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Chapter 20 : Chapter 19-The Potions Lesson
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*A reference to The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. I do not own that play or anything that anyone else created. I merely offer this up as a homage to pieces I admire. :)
Chapter 19-The Potions Lesson
Emma was glad that her name had been kept out of everything when Professor Longbottom talked to the Gryffindors. It was going to be hard enough to face the wrath of her father (there was no way that he would believe that they found out any way but her); she didn’t want the entire school knowing of her situation.
She was walking down to breakfast with Jake on one side and Jack on the other, both insisting they be her personal escorts. She couldn’t believe the one-eighty that Jack had taken, though she was glad that he had. It seemed that most of his haughty behavior towards her had been a mask donned by the green monster of jealousy. Me! Someone was jealous of me! she thought disbelievingly. That was a first.
The three entered the Great Hall, and the room almost instantly quieted down, every head turning towards them. “What’s going on?” she vaguely heard Jack mutter to Jake. They knew. Somehow it had gotten out it was she who had been the target. She wanted more than anything to run out of there like a bat out of Hell, (who needed breakfast!) but her legs propelled her forward. She sat down at the Gryffindor table, where Jake and Jack joined her. Emma picked up an English muffin and began to butter it.
*“How can you sit there so calmly eating your muffin after what just happened?” Jack asked.
Emma shrugged. “What am I supposed to do, starve myself just because a crowd of people stared at me?” She took a large bite, loving the flavors dissolving in her mouth. She never had food like this at home. “Besides, I can’t eat a muffin in an agitated manner, it would get all over my robes.”
The prefect who had given her a seat on her first day, Emily Cook, sat down opposite Emma. “Are you alright? I heard what happened, that must have been awful! I want you to promise to let me know if it ever happens again, alright?”
Emma looked at her, somewhat dumbfounded. “What is it you think happened?”
Emily gave her a strange look, but answered anyways. “You were the one that Professor Longbottom was talking about, right?” the older girl questioned. “Maybe I shouldn’t believe the rumor mill, but the whole school is saying that. Is it true?”
She hesitated for a moment. Part of her wanted to lie, to tell everyone that she wasn’t the one they were looking for. But lying wasn’t going to solve anything; it wasn’t going to make her father’s retribution any better. So she nodded. “Yes, that was me.” she confirmed.
Emily took her hand in both of hers. “It’s going to be alright now. We take care of our own.” With that, the prefect stood up and moved back over to her friends. Breakfast went pretty much normally from there on out, though several more people, some even from other houses, stopped by to see if she was alright.
Finished eating, she wiped her mouth and stood up to head to Transfiguration. Almost on cue, half of the Gryffindors stood up along with her. She looked at her friends, perplexed. Emma began to make her way towards the door, and the crowd formed a circle around her. At first she was nervous, it looked as if they were trying to trap her. But that wasn’t what they were doing at all. They moved along with her, creating a barrier around her. They were trying to protect her. She was touched and flattered. She had thought that most of the house didn’t care for her much after her outburst at the sorting. Apparently she had been wrong.
As he approached the Headmistress’s office, Severus spied Neville standing at the entrance, arms crossed, his face formed into a scowl.
“What?” Severus asked him mockingly, “Did Minerva not give wittle Professor Longbottom the password to her quarters?”
He could see the other man grit his teeth. Though he showed no outward emotion, Severus was bubbling inside. It was so much fun to bait Longbottom. “No, Severus, but I’m surprised she trusts you with it.” He was much better at sparing than he had been as a student. Severus was mildly impressed. “I wanted to speak to you privately before we saw Minerva.”
He waved his hand, dismissing the comment. “What seems to be the problem?”
“I would like to know,” Neville began, glowering, “how the entire school knows that Emma Hurtz is the student that was targeted. I thought that was going to remain under wraps.”
Severus nodded. “It was. Interesting that you suspect it came from me. I only wish to assist the girl, I assure you.”
“Really. Then how come every student I talk to says they heard it from a Slytherin or from someone who did?” Neville demanded.
Severus froze. “Damn it all,” he cursed.
