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Chapter 4 : The Tutor
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Severus strode down the hallway, carrying his customized potions kit that was a gift from his grandparents. He knocked on the door of Professor Slughorn's office. He had just finished dinner and after telling Dorian he'd see him later, he headed down to the dungeons.
"Come in, Severus," Slughorn called.
Severus walked into the office to find Professor Slughorn with a gigantic napkin tied around his neck, finishing off what looked like an entire roasted chicken, a tureen of mashed potatoes, big bowls of vegetables and gravy, and half of a Black Forest Cake. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Yes, yes, my boy. If you'll follow me, I've got everything ready in here," Slughorn wiped his mouth and tossed his napkin down on his desk. He waddled into the laboratory next door with Severus following him. "I want to test you and find out how advanced you are in Potions. I've set up three different potions for you to brew and I'm giving you two hours to brew all three. The instructions for the first potion are on the blackboard. Just the ingredients and the brewing instructions are listed as you can see. I will be in my office if you have any questions. You may begin, Severus."
Severus went to the supply cupboard and got out all the ingredients he would need and placed them on the table. He read the brewing instructions over carefully and easily memorized them. He began by chopping his ingredients first and once that was done, he lit a fire under the cauldron and began throwing in the ingredients, according to the brewing instructions. He watched it carefully and stirred the times required with either a clockwise or count-clockwise stir.
Slughorn was sitting in his office, eating his Black Forest Chocolate cake, drinking tea, and reading the Daily Prophet when Severus stuck his head in the door. "Professor, I'm finished."
Slughorn looked up in surprise. "Already?" He got up and walked into the laboratory. He looked at Severus' potion. "It's the right color." He lifted a silver ladle and dipped it into the potion. "And it's the right consistency." He bent over the cauldron and took a deep sniff. "And it smells exactly how this potion should smell. If you'll get me three of those beakers, we can decant this immediately, young man."
Severus helped Slughorn with that, then Slughorn pointed his wand at the blackboard. The previous potion disappeared and a new one appeared. "You may begin, Severus."
After cleaning his cauldron thoroughly, Severus began brewing the second potion. It took him a half-hour to brew this one. Slughorn went through the same steps as before, checking the color, consistency, and smell before Severus helped him decant it.
With a wave of Slughorn's wand, the third potion appeared on the board. "Now, this one is going to be the most difficult, Severus, so do not feel badly if you're unable to do it. You may begin."
Severus again gathered his ingredients and started chopping them until he came to the sopophorous bean. He remembered something his grandmother had said in one of their brewing session and took out his silver knife, used the side of his knife to crush the bean and drained the juice and it turned a rich deep purple color and blue steam was rising from the cauldron. After adding a clockwise stir after every seventh counter-clockwise stir, the potion turned light lavender then eventually clear as water. He looked at his watch. He had been brewing this potion for 45 minutes.
Professor Slughorn came in and looked at the color, tested the consistency and the smell and then declared it a success. "Severus, this is most amazing! You've brewed three potions in under two hours and you've done them all very well. The potions I chose were a fourth year potion, a fifth and a sixth year potion and you've passed my test with more than excellent results! I'm going to speak to the Headmaster about advancing you to third year potions and also having you assist me in first year potions and tutor the students who are having problems. I'm also going to owl your grandparents about the results of this test and I believe they will be ever so pleased with how well you've done."
As Severus left the dungeon, he couldn't wait to tell Dorian and Lily his news.
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Lily and Alice came down to breakfast the next morning. They started giggling as they saw James was sitting on a pillow. "I guess Potter will have to stay on the ground today," Lily said to Alice who grinned and said, "Or else he'll have to use a Sticking Charm to keep that pillow on his broom."
James glared at them. "Did you cry yourself to sleep again, Silly Lily?" He mocked her. "Did you sleep with your dolly again?"
"Why don't you ask McDonald?" Lily said tartly.
"That's old news anyway, Potter, and nobody cares anymore," Alice stated.
They sat down at the opposite end of the table. Lily opened her potion book. They would be brewing the Boil Cure Potion today and she wanted to make sure she knew how to do it so there would be no reoccurrence of yesterday's mishap.
Severus was already there and smiled at Lily when he saw her.
Professor Slughorn came into the room. "Good morning, everyone! I hope you had a good night's rest. There'll be a slight change in the classroom today. Mr. Snape has tested out of first year potions and he'll be joining the third year potions class, but he's also going to be my assistant in this class, helping me monitor the progress of your potions and he will also be doing some tutoring." He turned to the blackboard and waved his wand at it and the lesson for that day appeared. It was a Boil Cure Potion. "Please remember not to add your porcupine quills until after you take your cauldron off the flame. You may begin."
