Chapter 143

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Dear Harry

I think that I'm less surprised that three of the first years didn't come back to school than I am that it was only three students that left, and only students from among the first years. I understand that the longer you'd spent at Hogwarts the more difficult it would be to transition back to mainstream schooling but I'm honestly surprised that all the first years with nonmagical parents and some of the second and third years without magical families didn't choose not to come back if they believe they're being specifically targeted by whatever is doing this. Surely some of the older students have also noticed the wizarding world's attitude to first generation witches and wizards is less than welcoming and not just at Hogwarts and thought about what that might mean if they were to live totally in the magical world. I'm surprised that more of them don't leave every year. Of course, I'm also surprised that more of the students aren't doing what you, Dean and Seamus are doing and keeping up with their nonmagical education over the summer. Surely you can't be the only three who want to have options when you graduate from Hogwarts. But perhaps there are others in the older years who have just learned to keep quiet about attending nonmagical schooling in the summer, or they're from Ravenclaw so them studying extra things isn't so unusual and you just don't know them well enough to hear about it.

Did Ron really say that Gryffindors don't run away like cowards. Is that sort of view expressed often? It seems sort of toxic. I wonder how many students and former students are forcing themselves to do things they're afraid to do or even just don't want to do out of that sort of internalised peer pressure. The real problem is that that sort of pressure would lead students to take foolish risks, just so their friends won't think that they shouldn't have been sorted into Gryffindor. Please remind yourself that there is a radical difference between bravery and foolhardiness and that valour can also mean politeness and thoughtfulness.

The peer pressure probably works the same in the other houses too. Ravenclaws are said to be bookworms and interested in studying. Okay on the surface that's not a bad thing but not all children who are interested in academic learning at eleven will still be interested after puberty hits. It's normal in other schools for kids to be able to change their interests. Some lose that love of learning because they've found a new passion in music or writing or being popular, others develop ambition and motivation to study when they discover what they want to do with their lives and realise they need to improve their GPA to get into the college they want to go to or the career courses they want to do, or lose that motivation when they realise they're not going to be able to afford to go to college or find that the career they want doesn't require it. But in Ravenclaw peer pressure would keep them acting like they want to study hard and compete for top spot in the class rankings. Hufflepuff's ethos of being loyal and hardworking seems less toxic but I'm sure there are students that feel pressured to join the group, keep the peace and be loyal to their housemates whether they agree with them and their behaviour or not and to work harder because they're in that house. I think that Slytherin's description is probably the worst, cunning and ambitious would imply the sort of people who would use other people for personal gain, fostering an endemic hesitation to trust each other and encouragement to use a friend's trust in you against them if it can gain you the upper hand. I know that not all people who are ambitious and who can be cunning are bad people, they could also be brave, kind, generous, or empathetic but their house motto doesn't seem to encourage those behaviours. The other thing is, next to nobody at eighteen is the same person they were at eleven and it seems that dividing students on those limited personality traits limits how they will grow as people. Or it would lead to an increased number of teenagers who don't feel like they fit in and cause self esteem issues and depression and a desire to leave the school.

I don't think that you wanting to leave Hogwarts where you are unfairly judged and mistreated and the world where you have enemies hidden in the shadows, shows a lack of courage. Quite the opposite, leaving the supports you have and striking out on your own without the support of family or friends to look for a safe place requires much more courage than staying where you are and just hoping that things will improve. As you know I've always thought that you were a better fit for Ravenclaw or even Slytherin (well in it's true meaning, not that pureblood superiority rubbish) than you were for Gryffindor. Not that you aren't brave and chivalrous but that you don't take stupid risks without considering the consequences and you've always loved to learn and worked hard. You have ambitions too, they're just for things that other people take for granted, personal safety, being treated like a normal person, being liked for who you actually are rather than some made up story of what happened the night your parents were killed.

What were you doing checking on the potion? You should have stayed right away from it. What were you planning to do if you had discovered that it had gone wrong? Do you have enough knowledge to know for sure whether it was still safe to take? Would you have stopped them from taking it if you knew it wasn't safe? I hope that you weren't checking it because you were having second thoughts about refusing to take it yourself. What if Hermione had caught you visiting the bathroom she was brewing in, or the ghost had seen you and told Hermione? She never would have let you back out if she thought she could change your mind.

I don't like to think of Snape having access to the two extra doses of potion, though I suppose that is naïve of me to think he didn't always have access to the potion whenever he wanted to. If he could brew this one he could easily have brewed it before. I wonder why he only gave Hermione three doses though? Wouldn't she have noticed two fifths of the potion going missing? Perhaps she knew that he would substitute it, or she knew she stuffed it up and went to him for help. It's telling that he gave Hermione three doses and not two, he expected you to be using it with them.

Mom and I had a nice break, it was uncharacteristically cold in Las Vegas this Christmas so we mostly stayed quietly at home which helped. Her friends have learnt after last year not to decorate or give her wrapped presents but they bought her some nice new clothing and a couple of books. We had a nice meal together Christmas day, my cooking is slowly getting better. Every single thing I made in the last two weeks was edible even if some of them didn't turn out exactly like I'd hoped.

I'm glad to be back at college though. I always enjoy the start of the term the most, the anticipation of new classes is frequently better than the reality but I can't help but hope each semester that they'll all live up to my expectations. It's also nice to be back with my housemates. I love seeing Mom but

I must admit it can be stressful to wake up in the morning or come home after a couple of hours out and not know how she's going to be.

Other than the notice-me-not charms which you're more than capable of casting yourself, is there any difference between a magical tent and a muggle tent?

Batman stands out a mile away with all that red and bright blue he could never sneak up on anybody.

It occurred to me today that Hermione would realise what we were doing with those statements if she found and read my letters to you. I hope you're either destroying them or keeping them very secure.

Your friend always


A/N: Thank you to all those who reviewed followed or favourited this story for your support.

Please stay safe everyone.