17 September 1938

Dear Druella-and-Tom (but mostly Tom),

While I'm sure you don't think you urgently needed a response, it was clear that you wanted one, and there are certain topics in your last letter which do in fact require one.

Firstly, regarding "House Rosier can always use more individuals with a talent for interacting with other people," I am uncertain what Tom's relationship with the House will eventually become, but I don't imagine that either of you have any intention of dropping the other any time soon, so I do expect that he will have some formal relationship with us. Were it simply a matter of preference, yes, I would have suggested that we offer a wardship. I would likely have waited another month or two to do so — it would be insane to offer to practically adopt a muggleborn simply because they have befriended a child of the House, but especially to do so before you've had time to thoroughly get to know each other and get a feel for whether this infatuation with each other is likely to last.

Yes, I am aware that mind-magic can speed the process of familiarising oneself with a new acquaintance significantly; that you would likely not describe your interest in each other as an infatuation; that Druella simply doesn't change her mind without very good reason and, if she has not been dissuaded from keeping his company already, knowing, I'm sure, more about Tom than I do, it is hardly likely that there is anything she could possibly discover about him that would scare her away at this juncture; and that Tom would have to be a fool to give up the opportunity this relationship represents, regardless of whether he comes to find Druella tedious in time (not that I imagine he will). I do not doubt that this seems perfectly reasonable to both of you, despite Tom apparently having at least some idea that other people would disagree.

Moreover, it would be better for morale within the House if I were to wait to make such an offer until I have met Tom in person, and at the very least until he has demonstrated his potential value to the House beyond "Druella likes him."

(Generally, this would take the form of information gathered in informal conversations with your professors and other adults who have had occasion to interact with you, though the cantrip you included in your last letter does rather speak for itself. Yes, it worked, though I am uncertain whether the glamour was intended to translate the magic as Druella experienced it into a visual one, or whether that was simply how my mind interpreted the echo. It was absolutely breathtaking, and no, words cannot truly capture the experience of being there. Thank you for sharing it with me.)

Druella may not be aware of this — I honestly have no idea how much attention she pays to her reputation and the internal politics of the House — but there are those who believe I too obviously favour her and that she is unfairly coddled and oftentimes given anything she likes because she is by far the most talented child in her generation. They believe that we (the leadership of the House) are afraid to lose her cooperation in the matter of whatever alliance we might make with her marriage, and are therefore attempting to court her favour in a way which is simply embarrassing and hardly proper given her position within the House. Either that or that we treat her as though she is made of glass and let her do whatever she likes because we fear that if we push her too hard she will suffer another mental breakdown and cause significant harm to herself and/or others.

In any case, there will almost certainly be a degree of resentment over the idea of taking Tom as a ward simply because the two of you have decided that you are now inseparable, which will be reduced if I can say, for example, that Horace Slughorn considers him the most promising muggleborn student Hogwarts has seen in the past thirty years. (I do find the man's tendency to court the favour of promising children distasteful to say the least, but no one would deny that he has a shrewd eye for talent.)

Unfortunately, there are other factors to consider which might considerably extend the period before I am in a position to propose a formal arrangement, whether of patronage, adoption, or wardship. Many of them are bureaucratic; some are potentially more tangibly problematic.

Tom is underage and does not have a House to negotiate on his behalf, which makes it difficult to make a formal offer of patronage at this juncture. We can, of course, help him establish a house under our patronage when he comes of age, but in the meanwhile, his guardianship is held by the state in both our world and the muggle world, with the Headmaster of Hogwarts his de facto acting guardian while he is at school. If he had a parent, even on the muggle side, who fell within Secrecy and could approve of the arrangement, the British Ministry would sign off on it as well, but they will not accept the consent of some agent of the muggle government who does not fully comprehend the situation, and it would be a violation of the Statute to bring in whoever might have the necessary authority for that reason alone.

Adoption is complicated for similar reasons. One would think it would be easier to adopt a child who has no known family in either world, but adoptions are considered legally akin to marriage contracts. An underage child cannot legally consent to their own adoption. Adoption is also complicated because, depending on how your relationship develops over the next few years (and how successful Druella's campaign to scare off potential suitors might be (⸮)), you may not want to already legally be members of the same House.

"Your niece, Druella (and Tom)" does not in fact imply a sibling-like relationship, but rather suggests that Tom's relationship to me and to House Rosier is primarily through Druella. While this is not inaccurate or an inappropriate way to sign a letter co-written with a friend and addressed to someone closely related to only one of the authors, it is almost always used in the context of someone writing to their natal House in conjunction with their spouse or betrothed, or accepting an invitation which was addressed to only one of them, such as in the case of balls hosted by a non-mutual acquaintance.

No, I do not think that Druella was trying to suggest anything of the sort, but the (presumably unintentional) implication did spark the idea that you might wish to keep all avenues open at such an early juncture.

(The form of salutation I used was in reference to your comparison of your reciprocal mind magic to the connection between bonded twins. If you wish to refer to yourselves collectively, I suppose you will have to work out which gendered kinship terms you wish to use for yourselves.)

Formally declaring Tom to be a ward of the House neatly circumvents the difficulties of patronage and adoption, as it would mean, in essence, that the House would be Tom's official acting guardian. It is not a permanent state of affairs, as wardships expire when the ward comes of age, and therefore does not require binding consent on the part of the minor. In order to check potential abuses of the wardship system, however, the appropriateness of any given wardship may be challenged by any other adult mage who believes that they have proof that the guardian is unfit or that they would be a more appropriate guardian. The wardship of an orphaned child given to a distant relative, for example, might be successfully challenged by the child's godparent.

The wardship of a presumed orphan or unwanted bastard raised in the muggle world would easily be challenged by the family of either parent. Yes, we could claim that they are unsuitable because they left you in a muggle orphanage for the first eleven and a half years of your life, but they could just as easily claim that they had no knowledge of you until we brought you to their attention.

This is a matter of legitimate concern because while it is possible that a squib line or the convergence of multiple squib lines might carry the Parsel trait as well as a talent for empathic legilimency, it is highly unlikely. I consider it far more probable that, as Tom's yearmates suspect, he is a bastard with at least one magical parent.

If that parent was his father and his mother was a muggle, it is possible that he is legitimately unaware of Tom's existence. It is also possible, however, that he is aware of Tom's existence, and wished to avoid associating himself with Tom until it was established that Tom was indeed magical (less likely, if he is aware of Tom's name, as Tom has already been at Hogwarts for an entire year), or to avoid associating with him altogether to avoid drawing attention to the indiscretion which resulted in his birth (more likely, especially if he is a member of the nobility).