Alice went to the cupboard to get the ingredients while Lily set up their cauldrons. Black and Pettigrew went up to get ingredients while Remus and James set up the cauldrons. As they brewed Severus walked around the room, glancing into cauldrons and answering questions. James and Sirius glared at him when he walked by theirs. He shrugged; if they didn't want any help it was their decision. He stopped to answer a question from Frank while his partner McDonald glared at him. Slughorn excused himself to step out of the room for a few minutes and James saw his chance. He quickly pulled his Invisibility Cloak out of his bag and pulled it over him and then when he saw Lily had turned to say something to Alice, he dumped porcupine quills into her potion. He hurried back to his workstation, hastily stuffed the cloak back in his bag and pretended to be chopping ingredients. Suddenly acid green smoke started issuing from Lily's cauldron and then it melted, the potion running down on the floor, burning everything it touched. Everybody was screaming and standing on top of their chairs or workstations. Slughorn hurried as fast as he could into the classroom. He saw immediately what the problem was and said in a severe tone, "Miss Evans, didn't you hear me tell you not to add your porcupine quills until after you take your cauldron off the flame? Ten points from Gryffindor for your carelessness and for not listening!"
"But, sir!" Alice protested. "Neither of us added our porcupine quills. See? They're sitting here at our workstation."
"Were you planning to add extra ones for a really big mess, Miss Evans?" Slughorn fixed Lily with an expression of disgust. "You get a zero for today."
"Please, sir, I didn't do anything wrong. My potion was fine then all of a sudden green smoke started pouring out and then my cauldron melted."
"Mr. Snape, did you see the incident?"
"Unfortunately no, Sir. I was helping Frank, but I did look at Lily's potion a few minutes before that and it was as she said. She hadn't added the porcupine quills yet."
"Miss Evans, you gave me the same story yesterday. The zero and the ten points remain. Now is anybody hurt? Does anybody need to see Madam Pomfrey? If not, please clean up your workstations and you may leave when you're done."
"Stupid Muggleborn," James complained to Sirius. "Dumb bint lost us ten points and I can't fly so we can't gain them back!" He had forgotten about his sore bottom in his eagerness to make Lily look like a fool, and now he was silently scolding himself. Then again, he hadn't thought Sluggie would take points, as he hadn't yesterday.
Avery sneered at James and Sirius. "Slytherin gets the geniuses and the Gryffindorks get the Mudblood trash! I'll bet you wish you wish you'd been sorted into Slytherin now, Black!"
"Shut up, Avery," Severus snapped. "I haven't seen you gaining us any points. In fact you lost us five already for your shirt not being tucked in and your tie being crooked."
Mary McDonald stopped in front of Lily and Alice's workstation and glared at Lily. "I don't know why they let you stupid Muggleborns in here. You're just a walking disaster!"
"Why don't you shut up, McDonald, and stop kissing the ground idiot Potter walks on!" Alice said.
Mary sniffed and flounced off in a snit.
Lily felt so bad she wanted to sink through the floor. Since Madam Hooch was giving her private flying lessons she didn't need to attend her next class. "I'll see you in Charms, Alice."
She picked up her bag and hurried out of the room. Severus watched her leave and swore he'd find out what really happened. He knew that bloody Potter had thrown in those porcupine quills, but he just didn't know how to prove it.
Lily was already seated in the Charms classroom when Severus came in. He slipped into the seat beside Lily. There was a white cloth sitting on each desk.
"How was flying class today?" Lily asked.
"A lot better with Potter grounded," Severus replied with a smirk. He leaned over and said in a soft voice that only Lily could hear, "I know you didn't mess up in Potions today either. Slughorn shouldn't have given you a zero or taken those points away. I think Potter threw those porcupine quills into your potion. I don't know how he did it, but I'm going to keep my eye on him tomorrow."
"Thanks, Sev," Lily replied squeezing his hand. "I appreciate your support."
The rest of the class trailed in. Potter and Black came in a few seconds before the bell, talking and laughing loudly.
"Quiet down, please," Professor Flitwick called as he climbed up on top of his desk. "Today we're going to be doing actual magic, using the wand movements you learned yesterday and have been practicing. I want you to attempt to turn the white cloth on your desks into another color. Since I'm Head of Ravenclaw House and partial to blue; you may change the cloth into blue. The incantation is Commuto Caeruleus or Commuto Caeruleusaum."
Lily concentrated and said, "Commuto Caeruleus," and then flicked and swished her wand over the cloth which immediately turned sky blue. She jogged Severus' arm and exclaimed, "Look, Sev, I did it!"
