«Right, then,» Severus said, adjusting the Spectator slightly. It was the first time Lily saw one in action, and she watched it with interest. Golden, delicate and intricate with gears, levers, and a small glass container resting over one of its three feet, it looked like an old-fashioned Muggle ship navigation instrument had crossbred with the insides of a clock, though its symmetry was broken by the large and round glass lens at its top. Lily could see the room reflected on its pale blue surface, taking in everything. Severus pushed the highest of its three levers down, and its tiny gears started whirring. A twinkle flashed in the lens, and Lily knew it was recording more than her voice and appearance.

She looked away, discomforted. None of the other three seemed to pay it any mind.

«You can start talking now,» Severus said. His voice sounded oddly flat. The room they were in was clad entirely in metal, illuminated by magic and not a single specific source, though it seemed to swallow noise. It was like sitting inside a safe deposit box.

And Lily did, starting with the moment Weasley and Longbottom had appeared around the corner and describing the events that had occurred with as much relevant detail as she could. She paused several times to give Riddle and Skeeter the chance to add something, but they never did: to look at their stony faces one would think they were serving detention for having spoken in class.

As she spoke, she felt her eyes constantly drawn back to the Spectator's lens. It had not moved, but she could feel it focus on her.

When she finished Severus nudged the Spectator slightly, so that it could watch him as well. It was time for the interrogation to begin.

He looked to the two enforcers first.

«Is there anything either one of you would like to add?» he asked, as was procedure, but did not bother waiting for an answer before he continued, zeroing in on Skeeter. «It seems as if you followed your orders and saw nothing out of the ordinary, apart from what miss Evans herself described. Is that correct?»

«Yes,» she confirmed in a monotone.

«Then it sounds like the only thing you need to improve is your reaction time. Things might have gone very differently had you not been taken out by an imperiused housewife!» he said, and the anger he'd been suppressing bled through to his voice towards the end of the sentence. Lily suppressed a grimace, though Skeeter did not seem fazed. If anything, something about her eyebrows told Lily that they wanted to rise insolently.

Severus still took a moment to let his words sink in with the woman, likely hoping for a humbled reaction. When Skeeter failed to give him one, he relented. «You're dismissed,» he said through gritted teeth.

Skeeter nodded quietly, and Lily caught a glimpse of anger on her face as she got up. The second she released her chair, it crumpled to the floor in one fluid motion and was swallowed up, like an ice sculpture melting into a lake. Lily only barely stopped her jaw from dropping at the neat sight.

Skeeter's heels clacked hollowly against the floor as she walked out of the room, and Lily was once again struck by how muted the noise was, absorbed by the walls.

The door closed behind Skeeter, and without her presence and chair the room seemed larger and three people in it to be sitting even further apart, and the Spectator seemed to focus all the more keenly on the remaining three. She folded her hands in her lap to keep from fidgeting.

Severus took a moment to look down at his procedural form before looking back up at them, and when he looked back up he seemed to have suppressed some of his indignation. Lily felt apprehension coiling in her stomach anyway.

«Mister Riddle, what did you do after the explosion?» Severus began.

Riddle pressed his lips together. «Lockhart and I were both knocked off of our feet and I lost my wand. Lockhart was completely out of it, or at least he stopped moaning when I checked on him…» he raised his eyebrows at no one in particular, «I think about a full minute went by until I was on my feet again. I figured he'd gone The Leaky Cauldron, so I took off in that direction. I came into Diagon Alley after about a minute, miss Evans already filled you in on that part…»

Severus nodded to himself. «Is there anything that either of you think you should have done differently?» he then asked.

Lily was afraid to answer that one.

She shot a look at Tom Riddle, but he had his eyes on the Spectator and did not seem to notice her. He'd cleaned up nicely, she noticed. When Severus had found and released them they had been a sorry sight indeed, tied up and covered in debris as they were, but he was the one who had also been in an explosion and had his cheek slashed open, so for him to have become more presentable than her in the hour Severus had given them as he gave his own report after bringing them back to the Auror Department was quite impressive.

