To all my sweet, beautiful, generous, intelligent, kind, and witty reviewers- bless you. I don't know what I'd do without you: Rhonda21- (Thanks! Your wait is over!) Kelly Roxton- ( I completely agree! While I have known some extraordinary women who settled for less than they deserved, I can not fathom why JK finds the prospect of life with Ron ideal for Hermione.) toostupidforyou- (Thank you! I'm so sorry it took so long.) Bedtime Story (Thanks! Glad you found it so!) gal-from-the-'hood- (Thanks! Hope you had lovely holidays. I'm fond of Luna, too. She is definitely one of the more interesting students at Hogwarts. I wish JK would give us a bit more of her.) Squiggles.Candi- (Hope you had a Happy Christmauka too! Will endeavor to remind Snape that he is male. I think he supresses an awful lot of desires.) Ocean Fish- I wish you many happy sighs. Thanks for your kind words!) duj- ( As always you are correct. I will fix it if I can.) Guinn Pern (Thanks times two! Hope your trip abroad was lovely. Happy you like the story so far!) Mari Skyrin-Sarker ( I see her as unable to abide injustice. SPEW made me love Hermione. I also think she needed an outlet for stored up anger. The Ministry has had it coming, in my opinion.) Minnnie- (Thanks! So happy you liked her speech!) little beloved- (Thank you! Best wishes for this new year to you too, dear.) CareBearErin (Thanks times two to you too! I'm thrilled you like my parasite, Luna's marriage and Hermione at the gala!) Corky42 ( Happy New Year right back at you! Thank you. I'm so pleased you like it!) Bellegeste- ( Thank you! Please forgive my trespasses. I'm one of those sick twisties who find every word canon Snape ever said completely hilarious. So happy you liked Crooks and Occlumency- more of both to come.) frenchvanilla- (Thank you! I anxiously present you more! I hope it pleases you.) Outematamakin- Thank you! It's great to hear from you. I'm blushing.)

Special thanks go out to Lemon Head on AFF who asked me to explain the meaning of Ratcatcher's Ball, since Lemon Head had heard the phrase but was unsure of its meaning and could not find intellectual solace on the internet. I figured I should make good use of author's notes in case any one else wondered. Here goes!

-A/N- The main reason I used that title for reasons beyond the Minister being exposed both by the twins' prank and by Hermione speech is a personal one- when my mother would dress us up for a visit or an event, she'd say," There now. You are fit for the Ratcatcher's Ball!" So of course when I was little I always thought the Ratcatcher's Ball must be a very good thing.

For hundreds of years, ratcatching was a profession in much of Europe wereby a common person could gain wealth and social standing. People who were good at catching rats were generally respected despite the unsavory side of their job- much like lawyers are today. There really were Ratcatchers' Guilds which held annual balls.

Later the term was used in British society in a derogatory sense. This was how my mother jokingly used it. Someone trying to get above their station in life, a social climber, a gold digger, a member of the nouveau riche, was fit for the Ratcatcher's Ball and for nothing else by implication. The Wizarding World seems to reflect that aspect of social inelasticity.

Later still, Ratcatcher became a term for someone who had done well in war and had trouble adjusting to peacetime, or someone who had done something necessary like spying during wartime which was later held against him. Therefore in my story both Hermione and Severus fall into this category albeit for different reasons. There may be other meanings but since I am unaware of those, alternate meanings did not figure into my title. Still if you know of any or have any corrections to my understanding of the history, I'd love to hear from you!

But really I love to hear from anyone for any reason at all. This is for you.

Discovering the Hidden Heart

Part Eleven

Death and Bad Poetry

"Sir, do you have a few minutes?"

"I do. In fact I have nearly an hour before I am expected at a staff meeting. Do help yourself to tea if you care for a cup."

Hermione poured herself a tea and freshened his cup. She sat across from his desk on a small wooden chair, uncomfortable on purpose, of that she had no doubt.

