–I was posed with this question: How does fiction reveal truth? I decided to write a blog post in which the form reflected the content. For those of you who don’ t know, two friends and I have been role-playing as Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, and Hermione Granger from J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” novels. We pretend to be in some nebulous time after the books end. But in this letter, it’s early July, just after the end of the sixth novel. And so I, Hermione, write the following letter to my friend Luna.–
Oddly enough, Horatio arrived just as Ellowyt did, so they’re hanging out on the balcony right now with Andromeda, chattering on about who knows what. I suppose you would know. Watching Horatio collide with the window and hearing Ellowyt chide him in her high, breathy voice made my day.
You asked how my summer has been. Luna, you’ve no idea what it’s like, being here. Mum and Dad are clueless. I haven’t told them much. I told them that the headmaster died, so the school was in transition. I didn’t tell them that a teacher killed him, or that said teacher works for a dark wizard. They do know about Voldemort, though—I told them about him years ago, before any of this really started—and about Death Eaters. When I told Dad about how Mr. Malfoy put that diary in Ginny’s cauldron, he instantly knew that Malfoy’s with Voldemort. Sorry, You-Know-Who. I forget.
How’s your dad? The latest edition of The Quibbler was excellent. Your column on the wrackspurts’ war effort was especially fascinating. The coverage of Dumbledore’s death and funeral were touching. Touching isn’t the right word. But you know. People in wizard photographs move, unless they’re dead. And that picture of Dumbledore…he wasn’t moving.
I’m putting off reading Ginny’s letter, if you can’t tell. Not that I’m afraid of what she’ll say—I’m afraid of what she won’t.
Rather like me with my mum, I’m sure. Neither of us says much. But Mum took the last four weeks off, says she wants to spend more time with me this summer. And when I’m planning what I’m planning!
I’m reading this book my parents have. I read it a million times as a kid, before I knew I was a witch, and I hadn’t picked it up again until now. It was written by a British muggle in the 1950s, but I think he must’ve had wizarding relatives or something, because he knows too much. It’s a book about these little people called “hobbits” who live in a world called “Middle Earth.” They have furry feet and like to eat six meals a day. Yes, they like pudding. I think you’d like them. They garden and play checkers and run around outside all day. And then everything goes wrong—an evil being, an immortal, inhuman sorcerer, makes a magical gold Ring into which he pours all his cruelty, his malice, his will to dominate all life, even until the ending of the world. The evil sorcerer was killed, but not entirely: his soul lived on in the Ring.
Oh, Luna, if only I could tell you everything. If only you knew how much we Hogwarts students are like hobbits in the Shire. You ask, again, if I can tell you anything more about what happened the night Dumbledore died. I can’t. I’m sorry. I promised. But I can tell you this—I’m not going back to Hogwarts in the fall. You probably already figured that out.
It’s weird, thinking I’m not going to be at school in the fall. I’m reading constantly, just as if I were—and not just muggle novels, but every book of spells, potions, history, whatever I can get my hands on. I’ve been apparating around the country collecting books. Did you know there’s a wizarding library under a pub at Oxford? I stumbled on it when I was really hungry after copying down runes all day at Stonehenge. The pub’s called “The Eagle and Child.” Ironically, that’s where the muggle who wrote those hobbit books had a writing club with some other muggles.
So although I’m still reading, studying, planning….I’m not getting a grade. It’s strange. I came across a boggart when I went to Snowdon last week—I’d contacted a witch who had a six hundred year-old book on patronuses (patroni?) and psychology that I want to read—and anyway, it wasn’t McGonagall telling me I’d failed all my exams anymore. It was….well, I can’t really tell you. It was Dumbledore telling me something else, something that I’ve been so worried about for the last four weeks I can’t sleep. Something about defeating You-Know-Who. I can distract myself from it when I’m, you know, off reading runes at Stonehenge or Avebury or something. But then I try to sleep….and I can’t not be terrified that the worst, the absolute worst, might be true.
So that’s when I pick up the hobbit books again. You’ll tell me, I know, that I should get out my quill, ink, and parchment, and write you or Ginny a letter, but I can’t tell Ginny what I’m thinking. I just can’t! It’s like this wall has come down between us in the last four weeks. She’s so scared, but she won’t say it…and I can’t tell her not to be scared, because it’d be a lie.
I wish I could tell Mum.
Anyway, so that’s when I pick up the muggle novel. I just finished the second book in the trilogy. The two main hobbits, Frodo and Sam, are carrying the Ring into Mordor, the evil sorcerer’s stronghold, where they can finally destroy it by casting it into the fire from whence it came. But right as they’re about to enter Mordor, they get attacked by a giant spider, and Sam thinks Frodo is dead. When some goblins show up, Sam takes the Ring and hides, determined to press on and destroy it in spite of his grief. Then the goblins discover that Frodo really isn’t dead—the spider’s venom has just made him unconscious—and so Sam is furious with himself and decides he must go rescue Frodo. And so Sam carries the Ring into Mordor.
Luna, Sam is a gardener. He hasn’t studied magic like I have. And he’s not even four feet tall. But he presses onward, on his own, into Mordor. He has courage and loyalty that I just don’t have.
I know how the third book ends. Sam rescues Frodo, and they get all the way to Mount Doom where they can destroy the Ring. At the last moment, Frodo—who’s obsessed with the Ring at this point—refuses to throw it into the fire. There’s a scuffle involving a very creepy creature that ends with said creature biting the Ring off Frodo’s finger and tumbling into the fire with the Ring.
There’s a horrible moment that I’m dreading reading when Frodo nearly falls into the fire, too. And I can’t help but wonder—what if he had fallen in? What if Frodo had been unable to give up the Ring? What if, to save the world, it had been necessary for Sam to push Frodo into the fire?
You’ll tell me that while it may be necessary and honorable to sacrifice oneself to save others, it’s never necessary to kill another person to save everyone. But what if it is necessary for one person to sacrifice him or herself, and he or she doesn’t know it? What do you do, if you—
Never mind. I ought to burn this letter. But if I do, I’ll feel even more alone than I do now.
Luna, I wish we could have tea and talk in person. But you’re tied up at home with your dad’s restoration project, and I’m terribly busy, too. I’ll be going to the Burrow in another week, so you’ll have to send Ellowyt there with your next letter if you don’t write back directly.
I’m sending Andromeda back with Ellowyt today. Thanks so much for agreeing to take her for now. I don’t know what I’d do with her otherwise. She’ll likes you and will enjoy being at Hogwarts again. You and Ginny will take good care of her.
Ginny. I should read her letter. Have you heard from her? Has she said anything?
Well, I should go. I’m writing a new undetectable extension charm. None of the existing ones are good enough; I can’t fit enough stuff in a hand-held bag for three people. I need to have it done before I go to the Burrow.
Hope this letter finds you and your dad well.
P.S. I saw a golden snidget yesterday in the Yorkshire Dales! I took a picture of it on my—well, you call it a “tella shell” but it’s not a shell, it’s a cell phone. I’ll have to show you sometime since I can’t exactly send it to you. No, I’m not going to explain; it’d take another whole letter.