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Chapter 2: Hello, My Name is the Walking Potions Disaster
3. Hello, my name is the Walking Potions Disaster
After everyone else had fallen asleep, I took out a book from underneath my pillow, lit my wand, and read until the early hours, where I laid down and tried to look as if I’d just been sleeping. Sephy usually joins me at about midnight and curls up at my feet.
Naturally, no one knows I don’t sleep. I don’t need any extra reason for them to fuss over me. They fuss too much as it is...
I sleep some nights. Normally about two nights in a week I sleep properly, if I’m lucky, to catch up on what I’ve missed involuntarily. Apart from that I sleep a couple of hours in the morning. But sometimes I don’t sleep at all, like tonight because I’d slept on the train.
It’s not that I don’t want to sleep. I’d love to sleep. It’s just I can’t. I can’t physically close my eyes and drift off as easily as Lily and Fliss can. I lay awake for hours, going over things in my head, thinking of things I need to do, things I did that day and if I went wrong with them, things that I have to do the next day. My brain is constantly switched on. There’s nothing I can do about it, really. I’d take the Dreamless Sleep Potion if I could, but it’s tricky to make and I wouldn’t want anyone asking me why I’m drinking it, or why I need it.
Lily is normally the first awake. Most of the time I pretend to wake up a couple of minutes after her. Today, we showered and got dressed, did our hair, she put some make up on, etcetera, and walked to breakfast together. No one else was up yet. Fliss was snoring away when we left. It’s hard to imagine how any guy could not get turned off by her snoring. She sounds like a cross between a lion roaring and a hippo on a good day.
We sat down at Gryffindor Table on opposite sides. Only a select few were up already; mostly Ravenclaws, by the looks of it, and one or two Slytherins. One of them happened to be Severus Snape. When we sat down he looked over at us, and Lily pointedly avoided looking at him. When his eyes turned to me, I smiled at him slightly, before looking at the food in front of us.
I poured myself a glass of water and grabbed some toast. Lily, who had already helped herself to a bowl of porridge and already had a book out on the table, flipped to a random page somewhere in the middle and stuck her head in it.
“What are you reading, Lily?” I asked interestedly.
“Mm? Oh, it’s a Transfiguration book, McGonagall lent it to me,” she muttered, distracted, taking a small sip of orange juice, her eyes never leaving the page.
“When have you even spoken to McGonagall this year?” I laughed.
“I actually borrowed it last year,” she admitted, her cheeks pinkening, “but I haven’t finished it yet…”
I laughed a little more at her, before turning my attention to the ceiling of the Great Hall. The sky was cloudy and grey. It looked as if it was going to rain. That immediately made me happy. I loved the rain. There’s something that soothes me about being able to stand out in the pouring rain, your hair and your skin and your clothes soaking through, watching the heavens open…it was probably why I was so ill all the time.
“…and since you’re a Prefect, you need to come along.”
I shook my head and looked back at Lily, my face blank.
“You weren’t listening, were you?” she accused, seeing my face.
“No,” I said guiltily, “I was looking at the sky.”
“You and that bloody ceiling…” she sighed quietly, before coming back louder, “what I was saying was I’m calling a Meeting tonight for the Prefects and me and…Potter. Seven sharp in the Library, okay? And can you tell Remus if I don’t see him?”
She smiled and went back to reading, completely absorbed. The Hall was getting fuller. Many people had already passed Lily and waved. Actually, I think everyone except for the Marauders and Fliss was here. They’re so lazy…
“Here are your schedules, Miss Meadows, Miss Evans,” Professor McGonagall said, her voice cutting through our reveries and making us jump.
“Do you want us to take Potters, Remus’, Sirius’, Peters and Fliss’ schedules too, Professor?” Lily offered as she took hers from McGonagall’s hands, “they’re not at breakfast at the moment.” McGonagall smiled faintly at her.
“That would be very kind of you, girls, thank you,” she said, and she placed a stack of timetables on the table in between Lily and I. She gave us a curt nod and said, “I shall see you in Transfiguration,” and walked down the Gryffindor Table.