"You could always get Mr. Filch to hammer a few nails up through this seat."

He transfigured the chair into a deeper padded version.

"It is meant to dissuade less pleasant company."

"I think I'm ready to get Crookshanks back."

"What do you have in mind?"

"I considered Occlumency. I think it might take months or even years to learn what I'd need. I'm not willing to wait. I want to start immediately using various potions to repress my emotions, even anger. Just because it prefers other emotions doesn't mean it can't feed on that. I want to starve my parasite to death, sir."

Snape considered her for a moment. He set his cup and saucer down on his desk and steepled his fingers under his chin.

"Which potions did you have in mind?"

"I wanted your opinion. I'm considering seven but have no idea how they might react when taken together or if there are better combinations to achieve the desired effect. I was thinking of Grief Tonic, Foe-Forgive Potion, Magarets's Solution-"

"Magaret's Solution causes irreversible sterility."

"Makes me wonder what Magaret's problem was. Anyway, Magaret's Solution leaves me no worse off than I am now, sir."

"Nonsense. The parasite merely acts as a magical contraceptive. Magaret's Solution would damage your reproductive organs. Also, Magaret's problem was a love potion with no known antidote slipped into her wine by her own brother."

"I imagine quite a number of potions were created out of suffering and sheer desperation."

"Most of them in fact. The greatest Potions Master of all time is self-interest. Tell me why you believe that emotional starvation is a viable option for dealing with your parasite."

"While it can use body heat as a sort of dietary supplement, it can't survive on that alone or could just as well use Muggles as hosts, sir. I think it's an illusion that this thing creates magic. My theory is that it lives by converting one sort of magic into another, specifically the potential magic in a wizard's emotions into raw magic. It does the same thing that we do by forming intentions but through its conversion it receives some sort of magical by-product that it requires as a nutrient."

"Why do you assume that body heat is the only source that it can use as a dietary supplement? What if it decides to eat your brain or your liver or other vital part of you while denied your emotions?"

"That's just a chance I'll have to take."

"Are you willing to take such a risk, just to be free of it?"

"I'm willing to do what ever it takes to be free. I don't want this thing inside of me. Regardless of my rather embarrassing red food reaction, I am a Gryffindor, sir."

"I never doubted your bravery. I had feared the parasite might weaken your resolve. Allow me offer you an alternative that does not involve the use of Magaret's Solution."

Snape reached into a pocket and pulled out a small round bottle of clear amber viscous liquid that would have reminded Hermione of rubber glue if it were not radiating magic.

"What is that?"

"Thanatos Elixir."

"Thana- Death in a Bottle?"

"That is another name."

"Sir, Thanatos Elixir is illegal to use, brew or even possess."

"You are quite right, Miss Granger. The more correct term might be Azkaban in a Bottle, since the mere brewing and possession of this substance can not result in death."

"I take it you are not suggesting that I kill myself with that."

"That is exactly what I am suggesting. Tell me what you know of death."

"I know that death is a process. When the brain becomes oxygen starved, the brain cells break down. In the case of death by heart attack for example, brain death occurs roughly three minutes after the heart stops beating."

"Correct. The rest of the cells of the human body take far longer to die. Thanatos Elixir was first used in the fourteen hundreds as a poison. About four centuries later, a curious side effect was discovered -the elixir continues to oxygenate the brain magically, thus halting cell damage for a full half hour after all vital signs, including brain activity, cease. Not too long after that discovery, an antidote was developed. Providing that the antidote is administered within half an hour of your taking Thanatos, you will revive from death having suffered no ill effects."

"Sir, if I'm not mistaken that antidote only works occasionally."

"Like every true antidote, it works when it is brewed correctly and administered on time. The reputation and legal standing of Thanatos Elixir have suffered, because there are always more wizards about willing to administer Thanatos than are capable of brewing its antidote."

"Is it a difficult antidote to brew?"

"Yes. Part of the difficulty is that it must be brewed after Death in a Bottle has been ingested, as the effected blood of the person who ingested Thanatos Elixir is one of its key ingredients."

