Dear Professor Snape,

I hereby regretfully apologize for the inconvenience I caused you yesterday. I assure you that I find the detention you gave me highly justified considering what I did to you and your laboratory. I would, however, like to explain the particular circumstances of the accident. I am quite sure you were misled in your opinion about the unfortunate events due to the bad condition the room was in when you finally appeared.

First, I can assure you that the stains on the wall were not caused by dragon blood and will therefore come off smoothly. There is also no need to fear that any serious damage has been done to your long-time experiments, since I stowed all the tubes, rubber pipes and several liquids I found at the tables and on the shelves under my bed in the Gryffindor common room. Unfortunately, you cannot have them back as yet, but I promise they will be returned to you safely and in a timely fashion: as soon, in fact, as I find out why they were removed last night and who did it.

Now, you might want to know why it was important for me to use your laboratory in particular and why I did not ask for permission in the first place... something which, I must admit, is quite hard to explain. Of course, since you must have experienced this yourself, you know how difficult the obtaining of certain potion ingredients can be, especially since the potion I intended to prepare requires "bone marrow of any extinct animal, preferably a mammoth". Luckily, I found some admirably exquisite material in your private stores, so that I did not have to buy the potion's most expensive ingredient myself. (You will understand, of course, that a student's financial resources do not usually permit investments such as this.)

The problem, however, was that transporting those ingredients turned out to be practically impossible. The bone marrow can only retain its high quality if the inner structure is perfectly in order - but you would know about that, of course. Anyway, this is the reason why I could not use any other room but the one in which the bone marrow was stored.

As you would expect, I decided to ask for permission to use your lab immediately. In fact, I was going to talk to you as soon as I found the opportunity, which happened to be the following morning. When I reached your doorstep, however, and peered in to see if you were in a moderately suitable mood for enquiries, I observed you examining a curiously frightening black mark on your left forearm, which seemed to cause considerable pain, so I decided not to disturb you right then. I have had bad experiences with this, you see. Ever since I once dared to enter Professor Lockhart's office while he was talking to himself in the mirror, I have had a tendency to be a little paranoid about comparable situations. And, if you don't mind me saying so, Professor, I was strongly reminded of Professor Lockhart at that specific moment.

Unfortunately, since the ingredients I had collected so far were not going to maintain their effect forever, it was impossible to wait for another opportunity. I therefore relied upon the fact that you would recognize my efforts as the praiseworthy work of a diligent student if you were to catch me and did not hesitate any longer to set up my highly complicated experiment.

I know I should not have used you cauldron, Professor, and I am sincerely sorry now that I did, but you see, my own cauldron (as you might recall) had melted only the day before, so I did not really have a choice. You might want to look at it from this angle: if the cauldron had been made of anything cheaper than gold, you would not only have lost your cauldron, but your entire laboratory, as the explosion would probably have made the dungeon walls collapse – and my cauldron used to be 100% copper... see?

Lastly, you might be interested in the extend of Mr. Filch's involvement, since he was in a terrible condition by the time you arrived. I assure you that it was not me who gave him the idea that the accident was, in fact, an assassination attempt arranged by the two of us to get rid of his person. I merely stated that his behaviour might occasionally make people think about such measures. And, of course, I could not admit that I was using your laboratory without permission, so I had no choice but to pretend that I was setting up the potion for you.

Unfortunately, Mr. Filch then decided to stay and wait for your return. In fact, the main reason the experiment failed is because of his presence. He indeed made me so nervous I quite possibly used a little too much fairy spleen. It is not as though I could have foreseen the failure of the experiment - because I would naturally not have continued in that case. However, when the liquid inside the cauldron started to make rather funny noises and assumed a most peculiar colour (roughly the same as most of the stains on the walls and all over the floor), I finally made up my mind to go and get help. How could I have known that Mr. Filch was not familiar enough with potions to know that he should leave a room when a cauldron inside is about to explode? I also naturally assumed he would extinguish the fire in case the potion started to boil.

Please rest assured that my parents will replace your cauldron as well as the rest of the furniture and the door. Unfortunately, I have not yet found out where to get you a new runespoor (they are rather difficult to get hold of) - but your salamander seems to have taken the disturbance extraordinary well. Please let me know when his feet are regrown. I do feel a bit sorry for the poor animal.

Hope you did not have too much trouble stocking up on ashwinder eggs and jobberknoll feathers. (Have you managed to extinguish the magic fire, by the way? The ashwinder eggs looked strangely alive after some time.)

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Jordan (third year Gryffindor).

Author's Note: Spelling errors and other minor issues fixed (I hope). Gosh, this is an old text... loved reading it again. Thank you, Carol and Nella for what is probably the most creative review I have ever received! (And thank you, Professor Snape, for letting Rebecca's parents know what a privilege it is to have her in your class. They keep repeating what a noteworthy and helpful student she must be to you.)