13

Wednesday, January 27, 1999 and Beyond

Harry, an auror-in-training, was allowed to join the stakeout, as was the teenage Snape in the capacity of a consultant, he being the one most intimately knowledgeable about Voldemort's thinking. The rest of the aurors were not told his identity, though several of them whispered about his uncanny resemblance to the late Potions instructor and speculated as to the possibility of their dead teacher's having had a son. He was treated with courtesy and some respect.

Around ten o'clock that morning, Quintus Flint entered Gringotts bank. Aurors inside reported that he produced the key to a vault and asked to make a withdrawal. He was taken down into the bowels of Gringotts and emerged later with a heavy bag. No one made any move to hinder him, and he left the bank unsuspecting.

Different aurors picked up the trail, and Quintus was followed to a spot where he disapparated. They waited, then followed the apparation signature. It led to open moors. From there the group of aurors began a search pattern that gradually increased its circumference until they found the next apparation trail, which they also followed. Flint, in fact, made three decoy jumps before he finally went to where Voldemort was waiting.

Flint's last apparation was to Ullswater in the Lake District, where the outflow from the lake formed the river Eamont. It being January, the area was relatively deserted. The little group soon located a small lodge that seemed to be occupied. Snape joined the aurors in scanning the area for alarms and traps, then they moved in. Flint and Voldemort were indeed inside. Four aurors positioned themselves at compass points, with the others inside the circle and, at a command from Robards, set up a disapparation shield that covered the lodge and the area around it.

The response from the lodge was a fierce howl of rage. "Fools!" shrieked Voldemort. "You have no idea with whom you deal! I shall crush you all!" At that word, the lodge exploded, sending debris in all directions. Harry, Snape, and the aurors dived for the ground, shooting up shielding spells to protect them from the flying wood and glass. Some of the wreckage tore through the disapparation shields, and the aurors maintaining the spells struggled to keep them up.

Voldemort wheeled and sent a blasting spell hurtling in Robards's direction. Robards's own shield held, but the impact of the blast lifted him clear of the earth and flung him against the larger shield. Dropping to the ground, he lay motionless.

Ignoring Robards, who was now no threat, Voldemort attacked two other aurors, throwing them against the shield as well. His wand then swung to point at one of the aurors supporting the outer shield. A wall of fire shot towards the man, forcing his comrades to defend him to keep the outer shield intact. Voldemort spun to pick off the defenders with knife spells, and though Harry attacked him from behind with a Stupefy, Voldemort's own shields caused the spell to bounce off harmlessly. Snape, meanwhile, rushed to heal the cut aurors. With a sweep of his arm, Voldemort immobilized three others.

It was then Harry remembered they were dealing with a Voldemort whose essence had been fortified by soulstone for nearly ten months. The power that raged before them was multiplied by the influence of the flask, and it increased by several times the force he was able to pit against them. Harry thought of the Half-Blood Prince, and hit Voldemort with a Sectumsempra. All it managed to do was nick Voldemort's hand, but it caused Voldemort to turn and focus on the presence of Harry.

"Sooo…" he hissed. "The Chosen One presumes to challenge me. I see you carry the phoenix wand, but that was broken, they told me. Do you not know that such a wand, even when repaired, is never the same again?" He raised his own wand and aimed it. "Avada Kedavra!" he screamed, swinging the wand to cast the spell at one of the shield-bearing aurors.

Harry, reading the move in Voldemort's eyes, reacted in the same instant. Stretching to one side, he cast a simultaneous spell to push the auror out of the way. The killing curse hit the shield, which collapsed in a shower of sparks. Voldemort paid it no attention. Instead he whirled toward the unprotected Harry. "Avada Kedavra!" he cried again.

From the side, where he had been edging closer, Snape leapt forward. His momentum knocked into Harry and carried both of them to the ground, but not before the green bolt of Voldemort's spell hit Snape squarely in the back. As Snape's body struck the dirt, he rolled sideways, leaving Harry free to move.

"No!" Harry screamed, on his feet at once, shooting another Sectumsempra at Voldemort, who tossed it aside with distain and advanced on Harry.

Snape was faster, though. Rolling to a sitting position, he fired his own spell at Voldemort with a cry of "Holocaustum!" The Fiendfyre engulfed Voldemort in an inferno. Around them the aurors dropped what was left of the shielding and darted in to drag their comrades away from the raging flames of the blazing Voldemort. Harry pulled Snape to his feet, and together they fled the circle of destruction. A safe distance away, they turned. Voldemort was a screaming torch, flailing around in the ruins of the destroyed lodge, a pillar of fire that finally collapsed into a smoldering heap and burned itself into a pile of ashes.

