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Summary: Inspired by EmylnII’s “Ever After”, Giles and Severus: brothers, best friends, bitter rivals.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Giles-Centered > Pairing: Severus SnapedulcineaFR1590295,82735203206,11724 Jan 0527 Jan 07Yes

Where There's Smoke...

Snape and Giles had their wands at the ready as Willow opened the back door and peeked out. With a gasp, she shut it tight again. “Eep!”

“Dear heavens, was that what I thought it was?” Giles asked.

“Godric damn it!” Severus muttered.

“Well, how do you like that? I thought we banished the gerbils.” Buffy added.

“Gribles.” The other three corrected her.

“Whatever.” Buffy rolled her eyes.

“We did banish the gribles, clearly these are different gribles. And more of them. Oh dear.” Giles winced at the sound of a trash can being knocked down in the alley echoed in the room. “Undoubtedly they were attracted to all the magic you were throwing around.” He shot his brother a glare.

“Don’t look at me. You were the one who shrunk this stupid chair. You’ve been casting spells all day.”

“Only as a response to your spells.”

“Oh please. This is a Magic Store; I’m sure you get grible infestations all the time.”

“Nope. Never saw them until you showed up.” This time it was Buffy shooting Snape the nasty glare. “Now there’s like fifty of them back there.”

“It’s not that hard to banish a few gribles. Just use some jarvey-repellent.”

“Ugh, that smells awful! Please don’t make us use that again, Giles!” Buffy appealed to her watcher.

“There’s nothing in the jarvey repellent that would smell.” Severus asserted.

“Nuhuh, that stuff was foul!” Buffy retorted.

“What recipe did you use?”

Giles went to his office and found the old potions book he had used. “Here, we followed the instructions to the letter.”

“Oh, well that’s your problem.” Snape answered. “This book has a typo. You need strawberry essence, not straw.”

“Where are we supposed to get strawberry essence?” Giles frowned.

“What about that cheap incense Anya ordered? It’s strawberry flavored.” Willow suggested.

“Bring it here.” Severus ordered.

Willow rolled her eyes but complied with the command, fetching the box of strawberry incense sticks from the display. She handed Severus one of the pink coated sticks to sample. He tried sniffing the plain stick but couldn’t tell what flavor it was supposed to be. With his wand, he cast a sparking spell, ignoring the sounds of gribles running into the door, attracted by the magic. “Merlin, this is foul!” He waved the stick away from him. “But, it should work. You need to light the sticks and throw them at the gribles so that the smoke catches their spines.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Buffy stared at the wizard as if he were crazy.

Severus answered Buffy’s glare with a raised eyebrow. “While jarveys are primarily repelled by the ashwinder dust, the strawberry adjunct in that repellent is the active ingredient against gribles. When the vapors hit the spine, the animals should explode.”

“Explode, as in kablooey?” Willow gulped.

“Something like that. I’m guessing when one goes, the rest will run away. They aren’t stupid.”

“Well, it’s a better plan then letting them beat down the door or attack the garbage man.” Buffy shrugged and took the box of incense from Snape’s hand. “Giles, grab a lighter and another box.”

“Oh alright.” Giles grabbed the small lighter from the emergency ritual supply cabinet and a box of the strawberry-kiwi incense from storage. “Here goes nothing. Willow, stay in the front and Severus don’t move. We’ll be back as soon as we’ve taken care of this.” And with that, the slayer and the watcher went out to slay the beasts.

~*~

“Why do you keep looking over my shoulder?” Rupert finally asked his father after the man appeared to ignore him for the fifteenth time this meal.

“This would not have been my first choice for a meeting place.” Mr. Giles replied. “We should have met at the Watcher’s Club. Anyone could eavesdrop here.”

“I only have an hour for lunch. I couldn’t get there and get back in time. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with this restaurant. I came here with Nana several times when I was younger.”

Mr. Giles sighed. Rupert also felt like sighing. When his father had asked him if he wanted to get lunch in London today, he had assumed it meant his father had finally begun to think of him as an adult. However, ever since they sat down, his father had been treating him like he was eleven all over again and messing up on the basic fencing lessons. He resisted the urge to act like that child and slurp his soup. “So was there something in particular you wanted to talk about?” Rupert finally asked.

“How are you liking your new job? Are the people there treating you right?” Mr. Giles asked cagily, as if expecting a bad answer.

