Happy Sixteenth Birthday! It’s always easy for me to remember your birthday because mine is the day before yours – just like my dad’s birthday is the day before your dad’s birthday. I can’t believe you want potion plants again for your birthday, but if that’s what Sera wants, then that is what Sera gets! I wish I could wrap up DD for you – but I don’t think Trowel could carry him, you know what I mean?
I don’t want to spell out DD’s name in case this owl is intercepted by Monica McClaggen. I swear – I don’t know why she’s so jealous of you. Just because you’re asked out a lot isn’t a reason for her to be so jealous. I mean, it’s not like you actually go out since your heart belongs to DD! Well, except for those three weeks you went out with Leo this spring. When are you going to tell me the whole story, Sera? You know I’d never tell. I’m your best friend!
I really like the hand lotion you sent me for my birthday! I can’t believe you mixed that up yourself – and it smells a lot better than the shampoo you made at Christmas! I swear the warts on my hands are getting better already. Great-gran says that warts used to be a sign of great beauty in her day, but I think she’s confusing warts with moles – what do you think? It’s kind of like when she calls me 'Alice' instead of Alison, you know?
I wish I had a slew of cousins like you, Sera. If Tony comes over to use the Pitch in your back garden, then I reckon he’ll bring Rafe and maybe Rafe will bring DD! Right? Of course, I wouldn’t mind just Tony and Rafe since they’re both cute! I know you don’t think your own cousin is cute, but you have to admit that Rafe is very handsome – really, he’s the best looking boy in seventh year. And Andrea Wallace is the best looking girl. Why don’t you try to get them together, Sera? And I’ll take Tony! Just kidding! (Well, I’m not really kidding – but let’s face it, I don’t play Quidditch and that’s all he cares about.)
Have you got your O.W.L. results yet? I haven’t and I’m glad, since I can’t imagine what sort of mark I’m going to get in Transfiguration after I turned that cup into a turtle and not a tarantula. Still, the notes you gave me for History of Magic helped me so much! Reading about the goblin rebellions from the point of view of the goblin princess was so interesting. Your brother was so nice to give you that quill.
Well, that’s enough for now. I have weeding to do. I don’t like to weed but Dad gave me the choice to do that or dust Gran’s room. I think you know why I chose weeding!
And yes, I’ll shade my face. It’s sweet of you to always remind me that I have a nice complexion. It helps me face that mean mirror in the downstairs bathroom, you know?
Happy Birthday, almost-twin!
July 3, 2028
Dear Alison (almost-twin),
Thank you for the potion plants! Mum helped me plant them. Next year at this time I should have all the ingredients for conditioner at my fingertips. When I told my Aunt Hermione, she was glad, since she’s tired of paying top Galleons for Bobbin’s conditioner. I told her that I knew it was expensive, but she was worth it and she would have no hair left if she kept using that Sleek-Easy stuff.
I have my O.W.L. results! I got an Outstanding in Potions and History of Magic! I only got an E in Muggle Studies, but David thought that was a good mark considering how they’ve changed the exam to include current Muggle technology. Even he is having trouble keeping up with computers and space ships even though he has a Muggle girlfriend.
Shh, don’t tell – but I think she’s the one! Mum thinks so, too, but we’re waiting for David to do something – like tell her he’s a professor at a magical school in Scotland and not a Muggle boarding school. Mum threatened to put a Silencing Charm on me whenever I’m around Caroline if I don’t stop dropping hints about magic. But I really want to go to a Muggle wedding. I think it would be so much fun.
Oh, yes. The rest of my marks were Es except for the Acceptable I got in Care of Magical Creatures. Really, you’d think Uncle Charlie would give a break to his own niece – but there was no way I was going to feed live voles to the Hippogriffs. When is the life of a vole less important than any other life?
When I explained this to Dad, he wanted to know how the steak I was eating was less important than the life of a vole. I wish I could have thought of an answer to that question at the time. Rafe said I should have approached it from the cruelty angle. You know – the vole is eaten alive and the cow never knew what hit him/her. I didn’t realize how clever Rafe is – I think he’s almost as smart as DD.
I forgot to tell you. Tony has been over here almost every day. They’re digging up the Pitch in his family’s back garden because his sister, Amy, is getting married next New Year’s Eve. (Aunt Padma wants an Enchanted Forest theme and the trees have to start growing now.) Tony’s determined to be a professional Beater when he leaves Hogwarts, so he wants to practice all the time. He will even play with me now! Rafe talked him into it by telling him that he (Tony) needs to get used to playing with other players since he (Rafe) is going to join his father’s law office next year and won’t be Tony’s partner on the Pitch anymore.