Harry turned to Snape. "What?" he gasped. "How?" He had to touch Snape – touch his clothes, touch his hair – to assure himself that Snape was alive. "Why aren't you dead?"

"I am dead," Snape said slapping at Harry's hands. "I died last May. Didn't you ever wonder how the killing curse works? It doesn't injure the body. It separates the spirit from the body, and the body dies. My spirit's already separated from my body. There's nothing a killing curse can do to me."

By the end of the day, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had to issue injunctions to its entire staff in the Auror Agency forbidding them from mentioning the fact that an outside operative attached temporarily to a squad had survived a killing curse. Shacklebolt was personally debriefing everyone who had been present, starting with Harry, and Snape was in protective custody. Robards was at a disadvantage because he'd been unconscious at the time and had to rely on Harry's pensieve memory of the event for details.

Thursday, January 28, 1999

"Now," said Shacklebolt gently as Harry, seething inwardly, sat on a sofa in the Minister's office, "I understand you are upset, but this in an unprecedented occurrence, and we need to handle it properly. We have here an entity…"

"He's not an entity. He's a person!"

"That has not been determined yet. He is an entity with self-awareness and self-motivation…"

"Not to mention highly opinionated," added Robards.

"And highly opinionated. His existence is independent of any body. He has a body, but he travels around in it the way other people ride broomsticks. He can inhabit thoughts and can insinuate himself undetected into another person's mind. If he wishes, he can even control the speech and actions of the other. Effectively he could turn another person into a kind of robot. He cannot be killed by a killing curse… And you are trying to tell me he is not dangerous?"

"He would never do that," Harry insisted. "He's not that kind of a person."

"He was a Death Eater. He was amenable to the idea of killing Dumbledore. His sense of morality is highly subjective. Who knows what he might decide to do." Shacklebolt turned to Robards. "What is the current situation?"

"Right now he's in custody in a holding room in the Auror Agency. He's been there since shortly after noon yesterday. He's inhabiting a cloned body that's approximately two days old, so we don't know how stable it is. The fact that a killing curse doesn't affect him is legal evidence that the body isn't rightfully his. Legally he's dead. His original body was buried ten months ago, and though it hasn't been disinterred, it can be presumed it isn't fit to be used any longer. I have a legal team investigating how many laws Mr. Potter here broke in accepting another person's dying personality, retaining it without informing authorities, working magic to sustain and enhance it without first obtaining proper licenses, using it to invade another person's privacy, and creating an unauthorized clone. We're processing the papers for a hearing by the Wizengamot, but that will take time."

Harry jumped to his feet. "This is ridiculous!" he yelled at the two of them. "Of course the body's his! It was made from a lock of his own hair. All you have to do is look at it to tell it's him! Besides, you owe him a debt. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have been able to destroy the last vestige of Voldemort."

"On the other hand," Shacklebolt pointed out, "if it were not for you and him, that last vestige of Voldemort would never have been released. You are asking us to reward you for defeating a danger that you deliberately caused."

"Speaking of a reward," Robards said with an apologetic cough, "there is one. I also need to know who to give it to."

"What are you talking about?"

"Quintus Flint wasn't obliviated by Voldemort. He remembers what happened. He says the contents of the Gringotts vault weren't his and he doesn't want any legal action. He's turned everything over to the Ministry. There are things there that can be proven to have been stolen and will be returned to their rightful owners. As for the rest, there are no legal heirs, so it devolves on the Ministry. There's a standard reward of ten percent to the person who exposes such a situation and…"

"That would be Harry, would it not?" said Shacklebolt.

"No," Harry rejoined. "It wouldn't be me at all. It'd be Snape."

"Who has not yet been determined to be a legal person."

"But who was a legal person," continued Robards, "and who may have legal heirs."

Shacklebolt drew back a little, peering at Robards shrewdly. "Do you know of any?"

"Perhaps," Robards answered with a perfectly straight face. "I have heard mention of a nephew – a muggle – named Richard. I can have my people check it out."

"Do it," Shacklebolt ordered. "I think we have gone as far as we can for the moment. Keep me informed."

"Yes, sir," said Robards, and he and Harry left the office.