“Nothing like getting in McGonagall’s good books on the first day of a new year,” I commented with a smirk, studying my Timetable. Lily grinned and looked at hers.
Our first lesson of the day was History of Magic. Boring. The look on Lily’s face told me that she had the same.
“What did you decide to drop last year again?” I asked her, noticing I had a lot of Astronomy. I had a few practical lessons at midnight but most of them were during the day, and I supposed we'd be learning from books about different positions of stars and constellations instead of actually seeing them.
“Um, Astronomy and Care of Magical Creatures,” she answered back, “You?”
“How could you drop Astronomy?” I said, shaking my head, “Care of Magical Creatures and Divination. Since that new woman it’s just not good anymore, she seems really...I don't know, but weird. It sort of creeps me out, you know? And she doesn’t seem that good at it." Lily nodded in agreement. "I’ve got Potions, Transfiguration, Defence, Charms, Astronomy and Ancient Runes. You?”
“Same, pretty much, apart from Astronomy and I’ve got Muggle Studies.”
Again with the Muggle Studies…
“But you live in a Muggle household.”
“It’s a good lesson,” she defended.
Lily and I winced as Fliss came running to us, the Marauders following behind. Some people turned round to look interestedly.
“Yes, Fliss?” I answered civilly, raising my eyebrows at her, trying to prevent my cheeks from turning warm as people stared at us. She plonked herself in the seat next to me and started munching on some toast.
“Hi.” She gave me a grin. I rolled my eyes and turned back to my water.
“Hey guys,” James said, sitting next to Fliss. They immediately linked arms and started talking. Lily looked at them strangely, before shaking her head roughly and sticking her head back into her book, completely ignoring Sirius who sat next to her. Peter sat next to Sirius and Remus sat next to me, opposite Sirius. He smiled at me and started eating. I smiled back softly and turned my attention to the mail.
First day of the term, I’m bound to get a letter.
And sure enough, a black owl from Azkaban swooped down and dropped a letter right in front of me, and took off before I could even say a word.
“Who’s that from?” Remus asked interestedly.
“My dad, just to check I’m okay. He does it every year, he can get really overbearingly protective,” I lied automatically, stuffing the letter into the front of my robes. “I’ll read it later, I tend to get a little emotional.” He nodded as Lily passed everyone their timetables.
"Strange bird," he commented.
"Yeah, I know," I rolled my eyes, "my dad's a bit weird, truthfully. He's into a lot of strange Muggle music, punk or something."
“Oh yeah, I remember learning about that in Muggle Studies last year.” Remus checked his timetable. “Have you got History of Magic first thing?”
“Yup,” I answered, “Ancient Runes after that?”
“Then Lunch and Potions,” he grinned, “sit with me?”
“Sure,” I beamed. “Oh, and by the way, we have a Prefect Meeting with James and Lily and the rest of the Prefects tonight at seven in the Library.”
Lily looked up at her name and smiled apologetically at Remus. “Sorry, I forgot. Thanks Ophelia.”
“That’s alright,” he said, and Lily went back to her book.
“Shall we get going to History of Magic then?” Remus asked, and we both stood up, making our way out of the Hall.
“So, how are you?” he asked. “Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you feeling better?”
“I’m feeling fine thanks, well rested and everything,” I smiled, the lies slipping involuntarily from my mouth. I inwardly cringed. It was so nice for someone to be enquiring about me, especially Remus, but I don’t particularly want to tell the truth in this instance, I know how he would react.
“That’s good,” he said, but I think he could tell that I wasn’t telling him the whole truth. He let it go anyway.
We sat at the back and waited for everyone else to arrive.
“Did you take Astronomy this year?” he carried on after we had taken out our books and quills and stuff. I nodded and smiled widely.
“Did you?” I asked back.
“Yup,” he answered.
“We have a lot of it on our Timetables, I noticed,” I commented.
“Yeah, the Subjects you pick to study you generally get more time on than say, Transfiguration or Charms or Defence that we have to take. Their way of making it up to us,” he said, a dimpled smile spreading across his face.