Of course, they were both shocked at how good I was. Boys are so stupid sometimes. Rafe wanted to know why I never tried out for the team and I told him it was because I wanted to play Beater and no other position. Then he wanted to know why I didn’t compromise and try out for another position. Before I could say anything, Tony spoke up and said I was an “all or nothing” girl about everything. I was so afraid that Tony was referring to my feelings about DD, but he wasn’t. It wouldn’t do for Tony or DD’s own cousin to know my feelings. I would die of embarrassment. Although Rafe is so clever and has gone out with so many witches, he could probably give me some good advice.
Speaking of DD – he’s returning from the American Pensieve conference next week! Maybe he’ll show up here some day! This month’s Cosmowitch says that wizards don’t like it when witches talk too much. I’m going to practice being ‘quiet and mysteriously alluring’ around Rafe and Tony in case DD shows up.
Someday I’ll tell you all about Leo Creevey, Allison. Let’s just say the problem with his hands wasn’t warts. I don’t know what came over me in the first place – forgetting DD like that. I blame the stress of O.W.L.s and the fact that Leo has really nice curly hair. It’s not a time of my life I’m proud of, but I don’t mind telling you that since you’re always so understanding.
Besides having a nice complexion, you have beautiful blonde hair! Why don’t you accidentally-on-purpose break that mirror? Kidding! Although, I could ask Rafe about the legality of accidentally-on-purpose.
I’m off to the Burrow now. Grandmum never has her nails done unless I do them for her. You should see how much better her cuticles look already! I can’t wait to see what she thinks of last night’s Days of Destiny. I knew Clare would finally realize that she was in love with the wrong Lovatt brother!
Try to talk your mum into letting you visit this summer. Tony has been here everyday. Once he gets to know you, he’ll love you!
PS – Warts are not, and have never been, a sign of beauty.
~*~ II. Futures
“You still have that mad idea you want to be a hairdresser, Sera?” Tony asked as he and Rafe walked with her across the Potters’ smooth lawn to the broom shed.
“A hair stylist,” she corrected. “And yes, I do.” She could feel her face turning red and not from the heat of the hot July sun. Mum had often said that Sera should learn to take the teasing from cousins in stride, but Sera could never see the point of letting someone walk all over you just for their own amusement. And this was worse because Rafe was right there. Deciding that silence was the best strategy (and the most mysteriously alluring one), she fished around in her jeans pocket for the key to the shed.
“What’s so mad about Sera being a hairdress– er – I mean, stylist?” Rafe asked Tony.
Her back stiffened. Rafe had better not be aiding and abetting Tony in teasing her. She started to work the key into the rusty lock.
“Because it means owning your own business,” Tony answered. “Which is a rubbish way to make a living, if you ask me.”
Sera stopped fiddling with the key in the lock. This wasn’t about her – it was about Tony.
Rafe seemed to think so, too. “Tough day at the office, dear?”
“Shut it,” Tony told him without heat. “I spent the whole morning at the shop unpacking crates and listening to Dad yelling at suppliers in one fireplace and Uncle Fred trying to explain what ‘limited liability’ means to an irate customer in the other.”
“Mum’s going through the same thing,” Rafe said. “She’s starting to make holiday robes and the silk she ordered in February hasn’t arrived yet and twenty bolts of velvet in the wrong shade of green were delivered yesterday.”
Sera worked the lock open and frowned. How did Rafe know about silks and velvets?
“See, Sera,” Tony said, stepping into the dusty shed and pulling out the equipment trunk, “even stylish Lady DuSult has problems. You don’t want to own your own business.”
“That’s right!” Sera gasped, forgetting to be mysterious. “Your mum is Lady DuSult of Lady DuSult’s Little Black Robes.” She stared at Rafe. Somewhere in the back of her mind she had known that – but now certain details about Rafe clicked together – like how he could look like an advert for “smart casual wizard wear” every time he showed up to play back-garden Quidditch. “She’s brilliant.”
“She is,” he agreed easily. “You should talk to her about starting her own business. It took her a long time, but she managed it.”
“Do you think she would talk to me?” Sera squeaked. “She’s famous.”
Rafe laughed. “Not as famous as your dad – and he talked to me.”
“Oh? What did Dad say to you?” Sera reached for her favorite Beater Bat. It was lightweight, but Mum had modified several Strengthening Charms so that the wood didn’t flex when it came in contact with a Bludger.
“He said to make sure the equipment got back into the shed because it was going to rain.”
Sera giggled. “That’s just Dad. It’s not because he’s famous.”
Tony ignored their conversation and opened the trunk. The Bludgers were straining against their restraints.
“That’s good to know,” Rafe said, kneeling down to help Tony. “I felt like I was one of the little people or something.”
“Dad’s not like that at all,” Sera protested. Somehow it seemed importan