Once away from Shacklebolt, Harry turned to Robards. "Nephew? What are you doing?"

"Trying to help," said Robards with a sigh. "Come with me. We need to talk to Severus."

Arriving at Snape's holding room, Robards told the guards they could take a break, which they did thankfully. Harry and Robards then entered the room. Snape was lying on a cot staring at the ceiling. "Am I free to go?" he asked.

"No such luck," replied Harry.

"Then why are you here?"

Robards sat in the only chair, leaning back and propping his right leg on his left knee. "The Ministry's recovered some stolen property," he said. "There's a reward. Your name came up, but it was pointed out that you're legally dead."

"I would have guessed there was a technicality," said Snape. He didn't look at them.

"Yes," said Robards, "but it only applies to you. Not to your heirs."

"I don't have any heirs."

"No? I was sure I'd heard you mention a nephew. Or maybe it was a cousin. Somebody named Richard."

There was a pause, and then Snape swung his legs off the cot and sat up. "Richard's a common name," he said.

"Among muggles, maybe," said Robards. "Wizards tend to use more eccentric names like Severus."

"Why would you help me?"

Robards leaned forward. "I met you during a bad point in my life. Around me there was nothing but evil and cynicism. It was depressing and demoralizing. Then I met someone who really was naive, really was appalled at what he'd helped do, and I started to think that maybe some of the other clerks and healers really were just clerks and healers. It gave me a whole new outlook on life."

"Did you know I killed Moody?"

Robards stopped and drew back. "No," he said. "Why would you tell me that?"

"I thought, if you were going to get all sentimental, that you should know."

"Is it something you want to show me?" When Snape nodded, Robards rose, went to the door, and asked an aide to bring him a pensieve. That accomplished, he, Snape, and Harry watched the memory of Alastor Moody's death. When it was finished, Robards leaned back in the chair.

"It was good of you to let me see that. It actually makes me feel better."

"I didn't want you to think I was keeping anything from you."

"So, can you give us the information to start processing the reward in favor of your heir?"

"I don't see why not."

Robards then left Harry and Snape alone for a while. "What was all that about?" Harry asked. "Everything I've seen says you don't have any heirs. No relatives at all, in fact."

"No? Maybe I'm my own heir." Snape folded his arms across his chest and gazed at Harry. "Did you know I have a muggle birth certificate? My dad's family registered my birth right after I was born. It never occurred to them that wizards might be different from muggles. So within the muggle world, I am a legal person, one Richard Severus Snape. Or, as it will probably appear on the bank account, Richard S. Snape. I can't help but wonder, though, what Robards wants in return."

"Did it ever enter your mind that he might not want anything?" Harry asked.

"He's not only a wizard," said Snape, "but an auror. He must want something."

February 1999

More than a week passed as the Ministry debated Snape's legal status and at the same time processed the papers in favor of his 'cousin's' inheriting his reward. On Monday, February 8, Robards again asked Harry to accompany him to a meeting with Snape in his prison.

"They've decided you're too useful to let go," Robards told them in the privacy of the cell.

"What does that mean?" Snape asked.

"It means you're an operative who can't be destroyed by a killing curse. It means that even if some other curse kills your body, they'll still be able to recover your mind, put it in a new body, and use it. Think of the under cover work you could do – in the mind of one of the suspects."

"I don't want to work for the Ministry," said Snape.

"I hear you. Meanwhile, I've arranged for you to go out in the custody of Potter to arrange the transfer of funds to your 'cousin.' I count on you to come back, though."

"Agreed," said Snape.

Snape made several trips away from the Ministry in the custody of Harry. The first was to Barclay's Bank in London, where Harry discovered that Snape already had a muggle bank account in the name of Richard S. Snape. The only magic he had to perform was a temporary aging spell to make himself appear closer to the thirty-nine years old he was supposed to be. One of the bank clerks even recognized him, and they had a short, friendly conversation. Snape mentioned that he had a young relative who would be inheriting a rather large sum of money, and who might be coming in soon to open an account. He was certain the bank clerk would see immediately that they were related.

"Why didn't I ever know about this side of your life before?" Harry demanded once they were again outside.

"It was none of your business," said Snape. He'd dodged into a side street to remove the aging spell, and they now looked like a couple of teenagers.

"Did Dumbledore know?"

"Yes, and I had to bring him with me once. Everyone at the bank thought I was wonderful for taking such good care of my senile old grandfather."