If that parent was his mother and his father was a muggle, those same reasons might apply. Obviously his mother would know he existed, but it is reasonably likely that she was disinherited or ran away from her family before Tom was born — possibly before he was conceived — and that her family is currently unaware of his existence, but would wish to claim him if they knew of him.

It is even possible that both of his parents were or are magical, and their match simply unacceptable for one reason or another. I can think of dozens of sad stories which end with a magical infant left in a muggle orphanage. (Added upon revision: It is even possible that if one of Tom's parents was a mage but desperately poor, they might have thought to surrender him to a muggle orphanage because a muggleborn orphan would have better prospects than he otherwise might — muggleborns are, after all, guaranteed a Hogwarts education, which opens far more doors than being raised in Knockturn.) Speculating further on the circumstances of Tom's birth and abandonment without more information is entirely pointless.

For historical reasons I'm sure Druella is aware of, it would be politically inadvisable for House Rosier to make any official claim on a child whose parentage is not established.

Beyond that, formally declaring Tom a ward of House Rosier would draw considerably more scrutiny to him and his situation. If his circumstances are the product of genuine ignorance, he may prefer to be reunited with his own family. Whether his circumstances are the product of genuine ignorance or not, there is a high probability that his family would wish to claim him for themselves if the alternative is allowing us to do so, especially if they are also nobility. He is, after all, a very talented young man, and the future of one's House lies in the talent of its children.

It may be presumptuous of me, but I imagine that he would be unwilling to be reunited with any potential family who were not genuinely ignorant of his existence. Unfortunately, should they make a claim on him, he would not be able to contest it until he came of age, especially if they are nobility or benefit from a strong patronage relationship with one of the Noble Houses. If that is the case, it would be most advisable for Tom to attract as little attention as possible until he comes of age and is able to legally reject any attempts to bring him into said family.

You may also wish to consider that most people are going to consider your relationship extraordinarily peculiar and potentially unhealthy. Tom did have legitimate reason to be concerned that I might attempt to separate you. Most adults responsible for either of you and your individual well-being probably would have done, especially if they are not accustomed to managing an extraordinarily peculiar House and subscribe to the view that conventionality is universally preferable to anything new or unusual. Even if he does still have living family and they are genuinely ignorant of his existence, it would be worth scouting them out and determining how receptive they are likely to be before drawing him to their attention.

In the event that Tom does not wish to rejoin his family for whatever reason, whether we offer patronage or an adoption or take Tom as a ward, or simply try not to draw their attention to him until he's of age depends on how willing any living family may be to cooperate. If they are commoners, they may consider it an advantageous outcome to have Tom fostered with us, for example, even while recognising him and attempting to draw him into their own family, and therefore cooperate with a patronage offer; or if he has living muggle relatives, we may be able to convince them to consent to an adoption. Moreover, if they are nobility and have not yet claimed him due to some indiscretion surrounding his birth, they may be open to a quiet arrangement to forgo any claim in return for our silence and/or certain other favours, but almost certainly only if they are approached for permission before we make a public claim on him.

In short, I believe it would be unwise to make any official declarations or claims without first establishing who exactly Tom is and whether he has any living family. We will be better able to discuss a plan of action once that matter is fully investigated. I will, of course, begin looking into it. This will be made substantially easier if Tom is willing to take a lineage test.

In the meanwhile, I suspect that it will be the best course to maintain an informal relationship between Tom and the House, essentially treating him as a ward — he will spend holidays with us, we will provide for his material needs (clothing, schoolbooks and equipment, etc.), arrange an apprenticeship or facilitate his application to mastery programmes after Hogwarts and so on — with the understanding that when he comes of age, he will formalise his relationship with the House, either as a client or an adoptee, or possibly marry in — even if your relationship remains more fraternal than romantic, there are plenty of other daughters of the House who might be interested in a contract which would not require them to leave their natal House. Though if you two don't grow out of your dependency on each other, that will complicate matters. Still, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

In any case, the expectation would be that Tom would contribute to the House after attaining his majority, in much the same way any child of the House is expected to do, in exchange for which he would enjoy the benefits of being raised as a child of the House, with the very important exception that he would not have the legal protections of being a member of a Noble House if he should fall into trouble with the law, because this arrangement would not be officially recognised outside of the House. As House Rosier is always in need of people who are good with people, his role as an adult member of the House would almost certainly be political, whether externally (as an official Wizengamot representative, or an unofficial liaison/right hand sort of figure, or even assisting with left-handed methods of gathering information, etc.) or internally (helping to manage the Family in a role similar to my own).

I emphasise that this is a very important exception because stealing emotional energy from people without their permission (so-called "psychic vampirism") is absolutely illegal. It is difficult to prove, but cases which might be used as a precedent sentenced the offending parties to terms of ten years to life in Azkaban. To be clear, most prisoners do not survive ten years in Azkaban, and those who do are almost universally so traumatised by the experience that they are unable to successfully rejoin society. Admittedly, I am not certain what the statistics are for mind-mages, or specifically mind-mages who are imprisoned for impersonating dementors, but I would still recommend avoiding being caught committing such an act, the simplest method by which to do so is to not commit such an act at all.

That is how I would characterise using mind magic to torture other children and subsuming (or even just enjoying) their fear, by the way, and it is not a flattering comparison. I hope I am misinterpreting Druella's mention of Tom's bent for emotional manipulation and her likening him to a veela — I took it to mean that he is in fact an empathic legilimens.

Whether empathy and legilimency are separate talents or whether they are different extremes of manifestation of a single talent is a question which is hotly debated in certain academic circles. Legilimency properly refers to the ability to attune part of one's mind to match another and thereby enter their mind-space, and tends to manifest either in the direction of "communication" — thought-scrying and facilitating greater understanding between the legilimens and the target — or "control" — compulsion and possession; "empaths" are aware of the feelings and general emotional state projected by other minds and experience them as their own, but do not necessarily have the ability to enter another's mind-space. "Empathic legilimens" normally refers to someone with a talent for entering a target mind and shaping its energy-patterns, and who is equally if not more aware of the unconscious aspects of the mind than the conscious thoughts.

