22 December 1978
From the desk of Augustus Rookwood, Senior Unspeakable
Department of Mysteries
My beloved son,
I held you in my arms for the first time just a week ago, and learned how remarkable it is that everything can change in a single moment. Before, I was an unspeakable, a revolutionary, a soldier. Now, I'm a father first, and those other things second. Always second.
I hope you never read these words. I pray, to whatever gods may listen, that fate protects us from what is to come.
That said, I would not be a true Rookwood if I did not prepare for the worst, even as I hoped for the best. If you find yourself reading this letter, and viewing the memories I plan to leave alongside it, then chances are good my lies have caught up to me, and my enemies have managed to end my life.
Ambrose, I need you to understand one thing - everything I did, I did so that you would be free of this debt I have incurred on your behalf.
sound of liquid pouring
These dictation quills get better every year. It's one of the few areas where wizards actually improve over time. In most things, we are content to simply subsist, as we have for generations, and let our so-called 'leaders' lead us to ruin.
If we were truly better off the way things were, then we would not have gone to war, and I wouldn't have done… well.
…I want to tell you about Archimedes.
Born in the city of Syracuse, in what is now Italy, Archimedes was one of the first Greek wizards to make himself known to muggles. In many ways, he is considered, even to this day, the patron saint of Arithmancy. To the muggles, he is famous for his study of mathematics and science.
Simply put, that just means that he took the most basic parts of his magical studies, filed the edges off, transfigured them into something the muggles would understand, and wrote his own legend.
If there is one saying that Archimedes is known for, it is this. 'Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.'
Think about that. Really let it sink in. See, Archimedes was talking about physical force and levers. With a big enough lever, a single man could move any weight, even the whole of the planet, just with the strength of his hands.
Of course, we know that a wizard of his skill had a second meaning. The tiniest spell, cast correctly and with precision, can accomplish the greatest of effects.
sound of liquid pouring
We see this effect every day. Every choice can have effects that ripple out in completely unexpected ways. A witch sits in the cabin on the left, on the train to Hogwarts, and meets a pureblood who leads her toward Slytherin. Or, perhaps she sits in the cabin on the right, and an eager young muggleborn draws her to Ravenclaw.
Something so tiny, so mundane, as which seat to take on a train. A door on the left, or a door on the right. But that choice can dictate the entire scope of a witch's life.
Give me a lever big enough, the man said, and I shall move the world.
I am Augustus Gaius Rookwood, of the House of Rookwood. I am a Master Unspeakable. I need no lever to move the world.
sound of glass smashing
Secrets are my lever, the ears of the powerful are my fulcrum. One word, just one sentence in the right ear, and the world would tumble off its axis and into the abyss.
I'm a father now. I am a soldier in what is basically a civil war for the fate of Wizarding Britain, and I'm supposed to be a father. Everything looks different, when you have to think about the next generation. Will I be a good father? Will I do what must be done to protect my child?
I don't know. Understand, my son, just how hard it is for me to say those three words. But it's the truth, and I would not have you shy away from it. I don't know what kind of a father I'll be.
All I can do is swear to you that I will do everything I can do to protect you.
Which, of course, is the problem.
The Ministry would execute me if they learned what we've done. The Dark Lord would flay me, torture me, and then execute me if he learned what we've done. I daresay that Dumbledore and his Order would look the other way and allow it, second chances be damned, if they knew what we've done.
All that matters to me now is ending the war. My son will not be a soldier. He will not be a sacrifice on the altar of a madman or a fool.
The war must end, and for the first time, I find that I don't really care who wins.
Do not avenge me, Ambrose. Do not seek out the one who ended my life. They were merely the weapon. Look beyond the surface, as I hope to have taught you. Look deeper.
All my love to you, my son. Good luck.
(Magic willing, I'll burn this letter and you'll never see it. If only writing it made it so. -AR)
2 February 1979
Internal Memorandum, Department of Mysteries
Eyes Only - Director
...The aftermath of Grindelwald's War illustrates the challenge faced by the highest echelons of power within Wizarding Britain. The ongoing Blood War, as it is known within the Department, shares several important similarities to the previous conflict, and these cannot be easily discounted when considering the shape of a postwar Wizengamot.