"How much of the half hour is required to brew it?"

"I can brew it in under twenty six minutes."

"I still don't see where you are going with this."

"A twenty six minute brewing time provides us a rather large window of opportunity. Before administering the antidote, I will have four minutes to lure the parasite out of you by offering myself as an alternate host while you, for all intents and purposes, are dead. The parasite's will to survive is strong. You were in sporadic contact with Malfoy's body for a fraction of that time."

"What are your other solutions to my problem?"

"I assure you that this is the safest for you, therefore the best solution."

"Tell me your second choice."

"That would involve the kidnapping and later Obliviation of a Muggle surgeon, with no guarantee of a successful removal, your continued survival, or a future for me outside of Azkaban since I would murder the physician who killed you."

"Sir, please don't murder a Muggle on my account."


"Don't do anything worse to one, either."

"I can not promise that."

"You don't want to keep this parasite. Do you?"

"I do not secretly covet your parasite, Miss Granger. As I told you in the infirmary, I can purge it safely with simple potions before it has the chance to take hold of a new host."

"Are you certain?"


"I hate this idea."

"I will brew the antidote in time. I have done so in the past."

"That is the only aspect of your plan that doesn't worry me, sir. Thanatos Elixir is Dark Magic."

"I am aware of the Ministry's views. If it helps, know that I do not agree with that decision. Neither did Albus Dumbledore. To quote him, 'there are worse things than Death in a Bottle.' He said that just before I poured Thanatos Elixir down his throat."

"So that's how you defeated the Unbreakable Vow that you made to Narcissa Malfoy!"

"Yes, I administered the Thanatos to a willing Dumbledore only days after I made that vow. The moment I killed him, the spell was broken as the purpose of the vow had been served. We thought it best to keep our method secret, due to the potion's legal status."

"What did Harry see that night on the tower?"

"That particular incident took months of planning and practice. It involved complex spells, split second timing, the creation of a horcrux site from my memory and the manipulation of no fewer than fifty people. What Mr. Potter saw was a display of theatrics, a Dumbledore production. Mr. Potter was the intended audience."

"Why? It devastated him! Why would Dumbledore need Harry to see that?"

"Miss Granger, do you think I was the only spy that Voldemort had at Hogwarts?"