The Classroom door opened and Fliss and Lily walked in, followed by the boys. Lily seemed angry. I raised my eyebrows to her but she just shook her head and sat in front of me, next to Fliss. Sirius, Peter and James took their seats and immediately grabbed Remus’ attention. I turned to the girls.
“You two alright?” I asked. Lily nodded curtly and buried her head in another book.
“I’m alright thanks doll,” Fliss answered with a small smile, leaning back in her seat and yawning. Her blonde and blue hair tumbled out of a loose ponytail.
Soon, other students arrived and so did Professor Binns, floating through the Chalk Board, and the lesson started.
“Wow, and here I thought Wizarding Agriculture of the sixteen hundreds couldn’t get any more boring,” Sirius complained loudly as we all left History of Magic.
“Talk about catching up on my beauty sleep,” Fliss grumbled, blinking blearily. “Anyways. Off to Care of Magical Creatures we go. Coming, Ophelia?”
“I dropped Care last year Fliss,” I said, “I’ve got Ancient Runes now.”
“Oh,” she said, slightly putout, “well, I’ll see you at lunch or something then doll.” She wrapped her arms round me tightly and bounded off to join Sirius and James, who were heading in the same direction.
“What have you got now, Peter?” Remus asked.
“Free period,” he said with a small smile, “I’m gonna go to the Common Room. See ya later.” With that he waved and ran up the stairs, two at a time.
“And then there were three,” Lily smiled. Seemed like she was out of her bad mood from this morning.
“And then there were three,” Remus repeated with a grin. “Let’s go Translate some Runes.”
When we got in the classroom, a girl with brown hair motioned Lily over and smiled.
“Hey Amelia! How was your summer?” Lily said excitedly, sitting next to the girl and hugging her.
“It was great, how was yours?” she asked. Remus and I sat behind them as they started talking. She looked familiar, but I couldn't place it for a moment. It bugged at my mind.
“This is Ophelia, and this is Remus,” Lily said, “This is Amelia, she’s in Ravenclaw.” She turned round to look at us and waved. Then it clicked.
“It’s you!” I shouted, pointing my finger at her. She looked taken aback. I froze and burnt red. My cheeks felt like they were on fire.
“I mean, um,” I stuttered, retracting my finger lightening fast, “you’re the girl that nodded to me at the Food Trolley on the train.” She giggled.
“Yeah I am,” she said, extending her hand, “Amelia Argon, Ravenclaw. But call me Mia. It’s nice to meet you finally. I just recognised you from this class and because you’re Lily’s friend, thought I’d be friendly.” I shook her hand, still embarrassed by my outburst. She shook Remus’ hand too, and she turned back to talk to Lily. Remus looked at me, his crooked smile in place.
“You amuse me,” he stated, his smile getting wider.
“I’m glad I amuse someone,” I muttered, dropping my head to the desk and covering my face with my arms. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up slightly, and Remus was still smiling. His hand was cold, I could feel it through my jumper and top.
“You look cute when you blush,” he said, turning away slightly as he said it. I blushed even deeper.
“Thanks,” I said quietly, smiling even through my embarrassment.
“Come on students, the Runes are waiting!”
I lifted my head off the desk, and Remus retracted his arm pretty quickly from my shoulder, and the lesson begun.
We sat down for lunch. I grabbed a toasted cheese and ham sandwich, hot and fresh off the plates, and chewed on it, savouring the taste. Possibly my favourite dish.
Sirius turned up about a minute after we sat down, tailed by James and Fliss, giggling to themselves. Sirius grumbled as he sat down.
He helped himself to food and shovelled it in. Suddenly remembering, I told him about Amelia.
“Sirius, I found out who the girl at the Food Trolley is,” I said as he stuffed his face. He looked up quickly and choked. James hit him on the back several times, and his throat cleared.
“Thanks Prongs,” he muttered, throwing James a dirty look. James grinned. “Who is she? Where is she? What’s her name?”
“Oh no you don’t!” Lily interrupted, whacking me lightly on the arm, “I’m not letting Sirius use her, she’s too good for that.”
