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Chapter 3 : A Disastrous Day
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A Disastrous Day
Slytherin dorm, the dungeons:
Severus woke to Greymalkin pawing his face and meowing into his ear. He groaned and was tempted to turn over and bury his face in his pillow for another few minutes of sleep. But then he recalled that he was no longer at home in Mirrorvale, and he quickly rubbed the sleep from his eyes and sat up. "All right, Grey, you pest, I'm up," he grumbled fondly, scratching the grey and white cat between the ears and yawning. "You'll get your tuna and chicken in a minute. Let me get dressed." He had taken his shower last night and so didn't have to fight anyone for the first hot shower of the morning. He looked at the clock and saw that it was early, only ten to seven, and then supposed he ought to be grateful for his familiar, since he would never miss class with Greymalkin as his alarm.
He dressed quickly in his uniform and opened up a can of special cat food for Grey, made from all natural ingredients and some special herbs that kept the half-Kneazle healthy and extended his lifespan. As the cat gulped his breakfast, Severus brushed cat hair off his robes and cast a Fur Repelling Charm over them, just as he did to all his clothes. His grandmother, Vesper, could not abide a slovenly dressed child, and having white cat hair all over one's clothing was just not done at Mirrorvale.
Once he made sure he was presentable, robes straight, tie knotted, and his hair combed back and tied neatly with a black cord, he spent a few minutes writing to his grandparents, letting them know how he was settling in and that he had been Sorted into Slytherin, following the Prince tradition. He sent the letter off with Marius' barn owl, Callista, whom he had borrowed for school. Severus could have purchased an owl of his own, but feared Greymalkin might get jealous and attempt to make the bird into owl croquettes one night, so he opted to use his grandfather's.
He checked and double checked his bookbag, making sure all was ready for class that day, and he had a copy of his schedule and a castle map tucked in the front pocket. Marius had taught him a Featherlight Charm, and he cast it now over his books, so he could carry his bag easily.
All of his dorm mates were still snoozing away, and Severus took advantage of the quiet to study a bit before going to breakfast. Greymalkin wound about his legs, purring, as he read ahead in his Herbology and Transfiguration texts. His Potions text he had long since memorized and he was reasonably decent at Charms. By the time he was finished with two chapters in each book, his Housemates were stirring and groaning.
"Merlin, Snape, what are you, awake with the bloody birds?" sniped Avery upon seeing the dark-haired boy already awake.
Severus shrugged. "I don't mind getting up early."
Avery snorted. "You're not normal then."
"Yeah," agreed Rabastan, whose hair looked like it had been electrocuted. "Normal kids like to sleep in whenever possible. Unless they're nerds. You a nerd, Snape?"
Severus gave the other boy a cold glare. "Better that than an ignorant ass," he replied.
Rabastan was silent for several minutes, puzzling over Snape's response.
Severus was not minded to spend any more time with the two arrogant idiots, so he picked up his bag and left, going down to the common room, Greymalkin following at his heels. His grandfather had been right when he said that the LeStranges's had married too many cousins in the past two generations. It showed.
Behind him, he heard Rabastan bellow, "Oi, Snape! Did you just call me a dumb ass?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "I cannot believe they allowed him in here," he muttered to his cat, who flipped his tail insolently at the closed door behind them. "He's thick as two planks and then some!"
The common room, since it was below the lake, had a large window charmed to show the current weather and part of the grounds outside. That way the Slytherins didn't feel like they were enclosed in tons of stone and were being buried alive. There were large black leather couches, very comfortable after years of many bottoms sitting upon them. The furniture was a dark walnut, somewhat scratched and scuffed, but polished to a shiny finish. There were green drapes at the "window", and a large portrait of Salazar Slytherin hung over the fireplace, which was so large an ox could have roasted upon a spit in it. The walls were covered with tapestries of wizards doing various tasks, many of them famous, and all had come from Slytherin. Bookshelves lined one part of the wall and several tables and chairs allowed students to study or do homework. A stack of extra quills and parchment and ink were placed on a low lying secretary.
Since Severus was awake early, there were hardly any students in the common room at this hour. Greymalkin hopped upon the couch, turned about two times, then settled down, with his paws tucked beneath him, purring softly.
A tall student with brown hair and blue eyes was sitting at a table, idly Transfiguring a feather into a fan and back again. When Severus came into the room, he glanced up, a friendly smile on his face. "Hi. You're new here. I'm Dorian Atticus Andrews." He held out a hand.
