Author's note: I'm afraid unforeseen circumstances delayed this chapter being uploaded, but here it is! It's a little different than the previous ones as it's all in the form of letters between Harry and Hermione whilst he's in Germany.
The one's in italics are from Hermione, the others are from Harry. Simples.
It's a little bit weird, and I'm not particularly happy with it but don't worry, this will be the only chapter set up like this.
9. Dear Darling
4th January – 3rd March 2006
Please excuse my handwriting, I've only got a few minutes to spare before we get back to work. Ron and I have just got back from a meeting with the Minister (he's not what I expected at all) and the team investigating the case. They're friendly enough, considering the circumstances, and they all speak very good English; which is a blessing, considering neither Ron nor myself know more than three German words between us (I'm afraid I left the dictionary you got me at home).
I can't go into too much detail about the case at the moment, except that another little boy has been taken. We have to go and interview his parents shortly; I'm really not looking forward to that. I just keep thinking about Teddy, imagining if it was him. Would you go and see him for me? Maybe take him out or let him stay with you a couple of nights. Let him know I miss him.
I have to run; we're about to have a full briefing.
I found your dictionary on the kitchen table after you left, I toyed with the idea of sending it on after you but I can't imagine either of you would actually bother looking at it. I honestly don't know why I bother sometimes!
That's awful about the little boy. I know you can't say too much, but are there no clues? Do you even know the disappearances are affiliated with magic? His poor parents, though, they must be going out of their minds with worry. Don't you be worrying yourself about Teddy, I've spoken to Andie every day since you left, and I'm taking Teddy to the cinema tomorrow before my night shift. We're going to see The Chronicles of Narnia; the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He's delightfully excited about it, but I think we're going to have to get him a hat before we go, I can't imagine the other viewers failing to notice his ever-changing hair!
Stay safe, Harry, and give my best to Ron. I know you'll get to the bottom of this!
I'm sorry for the lateness of my reply (I'm sure I'll get the hang of this letter writing lark one day!). We've been completely swamped the past couple of weeks, I can't even remember the last time I had more than an hour's sleep; I'm running on empty at the minute. Ron isn't faring any better; actually he's doing worse. You know how he gets when he's tired; he even snapped at Frau Muller the other day because she spilt her drink on his paperwork!
I'm sure you saw in the papers that we found the little boy's body, mauled like all of the others. It was heartbreaking, Hermione; you can sort of detach yourself from it when you just see the pictures, it doesn't look real. But seeing his little broken body nearly destroyed me. All the signs point to it being the work of a werewolf, or a pack of them. We found a notebook in Rudi's room, that he'd used as a diary of sorts, it seems to indicate that he'd befriended a strange looking man at least a few days before he went missing. It's the only link we have at the moment, although it's not a great help really. We've currently been interviewing all of the registered werewolves in the region; the trouble is, not every werewolf is registered, and it's more likely that the fiends are living outside of the German Magical Creatures Law and haven't registered themselves with the ministry. That's if it definitely is werewolves. It's all a bit of a mess, to be honest, and now a little girl has been taken; sooner than with the others, so we're not even sure it's the part of the same case yet! The whole wizarding community is in a constant state of panic.
I'm in desperate need of some good news here Hermione, any news in fact! Tell me all about what you've been up to since I've been gone; how is everyone? And work?
I miss you, so much.
I was so glad to see your letter waiting on my desk! I've had the German Telegraph delivered everyday just so I could read your name and know you were alright! I'm missing you terribly; I've been taking on extra shifts at work just so I'm not sat at home worrying about you all day and night. I'm sorry the way things are turning out, I suppose it's a small comfort that you have a lead now, even if it is a tiny one.
There's not much to tell from this end; I went out a few times with the girls, it was a little bit awkward, to tell you the truth, what with Luna asking all sorts of inappropriate questions about Ron and our relationship. I've taken Teddy out quite a bit too, he's missing you loads, he asked me to send you the pictures he's been drawing, I sent them with a different owl because they were weighing this one down, I hope they arrived safely. Andie's taking him to visit Ted's cousin in New Zealand next week, he's so excited! He keeps ringing me every time he finds out a new fact about the country; the things I could tell you about sheep!
I saw Arthur a few days ago too; he came into the hospital to visit a colleague. He said they haven't heard from Ron in a few weeks but I reassured him as best I could. I'm sure they'd all appreciate it if you could get Ron to send a quick letter, even just a couple of lines to let them know he's okay.
