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Carlin Emery had detention with me every Saturday for the entire year, for sheer impertinence and downright Gryffindority. Adrian Pucey had detention with me this particular Saturday because he had stolen my secret hair product recipe. And then Genesis Evan showed up—more or less just to make my life difficult, but mostly because I figured it would fulfill my promise of “helping” her “win” her “love.”

It did “not.”

The whole four-hour detention was a gag-fest of furious under-the-table leg-rubbing from the love-birds (and a surplus of hyphens, apparently). (Incidentally, another excellent reason I shall never enter into a serious relationship: I have very sensitive legs.).

And then of course Genesis had to sit there crying like a garden hose onto all the adolescent Horklumps she was supposed to be de-molding, which wouldn’t have been such a tragedy if she hadn’t drowned all the weaker ones. Natural selection at its best. If I hadn’t stopped her they probably would have started construction on an ark and paraded around two by two, discussing the end of the world in horklumpian.

After about two hours of this, Genesis marched up to my desk with what can only be called crazy-eyes, and said through gritted crazy-teeth:

“Professor. This is does not count as helping me.”

I looked at her, mystified.

“Miss Evan, you don’t understand,” I said, speaking slowly and clearly so she could understand, “True love is watching from a distance as your soul mate nuzzles with someone else, usually an abnormally large prat. And then it’s only true true love when they get married. And have a baby boy.”

She nodded thoughtfully.

“I see what you mean, Professor.”

“Good. Now you go give that a try.”

“Okay.”

For the first time in years I felt as if I had actually taught something useful.

Genesis sat back at the table and again began to cry, but this time with much more purpose. Carlin and Adrian giggled together, leg-rubbed, and ignored her. Much better. Mission accomplished.

About an hour later, I was grading Potter’s essay and trying to find a few synonyms…

“…foolish…false…absurd…irreparable…incomprehensible…incontinent…”

“Professor?” Genesis was again at my desk, interrupting my thesaurus-like mind. “I don’t like this plan anymore. With all due respect, I would like Adrian Pucey to love me. Forever.”

“Unfortunately, Miss Evan, a Love Potion would lose me my job. Alright, I’ll do it.”

“But wait—I never even asked—“

“Fine! If you insist! I said I’ll do it!”

Carlin and Adrian both looked up curiously as I grabbed Genesis’ head and plucked a hair from it.

I let go of her head. We all just looked at each other a moment. It was awkward.

I rescued the moment by gallivanting into my storeroom, waving Miss Evan’s hair about nonchalantly, like this was something I did every day. I think I fooled them. After all, I am a Spy Extraordinaire.

To be honest, I already had some Love Potion in stock. I had been considering either ridding Madam Pomfrey of her mortifying crush on me, or torturing McGonagall in some delectable way. As soon as I took the bottle off the shelf, it occurred to me that giving some to Pomfrey with a little of McGonagall’s hair in it would achieve both these noble purposes.

“Shame,” I muttered, looking longingly at the pink bottle. For a tortured moment, I considered breaking my promise to Miss Evan. But then the image of that horrendous leg-rubbing filled my mind, and I knew what I had to do.

I wandered casually out of the storeroom, making circles on the ceiling with my eyes so as not to make eye-contact with anyone.

“Are you alright, Professor?” asked Genesis.

“I think he’s having a seizure,” said Adrian.

“I’m perfectly fine!” I snapped as I, with less-than-impeccable timing, fell face-first over a chair in my path. (In my defense, it’s difficult to make circles on the ceiling with your eyes and walk and carry a large glass bottle simultaneously.)

(If you were wondering, the bottle was fine. My entire store of potions is Dumbledore-proof.)

I righted myself, ignored their extremely rude staring, and uncorked the bottle. Somewhere along the way, I had lost Genesis’ hair, and so I sauntered over to their table, now making expert triangles on the ceiling, and plucked another one from her head.

In retrospect, the fact that I dropped a strand of her hair into a huge bottle labeled “Love Potion” should have been a tip off for the happy couple. But they are not Spies, after all. And all’s well that end’s well.

Even if it didn’t precisely “end”…”well.”

After their detention, I spent an hour or five developing what I believed would be my best catchphrase ever. The articulation of said catchphrase shall blow your mind and drop your jaw at a later point in the chapter.

I then took the Love Potion down to the kitchens. I knew it would take some of my best Spy work yet to convince the house elves to let me pour the potion in the pumpkin juice.

It took a bit of time to actually get to the kitchens, seeing as I was such a Spy that every time I passed someone on my Most Secret of Missions, I would have to go back to my dungeon and start all over again. I finally did a run where no one spotted me, realized I’d forgotten the potion, doubled back to get it, and then did yet another run where no one spotted me. Success.

When both the potion and I were safely in front of the kitchens, I sneakily tickled the painting of the pear and then sneakily slunk through the door. The house elves were running around like mice and the kitchen was loud and steamy in preparation for dinner.

“Hello,” I said surreptitiously.

“Hello, sir,” squeaked one wrinkly elf, stopping to bow low.

“Hello,” I whispered to him.

“Hello,” he said again.

“Hello!” I roared back. This house elf was obviously not a Spy.

I then noticed a large vat across the room labeled Pumpkin juice—Slytherin.
“Goodbye!” I called as I dropped to the ground and rolled expertly across the floor. (I lost my momentum after about three feet, stood up, and had to walk the rest of the way, but I think the elf was still impressed. His mouth hung open for a good minute and a half, anyway.)

The pumpkin juice vat loomed before me. This was the hard part. I had to fish the bottle out of my trousers without any of the elves realizing where exactly I was rummaging. It wasn’t easy. But they don’t call me Grease Lightning for nothing.

