Chapter 3 : Essence of Insanity
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Essence of Insanity
Don’t you just love Mondays? The start of the week, a whole new beginning, a fresh new load of work just waiting to be done.
Of course I’m being sarcastic. Nobody likes Mondays, not even Professor McGonagall, and she’s a confessed work-a-holic. After a weekend of doing homework at the last minute, sleeping in, Quidditch, and general procrastination, who actually wants to go back to that hellish time called the week?
Unfortunately, I had no choice in the matter, so on the first Monday morning of the school year, I dragged myself out of bed after moaning and groaning for about 20 minutes. By the time arrived at the bathroom door, having tripped over twice and having bumped my head on the stupid low hanging chandelier because I’m such a tall freak, Ellie was already brushing her hair.
‘Ellie, how can you get up so early?’ I groaned.
‘Practise’ she said simply, running a brush through her long blonde hair. i paused for a moment and sighed wistfully. I wish my hair was as beautiful.
I emerged from the bathroom some twenty minutes later (I don’t know what I do in there in either), and headed to my bed. I pulled the curtains around me and quickly changed into my robes. I have a strange paranoia of being seen when I’m changing, so I always make sure I’m completely hidden before changing. I came out to brush my hair, but found that the mirror was being hogged by two of the sluttiest people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter; Megan Foxhall and Linda Layfette.
Linda The Whore continued applying copious amounts of vanilla lipgloss, which made the whole dorm stink to high heavens of vanilla. I don't normally have a thing against vanilla, but when there's so much of the smell you feel nauseated, I think it's a tad disgusting. She tossed her long, straight blonde hair (dyed blonde by the way), and tried to lower the neckline of the robes so that it would show her enourmous cleavage.
‘What do you think of my new eyeliner Lin?’ asked Megan in a rather fake husky voice. It's try-hard sexy, and it just sounds weird. Megan is very into dark make-up, black clothes and that weird band that sounds very angry, Avada and the Kedavras. Why anyone would name a band after an Unforgiveable Curse is beyond me.
'So brings out your eyes' replied Linda The Whore. With one final glance at the mirror, they left, leaving behind a sickening scent of too much vanilla and too much make-up. Not a good mix.
The story of my mornings for the past six years.
‘The point, James, is that while most girls enjoy joking about pick-up-lines, we don’t enjoy having them used on us’ I said. Ellie, Noah and I were giving James a crash course into the reason why Evans didn’t like the phrase “do you have a mirror in your pants? Because I can see myself in them”.
‘It was just a joke’ said James miserably. Poor bloke. He just had to fancy a girl who could take some things too seriously.
‘But think about it James’, said Ellie in a soothing tone, ‘How would you like it if I said that to you?’
James grinned cheekily.
‘Why I would like it very much’ he said, wiggling his eyebrows, causing Ellie’s cheeks to tinge pink. Noah laughed; for some reason he’s never really concerned when some guy will randomly make a comment like that. Maybe he feels that Ellie can make her own decisions, and doesn’t need him hanging over her. What a good brother.
‘What would you like very much?’ asked Remus, suddenly appearing.
‘For Ellie to say that she could see herself in my pants’ said James. Remus went a little pink at this rather lewd comment but laughed all the same.
We said bye to James and Remus and sat down at the Ravenclaw table. I immediately poured myself coffee, and added lots of sugar, and no milk. There is something about having sugar saturated black coffee in the morning that is so invigorating.
Soon, Professor Flitwick was walking down the Ravenclaw table handing out timetables. I groaned when I saw mine.
‘Double Potions, double Transfiguration, and that stupid new subject, P.D.K.M.P or whatever it was called’
‘P.D.H.M.E’ corrected Noah.
‘Whatever’ I said. I noticed Megan Foxhall and Linda Layfette drinking some pumpkin juice, but leaving their plates clean. Ellie seemed to have noticed too.
‘Do those two ever eat?’ she demanded.
