Chapter 3 : The Art of Potion Making
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Cautiously, she sneaked a glance at the teenager sitting next to her. His expression was bored, him staring towards the front of the classroom, waiting for the class to actually begin. She took in his appearance, from his emerald green tie that was loosely hanging, to how his blonde hair was casually disorganized. What she couldn't ignore was the apparent awkwardness that had settled around them, and she said the first thing that came to mind. "Morning, Malfoy," she said, smiling despite her nervousness.
He turned, raising his eyebrows. Kira wished away the nervousness. After all, even though the boys had said that Draco hated her, she couldn't remember if he had ever outright insulted her. Always they had been passing comments, and most of them were weak. Surely if he meant to harm her, they would have more harsh and direct. The boy gave a small sigh before turning to his left, looking straight at her. "What do you want?"
Kira shrugged. Now that they were actually talking, she relaxed somewhat. "I just wanted to say hi."
Draco gave her a weird look, but before he could actually say anything, Snape began talking again. "On page 14, you'll find the basic instructions outlining how you should be making a simple draught. I know this will no doubt be beyond many of your capabilities, but nonetheless, you will attempt it. I'll need a sample from each group afterwards. Begin."
Lighting the fire up with her wand, she prepared the cauldron, adjusting the flame until it was nearly a transparent blue. Pulling out the new textbook, she flipped over to the page in question. Reading over the instructions, she took some notes in the margins, before saying, "Well, this should be simple enough." To her surprise, when she turned, Draco was no longer next to her, but already at the ingredient cabinet. Walking over to help, she started gathering some of the necessary materials, before retreating to the table. "We should start with cutting the-"
"I prefer to work alone," Draco said, picking up the silver knife on the table, before starting to slice the root into thin pieces. His words had cut into hers before she had the chance to finish her sentence.
Determined not to be bothered, she continued. "Well, we could split the work in half with one of us getting ready for the next few steps and -"
"White, when I said alone, I meant alone," he said, emphasizing the last word. Kira frowned slightly, biting her lip. It was already difficult enough, working with him, and he wasn't making things easier.
"What do you want me to do then?" she asked, at last, watching as he struggled with cutting the root. According to the textbook, the root should have been releasing juice that would be crucial to the next step.
"Stay silent," he muttered, before rereading the section in the textbook.
"It would take double the amount of time if you did it alone," she tried to reason.
"And that would still be considerably less than the time it would take for me to fix one of your mistakes. I don't need someone messing up the potion."
"If I do mess it up, you can blame it on me then," Kira said, finally. Even if it was Draco, she wasn't going to let him get away with just anything. "You're doing that wrong anyways," she said, before taking his hand without thinking. "You're supposed to flatten it with the blade and cut along the lines," she said, as she guided his hand, in cutting it. Immediately the juice came gushing out, and she caught the drops in a glass bowl with her other hand. "There."
She released his hand before finally looking at his face. His cheeks were slightly tinted, from the heat of the fire perhaps? He shook his head. "I don't need your help," he muttered.
"I'm giving it anyways," she said, before measuring the liquid out, adding it slowly into the cauldron.
This time he didn't protest. "You're fixing it yourself if you mess anything up," he threatened, before turning back to the root.
"Okay," she said, grinning, before slowly stirring the potion clockwise. The rest of the instructions were straightforward. Potions had always been one of her better subjects, and it was almost relaxing. In fact, if not for Snape, it would have easily been one of her favorite classes. Still, the heat of the flames tended to get to people, especially with the fumes that this potion was emitting. She wiped the beads of sweat away, finally tying her hair up in a ponytail. Aside from the general "pass me the glass", there was little speaking. There was a form of comfort in the silence, all of the previous nervousness at the prospect of working with Draco had long disappeared.
When she finished adding in the last ingredient, she watched as the potion slowly turned into a light shade of blue. "Do you think it's ready?" she asked, breaking the silence.
Looking closely at the potion, he then examined the text again. The heat from the fire had not spared Malfoy either, and she found herself noticing things she had never paid close attention to. Although his hair was no longer arranged neatly at this point, from an hour long of work. But even now she could see how each strand casually fell into place. Far away, she had never noticed the color of his eyes. Whoever had said his eyes were gray couldn't be more wrong. The richness of that color could never be described with a word as simple as gray. No, it was the color of storms, right before the first drops of rain chose to fall. "I think it's done," he said at last, looking up, interrupting her train of thought.
Without a word, she nodded. She then ladled two separate portions out, writing their names in careful strokes onto the flasks. "I'll hand these in then," she said, walking towards the front. As soon as she walked away, she felt lighter, easier, as she let out a breath that she had not realized she had been holding. Caught up in this feeling, she hardly noticed when she nearly bumped into Snape.
"Sorry, Professor," she said, hastily, before looking back up at him.
"Slacking again? I haven't the faintest clue how you managed to scrape by my previous classes, but rest assured, unless you get your act together soon, this may very well be the last year we share together," Snape drawled.