In both conflicts, the insurgent faction is led by a charismatic and ruthless wizard with tendencies toward the darker end of the magical spectrum. Both sought out alliances with ancient houses, frequently favoring wizards of pure blood. Both have wielded the monetary resources of those houses to great effect - Grindelwald, by expanding his influence across Central Europe, and the Dark Lord, by increasing his own influence among the houses of the Wizengamot.
Key differences emerge on further analysis, however. Grindelwald opened his campaign with an almost formal declaration of war, proudly stating his intentions for all to hear at the so-called 'Paris Incident' of 1927. His later maneuvers in the 1932 election further illustrate this strategy. The Dark Lord, on the other hand, became known when his followers began striking the homes and businesses of non-purebloods. The more recent conflict has much in common with the terror campaigns of Magical Italy in the 1820's or the failed Mayan Invasion of the Carribbean in 952.
We note for the record that the Mayan Campaign ultimately resulted in the Bermuda Triangle, which remains to this day one of the foremost threats to the Statute of Secrecy. This, in turn, only highlights the risks of a prolonged conflict within the British Isles.
A review of voting behavior during the 1977 session of the Wizengamot indicates that several neutral houses have at least tentatively allied themselves with the Malfoy faction, largely believed to be a stalking horse for the Dark Lord. While the heads of those houses seem to be operating as before, their eldest sons are often finding themselves undergoing treatment for cruciatus exposure, suggesting a high level of sadism from the Dark Lord.
In our estimate, then, we submit that the Dark Lord's support may not be entirely voluntary. This represents a key weakness in the so-called "Dark" faction, should the result of the conflict go against them. (If, on the other hand, the Ministry falls, the point is academic. However, see Department Memo 17-Gamma, dated 12 June 1975, for the appropriate contingency in that scenario.)
The Pro-Ministry forces also exhibit parallels to the previous war, though again key differences emerge upon deeper analysis. Where Albus Dumbledore is, at present, the most prominent leader fighting the Dark Lord, he was but one of many turning their wands against Grindelwald. Many of those wizards, most notably the ones of Western European descent, later took roles in a newly interventionist ICW.
In Britain, meanwhile, Dumbledore was the main beneficiary of the conflict's end, not least for his hand in ending it. This gave him unprecedented personal influence, with which he bolstered the efforts of the so-called "Light" coalition in the Wizengamot. In the days following the war against Grindelwald, the Light would have followed Dumbledore off a cliff, had he but asked.
Even if Albus Dumbledore has no direct part in defeating the current Dark Lord, his influence will grow in the aftermath - there is no credible scenario where this does not occur. But his influence is already part of our calculations - there is very little ground for his faction to gain, so to speak. One can only slice cabbage so thin, after all. And of the houses that might be termed as "persuadable," many have so much history with Dumbledore that they would never openly ally with his faction, even if their goals aligned.
To truly take advantage of a victory over the Dark Lord, then, our analysis suggests that the Light faction should seek a new leader. A young wizard, perhaps, magically powerful but with a strong intellect and extensive training in politics and governance. Someone who never attended Hogwarts, or only attended for their NEWT years or as an apprentice, and thus was not poisoned by the house system there. Even as a member of the Light, it is critical that the Malfoy faction (or their successor) be comfortable doing business with this new leader. They must know that he will follow through on his promises, and that he will listen to their concerns and address them where he is able.
If this is not possible, the only other feasible option is to utterly neutralize the Dark faction with as little brutality as possible. To do otherwise simply reinforces the status quo ante, and virtually guarantees a third such conflict within our lifetimes.
3 April 1979
From the Desk of Daedelus Diggle
Lord of the Noble House of Diggle
Chairman Emeritus of the Ministry Governance Committee
Chairman Emeritus of the Hogwarts Board of Governors
Chairman of the Guild of British Master Herbologists
As always, I know that there is no use in attempting to fool you. Yes, I made a rather hasty exit from last night's meeting of the Order. I tried not to be noticed, but young Peter Pettigrew was smoking near the back door when I made my escape. I should have expected the lad to report on me.