“Hey! You let me go out with him,” Fliss said, insulted.
“Yeah, but you were like…using each other. It doesn’t count.”
Fliss contemplated this. “True.”
“Okay, enough! How about I’m really nice and I don’t use her and I date her and treat her properly?” Sirius pleaded with Lily, “I’ll get on my knees and beg with my puppy dog eyes if you want me to.”
“She can’t mean that much to you, Sirius, no girl does,” Lily said, bored, having been through this conversation many a time, getting a book out of her bag. Sirius plucked it out of her hands and laid it on the table, doing his best puppy-dog eyes.
“Sirius!” she exclaimed, glaring, picking her book back up again. “I’m not telling you.”
Sirius sulked, glowering at the ketchup bottle.
“I’m going to Potions, anyone coming with?” I said, standing up and brushing my skirt down, looking anywhere but the table.
“Ooh, I’ll come with you!” Fliss said suddenly, standing up and almost tripping over James’ outstretched legs. I rolled my eyes and smiled at her.
“See you guys down there,” I said, and, with a wave, Fliss and I took off to the Dungeons.
“How have you been, doll? I missed you, we haven’t had much time to chit chat,” Fliss beamed, linking my arm.
“It’s the first day,” I said, smiling even wider, “but I missed you too. I’ve been great. You?”
“Yeah, I’ve been fab. James made the stupidest joke up over the holidays…”
A few minutes later we were outside of the Potions room, doubled over laughing at James' inappropriate use of the word wood when used in the same sentence with Bowtruckle.
“He actually made that up?” I giggled.
“Yeah!” Fliss shrieked, “It’s actually brilliant! Who thought Bowtruckles could be so hilarious?! This is what you’ll be missing in Care, you know.”
“What’s with the noise, ladies?” We looked up, giggling, to see Sirius, James, Remus and Lily standing in the door way, looking confused. Peter didn’t take Potions. He didn’t take much, actually. Only enough to see him through, I think.
“The joke James made up about the Bowtruckles,” Fliss said, and with the mention of the word, we burst into fresh giggles. James’ face reddened.
“It wasn’t that funny…” he murmured.
“Liar,” Fliss said, snorting very unattractively, “It was hilarious. You’re so great, James.”
James was obviously confused…as was everyone else, I think. Lily just looked downright pissed, which made me even more confused. I shared a meaningful look with her but she just shook her head, looking at the floor.
I really need to see what’s wrong with her...
A few more students turned up, some from Slytherin, some from Ravenclaw, a few from Hufflepuff, and at last so did Slughorn.
I didn’t like him much. He had favourites, and I definitely was not one of them. I wasn’t popular, wealthy, well-connected or pureblooded. Not that that applied for all of his favourite students; Lily was neither wealthy nor pureblooded, and Severus wasn’t popular or wealthy.
Also…I wasn’t very good at Potions. Actually, I kind of sucked. But I needed Potions to be a Healer, which was what I wanted to be when I left Hogwarts. Or an Astronomer, either one suited me fine really. But it was best to have Potions just in case, even though I was only averaging an Acceptable, sometimes even a Poor. I think Slughorn wonders why I’m still in his class. Probably to torment him or something. Lily helps me with homework assignments sometimes, but there’s only so much she can do because she has such a hectic schedule herself. I have to make do with books most of the time.
We sat down at our usual tables, Lily and I, James and Remus, and Sirius and Fliss. But before we could unpack anything, he waved us up again.
“I’m assigning partners this year!”
“Now, don’t look like that,” he said, his big gut jiggling hypnotically, “I’m sure you’ll all be able to cope, you’re adults now, or as close to it as some of you will get.” Looking pointedly at Sirius, who grinned back at him, Slughorn cleared his throat. “Stand at the back.”
We all grabbed our stuff and stood along the back wall.
