Mr. Southill's owl arrived at the Potter residence shortly after the end of term. Edwin had, indeed, been offered the position of Second Assistant to the Commissioner-at-Large for Magical Territorial Relations and Statutory Secrecy. Edwin's parents were, of course, proud that he had landed position with the Ministry at such a young age—and perhaps relieved that they wouldn't have to endure any further dispatches from Professor Dimsdale or Headmaster Everard about his extracurricular activities. For his part, Edwin only finally decided to accept the offer when an owl arrived the next day from Basil informing him that his friend had been named Third Assistant.

The legation was due to set sail for Gibraltar in late July, so Edwin spent the next several weeks packing and unpacking his school trunk. Quarters were likely to be cramped on the ship; he would only have room for the essentials: he would need his broom for sure, and he reckoned it couldn't hurt to bring his potion-making equipment—although Basil was by far his superior in Potions. He couldn't decide if he should wear his sword or simply pack it in his trunk. Professor Dimsdale insisted his students learn the basics of Muggle fencing. "A Gryffindor tradition from the earliest days of Hogwarts," he called it. For the first time, Edwin wondered what it would be like to have to defend himself, wandless, trusting in only twenty-eight inches of steel to keep him alive. In the end, he decided to pack it.

He debated for over a week about his astronomical charts, finally concluding that practically anyone would be better at stellar navigation than he was. Likewise, the dragon-skin gloves from Herbology class could stay at home, as could all of his school books.

He did know, however, that he needed plenty of Muggle clothing, easily obtained from nearby shops. As he returned from clothes-shopping one afternoon, he spied a huge snowy owl perched in the apple tree just inside the grounds of the Potter estate. His face darkened as he recognized the feathered messenger.

"Wilberforce," he muttered. As if on cue, the owl took off and glided to the ground in front of him. Edwin stooped to retrieve the sealed envelope in the bird's beak.

"Hello, Wilberforce," Edwin said unenthusiastically. "Message for me, I see. What's the old man want to complain about now?" He tore open the envelope and scanned the letter inside.

"Is that a letter from Grandpa?" Edwin's mother called from the doorway. He stood up, ignoring the owl's icy stare. "He wants me to come by and see him. Tomorrow morning."

"Well, your father and I are due in London, I'm afraid. You can go by yourself, can't you, dear?"

"Of course," Edwin said. He did not, however, reveal precisely how little he looked forward to it.

But duty was duty and family, such as it was, was family. Before dawn the next day, Edwin pulled on his new Muggle suit, tucked his wand inside his jacket, and Apparated to Godric's Hollow.

He strolled into town just after sunrise. As he passed the old church with its even more ancient graveyard, he wondered how many of his mother's ancestors were buried there. He crossed the village green and found the lane that led off in the direction of the moor. There, on the outskirts of the village, stood Peverell manor.

Edwin lifted the massive iron doorknocker, but before he could even bring it down, the door creaked open. At his knees stood a house-elf dressed in an immaculate white pillowcase that was, if anything, more severely starched than his own new shirt.

"Good morning, Dibbs," Edwin said, as pleasantly as possible. "My Grandpa sent for me. May I come in?"

The elf eyed him noncommittally and bowed him inside. "Master is taking his morning constitutional, Edwin Potter," Dibbs squeaked. "You may wait for him in the withdrawing room." Edwin wasn't sure how his grandfather's house-elf managed to convey both superiority and servility at the same time, but that seemed to be the tone of voice Dibbs always took when addressing him.

Edwin followed the elf as he padded across the foyer, through the impressively appointed stateroom, and into the smaller private chamber where he was expected to wait. He took his seat and glanced around the room, the portraits of generations of Peverells eyeing him warily but saying nothing. The shelf where his grandfather kept his collection of strange magical instruments briefly caught his attention. From time to time they whirred or flashed multicolored lights, but otherwise remained silent. A book on a lectern in the corner was embossed with a geometric design of some sort that Edwin had always taken to be the Peverell family crest: a circle and a vertical line inscribed within a triangle.

He stretched his legs and sat back down. He hummed a little. He inspected his wand—he really ought to polish it before meeting again with Mr. Southill. He wiped his sweating hands on his breeches. His mouth, he noticed, had become quite dry.

At long last, the door at the back of the drawing room opened. In strode a balding wizard of impressive stature, who glared down at his grandson.

Edwin leaped to his feet.

"Have a seat, boy," the old man scowled. "I'm not the ruddy Minister for Magic."

"Yes, sir," Edwin whispered, sitting once more. The old man pulled up a chair for himself and arranged it as closely as he could to that of his grandson.