On another trip, the two went to Lancashire, to a little village about five miles from the town where Snape and Harry's mother had grown up. A half mile's walk north of the village brought them to the ruins of a long-ago burnt-out cottage surrounded by untended growth that had once probably been a large garden. Snape stopped to lean on the rickety fence, his breath a small fog in the cold air.

"Did you know this place?" Harry asked.

"It was my grandmother's. I learned my first potions and charms here."

A car drove by on the lonely country road, slowed at the sight of the strangers, then accelerated past them. Snape watched it drive away. "We'll be having company soon," he said. Neither moved for a while, Harry allowing Snape his memories.

Then, carefully opening the dilapidated gate, Snape entered the garden, wading through the tall dead grass of the previous year and pushing the brush aside. Next to the cottage was what must have been a culinary herb garden, for prominent in it was a large, gnarled rosemary bush nearly as tall as Snape was. He bent down, gathered a few dry leaves from a smaller plant, crushed them in his fingers and let Harry sniff.

"Oregano," Harry said. "What happened here?"

"It's a long story," said Snape, gazing around. "Maybe I'll tell it to you some day."

Out on the road, two cars stopped, one of them a police car from which stepped a young local constable. "Good afternoon, gentlemen," he called to them, "may I ask…" He stopped, staring at Snape. "Here, are you a member of the family?"

"It'd be foolish of me to deny it, wouldn't it?" replied Snape.

"Did you know her?" the policeman asked, entering the garden and approaching the two young men.

"Nah. She died before I was born." Snape looked around. "No one's bought it?"

"Some have tried. They say it's haunted."

"Maybe it is."

There was a long pause, which was somehow relaxed and comfortable rather than awkward. The constable gazed around the ancient, overgrown garden, and Harry did likewise, noting that there were still trellises and ornamental features under the mask of weeds and wild intrusive shrubs. He also noticed that the budding of new growth was already shading the garden with a fresh patina of pale green, and that bees buzzed around the flowers of early bulb plants – crocuses and snowdrops. The garden, abandoned though it was, seemed more alive, more vibrant than the surrounding countryside.

The constable cleared his throat. "You wouldn't have come by any of the family talent, by chance?" he asked.

"Maybe."

"There's many remember Mrs. Prince. She was a fine lady. We'd not complain to see the family back."

"It's something to consider. There'd be work to do though."

"Well, the house agent's in Colne." The constable returned to his car, and both vehicles drove away.

Harry studied Snape's profile for a while. "Are you thinking of buying it?" he asked.

Snape didn't answer the question. "Let's get back to London," he said.

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One good thing about working in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was that Harry was able to visit Snape almost every day for the next several weeks. He was there at the beginning of April when Snape was informed that the Wizengamot would review his case. The hearing was set for the next day.

"Don't I get a lawyer?" Snape asked.

"You don't need a lawyer," he was told. "You haven't been charged with a crime."

Harry begged for and got permission to sit in the gallery during the hearing. It was granted on the condition that he remain silent. He'd just settled into his seat in the great council chamber when Snape was led in and ushered toward the seat in the center, the one with the serpentine restraints.

"No," Snape said firmly, stopping and turning to face the empty box where the president of the council usually sat. "That chair is for the accused. I haven't been accused of anything."

"We really would like you to sit," said Kingsley Shacklebolt, who himself sat to one side. "We'd like you to be comfortable."

"I would not be comfortable there. Unless you intend to accuse me of something, I'd prefer to stand."

Tiberius Maddox rose from his place at Shacklebolt's elbow. "If you would prefer, there is the matter of illegally producing the clone of a human being from unauthorized genetic tissue…"

"I didn't do that. It was done without my knowledge or consent."

"You're benefitting from it. It's a bit like receiving stolen goods."

"Easy, Tiberius," said Shacklebolt. "I think we can resolve this by merely bringing in another chair. You would be willing to sit in a different chair, I take it?"

Snape consented, there being no good reason to refuse, and the proceedings started, Maddox first explaining that this was a committee meeting, not a trial, and that they were investigating the rather unique case of a post-mortem cognitive survival coupled with the unauthorized production of a clone – Case CZX 1-3875.

"Do you have a name we could use?" Maddox asked.

"Severus Snape," Snape replied.

"Date of birth?"

"January 9, 1960."