Neville arched an eyebrow at him. “Something coming back to you?” he asked half mockingly.
“I didn’t say anything,” Severus insisted. “Not directly. However, when I was apprehending her attackers, one of them brought her name up. I told him I hadn’t said any name, so how could he have offered one up. In spite of popular belief, Slytherins aren’t stupid, and people must have put two and two together after I had left. There, are you happy?”
Neville frowned, though some of the fiery anger seemed to have dissipated somewhat. “No, not really.” Severus rolled his eyes. What would it take to satisfy the man? He wondered. “Oh, it’s not you, I’m just frustrated with this whole situation, that’s all.”
“Really,” Severs replied, not believing Longbottom’s words.
“Really.” the other man insisted. “This whole thing is just so sad.”
Severus nodded. “We can agree on something, it seems.”
He gave the password to the gargoyle, and it sprang out of the way revealing the staircase, muttering, “It’s about time!”
They stepped into the enclave, and the stairs began to rise. “Just a bit of advice,” Severus told Neville, “This Hurtz bloke is a real piece of work.”
“Really,” Neville replied sarcastically, “I had no idea,”
Jake looked up from his assignment as the clock chimed the three-quarter hour. He put the parchments in his bag. “Well, I should probably head off to my detention with Snape.” He was actually really excited. Snape had such a reputation of a student slayer that Jake was quite flattered that he had taken such an interest. It was unheard of! But then again, he was telling people this was a detention, so there was really no way to tell just how many students Snape had instructed in this manner. He stood up, slinging his bag over her shoulder.
“I can’t believe you got in trouble for standing up for Emma,” Jack chimed in. Jake couldn’t help but smile. Jack and Emma had gone from barely speaking to almost inseparable in twenty-four hours. Jack had been particularly overprotective of Emma throughout the day, though he did have a lot of help from their housemates.
“Yeah, well,” Jake said evasively, shrugging. He wanted to tell Jack about the true nature of his ‘detention’, but Snape had been clear about keeping between Emma and himself. “What can you do?” He shrugged. “Snape was probably more upset about me standing up to him than standing up for her.”
“Good luck, Jake,” Emma broke in. He made a mental note to thank her later for changing the subject.
“Yeah, good luck.” Jack chimed in. “You’re gonna need it, I’ve heard he makes people in detention gut things.”
Jake made a face. “Thanks, I’ll see you both later.” he called back as he made his way out of the common room, trying his best to seem worried about the adventure he had before him.
Severus entered Minerva’s office side by side with Neville, presenting a united front. Hurtz was lounging in front of Minerva’s desk, seemingly relaxed and comfortable. Not for long.
The miserable excuse for a man turned around upon the two men’s entrance. “Who is that? And what is he doing here?” he added, pointing at Severus.
Minerva spoke as f she hadn’t heard him. “Mr. Hurtz, I would like to introduce to you Professor Longbottom, Emma’s-”
“It’s Emmaline,” he interrupted gruffly.
“Yes, Emmaline’s Head of House.” Minerva continued impatiently. “And you have already met Professor Snape.”
Hurtz frowned, a dangerous look to his eye. “What do they have to do with Emmaline’s dismal performance? Not that I’m surprised, being a Gryffindor and all.” Severus had trouble resisting the urge to smirk. Between Minerva and Neville, it was shocking this man was still breathing. Though it would have been better if he was not.
“Personal opinions aside, Mr. Hurtz,” Minerva stated coldly. “We have some concerns about your daughter. We have discovered that several students were hired to keep an eye on her.”
“Well, that’s not so horrible, is it Headmistress? the bastard sneered.
“It wouldn’t be, had they been acting as protectors.”
Hurtz shifted in his seat ever so slightly, barely noticeable. “Oh, really,” his mock surprise was so evidently phony that even he could tell no one was fooled.
“Yes,” the Headmistress continued. “These students have been targeting your daughter, attacking and harassing her. And they seem to be under the impression that it was you who hired them.” She gave him a penetrating stare. “Is this true?”
