can you imagine what it will mean if people are unable to access their vaults? Half of the economy will break down. Those who oppose the Dark Lord will in the long run have to steal simply to obtain food. They will become outcasts because of their poverty.

There might, however, be something we could do about that. It is a daring plan, and I do not know if you will approve of it. If convenient, I will call on you in two days. We need to discuss many things.

Sincerely,
Severus


Minerva McGonagall to Severus Snape
30 April 1998

Dear Severus,

By all means, do come to see me whenever you want. You are always welcome at Hogwarts.

It is good to hear that you are well; I was rather worried.

Minerva


Minerva McGonagall to Severus Snape
1 May 1998

Severus –

I am sorry I rejected you idea like that. During the last night I did reconsider it thoroughly.

What you suggest is supposed to be impossible. But then again we did think that Hogwarts was an even safer place, and we know that in the end an eleven-year-old boy successfully overcame all the challenges. Surely you and I could achieve something similar if we work together?

I still find myself unable to agree to your plan but… it has potential. I cannot believe I am even considering this! Let us talk about it some more. I plan to go to Diagon Alley tomorrow and will try to collect helpful information.

Yours sincerely,
Minerva


Molly Weasley to Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall, Rubeus Hagrid, and Kingsley Shacklebolt
18 May 1998

Friends,

So sorry that I used this Copy Spell to send the same letter to all of you, I am rather in a hurry this morning.

You won't believe it, we woke up this morning when three large owls from Gringotts (they all wore the official ribbon around their necks) pecked against our window. They carried this heavy parcel, and when we opened it we found all our money inside, and a letter saying that it's been officially withdrawn from our vault and we were not to send it back.

Arthur flooed to the Diggorys right away to ask what Amos thought about it, and guess what? – the same had happened there. Then we flooed the Patils, Bill and Fleur, and Percy, and a couple of folks Arthur knows from work – all the same.

Now I'm wondering if it's the same with you. Sorry I had to write, you keep your fireplaces safeguarded. Is there something going on inside Gringotts? Do we have a common friend who made sure we'd get our funds before it's too late?

It's strange, all the folks who had their money sent to them were members of the Order, or friends of Dumbledore, or friendly neutral at least. That does tell you something, doesn't it? Bill says he can hardly imagine a successful break-in at Gringotts, but then again no place will ever be entirely safe.

Do tell me how things are at your places. I am very curious.
Molly


Minerva McGonagall to Molly Weasley
18 May 1998

Dear Molly,

The answer to your question is yes – exactly the same thing happened at Hogwarts this morning. Several owls arrived and developed Hagrid's and my possessions here.

I do agree with your theory that someone suspects Gringotts is no longer safe, at least not for people like us. Possibly it is best not to return the money into our vaults. I find it quite discomforting that so far there has been nothing released on the radio news; they are obviously trying to play the matter down.

Hagrid sends his best wishes to all of you. He is taking care of the exhausted owls right now. The must have worked all night.

Do pass my greetings on to Arthur and your family.

Sincerely yours,
Minerva


The Quibbler
19 May 1998 So If You Seek Beneath Our Floors…
By Rita Skeeter

The famous engraving upon the doors of Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley – how many times have we all read it? This poem greeting every customer of the bank – have we ever even considered the possibility that it may not hold true?

"So if you seek beneath our floors,
A treasure, that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware,
Of finding more than treasure there."

The message appears simple enough. For centuries, the witches and wizards have entrusted their gold and valuables to the goblins of Gringotts in the comforting knowledge that no thief could ever break into the bank and leave richer and, most certainly, alive.

For all we know, in the history of the goblin bank there has been only one attempted break-in, and never a successful one.

BUT HAS THERE?

Bedazzling new evidence suggests that a criminal mastermind has now succeeded in meddling with the accounts. Since all Gringotts transactions are spell-protected and have to be confirmed within the main building in Diagon Alley, the culprit must have entered the bank and conducted his plan from there.

As of yesterday morning, hundreds of wizarding families both of Britain and Ireland have received parcels from Gringotts. These bizarre packages were delivered in the early morning hours and by Gringotts owls, which only leaves the conclusion that these owls must have left the bank building during the previous night.

All parcels were marked as regular withdrawals and contained the exact sum of money that the family or person receiving it had stored in their Gringotts vaults. Included in the packages were letters advising the recipients of the riches not to take their money back to Gringotts, but to "store it secretly in a safer place."

An interesting detail is that so most – if not all – of the parcels seem to have reached wizarding families of Muggle descent or mixed blood, or pure-blood families who harbour no resentments against Muggle-borns.

Gringotts denies all official knowledge of the event and claims that only some cash was shipped out to several families "according to regular proceedings, as owl-delivered withdrawals."

It is hard to judge whether these bizarre events can be counted as a robbery. Apparently, no money was taken from its rightful owner. Whoever entered the bank building did act illegally, but without criminal intentions.

Ministry officials and goblins alike have claimed that no entrance to the Gringotts main house was forced open – in fact, one speaker of Gringotts related in a weak attempt to joke about the matter that "the most unusual thing that has lately happened around the bank building was when one of the guards at the back door tripped over a small tabby cat that was chasing a mouse."

We will leave it up to our readers to decide whether things are going smoothly at Gringotts – and whether they want to return their own money to a bank where it apparently is no longer safe.


The Daily Prophet
19 May 1998 Gringotts and Ministry Deny Break-In at Wizarding Bank
By Barnabus Cuffe

At a press conference this morning, both goblin officials from Gringotts Bank and Ruby McLane, Junior Spokeswitch of the Ministry, quenched the rumours about an alleged robbery.

'Not a single knut was misplaced,' Griphook, a Gringotts employee of many years, confirmed. 'All that happened was that an unusual high number of people withdrew all their money from their vaults. It must have been the number of Gringotts owls making the deliveries that attracted suspicion.'

All journalists were given a tour of Gringotts and were able to witness with their own eyes that there were no traces of a break-in. Mrs McLane confirmed that the Ministry has not received a single report of goods stolen from a Gringotts vault.

It appears that the rumour was spread deliberately to discredit Gringotts Bank and the law-enforcement techniques of the Ministry, and was later picked up by certain newspapers. We encourage the British wizarding society not to believe such cock-and-bull stories.


Minerva McGonagall to Severus Snape
20 May 1998

Severus –

'Criminal mastermind', did you read that? Considering the circumstances I find that is quite a compliment for you.

Apparently your plan worked quite well. Everyone I have spoken to has received their money, and they all intend to keep it away from Gringotts in the future.

Minerva


Severus Snape to Minerva McGonagall
22 May 1998

Minerva,

In the end we employed your idea how to get into the bank, so I suppose you alone are the 'criminal mastermind'.

I always knew you had it in you.

Severus