But Severus had asked her a question, so she brought her mind back to the matter at hand. She could tell that there was something that came to his mind immediately, but she could not for the life of her think of anything. She chose to protect Skeeter and the exit, Apparated them away from the grenade, then for the scuffle with Weasley she was mostly reacting…

She looked back up at Severus. «No,» she said, in perhaps a quieter voice then she would have liked.

Severus narrowed his eyes. «How about neither one of you ever attempting to stun him?»

Lily's eyes widened and she searched frantically for answers, but Riddle spoke before her, shifting his gaze to stare directly into Severus'. «It's very difficult to aim while running, sir, more so aiming so as not to hit any Muggle explosives he might still be carrying while he's throwing a live grenade at your supervisor,» he said, adding a pleasant smile at the end.

Snape reddened in anger, while Lily paled at the thought of the man blowing up in front of her, because of her. «I'm ashamed to say that detonating any of his bombs didn't occur to me, I had different reasons,» she said before Snape could say anything to Riddle. «The shock of mrs Longbottom not being a criminal caught me off guard at first, then there was the grenade… and I confess that after mister Riddle had blocked the portal and mrs Longbottom was unconscious I thought we had him.»

It probably spoke volumes of Severus' high esteem of her that he had nothing snide to say about that last bit, though his tone was rather terse when he continued. «And when you realized he was still armed?»

Why, we panicked, she thought, and looked to Riddle again, hoping he had a better answer. He didn't. It fell to Lily to speak. «At first I didn't want to make any sudden moves, but when Weasley went for it… I thought he was about to blow us all up.»

«And it did not occur to either one of you that magic might help more against getting blown up than… what, grabbing the bomb?» Oh, there he was, the snide Severus she remembered from Hogwarts. He had never been snide to her, though. She sunk a little in her chair. Next to her, Riddle stiffened. «Or the man's arm?»

«Sir, he did not-» Riddle started, but Severus cut him off.

«What, calmly let himself be arrested? After he'd detonated two bombs in Diagon Alley?» Severus' voice was rising again.

«It was-» Lily tried, but Severus cut her off as well.

«He tried to kill six people in less than ten minutes, it's a miracle he did not succeed even once, and now he's on the loose because the two of you thought you had it under control, forgot about your wands, and were distracted by a loud noise,» Severus got up off his chair and started pacing, stressing each mistake with angry gestures as he listed them, procedure and Spectator both apparently forgotten. Pausing only for breath, he continued, «And that's not to mention the massive destruction of public property in a very public place, most of which YOU caused,» he whirled around to point furiously to Riddle, «which I'll now have to explain to McGonagall, who'll have to wrangle repair funds out of the Treasury, and this is all not to mention the headache Communications is going to have!»

Tom Riddle had zoned out, she realized. And he wasn't being discreet about it either, his facial expression resembled that of a parent waiting for their toddler to run out of steam as it throws a tantrum. As she watched, he let out a small sigh and slumped a little in his chair.

Severus was too caught up in his rant to notice as he paused for another few seconds to breathe. «You may have thought you were acting reasonably, but at every turn you both made the most arrogant, unthinking decisions you could have, and as a result,» he was getting riled up again, «not only did you ruin the mission, but this incompetence threatens to undermine ALBUS itself!»

Lily's eyes widened as Severus' words sank in. He was right. The public would never know, but Lily had always been of the opinion that trees do make sound when they fall, regardless of how desolate they are.

The Spectator's lens rested heavily upon her.

Severus had stopped pacing. When he finally spoke, his voice was quiet: «Our job as law enforcers may be to catch criminals, but the intention behind that, our reason, method and justification, is ALBUS. Every life in Wizarding Britain lies in in ALBUS' hands, and ALBUS in turn requires our absolute trust.» He paused to let the words sink in. When he continued, his voice had grown even quieter, even more intense. «Imagine if the public was to learn of this incident, and realize that we who are supposed to enforce ALBUS can make simple, arrogant, human mistakes!» His voice rose again towards the end.

