Standard disclaimer applies – it's all JKR's
This fan fiction looks at how the opening left at the end of my last story, "Just one more time", might develop. The title echoes the last words of that previous story.
Many thanks to Whitehound, who edited with her unique care, and to my patient previewer Lady Memory. Without their help this story couldn't be here.
That morning, an uproarious crowd had gathered in the bookshop, while those that couldn't be held inside were rapidly occupying all the space in front of its entry.
Many excited customers, most of whom were thrilled females, were eagerly awaiting the book-signing of the brand-new biography "Severus Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?" by Rita Skeeter, which had gone on sale only that morning.
"Remember him since my school days," a blonde witch was almost shouting, barely able to keep her place in the long queue in front of Flourish and Blotts, surrounded as she was by the thrilled mob. "That man always scared the hell out of me!"
"Don't you believe what Harry Potter said, then?" another one inquired, quite menacingly.
"I for one trust everything he says! He was such a hero!" a third, plump woman declared with a sugary voice.
After having silently cast a Disillusionment charm on herself, Hermione Granger went out of the shop, a copy of the book hidden in her robes.
Everything reminded her all too well of a very similar situation which had occurred at the beginning of her second year at Hogwarts. She blushed in shame at the memory: yet, she couldn't help a final glance at the several copies of the book displayed in the windows of the bookshop, before leaving in a hurry.
The mischievous picture of the author never stopped winking at the wizard whose photo, on the other hand, displayed an unreadable expression and the firm resolution not to look at the blonde witch with whom he shared the front cover in equal proportions.
Hermione grinned and finally left.
Of course, she had felt compelled to buy the book, and now she couldn't wait to read how the whole story had turned out.
She knew that, this time, the probable lack of truth wasn't just the fault of the author… but, knowing Skeeter's infamous quill as well as she did, Hermione felt sure that the secret she shared with Snape wasn't going to be the only difference between reality and fiction in Rita's book.
Hermione Granger was the only one who knew what had really happened during the last year; but, in spite of that, she didn't know everything. She couldn't claim to be certain of the meanings of the words said, of the events which had occurred and of "his" real thoughts, during that time.
Reading the book and trying to connect it to the experiences she had lived through in the past months could perhaps make a better understanding possible. And, anyway, she wanted to know what everyone else would learn about Severus Snape from that reading.
It was on a morning six months before the signing that the headline of the Prophet had caught her attention.
"Malfoy trial begins!"
Hermione was at the Burrow, having breakfast with Ron and Ginny because, as a matter of fact, since her parents' return - an event that had brought an awkward feeling of distance, rather than peace, to her family - she had neglected her real home more and more.
She threw away the paper, and began sipping her hot chocolate without much enthusiasm, lending a distracted ear to the conversation around her.
"He has to start practising - you know, field-work," Ron was saying proudly, in response to his sister's complaints about the increasing duties and absences that the Auror's training demanded of Harry; so, he didn't notice Hermione's mood, at first.
But later, when they were alone, snuggled in the old armchair, he realized.
"Surely you wouldn't want to go to testify or to witness it!" he commented. "The prosecutpr already has your testimony, so you don't need to relive that dreadful night!"
"They weren't those the ones who tortured me, Ron, and Harry keeps saying that Draco's mother helped him at the end," she whispered.
After a protective hug, he tried again to persuade his girlfriend; but, as ever, she followed her will, and later, after the trial, she was satisfied with her decision.
Narcissa Malfoy's declaration had been the source of Hermione's contentment.
The woman's solicitor had tried to convince the Wizengamot and the public that what Narcissa had done had been prompted by her love for her son: therefore, he had urged the aristocratic witch to tell how she had asked Snape to take an Unbreakable Vow. Narcissa, in her attempt to move the audience, had melodramatically described the place, the way she had reached that miserable Muggle house, and every little detail of that encounter.
Listening to her plea, that had clearly been prepared to grant the woman an aura of redemption similar to Snape's, Hermione had initially been quite disgusted.
It had really been just a blatant attempt to fascinate the court, until some words of Narcissa's speech elicited a very different feeling in the girl's heart; perhaps it had been just a trick meant to prolong the hearing, but it had turned out as a revelation to the young witch, all the same.
That description gave to Hermione a great deal to think about and, above all, the incentive she had been searching for for a long time.
