(Sequel of "The Cat")
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, Scotland
Minerva MacGonagall´s office
"Your neighbour you say..." Minerva mumbled, deep in thought.
"I know, it sounds preposterous..."
They sat silently facing each other for a few seconds, as the fire gently burned, colouring Minerva´s office in soft shades of gold and orange. Severus sunk down in his chair, enjoying the familiarity of being back at Hogwarts even if momentarily. For good or bad Hogwarts was the closest thing to home he had, maybe even more so than his childhood home in Spinner´s End. Spinner´s End was a retreat, a place filled with memories and ghosts he came back to whenever life was too heavy to bear. Hogwarts, however was the place where his life had actually taken it´s course. Spinner´s End was dream and reverie, Hogwarts was reality, blunt and crude. Coming back was like revisiting what made him into what he was, and as much as he didn´t like what he had become, it was all he had.
"Well, what evidence do you have? " Minerva´s quiet voice brought him back to the earth.
"Just this afternoon...Miss Black invited me for tea..."
"She did?" Minerva chuckled lightly, obviously amused at the notion "And you accepted it?"
"Minerva, it´s serious."
"I´m sorry.." she smiled "Do carry on..."
"Well, the subject of her grandfather came up and I asked to see those papers she was talking about. Minerva, I´m telling you, there´s no doubt in my mind that Evelyn Black is a member of the proverbial Noble and Most Ancient House of Black"
"Are you sure this isn´t just one big coincidence. Her last name might have given you the impression...."
"That´s what I thought, until she showed me this..." He stood up and walked towards her desk, taking a bunch of folded papers from the pocket of his jacket. Minerva followed and watched closely as Snape unfolded a very large sheet of yellowing paper, revealing a most intricate family tree. Straightening up her glasses, Minerva leaned in and took a close look.
"But this is..." She looked at him completely taken aback by surprise.
"The Black family tree...In fact not just that, but a complete family tree of the Black family which includes the marriages the Blacks contracted with other pure blood families...The Malfoys, the Weasleys, the Crabbes, the Princes..."
"How could a muggle possibly be in possession of such a thing..."
"According to what Miss Black told me herself, this was among her late grandfather´s belongings... Also according to her..." He pointed out one of the names in the main family tree "this is her late grandfather."
"Yes. The very same Marius Black who was disowned and banished from the family for being a squib, in the 1930s. According to her, Marius Black, left her this family tree, and this house." He handed her the copy of the house deed Evelyn had given him.
"But this document...is one of those documents used in wizard-muggle transactions, isn´t it?"
"It seems the house next to mine at Spinner´s End once belonged to the Blacks and the Princes, possibly due to a marriage, and for whatever reason, was passed on to Marius´ name."
"How much do you think she knows about the Black family?"
"Close to nothing...It seems her grandfather left England when he was around twenty, settled in Ireland, got married raised his own family never telling anyone anything about his past. As far as I could tell, all of this is a mystery to her."
"And it should remain as such...Severus, the implications..." She let out, her eyes fixated on the papers he had just shown her.
"I´m well aware of them, Minerva." He walked away from her and poured himself a glass of water from her cabinet. "Keeping this from her might be a bit of a problem though...She really is a Black, there´s no denying it...Even the family resemblance..."
"Indeed?"-Minerva raise an eyebrow.
"Yes." He nodded, swallowing a gulp of water. "Pretty hard to miss, you know the Blacks have this look about them..."
"Well, the Black family is known for producing some rather good-looking members..." she laughed lightly "But maybe you´re exaggerating a bit? Is not like they all have Black written on their foreheads"...
Severus put his glass down, and fumbled a little with the internal pockets of his jacket. He produced a hard cover book and opened it, handing it to her.
"See for yourself" He pointed at the black and white picture inside. Minerva brought the book near the closest source of light and inspected the photo.
"Indeed you´re right, Severus...She´s a lovely lass." She smiled
"I never said she was 'lovely' "He hissed, annoyed.
Minerva looked at him with a hint of amusement in her expression. Shaking her head, she browsed through the book for a while, reading the summary with vivid interest. Then she took a long look at the cover.
"Evelyn Black...A charming name as well...So, she´s a writer..."
"A historian," he added "Graduated in on of the most prestigious muggle Universities, apparently she specifically writes about history of witchcraft, which leads me to think that her grandfather might have told her something about magic...This is no ordinary muggle we´re dealing with here, Minerva..."
"I can see that...It would be disastrous if any muggle we´re to discover the existence of the Wizarding world....But this muggle in particular...We must do something about it, Severus. If Miss Black keeps investigating, she´s bound to find something she shouldn´t."
"That´s precisely the reason I´m here Minerva."
"Before we do anything, you must discover how much she already knows and..."
"Minerva, Minerva..." he shook his head, his voice taking on a slightly aggravated tone "I´ve been playing the spy for seventeen bloody years, I no longer have the patience..."
"Severus, listen to me, please...This woman lives next door to you, and she obviously trusts you, otherwise she wouldn´t have told you all of this"
"She doesn´t trust me..." he smirked, visibly annoyed "She is a parrot, that´s all."
"Oh, Severus..." Minerva chuckled ever so slightly, as if she was witnessing a small temper tantrum from a toddler.
"Don´t laugh Minerva, I´m serious, that woman just can´t keep her mouth shut. She would talk to whoever happened to be around to listen..."
"Precisely, my friend...You were around to listen...She just left her home and her country... And you happen to live next door. That make you the closest person to her right now...And since she´s such a chatterbox as you just said, I´m sure getting information out of her should be easy enough for one with your experience."
"Minerva, I just told you, I´ve spend too much of my life being a spy under Dumbledore´s orders...You seriously don´t think I will..."
"I´m sure I´m giving you a much easier, not to mention more pleasant, 'task' than those Dumbledore did back then, Severus." She smiled