“Yes. Mr. Borgin is wonderful. I spend all morning cataloguing, but in the afternoons we’ve been working on translating Waelic. I think I’m getting the hang of the language.”

“You know, if you wanted to work in the British Museum, I could have found you a post. I do have connections.”

“Father, do we have to go over this again?”

“I suppose not. But, you should know that I do know people, just in case this alliance with Mr. Malfoy’s associates doesn’t work out. You know, Cassandra hardly ever speaks ill of her relatives, or Slytherins in general, but she had some hesitations when you mentioned that Mr. Malfoy had found you this position.”

“Father.” Rupert rolled his eyes. He was a Slytherin. Slytherins didn’t attack other Slytherins unless there was something in it for them, and there was absolutely nothing Mr. Malfoy could gain from helping his son’s classmate find a summer job. He really had nothing to worry about from Mr. Malfoy.

The conversation fell into an eerie silence as the waitress arrived with their main courses. Mr. Giles waited for the waitress to leave before resuming. “As I was saying, I do have connections with the museum.” In a quieter voice, he added, “In fact, I have a colleague at the British Museum who recently received a shipment from the MacDuff estate. He was under the impression that there was a far larger collection donated than what he received. When you said you worked at cataloguing, I don’t suppose you happened to have catalogued the MacDuff estate?”

“Your colleague wouldn’t happen to be Mr. Wyndham, would it?”

“Why would you say that?” It wasn’t that Mr. Giles was intentionally trying to be evasive. He was just curious as to Rupert’s deductive reasoning skills, or at least that was the excuse he gave himself.

“He has that certain Council look about him, you know, the paranoia mixed with utter bookishness...”

“Rupert.” Now it was his father’s turn to use the warning tone.

“…Also, he was the person I brought the MacDuff collection to on Monday.”

“So you do have access to it. Was Mr. Wyndham right? Are items missing from the collection?”

“Nothing is missing. I just haven’t had a chance to go through it all yet. I have to check each item for any jinxes, and that takes time. Mr. Borgin and I haven’t even started looking at the books.”

“Ah.” Mr. Giles was not happy with the response, but accepted it as the truth. The two ate silently for a minute, neither knowing how to manipulate the conversation to their advantage. It was Mr. Giles who broke the silence first. “The MacDuff clan included some interesting characters.”

“It’s rumored that one of the school’s founders is related to them.” Rupert agreed.

“Did you know that there was a MacDuff slayer?”

“Really? No. I hadn’t seen anything to indicate that at all.”

“An Irish slayer was called about the same time the vampire Angelus was sired. It was as if the Powers that Be were trying to prevent that event, but failed miserably. She was called just a month prior to the date we believe he was turned and her watcher had been tracking the vampire Darla at the time, but somehow the vampire evaded their efforts to find her. By the time they reached the town, the only living beings left were livestock.”

“I had no idea.” Rupert muttered.

“Of course not, you haven’t studied Council history yet.”

No, but Rupert was beginning to get an idea for what he could write his NEWT history paper on. If the MacDuff family happened to have a magical slayer that would make an excellent topic. At least it wouldn’t be as overdone as Merlin. “Do you happen to have any references about that slayer?”

“There are a few mission reports, but the watcher’s diary is lost. You see, a dimensional rift appeared near Inverness. They managed to bind the only escaping demon to Loch Ness, but the watcher died in the effort. We believe the slayer took his personal affects with her when she returned to her family’s home.”

“Where it undoubtedly got buried in the family library.” Rupert filled in. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if I were to keep an eye out for any suspicious journals, but I can’t really do anything about it.”

“All you have to do is make sure that journal makes it into Mr. Wyndham’s items and doesn’t get buried in that magical pit of yours.”

“I’m so glad you think so highly of the wizarding culture.”

“If you understood politics better you wouldn’t be so quick to defend wizardkind.” Mr. Giles snapped. “I’m beginning to think you would have been better off at Sherborne.”

“If I had attended any other place, the Council would have nobody on the inside of the wizarding branch of the museum. Face it, father, I’m exactly where your people need someone.”

“And I suppose arrogance is also part of your wizarding culture.” Mr. Giles sneered.

“No, I believe I inherited that from the Watcher side of my family.” Rupert mumbled.

“I hope one day you are assigned a slayer as impertinent as you so that you finally get a dose of your own medicine. If your mother knew how disrespectful you’ve become, she’d rise from her grave just to knock you down a peg or two.” Mr. Giles retorted.

