Chapter 20
March, 1977


I meant what I said about us being mates, so I hope you'll take this in the spirit it's meant—

If you hurt Lily, I will hex your bollocks off.


Dear Miss McKinnon,

I assure you that I have no intention whatsoever of presenting you with such an opportunity.


S. Snape

Lily…Must you tell your friend Miss McKinnon every detail of our personal lives?

Oh, Sev, it came up! I'm sorry!

If it makes you feel any better, I was very complimentary.

Potions Quarterly, English Edition, March 1977
Page 5

Arsenius Jigger, M.P., M.D.M., and Severus Snape, Apprentice to A. Jigger, M.P., M.D.M.

The authors present arithmantic and experimental results of a lovage-based variation of a standard Wit-Sharpening Potion ('Mind-Opening Potion') as combined with the use of standard Veritaserum. Clinical trials as described herein documented an increased efficacy of Veritaserum on subjects with and without resistance to standard Veritaserum through natural resistance or tolerance induced by repeated use. Authors extrapolate arithmantically that effect could apply also to Legilimency. 'Mind-Opening Potion' is subject to Alchemical Patent (AP) 3505.0873.α.2.

Dear Severus,

Arsenius told me the good news some weeks past, of course, but I simply had to wait until the journal itself arrived, and look what flew in the window today! Page five is very respectable—my Master's Project, you should know, barely made page three! I've taken the liberty of enclosing my copy of your article; I flatter myself by imagining that one of my most prized students might be willing to indulge his old teacher by signing a copy of his first published article. You know how I like to keep the odd private memento—an old man's folly, but an incurable one, I'm afraid!

You should know, my boy, that however unusual the circumstances of your departure from Hogwarts, you have made Slytherin House proud.


Professor Horace Slughorn

P.S. If you have not yet sent Miss Evans a copy of your article, may I be so forward as to suggest that you do so? I am given to understand that she has been looking forward to it!

Sev! Well? Did it come today?

Yes, as I'd said it would. Would you like a copy?

Of course! I really should get a subscription, so that I can keep up with all of your articles.

How optimistic.

Dear Professor Slughorn,

I am naturally pleased to return the enclosed copy of Potions Quarterly with my signature and my thanks for your compliments, which, though pleasant to hear, are unnecessary, as I owe my current position entirely to your generous assistance.

Best regards,

Severus Snape

P.S. Miss Evans has been sent a copy. Thank you.

Severus' large knife slid smoothly into the large, pale root as, with repeated, easy motions, he sliced the tuber into precisely even segments of one-sixteenth of an inch and tried not to dwell too long on the open, blissful expression that appeared on Lily's face as he—

He flipped the even slices onto their flat sides and proceeded to slice them crosswise. Perfectly ordered, equal strips became perfectly ordered, equal cubes—

—Lily wore perfume behind her ears, in the crook of her elbows, and on her inner—

The equal cubes were funnelled neatly into a waiting jar, from which they would be added to the batch of Flesh-Eating Slug Repellent he would begin after lunch (he would, of course, be sure to wash his hands). Severus reached for the next tuber—

—Lily's smooth, creamy skin was dotted with freckles everywhere, with the exception of—

"Mr Snape," Jigger's low, gravelly voice cut in, "please do try to notice when your shop girl summons you."

Severus glanced up; the alert that flashed when Cadogan needed assistance was blinking, and, based on Jigger's annoyance, most likely had been for some time. "My apologies," Severus said, and, pleased that he had merely been in the preparatory stages of the next stock potion, covered his chopped, diced, and shredded leaves, roots, and entrails. After washing his hands in the back sink, he briskly climbed the stairs to the shop.

He pushed the door open a crack and, seeing Cadogan, said, "Yes?"

She yanked the door open; Severus stayed upright and did not stumble in the slightest. "There's someone here for you," Cadogan said, obviously annoyed.

Severus frowned. "For me?"

"Yes," Cadogan practically spat.

"Who?" Severus pressed.