Just then, right on cue, the tea kettle began to whistle. “I will get that, Headmistress,” Severus declared, moving towards the singing metal. He made sure that his body was blocking his preparations from view. He poured two cups, one for Minerva and one for Hurtz. Severus poured a drop of clear liquid from a vial he had hidden in his robes into the left cup. “Mr. Hurtz, do you take any sugar in your tea?”
“No, I like mine plain, thanks,” He snorted. “At least someone around here knows how to be hospitable!” he mumbled quite audibly. Severus brought over the tea and placed the spiked one in front of Mr. Hurtz. Without so much as thank you, the man plucked up the tea cup and began slurping gracefully. After a few swallows, the man’s facial expression changed as the affects of the Veritaserum kicked in.
“Now, Mr. Hutrz,” Minerva began sternly. “Are you the person who hired students to target and harass your daughter Emmaline?”
He nodded. “Yes,”
It took all of the self restraint he possessed for Severus not to throttle the bastard where he sat. For a split second the man in the chair morphed into the evil form of his father, leering up at him, belt in hand. Severus shook his head. This was not the place to deal with his childhood scars.
“Which students did you approach?”
Hurtz was silent for a moment, as if in thought. “Bruno Lubby,” he replied in monotone. “He was the first, he virtually came to me. Then there was Sam St. Claire, his father owed me a favor. There were a few others, I didn’t select them; I left that up to Lubby. The less I knew, the better”
Of course, you coward, Severus thought bitterly.
Minerva picked up her own teacup. She sniffed at the contents and frowned. “Severus, I think something’s wrong with the tea, it smells like the soap wasn’t cleaned off very well. Could you get us new cups?”
“Of course, Headmistress,” he replied, removing the two vessels from the desk. “Scourgify,” he muttered, cleaning both perfectly. He then refilled them with the lukewarm amber liquid (adding a bit of the Veritaserum antidote to Hurtz’s cup, of course) and returned them to their drinkers.
“Cheers,” Minerva muttered, raising her tea and drinking it. “Much better, Severus, thank you.” Hurtz followed her lead, and soon he acted as if he had never been drugged, save for a slight bit of disorientation.
“Now, Mr. Hurtz,” Minerva continued. “I must request that you cease harassing your daughter through these students. I know we don’t have any power over your home life, but while Emmaline is here, she is my responsibility. And I wish to see that she receives an education free from torment. Do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal,” he leered in reply, shaking his head to clear it of the residual effects of the drugging.
“Good.” Minerva answered with finality. “And if we do hear of any further tampering with your daughter’s education, we will take it up with the Governors and the Ministry, and I don’t care how much money or influence you have, Mr. Hurtz, you will be taken down.” There was a dangerous glint in Minerva’s eyes, the one that was only there when she really meant business. That look had been aimed at himself many a time, especially during the War.
Hurtz stood up, stabbing the floor with his cane angrily. “This is madness!” he cried. “I am leaving!” The man stormed to the door and slammed it shut behind him, stomping down the spiral stairs rather than waiting for their gentle motion to carry him to the bottom.
“Severus?” Minerva asked tiredly, “Would you mind…?”
He smiled grimly back at her. “Not at all.” He turned to follow Hurtz and make sure he actually left the castle with no detours.
“Oh, and Severus?” she called out after him. He faced her.
“It would be much appreciated if you refrained from murdering him, I can’t afford to lose a staff member right now.”
Severus shook his head. “Really, Minerva, I’m shocked that you think so little of me, absolutely shocked!”
He would have loved to stay and spar, but there were more important things to be done, such as keeping an eye on Hurtz. He flung the door open and the stairs rose up to greet him. He followed Hurtz’s example by storming down the stone stairs, taking two at a time. Hurtz was just rounding a corner as Severus emerged from behind the gargoyles.
Oh, what he would have done to have Harry’s Invisibility Cloak at that moment; ideally he wanted to see without being seen. But he’d have to settle for goo old fashioned stalking. He cast a Silencing Charm on his feet to keep them from clacking on the stone floors, and quickly followed Hurtz. He wanted to keep him in sight as much as possible so he could tell if he was going anywhere besides the exit.
