Author's Note: Hello to anyone who is reading this. This is the Prequel to "Mischievously Managed Brewery" and "The Brewmaster's Mystery", centering around how the breweries get started. I won't have a set updating schedule for this story, because I'm only allowing myself to write it when everything else gets done. The song for the chapter comes from Mumford and Sons. There's going to be LOTS of angst, so I'm warning you ahead. This is unbeta'ed as well, so if you find errors, let me know. I didn't want to trouble my ladies with more on their plates. Thanks again if you're reading. MNF

Before the Brew

The Prequel to Mischievously Managed Brewery

By Mutt N Feathers

Chapter 1:

Sigh No More

June 15, 1977

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Persephone MacPhearson POV:

The owl dumped the letter in my eggs, and instead of giving it a morsel of my breakfast, I wanted to hex it. Honestly, did my sister have buy a bird with such a temper? I didn't ask it to fly up here with a letter, Phila did. I couldn't imagine what she needed to tell me. I'd be home in three days, couldn't she wait to fill me in on whatever her fiancée, Angus, had said or done when I got there. I didn't need moment by moment accounting. I just wanted to get through the remainder of my exams and get away from here.

Actually, I'd miss school. I needed to get away from Sirius. He was looking at me like that, again; and I was losing my resolve, again. Who knew not having feelings toward someone would be so hard?

Of course, no one would have been able to tell how I felt by looking at my face. I was a proper pureblood daughter and as such, my mother had raised me to keep my emotions to myself. The girls I roomed with; Lily Evans, Sibby Cinnídigh and Eliza Houghton could wheedle it out of me in our room, with a silencing charm firmly in place and a distraction charm around the door, and a sealing charm to keep it closed; but that was the only place. Never would I share something as intimate as my emotions in such a public place as the Great Hall. My face was always held in the state of placid calm befitting my station. My actions were a reflection on my family and lineage; I would not displease my father in such a way.

Breaking the seal on the letter, I internally girded myself for my sister's drivel. Honestly her wedding was only weeks away, what could possibly be so important? I scanned the note, never being happier to see such wonderful words written. I let out a little yelp of happiness and felt a smile tug at my cheeks.

"What's got you so excited, George?" Jamie Potter asked me. He was the only one who got away with calling me George and he only got away with it since he'd been calling me it since we were nine and he discovered the Muggle band, the Beatles. He said I was like George, the quiet and talented one. I liked the compliment, which is why I let him continue with it.

"I do not have to be in Phila's wedding. Angus's cousin, who was going to be paired with me, got Dragon Pox and can't leave his house for a month," I explained.

"You know, for someone who just found out she wasn't going to be in her sister's wedding, you're looking rather happy," Sibby Cinnídigh teased. She revelled in pointing out anytime I let emotions surface. She'd grown up with the same restrictions, although her parents were lax in comparison. Sibby wore her heart on her sleeve like our Divination professor wore scarves; boldly and in deep layers. She also had her engagement set, which gave her freedoms I did not have.

"Of course," I answered. "Being in the wedding isn't any fun at all, especially as one of her maids. Honestly, I'm not a child. This way I can enjoy the party and not have to be waiting on her hand and foot. Nella and Paget get that joy as her Matrons of Honour. Mummy and Daddy can't even complain, because it's Phila who made the decision." I felt somewhat smug. I had avoided something which beleaguered me.

"It's nice to see you smile for a change," Remus said and I closed my eyes and shrugged. He was sitting across from me, in what were our self-assigned seats. Peter across from Eliza, Remus across from me, James across from Sibby and Sirius across from Lily. We rarely changed places, although it happened from time to time. It provided me distance from Sirius, Lily from James.

Looking at Remus, I returned my mask. It was my duty to do so. I had more than schooling on my mind, and everyone knew it. My eighteenth birthday was three months away. Eighteen, at least for me, would be a much more important age than seventeen.

Wizarding law stated that my marriage contract had to be finished before my eighteenth birthday. If I had no contract, my father was under no obligation to provide me with one. Nor did he have to give me a dowry. Additionally, if the contract was not set in time, my reputation would be forever stained. I would appear undesirable to future suitors, although no specific impediment would ever be spoken aloud. The simple fact that my father could not secure a contract before I would complete my schooling would impact the remainder of my life. I would likely never be given the blessing to marry, even if I found a suitable husband on my own. I would spend my years working in the family apothecaries, dying a spinster.

This was also the only opportunity he would have to break a contract created when I was young, which was now deemed unsuitable. It was the reasoning my father gave for not telling any of us who we were to be we'd to until our eighteenth birthday approached. He wanted to ensure he'd made the right match as we had grown up.