‘Must be what keeps them slim’ said Noah. Ellie looked down at her plate for a moment, which was piled with bacon and eggs. Personally, I find the smell of bacon rather disgusting, so I don’t eat it. James considers this to be some sort of crime, to not like bacon. I’m telling you, that boy is too obsessed with bacon for his own good. Remus Lupin is obsessed with chocolate, but it’s chocolate, so that’s understandable.
‘Slim?’ I scoffed, ‘those two might as well be anorexic.’
‘Isn’t that a bit rich coming from you?’ asked Noah.
‘Pfft. No. Unlike those two, I have a high metabolism. I don’t have to starve myself, although I wish I could pack on a couple of pounds’ I said. Ellie remained silent and chewed on a piece of toast thoughtfully.
We soon exited the Great Hall and made our way to our classes. Ellie and I said bye to Noah at the Entrance hall, because he was bad at Potions and failed his OWL, which really sucks, because he made potions more fun because he kept messing up his potions and it was always entertaining seeing his cauldron explode, or his potion start evaporating on its own. I think he must have bought 15 cauldrons over the past five years.
We walked to the dungeons in silence, because Ellie seemed to be in a quiet, brooding sort of mood. She was still strangely quiet when we entered the dungeons and started setting up. Most unusual. As Slughorn passed us, his gigantic stomach wobbling around, Ellie just remained silent, and didn’t laugh at my comment on how his stomach looks like jelly attached to a man. Ellie always laughs when I make jokes about Slughorn’s weight, even if their lame. So this silence was most unusual.
‘Settle down everyone,’ said Slughorn, ‘Welcome back for another year, your last year at Hogwarts. As you know, this is a very important year, as you have your NEWTs at the end of the year. These exams are of extreme importance if you wish to pursue a career that requires a high skill level. We will spend a lot of the year revising what you have learned from the past six years, in addition to learning potions of a great difficulty. You will have revision tests every month to make sure that you understand the coursework. This will be happening in all of your subjects, so don’t complain’ he warned, as a few people opened their mouths to complain. None of them should be complaining; they knew what they were getting into by sticking with NEWT level subjects.
Slughorn was silent for a moment.
‘There is also a ... project ... of sorts’ he said. Almost immediately, there were outbursts and muttering. “You can’t do that Professor!” “We’ve never had a project!” I turned to Ellie to exchange a Something-Big-Is-Going-To-Happen Look. She didn’t return it; she was staring down at the table, as if she hadn’t heard a word Slughorn had said. ‘Hello! Ellie! Slughorn gave us a project to do. Anyone at home?’ I tapped her head lightly. She suddenly jerked her head up.
‘We have a “project of sorts”’ I sketched air quotes around “project of sorts”.
‘Really?’ Ellie asked, before falling silent once more. This was getting really weird.
‘Settle down’ said Slughorn forcefully. The chatter and complaints quickly ceased. ‘The details for this project will be handed out at the and of class’ he continued, ‘So I want you all to concentrate on your potion till the end of class, when I will answer any of your queries relating to the project. Now, who can tell me what this potion is?’ he said, pointing towards a cauldron filled to the brim with some sickly looking green goo. I studied it for a bit. Hm, which potion looks like that? Oh wait that’s right, it’s Essence of Insanity!
‘Ah, but Miss Evans can of course!’ I jerked my head away from the potion (causing my neck to hurt pretty badly) to glare at Evans. Grr, she always has to answer the questions in Potions just a bit before me.
‘It’s Essence of Insanity, sir’ she answered, before casting a quick smirk my way. I pretended I couldn’t see her. We’ve had this answering question thing going on since sixth year, when we started having Potions together because the class was so small.
‘Correct! Ten points to Gryffindor’ said Slughorn, beaming. He’s besotted with her, he is. It’s always “Miss Evans this! Miss Evans that!” Does he mind recognising other talent in the room? ‘Now who can tell me its effects?’ I immediately shot my hand up before she could. Slughorn stared at me for a moment, his features showing his confusion.