I know it's probably the last thing on your mind right now, but I was wondering if you'd spoken to Ron about us yet. Of course it doesn't matter if you haven't, you both have more important things to be focusing on at the minute, but Ginny knows now, well she knows we're testing the waters, so to speak, and I'd rather Ron heard it from one of us than anyone else. No rush, though.
Come home soon.
Your letter was a much needed tonic, and Teddy's pictures are brightening the dreary little office we've been allocated (I swear it's smaller that Mr Weasley's!)
I have some amazing news! You may read about it in the paper before this gets to you, but we found the little girl! Alive! We received a tip-off from the muggle police (they believe we're some kind of FBI-type body, they don't suspect a bloody thing); anyway, some farmer had called them about a group of rough looking vagabonds who kept turning up on his land and terrorising his flock. The police were treating it as a simple trespassing case until they visited the farm and found a pile of kid's shoes at the edge of one of the fields. Anyway, it eventually got back to us and we scoured the whole place and found her tied up in a bush. She's terrified, naturally, but she's given us so much to go on! We just need to catch them now before they snatch another one, they won't be stupid enough to use the same stomping ground now it's been discovered.
As to your concern about Ron; I told him everything a couple of days ago. He handled it much better than I expected, although he admitted he felt a little bit weird about it (he said something about wife-swapping, but I didn't really catch it). He did say he wasn't overly surprised, and he wishes us luck but he asked for us not to be too touchy-feely in front of him, he said it would make him want to throw up. Apparently my behaviour with Ginny produced a similar reaction in him (I wasn't that bad, was I?) So, anyway, you can stop worrying now.
Onto a more important note, I've missed you so much! I've done some mental arithmetic and I'm pretty sure you owe me about 1000 kisses. With tongue. No negotiations.
Oh Harry, that's such good news! I'm so pleased the little girl is alright! And it sounds as though I'll be seeing you a lot sooner than expected at this rate. I've missed you something dreadful and, although I think your calculations are a little off, I shall be more than happy to bestow all your requested kisses, and more, on your return.
I'm so glad you have told Ron about our situation; I think we have Luna to thank for his acceptance. I can't imagine he'll be giving us a second thought whilst he's got her to keep him occupied (between you and I, she's a little bit wild, and she'll certainly be keeping him on his toes!) On a slightly sour note, I think Molly knows too, she was a little bit frosty with me when I went to the Burrow for tea yesterday, and she only gave me one helping of everything. I'm sure I'll be held fully responsible, so you have no need to fear losing your place as her favourite!
All my love,
Well, Miss Granger, you've certainly captured my interest. What is this "and more" that you speak of? Could you mean you shall be giving me more than 1000 kisses (I will be counting, by the way) or do you mean more than just kisses? I admit I will not be complaining of either scenario but, if it is the latter of which you speak, then I must insist that you write me in explicit detail about what I should be expecting upon my return, because after such a long absence I'm afraid my heart may not stand the excitement. You have but three weeks to prepare for my return (we got the bastards, in case you hadn't already heard, just the formalities of a trial to go through now).
As for Molly, I can completely sympathise with her on this. First you break her youngest son's heart, and then you brazenly seduce her adopted son right in her own back garden! Quite frankly, you're lucky you got any tea at all!
I know it's only been five weeks but this whole case has completely drained me, especially coming so close on after what happened before Christmas, I can't wait to just get back home and relax, unwind and be with you! I'm afraid you'll have to put up with me following you around like a lovesick puppy, begging for any scraps of attention. You'll be sick of me in a few weeks, pleading with Ron to take you back (please don't do that).
I will be waiting (impatiently) for your next letter.
My Dearest Harry,
I can't possibly imagine what you were implying in your last letter! I have, however, given careful consideration as to how I shall be welcoming you home (congratulations, by the way, I knew you would do it!) I think, to save your poor heart, we should meet somewhere public, so your excitement can be controlled (hopefully) and then I can bring you home and cook absolutely anything you like. After that, I have a limited edition game of Monopoly that is yet to be opened and it's just begging to be played with (I'll have you know that I'm somewhat of a master at it). Then I think a nice evening in watching films (you can choose) and doing each other's hair, before hopping into our jimmy jams and getting a good restful sleep. Is that enough more for you?
If that's not to your liking then I'm afraid you'll have to orchestrate a more appropriate catch up session. I leave myself entirely to your mercy.