"I'm afraid we can't use that. It's the identity of a wizard known to be deceased. A wizard well-known to several members of this committee who studied Potions with him at Hogwarts. They have testified that you bear a resemblance to their Potions professor, but that you're obviously much younger."

"It's nevertheless my name."

"I'm sorry, 3875, though if you should come up with another we could use, the committee will consider it. Now, let's review the first consideration, which is that your cognitive abilities are, in fact, those of the late Severus Snape, which were removed from his brain shortly before his death, an action which may, in fact, have hastened his death."

"I was already dying…"

"How do you know? Do you remember the incident?"

Snape paused, and Harry recalled that the memory was still in a carafe in his rooms in Avery Row. "No," Snape replied after a moment, "I don't remember it."

"Why not?"

"I think that memory has been placed somewhere else."

"We should note, then, that this entity, 3875, has cognitive functions that are sometimes contained in one place and time, but which can be separated and scattered into several different locations, resulting in a partial personality. Would that be a fair assessment?"

"No. My memories can be removed, but the personality remains unified and unchanged."

"How can you be sure if you can't remember everything?"

"That's not fair!" Harry cried, rising in the gallery and forgetting his promise to Robards. "He's not responsible for removing the memories. I did that."

Maddox smiled. "I'm afraid you'll have to be escorted from the chamber, Mr. Potter, for interrupting the proceedings. I do wish to thank you, however, for your valuable assistance. We must also take into consideration the fact that 3875's memory and cognitive functions can be manipulated by outside persons without his consent and possible without his knowledge…"

Harry saw no more of the hearing, for he was required to leave.

The result of the committee hearing was a foregone conclusion, and Robards came to inform Harry of it before Snape was returned to his rooms. Case CZX 1-3875, the cognitive entity which contained a portion of the psyche of the late Severus Snape in an artificially formed body, was deemed not to be a fully legal human being and was placed in the wardship of the Ministry of Magic. The Ministry was enjoined to provide the entity with comfortable surroundings, care for its health and welfare, and give it challenging intellectual tasks in order to maintain the efficiency of its functioning. Several of the members of Wizengamot wished to review the case further to determine if the entity, while not legally responsible, might not be accorded status similar to that of a minor child, which would allow it access to the court if its needs were not being met.

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Needless to say, Snape was depressed.

"You know," Harry said with mock humor, "in a way it serves you right. Weren't you referring to your body as 'it' several weeks ago?"

"Ha, ha," replied Snape. "Watch me keel over with mirth. Very amusing." He was sitting at the table in a little two-room suite that was his upgraded jail. Robards had brought coffee and some sandwiches and pastries for lunch. Snape had taken the coffee, proclaimed himself not hungry, then started to munch on the sandwiches after all. "What happens next?"

"We wait for the next hearing, which should be in about a week," Robards explained. "You must have made an impression on someone, otherwise they wouldn't entertain the motion to explore revising the decision."

"It wouldn't change anything, though, would it?" Harry asked. "The Ministry would still control him."

"It would keep them… us from experimenting with him or treating him like some kind of tool to be used and exploited. That's something."

"I want to talk about my options," Snape said. "Right now, while the matter is still pending with the council, what exactly are all my options? Am I still allowed to go outside the Ministry if I have a guard, for example?"

"I wish you wouldn't call me a guard," Harry complained. "I'm on your side."

"Right now," Robards admitted, "you have a lot of freedom of action. The decision on your status is still pending, and might improve in terms of your ability to insist on certain norms of treatment. In general, the fewer rights you have, the happier the aurors will be. They think you should be quite optimistic right now."

"What's your position, if you don't mind my asking?" Snape reached for one of the pastries and poured another cup of coffee.

Robards looked embarrassed. "Officially I'm supporting the others and hoping we get custody of you. Between us, I think the whole situation stinks. I'm trying to remember if there was ever any time in your life when you were free to make your own decisions: child, student, Death Eater, on parole most of your adult life – I'll bet even as headmaster that portrait was still in charge."

"You've got that one right," said Snape. "And a dictatorial old coot he was."

As the afternoon progressed, the three discussed Snape's options in gradually greater detail…

Two days later, Case CZX 1-3875 was permitted to go to the Cornwall coast to collected seaweed and shellfish, and certain small spring flowers, for the purpose of potions brewing. He was not permitted the use of his wand, and would be accompanied by auror intern Harry J. Potter and Director of the Auror Agency Gawain Robards. He was reminded that the hearing on the upgrading of his legal status would be held in four days' time.