The idea of an empathic legilimens who enjoys experiencing the emotional distress of others is more disturbing than the two of you discovering that existing in a state of shared consciousness fulfils certain psychological needs for both of you (and quite possibly more than the revelation that Druella is certain that she could break the Fifth Exception, if only because I trust that she won't), primarily because it suggests that Tom's sadistic tendencies lie in a genuine desire to feel the pain of others, rather than to exercise control over them or some other need which might be more easily channelled into more socially acceptable behaviours (political manoeuvring or managing the interpersonal relationships within a house, or becoming a mind-healer, for example). "Dark-minded" indeed.

If we were already in a position to offer a wardship (and indeed when we are certain of his parentage and that there are no other factors which preclude such an offer), I would have to insist on some form of tangible assurance that he would refrain from harming others for his own gratification, both because I find the idea of supporting such behaviours (even indirectly, by supporting Tom himself) to be morally abhorrent, and because I cannot in good conscience advocate for an individual who represents such an obvious liability to be brought into the House. As his custos, the House would be legally responsible for Tom's behaviour and any negative consequences thereof, and I am simply not willing to take on that responsibility knowing that Tom is likely to deliberately cause indefensible harm for which we would be expected to offer reparations should any specific instances come to light.

Subsuming ambient magic, or even magic directly from the Beyond, is less of a concern to the House because it does not involve causing deliberate harm to or preying on the souls of other conscious beings. Such free subsumption is more likely to be considered anathema than psychic vampirism (short of outright soul-theft). The latter is a technique which is considered to have some therapeutic value in certain mind-healing settings and has a relatively high reflexive augmentation threshold because of the degree of similarity between the magic of the metaphage and the source, while the former practically requires an alteration of your fundamental identity in order to be effective. When a metaphage begins altering their own identity to transform and assimilate significant volumes of foreign energy, they are generally considered to have become too dangerous to live.

On a tangential note, Luc sends his greetings and suggests that I warn you that there is no precedent, but directly altering other people's identities would also likely be considered anathema behaviour. (I asked him why Class A and Class B metaphagy are legally distinct categories, which led to a discussion of most of the information you shared in your previous letters.)

House Rosier, however, does not agree with the classification of skills and knowledge as 'anathema' on principle. We would prefer to judge such matters on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the ends to which such knowledge and skills are used. While Tom would still likely be sentenced to death for re-inventing the wheel, as it were, should he be discovered engaging in free subsumption, the House as a whole would not be beholden to anyone for damages caused by his doing so, thus it is not an insurmountably objectionable behaviour which would preclude the offer of a wardship.

I still would not recommend that Tom begin actively developing his talents in that area, especially before you come into your power — I'm sure I couldn't say how the two sources of energy might differ, and I am hardly an expert on legilimency, much less subsumption in general, but it still seems unwise to attempt to channel the magic of the Beyond in the same way that it seems unwise to attempt to channel magic directly from a ley line. Granted, ley lines are rivers to the ocean of the Beyond, the magic involved theoretically behaving very differently, but I shouldn't think it a good idea to attempt to drink directly from either.

Regarding Tom's penchant for ritual magic, I believe Druella is aware of the relevant legal distinctions between permissible and non-permissible ritual practices, so I will not waste yet more page-space on the matter. (I do hope you were serious about Druella keeping Tom in check. The more I learn about him, the more I find myself surprised that he hasn't already been arrested for breaking half a dozen serious laws out of pure ignorance.)

I will say that while I do not deny their existence, I am also not a particularly devoted worshipper of any individual aspect or aspects. Neither House Lestrange nor House Rosier have a strong tradition of family rituals. House Lestrange celebrates the solstices and equinoxes in recognition of the turning of the year and Samhain as a remembrance of the dead, but without much fanfare; House Rosier acknowledges Mabon and the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom associated with the holiday and many of us participate in non-religious holiday events (Yule and Midsummer parties, etc.), but I wouldn't say we actually celebrate the Powers, as such. (Aside from those who were raised in particularly devoted Houses and have retained their practices, of course.)

About half of us are what you might call atheistic, and do not recognise Magic as having an independent consciousness at all. You may encounter a degree of scorn from certain individuals for "believing that your imaginary friends are real people." If you wish to make your own observances and perform holiday rituals for yourself and anyone else who is interested, however, we certainly won't stop you.

That said, yes, it is very impressive that Lady Hecate manifested in response to your ritual, and even more-so that she "showed you a couple of things." Traditionalists, who believe that Magic and its aspects are independent consciousnesses, would be in awe over the fact that She honoured you with a direct response. Atheists, who believe that Magic and its aspects are reflections of the collective knowledge and expectations of humanity and therefore interpret rituals as accessing that collective awareness and/or exploiting those expectations to effect a result, would be perhaps more impressed and wary of you, because, whether you are correct about the nature of Magic Itself, you successfully obtained a novel result using a branch of magic which is notoriously difficult to use reliably and prone to backlash when one strays from the established forms.

Thus far, the conference has proceeded as most of them do, with speakers and attendees trickling in over the course of Wednesday and Thursday — my carpet arrived late on Tuesday. I am spending the week with Layla Atiyeh and her family. I don't think Druella has met her, though she may recall her son Darius and his wife Anthe, who spent the first half of 1936 with us while they were working with her cousin Caroline and Cass Black on that temporal reversion charm of theirs. I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday catching up with old colleagues and friends at the Alexandrian. We had one of those utterly tedious welcome dinners on Thursday, with the first session beginning Friday morning. They have decided against simultaneous sessions, which I do appreciate. It is by far superior to being forced to choose between panels and topics to attend, even if it does mean that the conference is more drawn-out and there are occasionally sessions which I do not wish to attend at all. But that simply means that I have more time than I usually might for one-on-one meetings and informal chats, so it is hardly an imposition.

Thus far, there have been few truly novel papers. Enrique Velasco Rivera introduced a new method for controlling for core-material difference effects when attempting to match signature traces between a scene impression and a suspect who may have used a wand other than their own to cast the spell in question. He and Diego Morales De La Vega will be publishing on it in next quarter's JAIB and this year's RAIML.

The argument over whether it is better to use veritors' charms which rely on detecting intent to tell the truth or those which use divinatinatory mechanisms to determine the actual truth of a witness's words was won for the 57th year in a row by the former, as functional examples of the latter which can be interpreted by anyone other than a seer remain purely theoretical. At a certain point, one cannot help but begin to feel rather sorry for old Sandy Vablatsky, if not quite sorry enough to attempt to develop such a charm oneself. She had yet another partner give up on the project several months ago. Honestly, Vablatsky ought to have given it up herself thirty years ago when Perenelle Flamel told her it was never going to work, but she insists that there is a solution, she's seen it. (She simply doesn't know how to reach it.)