Severus glanced at his watch. It was almost eight. Hopefully Hurtz wouldn’t pose any problems, he had to get to his lesson with Jacob Baxter. No sooner than he thought those words did he spy Hurtz beginning to ascend a staircase that was part of the way towards the Gryffindor Tower.
“Going somewhere?” he asked icily.
Hurtz froze, turning to face the Potion’s Master. “What, Snape, are you following me?”
“Merlin, no!” he replied, pretending to be offended. He was a much better actor. “I was merely beginning to patrol the halls. And it’s a good thing I did too; you seem to have gotten lost.” He said all of this airily, trying to calmly get that bastard out of the school before he lost control. He knew he wouldn’t go as far as killing him (though it would have been the only murder that he’d committed where the victim deserved to die), but he didn’t want to cause a scene. He really didn’t want to postpone his session with Mr. Baxter.
“Oh, I’m not lost,” Hurtz mumbled. “I just, er, thought I would stop in and say hello to my daughter before I left.”
Severus took several steps towards him, his features hardening. “I don’t think so, Hurtz,”
The man snorted at him. “What do you care? She’s my misery to deal with.”
Severus crossed his arms in an act of intimidation and restraint. “I don’t take kindly to abusive fathers.” he growled.
Hurtz looked at him for a moment in shock, and then began to laugh crazily. “Me? Abusive? You are mistaken, good sir.” he added mockingly.
“Oh yes,” Severus replied grimly. “Because only the most loving daddies sic goons on their children.”
“I take offence at that!” Hurtz sputtered, storming down the stairs towards Severus.
“Your offence is really of little importance to me. Now I will ask you to leave or you shall be escorted out.”
“Fine,” the monster growled gruffly. “But you haven’t seen the last of me. I’ll get you for this, Snape, you’ll regret the day you ever decided to come to that bitch’s defense.”
He had heard enough. “OUT!” he roared, “NOW!”
Hurtz looked startled by the outburst, and only due to the shock was Severus able to herd him out through the front gates, slamming them shut.
There, he thought, wiping his hands together as he walked back up to the castle, the garbage is out.
Jake looked around nervously as he paced up and down in front of the door to the Potion’s classroom. He glanced at his wristwatch. It was nearly quarter-past eight. He knocked once more on the door with the same disappointing results. Snape wasn’t there. He was starting to get nervous. Could Snape have been playing him? Could he have lured him here to get him away from Emma?
He shook his head. He was being ridiculous; Emma was fine, Jack would make sure of that. He was more concerned about Lubby and his gang. Word had spread that they had been slapped with three months of daily detentions, but Jake wasn’t sure how much that would actually help. They were still free to torment Emma (and anyone who stood up for her); they just had to be more careful about it.
He jumped slightly at the sound of shuffling footsteps. He stowed his hand inside his pocket, wrapping it firmly around the shaft of his wand. Professor Snape didn’t seem like the type of person who would shuffle.
He was correct in assuming that it was not Snape who was approaching him. However, it also was not a student; it was Argus Filch, the caretaker. The ancient man grinned evilly at Jake, showing several rotted out teeth in the process. A cat stalked towards Jake, circling him, as if to try and cut off any means of escape. “What do we have here?” he crooned, seeming to take great pleasure in tormenting Jake. “What are you doing here at this hour? Trying to break in and steal the answers to your next test, I presume?”
“No!” Jake protested. The man was mental. “I’m waiting for Professor Snape, I have a detention with him tonight, but he hasn’t shown yet.
“Ah, so you are a detention boy…” Flich sneered. The caretaker snorted. “You expect me to buy that fib?” he growled. “You’re up to no good.” The old man moved with surprising agility over to Jake and grabbed his arm in an ironclad grasp. “You’re coming with me.”
Jake began to panic. If he wasn’t there Snape might have thought he had blown him off and probably would give him a real detention for it. And there was no telling what this bloke would do to him. “Let go of me!” he cried, struggling to break free.