‘I’m sorry, what’s your name again?’ he asked.
‘Felicia Noughton’ I said through gritted teeth. You’d think the man would realise who I was after being in his sodding class for six bloody years!
‘Oh. Well, what are the effects of Essence of insanity Miss, er, Noughton?’
‘The name of the potion implies the effects. The drinker will briefly experience the symptoms of insanity, such as raving, frothing at the mouth and hyperactivity’ I said. This was pretty much what the textbook had said, but it was correct.
‘Correct, Miss Houghton! Ten points to, um, Ravenclaw’ he said, eyeing the blue buttons on the front of my robes. Oh well, at least he got my house right.
Slughorn moved around the tables handing out the sheets of parchment which had our project outlined on them.
‘As you can see, this project has been introduced by the NEWT Board, in an attempt to judge students on both a class mark and an exam mark’ said Slughorn. Class mark? We are actually going to be assessed on our performance in class? I look over to James and Sirius. They looked rather worried, as they always do crap in class, and then do really well in their exams. I inwardly cackle as realisation dawns upon their faces that they’ll actually have to work this year.
‘You will be a receiving a project in all your other classes as well, so don’t be surprised’ warned Slughorn. Oh, gee wow, I would never have guessed that we would be assessed this way in all our other classes. I looked down at the parchment.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
7th Year Potions
This year, the NEWT Board has decided that in addition to an exam, students will also be doing a project to asses their class performance. This change is a first of its kind at Hogwarts, as it has come to the attention of many that some students perform better in class, while others perform better in exam. To give students an equal chance at scoring well, this project was introduced.
Students will be working in pairs assigned by the class teacher to successfully make Crawford’s Concoction, a potion which temporarily enhances the user’s magical abilities. This potion, while highly advanced, has been declared safe for students to make.
Instructions on how to make Crawford’s Concoction will be detailed by the class teacher.
Due Date: 3rd November 1977
I stared at the parchment in disbelief. Pairs? Assigned by the teacher? What the hell? I put my hand up.
‘Yes, Miss Horton?’
‘Sir, do you really have to assign our partner?’
‘Yes,’ he said, nodding his head so that his six chins wobbled (oh Merlin that’s disgusting), ‘In fact, I have already assigned them, and this you will find out next lesson’. There were many groans issued from the students.
‘Hope I’m with you’ I said to Ellie. She still looked vague and distant for some reason. She nodded, most probably not hearing what I was saying. Okay, this is just getting annoying now. The bell rang, making Ellie jump out of her seat. We quickly packed up to go to our next lesson. I checked my timetable to see what it was.
‘P.D.H.M.E!’ I cried. Ellie walked along, still looking lost in thought. ‘Eleanor Sommers, if you do not respond to what I am saying anytime soon...’ I threatened. She looked up at me, her expression apologetic.
‘Sorry, I’ve just been thinking’ she said.
‘What subject could cause you to practically ignored me the whole lesson, and almost blow up your potion?’ I demanded. Really, we might not have had dungeons anymore if I hadn’t knocked the bottle of greasal saliva out of her hand. I feel that I deserve a medal.
‘Oh, it’s nothing. I’m just really tired. C’mon, let’s get to our next class’ she said, hurrying along.
Disgruntled at her lousy explanation, I followed.
A/N: Hey I'm back. i doubt any of you really care, but i thought I'd make my presence known. Before you go, do you think you could leave a review? Did you love it? Hate it? Found something really annoying? TELL ME!!!! If you too are a young struggling autho, feel some empathy and review! even if you're not, it would be a most appreciated gesture. And i will give you all free virtual cookies! (haha, get it? because everytime you visist a page, you get cookies on your computer! oh wow, i am so lame, i seriously need a life. Or maybe i should just renovate) and i promise anyone who reads this, that it does get a lot better in later chapters. ie, more jokes (especially dirty ones), more psychoness and more randomness!
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