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Snape sighed as he trudged up the stairs. Black Friday had been hectic as always, with shoppers racing around buying potions and demanding deals. He didn't know how many times he'd told a customer that the "buy one get one free" only applied to potions with a blue price tag. More than a few customers had picked a fight with him over the issue; Sparky had to be summoned to escort some of them out the door.
He slumped down at the table and put his head in his hands. Then he heard a faint hoot outside. Groaning, he walked over to the window, opened it, and untied a letter from the leg of a great horned owl. It read:
I am sorry for the turmoil I caused yesterday at dinner, though I suspect now you understand the reason. If you need help finding a new defense attorney, I have a few in mind who would be perfect for the job.
Snape threw the letter to the ground and scowled. The last thing he needed to deal with right now was Ginny and her games. He stalked over to his chair, ignoring the owl's pleas for food. "What's wrong?" Hermione asked as she strolled into the kitchen.
He smiled wanly as she approached the table, carrying a book and two pieces of paper. "Nothing," Snape answered, his anger dissipated. "Ginny owled me about getting a new defense attorney."
"Oh," Hermione sighed.
"I'm trying to tactfully tell her that I'm perfectly happy with my current counsel, but I fear she won't be very receptive to that," he answered.
Hermione smiled. "Thank you."
He smiled. "You can thank me by winning."
Her smile widened. "Don't worry, I will."
A comfortable silence fell between them until Hermione's eyes lit up. "I received something this morning you may be interested in."
"Really?" Snape drawled.
She pulled out the two folded pieces of paper. "Take a look!"
Snape took them from her and examined them. One had a picture of a woman in a bed with a man dressed in black standing over her. He opened the paper and read; "Get well soon Miss Hermione!-Margarita."
Snape beamed as he picked up the other one. This one showed a sad face with a thermometer. When he opened it, Snape read, "I'm sorry Mummy was so mean to you. I hope you feel better soon-Scorpius."
"They seem to have taken a liking to you," Snape answered as he beamed.
"It was one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me," Hermione replied and then chuckled. "I'm almost surprised they're Draco's."
"He changed after the war," Snape commented.
"We all did," Hermione replied.
"Indeed," Snape answered.
Silence hung over them until Hermione asked, "What's for dinner? You look hungry."
"I am pretty famished," Snape admitted. "I suppose we have leftovers."
"Of course," Hermione replied.
"Would you rather have something else?" he asked.
"No, I'm just wondering if we'll be eating beef for the next three weeks," Hermione replied with a smirk.
Snape smiled. "The elves will make a stew with it on Saturday."
"Sounds divine," Hermione replied. "In Philadelphia it would probably be snowing right now."
"It's supposed to get cold soon."
"How cold is cold?" Hermione asked.
"Fifty degrees," Snape replied with a smirk.
"You," She playfully scowled.
He chuckled. "It feels cold after you've spent a whole summer with temperatures over a hundred."
"Maybe if you wouldn't wear such thick robes it would feel cooler," Hermione replied with a smirk.
Snape and Hermione laughed before she continued, "Anyway, I was hoping you'd like to go over the names of the customers with me. I'm on the day of the murder…"
"The day the killer most likely came," Snape replied.
"Exactly," Hermione answered.
"I suppose I could help," Snape replied with a flicker of hope in his eyes. "Though I'd suggest eating first."
"Good idea," Hermione replied.
Snape summoned Sparky and asked him to fix some leftovers for them. Sparky complied. Snape and Hermione ate quickly, both eager to dive back into the investigation. After Sparky removed the plates, Snape sat next to Hermione and leaned over the book.
"Abner Applebee?" Hermione asked.
"Never heard of him," Snape answered.
"No," Snape answered.
"Wendy Banks?" Hermione asked.
"No," Snape sighed.
"That's an odd name," Snape joked.
"No! Giselle Anger! Ares Philips has a girlfriend named Giselle!" Hermione answered.
"Really?" Snape gasped.
"Yes! Ares' girlfriend is Giselle!"
"Do you know her last name?" Snape asked, just as excited as she was.
"No," she answered, the enthusiasm dying.
"So it could be a coincidence," Snape sighed.
Hermione's eyes sparked with interest as she mused, "Giselle isn't a common name in the United States, especially in wizarding circles. It would be an odd coincidence to just so happen to have some one named Giselle buying Polyjuice potion at the same time another Giselle is out shopping."
"It's still not a smoking gun," Snape replied.
"No, far from it," Hermione conceded. "But it does add some suspicion, especially since Giselle has no real alibi."
"What do you mean?" Snape asked.
"She was supposedly in her room throwing up at the time of the murder," Hermione replied.
"Did she see a medi-witch?" Snape asked.
"No. In fact, Perpetua mentioned nothing about her feeling, looking, or acting sick in her report," Hermione answered.
"Interesting," Snape replied.
"As I said, this may be a completely different Giselle, but if it is the same one…"
"Then it raises some interesting questions," Snape replied with a smirk.
"Exactly!" Hermione answered.