A glance to Jamie - he was the only person I couldn't fool - to let him know how I really felt. I knew people didn't understand our relationship, but I'd never felt the need to explain it. He knew how I thought, I knew the same of him. Whatever else might happen in life, Jamie had my back and I had his. I would not give him up for anyone.

It was impossible to make eye contact with Jamie without also doing so with Sirius, since he was staring at me through all of this, practically sitting on top of his best mate to hear what was being said. I swear, in this moment, I could read his thoughts, too. He looked so hopeful, like I'd decide to give in, finally. It wasn't going to happen, he had to know that. I couldn't let it happen. It wasn't fair to him.

The eight of us, all the sixth year Gryffindors, had made a pact not to speak about the impending announcement of my engagement. Remus's comment was the closest anyone had come to mentioning it in a very long while. Sibby and Jamie were the only ones who really understood what it meant to be an Engelsley daughter. Of course, we three had been playmates since we were in nappies. Sibby's family adhered to the proper ways as well, although she'd learned about her engagement at fifteen and subsequently spent the last two years getting to know her fiancé, Fergus Figg. He was a year older, sitting for his NEWT's this year and then moving on to an internship at St. Mungo's in medicinal arithmancy. I didn't understand what it was he'd be doing, but neither did Sibby. She often just let him ramble on about numbers and dosing and whatnot, to make him happy.

I'd asked her what it was like when she was told by her father. She explained she was frightened at first, but it got better with time. Their first few 'dates' were at her home, sitting in the conservatory or garden room and talking. These were chaperoned by her father, then her grandmother - who often dozed while with them - and then finally alone. By the time they returned to Hogwarts for her fifth year, she felt comfortable with him as her beau.

I wouldn't have that luxury, however. Even if father told me this summer, I would have one year to get to know him; if he was a student. I somehow doubted that would be the case. There were few families with sons who would meet his requirements. I was friends with two of them, and neither were having marriages arranged for them; the rest were not people I'd be happy with.

Breakfast time was nearing an end, and my first class today was double potions. It was my best subject; mostly because I'd been brewing since I was a little girl. Mum wanted to teach me her craft, and she did. Professor Slughorn loved how quick I was, and Lily and I had a friendly competition to see who could brew a more perfect potion. We had a practical examination in the first half this morning, a written one in the second.

Internal clocks began going off, and simultaneously we each took a last bite, or swallowed what was left of our beverages, generally making some comment about beginning our day. Eerily, all eight of us stood at the same time. Peter Pettigrew and Eliza weren't taking potions, so they were free until Magical Creatures. They made a cute couple, both of them blushing when they held hands. I still couldn't believe Eliza's parents didn't have a problem with her dating him. Then again, it wasn't Pete's fault his father was deranged.

Remus and Sibby were walking together, discussing something about the Monk's Hood plant and essence. We'd reviewed these last night, either they had it or they didn't, debating in the hallway wasn't going to give them further insight. Jamie had cornered Lily, probably asking her to let him visit over the hols. I knew it wouldn't happen, she was going to Spain with her parents and then coming to stay with Sibby and I. I figured I'd rescue her, and ask Jamie for a favour.

"Jamie, unless you're going to Apparate to Spain, you're not going to see Lily for the first few weeks of our holiday," I said in a mock superior tone. I linked my arm through his, and wedged myself in-between he and Lily. Sirius caught up and casually tossed his arm over her shoulders. They had an odd relationship; I swear he tried to get under her skin just so Jamie seemed like less of a prat. Thus far the desired effect wasn't occurring.

"So, Jamie Potter," I said in the sweetest voice I could muster. "I do not have to be paired up with Angus's snot-faced thirteen year old cousin at Phila's wedding. I do, however, need to have an escort. May I count upon my oldest friend to help me out?"

Three things happened at once. Sirius sort of growled and sped ahead, catching up with Remus and Sibby. Lily suddenly sucked in her breath, and then pursed her lips and Jamie raised his eyebrow and then nodded. As we entered the classroom, Lily hastily walked to the table behind our usual one, and sat down with Sirius, which meant Jamie and I would be partners today.

"Great," he complained as he slumped into the chair and started pulling out his kit. "Sirius is going to be irritating all day. You couldn't have waited until later?" His voice was a whisper, but there was frustration tinting his words.

"No. He'd be waiting for me to ask him," I replied as softly, though without using the inflection.

"You could have asked him. I know you'd prefer to on his arm." I sighed and looked at Jamie, silently pleading with him to understand. I knew he was capable of it, he just seemed to be choosing not to.

"I would, but I can't put us in that situation. He's told me how he feels. I'm not allowed to return those feelings. He needs to get over it. How will he feel when he sees me with my finacé? When it's my wedding you and he are forced to attend?"