"Well, done, Miss Evans, well done!" Professor Flitwick said. "Ten points to Gryffindor for being the first one to perform the charm correctly!"
Severus was the next one to do the charm. Using the incantation Commuto Caeruleusaum he changed his cloth into a deep blue, earning Slytherin ten points.
There was a sudden small explosion from the back of the room and when the smoke cleared both James and Sirius were spotting Slytherin green hair. The class burst into laughter at their dumbfounded expressions.
Professor Flitwick shook his head and pulled out his wand, pointed his wand at their heads and muttered a counter-spell, but their hair stayed resolutely green. He tried something different, but with the same results. "Whatever you and Mr. Black did I'm afraid it's going to have to wear off on its own. Ten points from Gryffindor each for not reading your assignments."
All the Gryffindors with the exception of Remus, Peter, and Mary groaned loudly and gave Potter and Black dirty looks. They'd just lost the ten points Lily had gained them plus ten more! Nobody else had been able to turn their cloths. Some, like Alice and Remus, were able to turn their cloths into a faint blue, but neither could get it any darker.
"But Professor, we can't be seen like this. You gotta do something," James whined.
"There's nothing I can do, Mr. Potter. Perhaps Madam Pomfrey has a potion that might be able to reverse it. You and Mr. Black may want to stop by the Hospital Wing before your next class."
But when James and Sirius came into Transfiguration, they still had their green hair. Professor McGonagall's eyes widened a bit when she saw them, but other than that she made no comment.
Lily was one of the first to turn her matchstick into a needle and Professor McGonagall awarded Gryffindor ten points.
Severus smirked as he watched Potter and Black struggling with the lesson because they hadn't bothered doing their assigned reading. He concentrated on turning his matchstick into a needle.
Alice was the next one to manage it and Professor McGonagall gave Gryffindor another ten points thereby making up the twenty points Potter and Black had lost them in Charms.
Severus transfigured his matchstick next and won Slytherin ten points. He glanced over at Avery and Wilkes. They might be purebloods, but they were a thick as a couple of paving stones.
Two more days passed and two more of Lily's potions were destroyed; one ended up a congealed mess in the bottom of her cauldron and the other literally went up in flames.
"Miss Evans, while I have no doubt you're doing your assigned reading because the essays you turn in are top-rate and show a excellent understanding of brewing in theory, but your practical work needs a lot of help and that is why I'm going to assign you a tutor," Professor Slughorn said to Lily after the flaming cauldron disaster. "I'm going to ask Mr. Snape to help you with your practical brewing. He'll contact you and set up a tutoring schedule."
Severus, at Professor Slughorn's request, did contact Lily and set up a time for tutoring. "I know you don't need my help, Lily, and I know from reading your essays that you're as good as me at potions because you understand the theoretical side of brewing which a lot of students don't. They just think you throw a bunch of stuff into a cauldron, give a stir, and you have a perfect potion. I know Potter and Black are deliberately ruining you potions to make it look as if Muggleborns are stupid and unfit to be at Hogwarts."
"Thanks, Sev. Should I start?"
"Go ahead and I'll watch."
After the third tutoring session, Severus reported back to Slughorn. "I don't think Miss Evans needs to be tutored. She brewed all three potions that got messed up in class perfectly and without any help from me. She's obviously a very competent brewer. As I said before, I think Potter and Black are deliberately ruining her potions to destroy her self-confidence and make people think Muggleborns shouldn't be educated at Hogwarts."
"Well, that may be, Severus, but you don't have any proof," Slughorn pointed out.
"True," Severus agreed. He went back to the common room to play his weekly game of Wizard's Chess with Dorian. They were equally matched as far as skills. Severus played chess with his grandfather and Dorian's dad, who loved the game, had taught Dorian how to play. Severus was ruminating on Lily's situation and not really paying attention to where he was moving his chess pieces, causing them to start shouting at him. Greymalkin lay stretched out on top of an end table next to Severus' chair. Though he watched the chess pieces avidly as they moved about the board, he did not attack them. Marius had cast a Stinging Hex at him the first time he'd tried it after coming to live at Mirrorvale and he never did it again.
"Your mind seems to be elsewhere tonight, Severus," Dorian commented.
Severus slumped back into his chair. "I'm thinking about Lily's situation in Potions. You know I told you Slughorn asked me to tutor her and she's brewed every potion perfectly, but she gets into class and everything goes to Hades."
"Well, some kids get really nervous in Potions and once they have one disaster, it makes them so nervous they end up jinxing themselves."