Cadogan, chewing on the inside of her cheek, merely gestured to her left with a jerk of her head. Exasperated, Severus wrapped his fingers around his wand and glanced into her mind—

And, firmly Occluding once more, settled his expression into a flawlessly neutral one as he stepped around the corner. "Mr Malfoy," he said. "How may I be of assistance?"

Lucius Malfoy, who had been in the midst of oh-so-casually strolling about the shop, turned with a flourish of posh robes. "Severus," he said. "I do hope I've not called you away from anything important."

"Nothing that can't wait," Severus replied evenly.

"Lovely," Malfoy said. Glancing at Cadogan, who still stood nearby, he said, "Yes, thank you for your assistance, Miss…"

"Cadogan," she said flatly. "We were prefects together? I was a year ahead of you? Ravenclaw?"

Malfoy cocked his head to the side. "No," he said, "doesn't ring a bell, I'm afraid."

"No," Cadogan said, her jaw tight, "I don't suppose it would." She turned to Severus and said, "I'll be in back if you need anything." She glanced one more time at Malfoy—who thoroughly ignored her—and then stalked off towards the rear of the shop, straightening bottles as she went.

Malfoy rolled his eyes conspiratorially; Severus merely regarded him coolly. When Severus didn't speak, Malfoy smiled, and, hissing like the snake he was, said, "Severus Snape. My, my, my. You have been keeping something from me, haven't you?"

"I beg your pardon?" Severus said politely.

Malfoy smirked. "All those times I came into the shop—not to mention the times I ran into you at the Ministry. And during school term, no less—I really should have realised, shouldn't I? But why would I have suspected that poor little Severus Snape"—he placed just the slightest accent on the 'poor'—"was making such a name for himself?"

"I'm sure," Severus said, "that I don't know what—"

"No?" Malfoy said. He reached up and tapped the glass of the frame on the wall and read, "'By S. Snape, Apprentice to A. Jigger, M.P.' And here I had been under the impression that S. Snape was a sixth-year Slytherin shopboy."

Damn Cadogan for hanging the blasted thing on the wall. "Yes, well," he said. "I've never been one to boast."

At that, Lucius threw back his head and laughed. "No, I suppose you haven't," he said, once his fit of mirth had passed. "But honestly, Severus, did you never think it appropriate to tell me that you'd left Hogwarts early? I had to hear the news from Horace Slughorn, of all people."

And damn Slughorn as well. "Oh?" Severus said.

"Imagine my surprise to see an article—why, this article—left ever so prominently on Horace's desk when I joined him in his office for tea after the governors' meeting," Malfoy mused. "'To Professor Slughorn,' it read, 'who taught me so much.' 'What's this?' I asked Horace. 'Oh, that's young Snape's first published potion,' he said. 'Sat his NEWTs two years early, you know, and now he's apprenticing under my business partner.' Apprenticing." Malfoy rolled his eyes and said, "Severus. Any personal offense I might have felt when I realised that you had deliberately concealed such an important, life-changing development from me was simply blown away by the fact that you would allow old Sluggy to set you up with his business partner in academic servitude." Malfoy scoffed. "Really, now. Slytherin to Slytherin, why would you allow yourself to enter into a position with no social standing to speak of and with no…financial gain whatsoever?"

"The only way to a Potions Mastery is through an apprenticeship," Severus said smoothly. "I'm fortunate that Professor Slughorn took enough of an interest in my abilities to arrange a position for me. His sponsorship has been vital."

"But such a talented young man as you," Malfoy said, "surely could—and should—have had other options. Truly, I'm a little hurt that you never considered…me as a sponsor."

"You?" Severus repeated.

"But of course," Malfoy said. "As you know, the Malfoy name is not without influence. I could have arranged any number of positions for you, whether of the academic bent or to more…lucrative ends."

Lucius Malfoy was a pompous git. "I appreciate your kindness in thinking of me," Severus told him. "And I do apologise if my taciturnity has caused offense. I must confess that the opportunity to work with Master Jigger is so extraordinary that it still doesn't feel quite real."