I'd tell you that I have simply had a lot on my mind, but that would be stating the obvious.
Let me preface this, then, by telling you that I stand fully behind you. I stand behind the Order. I have sworn my magic and my life to the furtherance of the cause of the Light, and nothing will stop me from devoting my wand and my words to that cause. Never doubt, old friend, that I am with you.
I would never dream of questioning you in front of the Order. You can be wrong, and we will work through it. But if your leadership is undermined, if our colleagues begin to question you? That is when the whispers of the Dark are at their most powerful.
It would only take one betrayal to end the war. I doubt very much that anyone would welcome such an outcome.
That said, I do have concerns.
I've said this before, but it bears repeating - we cannot simply focus on ending the war. The children you place your sorting hat upon this September will have been born after the start of the Dark Lord's campaign. They have never known a peacetime Britain. As they grow, what do we expect of those children?
Do you truly expect them to hew to the Light, simply because we won?
No, we know better. If we allow it, resentment will fester among the Dark families, and they will leap at the chance to join forces with the next Dark Lord. And there will be a next Dark Lord.
So, our task is not just to win the war. We must also win the peace as well.
Perhaps I'm simply overthinking things, as is my prerogative. You know me well, my old friend, and you know how my mind wanders these days. But if I'm right, we may have an opportunity to change the course of Wizarding Britain for the long term.
Please advise me as to your next free moment. I believe we should discuss this in person.
I remain your servant,
15 May 1974
From the desk of Charlus Potter
Lord of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter
Oh my son, my beloved child, I wish I were there with you at Hogwarts to discuss your letter in person. It is my duty, after all, to point out your errors, that you might learn from them.
There is so much upon which we agree, you and I. But your proposed 'solution' to the problem of the Dark Lord would be no solution at all. It also illustrates why children, even intelligent and creative children such as yourself, are not to be involved in politics.
Poor old Odysseus could barely carry your letter, what with its four sheets of parchment. Your mother was impressed with your much improved writing, and noted that she had never seen you write so small before now.
There is only one sentence that troubles me, son. Once I read that, I looked at your arguments in a new light, and did not light what I saw.
"The Light faction must ensure that the families of the Dark choose the path of peace, by whatever means necessary."
It is the Dark faction that compels obedience, usually with pain and death. Many Lords on the other side of the aisle have presented new heirs to the Wizengamot, because their previous heirs are crippled or dead.
It is the Dark faction that deals in absolutes - unbreakable vows of loyalty, unquestioning allegiance, and so forth.
Telling me that the Dark families must be made to choose is like telling me that the Dark families must be compelled to act as you dictate. I find the idea horrific.
We stand for freedom. We stand for the right of a man to protect his family. We stand for the right of anyone magical - regardless of blood or birth - to participate in our society. We stand against the interference of the Ministry in family affairs, and in particular against the encroachment of the law on matters of family magic.
Compare that to the idea that those we disagree with should be compelled magically to agree with us, to vote in line with us, to support us financially. How do you reconcile those two ideas? Can you even come close?
You're nearing the end of your third year. When you return home, I plan to sit you down and teach you what it means to be Lord Potter. It will, magic willing, be many years before the ring falls to you, but in the meantime I hope to give you perspective that you clearly lack.
All of that said, know this - you are my son, and I love you with all that I am. Even if we disagree, and we will disagree, that will never change.
Your mother sends her love. Good luck on your exams.
Charlus Potter, the Lord Potter
8 September 1980
From the desk of Alice Longbottom
I told you I'd need a few days to think about your proposal. I know James already has Frank convinced, but I'll be damned if I sign on without looking at the angles.
But now that I've had that time, I see a few aspects of the problem that you didn't mention.
Simply put - Death, and Glory.
You're talking about faking our deaths, after all. Going into hiding, training one of our sons - or, more likely, all four of them - to fulfill this prophecy. To be the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord. Their road begins in death, and ends in glory - or, in this case, victory.
And all the while, the Houses of the Dark will crow about their ascension to power, even as we undermine them. Their voice, the Prophet, will repeat their lies.