One nearby elf that resembled an old bandicoot was eyeing me curiously at that point, so I distracted her by pointing past her and yelling, “Look! You’re short!”

I was so busy laughing at my own uproarious joke that I almost forgot to uncork the bottle and pour it into the vat behind my back. I did eventually, but I was in such a rush and it was so difficult to hoist it over my shoulder without looking that a lot of it splattered on the floor and down the backs of my legs. It looked a bit like I’d urinated myself, but all Spies must make Sacrifices.

Having achieved greatness, I jogged briskly from the kitchens.

I felt so elated with success that I played an impromptu round of Paint-the-First-Year with myself.

I then went to dinner where I spent the majority of the meal giggling every time Avery took a sip of juice and giving Miss Evan the wink-and-thumbs-up at two-minute intervals. I wanted to do one-minute intervals, but I was simply too much of a pro for that sort of tomfoolery.

The next day was Sunday, and I decided to sleep in. I deserved some glory rest. But, of course, as is the story of my life, I was forced awake at the ungodly hour of two o’clock in the afternoon when something that sounded like a hippogriff began pounding down my poor defenseless door.

I clumped over to the door and ripped it open.

What?" I snarled in what I imagined to be a fearful lion-hawk-like way.

It was McGonagall, looking as usual like a cross between the Grim Reaper and Ebeneezer Scrooge. Of course she spared no time for hellos and how-de-do’s, just began shouting in my face:

“Severus, the Slytherins are all running about in packs! They’re revolting!”

“Yeah?” I said, “Well the Gryffindors are more revolting!”

She squinted at me with the sharp scissor-like points of her eyes.

“That is not what I meant. Severus, have you heard anything about a Love Potion?”

I grabbed two pumpkin pasties pumpkin pasties off the table and quickly stuffed them in my mouth, to avoid answering, and also to mask my obvious guilt with a smokescreen of sprayed crumbs and protuberant cheeks.

She brushed a few crumbs off her horrifying hat, and continued in a disturbingly persistent manner:

“I doubt a pumpkin pasty will stop me. The students show distinctive signs of being under the influence of a love potion. Do you know anything?”

I chewed at her rebelliously. She would get nothing from me.

“Speaking of love,” she said dryly, “I am in love with you.”

I choked and hacked and spat my half-chewed pasties into the fire. I was considering hopping on in there myself in a sort of cleanse-by-fire gesture when I heard a sort of creaking and snuffling sound from behind me. I knew that sound all too well. It was McGonagall’s alarming attempt at an infectious laugh.

Her maniacal plan had worked. Now there was no warm, soft, crumbly pumpkin pasty in between me and the truth.

But I had a secret weapon.

“Now,” said MickeyG, “Let’s have an adult discussion about this. You must know all the students in this school that are capable of brewing a Love Potion. Let’s hear them.”

And it was at that moment that I unleashed the Catchphrase, the words of wonderment, which would echo epically for generations:

I said, “Well, well, well. Mayhaps this is quite a conundrum.”

McGonGon looked satisfactorily befuddled.

“What—Severus—that—that doesn’t even mean anything!”

“Mayhaps. Well, well, well. This really is quite a conundrum.”

It worked equally well the second time. She huffed and puffed and tried to blow the little piggies’ house down.

I didn’t want to end her little life with a third repetition of the Catchphrase, however, so I pretended in a very Spy-like manner to go along with her little conversation.

“So how do you know it is a Love Potion?” I said, making my Ravishing Researcher face for the occasion.

She responded in a very strange manner.

“Er—well, I just know because—I…you see…” she humbugged, looking suddenly supremely uncomfortable. At first I thought that my Ravishing Researcher face was distracting her, so I switched to a more Disinterested Prime Minister vibe, but she continued to stutter:

“I just think…er, well, it’s possible…they show signs, er…”

“What signs?” I asked, rescuing her from her own awkwardness, now sporting my Valiant Fireman face.

“Er...scratching their arms? Howling?” she looked at me apprehensively. And then it clicked.

“Minerva. You don’t know the symptoms of love do you? You wouldn’t know them if they pole-danced in your sink while you were trying to brush your teeth!”

She pursed her lips until they disappeared, as her face turned a charming eggplant colour. I had hit the nail on the money of the head and gotten the cigar to boot.

Then she muttered, “What’s pole-dance?”

“Don’t change the subject. You are the most loveless person anyone has ever seen with their eyeballs!” My Triumphant Bus Driver face only enhanced my glory.

She glared at me.

“No,” she said, “I have often felt love…expand…my shoulders. Love has washed me many times with…loving feelings. Many men have said Italian words of the loving…birds…to me.  I love a lot!  I love…er—“

But I never found out what she “loved,” because little miss Italian bird lover turned on her heel and went galloping for cover.

With luck, her humiliation would keep her away from me for at least a week.

Unfortunately my little Beacon of Victory dwindled a tad when my eyes wandered downward and I realized that the entire interview had been conducted with less trousers and more my green froggy pants. I looked up and then looked down again, just to be sure, but it was still true.

If McGonagall failed to notice that little wardrobe hiccup, I said to myself, I will find God and become a born-again whatsit.



A/N—First off, “pants” mean “underpants” in England. Thought I’d get that straight.

And second, look who’s back! I told you I’d never leave you! Thank you for being so patient with me. I will try to be much better about this story this summer. No more three-month breaks or anything. You know I love you fabulous readers. I’d just rather write nothing at all then write something I’m not happy with…you know.

But I’ll stop blabbing. Please tell me what you thought of this! And I will get on that next chapter…but not now, as it’s two in the morning…but soon…

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