Severus clasped it, then eyed the other boy shyly, wondering if he was anything like his dormmates. "Pleased to meet you, Dorian. I'm Severus Snape."
"And I'm your mentor for the first month." Dorian said. "Professor Slughorn asked us second and third years to mentor a firstie, show you around, get you used to the castle and help you with homework and stuff. Make sure you were fitting in all right and nobody, like the Gryffindorks, are hazing you."
"Oh. Does that mean you'll show me where my classes are?"
Dorian nodded. "Yes, that way you won't be late for class your first day. It'll take a bit of getting used to, the castle's big and the stairs move and change. It's good you got an early start."
"I'm used to getting up early. My grandfather says that time wasted is time lost."
"Your grandfather's Marius Prince, correct?"
Severus nodded. "Yes. He's my mother's father. I never knew my dad's parents, they died before I was born in a train wreck. I'm a half-blood, my dad Tobias was a Muggle and my mother Eileen was a witch." He said, somewhat defiantly, for some of the pureblood children he used to associate with had occasionally sneered at him for being so.
"That's cool. I'm one too. Only I'm the reverse. My dad's the wizard, and my mum's a Muggle. She's a triage nurse, works in York General Hospital. She met my dad when he got hit in the head with a croquet ball as he was walking down the street. Some kids were fooling about and Dad got knocked out, the ambulance brought him to the hospital and Mum was on duty in the ER. When he came to, she was the first thing he saw, and as they say, the rest was history."
"Sounds like a serendipitous turn of events," Severus chuckled.
"It sure was." Dorian laughed. "For both me and my little sister. You have a big vocabulary for an eleven-year-old."
"You can blame my grandmother for that." Severus said. "She always insisted I speak proper English."
"You live with them, right? I hear old man Prince is loaded."
"Yes, that's true. The Princes have about sixteen vaults full of treasure and gold. But I won't see a Knut of it unless I prove myself worthy of the Prince name. I have to earn my inheritance, I don't just get handed it like some spoiled brat."
"Earn it how?"
"By living up to the Prince motto—no glory without honor, no honor without sacrifice." Severus recited. "Meaning I have to do well in school and show that I'm dedicated, ambitious, and intelligent, and develop my magical potential to the fullest. Only then will I be named heir to the Prince assets and holdings."
Dorian whistled. "Merlin, but that's an awful lot to live up to. What happens if you don't succeed?"
"Then Grandfather will donate the money to various charities, including Hogwarts. He said he would rather see it used for good than given to someone who will mismanage and spend it on useless pursuits." Severus explained. He squared his shoulders. "I don't intend to lose it, Dorian."
"Keep that attitude, Snape, and you'll win us the House Cup this year," said the second-year. He moved over to let Greymalkin sniff his fingers. "Hey, cat. You've made yourself right at home, huh?"
Greymalkin yawned lazily and rubbed his head against Dorian's hand.
"He likes you. He doesn't take to too many people," Severus remarked. "His name's Greymalkin. He used to be my mother's familiar. When she died he became mine." He trusted his cat's judgment, and if Greymalkin liked Dorian, Severus knew it was safe to befriend the other boy.
"Come on, let's go and eat breakfast. It's served in the Great Hall at eight o'clock till nine. We have about an hour to eat before we have to get to class at nine fifteen. But today, since this is your first day, you won't have class till ten, since Madam Pomfrey insists on examining all the new students on the first day, wants to make sure that you have all your shots and don't have any allergies and things like that."
"Good to know. C'mon, Snape." Dorain beckoned him out of the portrait hole, reminding him that the password for the week was "Pandora's box."
Page Break ~*~*~*~*~*Page Break
Lily didn't eat much for breakfast that morning, she was too excited to start her classes and also more than a little homesick. The food was good, but Lily missed Hyacinth's thin crispy pancakes with fresh blueberries and whipped cream and syrup. Or her dad's Irish oatmeal with bananas, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Alice had told her she could request whatever she wanted to eat and the elves who ran the kitchens would deliver it to her plate. But Lily didn't feel comfortable doing that, she didn't want her Housemates to think she was picky or spoiled, they already thought she was a crybaby and a little dense. Besides, every time she thought about what Alice said about elves, she got this image of the cartoon Keebler elf in her head and started to giggle, thinking about little men with pointed red and green caps and pointed shoes baking up sweets. So she ate what was there on the platters, taking some eggs, bacon, and toast with butter and marmalade.