As for seducing you, Mr Potter, I think you have a bloody cheek! If you didn't walk around flaunting your delightfully toned body, and making me swoon with your dancing skills, then my drunken self would never have even entertained the thought of kissing you, never mind actually doing so in Molly Weasley's back garden! Merlin knows what the gnomes thought of that little display...
Anyway, I'm guessing I won't be able to keep you all to myself when you get back; Andie and Teddy are returning from New Zealand tomorrow, and I'm sure your beautiful little Godson would be delighted to see you. I think Molly is planning some sort of party too (although I have yet to receive my invite!)
I will be waiting (impatiently) for you,
Oh, be still my beating heart! I'm not sure I'll be able to contain myself with such wild antics in store! I wouldn't want to show you up at your favourite game, however, so I'll have a little rethink and come up with something more appropriate!
As for Molly's little party, we received our invites yesterday. Mine was very pleasant and full of hints about Ginny being there, and how she's not been herself since I've been gone...I guess you're right that she's guessed our secret! Don't worry too much about it; you know Molly, she'll get over it eventually.
I spoke to Teddy today, too, he was telling me all about New Zealand; it sounds amazing (maybe we could visit ourselves someday). I can't believe how much I've missed him! This case really got me thinking about Lupin, and Tonks; about how much they've missed out on with Teddy, and how lucky we are to get to watch him grow up. I know we can never replace them, but you and the Weasleys always made me feel loved and wanted, and I hope we can do that for him. I want him to know he still has a family who will protect him and love him, no matter what. Do you think it's time we told him about how they died? What they fought for? He's always just kind of accepted that they were gone, but we've never really explained it properly to him. Is he still too young?
My apologies if I'm getting a little melancholy on you. It was the first day of the trial today, and it was more than a little harrowing. It was all in German, of course, but just seeing all those bereft parents sobbing whilst the Minister detailed what had happened to each child. I'm glad I couldn't understand what was being said, I don't think I could have handled it. Ron had to give his evidence today; he threw up three times before he took the stand. I've got to give mine tomorrow; I'm afraid I'm using this letter as an excuse to stop poring over my notes. The Germans do things a little differently here, it's handled like a muggle case, but the longest the trial can go on for is one week. So we'll be home on the fifth. Kingsley has been kind enough to give us a week off when we get back, too. We could maybe go out somewhere, if you're free?
Oh, Harry, I'm not sure I'm the right person to be asking about Teddy. Tonks and Lupin wanted you and Andie to be his guardians, so I think you and she need to discuss it when you get back. He's a smart boy, and quite mature for his age, so I think he'd be able to understand it, but it would be a lot for him to take in. I guess the longer you leave it, the more likely it will become that he'll hear the truth from someone else. I do, however, truly believe that Teddy knows he's loved. He has so many people who adore him, and look out for him. He's lucky, in many ways; he'll never know the pain and loneliness that you had to suffer as a little boy! Speak to Andie, the two of you should decide together what's best.
The case has been all over the news the past few days; reporters have been camping outside the Burrow and the twins' shop, trying to get a quote from someone. They're at the hospital too, but Madame Luvine has granted me permission to apparate to and from the staff cloakroom (I'm just so glad they can't find this place). I guess you'll already have given your evidence by the time this reaches you, but good luck! Just remember that, no matter how upsetting it will be, you're going to be helping the families of those children to get some justice and closure. It won't bring them back, but at least they won't be able to hurt anyone else, and the families can get on with their grieving.
I'm so glad you're going to be home soon; more than anything, I've missed our late night chats about work, and school, and old friends over a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I tried to get next week off work but we're really swamped at the moment; I have managed to get next weekend off, though. I know Molly's party is on the Saturday, but Sunday I'm all yours!
I can't wait to see you!
I'll keep this one short, as I'll be seeing you tomorrow anyway! You're right (as usual), I'll speak to Andie about telling Teddy. I think he has a right to know how incredible his parents were, and what they sacrificed so he could have a safe upbringing. I just don't want to shatter his innocence in the process.
You were right on another point too (are you ever not?); I spoke to some of the families after the trial, and they were all very grateful that the process was over and the monsters were locked up, so they could concentrate on burying their children and celebrating their short lives. I just wish they'd been caught sooner. I'm sick and tired of young lives being wasted and cut short for nothing!
I have to go now; they're having a briefing/celebration of sorts at the ministry. I promise not to be hung-over for our reunion (I find Monopoly frustrating enough when I have a clear head!) I'll probably be getting back whilst you're at work, so I'll go and visit Andie first thing, and then I'm yours to do with however you please.