"We're done, Professor," Kira said, keeping her voice in control. What he had said had been completely untrue. She had always worked hard in this class, hadn't she? But after four years with him, she knew better than to argue with someone who refused to listen.
"We?" he asked, suspicious.
"You paired with me with Malfoy today, Professor?" she reminded.
"I know that," Snape said, before taking the flasks. "You better hope that these potions are perfect. While Malfoy's skills have always been up to standards, one can only hope that you haven't ruined his work by another one of your accidents," he said, before starting back towards his desk. Just as Kira had been about to head back, he stopped. "Mr. Malfoy," he said, turning. "You and your partner will be assigned two potions to make as your extended project: the Polyjuice potion and Amortentia." It did not escape her attention that the professor was ignoring her, only focusing on his prized Slytherin.
"The Polyjuice potion?" Draco repeated. "I thought the Ministry banned it."
"For educational purposes only," Snape answered, before continuing. "You have two moons to complete these two potions, which is more than enough time." It was now that he chose to look at Kira. "Hopefully, one of you won't slow the other down."
"Yes, Professor," Kira said, looking straight back at him. Glaring at the witch before him for another moment, Snape abruptly turned and went back to his desk. Only once he was gone was Kira able to force herself to smile again, heading back to the table she shared with Draco. "When do you want to work on these potions then?" she asked.
"We?" Draco asked, his eyebrows arching again.
"It's a group project," she pointed out.
"Not all of us have the time, White. While you might have the time, I have Quidditch practice, not to mention, I'm a prefect now," he said, struggling for other reasons to get out of working together. "It would be simpler if we divided the work and worked on our own," he continued, only to receive a sigh from Kira.
"Ron's a prefect too," she pointed out. "And he has Quidditch practice as well."
"Don't compare me to the Weasel," he said, automatically.
"Don't call him that," she responded quickly, but firmly. "We can at least give it a try? And look, I'm not saying we have to be great friends or anything, but shouldn't we at least try to get along?" she asked, before smiling again.
"Why?" he asked, looking away again, appearing to be bored.
"Personally, I have nothing against you," she said, looking at him. "And I don't think you have anything against me." Slowly he turned back to look at her, with a 'no' already on his lips. However, he was caught by surprise for a brief moment, and he hesitated, before changing his mind again.
"Twice a week. We'll meet twice a week and see how it goes from there. You're free on Mondays and Wednesdays?"
Kira nodded, before grinning. She hadn't expected him to agree.
"7 o'clock then, in the empty potions room three classrooms away. Don't be late," he said, before regretting his decision already.
"Perfect," she said. "Thanks, Malfoy."
"For what?" he asked, giving a sigh of defeat.
"For giving me a chance," she said with a small laugh. Before he could think of a reply to this though, Snape had begun talking again.
"Class is dismissed. For homework, I want a three foot essay on this potion and the effects of each ingredient. You may leave."
"See you, Malfoy," Kira said, cheerfully, as she packed her things, quickly going to join up with her friends. Instead Draco was left behind with his own confusing thoughts. Before today, he had not really known Kira at all. In fact, although he did find it amusing, if not addicting, to insult the Golden trio, whenever he had the chance, he never had the urge to insult Kira herself. Now that he thought about it, there wasn't much that he could think of to insult her with. Aside from the basic information, he only knew that she was among the top of each class and her consistent cheerfulness.
He sighed, before taking his own things and starting to leave. The girl confused him, that much was certain. Anyone else would have gotten annoyed at him and his attitude during class, but not only did she put up with it, she seemed pleased through the whole thing. "Kira White," he repeated, testing the name out. Shaking his head, he decided that there was no point to dwelling on these facts. After all, he was Draco Malfoy, and Malfoys simply didn't waste their time thinking about annoying and confusing Gryffindors.
"That class took forever," Ron moaned, as they walked along the halls.
"Sometimes I think Snape might hate you even more than he does me," Harry said to Kira, shaking his head. "He was definitely targeting you the whole class."
"Pretty sure he would have done worse if I wasn't partnered with his favorite student," she muttered.
"How did that go anyways," Hermione asked. "I can't see Malfoy cooperating with a Gryffindor in my mind. Did you guys 'bond'?" she asked, teasing.
"It went pretty well actually," she said, grinning.
"You're kidding," Ron said, in disbelief. "Merlin, I thought that this at least would wake you up to what a jerk that ferret really is."
"No, he was civil," Kira said. "Well, most of the time. We've already thought of meeting times for the project."
"Well good luck with that," Harry said. "I used to think I was bad at potions before I started working with Pansy. I swear, that girl makes me look like I'm a natural."
"Probably afraid to break a nail," Ron added, grinning. "Crabbe did something in when I was working on the roots, and the whole potion turned this nasty yellow color."
"Oh eww," Kira said, making a face.
"He probably stirred it the wrong way," Hermione mused. "I have to admit that Zabini wasn't as bad as I thought he would be though. He was certainly polite."
"Snape must have had fun watching us," she said, rolling her eyes.
"What did you do to him anyways? Why is he so against you?"