She peeked over at the Slytherin table, trying to spot Severus. Soon she saw him, eating and talking with an older boy with brown hair and a lively expression. Lily longed to go over and say hello, ask Severus if he remembered her, but then lost her nerve. They weren't five years old anymore and he had probably forgotten all about her. It made her sad, for she had missed the boy she used to play with, her first best friend, whom she had shared all her childhood secrets and woes with, who had been her shield against Petunia and the only friend who accepted her magic. She wondered if they could still be friends, even if he was in Slytherin and she was in Gryffindor.
Their prefect, Astrid Goldman, announced that all the first years had to visit the Hospital Wing after breakfast, for their beginning of the year check up by the mediwitch Madam Pomfrey. Lily was surprised that Hogwarts had requirements like that, but she didn't moan about it like Potter and Black. She hoped that they had to get a dozen needles in their bums! Black had started off the morning by twitting her about Belinda and calling her Silly Lily, and Potter had added to it by calling her Babydoll Evans. McDonald had laughed her head off, the twit, and so had a few other girls in the common room, they thought James and Sirius were such wits.
Lily had longed to turn both of their heads into turnips.
Just then, Potter turned and looked at her, a broad smirk on his face. "Hey, Babydoll, want me to hold your hand while old Pomfrey gives you a shot? Are you going to cry a lot?"
Lily glared at him. "No, but I bet you will, Potter. Just like a big spoiled brat!"
Pettigrew and a few others snickered.
Lily was relieved that she only needed one booster of dragon pox when Madam Pomfrey checked her over. She didn't make a sound. In contrast, Pettigrew squealed like a girl, and Sirius yelped like a whipped cur, making her prediction half-true, at least. Once that was over, Lily, Alice, and the rest of the Gryffindors headed to the dungeons for their first potions class.
Lily slipped inside the classroom and took a seat in the middle of the room. Alice sat down next to her and whispered, "Don't be nervous, Lily. I've heard that Slughorn's not as tough as he ought to be, and if you do well, he'll let you be a member of his Slug Club, and he gives special privileges to them. He likes bright, pretty witches and wizards from good families."
Lily wondered if she would ever be one of Slughorn's picks. She was bright, but didn't think she was all that pretty, and she wasn't a pureblood. Then she sighed. She had better concentrate on more important things, like brewing her first potion.
The Slytherins entered soon after, and Lily was happy to see Severus in this class. She tried to catch his eye, but he was looking down at a piece of parchment and didn't see her waving shyly at him.
He headed to the far right of the room and sat in the back row.
Horace Slughorn entered the room then, dressed in rather fancy green robes, his dark hair and mustache slicked back and a twinkle in his eye. He looked to be in his mid-forties or early fifties. After taking roll, he said, "Good morning, class! I hope Madam Pomfrey didn't poke you too badly with her yearly vaccinations. Not to worry, though! You won't have to get any exam next year. Ahem! My name is Professor Slughorn, and I am Head of Slytherin House."
"The House where all the dark wizards come from," James said, rather loudly.
Slughorn stiffened. "Mr. Potter, that is hardly a fair statement. While it is true that several dark wizards and witches were Slytherins, that does not mean all of us are dark. We are ambitious and proud but also wise and inventive. Bigotry will not be tolerated by me." He gave Potter and Black a stern frown. "Now then, you're here to brew potions, not discuss House politics. Today we shall be brewing a standard Sleeping Draft." He tapped the board with his wand and the formula for the potion wrote itself upon the board. "Please pay particular attention to steps 3 and 4. Who can tell me what the properties of lavender are?"
Lily raised her hand. She knew the answer, having read her book last night.
"Ah . . . Miss Evans, is it?" Slughorn called. "Can you tell me the answer?"
"Yes, sir. Lavender is known for having a calming effect and also promotes sleep. Its oil can soothe sore muscles, and also disinfect wounds. It can act as an antidepressant and help people with auto immune diseases and is a good treatment for burns and acne as well."
Slughorn beamed. "Very good, Miss Evans! Ten points to Gryffindor!"
"A Sleeping Draft also contains chamomile. Who can tell me why it does so?"