Suddenly, she was certain of having found a very good reason to eventually refresh her acquaintance with her new "friend", the most dreadful among her former professors, the not very much dead Severus Snape.
After a long time spent wondering about her decision to keep in touch with him, she had at last recovered the confidence that up to that moment had failed her: previously, every possible reason to visit him had seemed trivial to her, and she had feared so much to be considered an annoyance – and therefore to be rejected by him - that she had almost forgotten that Snape' s last words had granted her further meetings.
The knowledge acquired at the trial, and even more the reports read in the newspapers, made it impossible for Hermione to wait another minute.
"Miss Granger," the wizard greeted her as soon as she materialised in front of his door. "What's the reason for such hurry? Why has your visit suddenly become so compelling after such a long silence?"
Had two months already passed since the one and only time in which she had found his secret shelter in Ireland? Hermione entered the house and looked at him with a mix of frankness and awkwardness before speaking.
"Did you read the newspapers, yesterday?"
He didn't answer, but waited for her words, thus making her assume that no, he hadn't yet.
"Well, there was Malfoys' trial, you know".
He nodded. Clearly, he knew, though the event hadn't induced him to change his resolution to stay where and how he was: far from the British Wizarding World, finally in peace.
"They were judged according to their different degrees of guilt," she said, "and they weren't punished too harshly, in the end. Draco's mother was given the most lenient judgement, and only Lucius will spend time in Azkaban".
No comments followed her words; despite the politeness with which he had welcomed her, Hermione was beginning to feel uneasy under his scrutiny, almost expecting disdainful assertions such as "I don't see what all this has to do with me".
"I'm glad of the news, Miss Granger," he said. "They weren't as deeply involved in the worst crimes of Voldemort as is generally believed… they weren't active murderers or torturers, either" he concluded, and, for a brief moment, Hermione was sure she saw a shadow of regret in his eyes, something very similar to pain.
Yet she wasn't so eager to trust the best of the charming trio.
Some memories came to her mind: Lucius giving Ginny Riddle's diary, Narcissa speaking in contempt, Draco underlining his pure-blood status, and their eagerness to inform the Dark Lord in order to receive his praise, that terrible night in which Harry, Ron and herself had been caught and brought to the Manor.
All that wasn't exactly her idea of helplessness.
And then… well, yes, eventually they had done something good – or better, they had "omitted to do something bad" - and those omissions redeemed their past a bit… so she suddenly decided to avoid a quarrel on the matter, especially because she felt how tactless it would be to begin a discussion about atonement or guilt with Snape, of all people.
"I still fail to understand the need for such urgency, though," he went on. "Your owl was positively frantic, I recall," he commented, finally showing some curiosity.
"Narcissa spoke of you, Sir," Hemione answered. "She told the Wizengamot about the Unbreakable Vow, and then she described your house, giving far too many details about its location and its appearance… So, I regret to inform you that, since then, the place is assaulted daily by fanatics, monitored by the Ministry, and if you should ever wish to come back, your presence would be spotted immediately."
"I see" he commented with a sigh after a brief pause. "Thank you for your concern, Miss Granger, though you do know that my return is a very remote possibility, don't you?"
"I know, Sir… but …" unable to restrain herself anymore, she almost cried. "Your books!! Madame Malfoy said that your living room was 'covered' with books!"
Then, after a long breath. "How could you live here without them? I would have liked to bring them to you, in case you wanted to have some of them here, but now, now it's impossible to reach the place without being detected!"
Slightly amused by her outburst, Snape suddenly noticed that they were still standing near the door, and remembered his manners.
"Well, this is the issue, then. I must give some thought to the matter. Thank you for the information. May I offer you something to drink? Tea, perhaps?"
"Thank you, Sir," she answered, advancing further in the middle of the room and sitting on a chair near the table.
There weren't any couches or armchairs, and, once more, Hermione wondered why he had chosen to live that way, deprived of so many comforts.
It seemed to her that, however well she had felt he was faring during her first visit, Snape was still making amends to whomever he thought they had to be paid.
"My present life doesn't require a great many possessions,Miss Granger," he said.
Understanding that this insightful reply was due to her staring and not to his reading her mind, Hermione felt her face redden in shame for having displayed her thoughts so unkindly.
He had spoken quietly, though, and there was no bitterness in his voice.