“Since there’s an even number of boys and girls in this class, we’re pairing boy-girl. Shut up, Mr Black.” Sirius stopped wolf-whistling halfway through, looking grumpy. “Thank you. As I was saying. All the girls’ names are in this hat.” He waved his wand and a hat appeared on his desk. It was like one of those stupid fake magician’s hats that you pull rabbits out of. Fliss let out a giggle.
“Boys, line up on one side. Girls, on the other. The boys will pick a name out of the hat and that shall be your partner for this year.
And be warned.” His face turned hard. “I don’t care if they’re not in the same house as you. I don’t care if you hate them. You will get along this year. It is essential that you can communicate with your partner happily, otherwise you will both fail.” Then he smiled.
“Well, you first Mr Potter.”
James stepped forward and picked a piece of paper out. He closed his eyes, murmuring something silently that looked like, ‘please be Lily, please be Lily,’ and when he opened his eyes to read his partner, he grinned widely.
“Of bloody course it would be me,” Lily muttered angrily under her breath, following James to a table and throwing her stuff viciously on the work surface. She sat down roughly, her arms crossed and glaring into space, not even acknowledging James’ existence.
Sirius stepped forward with a swagger. He drew a name out of the hat with a flourish and read it, “Nancy Holly.”
A timid, ginger girl wearing Hufflepuff robes stood out of line. Sirius smirked his famous smirk in her direction and led her to a table behind James and Lily’s.
Remus stepped forward and dropped his hand into the hat to get a piece of paper, and all of a sudden anxiousness gripped at my chest. I wanted him to pick me.
And then Slughorn accidentally sent the hat flying to the floor, spilling paper everywhere.
“I’m getting old,” Slughorn chortled, “losing my grip, kids.” Everyone laughed harder as he magicked all the other pieces of paper in the hat. Remus still had his in his hand. He looked at his tightly screwed up fist, confused. Then he opened it and read aloud.
He looked up at me and a miniature version of me jumped up and down in my chest, punching the air. I smiled widely at him and he gave me a thumbs up back.
Then I remembered, last time I had a project I wasn’t this happy that Remus and I were paired together.
What was wrong with me?
He smiled, almost as if he was relieved, and I walked over to him and we sat behind Sirius and Nancy. Sirius turned in his seat to throw Remus an over-exaggerated wink, to which Remus blushed furiously and glared back at him. Remus looked at me to see if I’d seen, but before I could say anything, we were interrupted.
“SNIVELLUS?! SNAPE IS MY PARTNER?!”
“THAT…THAT THING IS MY PARTNER?!”
It was as if the lab had exploded. Fliss and Snape were standing a foot apart, both looking furious, yelling at each other. Slughorn was in the middle, trying to calm them both down.
“I’M NOT WORKING WITH THAT BLOOD TRAITOR SCUM!”
“OH, YOU’D KNOW ALL ABOUT SCUM, WOULDN’T YOU SNIVELLUS?!”
“Okay, can we calm down now…?” Slughorn looked very worried now, eyeing both of them edgily.
“DON’T YOU DARE INSULT ME, FILTH!”
“DEATH EATER BASTARD!”
“STUPID GRYFFINDOR SLUT!”
They were both silent, looking at Slughorn in worried awe. My eyes widened and I glanced at Remus, who looked in shock. Slughorn breathed heavily. No one had heard Slughorn shout like that. He was normally very amiable.
“That is enough,” he repeated slowly, “you will work together or you will fail. That is the end of it. And to start the team-working ball rolling, you shall both come to my office at 8 tonight for a detention.”
Fliss looked at her feet, furious, and Snape nodded curtly, before sitting down at the nearest desk. Fliss followed him and lifted her head up to silently pull a face at me. I shrugged with sympathy. She head-desked several times.
“Anyway. Carrying on, Mr Smith…”
I turned back to Remus he let out a low whistle.
“Bit of an understatement, really.”
I felt it rather necessary to warn him that I couldn’t make a Potion so save my life, so he’d know what he’d gotten himself in for. But when I told him, he just chuckled and waved his hand.
“We’ll be fine,” he said, getting his books out on the table. I followed his lead, and accidentally knocked his text book onto the floor.