Damocles Belby and Bram Prickle presented preliminary research on an interrogation potion which works on a mechanism similar to those used to subdue and re-integrate the deluded consciousness fragment(s) of a fractured legilimens. The goal is to subdue the suspect's instinctive defensiveness, rendering them docile and willing to cooperate, but still entirely lucid and capable of answering questions more completely than under most truth potions. Personally I think it theoretically tenuous at best, given that there is no clear delineation between the instinct(s) Belby and Prickle would attempt to subdue and the rest of the mind as there is in the case of a mind-fracture, but I did see Belby speaking to Preston Wilkes a few hours later.

That would be the same Preston Wilkes whose younger sister was Turned by a werewolf five years ago, and who has been desperately attempting to find a cure for the condition since. There is a clear delineation between the curse-borne instincts of the Wolf and the human mind of a werewolf, even when the Wolf is at its strongest, so if that was what they were discussing, they might actually be on to something there. Granted, subduing the instincts of the Wolf on the full moon wouldn't be a cure, but it would drastically reduce the likelihood of transmission, so still an interesting direction to explore, I think.

My presentation will be on Monday, as part of a panel on trace identification of alchemical substances, addressing Gunter Weiss's latest paper on the topic. He will be on the panel as well, so we may get a bit of a debate going on the matter of recombination and distinguishing primary and secondary traces. (So it should be very exciting, at least on a scale of panel discussions.)

All of the return flights are overnighters, so I should arrive home Wednesday morning, if you still intend to wait to regale me with the story of Druella's first foray into teaching (as well as whatever else the two of you have been doing this past week).

Yours always,

Caelia


19 September 1938

Dear Aunt Caelia,

It is bloody weird to call someone "aunt", but as your letter was addressed mostly to me and Dru is downstairs at the moment, I thought I'd scratch out a reply and then let her add anything she wants at the end this time, and you seem to be much more comfortable with the idea of allowing us to stay together and pretend to be twins than I expected, so I guess it suits.

("Scratch" figuratively, obviously, this Copyist's Friend Charm might be the single most useful spell I've learned yet. I know it's some weird, finicky, mediaeval thing that probably no one else in Dru's year or mine can cast, but I still think it should've been the first thing we did in Charms.)

Dru-and-Tom (or Tom-and-Dru, I guess, if you're mostly talking to me) is fine, and Dru is much more definitely a girl than I am definitely a boy, so I guess you can call us "niece" or whatever when you're talking about us together as one person. I mean, obviously I am a boy, and I'd belt any of the scadgers at Wool's if they tried to call me a girl, because they'd mean it like soft and weak, as an insult like, but it doesn't feel nearly as odd for me to answer to "niece" as it does for Dru to answer to "nephew". If that follows. I don't know that it does, because I don't think interdimensional jellyfish are girls or boys, and she doesn't feel like she has all that much in common with other girls, especially our age, but she still thinks of herself as a girl even though she doesn't think of herself as human. Which is weird, in a much more mundane way than Dru is usually weird. Not that it matters.

Thanks for writing back so soon, even though you really didn't need to. Yes, I did want you to clarify the ward thing, and I'm glad you got that, I bloody hate letters, can never tell if I'm being too subtle or bloody stupid obvious. But I don't go around torturing kids here at school, you know, and Dru already warned me not to get caught stealing emotions off anyone who'd know what I was doing. Well, we did sort of terrorise this one girl, but we were helping her, terrorising her was really just a perk, I'll get to that later. Anyway, it really wasn't urgent to warn me that I shouldn't.

Aye, I know other people would disagree about it being reasonable to know two hours after meeting someone that you want to keep them, no question, but it was a hell of a two hours, alright, and we're not other people. Good on you, including that "not that I imagine he will" because elsewise I might've had to be just a little offended. If I was to "find Druella tedious" that probably would drive her off, but no, you're right there's probably nothing else at this point. She knows me as well as I know her by now.

The cantrip-glamour thing was just a straight impression of what the magic at the wardstones feels like to Dru. It's not really seeing like getting in someone's head isn't really seeing, but I guess if you have magesight, you're probably used to "seeing" magic, so that's how it came off. Neat that it worked, though!

Dru is annoyed because I cannot explain the how and why it worked of what I did, or how I knew how to work those two spells together, or adapt the glamour to be an impression of her impression of the magic downstairs instead of light or sound. All I can tell her is that it felt right like she knows how to tweak a potion to make it perfect. Apparently doing wizardry like it's witchcraft isn't "against the rules" in the same way as her reifying conjurations, but it is kind of undercutting the thing she really likes about wizardry, being arithmantic and predictable.

Dru is also annoyed because she was not aware that certain persons unnamed think that she is coddled, and if she got everything she wanted or if you were taking precautions to ensure that she would not have another mental breakdown, obviously she wouldn't have lived with Elladora for the last four years, and wouldn't be at Hogwarts now. She also didn't think she was allowed not to cooperate with plans to marry her off, or to deliberately chase off suitors. The idea of refusing to cooperate even though it would by definition not be "allowed" apparently never occurred to her. I honestly have no idea how it is possible for someone so clever to think that she would need permission of some sort not to cooperate with a plan she disagrees with, when upsetting that plan would be the entire point of not cooperating. I can read her mind, and I still don't get it.

I do get wanting to have a better reason to tell people you're not-adopting me than "because Dru will never forgive me if I separate them" though. I might be the most promising student old Sluggy's seen in the past thirty years, full stop, muggleborn or not. (Dru obviously doesn't count, seeing as she probably knows more about potions than Sluggy himself.1) I don't think he'd be too willing to give me a letter of recommendation, though, because Malfoy, Black, and Lestrange would go crying to their families if they thought he was helping me, and Sluggy wouldn't want to get the cold shoulder from any of them. That's just how it goes, isn't it. Healer Turner might. She likes me, as much as she likes any of us students, at least.

I thought for a long time that maybe I did still have family alive somewhere, but there aren't any wizards called Riddle, and if my mum was a witch, she wouldn't've died, would she? I'll take a lineage test if you insist, but I'm pretty sure I'm actually muggleborn.

This is what I know about my family: My mother showed up on the doorstep of the orphanage in labour. She lived long enough to tell the midwife or the girls or whoever that I was to be called Tom after my father, Marvolo after hers, and Riddle, which they think was my father's surname.