Lucius smiled indulgently. "I'm sure it's not something a wizard of your…background could have anticipated," he said, and Severus suppressed the urge to hex the smirk off of his face. "But I do hope if this apprenticeship with Master…"

"Jigger," Severus supplied.

"Yes, Master Jigger. If this apprenticeship doesn't work out, well." Malfoy smiled. "I hope you'll remember my offer. You have other options, Severus."

"Thank you," Severus said. "I will certainly keep that in mind."

"Lovely," Malfoy said. "Have a lovely afternoon. Good day, Severus. Miss Cardigan."

Malfoy left the shop. Cadogan, who had made her way back towards the counter, groaned. "God I hate that man," she said.

Severus glanced at her. "For any reason other than the obvious?"

She rolled her eyes. "He's just possibly the rudest son of a—ugh." She took a deep breath in and let it out, slowly. "It doesn't matter."

Newly suspicious, Severus peered at his Muggleborn employee. "Did he say anything inappropriate to you?" he demanded.

"No," Cadogan said bitterly. "Not hardly."

"You knew him at Hogwarts?" Severus prodded.

"Yes," Cadogan snapped. "Though you wouldn't know it from the way he talks to me now."

Severus raised an eyebrow. "And you're certain nothing untoward occurred?"

"What? No," Cadogan insisted. "Can we just drop it, please?"

And then Severus, unpleasantly reminded of the day that Cadogan had been attacked by blood purist hoodlums and had attempted to conceal the occurrence from him, found himself, for the second time that morning, using legilimency against his employee. He looked into her eyes, brushed into the uppermost contents of her mind, and saw a young Lucius Malfoy—

"You snogged him," Severus said in shock.

Cadogan's eyes flew open and she took a step back. "What—I did not!" she exclaimed.

"You…snogged Lucius Malfoy," Severus repeated. He was going to be ill.

"Keep your voice down," Cadogan hissed.

"Why?" Severus said. "Of all the oily, priggish, elitist—"

"It was at a prefects' party," Cadogan spat, and Severus had to tear his eyes away from hers before he saw the whole sordid affair for himself. "We played Spin the Bottle. He was clearly disgusted by the very idea of even touching a—someone like me, but when bloody Lestrange said, 'Oh, go on Luce, nothing wrong with a bit of sport'—and I didn't want to be the Mu—the Muggleborn who couldn't take a joke, so—" She stopped, closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. More calmly, she continued, "He's not my favourite person, but I certainly would still have expected him to remember my name."

Severus, for lack of an appropriate response, said, "I apologise for intruding."

"How," Cadogan said, "did you know?"

Severus grimaced but, smoothly, said, "You clearly had some history with the man. His…politics…wouldn't lend to his entertaining a dalliance of any…length with someone of a background dissimilar to his own, but—"

"Please stop," Cadogan said, looking disgusted.

"Gladly," Severus replied.

"I'm taking my lunch break now," Cadogan informed him. "And when I come back, we're pretending this never happened."

"Acceptable," Severus said, wanting only to rid his mouth of the taste of bile.

Cadogan, glaring, stalked off towards the back of the shop.

Severus took five Sickles out of his pocket, popped them into the register, and then helped himself to a bottle of mouth-cleaning solution.

Good evening, Lily. A recent conversation with my employee has led me to wonder: Do you attend Prefect-only parties with any regularity?

Well, sure. It's traditional—and it's nice, sometimes, to socialise with non-Gryffindors. (You know how much I enjoy socialising with non-Gryffindors!)

Please tell me you don't


My apologies; I wrote into the wrong notebook. What occurs during these parties? Ms Cadogan is curious if they are the same as during her time at Hogwarts.

Oh, we gossip about classes and professors, mostly. It's really not exciting—given that we're all Prefects, there's no one there of ill repute to spike the punch.

That's rather as I expected. Thank you; I'm sure Ms Cadogan will find this interesting.

