Chapter 2 : Potion Hazard
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Reference Cast List:
Sirius Black - Jared Padalecki
Elsa Yaxley - Rachel Leigh Cook
Dominic Yaxley - Chad Michael Murray
Damon Avery - Marc Blucas
“About time you woke up Yaxley,” the girl said with a laugh.
Throwing the pillow back, Elsa slowly pushed the covers off and began to change. It didn’t help that she had fallen into bed that night without changing. The other girls snickered, knowing she had been out late with Sirius like she always was on the first night back. Rather than expending more energy than was required, Elsa flicked her wand over her uniform. The wrinkles flattened out to the perfect pressed look; the slight odour of overnight sweat faded away as if she had pulled on a fresh uniform.
When Elsa was ready, she picked up her book bag, and looked at Cordelia with a look of ‘what’s taking so long?’ It was unusual for her to be ready before her friend was, who was typically up two hours before everyone else, and waiting impatiently for the rest of the girls to wake. Today was as far from normal as she’d ever seen. Cordelia sat on the end of her bed staring off into space as if she had forgotten for a moment that they had breakfast to get to.
“Cordelia?” Elsa said impatiently leaning on the bed post.
“We’re going to be late for breakfast.”
“Sorry,” Cordelia said jumping up and grabbing her things.
“Everything alright?” Elsa asked when the other girls had run off ahead of them to make sure they didn’t miss breakfast.
“Yea, just tired I guess.” That was a lie even Elsa could see through. “Really, Elsa, I’m fine.”
“If you say so,” was all Elsa had to say on the subject.
They walked together to the Great Hall, saying hello to those who stopped them on their way. Whatever was bothering Cordelia, she obviously didn’t want to discuss it. Unlike Sirius, Elsa knew when to drop the subject and wait for her friend to tell her. Cordelia knew that whatever her secrets were they were safe with Elsa, they’d been friends for so long, having grown close since their first year at Hogwarts.
The Crouch family – one among the purebloods – was worthy of her friendship as her parents often told her, though they scoffed and scorned any friendship she developed with the other girls in her year. To her family, half bloods and muggleborns were beneath her, regardless that they were some of the smartest people she knew. Although Elsa disagreed with some of her pureblood upbringing, she knew one thing was for sure, she’d never turn her back on her family.
Lost in thought about pureblood semantics – which often found a way to enter her mind – Elsa found she had lost track of their walk to the Great Hall. Chatter erupted around her forcing her thoughts to her surroundings. The noise was enough to make any sane person think twice about working in a school, but Elsa found that it helped drown out her worries and bring back memories of the last five years. Surrounded by people new and old, Elsa was washed up in the excitement of it all.
Stopping to say hello to two of the newer Ravenclaws, Elsa made her way to where Vera Haysworth and Tabitha Greer were saving two seats for the two of them. It wasn’t customary that they ate breakfast together, but Elsa found that more often than not; she enjoyed the company of the other two Ravenclaw girls that she shared her dormitory with, much to the dislike of her brother. Dominic often complained that Elsa was spending far too much time with witches who would only become fodder to the Dark Lord.
It never bothered Elsa that Vera was a witch of two muggles or that Tabitha’s father was a wizard who had an unsavoury habit of being caught with witch and muggle woman alike. To her, Vera was the only person she trusted with help in Muggle Studies or Charms, and Tabitha was the girl she could trust to have the latest journals on new potions. They were her friends regardless of their backgrounds. They were witches she could count on in the dark times that seemed to threaten to break through the walls of Hogwarts on a daily basis.
“Took you two long enough,” Vera said, the Daily Prophet propped open in front of her.
Ignoring the jibe, Elsa dug into the food in front of her. She was famished having not eaten all that much at dinner. She often spent the first few meals back silently contemplating her classmates. Like poor Helen McCloud surrounded by Hufflepuffs who couldn’t fathom the complexities of her mind. More often than not Helen made it clear she was sorted into the wrong house. Sure she had a heart of gold and she wouldn’t give up her friends for the world, but they didn’t understand that she thrived for greatness. Or Joshua Richardson, who as a half blood looked particularly terrified being surrounded by Slytherins. It didn’t matter to his housemates that he was as ambitious as the rest of them.
Her thoughts turned to Peter Pettigrew; he too often boggled her mind. A boy she believed was better off in Hufflepuff. Though she knew he was friends with James, Sirius and Remus, she wondered how it was he had become mixed up with such a crowd of rowdy mischief makers. More often than not, Elsa found herself feeling sorry for Peter, who she believed was often hidden in the massive shadows of his friends. Perhaps, she mused, if he were in a different house he would flourish into a man of remarkable strength.