“Oh no you don’t, laddy!” Filch growled, yanking Jake’s arm to get him to follow. Suddenly he felt a searing pain on his left leg, causing him to let out a sharp cry. He looked down to see the bottom of his pant legs in shreds and blood trickling down from claw shaped wounds. The cat was sitting there as if nothing had happened, and he could have sworn he had seen it smirk at him.
“What is going on here, Argus?” a familiar voice drawled. Jake felt his heart leap. It was Snape.
He didn’t have time to be excited for long. Filch flung him before Snape, though he still kept a vice like grip on him. “I caught this student loitering around outside your classroom, professor!” He seemed to be overly thrilled with himself. “He claims he was waiting for you, but I don’t buy it.”
Snape’s eyes met Jake’s for a minute. The professor looked amused at the situation. “I’m afraid that I have to tell you Argus that I was indeed meeting Mr. Baxter here for a detention. Now if you will unhand him, I will take it from here.”
Filch shoved Jake a bit as he let go of his grim. “He’s all yours professor,” he mumbled before scurrying off, cat in tow. It appeared that he didn’t care all too much for being made a fool of.
Jake smiled meekly up at the Potion’s Master. “Thank you, sir,”
Snape smirked at him. “What did you do, kick his feline friend?”
Jake shook his head. “No sir, she, it attacked me all on its own.”
“Ah,” Snape replied, passing him to removing the locking spells on his classroom. “This Mrs. Norris has less restraint than the last one. His last cat got killed by a falling brick during the Battle of Hogwarts.” He obviously saw the look of confusion on Jake’s face, which started to burn scarlet. He hated not growing up with a Wizarding family sometimes, he didn’t know half of the things people talked about. “You should read ‘Hogwarts, a History: A Revision.’ A friend of mine actually wrote it, I probably have an extra copy if you would like to borrow it.”
Jake nodded. “That would be great, sir, thank you very much!”
Snape nodded. “Come, let’s begin. We’re already behind schedule, and you have a lot to do tonight.”
Jake entered quickly, and placed his bag on a chair.
Snape beckoned to him with his finger. “Come,” Jake obeyed. The professor tapped the seat of a chair with the palm of his hand. “Put your foot up here.” Jake complied, though he wasn’t sure why. He winced as his weight was transferred to his injured leg.
Snape looked at him like he had just said the world was flat and the sky was made of mangos. “The other foot, Mr. Baxter,” he told him dryly.
Jake felt like the dumbest person on the face of the earth at that moment. “Right,” he muttered embarrassedly.
“Pull up your pant leg,” Snape ordered. Jake pulled the frayed fabric up, revealing just how badly the cat had clawed his tender flesh. Snape pointed his wand at the wound and muttered “Sourgify,”. Jake felt a sing go through the open wound. He winced, but was determined not to make any sound. He looked down to see Snape tracing his wand along the broken skin, muttering some spells under his breath. Jake blinked; he couldn’t believe his eyes. Right there in front of him his epidermis was stitching itself back together again, looking as if it had never been scarred. Snape finally pulled down the pant leg, muttering, “Reparo,” while pointing his wand at the material, which sewed itself together just like the skin had done, though much quicker.
“Thank you, sir,” Jake told Snape gratefully.
The professor waved it off, ignoring him. “Put some weight on it. Do you have any pain?”
Jake followed his instructions, gingerly putting both legs on the floor. Nothing felt out of the ordinary. “No, sir.”
“Good, so we can get past that distraction and get to work.” Snape moved swiftly and gracefully over to his desk, rifling though the papers that littered it.
“Sir?” Jake questioned tentatively, not sure if he should proceed.
“Yes, Mr. Baxter?”
“I know that it is probably none of my business, but I was wondering-”
“If you know that it is none of your business, you should probably keep your nose out of it.” Snape replied harshly. Jake bowed his head. “However, I think I know what you were going to ask. You were wondering why I was so late, am I correct?” Jake nodded. “I will answer that question only because it actually is your business, as it pertains to your friend Miss Hurtz.”
Jake snapped his head up at the Professor’s words, causing it to hurt slightly. “What has to do with Emma?” he half demanded, not wanting to overstep but anxious at the same time.