Dear Snape,

You may recall my mentioning at Professor Slughorn's Christmas party that I had recently been inducted into the "Slug Club." So it will most likely not come as a surprise to you that I heard about your published article in Potions Quarterly from Sluggy at the most recent Slug Club dinner. I looked at the summary, but as you may recall I am only a fourth-year student and not a particularly skilled Potioneer, the concepts were rather above me, but it seemed very impressive, and given how Sluggy was strutting around I'd say you've done quite well. So you have my congratulations, and I hope you are doing as well as your success in Potions indicates.

Best regards,

Regulus Black

His hair damp from his shower but, still, roughly pulled back from his face in obeisance of Jigger's directives, Severus skittered down the stairs in the loose-limbed manner to which his seventeen-year-old body seemed so oddly suited. He headed for the laboratory door, said, "Hello, Ms Cadogan" to the woman behind the counter, and—

And realised that she was not, in fact, standing behind the counter, but rather standing in the open front doorway of the shop, apparently looking at something down the Alley.

"Ms Cadogan," Severus said again, walking over to stand behind his employee, "Warming Charms can only hold off the elements for so long. Why in Merlin's name are you—"

He fell silent when he finally noticed the acrid scent in the air and put together that what Ms Cadogan was looking at—what he was now looking at—was a storefront, several shops down, that was blackened and smouldering, as a small handful of Ministry wizards directed streams of water onto the few flickers of flames still lingering inside. A few more wizards lingered in the vicinity of the burning shop, but not nearly as many as Severus might have expected, given the high-traffic time of day and the rarity of a fire on Diagon Alley.

"I didn't hear anything," he said.

Cadogan glanced back over her shoulder at him. "What, are you on the volunteer fire brigade?"

Severus snorted. "I was referring to the fire-sensing charms. All the shops have them, and they're rather loud enough to alert someone not halfway down the Alley."

"Either it didn't have them," Cadogan said, "or whoever set the damn thing on fire removed them first."

"What makes you so certain it was arson?" Severus asked, curious.

Cadogan turned around to face him; Severus took a step backwards. "You don't know?" she said. "Wait—of course you don't." She rolled her eyes. "It's—well, it was—the Books & Bits & Bobs." When Severus still didn't respond, Cadogan clarified, "The Muggle bookshop and knick-knack shop."

"Such a place exists?" Severus asked.

"Well, it did, until someone set it on fire," Cadogan retorted, and then she turned again to look out the door. "If I had to guess, I'd say someone thought it was dirtying up the purity of Diagon Alley." She wrapped her arms around herself—Severus belatedly realised that she was wearing only her uniform shop robes against the cold—and continued, "It's a funny sort of place. I only went inside once—I was the only Muggle-born Ravenclaw girl in my year, and my best friend, the summer before second year, dragged me in to Bits—that's what they called it, just "Bits"—and was so excited to have me explain what everything was, though of course everything was simply years out of date—and when I suggested that we could, y'know, go out to Muggle London proper, she just boggled."

Severus, unsure how else to respond to Cadogan's ramblings, said honestly, "I never noticed it."

"I did," Cadogan replied. "When everything magical is completely new to you, a storefront displaying Shakespeare, Yeats, and screwdrivers is a comfort."

Severus registered the sound of the shop's rear door opening and closing and quickly pulled Cadogan by the elbow backwards into the shop, closing the front door firmly. He turned around just as Jigger strode into the front of the shop and, without preamble, demanded, "What did you do?"

"I beg your pardon?" Severus replied.

"Explain," Jigger said, "why I smell smoke, why this room is much cooler than it ought to be, and why you are up here, rather than downstairs preparing your station."

Before Severus could reply, Cadogan interjected, "I'm sorry, Mister Jigger, but I kept the front door open too long. I was distracted by watching the fire."

"The fire?" Jigger repeated, and it occurred to Severus that the man most likely Apparated directly behind the shop every morning and hadn't noticed anything amiss in the Alley.