They also thought maybe she was circus folk, with a father named Marvolo, and I'll admit that sounds a hell of a lot more like a wizard's name than Tom, and Marvolo Riddle has a certain ring to it, so maybe that was her surname and I really am a bastard and there's some wizard named Tom out there who doesn't even know I exist, but she was wearing a wedding band — they held onto it and gave it to me because it was all she had and wasn't worth nothing, really, gold so thin the copper was showing through, but one of the older boys stole it from me when I was small and gave it to his girl before I could make him give it back — so Tom Riddle being my father's name too seems likely enough.

But like I said, there isn't even a Common House of Riddle, Slytherins made sure I knew that after about three days here, and my mother can't have been a witch! Not if she was poor and desperate enough she was living on the streets with not a penny to her name. I mean, maybe there are desperately poor witches among mages, like in Knockturn, but there's no reason a witch should have to live like that in muggle London. Even if she didn't have a wand, there should have been some magic she could do to help herself! I'm no thief, but if I was alone on the streets, and kidded up to boot, you can damn well bet I'd use magic to make a muggle give me money or a place to stay, and I wouldn't need a wand to do it!

Anyway, I don't know that I'd want to "be reunited" with my family even if I do have some living relations and they really didn't know about me, either. I can't see myself playing happy families with some bloke who wants to be my father, you know, or grandparents, whatever. Especially if they're muggles, what'd be the point of telling them I exist just to turn around and say "also, I'm a wizard and don't want to live in your world, so bye"? Even if they're magic and are okay with me and Dru in theory and don't go off over us being creepy or mental or whatever, they'd probably want me to spend time with them, as in, not live with her over hols.

It's not just about Dru, though. They'd probably want to control me or "take care of" me like I'm really a kid, too, and I've been doing for myself for years. I don't need a family, and I don't want some adult who doesn't even know me thinking they have some right to have any say over my life. And even odds they'd think I'm a creepy demon-child for knowing too much, even if I didn't do anything to them, anyway. Actually, probably better than even odds. I mean, mages knowing I'm a legilimens explains me not acting like a normal kid, but they're more like than muggles to twig I'm reading their minds, or think I am when I'm not, even.

I probably shouldn't put down what I'd be tempted to do if I found out they did know about me and left me at Wool's all those years anyway. Be kind of the opposite of "tangible assurance" I expect.2

On which subject, what would you consider "tangible assurance", exactly? —

Anyway, doing like you said, just living with Dru and I give you my word I'll pay you back for helping me by becoming an official client or whatever we settle on when I'm of age, sounds ace to me.

Don't reckon it seems likely any of my hypothetical relations are magic, much less that they're aligned with some noble house or other, but I'll take your word they'd want to recognise me, I guess. Shouldn't be too hard to keep under their notice, if they don't know about me already, though. Suppose I'll just keep on as I have been. Even if they do catch wind of me because I'm hanging around with Dru now, people see what they expect to see, and everyone knows I'm a nameless muggleborn orphan.

I do have to say, nobles taking into account who's like to marry who when we're 12 is still bloody strange. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," is probably good for now. Thinking on sorting out my whole future and job now is barely less odd, but I don't hate the idea of politicking for the House or keeping your odd little ducklings in line someday (that's how Dippet put it, talking to Dumbledore in front of Dru — she thinks your job's more like herding cats).

I had to ask Dru about Azkaban and why it's so terrible, and I don't know I'm really getting it. Feeling "like you'll never be happy again" and being forced to relive your worst memories over and over for ten years sounds tedious, but not insanity-inducing. I guess maybe if you had really bad memories like of the trenches or something and don't think that sort of thing is a spiffing good time. I mean, I've spent the last ten years surrounded by orphans and skids, and a constant, monotonous feeling of apathetic dissatisfaction, worry about where their next meal is coming from, the hopelessness of knowing they're never going to be adopted, all that shite. But it's sort of like the city stink, part of the background, you get used to it, don't really notice it until it's gone. A bit of terror and pain and being blown up livens things up nice, don't it. Though I imagine if I was to remember nothing but, over and over, that'd get tedious, too.

Dru suggested that being a child legilimens and growing up at Wool's actually was insanity-inducing, and that's why I don't think it's all that bad being surrounded by misery and catching the occasional shell-shock memory-flash, but either way, I don't imagine Azkaban would drive me more mad. Don't fancy testing it, though, even if it is just boring, so.

My question is, why keep them on Azkaban? The dementors. Dru says it's not intended to torture prisoners into madness, you just can't get shot of them, like if they starve to death, they don't really die, they'll come back somewhere else, and I get people who aren't miserable not wanting them around making them miserable, sure. But there are loads of people out in the world who are already miserable. If they're going to be miserable anyway, why not let the dementors feed on them? Down at the workhouses or the bars where the boys who didn't all come back from the war waste their days or round the kip-shops or the Cabbage Patch — none of them on the ribs are feeling any happiness to start, bet on that, China.3

Now, I'm not saying it's right they're miserable, or that they ought to be more than whoever's locked up in Azkaban, but since they're already miserable, why not let the dementors feed on them, rather than making more people miserable?

"Empathic legilimens" sounds right enough. I don't remember a time when I didn't know what people around me were feeling. I do know that I never really learned how to read faces and how people stand to tell what they're feeling before last year, so I must have been really young. Same for picking up projected thoughts. I don't think I really started compelling people or getting into their minds until I was three or four, though. That's when Cole4 remembers the other kids starting to follow my orders (and/or beat me halfway back to hell because I spooked them).

And yes, I do like feeling other people's pain. I like feeling people experiencing strong positive emotions, too, though. Strong emotions have more colour to them in general, and the "bad" ones don't feel bad to me. I know the people who are producing them don't enjoy them, but why they're afraid instead of excited or horrified instead of awed doesn't really come across. I mean, I know why, I can pick out what's tipping them off they should be afraid, I just don't feel it. Not like they do. Apparently. I don't know, I don't really notice, but Dru says the way she feels things and the way I feel her feeling things are different, "like taking the absolute value of an emotion." (Because emotions aren't confusing enough without maths.2) Anyway, it's just easier to make most people terrified than ecstatic.

It's not a thing I need to do, though. I like to, sure, but if it's a matter of deliberately terrifying people for a rush or doing the wardship thing, well. I'd have to be a fool to give up the opportunity this relationship represents, wouldn't I? And it's hardly as though you're asking me not to eavesdrop on people. That I actually might need to do. Not as in, I'll die if I don't, but as in, the world is brighter and more real through someone else's mind, and the more time I spend with Dru, the more I think I actually might have been meant to be a twin, because seeing the world through two pairs of eyes feels much more natural than just one.5 Choosing between eavesdropping and having a future with your House would be a much harder choice, is what I'm saying.