The area they went to was a bit of sloping ground that rose to a steep cliff overlooking the sea. Waves crashed against the sharp rocks below, but the three moved away from the cliff to search the more sheltered grassy slope. Snape showed the other two what plants to gather. After about twenty minutes, he told them he was going to check on some bushes closer to the edge.

Harry and Robards studiously continued harvesting their herbs for several minutes more, then Robards held a tiny yellow blossom up for examination. "You don't think he's gone too far, do you?" he asked.

Both turned. Snape was near the top of the cliff, watching them. When he realized they were looking at him, he faced away and strode upwards. Harry screamed, "Professor!" and started to run, Robards right behind him. They weren't fast enough.

Snape sprinted the last few yards to the cliff's edge and threw himself forward. By the time Harry and Robards reached the spot, all that could be seen below were rocks protruding from the water. The tide was going out.

The circumstance that saved Harry from being sacked on the spot was the presence of Gawain Robards on the scene. Harry could hardly have been held accountable if the situation was under the control of his superior. Nevertheless, both Robards and Harry spent hours in front of the Wizengamot describing and explaining what had happened.

The primary witness in the case was a pensieve. Both men agreed to allow their memory of the incident to be reviewed by the council in detail. The two memories were identical in every way. Robards, Harry, and Snape – now that he was gone, the inhibition against using Snape's name seemed to have disappeared as well – had gone to Cornwall and begun gathering herbs. Snape's behavior had seemed perfectly normal and he had said and done nothing that might have alerted the others to a problem. He appeared to have been moving slowly until the other wizards noticed how near the cliff he was, and then he ran. Other Agency witnesses came forward to testify that he had seemed in good spirits waiting for the review of his case and that there was no particular reason for either Robards or Harry to have suspected that he intended suicide.

Shacklebolt was furious, but all Harry and Robards received was a note in their files to the effect that they had not been sufficiently rigorous in keeping Snape within reach. Given the movement of current and tide, it was understood that the body could not be recovered.

It was even agreed that there was no need to notify Snape's next-of-kin, since the cousin to whom the reward had been consigned was already aware that Snape had died. It was regrettable, but the case was closed.

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Two weeks later, on a Friday afternoon at the beginning of May, Harry stopped at Robards's office on his way home. "I just wanted you to know that I'm going to be visiting Lancashire this weekend. Anything you want me to do for you while I'm there?"

Robards looked up from the papers on his desk. "That's kind of you," he said. "Give my regards, and let me know if there are any problems."

"Sure," said Harry, and left for Mrs. Nokes's boarding house.

Everything in the house was back to normal. Mrs. Purdy's supper that night was sea bass, the Dowd sisters kept up a lively conversation, and Mrs. Nokes refereed a political discussion between the gentlemen. Harry didn't participate much, though he listened a good deal.

The next morning, Harry apparated to Lancashire carrying a moderately heavy package. He went first to the town where Snape and his own mother had grown up, then walked the five miles to the village. From there he turned north to the little cottage. It was amazing how much damage could be removed from a burned-out shell of a house in so short a time, and it was an indication of how well Constantina Prince had been known to the locals that no one cared to remark on it. The fence was repaired, and the garden had been cleared of most of its weeds and overgrowth.

Leaning on the fence, Harry called to a figure working in the garden, "Excuse me, but I'm looking for a Richard Snape. I was told he lived here."

The young man with the jet-black hair and eyes rose from planting herbs. He wiped the dirt from his hands with a towel. "I'm Richard Snape," he said, glancing up and down the narrow country road and seeing no one. "You're up early for a Saturday."

"I had someone I wanted to talk to," Harry replied. "Robards sends his regards."

"He doesn't know where I am, does he?"

"Doesn't know, and hasn't asked. Nobody else has asked either, but I know a couple of people who are itching for the information, Hagrid first among them."

"Maybe later, after I'm sure things have settled down. Is that for me?"

Harry handed him the package. "Quite a few people worked on it," he said. "We hope it's okay."

'It' was two flasks, one green and one purple. They had identical shapes, rather like Egyptian sarcophaguses or coffins, and they were made from a glasslike stone.

"That's very nice," said Snape. "Would you like to come in for a cuppa?"

"I would," said Harry, and followed him into the cottage.

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Here ends the story.

The sequel is titled Elementary, My Dear Potter