This time Severus raised his hand, and Slughorn called on him. "Chamomile tends to have a soporific effect on people, especially babies, and can soothe aching stomachs and help anxiety. As a cream it can help skin irritations, like acne and cracked dry skin and heal wounds."
"Excellent, Mr. Snape! Ten points to Slytherin!"
Pettigrew turned and said rather loudly to James, "What's soporific mean, James?"
James coughed. "Uh . . .I think it means . . .it makes you feel good."
"No, soporific means it puts you to sleep," Lily corrected.
"Quite correct, Miss Evans. You would do well to heed her, Mr. Potter." Slughorn said.
James flashed Lily a look of fury. He didn't like being shown up by a girl who was so new to the wizarding realm her robes squeaked. He was used to being the center of attention and praised for his wit and brains. "Sir, shouldn't we start brewing now?"
"Yes, Mr. Potter. You may begin. Ingredients are in the back cabinet. You have an hour and a half!"
James fumed as he headed to the back cabinet. How dare that know-it-all show him up? Who did she think she was? He'd show her, by brewing the best potion.
Lily hurried to the cabinet to get the ingredients she would need. She noticed Severus already had his and was carefully measuring and adding the various components to his cauldron with an easy familiarity that she suddenly envied. She wished she had had time to practice before coming to school.
She began to read and measure out the ingredients, using her mortar and pestle from her potions kit to grind up the lavender buds and chamomile flowers. She carefully added the water and cinnamon, and soon her potion was bubbling away merrily, emitting a pleasing odor, while she gently stirred it five times.
After about half an hour, Slughorn came around to inspect and see where they were in the brewing process. He praised Lily again for the clarity and color of her draft, and scolded Black and Potter for socializing instead of brewing. "Mr. Black, you've added too much sheep's wool, no wonder your draft is too thick. Mr. Potter, you waited too long before adding the lavender, and your potion is not the correct color."
Lily snickered. Ha! That'll show him!
Slughorn made his way around the room, getting to Severus' station last. All of the other students were trying to brew the potion correctly, but no one had finished or managed to get everything done right. Except for Severus, who had not only managed to brew the draft correctly, but speedily as well. Horace peered at the youngster's cauldron and stirred it a bit and smelled it and his eyebrows rose. "Why, Mr. Snape! You have brewed this perfectly. How amazing! I couldn't have done it better myself! Twenty points to Slytherin for brewing the best draft I've ever seen from a first year. I shall bottle some as a sample for my other class." He happily decanted some into a vial.
Severus smiled quietly. Sleeping Drafts were easy to brew. He could brew them when he was eight, supervised by his grandmother. "Thank you, sir. What should I do now?"
"Hmm . . . why don't you see who else is having trouble and help them?" Slughorn asked, he could always use a competent assistant.
Severus moved over to Avery and Nott's cauldron, they were having trouble dicing up their milkweed roots.
Three cauldrons away, James was fuming at how a dirty scummy snake had managed to best him. "Merlin, Sirius, how could we let one of them do better than us?"
"I don't know. What shall we do about it?" whispered his best mate.
"Make sure we're the ones who brew the best potion in Gryffindor." James said determinedly. He quickly started to add ingredients to his cauldron. When he had it steeping, he went to examine Snape's potion and then walked back towards his cauldron to see if it looked like the sample. To his dismay, he saw that Lily's potion looked closer to completion as well as closer to the correct hue than his own. He flushed. There was no way he was going to let the girl show him up again.
He swiftly reached into a pocket of his robes, where he always carried some kind of joke product.
Lily had at just that minute turned to get her bit of sheep wool to add to the mixture and was facing away from her cauldron.
Quick as lightning, James tossed a handful of Sneezing Powder into Lily's cauldron, and had the satisfaction of seeing it begin to bubble and change color into a pale blue. Then he hurried over to his own workstation.
Lily let out a cry of dismay when she saw the state of her potion. "Oh, no! How could this happen? Everything looked fine before." She tossed in the sheep wool and stirred the required number of times, but the potion remained off color and was now frothing wildly. "I don't understand!" she cried, visibly upset, for she had been doing so well and now it seemed as if she would fail to get a good mark. "Professor, help!"
"Help! Help!" James taunted. "What's wrong, Babydoll? Did you muck up your first potion? Why don't you cry about it?"