I can't help thinking that the perfectly bland, non-judgemental acceptance of all of the weird and disturbing shite we've told you in the past fortnight is a carefully calculated mask, but I do appreciate not being told off for being too dangerous to live, so thanks for that. We're going to take to making copies of our letters, by the by, so we can use sympathetic magic to destroy them if we don't hear back from you within four days, and we would appreciate if you do the same because it strikes me as a Bad Idea to let letters as potentially incriminating as this go astray. If you don't have time to pen a full response before then, please send a note to the effect that you have received our letter, or store it somewhere nothing will be damaged if and when it happens to burst into flame.

Honestly, though, I don't think I did anything to "alter my fundamental identity" so I could subsume ambient magic. I didn't even notice I was doing it at first.

I can only assume that atheists haven't actually met any gods, or they wouldn't even question if Magic has an independent consciousness. Dru thinks that gods are just characters Magic is playing to communicate with us because it's so alien we can't understand it directly, and insists that she would feel silly treating them like independent individuals. I can sort of see that, like how Melinoë is kind of also Hecate, but it still clearly implies that Magic has its own (very alien) consciousness. Maybe I'll ask at Mabon and see if anyone will give me a straight answer, in the spirit of sharing knowledge and such. (Probably not. Hecate at least likes to say "That would be telling," in response to really interesting questions.)

I don't really have anything to say regarding academic gossip — over my head and outside my circle — so I'll leave that for Dru to respond to.

She doesn't want to talk about her foray into teaching, though, so I'll do that. It didn't actually go too badly. She bored most of the class to tears explaining how the spell actually works, and then confused them about character polarisation (which is actually one of the things Hecate showed me, so I've been doing it for years, I just didn't know what it was called). And in between those, a certain obnoxious little bint6 interrupted implying that Dru couldn't actually cast the spell, and that Marshall collaborated with her to just drop his wand in the middle of his introduction (she hexed him right as he was talking about how this jinx makes for good pranks, which was actually very funny, good start to her presentation), and then that he was lying when he assured her that he hadn't just dropped his bloody wand, what kind of stupid thing is that to think.

Dru conjured a fish-bowl for her and basically said if she said another damn thing, Dru would actually transfigure her into a fish, and then Marshall silenced her to stop her from saying something and forcing Dru to fish-ify the bint. Miss Fish (the school house elves call her Miss Fish and Dumb-as-a-Door He of Too Many Hats8, which is even funnier than Dru hexing Marshall) smashed the bowl and stormed out, she and one of her friends went crying to Dumbles, Marshall got called into his office, but the elves are annoyed with Too Many Hats for trying to get Dru chucked out, so they tipped off the Headmaster, and as far as we know, nothing happened to Marshall. All he had to say on the subject was that Dumbles embarrassed himself in front of Sanchez and Sluggy as well as Dippet, he's beginning to feel a bit sorry for the man. (Sarcastically. He thought it was bloody hysterical, whatever happened, but he wouldn't actually say, and his occlumency is too good for me to just sneak in and look.)7

Also, Marshall somehow reflected Dru's demonstration jinx back in her face as turn about for her hexing him while he was talking and making him actually drop his wand in front of the class, so she's been trying to figure out how he did that all week.

Then afterward, one of the muggleborn girls in her class (Betty Carson) followed her to the library to ask for help casting magic. She just wasn't getting how to actually channel magic into a spell, which is the weirdest reason I've ever seen anyone have trouble with magic. She is a witch, she'd channelled magic accidentally before, she just wasn't getting how to do it on purpose. And obviously that's not the sort of thing you can really explain so clearly the thing to do was just possess her and show her.

A-1 plan: turns out yes, Dru can follow me into someone else's mind and manipulate them like a legilimens, which is neat (though she still wants you to be a testing kneezle, because more practice is better, right?). Except, Betty didn't quite understand what she was asking us to do, and got a bit shook up over us taking the reins off her. Not a problem as in it made it any harder to possess her/show her how to channel magic, it still worked, kid can do spellwork just fine now9, or as in it troubled us to possess her while she was panicking — Dru took over the senses and conscious actions, I kept Betty cut off, worked a treat — but the girl practically ran away from us when we let her go.

Yes, this is a perfectly understandable reaction, I wasn't surprised or offended or what have you, but Dru was a bit raw over it. Stings her, seeing people afraid of her when she was just helping them. She thinks because we didn't hurt her when we clearly could have, Betty should trust us and be less afraid — we meant her no harm, clear as day. She doesn't have to be grateful (though a little gratitude wouldn't be amiss), she just shouldn't act like we're inherently terrifying. Makes Dru feel like a failure for not being able to fit in, even when she's actively trying to be nice to someone.

I liked it though. Not just terrorising Betty, either, the moment when it just clicked what Dru was doing and she understood how to do it herself was beautiful. Just golden. And it worked exactly like we hoped it would. Who cares if Betty's even more terrified of us now? Well, Dru, obviously, but I don't think she should, so I'm still counting this as a successful experiment. Dru has decided that this means I have volunteered to do any teaching she is unexpectedly enlisted to do, even though it isn't really the teaching part that bothers her, it's the fact that teaching necessarily involves other people, and other people are overly-emotional idiots who don't appreciate her.

In other news, word has gotten around Slytherin that Dru and I have been hanging out, but no one seems to have realised yet that we haven't been sleeping in the Castle. I'll let Dru catch you up on that front — the Castle project, that is. Aside from the teaching adventure, it's been a fairly quiet week here.

1 I'm quite certain I don't know more about potions than an actual potions master, Tom is simply being hyperbolic.

2(Tom does not understand the importance of making it clear when one is being facetious in letters.)

3 A truncated version of the phrase "I would bet [something valuable] against a China orange" on a given matter. (Apparently the fruit are very easy to come by in London these days, even for muggle commoners.)