Shaking away the thoughts, Elsa returned to her half touched breakfast. No, Peter is in the right place. With Sirius and James to show him the ropes he’ll come out of his shell. She told herself before her mind slipped to the one person she wanted to avoid and the only person making it abundantly clear that she was his and damn anyone else for trying to get near her.
Damon’s attention brought a blush to her cheeks. She hated him and his family, yet it was that family she was to join when she finished school. Having grown up with Damon as a constant reminder of her future, Elsa had often wondered if there was a way to avoid the truth of the situation. He is handsome, she thought for the second time in less than two days. Beauty has nothing to do with love! She scolded herself. Damon gave her no reason to love him, no reason to dote her affections upon him. No, he was a scoundrel like the rest of the Avery men, believing they could buy their way through any situation. She was not going to have any of it. If Damon Avery wanted her as his bride, he was going to have to do a hell of a lot more to prove it to her.
It was only with the morning owls screeching their arrival to all the hopeful students, did Elsa snap out of her contemplation of her fellow students. A small parcel was dropped in front of her, and she smiled softly when she recognized the writing to be her mother’s. Plucking the letter off the top she read the words written in a flourish of loops and swirls that only her mother could manage to write so perfectly.
It was all about show with her mother. The way the garden around the house looked perfect right up until the day the flowers wilted and died. Or how the house elves were instructed to polish the silver and fine crystal every day on the single chance they might have an important guest to serve. With Marisol Yaxley everything was done with purpose to impress, something she failed to pass on to her eldest daughter.
“What’d your mum send this time?” Cordelia asked excitedly.
“The usual, mostly things I forgot,” she answered, and pulled out the sweets and tossed them to Cordelia. “You can have those....” she paused and looked at her friend, “your parents didn’t send you anything?”
“Mum’s dragging Dad around Europe now that I’m back at school. She’s been bugging him for a trip all summer.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“Probably, but they won’t be home for Christmas. It’s a yearlong tour of all the places Mum wants to see.”
“Spend it with me then. You know Mum’s planning her annual Christmas party. You can’t leave me alone with all of them. Though, Mum will be disappointed that your parents won’t be attending. As it is, she’s argued that if the Malfoys have a Christmas Gala she will be forced to outdo them.”
“That’s impossible. Nobody out does the Malfoys,” Cordelia said with a flourish of her hands.
They laughed as their class schedule was dropped in front of them. A general groan was heard throughout the sixth years who had selected Potions as one of their classes. First thing in the morning was double Potions with Professor Slughorn, even as a student who loved Potions, Elsa hated the idea of it being first thing.
Looking down at her half eaten breakfast, she promised that at lunch she would eat more. By the time she had collected her bag and parcel, the Great Hall had emptied out except for a few stragglers.
Potions was one of Elsa’s favourite classes, often finding it a way to clear her mind and focus on something that wasn’t as mindless as History of Magic or Divinations. In Potions she found a startling peace and clarity that her other classes lacked. Though as she entered the classroom she found there were only two seats available: one beside Dominic and the other beside Damon. Had they planned for this to happen, because if they had, she was going to make them regret it?
Rather than sit beside her brother – who would do everything in his power to ruin her potion – Elsa sat down beside Damon, a scowl etched to her face. This was going to be the absolute worst potions class ever.
“You know if you keep frowning like that...” Damon began.
Elsa glared at him, “I don’t want to hear it. We’re here to learn. We will do nothing more than that. If you can’t keep your mouth shut and your attention on whatever potion we are to make today, I suggest you find another partner.”
With Damon sulking quietly, Professor Slughorn instructed them on what they were to learn that morning, which incidentally was Amortentia, much to Elsa’s dislike. If she had to work with Damon as he learned to make a love potion, it was not without reason to believe that he would then use such a potion on her. It was well known that she did not agree to her future marriage, or that she had strong negative feelings towards the boy she was now partnered with.
Slughorn quieted the class with a wave of his hand, bringing the snickering of the boys and the giggles of the girls to a halt. Elsa on the other hand wanted desperately to escape the classroom and forgo learning such a ridiculous potion. Love was not something you could bottle and sell. It was something you had to work at.
“Professor,” she asked when the class had flipped to the right page in their textbooks. “Is it wise to be teaching sixteen year olds how to make a love potion when they’d sooner use it on each other?” Her eyes fell on the cauldron in front of their teacher, watching the unmistakable smoke of the potion swirl upwards.
“Miss Yaxley,” Slughorn looked at her with a look of discontent, “when you are the professor you can make that call. Since you so kindly interrupted and seem to dislike the idea of brewing a love potion, why don’t you join me up here and tell the class what it is you smell with Amortentia?”