Lily felt herself flush as red as her hair. She felt tears prickle her eyes as the Slytherins nearby snickered and pointed at her. She couldn't believe how she had managed to screw up so badly.
"Oi, professor!" Sirius bellowed. "I think Evans' cauldron's about to blow!"
Horace looked up and saw how agitated Lily's cauldron was and started to move forward, he was in the back of the room. "Everyone, get under your workstations!"
All the students scrambled for safety.
All but Severus, who ran up to Lily's cauldron holding an odd looking leaf and tossed it into her shaking cauldron and cried, "Arresto!"
The mixture quit shaking and frothing and settled down. Everyone stared in amazement.
"Thank you, Severus!" Lily said, gazing at him in awe. "How did you know what to put in there?"
"I had something similar happen to me." He stirred the mixture and frowned.
"Can you fix my potion, Sev?" Lily asked softly.
"Yes. Be quiet. I need to concentrate." After a moment he headed back to the cabinet and retrieved two jars, one with a blue liquid and the other with some yellow honeycomb. He carefully added pinches of the new ingredients and stirred cautiously.
To Lily's delight, the potion turned back to the correct color, a smoky lavender, and began to simmer again.
"How did you do that, Snape?" exclaimed Rosier, his eyes bugging out.
Before Severus could reply, Slughorn had come up, he was mightily impressed by the way the young potion maker had corrected Lily's botched solution. "Impressive, Mr. Snape! Most impressive! Have you made this potion before?"
"Yes, sir. Vesper Prince, my grandmother, had me brewing by the time I was eight. She said I had a knack for it."
"Indeed! I would expect no less from a grandson of hers. Brilliantly done, Mr. Snape! Who taught you how to neutralize a solution that way?"
Severus replied that Vesper had taught him about neutralizing reagents, using terms that went right over Lily's, not to mention the rest of the class's, head.
Slughorn called for all the potions to be bottled and labeled and placed upon his desk to be graded.
"Mr. Snape, please stay after class, I would like to discuss something with you," Horace ordered.
"Yes, sir," Severus replied, wondering why.
While Slughorn bustled up to the front of the room, Lily bottled the sample of her potion and labeled it.
Severus gave her a smile and whispered, "It's good to see you again, Lily."
She jerked up so quickly that she almost spilled the vial. "You . . . remember me, Sev?"
"Of course." He didn't bother telling her that it was her bright green eyes and fiery hair that he recalled first, and only later did he remember to whom those eyes and hair belonged. Once he did that, it was easy to recall all the times he had spent playing games with Lily and eating over each other's houses. "I wish we had more time to talk but . . . class is almost over and you don't want to lose points by not handing in your solution on time."
"Right. Especially after you fixed whatever went wrong with it," Lily said gratefully. "I still don't understand what went wrong. I followed the directions."
"If I had more time, I might be able to figure it out. I don't think . . .it was something you did, Lily."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that somebody probably tampered with your potion. But since I have no proof, I can't say anything to Professor Slughorn."
Lily was dumbfounded. "I'll bet I know who did it! That miserable dolt James Potter!" She grabbed her vial and stormed up to Slughorn's desk with it.
Severus smirked quietly and wondered why Potter, a Gryffindor, would be picking on Lily, a member of his House? It seemed more likely, given Potter's stupid comments to Slughorn at the beginning of class, that he'd be starting with the Slytherins. He eyed the dark-haired boy with dislike. Potter never even noticed, he was too busy talking with his best mate, handsome toff Sirius Black. Probably congratulating each other on pulling one over on the clueless Muggleborn and old Sluggie, Severus sneered. Looks like they haven't changed a bit since we were eight. Prank-happy idiots! Severus recalled attending Alice Starkey's eighth birthday party. James and Sirius had been there as well, all the pureblood children of their set had been invited, and those two had done something to the candles; when Mrs. Starkey lit them, they had exploded and blown up the cake. Everyone had been horrified and poor Alice had run away crying. Everyone except Sirius and James, who were rolling on the floor, laughing their heads off. They had all known who did it, but because they had no proof that Potter had swapped the candles for exploding ones, he got away with it.
The other students raced out of the dungeons, eager to get to their next class, which was flying. Severus remained behind, waiting to see what Slughorn wanted.