While Mr. Giles might have been wrong about Rupert’s mother, he had been right about one thing- this was an easy restaurant to eavesdrop in. Three tables down, two suspicious characters were also dining. “Now, that’s a wish that has some potential.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“Are you kidding? The watchers are wishing for impertinent slayers. Just think how much fun it would be if the slayers rebelled from the Council.”

“True. But I distinctly heard him say ‘hope’, not ‘wish.’ You can’t grant a hope.”

“Aargh, but it would be perfect!”

“I know, but rules are rules.”

“Couldn’t we just pretend he said wish? I won’t tell if you won’t.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“You always say that.” The demon sighed and returned to his menu, muttering under his breath.


~*~

“Have you read that article from the Ars Alchemica issue I gave you yesterday?” Professor Jigger quizzed his favorite pupil.

“Are you referring to Dumbledore’s commentary calling for a more ethical means of potions testing or are you referring to Borage’s comparison of the properties of New World and Old World crickets?” Severus asked, reducing the heat under his cauldron and beginning the long stirring process.

“The cricket article of course.” Jigger answered, mirroring Severus’ actions. Most days during the summer, Professor Jigger liked to experiment, but he had hit brewer’s block on his latest project. Until he figured out what the error in his process was, he and Severus were catching up on brewing stocks for the infirmary. This morning they were working on creating enough syrup of hellebore to stock up the draughts of peace, living death, and warm hearts. Unfortunately, creating the syrup involved about three hours of hand stirring for the potion to go from a clear, runny, liquid to a thick syrup. “What was your opinion of it?”

“I’m not sure, sir.”

“If there’s one thing you should always be sure of, it’s your opinion. Whether or not it’s right is a completely different matter altogether.”

“In that case, I’m inclined to argue that perhaps New World and Old World boundaries are not the appropriate way to divide crickets. It sounds like the traditional properties ascribed to Asian crickets are much more similar to the properties ascribed to New World crickets than they are to European insects.”

“I had the same response. Of course, there are two possibilities. Either the Asian crickets are more closely related to the New World variety, or the crickets of Europe somehow lost their magic.”

“In your experience, sir, do you find that crickets are primarily inert ingredients in your potions?” Severus was intrigued by this. In the Snape Grimoire, there had been the observation that crickets were only good to feed the snake-derived ingredients, but he had never heard the professional opinion of this statement.

“My family’s shop has always imported our crickets from India, so this has never been an issue in my own brewing, but if this is in fact the case, it could explain some of the problems the community has had in recreating Flamel’s Nocturnatus potion. If Flamel was in fact using Chinese crickets…”

“Do you suppose it would be worth recreating the potion with several different cricket sources?” Severus was getting excited by these ideas, and it took all of his patience to not stir the cauldron any faster than he was currently going. Nothing spoiled hellebore syrup more than impatience.

“It was not one of the trial potions suggested in the article.” Jigger said, absently nibbling on his beard.

“True, but I don’t think the potions he suggested were actually the best tests for his theory.”

“And why do you suppose that is? Surely the use of crickets in the Nocturnatus potion would be an obvious application to an entomysticologist such as Borage.”

“I suppose if Borage has been using native crickets throughout his career, his repertoire of potions only includes cases where crickets are inert ingredients. If he was depending on crickets to have potency, and they never did, he would have given up on including crickets at all. I doubt he’d even consider the Nocturnatus, given the history of failure that spell has had.”

“Ah, Severus, sometime I forget how naïve you Hogwarts students are when it comes to politics. You see, Borage is currently at Merlin College in Oxford. While he is somewhat of a rising star there, he hasn’t published in awhile. This paper is interesting, and could sway the tenure committee. However, this paper, coupled with a publication explaining the Nocturnatus conundrum, would be a greater boon. Of course, if he mentions that possibility in this paper, it is possible that another alchemist will scoop his idea.”

“Will you?”

“Hmm, it is an intriguing idea to pursue, but as Borage is one of my past apprentices and it does my reputation more good to have my protégés tenured than to add another paper to my credit, I believe I will let that idea sit.”

“What if I were to pursue the idea?” Severus asked out of curiosity.

“If your idea is derived from another, and yet you put forth a convincing display, are you allowed to take credit? Now that is an ethics question fit for a Gryffindor.”

As if on cue, there was a quiet knock at the door. “Enter only if you require my immediate attention.” Professor Jigger called out.

The door squeaked open and Lily Evans tiptoed in. “Professor Jigger?”

