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Chapter 4: Testing New Skills
The air in the potions dungeon seemed slightly less stale when Lucy stepped in the following morning. She took her seat with a smile, ignoring the curious look on Lily’s face as she set up her cauldron and arranged the ingredients for the Anxiety Antidote on the table before her. As Slughorn went through his lecture on the history and purpose of the potion, Lucy instead focused on her textbook, reading through the revised instructions one last time.
“So, how did it go?” Lily asked, setting her cauldron up as well.
“I guess we’ll see.” Lucy smiled at her. Then, as Slughorn concluded, she began working on the potion.
Step one: Cut wild mushrooms into thick thin slices. Add to cauldron. She carefully cut three large mushrooms into delicate pieces and dropped them into the cauldron. Step two: Add four drops of dragon’s blood. The brew should sizzle briefly. She uncorked the small vial of blue liquid and let four drops slip out and into the mixture below. As expected, the mixture sizzled like hot grease for a few moments before settling back down.
Behind her, Severus watched with a slight smile, noting her new proficiency.
At the end of the lesson, Lucy and Lily tied for second place, with Severus’s potion winning as usual because of his speed. Lucy could hardly believe the results, and judging by the looks on her classmates’ faces, they were equally surprised. She made a mental note to ask Severus about improving her speed once they had gotten through the remainder of the year’s assignments and packed up her things, getting ready to head to Charms.
“Lucy, tell me it’s not true.” She heard Sirius’s voice tinged with laughter behind her.
“Sorry, but I have in fact decided that lesbianism is preferable to dating you.” She grinned, turning around into his embrace, greeting Remus and Peter as they approached behind him.
“Hah!” Sirius laughed again, in his usual barking manner. “As hot and appealing as either of those realities sound, I am referring to the ridiculous rumor going around that my gorgeous girlfriend is spending her evenings doing remedial Potions with Snivellus.”
The smile dropped off of Lucy’s face. “I am, actually.” She gestured to the sample of her potion she’d submitted to Slughorn. “He’s responsible for this beautiful creation, to tell you the truth.”
“Couldn’t you get Lily to help you?” Remus frowned slightly.
“What? She delegated.” Lucy shrugged. “It’s nothing. He’s nice, he helps me with Potions. The end.”
“Whatever.” Sirius replied. “Anyway, I’m sneaking off to Hogsmeade with James to grab some Butterbeer tonight. You lovely ladies want to join us?” He gestured to Lily in an attempt to include her in their conversation.
“Ugh, no thanks.” Lily wrinkled her nose, demonstrating her reticence to hang out with James Potter, especially if it meant breaking school rules.
“I’ll pass, too.” Lucy glanced at Lily, agreeing with her sentiments on James. “Besides, I already set up another tutoring session tonight. It would be rude of me to cancel now.”
“Fine. But you’d better be careful, or else worse rumors concerning you and Snivellus might start.” Sirius laughed again, kissing her on the cheek and strolling off with the Marauders in tow.
“I dunno why he has to be so mean.” Lily frowned, picking up her bag. “Anyway, you ready to go?”
Lucy nodded. “I just wanted—“ She looked around the room, trying to find Severus, whom she wanted to thank one more time. However, he had disappeared. “Nevermind. Let’s go.”
The two girls strolled out into the hall, chatting about Lucy’s new achievement. They were coming up on the grand staircase when Lily suddenly checked her watch. “We’re going to be late.” She groaned. “Come on, let’s go the back way.”
The girls turned and walked back down the corridor, heading out around the outside walkway and up alongside one of the lower towers. Lucy had discovered this route to Charms while seeking some extra time outside between classes on the first warm day of the year. She especially liked the beautiful view of the lake that it offered. In fact, she was in the midst of admiring how the sunlight hit the lake’s surface when Lily stopped right in front of her.
“Luce.” She pointed down below them, at one of the greenhouses. Normally, the windows were steamy and covered with vines, but at this time of year, the vines were mostly gone, and the hour offered a few rays of sunshine that penetrated the windows, allowing for a clear view inside.
Incidently, that was where Sirius Black now stood, busily snogging a Ravenclaw before their eyes.