“The Headmistress wished to speak with her…father about the matter of hiring students as mercenaries. He became quite irate when we told him we would take the matter up with the Governor’s of the school and the Ministry if he continued. I followed him after the meeting and caught him trying to sneak off to see his daughter, or at least that is what he claimed. I thought it best to escort Mr. Hurtz out of the castle to ensure for no side trips. Miss Hurtz should be safe for the time being.” His manner changed ever so slightly. “Now, let’s begin.”
Jake’s heart was pounding with excitement. He couldn’t even imagine what kinds of concoctions they were going to cook up. “What are we going to be working on, Professor?” he asked in a state of wonderment.
“You will be starting with the Glowbowl potion.” His heart sank. It didn’t sound all that exciting. He had sort of been thinking about snake poison antidotes or something. Jake quickly shook off his disappointment to focus at the task at hand. “Here are the instructions,” Snape placed a piece of parchment in front of him. The words were printed in neat handwriting, not Snape’s slashing cursive. “You will find everything you will need in the supply cupboard. I will observe and assist if I deem it necessary. You may begin.”
Jake rushed to get his supplies. In his hurry, he tripped on the hem of his robes. He still wasn’t used to the blasted things. He cursed under his breath, blood once again rushing to his face. He stood up hurriedly, casting a wary glance back at Snape. As he expected, the Potion’s Master wore a mocking smile on his face. “Goodness, Mr. Baxter, you blush so much you might as well be a Weasley,” he drawled. Jake had no idea what he meant, but his gut told him that the comment was merely made in jest with no malice intended.
“Sir, I don’t quite understand...”
Snape shook his head. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter. Continue.” Jake carefully made his way to the cupboard and selected the specified ingredients and placed them back on his table.
“The Glowbowl Potion,” Snape began, “is luminous. Its primary function is to be used as a light source. Most wizards find the spell Lumos much more convenient, however this can be useful in places where Muggles might be about, since it can be placed in a container made to look like a torch. Also, it can come in handy if one’s wand had been taken from them. It should be a glowing yellow-orange color when it is complete with no odor. Begin.”
Severus observed Jacob closely as he chopped the lightning bug sacks finely. The boy was incredible. His hands moved as if they had years of experience. He seemed to know exactly what to do. Most people, even when given complete instructions, tended to mess something up, but somehow the boy was the exception to the rule. Severus peered cautiously into his bubbling cauldron.
“How is it, professor?” Jacob asked.
The potion was lemon yellow, the perfect shade it was supposed to be before the mashed beets were added. “It is acceptable,” he told the boy. There was no way he was going to let it show just how impressed he was with him.
He couldn’t believe that he was even thinking this, but he thought that the boy might even be more talented at potions than he was! It was unimaginable, but the results boiling in the cauldron and in the cauldrons of the past few lessons didn’t lie. And if it was possible, it seemed as if Jacob had improved even in the few weeks of instruction he had been given. It was nothing short of incredible.
Severus cursed inwardly. Why did it have to be this boy that was the most talented one of the century? Why did it have to be the one person he wanted to avoid? It was as if Fate or some force wanted to push them together, just to make Severus suffer.
“Professor?” The boy’s voice broke into his thoughts.
“I think I’ve finished, will you have a look?”
Severus peered into the cauldron. Yet again, it was spot on. “Very good.” He walked over to the cupboard and pulled out a secret compartment. Inside were all sorts of glass containers. He selected a spherically shaped one and strode back over to the boy. Pointing his wand at the concoction, he gently siphoned the glowing liquid inside the small hole at the top of the vessel. Once it was filled to the brim, Severus muttered a few words to seal the hole, then several more to prevent the glass from breaking. He handed the ball to Jacob. “Here, a little reward for your efforts. Though if anyone asks where you got it, tell them you picked it up from a vendor in Diagon Alley, do I make myself clear?” The boy nodded, a slight grin of excitement on his face in spite of what seemed to be his best efforts in repressing it. “Wait here, I shall only be gone a few moments. Do not, I repeat, do not touch anything.”