"The Muggle odds-and-ends shop," Cadogan clarified. "It's practically burned down. The Ministry's put out the last of it, but it doesn't look good."

Jigger pushed past them and opened the door, leaning out to watch for himself for just a moment before he restored the door to its closed position. "That is unfortunate," he said. "The fire-sensing charms were inadequate?"

"Apparently," Severus replied. "I didn't hear anything, and I certainly would have at this range."

Jigger scowled. "It demonstrates extreme carelessness to allow such a charm to lapse."

"Unless it was purposefully removed," Cadogan pointed out.

"You suspect arson, Ms Cadogan?" Jigger asked, the slightest hint of surprise showing on his usually stoic face.

"A Muggle shop burns down just when this 'blood purity' movement is building up steam?" Cadogan said. "Yes, I do."

Jigger frowned. "I do not follow politics," he said, "But I would prefer not to think that any British wizard would purposefully cause the destruction of his own city's streets."

"British wizards," Cadogan said drily, "are more than capable of violence."

"You are certainly correct," Jigger acceded. "But unless you intend to run outside and aid in extinguishing the remaining flames, we should all return to our posts. We do that shop's proprietors no good by gawking at it." He gestured sharply for Cadogan to return to the counter and, with a second jerk of his head, preceded Severus down the stairs to the laboratory, where Severus was instructed to brew a large batch of an effective fire-repellent solution.

It sold for three times the usual asking price.





Where were you? Are you okay?

I have been in the laboratory all day, as is usual. Why do

Oh thank God. I read about the fire. So you're okay?

Yes, certainly. The fire occurred several shops down from Slug & Jigger's. We were not affected in the slightest.

Oh. Okay. I'm glad.

There is no cause for alarm.



London – The proprietors of "Books & Bits & Bobs," the shop selling non-enchanted items of Muggle origin at 22 Diagon Alley, have announced that they will not attempt to repair and re-open the storefront after last week's fire. "I might not be the smartest man in the world, but I know a bad business decision when I see it," explains store owner Robert Gillicuddy. "We're cutting our losses and moving out near my mum's. She'll like having the grandkids around, anyway, before they're off to Hogwarts." Mr Gillicudy's mother, a Muggle woman, has reportedly retired to the Côte d'Azur, leading some to speculate if Mr Gillicuddy's mixed-heritage children might not be bound for Beauxbatons.

A few wizards with niche interests have reacted to the news of the shop's closure with disappointment. "It's a real shame," says Arthur Weasley, 27, a minor staff person in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. "So many wizards never even see so much as a Muggle teacup unless it's been enchanted to bite off noses. How are we supposed to build an appreciation for true Muggle artefacts if we never see so much as a ploog?"

The shop's alleged educational value, however, is not recognised by the Hogwarts Board of Governors. "Though I am truly saddened for the Gillicuddy family's loss, I do not believe the magical community as a whole will suffer for a lack of Muggle miscellany," says Lucius Malfoy, 23, Hogwarts Governor and son of Abraxas Malfoy, philanthropist. "After all, we are most concerned with instilling an appreciation for Magical culture in our children. Those who would seek out information on Muggles have every opportunity to do so outside of the magical community."

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement has ruled that, despite unfounded rumours, the fire was not the result of arson. In an official statement released today to members of the press, the Ministry states that the fire was "most likely caused by the shop's stock of items, as Muggle objects, as we know, are likely to produce spark and flame at the least provocation." The Ministry reminds all homeowners and shop keepers to renew their fire-sensing charms at least every six months to prevent this type of accident.

Mr Gillicuddy asks that anyone with an interest in purchasing the retail space available at 22 Diagon Alley contact Jessamine Tate of Tate & Spector Magical Property Management, 49 Diagon Alley.

A/N: Thank you so much for all of your reviews! As of this chapter, I've now been posting material for over a year, and I never would have stuck with it without all of your support. Thank you, thank you!

And the good news is that, with summer over, updates should be more frequent—look for the next chapter, which will finish up the Spring of '77 (and Lily's sixth year), sometime next weekend.