“Miss Evans, I trust you have not invaded my dungeons on a social visit?”

“No, sir, I was sent by Madame Pomphrey. Miss Norris has gotten into the stores and knocked over several bottles. Madame Pomphrey would like your opinion before she tries to clean it up.”

“Since when has she needed my opinion to know how to use a dustpan and mop?”

“I would imagine the fact that the potions have mixed and are eating a whole through the floor has her a bit nervous about using a mop, but it could always be the ominous grey smoke rising up from where two of the bottles hit the dustpan,” Lily offered, adding a “sir?” as an afterthought.

“How many bottles has that damnable kitten knocked over?”

“The entire top shelf, sir.”

“The top shelf? You mean, the place Pomphrey keeps the… oh dear. That really won’t wait until after lunch, but I would hate to lose an entire batch of hellebore syrup. Evans, do you have your wand with you?”

Lily pulled her wand out of her robes, not trusting her voice in front of her least favorite professor. “As soon as I remove the tip of my wand from the cauldron, I need you to put your wand in the exact same location and stir in a clockwise direction, at the exact pace Severus is stirring. Are you capable of doing that?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well.” Professor Jigger stood up from his brewing stool without missing a beat in his stirring. He waited until Lily was standing directly next to him. He cautiously lifted his wand and was relieved to see Lily pick up the stirring right where he had left off. “Severus, I trust you know the endpoints for this formula. Please make sure she maintains a constant pace. If you have any trouble, send a house elf to fetch me.”

“Yes, sir.” Severus answered, keeping his eyes focused on his own cauldron. Jigger grabbed a few bottles from his private stores and ran out of the room.

“So, what are we making?” Lily asked, settling onto the stool Professor Jigger had just vacated.

“Syrup of hellebore. Be careful not to cut on the far corners there.”

“Is that the stuff that looks like molasses but smells like dirt? That takes a long time to stir, doesn’t it?”

“I’ve never had a batch take more than four hours.” Severus said, glancing between the two cauldrons to make sure they looked about the same.

“If it takes so long to stir, you should use one of those automatic stirring spells.” Lily offered an idea.

“Ah, how clever you are. I wonder why none of the 800+ past and present members of the Alchemy Society have ever thought of that… Oh that’s right, they did try that, back in the 1500s and it failed miserably.”

“Fine. You don’t have to be so mean about it. It was an honest suggestion.”

“Perhaps, but I find it odd that you know the texture and smell of the syrup but have conveniently forgotten the history of its formulation. This is one of the basic potions on the NEWT syllabus.”

“We haven’t covered it in class though.” Lily countered.

“No, undoubtedly it will be covered this fall.”

“See!”

“So, how do you know what it smells like if you’re so ignorant about all other aspects of the syrup?”

“Oh, it happened to come up when I was talking with Madame Pomphrey this morning. We were just discussing treatments for severe trauma, and when I mentioned that we hadn’t yet brewed the Draught of Living Death, she brought up the brewing process.”

“I see.” The pair of students fell into an uneasy silence. Lily was always uncomfortable in the potions labs and Severus was a bit miffed at Jigger’s absence just as the conversation was getting interesting. Finally, Severus took pity on the girl. “So, do you and Madame Pomphrey talk about potions often?” He offered as an olive branch.

“Off and on, I guess. We talk about various medical issues she’s seen in her years at Hogwarts, and what possible options she had to treat them. There are a few potion issues, but most of the problems are quidditch related.”

“Really? I would have thought unintended spell damage would be a bigger problem.” Severus mused.

“I had thought so too, but you’d be surprised at the sorts of stupid things boys do when they have their brooms shoved between their legs… or maybe not.” Lily blushed.

“Gran says the same thing.” Severus commiserated.

“So how about you? What do you do all day with Professor Jigger?” Lily decided to turn the tables a bit and get Severus talking.

“We brew potions.”

“What sorts of potions?”

“All sorts.” Severus frowned. He knew Lily was trying to get him to talk, but he honestly had no idea what to say. He spent so much time alone in the lab that the idea of talking for the sake of talking was foreign to him. “Most of the time, we work on experimental potions, but sometimes we work on potions for other professors, mainly the infirmary, although we did make a fertilizer potion for Sprout once when she was trying to cultivate African tiger violets.”

“That sounds nice.” Lily nodded.

“Not really. The fertilizer smelled awful.” Severus commented.

“I meant, the two of you working on things for the other professors.”

