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From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: June 20, 1978

Dear Diary,

The end of term tends to bring with it a feeling of relief; no matter how many Quidditch games were won or how many house points were scored, you can begin your summer holidays knowing that you did your best—or, if the back of your mind is occupied with a rankling sensation that you perhaps did not do the best work you could, at least you can do no more.

But this year there is no relief, and no holidays. It’s as if I am living two lives at once: first, the experienced professor handing out exam grades and congratulating eager and apt young wizards, many of whom have very little idea of what is happening at Hogwarts after hours. Second, the inexperienced student learning new spells alongside other members of the newly-formed Order of the Phoenix.

Some of these members are my former students—James Potter, Lily Evans, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew—and I have taken to cramming, like I did when I was their age, to keep up. Others are wizards I’ve never met before. One is a former thief; another is a Squib. But Professor Dumbledore knows and trusts them all, and so we spend our free time practicing together and preparing for what may come.

And what will it be, when it happens? The Dark Lord Voldemort continues to gain power, and there are rumors that he plans not only to conquer the magical world but also defeat death, which seems absurd. Yet his followers believe him—or say they do, because they are afraid of what might happen if they don’t.

So we have become the Order of the Phoenix; a well-chosen name, as it turns out, because the Phoenix accepts death. Which… is that what Professor Dumbledore is preparing us for? We have moved beyond defensive spells and are now learning how to fight, which makes me worry that there will be casualties. On both sides.

Part of me wishes that we could all just sit down together and talk. If we had a conversation, couldn’t we come to some kind of agreement? Both sides want to protect the wizarding world. Voldemort’s side believes that means removing all people of Muggle ancestry, and surely if we just had a discussion we could make them see why that would hurt the wizarding world more than they mistakenly assume it would help. If we could just talk, we could help Voldemort’s followers—because I doubt we’ll convince the Dark Lord himself—understand that they are holding false and dangerous beliefs that could fracture our community.

Instead, we are preparing for a war. One that we hope will never happen, but that we must ready ourselves for regardless.

There will be no summer holidays this year. Just work, and preparation, and hope that somehow Voldemort will be stopped before we have to stop him ourselves.

Yours faithfully,


Previously in The Diaries of Minerva McGonagall