4 The matron who runs Tom's orphanage.

5 I maintain that Tom is ridiculous, and one body is more than enough.

6 Cosette

7 We are also not allowed to have Show and Tell anymore, which is a shame because that was shaping up to be the most interesting part of the course. (Of course, it is also a relief, because I otherwise would have been required to attempt to teach a second spell at some point in the term.) Now, instead, Professor Marshall is starting an Offensive and Defensive Magic Club, which is not quite the same as the Duelling Club, mostly because it involves less actual fighting and more talking about and teaching specific spells. We students are not required to attend, of course, but we have been strongly encouraged to do so. It is open to all levels, but since Professor Marshall is only teaching the Introductory level Defence lessons, only first- and second-years attended the first meeting. Tom and I are probably not going to continue attending, because no matter how much I like Professor Marshall, if I have the option of not watching normal people try to learn magic, I will take it.

8 The elves generally call the heads of the school houses "X House Head" but Dumbledore is now the Deputy Headmaster, too, which would presumably come with its own elf-title. Cosette was already "Miss Fish" before this incident because I threatened to turn her into a fish before we even reached the Castle, for telling all of the muggleborns I found them tedious and awful and making them hate me when I had just spent the entire train ride being polite and answering their questions.

9 "Just fine" compared to the rest of our class, none of them are what I would call competent. Sitting through practical lessons with them, watching them try and fail repeatedly to do simple spells, borders on physically painful. I realise that I have not mentioned this before now — far too much else has been going on to pay it much mind in my letters — but attending lessons with children must be considered some form of torture, I'm certain of it.

Now that those points have been addressed, "Because Druella likes him" is a perfectly valid reason to bring someone into the House. It's hardly as though I have a habit of liking stupid, useless people.

Who, precisely, believes that I am unfairly favoured within the House? Elladora, I presume, but who else? For that matter, how do they determine what is "fair"?

People who consider our relationship to be peculiar and unhealthy clearly do not have a degree of perspective on said relationship which would lend their opinions any weight whatsoever. Not that it is any of their business, anyway.

Please assure Uncle Luc that I have no intention of altering anyone else's fundamental identity without their permission, or at all, if Betty's reaction to our assistance was indicative of the degree of gratitude normal people are wont to hold for any attempts we might make to improve their lives. Tom says that it almost certainly is.

I do recall meeting Darius and Anthe, though only in passing. We didn't speak of anything of consequence. I took exception to their company and began to avoid them after they suggested that I play pachisi with their daughters in an effort to exclude me from the adult conversation on the occasion of our first meeting.

The Velasco & Morales paper sounds fascinating. I will be sure to look for it in the JAIB. I believe the Hogwarts library does have a subscription to most of the Continental professional journals, simply for the purposes of maintaining an archive. (I sincerely doubt that any of the students here have much occasion to actually read any of them, outside of looking up the occasional citation, I suppose.)

How on earth can one possibly be expected to develop a veritor's charm which determines absolute truth? Some aspect of the question will always be subjective; the answer will almost always read as 'false' because no matter how specific the question, any given observer's perspective is limited and their memory shaded by their own experience and biases (or 'true' if either question or answer includes some phrase along the lines of "I believe" or "What do you think..."); and the entire premise of such a spell would be predicated on achieving targeted omniscience, which would be more useful employed directly than as a referent in a spell to determine whether a given person is aware of the "objective" reality of a given event.

My opinion of Vablatski was rather abysmal based solely on her oneiromancy guide (absolute rubbish I read whilst investigating the concept of nightmares as best I could without access to the restricted texts here), but the idea of spending six decades on such a project somehow managed to lower it further yet. To say nothing of ignoring Perenelle Flamel telling her that it wouldn't work, when the pensieve is the closest working equivalent to such a spell.

I do hope that Belby re-focuses his research as you seem to believe he might. The concept of a potion to subdue the instincts of the Wolf seems far more likely than that of an objective truth charm, and a much greater boon to humanity than yet another truth potion (especially such a coercive one as you describe, at that).

I'm afraid I haven't seen Weiss's most recent paper, so you'll have to brief me on that as well as the outcome of your panel discussion.

Regarding the Castle project, as of now I have completed a 1:100 plan view of the entire room, as well as of the "unrolled" stelae and walls, identifying the areas of what I believe to be different elements (based on the scripts, patterns, etc.) and assigning them numbers which will correspond to larger-scale copies of the actual script for reference purposes. The total script area, including the walls and stelae, is on the order of 660m2. The walls, conveniently, are only 2.5m in height, which means they will fit on a standard scroll at 1:10 scale (albeit one nearly 5m in length).The floor design is clearly all one element, but also far too large to replicate at anything resembling a legible scale on standard-sized (or even ell-sized) parchment — it has an area of approximately 177m2 (including the floor-space occupied by stelae) — so I have segmented it arbitrarily into nine parts, each of which should fit on a single ell-sized page at 1:10 scale. Each of the stelae will fit on a single ell-page. The central reservoir-focus is an enormous alchemical diamond, a pendeloque with a primary axis of approximately 25cm and a width of approximately 20cm, which I intend to copy at a 1:1 scale.

I would therefore like to request permission to order 36 ell-pages (with dividers and a folio-cover) and a 6m scroll of parchment. Yes, paper would be far more economical, but given the time and effort which I plan to devote to this project, I should very much like to be able to anchor flexibility and preservation enchantments to the copies, not to mention the convenience of being able to shrink the oversized pages for ease of handling without risking text distortion.

If I am to undertake this mad project, I should like to do it properly, after all, and it seems the least I can contribute to the task of disentangling the mess which has been made of the wards to record them in such a way as to allow future wardcrafters to continue the work after I have resolved the matter of the non-conjured materials paining the Castle and moved on. I certainly have no intention of staying here long enough to resolve all of the problems which stem from the superficial functions destabilising the actual wards, much less implement corrections to the blind additions. I will be satisfied if I can fully describe the problem before my tenure as a "student" here comes to its natural end.

On the front of mapping the physical Castle, I have been playing with the idea of building a three-dimensional model and enchanting it to echo the way the Castle shifts using sympathy — something like de Gaulle's Vitreous Man — and connections like those I employed to link the elements of the enchantments on my trunk to allow magic to flow between physically non-adjacent points as though they were adjacent (as the entire point of the exercise is to model the flow of magic throughout the structure), but I have yet to think of a way to account for space-warping within the structure. Perhaps some form of an inversion to change the scale-effect within "expanded" or "contracted" areas without disturbing their physical relation to surrounding spaces? Though that would require a much more detailed and specific interface with the Castle than a simple sympathetic echo, and I suspect that if I were to be able to effect such a thing, I would already have the access I require in order to fix the conjuration issue.

Caelan identified four of the scripts I didn't recognise for me. He's still working on the others, but I strongly suspect that one or more was invented by the Founders specifically for this project.