He was quiet again, either to make them squirm or to find fuel for more yelling.

Lily could only lower her head in acknowledgement of his words, thoroughly chastised.

He let them (well, Lily, as Riddle continued to look as if he was indulging a particularly difficult child) stew for a few moments.

«Do you have anything to say for yourselves?» he asked at last.

They did not.

«Then let me say it for you,» he said, and Lily almost let her jaw fall in dismay. There was more?

«Riddle,» he began. The man's look of boredom slipped off his face immediately, replaced by a thoroughly polite and thoroughly fake look of attentiveness. «Li- Miss Evans mentioned that you knew who Weasley was and that he was lying. Correct?»

«Yes.»

«You used Legilimency, correct?»

(Lily's ears sharpened at that. Riddle was a Legilimens? She suddenly remembered the moment she'd first made eye contact with the man and the feeling she'd had, as though something within her had been seized and examined— oh, the bastard.)

«Well, yes, but-» Riddle said, but was interrupted, causing a displeased frown to mar his .

«Then why did you not think to see if he was armed?»

«That's not how Legilimency works, a quick glance like that-»

«Why didn't you look further?»

Riddle opened his mouth to reply, but Lily had had enough and cut him off, «Sorry- perhaps I wasn't entirely clear, it was barely a second after Riddle said he was lying that Weasley went for the detonator. Even if he had seen that it was harmless he'd have had no time to tell me, and-»

«And then he played a loud noise!» Severus said contemptuously.

«We really weren't expecting it!» Lily yelled back, as she felt her own temper begin to rise in the face of Severus' refusal to listen.

«It doesn't matter, had it been a bomb you would both have been killed!» He started pacing again. «You were worse than inattentive, you were stupid and rash and you have embarrassed your entire team!»

Severus drew in a breath to say even more, but Riddle interrupted them both. «Fine, we were rash and underestimated the deadly Muggle explosives he had strapped to himself. I am so glad that you, Auror Snape, are here to tell me how to do the job I have been doing since before you entered Hogwarts,» he said, and his tone was aggressively glib.

Severus reddened . «I was talking-» he began, but Riddle wouldn't have it.

Gripping his armrests tightly enough to turn his knuckle white, the man leant forwards in his chair. «The reason I knew of Arthur Weasley,» he said quickly in a low, intense voice that was just as forceful as Severus' scolding, if not more so, «is because Black and Skeeter are relentless gossips. According to them he's a Muggle artifact enthusiast whose life revolves against two things, his hobby and impregnating his wife. The man is infamous for his ineptitude as a wizard. There was no way he-»

Severus dove forwards and slammed his palms on the table right in front of Riddle, who to his credit didn't even blink(Lily did). «Apparently there was!» he yelled.

Riddle only raised his eyebrows in turn, he managed to be more assertive than Severus', and when he spoke Lily was again reminded of a weary parent. «We made a mistake,» he said, the words at odds with his deadpan tone. He did not mean a word of it. «it is regrettable, but it happens. To err is human. More, stewing about it isn't going to get the man off the streets. So, please, tell us what you want us to say, what grandiose apology or penance, and then let us get back to our jobs so that we can catch him,» he finished, eyes boring into Severus, daring him to disagree.

And Severus wanted to, his face was uncharacteristically red and his lips twisted into a grimace, Lily could not recall seeing him look so livid, but no words came out The room was utterly silent but for the whirring of the Spectator's gears as he searched for words in vain and glared at Riddle, who returned the look with a calm one of his own.

And then, like a beat not heard but known by everyone in the room, the moment came when his anger deflated, like it had run out of fuel. The tension in the room did not dissipate, but by some silent agreement between Riddle and Severus is came down to bearable levels.