Having always enjoyed the modern conveniences of her Muggle home and the amazing solutions offered by the magical world, Hermione felt a sudden constriction in her chest at those words; but then she looked at him with respect, while something seemed to melt inside her.
"How does it happen that you are so worried about my books, Miss Granger?" he went on, levitating the tea tray and joining her at the table: the girl looked at him, abruptly awakened from her reverie.
"When I heard Narcissa speaking of them, I couldn't bear the thought of such waste, of all those volumes neglected and useless…" She smiled tentatively. "I meant to come earlier to visit you… I would have done, but the last few weeks have been so busy, and I wanted to call earlier than today, Sir, but-"
"Miss Granger," he cut across her babbling tirade. "Stop that."
Silenced and puzzled, she looked at him.
"I wasn't reproaching you," he explained seriously. He considered her for a moment. "I would say you can stop calling me 'Sir'," he added, and an amused spark lit in his eyes. "We aren't at school anymore."
"Well, yes, as you wish," she replied, recovering her voice and her will. "As I was saying, I would have asked if you wanted to have your books here; I'm sure that they must be precious… but the whole thing became a matter of urgency as soon as they decided to put your house under surveillance!"
"If I recall what you said correctly, there's no possibility now. And," he concluded, "at the moment I'd rather do without them, but stay in peace."
"I'm so very sorry… were they magical books? Or Muggle ones? Will you need any of them for your work? I could borrow those you need somewhere else and bring them to you on a regular basis," she proposed; then, excited by the possibility of doing something effective, she added, "If you remember the titles, I can make a list and begin to search for them…"
Though initially dismissing her suggestion as something about which she didn't need to concern herself, Snape seemed gradually infected by her enthusiasm; little by little, he began to tell her how he had collected all those volumes over the years, which ones amongst them had been the more difficult to find… Hermione absorbed his every word and every name, while he enjoyed the memories elicited by her questions, and time went by without noticing.
The sky was dark when the young witch bade him good-bye: she left with the strong sensation that, after that evening, a new meeting would take place soon.
As soon as she had left, Snape abruptly realized something that he hadn't noticed up to that evening: the loud sound of silence resounding around him.
For some time, in fact, he had convinced himself of the advantages of his solitary existence; when he wanted to enjoy some company, he could look for local meeting places or exchange a few words with his old landlord, after all.
Having suffered for almost his whole existence a far worse solitude than the one he was experiencing, he hadn't considered his current isolation a heavy burden: but he hadn't really had time to reflect on the effects of the lack of a true conversation.
The newly discovered pleasure of indulging in physical activities and outdoor excursions had made him forget the joy of reading. But that evening, after those hours spent in talking with a young woman so interested and sympathetic, it was as if a world of missed words was coming back to him, leading the way to renewed expectations.
"Harry! About time!" Hermione and Ronald greeted their friend when, still dressed in his training uniform, he arrived at the Leaky Cauldron. They had a nice meal and ate with gusto: then, relaxed, they began to share the latest news.
Ron was helping George in the shop so he spoke of his brother's business, and, of course, it was a funny tale, full of new inventions to be developed and sold.
Hermione was looking at him fondly, proud to see how Ron's presence was beneficial for the lonely twin.
But, obviously, Harry's tales were much more intriguing, and Ronald seemed anxious to join his friend again in his adventures; he declared that he would surely apply for the job as soon as his brother would be able to go on without his help.
On her side, Hermione was engrossed by the details which he was now privy to.
Then the young Auror began to tell them about the many oddities that he and the whole squad had been forced to endure. The curiosity about Snape had risen enormously among wizards and - he added grinning - witches: starting during the Malfoys' trial and increasing after the Daily Prophet's announcement of Snape's forthcoming biography, the whole thing was running almost out of control, with calls from everywhere about sudden sightings of him.
Hermione knew that something had to be done, and soon, despite what Snape had declared in their last conversation… what she was hearing now, in fact, spoke of a level of craziness that wasn't lessening in the slightest, and that was beginning to sound almost dangerous.
"I was wondering, Harry… I can't help doing so since I heard Narcissa describing that magnificent collection of books… wouldn't it be possible to put them in a safer location? Or perhaps have a look at them? What if, for some reason, some thief or some fanatic in search of souvenirs should steal or ruin the most valuable of them?"
Her friends rolled their eyes in unison.