We have one prophecy telling us that we will win, and another telling us how. It does not get much clearer than that. James and Frank were convinced, even without knowing about the prophecy of sand and stone, as you called it. You and I? We know more than they do, as usual.
29 October 1996
To: Commander K. Shacklebolt, MI5
From: Brig. Miles Warren, 35th Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps
Subj: EYES ONLY TOP-SECRET
If anyone tells you that creating an entire unit of muggleborn special forces operators is a trivial exercise, send them to me. I'll educate them.
Bravo Team will be ready for your inspection in a fortnight, I suspect. We assigned the younger men there, as discussed. That way, the veterans in Alpha Team can give the youngsters in Bravo something to which they can aspire. Competition between the squads is expected to be intense.
Alpha Team, meanwhile, already has a trophy of its own. We sent them to Dover yesterday, when word reached us of the Dark Mark in the sky. They arrived just in time to assist the first responders. None of this is new, none of this is a surprise. This time, however, something changed.
We found one of the attackers.
I managed to interrogate the poor bastard for seven minutes, before his left arm burst into flames and incinerated him. Our best guess is that your Dark Lord has a remote kill switch on each of his followers. It's one thing to talk about, but quite another to witness.
Before he died, the man told us that the end was coming. I thought he meant his own, and that he expected to get suicided by his so-called master. Now, I think he meant it another way.
Attacks have all but ended for the past week. Everything we're seeing says that the conflict is de-escalating, but you and I know better.
Something is coming. In a day, or a week, or a fortnight, some sort of shoe is going to drop.
We're going to need to brief the PM again, I think. If your people don't come up with some sort of intel, we're liable to be caught on the bad foot.
Our men are ready, but I can't deploy them without a target. Get me that target, Kingsley.
7 November 1996
To: The Right Honourable Daniel Greengrass, Minister for Magic
From: Director Amelia Bones, DMLE
Subj: ICW Notification
I have been notified by the ICW that twenty-seven citizens of Wizarding Britain have been executed by potion. A list of the deceased is attached. All were found guilty by a tribunal of International Terrorism, Murder, Ritual Murder, and a number of other crimes.
As you are aware, this list includes the surviving assailants who stormed the Ministry in June of this year, the ones involved in the attempted rescue of their fellows, and several others captured in the subsequent months. All 27 bore the Dark Mark.
Officially, I will note the disposition of the case in my report before the Wizengamot this week. Unofficially, the less said the better. These people are the same ones who tried to kill my Susan. To hell with them.
15 November 1996
I have been summoned, as have three others who have been assisting me with my brewing. Based on the number of healing potions I have been ordered to prepare, and based on the fact that I was not expected to report for another two days, I fear that my suspicions were correct. The Dark Lord is planning an attack, and a massive one at that.
Govern yourself accordingly. When it comes, I will have little to no warning.
16 November 1996
The attack begins in twenty minutes. No idea where. Be ready. Summon aid - every wand you can muster.
A/N: Here we have some backstory, some miscellaneous details, some foreshadowing, and some hints. None of this would work on its own, but in an interlude chapter setting the table for what is to come? I think it works, or at least most of it does.
I'm having a very hard time writing in this fandom, these days. I'm not alone in that. It's possible, once this story is done and I've wrapped up my other Works in Progress, that I may never start another story in the Rowling fandom again. Which is a shame, because I do enjoy the works as such. Just, you know, not the horrifying conduct of the author.
Beyond that, the Private Messages on FFN telling me to die in a fire, because I have a trans daughter, don't really do much to put me in a writer's mindset.
It's to the point that I took a planned crossover and completely retooled it to cross with a completely different fandom. I just can't even, these days.
This story will be finished. I've always had a planned length, and I'm not going to trim that back at all, and I am proud of what this story has become. But it's hard sometimes, y'all. For the 95% of you who have been supportive, thank you - you're why I'm sticking to it.
Next time: Pensieves! Quidditch! Butterbeer!
Feedback, for the most part, is welcome.
Updated 4/27/2022: Un-American'ed the Unit for Brigadier Warren, and added a forgotten twin. Special thanks to vl100butch (and two others) for the catch and the sanity check on that.