Severus went back to his chair. It screeched loudly against the silence, Lily cringing at the noise, as he pulled it out and sat back down. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Riddle's eyebrows lift in merriment. «I still can't believe just how thoroughly you two managed to bungle it up, but fine,» Severus said. «Riddle, a percentage of the damages repair will be taken from your pension for blowing up part The Leaky Cauldron,» a tinge of bitterness colored his voice upon reminding himself that that had happened and he glared at Riddle, who gave an ever so tiny little impish smile in turn, «and in addition to your usual duties you are to help with anything - and I do mean anything - additional that might pop up. Any questions?»

Riddle smiled wryly. «I don't suppose there's a time limit to that last bit?»

Snape didn't even dignify that with an answer. «Lily—» he began, getting a look from Riddle, «McGonagall gets the final word on what happens to you, but I believe you're going to have to retake your Auror exam.»

Lily gasped, she couldn't help it, and exclaimed, «But I passed that!»

«And then you proved yourself ill-prepared for the job!» he retorted, before softening. «I'm sorry,» he said, and judging by how his eyes flickered away from hers he truly was, «but it's regulation.» Riddle's eyes darted between the two of them, eyebrows high.

She nodded. «I understand.»

«McGonagall is probably going to add something to that,» he continued, giving her a contrite look.

She only nodded in response, as she did not quite trust herself to speak.

Heavy silence reigned for a few seconds, until Riddle leant forwards. «Was there anything else?» he inquired, and though his tone was respectful there was a taste of schadenfreude in it, as if there was something that amused him greatly. Lily wondered if she'd missed something.

«No,» Severus replied, paying no mind to Riddle's strange mood. «This meeting is adjourned,» he added, and switched a lever on the Spectator. A vial filled with something silvery fell into his hands and lens closed, shut in by two thin golden leaves that definitely reminded Lily of eye lashes. The whirring stopped, and it became as dead as any and yet she continued to feel the weight of its gaze on her skin.

She wondered what sort of colors it had recorded on the three of them through Severus' outburst. She also wondered if ALBUS was sentient enough to form opinions on their behavior, hers and Riddle's in the field and Severus' yelling. Or would that defeat the purpose of a neutral, all-forgiving entity? But if ALBUS did not care about their actions, there would have been no need for the Spectator's recording…

She shook her head to clear it.

Severus tapped his wand on the various papers before him, and they shifted neatly into a folder that he then tucked under his arm. Lily and Riddle took that as their cue, and got out of their chairs, which folded themselves into the floor like Skeeter's had. As did the table melted too as soon as Severus was done with it, along with his own chair, finally leaving the Spectator on the floor as the sole object occupying the room, closed lens facing the doorway. It was as if no human had been in it.

The three walked out in silence.


The hallway was not what Lily had expected it to be.

Severus had Apparated her straight into the interrogation room, so it was the only part of the mysterious London Enforcement Division she had gotten to see thus far. It was covered in steel, everything metallic, even the Spectator seemed designed to be inhuman. It had reminded her of the interrogation room in all the Muggle movies she watched as a child, but that had only made it creepier, as the movies always have policemen watching the person of interest through a hidden window.

The hallway was a color explosion.

Soft red leaked coiled itself around dark hues of violet, using the walls, ceiling and floor as canvas, though they never bled into one another. They were bright, Lily knew that if she closed her eyes she would see impressions of their swirls play across her retina, and strangely potent, as if aching to slip out from the hallway and ensnare the three of them in slimy, colorful tendrils…

She stepped an inch closer to Severus.

Still, she appreciated the distraction, as it gave her a few seconds of walking and composing herself until Severus contacted McGonagall. If he was even going to. Come to think of it, she had no idea what happened next, if she were to meet with the head of the Auror Department personally or if McGonagall would sentence her from afar, if she even did. She had assumed the former, but could not think of a reason why someone as important as Auror McGonagall, the only Auror whose identity was known to the public, should need to personally debrief a disgraced newbie on the future of her career.