"I think it's Potter or Black jinxing her potions, but I can't figure out how they're doing it. They're trying to make her look stupid and prove their belief that Muggleborns can't be educated at Hogwarts."
"Well, if that's so, you're going to have to find out how they're doing and you can't depend on old Sluggie to help you with it either."
"I know," Severus said.
The time passed quickly for the first years with classes and assignments. Before anybody realized, it was Halloween morning. The students were woken by the delicious scents of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. To Severus, it smelled like his home when long ago his mum would bake all kinds of Halloween treats. It made him feel a little sad.
Everybody was excited and talking about the Halloween Feast and the third years were excited about their first visit to Hogsmeade.
"Wish we we're going to Hogsmeade," Dorian said as he and Severus walked to the Great Hall. "Merlin! I hear Honeydukes has every kind of candy you can imagine!"
"You'll be able to go next year," Severus pointed out.
"I know," Dorian said glumly. "But I've still got a year to wait."
"Well, at least you've got the Halloween Feast to look forward to later. I imagine there might be as many different treats as at Honeydukes." They entered the Great Hall and sat down in their usual spot at the Slytherin House table. Severus could see Lily seated by Alice at the Gryffindor table and waved at her. She smiled and waved back.
In Potions, Severus walked around the room, spot-checking potions and answering questions. Professor Slughorn stepped out into the hallway to get some supplies from his personal storage closet. Severus stood as close to Potter and Black as he could. His eyes fell on James' book bag and he saw something silvery hanging out. Before James could even react, Severus had grabbed it. "Well, what have we here? An Invisibility Cloak … I've heard about these, but never seen one. Well, that explains how you've been ruining Lily's potions without anybody seeing you."
"Give that back, Snivellus!" James roared, pulling out his wand and pointing it at Severus. He was expecting Severus to pull out his wand, but what he wasn't expecting was to have Severus strike the back of his knees with one leg and then find himself on his arse on the floor.
"Boys!" Slughorn called, waddling over as fast as he could. "Merlin's beard! I step out of the room for a few minutes and a war starts."
"Potter has this, Professor," Severus said, holding out the Invisibility Cloak.
"Mr. Potter, would you mind telling me why you are carrying an Invisibility Cloak around in your bookbag? I'm not aware that students need one for any of their classes," Slughorn said, his eyes narrowing.
James looked flabbergasted and spluttered, "It's a family heirloom …I …I was afraid somebody might steal it out of my trunk."
"Then why not leave it at home where it would have been perfectly safe?" Slughorn questioned. "Nonetheless, if you're worried about someone stealing it, I will give it to your Head of House and she can keep it safe for you until the end of the year."
"That's how he's been ruining Lily's potions." Severus said. He went over to Lily and Alice's workstation. "Come see, Professor. Lily's potion is fine. It looks exactly the way it's supposed to look because Potter hasn't had a chance to ruin it."
"So, it does, Mr. Snape. Ten points to Gryffindor for good work, Miss Evans, and my apology for not listening when you said you'd done nothing wrong." He turned back to James. "Two weeks detention with me, Mr. Potter, for not taking this class seriously. You may reconsider your activities while scrubbing out cauldrons."
Minerva was angrier than Horace had ever seen her when he gave her the cloak and explained what James had been doing with it. "I will inform Mr. Potter that in addition to the two weeks of detention with you, he has two additional weeks with me. I will not have students in my House bullying other students!"
James was sitting in one of the squashy armchairs in the common room, pouting after his meeting with Professor McGonagall. Sirius plopped down in the armchair beside him. "What's wrong with you?"
"McGonagall gave me two weeks of detention! She said it's for bullying Evans."
"I guess dumb Muggleborns can't take a joke either," Sirius said.
"Did you see Middleton when you were upstairs?"
"That dippy kid with the bat for a familiar, you mean?" Sirius asked. "I think he's in class. Why?"
"I was walking behind Evans and Starkey one day and Evans was telling Starkey about how scared she was of bats because one got into their house one day. They were all so terrified of it that she, her mum, and her sister all ran outside until Snivellus' mum came over and got rid of it for them. I think another little prank is in order, Siri."
"Sounds good, James. Enlighten me," Sirius said with a big stupid grin.
Lily gave the password to the Fat Lady and stepped through the portrait hole in the common room.
"Hey, Evans!" James called. He walked over to Lily. He was wearing his dragonhide gloves, which she thought was strange. "McGonagall says I need to apologize so here!" He brought his hands up and stuck the bat right in her face.
Lily screamed, dropped her bookbag and tried to run, but Sirius blocked her way. "Stay away from me with that thing, Potter!"