As soon as the last student's footsteps had faded down the corridor, Horace came over to Severus and said, "Mr. Snape, it's clear to me that you are already too advanced for a beginning potions class. I would like to give you a series of tests this evening, to determine your actual level of ability. Then perhaps I could assign you solutions to brew that would be more of a challenge."
"And if I pass the tests, sir? What happens then?"
"Well . . . you would test out of first year potions, at least. Depending on your level, I could speak with the Headmaster and ask for a special dispensation to allow you to study with some older students in their class. And I could also use your help with tutoring some of your yearmates. Some of them are rather . . .err . . ."
"Hopeless? Two sandwiches short of a picnic?" Severus quipped, his dark eyes glimmering with amusement.
Slughorn snorted with laughter. "Ha ha . . .good one, Mr. Snape! Now there's one I haven't heard before . . . two sandwiches short of a picnic . . . must remember that one to tell old Abe . . .Ahem! Yes, I'm afraid a few of your classmates are totally at sea with how to follow the most basic procedures and it would help me a great deal if you could tutor some of them privately in the afternoons. But we can work out schedules for that later. First let us see how you do on my tests. I'm going to have you brew a few standard solutions that all first years should be able to brew by the end of term." He rubbed his hands together eagerly. "If you do as well as I suspect . . . I'll make you my unofficial assistant, Mr. Snape. Your grandparents must be very proud of you, able to brew so well at your age. Potions is a very demanding subject, requiring the utmost dedication and commitment . . ."
"Yes, sir." Severus said quickly, sensing the professor was about to wax nostalgic and he was already late for his next class. "Sir, I need to get to my flying lesson, I'm already ten minutes late."
"Hmm . . . oh, right, so you are." He scribbled something down on a piece of parchment. "Here, young Severus, give this to Rolanda Hooch. She'll excuse your tardiness. Now off with you, lad! And remember, meet me here at seven o'clock sharp this evening."
Severus took the note and bolted from the classroom. He could only hope that Madam Hooch had not deducted points from Slytherin for his absence. He found Dorian waiting impatiently in the hallway.
"Snape, what the hell? Why did Sluggie keep you so long? You get detention?"
"I'll explain later! Come on!" Severus said, running as fast as he could.
Severus arrived at the Quidditch pitch out of breath and disheveled, his hair coming loose from his tie and straggling about his face. Dorian left as soon as they caught sight of Severus' class, yelling over his shoulder that he'd meet Severus for lunch in the hall. Severus approached Madam Hooch, panting, noting that her hawk-like gaze was narrowed in disapproval. "Mr. Snape, I trust you have a good reason for being late to my class? Otherwise I shall take twenty points for an unexcused tardy."
"Oooh, Snapey's in trouble!" hooted Sirius. "He's going to lose all those points from potions, the little kiss-arse."
Severus ignored the comments, feeling his ears burn. The rest of the class already had their brooms and were sitting on them. "Ma'am, here's a note from Professor Slughorn."
Rolanda took the note and read it. "Oh. I see. Never mind then. Go and choose a broom." She waved him over to the meager pile of school brooms on the grass.
Unfortunately, most of the brooms that were left looked like they hadn't been flown since the Year One, and were in various states of disrepair. Severus chose the best of the lot, which was none too great, and went to stand in line next to Nott. He placed his broom on the ground and said, "Up!"
The broom hovered. Severus mounted it. He wasn't mad for flying like some boys his age, but he could perform adequately in the air.
"Now then, I want all of you to kick off gently from the ground and hover about ten feet in the air," instructed Hooch. "No more and no less. Go!"
All of the students obeyed.
Severus managed the maneuver without a problem, as did most of the purebloods. James and Sirius floated gracefully into the air and hovered, looking utterly bored. Severus glanced around to see how everyone else was doing. Everyone seemed fine, but Lily was white-faced and trembling, gripping her broom handle for dear life. Severus recalled then that she had never liked climbing trees with him as a little girl, she always climbed up to about five feet and then told him he could go the rest of the way, it made her feel sick and dizzy. Merlin, but she's afraid of heights! She should have told Madam Hooch.
Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one who noticed how pale and nauseous-looking Lily was.
"What's the matter, Silly Lily?" asked Pettigrew, snickering. "Looks like you're going to sick up."
Lily couldn't spare any breath to answer him, she was too busy trying not to throw up or pass out. It was so high up here. She felt herself start to sway dangerously.
Severus clenched his jaw, then he called, "Madam Hooch! Look at Miss Evans! I think she's going to fall!"