"Come on, Hermione, haven't you seen that house?" asked Ronald, with a slightly mocking tone. "It could hardly contain something valuable."
"The surveillance is not exactly tight. I'll see if will be possible to get access to that 'treasure' " Harry added winking.
"I wouldn't intrude on Snape's house, actually… but I feel that it wouldn't be right if, on the other hand, someone else should break into his place. I must think of something, I'll call you soon," she ended, her mind already planning a strategy.
After the arrival of her owl that announced a forthcoming visit, Severus Snape began pacing in the small room, irritated and worried.
His reply had been quick of necessity, because this time she hadn't asked for an appointment some days ahead, but she had let him understand that she would arrive in a few seconds, again in a great hurry, or so it seemed.
Hermione Apparated in front of him right in that moment, a small package in her hands tightened to her bosom.
"It's yours, I believe" she said softly, giving it to him.
His curiosity roused, he took the parcel, and began to unwrap it.
The old and yet fine tome was indeed his property, and looking at its title he couldn't believe he had forgotten it, during the days in which the Irish Phoenix had been his only companion… even if, perhaps, that wasn't the only memory that seemed to be missing.
It was "Why I Didn't Die When the Augurey Cried", by Gulliver Pokeby, one of the oldest books he had purchased during his early years as a teacher, when he had spent all his spare time and savings in expanding his knowledge by reading whatever book spoke of the great mysteries of death. A subject that had deeply affected his studies after his greatest loss…
Fascinated, Snape looked at the young witch.
"How did you…"
"I've told you," she interrupted him in excitement, "I couldn't accept just seeing your collection wasted… So, when the opportunity arose, I went to check your bookshelves… and this seemed like a valuable little book," she explained, pointing at the date of its publication, written in red letters: 1824.
Obviously she didn't add that, having seen him feeding the greenish Augurey with great and unexpected kindness, that book had immediately appealed to her heart.
"You… what?!" he hissed. "Did you really have the cheek to enter my house, uninvited?"
Paralysed by the sudden change in his expression, though she had foreseen some such reaction to her expedition, for a moment Hermione seemed unable to go on speaking. Then:
"I know, it was terribly cheeky on my part, but please listen. I haven't told you the whole story, and I didn't go there just by myself," she managed to say, blushing.
"Sit!" he almost commanded, gesturing at the table. "And now explain!" Then, sitting in front of her, he crossed his arms and waited.
She swallowed. "You remember the trial, the articles about your house and the forthcoming book by Skeeter about you? I gather that you have read something about it, since our last meeting… well, it seems that the Ministry not only decided to watch your house and to protect it, but they also started to wonder if there were some Dark volumes amongst your books. So they sent a couple of Aurors to investigate."
Rolling his eyes, her former professor asked, "And please, since when are you a member of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad?"
She looked at him, quite smug, "I'm not. But Harry is."
"Why am I not surprised?" Snape commented, and, this time, Hermione was relieved, seeing that he wasn't truly angry about her revelation.
"He knew that I was worried about the fate of your collection, and, of course, he thought that my concern was just about the books… so I succeeded in sneaking inside when his commanding officer was distracted, and I stayed there, hidden under Harry's cloak, when they went away. I was lost in admiring all those interesting volumes, and it was hard to decide which one it was most imperative to bring to you first… when suddenly Harry came back to announce the sudden return of his colleagues. I had just discovered this little first edition and so as I left I decided to take just this, and hope its disappearance wouldn't be noticed," she concluded, pointing at the small book on the table.
"Mmm, yes, I can see you and Potter reliving the old times of theft and mischief," he commented, sourly.
"I came here immediately, Sir," she cried. "I did it for you, and I didn't want to keep that book a second more than necessary!"
"Quit whining," he admonished her, even if his tone didn't conceal completely how he was enjoying the situation, "And stop the dramatics. I understand that your intentions were good".
Confused, Hermione smiled and Snape went on. "However, I forbid you to even consider a second attempt! It isn't wise to challenge those men, and there's nothing among my books that's worth the risk".
"Do you really not miss them, then? Is your life here so full of other things?" she asked, a bit abashed.
He remembered his sensations at the end of their last long talk.
"Not really, if I were to answer either of your questions, Miss Granger. But being here means I'm not receiving studies or publications anymore; so, if you should wish to discuss them in the future, I'd be interested to know about some of the latest developments: I'm sure you will keep yourself informed," he answered, unable to conceal his interest completely in spite of his composed expression.