If she had one, Lily thought to herself sullenly, and let her eyes zero in on a particular swirl that had taken the form of the letter «R». As she watched, the loop opened itself, making it a temporary «K» before the whole arrangement faded back into an indistinguishable swirl.

All too soon, they reached the end of the hallway. Riddle stepped back as Severus waved his wand at it. His eyes were caught on the walls too, she realized, and though there were no exciting swirls happening where he was looking he seemed to be getting something out of it, as his face had gone from its usual stoicism to a peculiar expressionlessness, as if just looking at that wall caused all emotion to bleed out from him.

His mind was someplace far away, she realized as she looked at him.

Whatever Severus had been doing with the door succeeded, as it slid into the wall, revealing the next room. Riddle and Lily snapped out of their respective thoughts, and they stepped into what Lily realized had to be the famed investigation room.

«I guess this is the investigation room,» she said aloud before she could stop herself.

It was disappointing.

She had not had any particular expectations, but she had taken for granted that it would look professional. The interrogation room did, for better or worse. This room was anything but: red and violet and moving in the corner of her eye like the hallway, it would have been visual gore because of that alone, but the room's contents made it much worse. Glass and steel tables and tall wheeled chairs were clustered around in work stations, and on them sat anything from papers and intimidatingly intricate devices to abandoned food and clothing articles.

It seemed to scream you will never be able to concentrate again! right at her.

Riddle ignored her statement and went straight for a door on the opposite end of the room, but Snape nodded in acknowledgement. He would likely have said more, but just then one of the chairs in Riddle's path spun around to reveal a Gilderoy Lockhart sitting in it, legs crossed and with a look on his face like he was not in that ugly room at all, but welcoming them to his humble abode in front of a large, crackling fireplace, aged firewhisky in hand and a thick, dusty book lying open in his lap.

«Hello, gentlemen,» he said in a suave voice, before turning to Lily with a smile, «my lady.»

Severus and what little she could see of Riddle's face looked like they had been confronted with a baby in need of a diaper change.

«Why, that sure took a while, didn't it?» Lockhart continued jovially, as though the three had been playing Quidditch. He got up off his chair and steered towards Riddle. «In trouble with the bosses, eh, Riddle?» he winked and tried to punch the man playfully in the shoulder, unfortunately missing as Riddle sidestepped him with a grace that spoke of years of practice. Lockhart let the gesture fizzle out by planting his hand on his hip instead. «Mistakes happen to the best, you know,» he yelled after Riddle's disappearing back as the man walked across the room and shut the door behind him, before turning to Severus and Lily.

He gave Lily a dazzling grin. He was a very good-looking man, almost too much so, his smile looked exactly like it did on Marlene's glossy cutouts. He could have been holding a magazine in front of his face. «It's a shame I wasn't there, you know, I'd have had him disarmed instantly.»

She blinked at him.

«I'm a very quick draw,» he continued, still smiling, and started walking towards her. «As a matter of fact I was working on a book on dueling when my coefficient went haywire,» he gave a quick, winning laugh and looked at her, as if he expected her to join, «so while I hesitate to call myself an expert I do think I have a certain expertise that you could-»

«Was there anything you wanted, Lockhart?» Severus interrupted through gritted teeth, and his tone made it sound like this was normal Lockhart behavior.

The man did not seem at all put out at the interruption. The nobly modest look slipped off of his face in an instant, to be replaced by another glittering smile. «Why, to say hello to our new Auror, our Lily of the Valley, of course,» he said, and extended his hand at Lily. He wiggled his fingers at her.

As if on autopilot, her hand rose to take his. «Pleas-,» she began, only to stop when he brought it to his lips and kissed it.