Rolanda's eyes snapped up and saw the petrified girl, her face chalk white tinged with green, swaying upon her broomstick. She quickly mounted her own broom and flew up to catch Lily. "Evans! Look at me, not the ground. Eyes on me, girl!" she growled.
Lily dragged her gaze up to meet the flying coach's hawk eyes.
"Are you afraid of heights?" Hooch asked.
"J-just a l-little," Lily stammered, ashamed that the old fear was still with her.
"Humph! I'd say more than a little. All right, we're going to land now. Come on." Hooch took Lily's shoulder and gently guided her down to the ground.
Lily's feet touched the ground. Behind her she heard the giggles and snickers of the other kids, and it made her feel even more ashamed and sick. Suddenly, her stomach rebelled and she threw up . . . all over the ground and Madam Hooch.
"Eeeww!" shrieked Mary McDonald. "Gross!"
"Way to go, Babydoll!" James clapped mockingly.
"Now there's what I call Gryffindor courage!" sneered Avery. "Such a brave girl!"
Madam Hooch quickly waved her wand and her boots were clean. "There now, girl. That's not the first time that's happened to me. Perhaps you ought to see the mediwitch, she'll give you a potion to settle your stomach. And no more flying for you today. I'll speak to the Headmaster, I might have to give you separate lessons till you get over your fear of heights."
Lily felt her cheeks burn. She dropped her broom with a clatter and turned to run back into the castle, hot tears spilling down her cheeks. The morning had gone from bad to worse and suddenly all she wanted was to go home. She was a failure as a witch.
"Lily, wait!" called Alice. "Madam Hooch, can I go and make sure she finds the Hospital Wing?"
Hooch nodded. "Go ahead, Starkey. But mind you come back quick."
Alice took off, calling for Lily to wait.
Madam Hooch blew her whistle, then said, "All right, boys and girls. Let's see you do broad circles now." She remounted her broom and flew up about twenty feet and beckoned her students to follow.
Then she watched carefully as they all started circling, spreading out across the pitch.
James was so bored he could have fallen asleep. These were baby maneuvers, he'd learned them when he was five. He circled lazily next to Sirius and Peter, and began to brag about the new broom his father had promised him for Christmas. "My dad promised me the best broom on the market. We went to Quality Quidditch Supplies just before school and I showed him the model. It's called a Comet 750 and it's amazing! It's faster than anything I have at home, it makes these old sticks look like a little kid's broom." He scowled in disgust at the old Cleansweep 200 he was riding. "I can't wait to get it! Dad had the proprietor at the shop let me try it out and it was bloody incredible! Expensive, but hell, Dad can afford it. And I'm worth it. I mean, I can fly better than anybody my age, and my Junior Quidditch coach swears that I could be the next Wronski, or maybe a Chaser like Gwynog Jones, I mean I can fly lots better than any girl."
"'Specially Silly Lily Evans!" Peter cackled. "Can you believe she sicked up all over old Hooch? She's lucky she didn't cost us points."
"If she had, I'd have won 'em back in this class," James boasted. "Nobody can touch me on a broom. I bet if there was a professional Quidditch scout here right now, he'd pick me in two seconds. I've got talent in spades, y'know?"
"And a big head to match," Severus sneered from behind him. "The scout would know you all right, Potter, because your head is swelled up so big you could be mistaken for a blimp."
"You shut your face, Snape!" James spun about to face the Slytherin. "You can barely sit up on a broom, you wanker! Your form's pitiful."
"I could care less."
"That's a lie, Snape! You wish you could be like me, you slimy snake! All you've got are brains and grandparents who took you in out of pity. Otherwise you'd be in the local orphanage like the charity case you are!"
Severus' eyes flashed. "Please, Potter. Just when I think you've reached the height of stupidity, you open your mouth and prove me wrong."
"You calling me dumb, Snape?"
"No, you did that yourself. I'm merely agreeing with you."
"Greasy git!" Peter shouted.
Severus rolled his eyes. "How original!"
"Really?" Peter grinned.
"He was being sarcastic, Pettigrew," Sirius groaned, cuffing the smaller boy on the back of the head. "Wake up and smell the pumpkin juice."