He shouldn't have worried. Her eyes were shining.
"Great! I'll take that as a deal!" she said. Then, blushing again, she added, "Professor, I have other news to tell you!"
She was so eager and joyful that his eyes, unconsciously, glanced at her left hand, searching for a ring while he waited for the probable cheerful announcement.
"I've started University here in Ireland," she instead surprisingly revealed. "If you were serious about new books and studies, being nearer I'll be able to come more often to discuss them with you!"
For a moment, he felt the urge for a pause from all that enthusiasm, and didn't react, visibly at a loss for words.
But then, seeing the light vanishing from her eyes, as if she was beginning to feel ashamed of her boldness, he whispered, "I was… I am serious, that is."
And, though it certainly wasn't the first subject he would have liked to discuss, he listened to her explanation about her decision to study Magic Laws, with the intent to improve them.
"Someone must put a limit on the use of Magic as a way to invade someone else's life or to threaten it! And I'm not just speaking of those horrible tracking spells, like the taboo used by Snatchers… There are so many cases in time of peace too, things that shouldn't happen! It is a huge violation of one's privacy to be always at risk of being spotted through magic, and it doesn't occur to ordinary, honest people to cast Unplottable charms on their houses to defend themselves!"
Though nodding assent, Snape wasn't really listening to her words, sure as he was that he would soon hear that topic again… he was gladly enjoying the absence of silence, and of the overwhelming sound of it.
As time passed, it, became more and more difficult for Hermione to conceal her secret friendship. Especially to her other friends.
Questions like "Hermione, where were you last evening?" or "Why didn't you answer my call?" were beginning to be recurrent ones, while her answers were betraying an increasing sense of guilt, as she felt to be unable to give an honest explanation.
The awareness that she wasn't the only one enjoying the more and more frequent meetings with Snape, made her willing to push her luck, and to make a step further in that strange friendship.
"Where did you find those items?" she asked him in one of their encounters, sure as she was that the devices on the table hadn't been there before.
He raised an eyebrow, as if reproaching her for her indiscretion, but the lack of a direct answer gave her the opportunity to go on.
"I mean: you must have visited some magical shops, some other places, mustn't you? But, if you aren't the recluse you seemed determined to be, why don't you reveal yourself to people other than me?"
She immediately regretted her boldness though, because an unmistakable shadow passed over Snape's face: it was showing pain, more than anything else.
However, he quickly recovered his old imperturbable façade.
"Ready to break your promises, Miss Granger? Anxious to reveal my shelter?" he inquired, sourly.
"Of course not!" she exclaimed, determined to defend her point but, at the same time, trying to avoid an argument. "But I still think your seclusion and your absence from our world is a real waste!"
For some unknown reason he seemed to share her wish to drop the discussion and, though still strict and forbidding in his pose, he didn't retort but went to the cupboard. Then, turning slowly on his heels, he spoke.
"During my… how did you call them… ah yes, during my 'visits' – when, by the way, I could cast a glamour if I needed to do so, - I found this, too. Perhaps it could be of some use to you," and he gruffly handled her a massive tome that seemed very ancient.
Hermione looked at him, trying to read his expression. She had begun to perceive the different moods he displayed with her: relaxation when they talked, interest when she challenged him with questions, and kindness under the formal manners with which he greeted her every time she arrived or left.
She knew that, with her, he no longer sported the unique, obnoxious kind of appearance he had displayed to everyone in the past.
But this was the first time in which she had seen him unguarded, and suddenly he looked so very young. She found it difficult to go on speaking to him with the same distance that had always existed between them, when they were student and teacher.
"Thank you, Professor," she whispered, taking the book.
Before she could open it or have a look, he spoke again.
"You know, you can use my name now… Hermione."
"Thank you… Severus," she answered slowly, too surprised and entranced to say more.
Then the moment passed, and the book exacted their full attention, to their great relief.
She hadn't pushed anymore Severus to change his mind again, after that day, of course, but her troubles with her conscience, with her friends, and above all with Ron, hadn't ceased.
She had been able to conceal her worries for some time, until, one day…
"What have you done? Is there something wrong?" Severus inquired, a few seconds after her arrival.