"I'm not sure. I think it might have something to do with him thinking I stole an ingredient from his cabinet. It was during the Triwizard Tournament last year?"
"He thought I stole it too," Harry said, remembering about the gillyweed. "Dobby really got it for me because he knew I'd need it for the task with the lake. He tried pinning that on you too?"
Kira shrugged, before Ron brought up the latest news about the Chudley Cannons. The rest of the day passed by quickly without many accidents. Classes quickly became dull as each teacher repeated the same lecture about O.W.L.S., and constantly, she found herself drifting off. Soon it was dinner, and she was again touched by all the food that was arranged on the tables. She must remember to thank the house elves soon. There was nowhere else she felt more at ease at than with her friends, and all four of them fell into easy conversation.
By the middle of dinner, Harry and Ron had gotten into a heated debate about whether or not the Tornados stood a chance this year, while Hermione tried showing Kira why she shouldn't have broken up with Alex. At this time, an unexpected visitor had snuck out behind her, before saying, "Boo," right next to her ear.
Kira screamed, her heart beating rapidly, before being greeted with laughter all around her. "Frick, Daniel, you scared me! And you guys, it's not that funny!" she said, trying to stay angry for a moment longer before collapsing into laughter herself.
"I just wanted to check up on my favorite little sis," Daniel said, grinning.
"Dan, I'm your only little sister," she said.
"Exactly my point," he said, winking. He caught the eyes of some of the girls nearby, before smirking. This caused some of the girls to giggle, and Kira rolled her eyes again. True, she had to admit that in any girl's eyes, she supposed that her brother could be taken as handsome or cute. They shared the same color of hair, except somehow he had managed to keep his hair, looking as if it was windswept always. His eyes were a captivating caramel, but what really drew others, was his sense of humor, and how he knew how to have a good time.
"You're impossible," she muttered, before eating some more of the chicken. Heavenly.
"I can't help it. It's not my fault that I was gifted with such godly looks," he said.
"Arrogant as usual, I see," Hermione commented, before joining in. Hermione and Daniel had always maintained some sort of playful banter here and there.
"Nope, only honest. And careful there, Kir. You're going to put on too much weight," he said, teasing.
"Since when does she ever put on weight?" Hermione asked. "You should have seen how much she ate this morning."
"I'm hungry," Kira said, as if that explained everything. "And what do you really want, Dan?"
"Can't I just come over and say hi?" he asked, innocently.
"You never do that." Kira looked over at him, knowingly. "Well at least not during dinner when you have all of your Slytherin friends with you."
"True. Just wanted to remind you to send off some letter to the 'rents," he said.
For a brief moment, her smile faltered. She bit her lip slightly, before shaking her head, putting on a smile once more. "Oh shoot, nearly forgot about that," she said, shaking her head. "What the heck is there to say anyways?"
"Just make something up. Say something about how your classes are going perfectly well."
"It's only been one day, Daniel. Does that even mean anything yet?"
"Doesn't matter. You know they'll get angry if you don't write."
"Fine, fine. I'll think of something. Thanks Dan," Kira said.
"See you around then," he said, before heading back. Kira grinned. She loved her brother beyond imagination, and it was sweet how he continued to look out for her even in school.
"Ah Kira, are you busy tomorrow night?" Harry suddenly asked.
"Tomorrow? Why?" Kira asked, thinking.
"Potions. I need some help," he said sheepishly.
"Harry, we've only had one class so far."
"Well, yeah, but I haven't the foggiest idea what to put on my essay. I was kind of hoping you could help?" Harry asked, hopefully. "Hermione and Ron have prefect rounds and everything," he quickly added.
"Sure sure," she said, before thinking again. "Oh wait, no I can't. I'm meeting Malfoy tomorrow night, remember? It's a Wednesday."
"Already?" he asked.
"We thought it'd be good to get started. The Polyjuice potion does take at least a moon, if everything goes well. Sorry, Harry… maybe some other time?" she asked, feeling guilty. "Oh, we both have study hall at the same time tomorrow," she pointed out.
"No, no, it's fine," he said, shaking his head, sounding slightly disappointed, and somehow she got the impression that this wasn't just about Potions help. Was there something that Harry wasn't telling her? She shook her head, laughing softly to herself. She was definitely thinking too much. The rest of the night passed in a flash. They ended up playing Exploding Snap in the Common Room. Hermione being the more sensible one, left early to go back to sleep, remind them that it was still a school day tomorrow, and Ron who was tired from the day's events, went to sleep early as well. Kira finally challenged Harry to another round of Wizards' Chess, but somewhere between the game, she had fallen asleep on the couch.
As she drifted off into dreamland, part of her was conscious of Harry bringing down two blankets as he took up residence on the second couch. Peacefully she slept, a smile upon her lips. It was only later was she aware of the warm blanket tucked around her and the whispered goodnight, and only later when she would wonder what it meant.
I'm updating much faster than I expected. I'm not sure how much I like this chapter just yet as it turned out to be different than I wanted it to be. Again, thoughts, comments, or just general ideas will be loved. Thanks!
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