"What about your feelings?" If it were anyone else who were asking, I'd refuse to speak to them for the rest of the class. This wasn't anyone, though. This was the person who knew the deepest secrets of my heart and soul. I could prattle off the reasons which had been ingrained in me since childhood, but he'd see right through that. The question nearly brought me to tears, and I curled my lips together, willing my emotions away. I'd always been such a failure in this particular aspect of pureblood heritage. As hard as I might try, I could not quash them entirely. I refused to fail further by actually revealing to just anyone how much I was hurting. Jamie was anyone, though. I wouldn't debase all we'd shared by telling him anything less than the truth.

"I can't imagine ever being able to get him out of my heart," I confessed. "He needs to remain only in the small part he already occupies. If I give him much more, then I shall never truly love my husband." I didn't look Jamie in the eyes as I said this. Instead he wrapped his arm over my shoulders and gave it a squeeze. The table behind us rattled, the cauldrons, weights and scales shifting and tinkling on the wooden surface. Sirius swore, and I was sure he'd kicked the table. My heart broke when I heard Lily sniffle. I hoped it wasn't that she was crying.

BTB BTB BTB BTB

"Lily, I swear, I am not interested in Jamie," I said for the tenth time, rather emphatically. "It would be like dating my brother! Anyway, I thought you weren't interested." Sibby, Eliza and I had noted the change in her attitude a few weeks ago, although she refused to see it. I suspected she was frightened to admit her feelings.

"I'm not...really...mostly," she said with irritation. "Why didn't you just ask Sirius? Why did it have to be James?" I took her hands and sat down on my bed with her.

"Because even if we spend all night dancing, Jamie will never have 'those' feelings toward me. We don't remember ever not being friends. His mum took care of me from the time I was a baby; I know I've explained this to you."

"You have," she said in defeat. "You just sounded so sweet and flirty when you asked him that I thought -"

"You thought I was really flirting with him?" That was a repulsive thought. My stomach actually rolled at the idea of flirting with Jamie. Lily nodded.

"Okay, for the last time, I sincerely hope, Jamie and I are just friends. We will always be just friends. I have pictures of us sharing a crib when we were infants, and making mud pies when we were toddlers, and flying together on our practice brooms when we were little kids and so on. He has always been in my life, just like if I'd had a real brother instead of all my irritating sisters. Believe me, snogging Jamie will NEVER be in the cards." I stressed the word, hoping she'd hear me.

"I'm sorry," Lily sighed and leaned in to hug me. "My heart got in the way of my head."

"Ha," I sort of yelled out while releasing the hug. "I was right, you do feel something toward him!" Eliza and Sibby got up off their beds and started to dance around with each other while I smiled. Lily hung her head down, her hair curtaining her face.

"Yes, I confess, he's grown on me," she quietly added. The other two stopped dancing and came over.

"Fungus can grow on you too," Sibby added as she plopped down on the bed behind Lily. Sometimes her sense of humour and her vast Herbology knowledge made for strange jokes. This was one of those times. Eliza laid down on the other side, her feet on my pillow. Yuck!

"No, he's not a fungus," Lily stated with a snigger. "I just have spent so much time pushing him away, I don't know how to pull him in. What if he's not interested anymore?"

I snorted in response. When I realised what I had done, my hand covered my mouth and nose. What a horribly undignified sound. True to form, Sibby had to point it out.

"I knew there was a witch under that polished veneer! You know, keeping everything bottled up like that is only going to make you blow someday," she taunted.

"Sib, I have no idea what you're talking about." I attempted to return to aloof, but it didn't sound convincing.

"Yes, you do," she retorted. "The last time you let your emotions loose, you ended up on a blanket in the Potter's back yard curled up with Sirius for hours while you were crying."

"My grandmother had just died." She was making me irritated.

"You confessed you had feelings for him."

"Of course I have feelings for him, we've known each other since we were three."

"I've known him that long too, and I don't have feelings for him."

"That's because you have a fiancé!" I yelled. "We are not allowed to speak of love to someone other than the man who is picked for us!" The three of them sat there, stunned into silence. I was mortified at what I had just said. It wasn't something anyone besides Jamie was supposed to know.

"You love him?" Lily asked ever so quietly.

"I can't," I replied closing my eyes. "I will belong to my husband; heart, mind, body and soul. Love is a gift I am not at liberty to share." My voice broke and tears gathered along my lashes. We were all silent, and I wished the floorboards would open and I could escape. I'd even be willing to fly out of here, but my broom was locked up at the pitch. "Can we please not discuss this?"

"Sure, Seph," Lily replied. "But, you know Sibby is right. You have to talk about this sometime. You need to get it all off your chest."

"Sometime. Maybe when we're all together this summer. Now, however, we need to plan how you're going to tell James you fancy him." I looked from Eliza to Sibby and then back to Lily. She dropped her head again, hiding her face.

Quiet little Eliza lifted her head up and looked at Lily. "I have an idea."