Damn, he was too good at reading expressions and behaviours! Of course, he was a master at it.
"Nothing," she tried.
"Those shadows under your eyes aren't 'nothing'" he commented. "But I won't interfere if you don't feel like sharing."
She nodded gratefully, and little by little, they had started to talk about their usual subjects. But it didn't take long for him to notice that her heart wasn't really in it.
"Cup of tea?" he asked, stopping their useless debate.
She smiled feebly. And then:
"Could you go on loving someone who doesn't trust you?" she said abruptly. Then, as if realizing where her impulsive question had brought her, she went on.
"Of course you could. You have."
He had never spoken with her of private matters; so, with a sudden feeling of horror, Hermione understood how indelicate she had been with her statement. Yet, even odder, she also understood that it had felt somehow natural to say those words. How could she?
She recalled the differences that existed between them. He was older, and impossibly exasperating in so many ways. His taunts, when he was in the mood for them, still carried something of their old bite. Really, she couldn't fathom the reason for that abrupt moment of confidence. But his face was impenetrable as always.
Recovering her self-control and sighing softly, Hermione stretched a hand to touch his arm.
"I'm sorry," she murmured, lowering her head. "Please forgive my distracted manner, if you can… and yes, please, I'd like a cup of tea."
He stiffened at her touch.
"I'll prepare it," he said then, heading for the small kitchen. "Stay".
Later, standing in front of each other right before she left, he spoke again.
"There are many kind of promises and obligations, Hermione… and a few of them are worth the suffering."
Hermione looked at him, her eyes widened, then she dared to question him again. "What do you mean?"
"It wasn't difficult for me to be faithful to someone who lived just in my memory. But perhaps it wouldn't have been so easy with somebody living, you know, had we confronted each other while different choices and options were presenting themselves to us. Every day we are… choosing," he answered, looking at her with fascinating intensity.
When it became impossible to hold his gaze, the young witch opened the door and Disapparated to her flat, her feelings even more confused and upset than earlier.
Hermione closed the book and abandoned it on the couch on which she had spent the last hour. In spite of her grudges against the reporter, she had to admit that a few things, pruned of their dramatic or over-sentimental embellishments, were shining for their undeniable truth
But, ignoring that truth, a flood of memories was invading her mind nonetheless…
For some time now, her friendship with Severus had no longer been based just on her kind disposition and on his renewed wish to feel alive; Hermione's will to comfort him, offering him the care he had never received, lately had changed into a different, deeper feeling, and the witch had discovered that desire for his company had become the main reason for her visits.
She remembered their first walk together through the fields, collecting herbs for his potions; her sudden understanding of his newly found happiness in that much simpler life… her concern, when news was spread around about possible Death Eaters at large and still in search of vengeance; and her fear that they, too, could discover his shelter… concern matched and surpassed by his worries, forcefully voiced the evening that she had arrived later than usual, and he had harshly reminded her that she could be one of the main targets, much more than the traitor's unknown existence…
But, above all, Hermione relived the unforgettable moment when, during a trip through the woods, a branch had cut his neck. She hadn't been able to conceal the tears at the sight of his blood, still less so at the memories that his wound had recalled… until his awkward attempt to cheer her up, a confused smile on his lips and eyes after having healed himself with a charm, had made her aware of her foolishness…
Hermione stood up, and opened her eyes to the present moment, its challenges seeming, after all, no longer so impossible to confront.
In all its morbid investigations through interviews and gossip, the book had told her the story of someone who had been impossibly devoted to just one love in his life, and always loyal to his promises.
Yet, in spite of what she had read, she was more and more uncertain about Severus' present feelings.
She wanted answers to her doubts and she realized that there was no more time to wonder, keeping her eyes closed: she decided that it was time for a new encounter.
The second and final part of this story is already written, and will be posted once it has been beta'ed.
According to Lexicon: "Why I Didn't Die When the Augurey Cried by Gulliver Pokeby was published in 1824 by Little Red Books: this book contains the results of a patient research revealing that, far from being a death omen, the cry of the Augurey merely indicates the approach of rain" (FB). Believe it or not, I discovered the existence of this title after having written and published "Just one more time" on this site, and what a nice surprise it was…
The section breaks are borrowed, as in my previous stories, from: www. whitehound. co. uk/Fanfic/ffn_how-to. htm (remember to remove the spaces after the dots).