Walking quickly over to the fireplace, Severus took a small box out from inside his robes, opened it, and took a fistful of the fine green powder within. He stepped inside the fireplace, and couldn’t help but smirk at the Baxter boy’s expression of shock. He was obviously not used to people traveling by Floo. Severus dropped the powder and called out, “The office of Severus Snape,” and he was whisked away.
Jake rubbed his eyes several times to make sure that it wasn’t a trick his vision was playing on him. Professor Snape had actually disappeared in a cloud of green flames. Things just continued to surprise him. He would have to ask Snape what he had done upon his return. Jake held up his new possession, marveling at the way it glowed. It would be perfect for reading under the covers at night, he had tried using his wand but the light that instrument emitted was so harsh that it reflected off the crisp white pages and hurt his eyes. Like Snape had said, this light resembled that of a torch, and he was almost confident it would work even better as it was not dependant on batteries to function.
A whoosh interrupted his thoughts, causing him to look up and see Professor Snape step out of the fireplace, brush a bit of soot off of his robes, and stride gracefully over to him, two books situated under his right arm.
“Professor, what is that you just did?” Jake asked, still flabbergasted by the shock.
Snape placed the books on his desk and pulled out the box he had held before the flames appeared. He opened it to reveal what appeared to be green glitter. “This is called Floo Powder. You can either travel with it like I just did or merely stick your head in the green flames to talk to someone in a different location.” He explained with much more patience than Jake would have expected.
“Sort of like a telephone,” Jake replied.
Snape make a face. “To some extent. Now,” A long bony hand reached out to grab the volumes he had procured. “this is the book I mentioned earlier.” The professor placed one of the volumes in Jake’s hands. He traced the elaborate golden lettering of the title lovingly.
“It’s beautiful,” Jake whispered. It took him a moment to realize that he actually said the words aloud.
Snape smirked in an approving manner. “I’m glad you appreciate it.”
“I love to read, actually,”
“Then you should blow through this in a few days. So here,” Snape added, handing him the second book. “is a copy of another book by the same author.”
Jake read the title quickly. A Muggle-born’s Guide to the Wizarding World. “Thank you, sir,”
Snape didn’t respond with a thank you, but Jake didn’t mind, it was Snape after all. “Now, mind you these are my personal copies of these books, and I fully expect to get them back in the same condition in which I gave them to you. And I expect to get them back. Am I understood?” His words were followed with a piercing glare designed to beat a student into submission. He needn’t have worried, Jake had no intention on damaging Professor Snape’s property.
“Yes sir,” Jake replied obediently. “So,” Jake asked as he walked over to get his bag, “You know this Her-mioninny Granger?”
“It’s Hermione,” he corrected abruptly. “and yes, like I said, she is a friend of mine. In fact, she was one of my former students as well. She works at the Ministry in the Potions Department.”
Jake felt his eyes widen. “They have an entire department devoted to potions?” he asked, awestruck.
A strange noise came from Snape, a deep, throaty chuckle. “Yes, yes they do. Now,” his manner shifted abruptly. “I will escort you back to your common room, wouldn’t want another altercation with Mrs. Norris the second, now would we?”
“But sir,” Jake interrupted
“Yes?” There was a hint of irritation to the professor’s voice.
“What is the signal for our next lesson?”
“Right,” Snape muttered, moving once again towards his desk. He opened a drawer and pulled out an orange crystalline egg. “This will be on my desk the next time I need you to cause a scene. It probably won’t be for about two weeks, I would like to space these…detentions out a bit so people don’t start to get suspicious. Oh, one more thing.” Snape summoned him forward. “Give me your hands,” he ordered.
Jake did as he was told. With a quick wave of Snape’s wand, Jake’s hands looked as if he had been slicing up something nasty for several hours. “Remember, if anyone asks, you were chopping up flobberworms.”
Snape sighed. “Now what?” he asked impatiently. He had crossed the line so it seemed. His next request would be shot down immediately, he just knew it.