“You didn’t think two Slytherins had it in them to help their fellow man.” Severus filled in her missing comment.

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to. It was obvious by your face. Just what do you have against Slytherins anyway?”

“I don’t have anything against Slytherins. What do you have against Gryffindors?”

“I don’t have anything against the concept of Gryffindor, in general, its just a few influential members of your house that I have a serious problem with.”

“I could say the same thing about Slytherin. Plus, I have a friend in Slytherin.”

“I wasn’t aware we were in a competition to see who was the most open-minded.” Severus teased.

“We’re not, I just… so, how is Rupert?”

“Muddy is fine. He loves his job at the Museum. His boss is a cheerfully clueless Ravenclaw that tends to repeat everything he says. Rupert is learning Waelic, even though the language is even more dead than Latin. Nana is convinced he’s grown another two inches in the past month. Oh, and he sends his greetings.”

“Really?” Lily’s eyes lit up. “When was this?”

“When did he send his greetings?” Severus looked at her strangely. “I guess the last time he flooed. I think that was Tuesday.”

“Wait, you mean, he can floo-call here? You don’t have to use owls?”

“There’s a pot of floo by the fire place in our commons. What, you thought the fire place was just for show?”

“No.” Lily pouted. “I just thought no one used it in the summer because it wasn’t cold outside.”

“You’re such a mess, Evans.” Severus rolled his eyes.

“So will you show me how to use it after dinner tonight?”

“You’ve never made a floo call?”

“No?” Lily kept her eyes on the cauldrons to avoid Severus’ exasperated look.

“Rupert wasn’t kidding. You really do need a tour guide for the wizarding world.”

“So you’ll help me call Meggie tonight?” She smiled sweetly hoping the look would have the same effect on Severus that it had on his brother.

“No.”

“But I thought…”

“No, you didn’t. If you had thought, you’d realize that the last thing I would want for my summer vacation is to see MacDuff’s head hanging out of my fireplace. If Remus isn’t chatting with his boyfriend,” Severus sneered, “I can demonstrate how to call Rupert after supper, but I refuse to talk to that harpy friend of yours.”

“Remus has a boyfriend? How is that possible?” Lily frowned, this conversation was full of all sorts of new information, and here she was thinking she had finally gotten a handle on the Remus and Severus dynamic.

“Evans, wand in the cauldron!” Severus barked at Lily, not willing to let the batch of syrup sour due to her distraction by some meaningless Gryffindor gossip. “No, he does not have a boyfriend. I was referring to Black and/or Potter.”

“They may as well be dating for how much time the four of them spend together.”

“You mean three of them.”

“I mean four of them. You forgot Pettigrew.”

“No I didn’t. He doesn’t count.”

“Everyone always forgets Pettigrew, but he’s right there with them on all their pranks.” Lily observed.

“And if we were talking about pranks, I’d agree with you. However, we were talking about people Remus would voluntarily contact on the floo. Two years ago, when Remus had spent sixteen hours straight in the library and was pulling out his hair in boredom and neither Black nor Potter were home, Remus did not floo Peter. He talked to me. Which just demonstrates how thoroughly desperate Remus would have to be before he’d floo Pettigrew.”

“Or maybe Remus just wanted to talk to you. Have you considered that?” Severus shot Lily a scathing look. “What? It’s possible.”

“You Gryffindors have the strangest ideas.”

“It’s not a strange idea. I’ve spent the past month watching the two of you banter back and forth at every meal like you’ve been best friends forever. Your sense of humor is twisted and wrong, but I think Remus finds it funny.”

“Anyone with a highly developed sense of irony would find my sense of humor funny. It’s not my fault that you don’t get the jokes.”

“I get the jokes. They’re just not funny.”

“How is it that you don’t find my jokes funny, but you find Rupert’s jokes funny? His jokes are awful, and even more ironic than mine.”

“Maybe it’s because he smiles when he tells them? You’re always so dour, as if the world would explode if you just lightened up for one moment.”

“If there was a reason to lighten up, I might try it. But the world has yet to give me the opportunity.” Severus couldn’t help but sound bitter. He was getting tired of always being compared with Rupert. “In case you haven’t noticed, our world is at war, and as much as Remus tries not to bring it up at meals, it doesn’t change the fact that things are getting worse. Have you seen Dumbledore at all this summer? No, he’s trying to rally the wizarding world against this threat. My mother is risking her life every day for some stupid group of muggles, and when I should be out there helping her, I’m stuck here brewing potions and living up to the family name. I’ve been destined to be a potion master from the day I was born. I can’t even be an apothecary- I have to be a master, because Snapes are always masters. Snapes don’t lighten up.”

