The Sugar Quill
Author: Sweeney Agonistes (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: One Wise Woman  Chapter: Chapter One
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Part One

A/N: With thanks to Zsenya for her help with the story, and R.J. Anderson for leading me to SugarQuill in the first place.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,

But there was no information, and so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon…

-from "Journey of the Magi", T.S. Eliot

Albus had granted leave for the day to any faculty member who wished it. Seeing as it was Christmas Eve and I had not yet purchased my sister Medea a gift, I went down to Hogsmeade, spent some time in my flat there, and thought about what Medea could want. She enjoyed books - she was a researcher for the Department of Mysteries - and I could likely find her something at Bodley and Tohms. After a fortifying cup of tea, I braved the thickly-falling snow and trudged down the high street. It was nearly five o'clock, and the stores were preparing to close for the holiday. I'd have to hurry.

I entered the store followed by a whirlwind of snowflakes. Browsing the stacks, I found a copy of Magical Moron: The Unauthorized Biography of Gilderoy Lockhart. I figured that since I had complained to Medea all that year about that buffoon, she would enjoy the book. She certainly had enjoyed my letters about him, or so she said; apparently, they served as needed comic relief.

I paid and exited, keeping one hand firmly planted on my hat. The wind had picked up, and the snow seemed so thick as to be a blizzard. I managed to struggle about twenty feet back up the street before having to duck in the Three Broomsticks to shelter from the storm. Brushing the snow off of my cloak, I took a brief glance around to see quite a brouhaha.

Rosmerta, the proprietress, was bawling out the young bartender. "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times - never serve Severus Snape! The man gives me the chills, and I don't want him in my pub!"

The bartender, however, was giving as good as he got. Slamming down a shot glass, he shouted, "You saw how he was! A man in his condition needs a stiff drink - he doesn't need to be thrown out in the cold!"

"That still doesn't excuse you giving him a bottle of - "

I cleared my throat. Rosmerta jumped, saw me, and quickly became all smiles. "Professor McGonagall! What can I get for you?"

I put on my sternest, most professorial look. "You can tell me where Professor Snape is."

Rosmerta immediately assumed an indignant look. "He stumbled out of here, drunk as a Muggle - "

"With no little assistance from Rosmerta's foot," put in the bartender with a glare.

Rosmerta returned the glare and continued, "And where he went from there, I neither know nor care."

I nodded curtly, thanked her, and left the Three Broomsticks. Well, really. Severus was not the most cheerful person in the world, but even drunk, you didn't shove someone out in the middle of a howling snowstorm - and on Christmas Eve, no less.

I could hardly see, and that was likely why I stumbled on something. I looked down at my feet and saw a body. A long, black-clad body clutching a bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhisky and snow collecting on the limp black hair. It was Severus.

Sighing, I considered my options. I couldn't leave him there. I couldn't Apparate back to Hogwarts - even if the wards weren't there, I certainly couldn't get him to Apparate while he was inebriated. Floo powder - now there was an idea. I could take him back to my flat, light a fire, and get him back to Hogwarts from there. Having settled that, I drew out my wand and murmured, "Mobilicorpus!"

Having raised Severus in front of me, I kept an arm on his shoulder to keep him from being buffeted about too badly by the wind. He also served as a shield for me - a light punishment for being drunk, even if it was a holiday. He was a teacher, after all, and a role model. That sort of thing just wasn't done.

We reached my flat in due time, and after removing his cloak, I stretched him out on the old sofa in the living room. It was then that I noticed that not only was he soaked, a darker substance had crusted on his shirt. A reddish substance that looked a great deal like blood.

//
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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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