Thank you to my brother for telling me about carpet vipers. Only you told me that their venom was deadly, so I stayed up all night, terrified that there might be carpet vipers in my bed. It took me until four in the morning to tell our parents what was scaring me. I passed the test I had to take that morning, but I will never forget the terror I felt as an eight-year-old girl, lying awake, scared to death that invisible snakes would kill her.

I've heard of a recent trend, here at Hogwarts. Apparently, many of my fellow students are writing letters to Voldemort.

Oh, did I say his name? I'm sorry. I forget it disturbs some people. So of course I don't dare tell them the disturbing news that there may very well be carpet vipers in their beds. They're tiny little snakes who blend in perfectly with carpet or fabric, and when you step on them, their venom can seep in through any cuts or abrasions you might have on your feet. The venom travels up to your brain, where it makes you dumber. Poor Crabbe and Goyle. If only they had believed me….

What? Of course they live inside. It's warmer indoors. Why would they live outside where it's cold? I found three in Marietta Edgecombe's bed just last week, but when I showed them to her, she accused me of putting them there. Then she threw the poor little dears into the toilet and….oh, I can't bear to think of it! No, she didn't attend their funeral, but she did throw her shoe at me when I played the bagpipes for them.

Anyway, carpet vipers are perfectly harmless if you don't step on them. Their venom is nothing more than a last defense, and it only hurts you if you've a wound on your foot. So the best thing you can do is visit Madam Pomfrey or reach for the dittany if you find a cut on your foot or ankle or anywhere else.

What was I talking about again?

Oh, yes. The notes to Voldemort. Since I hate him, I suppose I'd better write one.

Dear Voldemort,

Did you know that there might be carpet vipers in your bed?

I cross that out, then throw the page away. He doesn't need to know. It's better if he doesn't know.

Dear Voldemort,

Quite a few of my peers are writing letters to you, telling you how much they hate you. I pretend not to know. I pretend not to hear as they whisper what Loony Lovegood might write, if she ever pulled her head out of the clouds long enough to put quill to parchment. Little do they know, I've spent a lot of time planning what I would say to you.

I don't like you very much. Actually, no, I don't like you at all.

Few people know this, but it's not easy for me to make friends. My Housemates don't seem too fond of me, given that they never heed my warnings about wrackspurts. I'm sure your head is full of them, but I'm not going to tell you what they are, because you won't believe me either.

Now that you are somewhat in power, my father feels he must warn people. And those who are afraid of you are afraid of me too.

The quill trembles in my hand, splattering ink onto the page. I didn't know I felt so strongly about this. I…I didn't know it hurt so much until I put the pain into words.

I had a few Slytherin friends. One or two, here or there. Even Malfoy liked it when I announced that Quidditch game. He told me afterwards he hadn't laughed so hard in months.

I think of his smile. Not the mocking one he wears around Potter. (One thing I will say about Malfoy is that his smiles are easy to tell apart. Not like Romilda Vane's. If she smiles at me while saying she likes my scarf, I can never be sure if she really means it or if she's holding back a laugh. But with Malfoy you always know where you stand.) When he smiled at me, he looked as though I'd caught his hand before he fell from the Astronomy Tower. When he thanked me, I knew he was truly grateful.

Of course he ran away right after he said it. He couldn't be seen with me, and I knew I couldn't be seen with him. He has to keep the respect of his friends and his parents. Your respect is probably the most important, but I don't know how much he really cares about it. Or, should I say, how much he wants to care.

Hm? Oh, of course I knew Malfoy was a Death Eater. It's fairly obvious. I don't know how Granger and Weasley haven't seen it yet, but I'm not going to tell them. There's no sense in causing an uproar.

And that's the thing: I don't want to care about you. I don't want to care about what you're going to do next or who is going to be angry at me when my dad writes about it in the Quibbler. I want to treat you like a nothing, like a mosquito that won't go away, but you won't let me. You've grown too strong, and now there are all of these perfectly nice people that I can't be friends with because you told them not to. Because you told me not to. Because, no matter how little I claim to care what others think of me, yours is the one opinion I have to take into consideration.

The page blurs, and I wipe my eyes with my sleeve.

If I said what I wanted out loud, my Housemates would laugh at me. They would stare at me in disbelief—and then pounce on me. "What makes you think Malfoy would be a good friend, Lovegood?" "Malfoy? Nott? Why do you want to be friends with them? They're horrible people!"

But I don't think that's true. I think that if you had never existed, they would be better. Without you to worry about, they could be friends with whomever they pleased, and I would have more of them.

There are plenty of teachers who would call me immature, blaming Voldemort on my lack of friends. "You just need to socialize more," McGonagall would say. "Perhaps, if you dressed a bit more—how shall I put this—normally, you would have less trouble." But she doesn't understand. Neville understands. He has his difficulties with magic; I have my difficulties with people.

I don't feel strange, pouring out my heart to Voldemort. I only wish I could say this to his face. If he could only see the world as it is, he would listen to reason.

Some people can become friends with anyone they meet. I am not one of them. There are only a handful of people who I feel I might understand—people who might understand me—and you have kept me from befriending many of them.

I don't know what I hope becomes of you.

Yes I do—but I'm not about to tell him that. It involves the Weasley twins, a duck suit, a handful of steak, and a hungry Thestral.

I hope Potter kills you soon. Or Malfoy. Whoever can manage to get close to you with a knife.


Luna Lovegood

P.S.: I hate you.

I fold the note and dry my eyes, but the tears keep coming. So I cry until they're gone.

When I can think clearly again, I shove the note into my pocket. I think some carpet vipers will hasten Voldemort's demise, don't you? If he's too stupid to post guards, to strategize, to do all of the things that have kept him in power for so long, it will be easier to defeat him.

Hmmm…carpet vipers in his shoes….if the sweet little things could stay still long enough, he might not know until it's too late. I wonder where he keeps his shoes?

Perhaps Malfoy knows. I think I'll ask him.