“But I’m really, really bad,” I insisted as he bent down to get his book, “no one ever wants to be partners with me. It’s because I’m clumsy and I just don't get Potions. Even Lily has a tough time with me.”
“I don’t mind so much,” he grinned, but his eyes looked strangely longing and I felt my cheeks flush again.
“How many times do you blush a day?” he asked off-handedly, curious. Or trying to change the subject subtly.
“I think the question is how often during the day am I not blushing,” I muttered, burying my head in my arms. He chuckled again; this time it sounded deeper, throatier, sexier -
Um, sexier? Okay, scratch that. Just deeper.
What’s happening to me?
It's most likely just because he looks better this year. Nothing to worry about.
Not that he didn’t look good anyway.
After everyone had a partner, Slughorn set us the task of producing a Dream-Inducing Draught. It was like the Dreamless Sleep Potion in the way it up you to sleep almost instantly, but you did dream. Useful for Insomniacs like myself, I thought ironically, but not traumatised witches or wizards. Not a real complex Potion for seventh years…apart from myself.
I just didn’t seem to get it.
We were making it in pairs, and so far I had almost caused the Cauldron to blow up, the knife to magically attack us, and I had succeeded in putting the wrong ingredients in at the wrong time at least three times already. Whenever Slughorn came to examine, he’d shake his head at me whilst Remus stirred furiously, adding this and that and trying to correct it whilst I looked on helplessly.
“I told you,” I mumbled miserably, “I’m just going to sit down and…try to not accidentally charm the knife into killing us again.”
“It’s alright,” he said, still fully concentrating on the Potion. “What about you get ingredients for me and I’ll do it?”
That’s something I could do...I thought. I nodded brightly. “Sure.”
“Can you pass me the crushed beetle’s eyes?”
I quickly reached over and plucked a bottle off the side. It was white inside; I’m sure that was beetle’s eyes powder.
“How much?” I asked, ready to pour.
“About…well just a little.”
I poured in just a little of the white powder. He stiffened instantly.
“Beetle’s eye powder isn’t white.”
I looked at the bottle. I gaped.
“Isn’t it?” I went white, for a change, instead of red.
“No, beetle’s eye powder is black. What is that?” he asked. I glanced at the label but could determine nothing from the symbols that were on there.
“It doesn’t say,” I said, and Remus took the bottle out of my hand. He studied the label for a moment, before his eyes widened in horror.
“Powdered Melaforical Leaf,” he said weakly.
“Ok,” I shrugged. Didn’t seem too dangerous. Remus backed away from the cauldron sharpish. My face fell.
“It’s going to explode, isn’t it?”
He didn’t even have the chance to nod before we heard a rumbling, and we both threw ourselves to the floor, as did everyone else upon hearing the noise, and the contents of our Cauldron burst out.
It was everywhere. On the ceiling, on the desks, on Slughorn who, unluckily, hadn’t noticed the forewarning rumble of our Potion because he was too busy laughing at a joke he made himself.
I moaned inwardly, cursing my clumsiness and ineptness at Potions. Only I could blow up a simple Potion on our very first day back.
Everyone got up and started laughing at the mess, including Remus, but I stayed sitting on the floor, biting my lip. Slughorn was going to kill me.
He wiped the Potion off his balding head and stood in front of our desk patiently. Slowly, I lifted myself off the floor to kneel, and peered over the desk at him, only my hands and eyes visible.
“Please see me after class, Miss Meadows,” he said, and then he walked away, vanishing our messy Potion as he went. He didn’t seem that angry…
Oh, who am I kidding? He seemed positively fuming.
“Okay class, seeing as everyone else’s Potions are ruined –” Remus and I burnt red as some people turned to glare at us “– we’ll pretend that this lesson never happened and start the real work next lesson. So if you haven’t had a lesson, that means no homework. Get out of here, kids.”
Everyone started to gather their stuff, which was clean thanks to Slughorn, and leave. Lily came over to us with her bag on her back.
“We’ll wait outside for you,” she whispered, “good luck.” and she hugged me quickly, before running out of the door with Fliss, who was scowling.