"Don't you want to meet my little friend, Evans?" James asked advancing on her. By now the poor bat had become so agitated by the commotion and its rough treatment, it was hissing, flapping its wings and showing its fangs. "His name is Dracula."
Lily screamed and ran out the portrait hole and headed for the stairs. She was so terrified that she wasn't watching what she was doing, missed the top step, and tumbled all the way down the stairs to the landing where she lay unmoving.
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Professor McGonagall hurried down to the Hospital Wing. She pulled up short when she saw Severus leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. "Mr. Snape. I just got word from Madam Pomfrey that Miss Evans was injured. Do you know what happened?"
Severus shook his head. "Lily and I planned to meet and walk to the Feast together." He spoke so softly that Minerva had to lean forward to hear his words. "She wasn't waiting in the Entrance Hall so I thought she was running late and went upstairs and I found her lying on the landing unconscious. I ran back downstairs and summoned Madam Pomfrey and she took her to the hospital."
"Ten points to Slytherin for your quick thinking, Mr. Snape," Minerva said. She smiled at him. He was such a serious child who seemed older than eleven.
Madam Pomfrey came out of the door at that moment. "Minerva, I'm glad you're here. Miss Evans is awake now. She had a concussion and a broken arm which I've healed, but I want her to stay in the hospital overnight and rest tomorrow morning. She may go to her afternoon classes if she feels up to it, but no flying lessons until further notice."
"I'll see to it, Poppy," Minerva promised. "Mr. Snape," Minerva said, motioning that he should follow her inside.
Lily smiled as she saw her Head of House and Severus behind her. "I hear I have you to thank, Sev. Madam Pomfrey said you were the one who found me and got help."
Severus nodded. "You really had me scared. I thought maybe you had broken your neck."
"What happened, Miss Evans? Did you trip going down the stairs?"
Lily shook her head. Her eyes filled with tears. "It was Potter and Black. He had this horrible bat named Dracula and he was chasing me around the common room with it. Black kept blocking me so I couldn't get away. I hate them! They frighten me! I was so scared I ran out into the hall and I guess I was going downstairs when I fell."
"A bat?" Severus repeated. "Are you sure, Lily?" Severus knew how terrified she was of them.
"Where would Potter have gotten a bat? I mean I know the Forbidden Forest is full of them, but they're not exactly easy to catch."
"I know exactly where he got this particular bat. His name is Archimedes not Dracula and he's another first year boy, Barry Middleton's, familiar."
"It was hissing at me, flapping its wings and showing its fangs," Lily shuddered.
"I'll get this straightened out, Miss Evans," Minerva promised.
By the time Minerva was done James and Sirius had a month of detention with Mr. Filch in addition to writing, I will not bully other students, especially members of my House 500 times. She thought she had them sorted until Professor Dumbledore walked into her office. He was dressed in his garish robes that were bright red with golden griffins and a matching pointed hat. He announced that he was suspending all punishment for Mr. Potter and Mr. Black.
"What!" Minerva yelled, jumping up from behind her desk. "How dare you!"
"Really, Minerva, a month and two weeks of detention and lines for a few harmless pranks?"
"Harmless prank, Albus? Miss Evans could have broken her neck falling down the stairs. Students could have been injured or killed by his wishing to make Miss Evans look stupid in Potions, not to mention he could have injured Mr. Middleton's familiar with his actions," Minerva yelled.
"The boys were just having fun with a classmate and maybe didn't think things through completely, Minerva. I'm suspending all detentions, including Horace's. I also must insist you give Mr. Potter back his cloak."
"And I insist you fire-call the Potters and give it to them to take home with them or its going to stay right where it currently is and Mr. Potter won't be getting it back until the end of the year!"
Dumbledore shook his head and said "Accio Potter's cloak." There was a rattling of one of Minerva's desk drawers. Albus went around her desk and said, "Alohomora." The cloak flew out to Albus. "I simply will not allow you to punish Mr. Potter and Mr. Black simply for being high-spirited boys."
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore! How dare you undermine my authority as Head of House and as Deputy Headmistress!"
"Don't take things so personally, Minerva," Albus replied as he left her office.
Minerva glared after him and longed to switch his head with that of an ass's. Over a hundred years old and still he acts sometimes like a little child! Unbelievable!
A/N: Some of you may think Dumbledore wouldn't behave like that, however, in canon he never did anything to stop the Marauders from persecuting Severus, considering everything they did as mere pranks and not humiliation. Even with the werewolf incident, he didn't punish them they way they deserved, else Black would have realized the seriousness of what he did and felt remorse and guilt over nearly getting Severus killed.
The answer to her trivia question will be posted with the next chapter, in case you were waiting to find out!
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