"Harry Potter was Voldemort's favorite spy. What he saw, Voldemort could see in his mind. This went far beyond Legilimency. They were joined by an accidental mental link formed on the day that Lily was murdered. Curiously, though he was bumbling along not knowing what he was doing as usual, Mr. Potter learned to access that connection long before Voldemort was aware of it. That was the source of his Parseltongue and who knows what else. I suspected the connection since the day of Lockhart's dueling demonstration when Mr. Potter spoke to the snake that Mr. Malfoy conjured. I verified the connection at the same time that Voldemort became aware of it, during Harry Potter's first Occlumency lesson. Quite suddenly, all three of us were in one of Mr. Potter's memories. I have experienced very little in life that I found more unnerving. Voldemort and I were aware of one another. In fact he was ranting at me the whole time. For some reason, Potter was oblivious to Voldemort's presence. That link must have been such a natural state of being for him that he tuned Voldemort out like a constant odor. Dumbledore decided that Mr. Potter could not be informed. If Potter knew, Voldemort would know that he knew, and that I had told him. Also, if Potter knew, he would be less useful to Voldemort, therefore more endangered. Dumbledore decided we could use the situation to our advantage. After that lesson, much of what Mr. Potter was shown and told was meant specifically for Voldemort's misinformation. The pensieve incident was staged to give me a convenient excuse to end his lessons. The night in question served several purposes. Draco miraculously fixed the cabinet admitting Death Eaters when Dumbledore lifted his Unfixable Curse. Draco was the first purpose. Dumbledore was as keen as I to save him. We should have let him burn. The second purpose of the evening was to convince Voldemort that our side was still searching for remaining horcruxes when in fact they had already been destroyed. The third purpose was to prove my loyalty to Voldemort. I long had been suspected of being a traitor to Voldemort due in no small part to allegations made years ago by one of Voldemort's most loyal supporters, Regulus Black, idiot brother of Sirius. Coincidentally Regulus Black and I were the only two people other than Voldemort who knew the location of the horcrux site that Dumbledore showed to Potter. Though Voldemort killed him for treachery on the basis of evidence that I manufactured, he never completely trusted me. All of Regulus' accusations were nothing more than wild speculation. Still his allegations were true. As he suspected, I was loyal to Dumbledore and was a much better Occlumens than Voldemort was a Legilimens. However his baseless accusations did not appeal to Voldemort's enormous vanity. Like his brother, he was full of the Black Family pride and seemed oblivious to his mistake. I exploited the rift it caused between them through Lucius, who just happened upon the evidence that condemned Regulus to a much deserved fate. Lucius was nearly as unimportant to Voldemort as Regulus then, and was desperate to move up in the ranks. I knew he would not hesitate to reveal a traitor, even one he considered a friend. After Voldemort killed Regulus, he always wondered if he'd killed the right traitor. The letter at the horcrux site as well as rumors circulating about Regulus' change of heart were meant to allay any remaining suspicions Voldemort had about my loyalty. The most important purpose of the evening was to convince Voldemort that I killed Dumbledore. The act cemented my position as Voldemort's favorite and provided Dumbledore protection from further assassination attempts. It also gave Albus the chance to attend his own funeral polyjuiced to pass as his brother. He thoroughly enjoyed it. That dangerous little performance on the tower provided Dumbledore and I needed freedom away from Hogwarts and the opportunity to engineer Voldemort's overdue retirement."

"You said Harry's link to Voldemort was an accidental one. Accidental how?"

"It was the result of four conflicting, very powerful spells. Two of those spells were cast by Lily. Two by Voldemort. Unknown to Voldemort, Lily had placed on her child a protection charm of her own devising. Basically it's purpose was to reflect any harmful spell back to the caster. The charm worked once then had to be recast. She tested that charm on me while we were still at school. Sirius Black ended the day in the infirmary with the worst case of boils Pomfrey had even seen. Though she and James Potter had brushes, Voldemort had never met Lily face to face before that day. She was a very powerful witch. He was immediately intrigued by her power. He gave Lily a choice. She could have abandon her child to death and lived to serve him. Anyone who knew her would have known it was no choice at all. However, because of his offer, for magical purposes, her death constituted a sacrifice. That sacrifice was a second spell, one which survived Lily further protecting her child. At the same time, Voldemort was attempting to make his sixth and final horcrux of an object, ironically the engagement ring that the Muggle Riddle had given to his sainted mother. Because of the prophesy, he decided to use Harry Potter's death to fuel it. Voldemort never liked loose ends. It did not suit him that there were two children who fulfilled all the requirements of the prophesy. Voldemort designed a variation on the Dark Mark just for the purpose of marking Neville Longbottom as his equal. Can you imagine? He chose Longbottom because he was a pure-blood and therefore a more worthy adversary in Voldemort's eyes. By targeting the Potters, Voldemort was attempting in his own words, to kill the spare. When Voldemort cast Avada Kedavra, the fourth spell, he created a magical anomaly, a confusion of powerful modern and ancient magics. All four spells worked though perhaps not exactly as they were intended. The child's survival, Mr. Potter's horcrux scar, their mental link, and Voldemort's near death experience were the four results of those combined spells."

"Harry's scar was a horcrux?"