Snape crossed his arms in an intimidating fashion, eyes flashing. “You saw fit to open your mouth, Mr. Baxter, now spill it.”
“I was wondering…would I be able to tell my friend Jack about these lessons as well as Emma?”
Snape frowned. “McCrimmon? Can that boy keep his mouth shut long enough to keep a secret?”
Jake gritted his teeth at the jibe at his friend, but kept silent. He wanted to stand up for his friend so badly, but he also needed to stay on Snape’s good side in order to get what he desired.
“I believe so, sir,” he added politely, once he was sure that he could control his emotions and his tongue.
The Potion’s Master seemed to be lost in thought for several moments. Finally, he nodded. “Fine, you may tell him, but only on the condition he will not breath a word of this to anyone or he shall suffer my wrath. Understood?” Jake nodded, relieved he wouldn’t have to hide this from his friend any longer. “Now come on, I don’t have all night,”
Jake smiled. Things could not be going any better.
Emma looked up from her book as she heard someone entering through the portrait. It was late, almost half past eleven, and the common room was deserted save for herself and Jack, who was passed out on the sofa next to her. She had told him to go up to his bed when his head had begun to droop onto her shoulder from exhaustion, but he wouldn’t hear of leaving her ‘alone and unprotected’.
As she had expected, Jake’s welcoming form stumbled in, yawning broadly. He almost went right by their sofa, only stopping when she coughed slightly to get his attention. Jake turned tired eyes upon her and Jack, smiling and walking over. “Almost didn’t see you there,”
“So, how did it go?” she asked quietly, not wanting to wake Jack. She didn’t want to have to talk in code.
“Wazguinon?” the aforementioned Jack mumbled as Jake’s arrival roused him from his slumbers.
“Jake’s back,” Emma told him softly.
Her words seemed to act like caffeine, instantly making him more alert. “How was it?” Jack asked eagerly. “What did he make you chop up?”
Jake chuckled. “Not exactly. You see,” he looked around covertly. “These aren’t technically detentions.”
“What!?!” Jack exclaimed at the same moment Emma cried out “Jake!”
Jake waved his hand in dismissal. “Emma, it’s alright, I’m allowed to tell him.” Jake turned to Jack and became more serious. “But you have to swear on everything you hold near and dear that you will not tell anyone what I am about to say or Snape will murder you.”
“I do, I swear,” Jack agreed.
Emma was sort of shocked that Snape would agree to let Jack in on the charade; he wasn’t Snape’s favorite student. But perhaps Jake is, she thought to herself as Jake explained the situation to her newfound friend.
“Wait,” Jack chimed in after Jake had finished his explanation. “How did Emma know about this?”
Jake looked at her uncomfortably before replying. “She was there when Snape discussed this with me. It was right before she told him about, well, you know, everything.”
Jack nodded in understanding. “Ah,”
Jake turned back to Emma. Something in his eyes told her that it wasn’t exactly happy news. “Snape told me something tonight. You’re father was here, in the castle a few hours ago.”
Emma shuddered. He was going to be furious with her. “Really?”
“Yeah, I guess he was here for some meeting with the Headmistress, she wanted to warn him to leave you alone or something. But afterwards Snape caught him trying to sneak away to find you, so he kicked him out.”
Even knowing Snape’s formidable nature, it was hard to picture anyone standing up to Father. “That’s good,” she replied automatically.
Jake seemed to know that he had set something off. “Anyways, look at what I got after my lesson,” He pulled out a glowing yellow-orange ball from his robes. Emma joined in with Jack at the oowing and ahing at Jake’s new possession, and she took an interest in the books that Snape had lent him. She couldn’t help but mentally take a step back and look at the scene in front of her. Just a few short months ago she couldn’t’ have even imagined anything of the kind. She had never had any friends, anyone she could really count on, and now she had two. She felt herself starting to tear up unconsciously. She quickly dabbed at her eyes, but it wasn’t missed by Jake.
“Are you alright?” he asked, probably concerned that his words had set her off.
Emma smiled broadly in spite of the tears of joy now streaking her face. “I’m alright,” she reassured him, “Never better.”
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