Elsa’s eyes bugged at the idea of being the one to stand up front with Professor Slughorn. She hardly ever got in trouble with teachers, and often preferred to keep to the shadows.
“Now, Miss Yaxley,” Slughorn said when she hesitated.
Slowly she rose from her seat and walked to the front of the class. Glancing down at the pearly white sheen of the potion, she cringed at the idea of smelling it. What would she smell? She took one look at Damon and knew he was satisfied that she was the one standing up there. Her eyes fell to Sirius and James who were snickering to themselves from some shared joke. Sirius’s eyes caught hers and he nodded to her to go ahead. It wasn’t like the potion was going to kill her. It was just a love potion.
Closing her eyes, Elsa took in a deep breath of the potion. “It smells like spring rain, freshly cut grass and...” she paused, making a face, “wet dog.” She said disgustedly.
She stood there for a moment trying to figure out why she smelled what she did, but befuddled by the last, she shrugged and took her seat again beside Damon.
“Wet dog?” He grumbled.
“Were you expecting I’d smell you?” She asked coldly, as she flipped open her book to the correct page and began to read.
“You are meant to be my wife,” he answered simply.
“We’ll see about that.” Was the only answer she was going to give that topic, and set to work preparing their potion.
It didn’t take Elsa long to realize that Damon should never have been allowed near a cauldron, let along potions ingredients. After butchering half the supplies and boiling their potion over, Elsa sighed heavily and pushed him out of the way. She was not about to fail this assignment because he was a butterfingered buffoon who couldn’t follow a potions recipe. Her cauldron bubbled and burped grotesquely, as she tried desperately to fix the disaster that Damon had created.
Scowling at Damon, who sat there staring at her with an arrogant smile on his face, Elsa stirred the potion until it began to simmer and set. How Damon had passed his Potions’ O.W.L was beyond her, but who was she to judge his intelligence? She thought he was an idiot well before they had begun Hogwarts.
“If we are going to be working together on potions at any point in the near future,” Elsa began coldly, “you are going to have to learn how to prepare ingredients better. I suggest you speak to Snape about that. He’s quite sufficient in teaching you how.”
“Or you could just teach me.”
“I would not teach you, even if you were the last man on Earth and brewing a potion would increase my chances of survival!” Elsa snapped, and closed her textbook.
She stirred the potion and watched as it turned that mother-of-pearl colour that Professor Slughorn’s had, and turned the heat down. The last thing she wanted to do was burn it and risk a failing grade. While Damon was the second last person she would ever help pass Potions, she would never sink that low to ensure he failed. She watched as Professor Slughorn walked through the classroom instructing the other students on how to improve, she dreaded him coming over to her.
When Slughorn stopped at her workstation and then continued on without so much as a snide comment which she expected, Elsa slumped in her chair. Though, she never needed the positive reinforcement that came with succeeding in Potions, she had at least expected Slughorn to say something. Their potion was the right colour, the right consistency, and she suspected it would work. Instead, as the class came to an end, they were instructed to bottle a small sample and place it on his desk before cleaning up and leaving.
By the time Elsa left potions she felt thoroughly disappointed in herself. She had made a fool of herself, she still couldn’t understand why she smelled wet dog and worst of all, she had saved Damon’s arse from failure and got nothing but a kink in the neck for a reward. The least Damon could have said was thank you, but instead he left her with the clean up and disappeared into the corridor with Dominic.
“You should have waited for the potion to explode in his face,” Sirius said walking up behind her.
“I could have, but that’s cruel, and I won’t resort to such measures.”
“I could have done it for you.” He laughed, and helped her clean up. “Come on, it would have been funny. Exploding Amortentia. Would make for an interesting day, don’t you think?”
“Except for the fact that he’d still be in love with me, and I’d be stuck with him looking like a love sick puppy who can’t take a hint,” she groaned, placing her vial of Amortentia on Slughorn’s desk before leaving for her next class. “As much as I appreciate your offer Sirius, I have to handle this on my own, my own way.”
“I’ll see you in Charms later?” Sirius said waiting long enough for her to nod before he took off to meet James, Peter and Remus.
Sighing, Elsa followed after them. She knew ignoring Damon wasn’t working and Sirius was right, having Damon’s potion blow up in his face would have been funny, but she reminded herself she was above the pranks her best friend had a habit of pulling. Her situation with Damon was not something a simple prank could solve. It would take a lot of planning and a certain degree of cunning to survive Damon’s determination, but she promised herself she would find a way to end his infernal infatuation with her. She just didn’t know how yet.
Author's Note: Thank you so much to Kaityb who beta'ed this chapter for me.
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