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From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: November 2, 1977

Dear Diary,

I try to observe my students’ romances with as much professional detachment as possible—and if they did not make their forays into first love so completely obvious, I would not have to observe them at all.

However, I am beginning to worry about Severus Snape.

It would be inappropriate for me to confirm any of this with the students involved, but I can make an educated guess, after having seen these students interact for nearly seven years: Severus Snape was in love with Lily Evans, but Lily only ever gave Severus her friendship—though Severus, unaccustomed to either friendship or romance, overwhelmingly misinterpreted her intentions—and Lily’s new attachment to James Potter has forced Severus to confront a reality he was not formerly willing to acknowledge.

This reality is interrupting the academic reality I would prefer Severus to be focusing on right now: N.E.W.T. exams are coming up, and a student’s results can either open up career possibilities or close them off. Severus is an outstanding student, and I would hate to see him perform below his potential simply because he had been temporarily thwarted in love.

But I cannot say that. I cannot tell him that I have also known heartbreak, and how it feels like a transfiguration of the spirit. I changed, when I lost Dougal—and it took me a long time to feel like I had become myself again. I worry that Severus will change too; his tongue has already become sharper and he only speaks to bully or dismiss his classmates. Severus can bully expertly, having spent most of his life the subject of bullies, and he appears to see this as the silver lining under the dark emotions that hang on him like secondhand robes.

I want to help Severus get through this. All I can do is help him with his seventh-year transfiguration spells, and he doesn’t need any help with those.

What should a teacher do?

Yours faithfully,


Previously in The Diaries of Minerva McGonagall