Dear Ms Granger,
My trip has been successful, weather- and ingredients-wise. I came across something that might benefit you in London; therefore, please send me your Muggle address as my little owl is far too inexperienced for a cross-continental flight.
Dear Mr Princip,
I live at 21 Beresford Lane, London, N8 0AL,United Kingdom.
Did you live in Britain at some time in your life?
Damn! One little word – cross-continental – and she had picked up on it. For Brits there was Great Britain and there was “the continent”, aka the rest of Europe.
He really had to be more careful. Best to send her the headscarf now instead of closer to Christmas. It might throw her off his scent.
Dear Mr Princip,
Thank you very much for that lovely headscarf; it complements my new winter cloak perfectly.
I am grateful that you haven’t ever asked about the war or about my friends, Harry in particular; therefore, please be assured that I won’t pry into anything you choose not to reveal.
I have one personal question, however – how old are you? You can’t be too close to my own age if you have known Headmaster Snape professionally, but considering your use of a computer, I do not picture you as ancient either. But maybe that’s my prejudice concerning wizards and Muggle technology talking ...
I would be honoured if you called me by my given name.
As the Bora is neither deterred by double-glazed windows nor by warming and anti-draught charms I – or at least my joints – feel ancient, but in truth I am a sprightly 52.
The harvest is in, but orders for Yule haven’t started to arrive yet; therefore, I am catching up on my reading. Call me Zelko.
He had been Zelko Princip for more than fifteen years. Yet in this instance, he wished to sign with his real name. Severus chose not to examine that feeling too closely.
Catching up with old Daily Prophets, he found some mildly interesting facts in the gossip column. It seemed that the Potters were expecting their third child, and Astoria Malfoy, née Greengrass, was caught in a picture wearing uncharacteristically loose robes. The reporter was speculating on a brother or sister for little Scorpius. The elder Malfoys were reportedly taking a holiday in a new Wizarding resort in Miramare. Startled, Severus checked the date of the rag. It was ten days old. Time for a little spying.
Snape did not have to dig deep. Lucius and Narcissa had indeed arrived in Miramare and were still there, as reported by the Triestinian Troll, the local Wizarding newspaper (which was even worse than its name suggested).
Security in Miramare’s wizarding spa was tight, but no deterrent for an ex-Death Eater and spy. Severus simply watched the gardeners arriving for the first shift in the early morning gloom, transfigured his robes to match their uniforms, applied the merest hint of a Do-not-notice-me-charm on himself and wandered in with the others.
He knew the Malfoys to be late risers; therefore, he busied himself with a rake, a wheelbarrow and fallen leaves in the remotest corner of the vast pleasure gardens. When he went to empty his wheelbarrow, he took different routes through the area and acquainted himself with its layout. By eleven, he had stored away his tools and waited patiently – and Disillusioned – behind some bushes in the part of the garden Narcissa would most likely favour.
After thirty minutes, his plan paid off. Narcissa came into view amidst the white parasol tops, while Lucius could be seen talking to another guest some hundred yards behind.
Severus breathed deeply, took off his Disillusionment charm and ambled closer from the other direction, body language as non-threatening as possible. When he was close enough, he said, “I like this part of the garden most. It is very peaceful in its simplicity, don’t you think?”
After his first words, she tensed, looked up and gasped. Severus was by her side immediately, making a move to take her elbow. Mrs Malfoy took a step back and squinted up at his face, backlit against the sun.
Up this close, Severus could detect the signs that she was nearly sixty, but she still looked much better than when he had seen her the last time in the company of her deranged sister.
"No, no, I am all right.”
Severus took a gamble. “Narcissa, why don’t we sit down?”
She breathed in his scent – the one thing neither charms nor potions could change – and started to tremble. He quickly led her to a nearby bench.
“Severus, is that really you?”
“Yes, Narcissa. Do you remember the little Duplo train I gave Draco for his third birthday? We had to hide it from Lucius.”
Narcissa Malfoy touched his face while tears formed in her eyes. She peppered his forehead and cheeks with salty kisses before she started to sob uncontrollably against his shoulder. Severus was unexpectedly close to tears himself and drew Narcissa deeper in the comfort of his arms.
“Unhand my wife at once!”