«I'm Gilderoy Lockhart, but of course you already knew that. Say, did you know I was given Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award twice in a row? I imagine you must have, you would have been a teen then, yes?» Thankfully he did not wait for a response. Not so thankfully, he had yet to release her hand. She gave it a tug. His grip tightened. «We're almost the same age, you know. Why, I was probably still in Hogwarts when you started. Which year did you say you were?»

«Same as me,» Severus interjected irritably. Lily gave another, harder tug, and her hand was freed. «Was there anything else you wanted, Lockhart?»

At last, Lockhart looked put out. He pouted, as if Severus had just told him he couldn't have dessert. «I'm just making conversation, Severus, there's no need—»

«Yes, there is, and that's Snape to you,» Severus gritted out.

Lockhart looked like he wanted to protest some more, but it appeared even criminals fear the glower of Severus Snape, for he backed down and, making sure to sending several chairs spinning out of his way as he went with dramatic shoves of his arm, he strode out, using the same door Riddle had disappeared through.

«Well, he was… interesting,» Lily finally said, after the door had shut behind the man.

Severus snorted. «Lockhart's delusional.» He went to sit down, and Lily followed his cue, drawing out a wheeled chair for herself, realizing only when she wheeled herself to place her elbow on its adjacent desk that it had to belong to a specific somebody, as it was littered with papers, quills, and a newspaper cutout of Lockhart smiling brilliantly. She inched away again.

«Why is he an enforcer, then?» she asked. The concept of enforcers boggled Lily enough as it was, someone like Lockhart qualifying was even more confounding.

«Well, he does sometimes gets these bizarre strokes of luck. Once Riddle was chasing this witch up eight storeys of an old Muggle office building while Black and I set up a trap for her, only to have her trip and fall right into Lockhart's arms…» he trailed off. «Mostly it's because recruiting Enforcers is easier said than done.»

Lily opened her mouth to ask why before she realized. «It ruins their chances of recovery,» she whispered. It was the same with Aurors: few people can devote their lives to crime and criminals without becoming ones themselves, and fewer still were willing to take the risk. Lily could only imagine the damage such a lifestyle could do to someone who was already a criminal.

Severus nodded. «And a large portion of those willing turn out to be useless. Refuse to make arrests, or they- wanted a change a scenery,» he explained, though for a moment it sounded like he'd been about to say something else. Lily raised her eyebrows slightly. «Either way we're short on personnel.»

They were silent for a moment, him staring at the table and she staring around the room. It was sparse, she found, in spite of being messy Papers, instruments and half-finished snacks were everywhere, but there was little in the way of the personal knickknacks she was used to bringing to the library when she wanted to study, such as favorite pens or even cosmetics. So far as she could tell all the quills and ink bottles were identical, likely bought in bulk, and there was no trace of so much as a lip balm. Lockhart's photo was an anomaly. She recalled Skeeter's words about enforcers and possessions with a weird dread.

As she stared at it, Lockhart's miniature black and white self winked suggestively at her. She looked away immediately.

«Would you like a tour?» Severus offered, breaking the silence. Lily felt an echo of their play dates when they were little: he'd always try to think of something when he felt they were too quiet, always try to entertain her, and the more pressured he felt the more generic his suggestions. Here was that same panicked awkwardness, and she wanted to smile at it.

But this was the present time, and her would-be smile died before it got to her lips. «Will I be needing it?» she asked.

He frowned at her. «What?»

«Not that I think I'll fail the exam, but—»

Severus waved her off. «You won't fail, and it's mostly formality. You'll still be working. Under supervision, of course, but you're a newbie so you would have been anyway, though McGonagall might add something…» he trailed off.

«But I'm not losing my job?»

«Should you fail your exam you'll just have to take it again,» he shrugged. «We're very short on personnel.»

«Yes, but—»

«We lose enough Aurors as it is to their coefficients. Just two months ago the head of the East Department became a criminal at 102, St. Mungo's only released him last week and he's still in the high 80's…»

Lily wondered what Severus' coefficient was.