“You could change that, you know.” Lily said. “Just because there’s a war doesn’t mean life ends. It just means life is more precious, so you should do things right the first time around. Laugh while you have the chance.”

“Be brave, that’s the Gryffindor philosophy.” Severus scoffed. Lily rolled her eyes. The room fell silent. The two glared at each other, then studiously avoided the other’s glare by paying attention to their cauldrons.

“You’re stirring too slowly.” Severus finally critiqued.

“Right, of course.” Lily sighed as she tried to match her stirs to Severus’. “My arm is getting tired.”

“So switch arms.” Severus snapped.

“I can’t. I’ve tried it before, and whenever I switch to my left, I always end up turning counterclockwise. It’s this natural instinct.”

“Really?” Severus experimentally switched his wand between his two hands, never missing a beat with his stirring. “I don’t see the problem.”

“Really? Meggie has the same problem with her potions, so I know it’s not just me. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re magically ambidextrous.”

“Magically ambidextrous? I can do magic with both hands?”

“Well, can you?”

“Honestly, I’ve never tried doing spells with my right.”

“So you’re a lefty?”

“Brilliant observation there, Evans.”

“No wonder I always found you so sinister.” Lily teased. Severus groaned. “What? I can be funny.”

“No, that was nothing resembling humor; that was a bad pun.”

“Fine.” Lily smirked. “So, you can stir with your right hand. Can you do anything else with your right hand?”

“Either that is the worst pick up line I’ve ever heard, or you’re really just that desperate for conversation.”

“First of all, if that was a pick up line, it’s probably the only pick up line you’ve ever heard. I’m not sensing you get a lot of competition there.”

“Harsh, Evans.” Severus was clearly not insulted.

“Second of all, I really am that desperate. If I’m expected to stay in this dungeon stirring a cauldron until Jigger fixes the infirmary mess, I need to be distracted, or I swear to you, I will go quite mad.”

“A mad Gryffindor, perish the thought.”

“So can you?”

“Not that I can see any relevance, but yes, I can do other things with my right hand.”

“Such as?”

Severus bit his tongue on the first thing that came to his mind. “I can fence.”

“Really? Like with real swords?”

“No, with completely artificial swords.”

“Hmm.”

“You know I was kidding right?”

“About knowing how to fence?”

“No, I know how to fence. I just use real swords.”

“Does your brother know how to fence?”

“Of course. Why else do you think I’d have to know how to fence right-handed?”

“Oh. Do all Slytherins know how to fence?”

“Yes. That’s why the sorting hat spends longer on the Slytherin first years. It has to
quickly pass on all the ancestral Slytherin knowledge to the members, including dueling, fencing, and underwater basket weaving.”

“Please say you’re kidding. The mental picture of Prunella weaving baskets in the lake is frightening.”

“Under water basket weaving doesn’t actually occur under water. It just means the reeds have been soaking overnight to be pliant.” Severus snapped back.

“So you really do have all that information shoved into your heads. Fascinating. And here I was thinking it was just the Gryffindors that were born with special powers.”

“Gryffindors have special powers?”

“Of course.”

“Name one.”

“Well… we know all the secret passages in the castle.”

“What do you consider a secret passage?”

“Well, for starters, there’s that second stairwell located off the herbology greenhouses.”

“That’s not a secret. It’s in Hogwarts: A History.”

“Then there’s the secret entrance to the kitchens.”

“What secret entrance?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“It wouldn’t be much of a secret if we told other houses.”

“Well, at least give me a clue.”

“It has to do with a painting.”

“You mean the ticklish pear?”

“Oh, you know of it.”

“Everyone knows of that one.”

“I guess that explains why the house elves are never surprised to see us.”

“Actually, I think it has more to do with the fact that its very hard to surprise a house elf. You can drink an invisibility potion, cast silencing spells on your shoes, and create a diversion in a separate part of the house completely, and they’ll still catch you trying to sneak cookies out of their kitchen. You just can’t fool a house elf.”

“Is this coming from experience?”

“Maybe?” Severus said with a mischievous grin.

“Well, I’ll be.” Lily said with a bit of surprise.

“What?”

“You can smile.” Lily remarked. “I owe Rupert five galleons.”
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