When everyone had left, I made my way to Slughorn’s desk, where he sat patiently. He smiled a little at me.
“Ophelia, I think we need a chat.”
I stayed silent.
A chat? I thought he was just going to shout at me for almost blowing his lab up for the umpteenth time.
“I don’t want to fail you in this class, Ophelia, I really don’t. Why did you take Potions? You must know that…well, you’re not in tune with each other, let’s put it like that.”
“I…I want to be a Healer, Sir,” I mumbled, “I need a NEWT in Potions to train at St. Mungo’s…”
“Ah.” He screwed his face up, much like Sirius does when he’s singing, and I tried to stifle the giggle I felt in my chest, imagining Slughorn with a Maths book and screaming about Irrational Numbers with Sirius.
I really need to get my head checked.
“Then I really don’t want to squash your dreams,” he said, and I felt a strange surge of affection for my rotund Potions Professor. He smiled at my expression. “I’ll help you as much as I can in class, but outside I’m afraid I’m going to be rather busy this year…I know! We’ll get you a tutor.”
“Everyone in our year won’t want to tutor me when they’re busy doing their own revision, Sir,” I pointed out.
“No, no, no, I have the perfect person!” he exclaimed. I waited a moment, but when he didn’t say anything, I frowned.
“Who, Sir?” I asked finally.
Without meaning to, I snorted in scepticism. Slughorn raised his eyebrow at me.
“I’m sorry Sir,” I rushed, “but it’s just Regulus is in the year below me and he’s not doing any of our Syllabus, isn’t he?”
“Regulus completed the Seventh Year Syllabus last year. In fact, he’s already got his NEWT in it so he hasn’t got Potions classes anymore,” he said, and his face glowed with pride.
Wow. I knew Regulus was smart, but that smart?
“He is an amazing Potion Maker, and you’ll learn a lot from him.” He sat down at his desk and picked up a quill, starting to write. “You can go now, Miss Meadows, and I shall inform you of your first Tutor lesson by owl.” He smiled up at me for an instant, before turning his attention to the parchment in front of him.
“Thank you Sir,” I said, a little dazed, and made my way out of the Potions room.
As soon as I got outside, Lily, Fliss and the boys were waiting for me.
“Are you alright?” Lily asked, “We didn’t hear any shouting, but we thought maybe he was doing the deadly quiet voice telling off and making you ashamed of yourself.”
“Teachers do that a lot,” James added in.
“He didn’t tell me off,” I said, and I paused, feeling confused.
“Well what happened then?” Fliss asked after a moment.
“I…I have a Tutor,” I muttered.
“Well that’s not so bad,” Lily said, brightening. “Who is it? Someone in our year?”
“He didn’t say,” I said quickly, “he said I’d find out when he chose someone.” I glanced at Sirius but he was thinking. What a change.
“Well, it’ll probably either be Lily…or Snape,” he said as we started walking.
“Don’t even say the name Snape around me,” Fliss glowered, her upper lip curling in disgust, “he wouldn’t let me touch anything to do with our Potion, I was so tempted to just blow it up so he’d get no marks, but Ophie did that for us…”
She turned to me and grinned, linking our arms.
“Have I ever told you I love you?”
I smiled and nodded. “But I like hearing it though.”
“I love you,” she repeated, ruffling my hair and messing it up, smiling widely.
“I’ve got to get to the Library,” Lily said after a while of silence, “I’ve got a few things to sort out for the Meeting tonight before dinner.”
“D’you need any help?” James asked helpfully. Lily regarded him for a moment, "I am a Head, after all."
“Um, I guess so. Thanks.” James’ face glowed and Lily took off at a brisk pace down a Corridor. James bounded after her, throwing Sirius a thumbs up behind his back.
“Wow.” Sirius looked confused.
“She didn’t even glare at him,” Fliss said, shocked.
“They were bound to start acting civilly, at the least, don’t you think? Both being in such high positions with each other. It was inevitable,” Remus said logically, and I smiled at his intuitiveness.
