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Chapter Two-

Severus Snape didn’t look behind him as he lead the muggle woman toward his class room just down the hall. She had seemed distraught to begin with, rude and waspish. Now she just seemed jumbled, like a jigsaw puzzle that had once been whole, and was now missing many key pieces.

He shifted his shoulders, feeling her eyes on the back of his neck. He would have a strong word with Minerva if he could catch her before she left, about leaving the woman with him. He wasn’t a babysitter, never mind that little Maggie le Sarte had been one of his students. It didn’t give Minerva McGonigal the right to dump the girl’s sister on him. He had better things to do with his time.

Severus was halfway down his classroom before he realized that the little clicking noises of the woman following him had stopped. He turned to find her looking around the sub-basement room with wide eyes. He glanced around him self, trying for a brief annoyed moment, to see what was so extraordinary about his class room from any other room in the castle.

“Miss le Sarte?”

“Yeah, coming,” she said, taking two steps forward then back tracking to examine a two-headed toad in a jar Snape had put among many other jars like it on the shelves around the room.

“Did my sister, uh, take your class?” she asked in a worried voice. Severus shifted where he stood waiting for her, his hands tucked into his sleeves.

“Yes, she did.”

“Was she...” the woman asked, glancing at him, “well, a good student?”
Snape blinked, trying to recall at the moment if Maggie le Sarte had done anything really remarkable in his class. It was hard to recall any of his students in fact, with Potter’s face always popping into his mind’s eyes.

Maggie. She liked learning about shrinking solutions, I remember she did well in that.

“She had a fine touch for shrinking solutions.”


“I teach Potions,” Snape explained slowly. “And Maggie did well with shrinking solutions.”

“She, never told me,” the woman replied, tucking her hands into the pockets of her slacks. She looked to be on the verge of tears again and Severus turned away.

“Our tea is getting cold,” Snape said, pulling out his wand from inside his sleeve. He felt the woman behind him tense as he set to disarming the spells and charms he’d set to protect his office. The door unlocked presently, and tucking his wand away again, he ushered the muggle woman past him. She smelt like sea salt and lavender.
She paused behind the chair in front of his desk, her eyes wide and red. She was blinking hard, her mouth pursed.

“Was my sister happy here?” she asked suddenly, looking up. Snape stopped midway around his desk.

“She was,” he said for lack of any thing better. How was he to know if the girl had been happy? If he spent all his time trailing after his students trying to ascertain their mental state, he’d get absolutely nothing done.

“She wasn’t, with me,” the woman said, her hands gripping the back of the chair. Severus noticed that the woman had simple hands to go with her uncomplicated face. She was average in almost every way. Average height, average body, unremarkable in her femininity.

“I don’t think I ever got her.” Here the woman swallowed, her brow tightly pinched. “My uh, father, he was the magical one, he got Mags.”

“Indeed,” Snape replied politely as he settled himself into his chair. He ran his hands down the worn arm rests, centering himself in his space. He saw the tea he’d ordered had come, along with small finger sandwiches and almond cookies. He set out the woman’s tea-cup, then hesitated as she continued to speak.

“My mom and I, we were normal but Maggie, she had every one in the palm of her hand, she really could do no wrong.”

“And what of you?” Snape asked, rising out his chair. He glanced over his shoulder as the woman blinked at him.

“I was,” she shrugged. Snape nodded, then turned to the cabinet behind him. He took out his wand and tapped the double locks he had on the cabinet. The woman fell silent, watching him as he searched around in the bottles. There were all kinds, round and square and otherwise, tall, short and fat. He finally found the one he wanted, a little palm sized bottle with a pearly purple liquid in it. Severus double checked the label. Powdered Runespoor eggs, for greater mental clarity, crushed scarab beetles to sharpen the wit, chamomile to soothe, and other things to make up the calming draught.

He took out the stopper, let the little cloud of light purple steam dissipate, and then tipped three drops into one of the tea cups. He recapped the bottle and replaced it in the cabinet, making sure the locks were secure before returning to the tea.

He poured both cups, then dropped his usual two lumps of sugar into his cup. “How many?” he asked, tapping the sugar bowl with the little sugar cube pincher. The woman looked at the sugar blankly for a moment.


Snape sighed. American’s spoke like they’d never learned how to articulate past the age of fifteen. He didn’t understand how a person was ever to be taken seriously if they subjugated themselves to word’s like ‘yeah,’ ‘whatever,’ and ‘sure.’

He put three sugars in the tea, to cover the taste of the draught, then handed the woman the cup. She took the little spoon he offered next and stirred her tea, which promptly sent up a cloud of pearlescent purple.

“There’s something wrong with my tea,” she said, staring down at the cup.

“I have infused it with a calming draught,” Snape explained, sipping his own.

“But, I didn’t want you to.”

“I thought perhaps it would aid you, to finish – ”

“Is every British person so totally insufferable?” the woman asked, cutting him off. She set down her cup as if she it might explode on her and pinned Snape with her gaze. “I don’t know what’s in that stuff, what if I’m allergic, what if I don’t want to be calmed?”

“So you prefer,” replied Snape evenly as he sat back in his chair, “to be upset, stressed and frazzled. How long Miss le Sarte, do you think it will take you to collect your sister’s things in such a state? I personally, have other things to do with my day than wait for you to pull it together.”

The woman was silent for a long moment before she said succinctly, “Professor, you’re an asshole.”

“Drink your tea, Miss le Sarte,” Snape replied evenly.

She did, in one gulp before slamming her cup down on the desk again. She then sat in the chair, her breathing low and shallow. She watched him, at first wearily and then as her eyes cleared and Snape wondered what she was seeing. A man in his early thirties, with a long draw nose, deep set eyes round chin. He had noticed just recently, that he’d developed some where along the way, a deep thinking line almost perfectly between his eyes. He was not classically good looking, or even uncommonly attractive. His face was etched in bitterness, he knew that well.

A small soft snore brought Snape’s attention back to focus and he saw with chagrin
that the woman had fallen asleep, her head lolled back, her eyes closed. Her lashes her were darker than her mousy brown hair, and they rest like fans on the pink freckled pillows of her cheeks.

Damn it all. Fool woman.

He stood up from his chair, silently pushing it back, trying not to wake the woman. He wasn’t sure why he should care if she woke or not, being that she was the one who tossed back the calming draught as if it were hard liquor.

Meant to be sipped, should have told her. She’s not from here, couldn’t have known.
Snape moved around the edge of his desk, weak sunlight peaking through the ground level windows to stream through various bottles and jars, sending shafts of yellow, red and orange light across the room. It fell across the woman almost reverently, and Snape went still. Even if she had drunk too much, the draught had done the trick. Her face was lean with sleep, her body relaxed. She looked unfettered, completely gone of whatever had happened to her to make her eyes turn hard as they had been, to crush her small mouth toward spinsterhood.

She’s too young to look like she’s given up.

He leaned against the desk, picking up the edge of his robe from the floor. She looked like her sister, but in small ways. Snape remembered that Maggie has been rather clumsy, but charming nonetheless.

She laughed, all the time, as if the world weren’t meant to be taken so seriously.

Toward the end, she hadn’t laughed so much, but she hadn’t stopped smiling. It didn’t take a genius, Snape thought as he folded his hands in his lap, to see that the girl was fading in some very essential way. No one had known she was so sick.

“I am sorry,” Snape said to the sleeping woman.

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