James was seething. How dare that Slytherin half-blood call him dumb? And ruin his fun with that insufferable little know-it-all Evans by fixing her potion! A zero would have taught her to quit acting like a bloody walking textbook. They were two of a kind, Evans and bleeding Snivellus Snape! Kiss-arse teacher's pets! He wasn't surprised that Slughorn favored Snape, Slytherins always favored their own, but he was surprised that Slughorn had chosen to notice crybaby Evans instead of himself, who could trace his ancestry back to Godric Gryffindor, the Peverells, and Merlin. What did that weepy witch have that he didn't? He fingered his wand furtively.
Madam Hooch blew her whistle abruptly and shouted, "Everyone, time to land! Remember, commune with your broom, and you'll land upright every time. We'll practice some more tomorrow! Good work!"
Mostly every student gave a groan of dismay, but then circled in for a landing.
Severus turned away and spiraled down for a landing, when all of a sudden his broom went haywire. It began bucking up and down, jolting him like a wild stallion. He tried to get his feet on the ground, but it proved impossible. He found himself flying through the air to land flat on his back.
"Snape, what in hell do you call that?" brayed Rabastan.
"Shut up and help him up," growled Avery. "Before we lose points or something."
Rabastan offered a hand, but Severus ignored it and climbed to his feet, trying not to wince. All the Gryffindors wore smirks on their faces, and Pettigrew, Black, Potter, and even Lupin were laughing.
"Good form, Snivellus!" James grinned as he landed in a perfect three point landing. "You sure communed with your broom there!" He dismounted with a casual smirk.
"Mr. Snape, are you all right? That was a nasty tumble," Hooch asked, coming over to make sure he was well.
"I'm fine, Madam Hooch." Severus said stiffly, brushing himself off.
"Good, but I'm afraid I'm going to take ten points for your sloppy landing."
"But . . . it was my broom . . . something was wrong with it . . ." Severus protested.
"Now, Snape, no need to blame the broom for your lapse of concentration. I know these brooms are old, but I've checked them myself, and the safety charms are still active on them."
"It was trying to buck me off!" argued Severus. "I think it was hexed."
Hooch looked doubtful, but she picked up the broom. Unfortunately, the jinx James had cast was quick to wear off and all Rolanda could detect was a residue of magic, which could have meant anything. "No hexes here, Mr. Snape. Ten points from Slytherin. Next time, watch your form."
"Nice going, Snape." Rodolphus snapped.
Severus scowled at him. "Get off my back, LeStrange! You'd have lost twenty points in potions if I hadn't fixed your potion." He just knew Potter had had something to do with his broom going crazy. Of course, no one would ever believe him. "If you want help with your potions homework, LeStrange, you'd better quit flapping your jaw, got me?"
The other boy subsided then, for he was absolute pants at potions, and he knew it all too well.
"Excellent landing, Potter!" Hooch praised. "You fly almost as well as a pro. Twenty points for Gryffindor. Class dismissed."
James gave Sirius a high-five. "What'd I tell you, mate? Am I or am I not the greatest flyer ever to come to Hogwarts?"
"Right on, mate!" Sirius grinned.
"Can you teach me how to fly like that, James?" asked Peter, gazing at the other with unadulterated hero-worship.
"Sure, Petty. We'll practice after dinner. Right now, though, I'm famished."
"Race you back to the castle!" challenged Sirius.
Together the three Gryffindors sprinted across the lawn, trailed by Lupin.
They sped past a limping Severus, who glowered and pointed his wand at rock nearby. The rock levitated itself right into the path of the running boys, causing Pettigrew to stumble and fall into Sirius and Sirius in turn to slam into James, knocking him sprawling into a rather large thorn bush.
"Oww!" James yelped. "My arse!" He danced about, trying to remove the thorns embedded in his bottom.
Severus smiled quietly to himself. Potter might have turned potions and flying class into a disaster for both himself and Lily, but Severus thought he had punctured the other's ego quite neatly. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! As he went past them, he called over his shoulder, "You know, Potter . . . pride goes before a fall!"
Then he continued into the castle, leaving James to mutter curses behind his back and yell at Sirius for being too rough when he tried to remove the two inch thorns.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who can tell me where I got the name Greymalkin for Severus' cat? Hint: It's based off of another famous literary feline. Bonus if you can name the book AND the author.
BUTTERBEER & CHOCOLATE FROGS TO ALL WHO SUBMIT AN ANSWER IN THEIR REVIEW!
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