Edwin sat there, stunned, knee to knee with his grandfather, Berossus Peverell.

"Your mother tells me you're leaving Hogwarts."

Edwin swallowed. "A p-position has opened up at the Ministry, sir. Mr. Southill asked for me personally."

"Are you trying to justify it to me or to yourself, boy?" Berossus Peverell thundered.

"No one," Edwin said, at once defiant. "I'm simply telling you…sir."

Edwin's grandfather leaned back in his chair. Something—it might have been a grin, it might have been indigestion—passed briefly across his taut lips.

"I know Southill," he said at last. "He interned at the International Confederation of Wizards directly out of Hogwarts. Listen to him, boy. He's destined to go far in the Ministry—and he can take you with him."

"Yes, sir," Edwin muttered.

"It's important work, enforcing Statutory compliance. Of course, you weren't even born back in '92. The Ministry were up in arms for a month after they learned what happened in the Colonies." He grasped the arms of his chair. "Just last year the Ministry had to send a whole team of wizards to Hertfordshire to clean up after that Wenham girl. If our kind don't learn to police ourselves, boy, there's no telling what will happen next.

"A wizard's got to keep his head. There's very little room for error, especially with the Red Indians and other heathen wizards who haven't yet accepted the need for secrecy. And I'll tell you this: they've got magic you've never seen. Southill's legation won't be a walk in the park, boy. That I guarantee."

Edwin sighed. "If…if you don't think I'm ready…." He bit his lip. "If you don't think I'm smart enough or talented enough…."

To his astonishment, he felt his grandfather's hand on his. "I didn't say that, Edwin."

He looked his grandfather in the eye.

"Do you think I don't know about the way you stand up for your friends—especially the half-bloods and Muggle-borns? Or that I don't read every word your mother writes me about the sort of man you're turning out to be? Brave, honorable, independent, quick-witted. Do you think I am ignorant of the fact that you have placed first in your year in dueling for the past three years, or that you very nearly took top honors in Transfiguration last year?"

"Edwin, it is true that I wished you would have applied yourself more diligently to your schoolwork. But it is also true that there is more to life than books. You've got a real opportunity to do some good for the world—our world and even the Muggle world. And if anyone can walk into that unknown and come out the other side, it's you."

Edwin felt his lower lip begin to quiver.

"Your mother was my eldest daughter," the old man continued. "You remind me more of her every day. You've got the same fiery temper, the same unassailable sense of right and wrong…and the same uncanny ability to keep me up at night wondering what you're up to!"

Berossus Peverell retrieved his wand from the pocket of his robes and silently conjured a small leather satchel.

"You're my eldest grandchild—and my only grandson." He lifted the satchel and placed in Edwin's hands. "When your grandmother and I first married, I had hoped to pass this on to my son. Alas, I was blessed only with daughters. Though I would never have allowed you to have this at Hogwarts—and, if I may be frank, we both know it would have only got you in more trouble than you were already—it seems the time as come for you to have it."

Edwin loosened the buckle that held the satchel closed and pulled out a silvery expanse of cloth, so soft it was practically liquid. He gasped as it dawned on him what he was holding.

"Is this…an Invisibility Cloak?"

"The best ever made," Berossus Peverell said, swelling with pride. "Go ahead, my boy. Try it on." He scooted his chair back to give Edwin room to rise. With a smile dawning upon his face, Edwin pulled the cloak over his shoulders and stared down in awe at his suddenly disappeared body.

"My father gave it to me, and his father gave it to him. It has been in the Peverell family for centuries—of which family I am the last male heir."

"I-I don't know what to say, sir."

"Say you'll use it to stay safe on your journeys."

"Of course, sir."

"I have come to suspect that I have been wrong about you, Edwin. I thought I could push you to apply yourself. It never occurred to me I might be pushing too hard. Perhaps I was trying to relive my own past glories through you."

"I've always hoped to make you proud, sir—Grandpa."

"And so you have, Edwin. And so you have."

• Basil most likely wields a small sword or court sword, a development halfway between the rapier and the foil, which was the standard dueling weapon from the mid-17th to the late 18th century. A small sword was generally 24–33 inches long.

• Snowy owls are well suited to hunt whenever they please, and are regularly seen during daylight hours.

• The Salem Witch Trials took place in 1692. According to J. K. Rowling, this was also the year the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy was officially established, although it had first been signed in 1689. Jane Wenham was tried and convicted of witchcraft in 1712, but later pardoned by Queen Anne and set free. The last execution for witchcraft in the United Kingdom seems to have been that of Janet Horne, in Scotland in 1727.