"No Miss Granger, Harry Potter was a horcrux, inadvertently made by Voldemort and used immediately, and therefore destroyed for horcrux purposes. As a baby, Mr. Potter was both Voldemort's destruction as well as his savior. Had any one of those four spells failed, Harry Potter would have died that day. Voldemort would have survived Lily's reflection charm anyway as he had five other Horcruxes standing between him and his death. Had one of those other five horcruxes been the one to save Voldemort, Harry Potter would have remained a horcrux and very likely would have had to forfeit his life in order to destroy Voldemort. Harry Potter, like the ring that Dumbledore was fond of wearing, survived once the horcrux inside was destroyed. Like Slytherin's ring, only a lightning bolt scar remained to mark Mr. Potter as a former horcrux as well as Voldemort's self chosen arch nemesis, all in perfect accord with the prophesy. After that experience, Voldemort chose to ignore the spare, much to the continuing good health of Neville Longbottom. Too bad Voldemort's superstitious nature did not extend the same protection to Cedric Diggory."

"Why did Voldemort stop at six horcruxes?"

"He was under the impression that one seventh of his soul was the least amount required to ensure successful return. He would not chance dividing his soul further in fear of defeating his purpose."

"You didn't have anything to do with his forming that belief, did you, sir?"

"I did not. Slughorn deserves that credit."

"Do you think he could have divided his soul further?"

"I think it is safe to say that Voldemort did not start with an over abundance of soul. If fractions mean anything when it comes to souls, logic dictates that he put a full half of his soul into the first horcrux he made, a fourth into the next, and so on, and had only a sixtyfourth of his soul left in him by the time he finished. That still was enough to stubbornly anchor him to the mortal coil, unfortunately. Yes, I too am convinced he could have divided his soul as many times as he wished. Then again I was certain that Voldemort was completely insane for dividing his soul the first time. Somehow I never got around to sharing my views on either of those subjects with him."

"His grand purpose was immortality?"

"No, immortality was his means to achieve his grand purpose, if you want to call it that. Raised by Muggles, Riddle heard their mythologies when he was very small. He grew up believing in Heaven and Hell as perhaps only a magical child in a Muggle church-run orphanage truly can believe. He had faith, Miss Granger. He believed that Christian Hell was the inevitable fate of any dead wizard."

"He turned himself into a monster because he was afraid of going to Hell for being a wizard?"

"Voldemort is an example of the dangerous force that is blind faith."

"Speaking of blind faith, how soon may I take your Thanatos Elixir, sir?"

"It may take a few days to gather and prepare the ingredients for the antidote. I will let you know as soon as I have everything ready."

"What will it cost?"


"For the ingredients of the antidote and for the Elixir, sir."

"As I recall, the Headmistress ordered that the staff of Hogwarts shall help you all we can. Therefore, I will help you all I can by billing Hogwarts for my expenses. I sincerely doubt the Headmistress will send you that bill as a graduation gift."

"I really don't think that's what the Headmistress had in mind when she said that, sir."

"Regardless, that is what she said. You really should learn how to listen."

"I think that kind of listening requires Slytherin ears. May I help you with the preparations at least?"

"As you pointed out, Thanatos as well as its antidote are illegal substances. Some of the ingredients are highly regulated. All of them are far less difficult to obtain than to prepare correctly. The smallest mistake will not kill you, only because you will be dead already."

"I won't make a mistake, sir."

"You would wager your life on that fact?"

"Yes sir."

"While I would be willing to wager my life on your abilities, Miss Granger, I will not risk yours. If you do not trust me, I can not help you."

"I trust you with my life, Professor. I'll just find some safer way to alleviate my boredom."

"The wise know when to stand on pride and when to yield."

"Gods, am I hallucinating or did you just quote Godric Gryffindor?"

"Do not expect me to do so again. That was his only sensible statement. Too bad he never followed that advice."

"I could never get around 'Winning in battle is better than losing in argument.' How could anyone even make such a comparison?"

"Who better to make the comparison? He did have ample practice doing both."

"I don't think I would have cared for any of the Founders, sir. They all sound terrible, each in his or her own way. I always thought Slytherin must have been the sanest as he had the good sense to get away from the other three."

