The Same as a Duck
As the clock struck, signaling the beginning of the class period, the students began filing in, in groups and alone. Potions class with the first-year Ravenclaws and Gryffindors went more or less the same way every session. Collin Creevey, the Muggleborn, would ask a series of questions that any three-year-old from a wizarding family would already know the answer to. Ginny Weasley would most likely set something on fire, though probably not on purpose, the way her older twin brothers would. Then three Ravenclaw girls Professor Snape had come to refer to as the Giggle Sisters would whisper all through class, probably losing between ten and fifteen points for their House.
And then there was Luna Lovegood: a Ravenclaw who was quickly chipping away at Professor Snape’s last few nerves.
Professor Snape had come to expect odd behavior from Luna Lovegood, from her radish earrings and her Butterbeer cork necklace to her ridiculous questions and comments in class to the hundreds of little idiosyncrasies of her everyday behavior. He certainly wasn’t used
to it, but he had come to tolerate it for the most part.
Today’s stunt, however, was one that he simply couldn’t overlook.
Under her left arm, she carried a snowy-white duck, quite alive and drawing the attention of every student in the classroom. A duck!
The same kind that one might find on a farm, tucked under Luna’s arm as though it were a loaf of bread. The duck, however, did not seem to mind, remaining quite quiet and content in Luna’s grasp.
Luna Lovegood did not pay any attention to the stares or the whispers of her classmates. She simply took her usual seat beside her Potions partner—who must have been allergic to feathers, judging by the ways she was beginning to sneeze and sniffle—as though nothing were out of the ordinary. Still, both Luna and the duck ignored this, sitting quietly on her stool, waiting for class to start. The little straggly-haired blonde kept the animal tucked under her arm, not even setting it down on the Potions counter.
Normally, the best policy with Luna’s odd behavior was to just ignore her. Then, hopefully the students would learn to ignore Luna’s little stunts, and maybe, just maybe, they would stop if Luna learned she would not be getting any attention from them.
All the same, he could hardly ignore live animals being brought into class for no academic reason. It was a distraction to the other students, obviously, and the properties of the creature could easily throw off the chemical compositions of the potions they were about to brew.
And so, Professor Snape strolled over to Luna Lovegood side and stood there, waiting for her to realize something was wrong and look up.
“Miss Lovegood,” Professor Snape asked her, “what is that you have there?”
Luna looked to her side, the one not holding the animal under her arm, confused. “Book bag?”
So we are going to do this the hard way today, are we, Miss Lovegood?
Professor Snape found himself thinking.
“Under your other arm, Miss Lovegood,” Professor Snape clarified for her.
The girl looked down to her other side, almost looking surprised to see the creature was there. “Oh, this is a duck,” she answered enthusiastically. “Surely you have seen ducks before.”
“I know it is a duck, Miss Lovegood,” he said, trying to remain calm. “I want
to know why you found it necessary to bring it to class with you.”
“Well, that’s a rather long story.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about that, Miss Lovegood,” Professor Snape assured her in a sarcastic manner. “I love long stories, and I’m sure that this will be a very interesting one.”
“Well, you see,” Luna began, shifting the duck to hold it more comfortably, “in History of Magic, we have been learning about the old witch burnings.”
Professor Snape stopped her. “Surely you must know that it was a rare occurrence for any witch or wizard to have truly burned to death in those ages.”
“I know that,” Luna told him, shifting the duck more still before finally settling on a more comfortable position, “but Muggles who were accused always burned to death. Now, what else burns when you set fire to it?”
Luna Lovegood paused, as though she were actually expecting her professor to answer her.
“Wood, that’s what burns,” she finally said when she realized Professor Snape was not going to offer a guess. “So logically, Muggles must be made of wood as well.”
Professor Snape glanced down at his watch to see just how much time had been wasted on this little stunt. Still, this was the type of story that was just so ridiculous, one had to hear it through to the end.
“Now, this is where it starts to get complicated,” Luna went on with her explanation. “When you throw wood into water, what happens?”
The girl did not offer enough of a pause for her teacher to answer this time.
“It floats! That’s what happens!” the young Ravenclaw said to him. “Now what else floats in water? You know, besides bread, bath toys, and certain candies.”
Professor Snape crossed his arms over his chest. He had a fairly good idea of where this story was going to go now.
“Ducks!” Luna exclaimed, holding the animal up to emphasize her point. “You see, if a person were to weigh a duck and a human, and the human were to weigh the same as a duck, that means they are made of wood, and therefore not really a witch.”
There was only one piece missing from this absurd reasoning. “And why exactly would you
need one, Miss Lovegood.”
“I’ve been told that once you get to Hogwarts, often times it is put into question whether a student really is a witch. But as you can imagine, live ducks are quite hard to come by,” she said to him. “So I simply started carrying a live duck around with me to save time.”
That seemed to be the end of Luna’s story. When Professor Snape looked up, he saw the entire class watching them as though this were some kind of show. Most of them appeared confused. It was
a very twisted, Alice in Wonderland
-type of logic Luna Lovegood practiced, and following it was not for the faint of heart.
“Miss Lovegood, please come with me to my office,” he said finally. “Everyone else, please turn your books to page thirty and do the chapter reading until I get back.”
And, of course, she took the duck with her.
After Luna and Professor Snape exited the classroom, the students all began the rapid-fire whispering while turning through their textbooks. Certainly no one was reading.
“I can’t believe that Loony Lovegood actually did it!” a Ravenclaw boy named Walter exclaimed.
“I can’t believe you were able to convince her of all that!” another one of the Ravenclaw girls said. “What was the name of that show again?”
“Monty Python,” Walter told them. “My father is a wicked fan of the series.”
None of the other students had any idea who Monty Python was, but they still found anything Luna Lovegood did to interrupt class was always wildly entertaining.
“The whole duck thing was actually from a scene to prove that someone is a witch
, but I doubt even Loony would have believed that. But if you simply shift a few words, it becomes quite close to sounding like fact in Loony-Land.”
The students snickered under their breath. Somewhere in the laughter, though, Luna had snuck back into the classroom and taken her seat without so much as a word. One of the first things the class did notice, however, was that Luna’s duck was no longer tucked under her arm.
“What happened to the duck?” one of the Gryffindors finally got up the nerve to ask.
“It’s in Professor Snape’s office,” she told them, looking over to the side to see what page she needed to turn to. “He says I can have it back when class is over, but that I’m not allowed to bring it to Potions ever again.”
“Did he give you detention?” Walter asked.
Luna shook her head. “He did take five points from Ravenclaw because I disrupted class.”
There was not one person in the class who was not puzzled by this. It seemed like an oddly light punishment coming from Professor Snape. And Loony Lovegood certainly seemed like the type of student who could surely bring out the creative side in Professor Snape’s sadistic streak.
“Alright,” Professor Snape said to his students as he paced across the front of the classroom. “Since I believe we will no longer have time to brew today’s potion, we will instead spend the day quizzing one another on every single aspect of the brewing process so you will be good and ready to pick up the lesson where it left off next class.”
The students all groaned in unison, but that didn’t stop the next half our of drilling that followed: on the brewing processes, on what they were supposed
to have been reading while Professor Snape was out, and even a few items that the professor had no reason to believe his students would understand, just to keep them on their toes. By the time his first-years were finished with class, they left complaining, whining, and a few of them were even crying.
Once the classroom was completely devoid of human life, an event took place that no one would have believed, even if
anyone were there: Professor Snape began to laugh. It was hardly laughing out loud, but at any rate, it could hardly be mistaken for a cough or a tickle in his throat.
“The same as a duck!” he chuckled to himself. “Oh, I loved that movie!”