Looking around, she became aware of the room's colors changing. The violet went away entirely, while the red faded into pink. Yellow crept down from the ceiling: it was her hue, Lily realized. Calm with a lingering hint of apprehension.

Severus followed her gaze. «The wall is attuned to your mood. A way to alert us, should the stress become too much… personally I find it only makes it harder to concentrate.»

Lily grimaced at the thought of trying to catch a criminal with dark green assaulting her eyes. «I can imagine.»

Another moment of silence passed them by as Lily looked at the colors around her. The pink kept fading, but it never went away completely. She remembered Tom Riddle, and his dispassionate stare at the wall. He'd been looking at swirls of his own, then. She wondered what colors they had been, to get such a reaction, or lack thereof, from him.

She wondered what happened to those who did manage to get fired as Aurors. Were they allowed to keep their memories? The training program had never touched on that. Likely not, then.

(She also wondered briefly what ALBUS would do if their obliviated self were to decide to become an Auror, which led to wondering if a particularly determined, but incompetent soul could waste their life following the same dream over and over.)

Severus was the one who finally broke the silence. «I'm sorry I went off on you in there,» he said.

«I'm sorry to have disappointed you,» she replied, and gave him a half-smile. She was happy to see him return it, until he grew somber again.

«It's true that you could have done a little better, but I got carried away. I was worried. You almost got blown up,» he said, sounding sickened at the thought.

Lily laughed shakily. «I know, I was there. Well, then I Apparated away, but…» she trailed off. She had not given that moment much thought, there had been other matters that needed her attention first, but even so she supposed she was more perturbed at her own lack of alarm than genuinely shaken. Had those Anti-Apparition wards been wound any tighter she and Skeeter would have been dead or horrifically injured, and still it felt only as real to her as when the hero escapes an explosion in the movies.

«I think I was more scared when I thought I might lose my job,» she ended up saying, realizing the truth in the words as she spoke.

«Don't be flippant.»

«I'm not flippant, I'm just saying, had I died I wouldn't have had to worry about paying my rent… right, sorry, that was flippant,» she said hurriedly before Severus could say anything.

«I think I'll be putting you with Lockhart for the next few missions,» he said.

Lily did not know how Lockhart acted in missions, though she had difficulty picturing him sprinting after Weasley the way Riddle had. Severus' sentiment was clear. «I'm careful, Severus, you don't have to worry about me.»

He did not look convinced.

Again they were silent, and this time it was awkward. She let her gaze flicker about the room again, pausing slightly to study the gray robes littering some surfaces. Not much reverence for the workplace around here, then.

«Is there anything else we need to do here?» she said at last.

Severus shook his head no. «McGonagall will come by tomorrow, there's still a bit of paperwork but— well, I could just put Riddle on it,» he decided, and Lily saw the beginnings of a smirk in one corner of his mouth. «Why?»

She shrugged with a shoulder, feigning nonchalance. «I was wondering if you wanted to go get a butterbeer. We've got some catching up to do.»

The corner of Severus' mouth twitched. «Three Broomsticks

«It's a date,» she grinned.


A/N: I wish to explain as little as possible in Author's Notes, better to tell the story in the story itself, but I'll make an exception in this case so as not to make this story seem too outlandish, and hopefully to reassure you that my deviations from canon usually have their reasons: Severus' reason for being so ignorant about Legilimency is that he is a 19-year-old who has yet to learn it. Remember that he was 35 when he taught Harry in canon as well as in a position where his continued survival depended on his abilities as an Occlumens. This Severus lacks that experience and is in need of a completely different skillset to succeed in his life, so he's blank.

Reviews are much appreciated, as is The Carnivorous Muffin, who provided me with much needed advice, commentary and Blade Runner references. Without her we would not have had Lockhart's glorious «Lily of the valley» line, among other things. Or this fic, for that matter, as she was the one who had me watch Psycho-Pass in the first place. In short, we should all be grateful to the Muffin.