"They were terrible, Miss Granger. All gods are. A thousand years from now, witches and wizards will read about the great and terrible god Harry Potter. If you wish to immortalize yourself, write that book."

"I believe I'd prefer a future filled with mentally challenging obscurity to an eternity of vapid fame. Besides, I know Harry never wanted another book written about him."

"More books will be written. The only question is whether you write about Harry Potter or leave his memory to the likes of Pascal Fleegle. One fact remains. You knew Mr. Potter better than anyone now living."

"You knew Voldemort better than anyone now living, sir. Why don't you write that book?"

"Because I refuse to succeed where six horcruxes failed. If Voldemort becomes immortal, it will not be my doing."

"I do hope his Wizard's Card comes out after I'm dead."

"I give you good odds of not being disappointed considering, if all goes well, your death is less than a week away."

"Why do other wizards take Thanatos Elixir?"

"When the antidote was first invented, ingesting Thanatos Elixir was a rather fashionable thrill. A mountain of bad poetry customarily scribbled down immediately upon rival stands as testament to the reliability of the antidote when properly brewed. It also also begs the question- why on earth did brewers bother? Today many are willing to ingest it for the purposes of curse-breaking. I suggested the option to Lupin. Not unexpectedly, he declined citing ethical objections as opposed to any suspicions he had concerning my intentions for suggesting it."

"Do you really think it might work as a cure for lycanthropy?"

"I'd gleefully take the risk to test my theory in Lupin's case."

"I happen to think Remus Lupin is a very nice person!"

"Never have I claimed otherwise."

"But you don't like him."

"He has never earned my respect."

"You can't respect him just because?"

"Just because of what? Because he almost killed me twice in Werewolf form due to poor judgment and general carelessness?"

"Because he's a person, sir."

"A theory wide open to debate."

"He is a person when he's not transformed!"

"I can not respect a person for being alive, no more than I can despise one for the same reason."

"How does one go about earning your respect, sir? I'd very much like to have it."

"You have my respect. You earned it your second year."


"I showed you the memory."

"Stealing from you or reimbursing you after?"

"Both, not to mention brewing a successful Polyjuice Potion at age twelve. You were attempting to discover the identity of the Heir of Slytherin?"

"Yes sir. Ron and Harry impersonated Crabbe and Goyle trying to get the information from Draco. I attempted Millicent. I took some hair off her robe. I didn't know she had a Kneazle."

"She did not. Miss Parkinson owned the Kneazle, a solid black longhair. Miss Bulstrode happened to be very fond of it. Miss Lovegood looks after the poor beast now. She probably braids pansies into its fur."

"Well, it looked like her hair. I should have tested it. That's about all I learned after a whole month of brewing, that and the fact that Draco Malfoy knew more about Muggle housework than the Chamber of Secrets."

"As many detentions as he served with Filch I've no doubt he did."

"Muggle auto maintenance, then."

"Lucius kept a Maserati and a Lamborghini."

"Did they fly?"

"Only on the M5. After Draco failed the impossibly simple task of befriending Mr. Potter at the start of his first year, Lucius realized that Draco proved an inept errand boy. He never trusted him again. Occasionally, Draco learned bits of information when Lucius wasn't in Azkaban which proved invaluable to me. Until he murdered your parents Draco Malfoy worked far more effectively for the Light however inadvertent his commitment to the cause."

"I am sorry about Draco, sir."

"And just how was Draco Malfoy ever your fault?"

"I could have treated him better."

"I received no complaints about your mistreatment of Mr. Malfoy nor any other Slytherin for that matter."

"I punched him in the face third year."

"I am not surprised he forgot to mention it."

"Does anyone in your House have the nerve to complain to you about anything, sir?"

"It happened once."

"Stories abound about your House discipline. Did you really make Crabbe do a striptease in front of all the girls in Slytherin?"

"Certainly not. I gave him the choice of that or his immediate expulsion. Neither did I require the presence of all Slytherin females. Those with superior tastes or weak stomachs were excused from the proceedings. I could not help the fact that those who chose to attend enjoyed less of a show than Mr Crabbe had at their expense."