I've been reading an absolutely fascinating treatise on geomancy and ward energy-flow in major construction projects in Potions and Astronomy lectures (and also Charms, now that the ordeal of teaching is past and I no longer have reason to study Professor MacLaine's presentation style). It is from the early 1800s, but the techniques we use today are presumably built on those used in the Founders' time, and they would have had to address the same challenges as modern wardcrafters, so it seemed worth the time.

Have Erik and Ruby written back to you yet? I have not yet contacted Aunt Olivia, in part because I do not wish to enter into a tedious exchange of pleasantries, but primarily because I still consider it somewhat less than urgent to determine what is already known about my species (whatever it may be called by people other than the Hat), given the other demands on my time at the moment and the fact that Tom and I are perfectly willing to experiment independently to discover new ways that I might use magic which humans cannot. I would admittedly still like to know more about the life-cycle of my species, but we are both of the opinion that expectations limit what one is able to do with magic, so it is perhaps just as well that we do not truly have any with regard to my abilities.

I hope that your presentation went well, and that your flight home was not terribly rough.

Your niece,

Druella-and-Tom


22 September 1938

Dear Druella-and-Tom,

I haven't time to do your letter justice with a full response at the moment — I find myself most unfortunately once again playing catch-up with my post — but in the interests of still having a letter to reply to in a few days' time, it seems I must at the very least send you a short note at once. (I do approve of your attention to security, given the delicacy of certain subjects we have recently discussed, and yes, I will follow a similar protocol.) I have received your letter dated 19 September, as should be obvious from this opening.

Doing wizardry as if spell design were a discipline of witchcraft is the most peculiar way of developing new spell-effects that I have ever heard of. I am not the least bit surprised that Druella finds it annoying in concept, blurring the lines between what the rest of us consider two very different approaches to magic, somewhat hypocritical though this may be given her own stance on altering the identity of objects and its supposed similarity to spell reification.

Unfortunately, Tom, I must tell you that there is every chance that your mother was a witch, and succumbed to the dangers of childbed despite her magic. Not only does pregnancy often affect a witch's ability to channel magic, it is also thought to be dangerous to the child's magical development to use magic in the birthing process, which makes bearing a child one of the most painful, most dangerous tasks a witch will ever attempt. It is also possible that she was in fact a squib, and therefore did not have an innate ability to channel magic, much less to do so wandlessly, even to save her own life.

I have a suspicion that you may be assuming that if one of your parents was magical, they must have had abilities on par with your own, which is simply not the case. Bringing new blood into a House — as would be the case with a muggle partner — has been known to rejuvenate the line, awakening talents bred into dormancy over the centuries. It is far more likely that her abilities, if she was indeed a witch, were more in line with those of your classmates. If she was without a wand, she very well might have been all but helpless, magically speaking. Moreover, depending on why she was on the streets alone at the end of her pregnancy, it is possible that she was suffering severe melancholy, which is also known to interfere with a mage's ability to do magic.

I strongly encourage you to do the lineage test. There is a potion which can be used to map out a mage's magical ancestors (mages and squibs, if the squibs were introduced to magic — many are, before their families realise they are squibs) over the three preceding generations. I will brew it for you to take over the Yule holiday, or I can send you the recipe for the two of you to attempt. It takes about a month to brew.

It is a condition of our treaty with the British Crown that we prevent magical predators, including dementors, from preying on muggles wherever possible. Personally, I would gladly see Azkaban razed, and dementors simply discorporated wherever else they should be encountered, but some sanctimonious, sadistic person decided in the late 1700s that torturing our criminals for even the meanest offences is the most effective way to keep muggles safe from dementors, and convinced the majority of our government to agree.

It is a relief to hear that Tom believes that he would be able to refrain from preying on others' emotions and/or torturing them in order to do so. That being the case, a formal vow to that effect would suffice as tangible reassurance.

I do have thoughts on the matter of a child developing a talent for empathy and/or legilimency before the age of reason, as well as regarding his apparently natural penchant for metaphagy, but those can wait until I have more time to articulate them. It's nothing urgent.

I'm sorry to hear that Druella was disappointed by your experience with Miss Carson. I presume Tom has by now explained that fulfilling a request in the most terrifying way possible is, in fact, not what most people would consider "nice". I don't doubt that you (or at least Druella) had benevolent intentions, and I'm glad that you succeeded in helping the girl find her magic, but gods and Powers, I'm not surprised she was afraid of you. A demonstration of power is a demonstration of power, regardless of how it is displayed, and Miss Carson surely doesn't know you well enough yet to know that Druella would not hurt her. Especially since, according to Tom's timeline, she witnessed her make a credible threat to turn her cousin into a fish not an hour before this incident. If you actually want to try to fit in with your peers, talk to Sean and ask him to advise both of you on how not to attract undue attention. Step one is likely to be: Do not possess your classmates, no matter how well-intentioned or "reasonable" your justification for doing so might be.

The list of members of the House who believe Druella is not favoured above the other children of her generation is shorter than that of those who do. Not all of them envy her, especially given that they can see how difficult she finds simply existing in the world much of the time, and many of them feel it is reasonable to treat her as an adult so long as she continues to act like one, but that does not mean that they don't recognise that Dru has been given significantly more individual attention and freedom to pursue her academic interests than any of the other children.

As I recall, Anthe tried to shuffle Dru off with the children because she was 8, and didn't have the background to contribute anything to the conversation other than incessant (and, to those who didn't already know her, disconcertingly insightful) questions about matters entirely tangential to the subject at hand.

Regarding your request for parchment, yes, of course you may place your order. While it is more dear than paper, it is hardly prohibitively expensive. We have an account at Scriveners'. I do think you should consider a 1:5 scale, rather than 1:10, however. Yes, it will undoubtedly take somewhat more time and require a great deal more parchment, but unless the runes are unusually large, they will still be bordering on illegible at 1:10.

Also, am I to take this to mean that you have not informed the Headmaster of this mission the Castle and the Hat have set for you? I ask because had you done so, it would make far more sense for the school to provision you with supplies, especially as you clearly intend to make the scheme-book available to the school after you complete it.

I do have a letter from Erik in my pile of post to address. In short, they have never heard of anything like I have described, but they will keep an eye out for any mentions which seem relevant and pass them along.

Both my flight and my presentation went perfectly smoothly, thank you for asking. I will have a longer response for you in a few days, most likely after the holiday. On which note, I wish you both a blessed Mabon, and entreat you once again not to break each other with your experimentation.

Yours always,

Caelia