“…Yeah, sure. Anyway. Common Room, anyone? Let’s go see what Peter did on his free period.”
The Meeting was amazingly boring. All the normal stuff really; patrol duty, mostly. And schedules. Lily also said that there was going to be a Ball, or something of the sort, for New Years, the people that were there over the Holidays anyway.
Lily, James, Remus and I made our way back to the Gryffindor Common Room, and we were halfway there before Lily and James realized that we hadn’t eaten.
“You guys coming?” Lily asked as her and James started to walk away from us. Remus shook his head slightly.
“I’m not feeling too well at the moment…” he mumbled, and stole a quick glance at the window. The moon was hardly there, so he must have had a Full Moon just before the start of Hogwarts. He did look rather ragged on the train, I suddenly noticed. Lily and James nodded.
“Ophelia?” Lily turned on me.
“I’ll keep Remus company,” I said quickly, and I saw him smile softly in my peripheral vision, which made the corners of my mouth twitch upwards.
“Ok, see you back in the Common Room.”
And they walked off together, leaving Remus and I alone. We started to head to the Gryffindor Common Room in a comfortable silence.
“Can I ask you something?” he asked, and he sounded a little cautious. I nodded, instantly wary.
“Why didn’t you tell us who your tutor is?”
This startled me, and I felt my mouth open.
“I – I didn’t lie,” I stammered after a second, not thinking that he hadn’t said that I’d lied, not thinking that I could still save the situation.
“Yes you did,” he said softly. We came to a stop, and I regarded him for a moment in complete fear. This was…weird. No one has ever known when I was lying before.
If he could guess this, what else could he guess?
“How did you know?” I whispered.
“I’m sorry,” he said looking immediately apologetic, “I didn’t mean to upset you.” He cleared his throat, and tried again. “I don’t really know, I sort of guessed. But I was right…wasn’t I?”
I winced. “Yes.” No good trying to get out of it now, I suppose.
Could he break through my other defences just as easily?
How did he do it? Why now, after all this time? All these years, he just suddenly noticed one lie out of a thousand?
To say that I felt guilty was an understatement. I mean, I always felt guilty deflecting questions about my family or just plain lying about them, or my sleeping habits. But this was different – so much worse. Because he knew that I was lying and he’d called me up on it.
“It’s okay. You must have a good reason, obviously, I can’t see why you would lie otherwise.” He smiled at me, probably in what he hoped was a carefree, non-blaming manner, but it just made the guilt worse.
“They wouldn’t shut up about it if they knew who it was,” I said quietly, in defeat, and I knew he was going to get it out of me.
“You don’t have to tell me,” he said in his soft voice again, and all at once I felt compelled to break my vow of silence. He didn’t expect me to but I was going to, mostly because I felt I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and I wanted him to trust me. I was going to try harder not to lie to Remus. It hurt, seeing him catch me out like that.
After a second, I uttered, “It’s Regulus.”
I expected him to relax a little and laugh; maybe question why someone younger than me was tutoring me, why not one of our year group who would know so much more than Regulus at Potions, who could actually help.
But he stiffened and stopped walking for a moment. I looked at his face and he seemed angry.
“What?” I asked, instantly wary, stopping a small way in front of him.
“But…” He seemed to struggle with the right words. “It’s Regulus.” He almost spat the word out. “He’s Sirius’ brother, in Slytherin. He hates us all.” I flinched, and he noticed. He reached out to my arm and rested his hand against my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he said sincerely. “I didn’t mean it…just…don’t worry.”
He forced a smile at me, and we started walking again. He removed his hand from my shoulder and rubbed the back of his neck slightly.
“So why does Slughorn think someone in the year below us can help you with Potions?” he asked lightly, and I felt weird for a second, because I knew he was bothered about it, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. And he was lying to me about it. It was strange, being on the receiving end. I didn’t like it, not one bit, especially since it was Remus who was lying to me.
But I shook it off and put on a smile, and I told him the story of what happened in Slughorn’s office, feeling at ease by telling him what happened, but still feeling strangely unsettled.
Another edit! :)