"What do you mean?"

"That punishment cured his particularly repulsive habit of hiding in the girls' showers to watch while pleasuring himself."

"Regardless of the crime that constitutes cruel and unusal punishment, sir."

"Not compared to what Miss Bulstrode did to him when she caught him in the showers."

"But sir, a striptease?"

"If enduring bouts of feminine laughter and ridicule traumatized him enough to keep fully clothed near any member of the opposite sex, I can only think that society benefited."

"According to British Common Law-"

"-which has as little to do with the Wizarding World as Newton's Laws. Our society is not based on law nor order, Miss Granger. We are laws unto ourselves. We order the chaos of our world according to our wills and abilities. If you do not believe our world is based on chaos, tell me where in the Muggle World winning a war would depend on an aging Headmaster and his boarding school students. The vast majority of wizards break some Ministry law, daily, as a matter of habit. I do not speak of Death Eaters. Consider Arthur Weasley's flying car, Dumbledore's unauthorized Port Keys, Minerva's unregistered Animagni forms, Flitwick's collection of Dark Charmed objects. I hardly know where to begin with Hagrid. Aside from what I had to do as a spy, I am the most law-abiding wizard I know. I have to be. Many at the Ministry, even members of the Order, would dearly love to lock me away forever for even the smallest of infractions, never mind possession of Thanatos Elixir."

"Thank you for trusting me."

"I choose my friends wisely though I have had few."

"Do you consider any of the other professors a friend?"

"They are my colleagues. I do not care to spend my free time with them. I do what I can to dissuade them from seeking my company."

"Dumbledore wasn't your friend?"

"He was my mentor. I served his cause. We were never friends."

"You're not talking about Slytherin friendships then."

The corners of his lips turned upward and he dropped his eyes. Good humor seemed to make him somewhat shy, Hermione noticed. That fact was strangely charming to her. "No. I'm speaking in banalities."

"I like you too."

"What are your plans for after graduation?"

"Will you ask me again when I'm free of my parasite?"

"Do you expect your plans to change?"

"I think it 's possible. Who knows? I just might have to factor in a breakdown when I get my emotions back."

"What ever I can do help, you only need ask."

"That's a rather dangerous promise. Isn't it?"

"Perhaps. You have it all the same."

"Do you need to do anything to prepare for your meeting?"

Snape shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose as if dread had settled into a headache there.

"Are they that bad?"

"The others seem to enjoy them."

"Would you like to play chess after? Thanks to Ron, I do know how the pieces move. Perhaps my parasite can play."

"It did nothing for Malfoy's game. However, it is most kind of you to play at all. I could manage to let you win."

"I don't want you to let me win!"

"Then prepare to be crushed."

"You might show me a thing or two while you're crushing me. Ron was a good player but had a terrible time putting his strategies into words. Maybe he just liked beating me too much to help me improve my game."

"We will play Muggle chess. I'm certain you can do without the distraction provided by Wizard pieces. After, I will show you where you went wrong and suggest how you can shore up your defenses and attack more effectively in the future."

"That would be wonderful. Will we have time for the game before dinner?"

"Yes, since you've given me an excuse to leave should the meeting run over."

"What, a very important chess game?"

"A lesson, of unspecified nature."

"You're welcome. I'll be in the Room of Requirement. Do you prefer white or black?"

"You pick."

"I'll take white then."


"White has the advantage."

"You do not seem the type to take the advantage."

"Someone has to take the advantage. I think it's fair since you are so experienced. I'm just learning after all. Besides how else will I show you how I open?"

"After we play we will switch positions to give you practice playing on both sides."

"Sounds exactly like what I require. See you after your meeting."

-More A/Ns! -Con-crit, flames, recipes, poetry, jokes, invitations, proposals, no matter how indecent, all is welcome, desired, yearned for and ever so appreciated. Will try to update soon. Thank you just for reading!