I flounce into Potions class the next day with my head held high. The Prince’s potions book knocks against my hip as I walk down the aisle and I smile.
This will show Malfoy.
I take my usual seat in the second row. My partner, Elle Flemings, Hufflepuff, huffs and points at the board.
‘We’re making an Elixir to Induce Euphoria, do you think you can handle it?’ The spite in her voice is understandable. I’ve botched enough of her potions as well as my own.
I just smile at her and flip open my book. The instructions are as follows:
Elixir to Induce Euphoria
Difficulty level: Advanced
Characteristics: Sunshine yellow in colour, sweet and aromatic.
Side Effects: Excessive singing and nose-tweaking.
Counterbalanced by the addition of mint sprigs.
1 cup boiling water
¼ cup halved porcupine quills
1 cup diced shrivelfig (skinned and crushed)
⅔ cup castor beans (allow them to soak in warm water for five minutes prior to addition)
Three sticks of wormwood (strip wood off bark and add separately from sticks)
A pinch of mint
Step one: Boil water in cauldron. Prepare quills and shrivelfig. Once water is boiling, add the two ingredients. Add half a cup of shrivelfig, then the quills, then remaining shrivelfig.
Step two: Stir clockwise for five minutes, then counterclockwise for two.
All of step three is scratched out. Below, the prince has rewritten it.
Step three: Soak castor beans for five minutes, then add to potion. Stir quickly until liquid turns a faint green. Add mint at this point, then let simmer ten minutes.
Step four: Add wormwood. Stir potion for two minutes, watching colour change to a light yellow. Remove floating sticks, but leave in bark. Potion will brighten, thicken and become more potent.
Step five: Boil five minutes then remove from heat. Let sit fifteen minutes, stirring counter-clockwise every three minutes.
Our chubby professor pushes his way down the aisle to his desk, quickly writing the potion name on the chalkboard behind it.
‘At the end of class I expect a vial of the elixir on my desk. Next class you will be testing them on each other.’ Slughorn announces, looking me in the eye. ‘You may begin.’
Elle looks seriously afraid when I return to the table with more ingredients than necessary, but doesn’t comment. She learned years ago that it was pointless to argue with me. I’m pretty damn stubborn.
With time to spare I march proudly up to Slughorn’s desk and place my vial of the elixir on it, smiling at the professor. He stares at the properly brewed potion for a moment with a look of confusion and apprehension before looking up at me.
‘Well done, Miss Weasley.’ He says, scratching his chin.
I return to my seat, feeling the weight of everyone’s eyes on me.
When the bell rings I collect my books, say good bye to a stunned Elle Flemings and make my way out of the dungeons.
‘Rose!’ Albus calls out, chasing me down the corridor. Malfoy nips at his heels, looking furious.
I quicken my pace, but can’t shake them.
‘Rose, that was great!’ Albus snatches my hand and wheels me around to look at him. ‘Your potion looked great! You were –’
‘Great.’ Malfoy finishes for him, pushing my cousin aside. ‘How did you manage it Wealsey? You’re the worst brewer in class and everyone knows it. What did you do? Nick some of your partners when she wasn’t looking?’
‘Only a Slytherin would stoop to such levels.’ I bite back. ‘You seem quite worked up over this, Malfoy. Are you afraid?’
‘Afraid of what?’
‘Afraid that this year I might do better than you.’
He scoffs loudly, darkening my mood.
‘Afraid?’ He repeats. ‘Of you? You’re no more threatening than Holmen – and I know that you saw the black tar he was trying to pass off as an elixir.’
‘We’ll see Malfoy.’ I reply, stepping closer, standing chest to chest with him. ‘Tomorrow in class. We’ll see whose partner is the one tweaking noses and singing off-key.’
He narrows his eyes at me. ‘What did you do, Weasley?’
I grin manically. ‘I’m afraid that if I stay any longer I’ll be later to Transfiguration. I abhor being tardy. See you two in Potions?’
Albus waves confusedly while Malfoy seethes.
My fellow Ravenclaw offers me a smile when I slip into my seat as the bell chimes. Her eyes skim my face and she observes me.
‘You look happy today, Rose.’
‘You don’t know the half of it.’
I skip into Potions five minutes early. I couldn’t help myself – the prospect of bettering Malfoy had me up early and I couldn’t stay away any longer.
It’s first class and hardly anyone is there yet. Slughorn looks up from the papers he’s grading, surprised to see me.
‘Miss Wealsey.’ He greets me with a nod of his oversized head. ‘I was very impressed with your work yesterday. Only one student has ever gotten the elixir to that perfect shade of yellow: your uncle. I daresay you’re just as talented at potions as he was – and he was a proper genius.’
I swear I hear him muttering under his breath, took long enough, but I smile anyways.
‘Thank you professor.’
A moment later my cousin walks in with his mate and I turn to them proudly. Albus grins while Malfoy glares.
The rest of our classmates pile in seconds before class begins. Slughorn distributes the vials and begins to call students up.
Holmen’s partner is sent to the hospital wing with unsightly spores on her face, along with a boy who grows fangs. There are no casualties though, and any day that no one dies in potions class I count as a success. Potions are too unstable, too unreliable. Any moment could be your last when you stand before a boiling cauldron or accept a poorly brewed potion from your classmate.
Finally Albus and Malfoy are called. My cousin takes the yellow potion in one large gulp, an enormous smile splitting across his face. For a long moment my throat tightens and Malfoy looks triumphant, but then Al suddenly opens his mouth and belts out:
‘Oh, come and stir my cauldron, and if you do it ri-ight, I’ll let you boil up some hot, strong lo-ove!’
‘Al!’ Malfoy rages, snatching his potion back, slamming it down on Slughorn’s desk. ‘Get a hold of yourself!’
But the professor is already marking the results down and nodding at the blonde to swallow Al’s potion. He does so with a dark glower, which is soon replaced with a startling smile. An uncharacteristic giggle escapes his tight lips and everyone in class – including those who haven’t yet taken the elixir – is rolling about on the floor laughing.
Al and Malfoy sing the chorus of A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love in perfect harmony.
‘Good.’ Slughorn sighs. This is a class well wasted in our minds, but he’s most likely cursing his existence. ‘Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy, you may return to your seats.’
Malfoy hits the bloke behind him who won’t shut up with his potions book, grinning cheerfully.
‘Miss Weasley and, uh, Miss Flemings.’ Slughorn calls, beckoning us forwards.
Elle stiffens noticibly, but follows me to the front of the classroom. We exchange potions and the professor nods to me to begin. I uncork the potion, glad to have Elle as a partner. She’s a talented brewer and I know that I’m not going to end up in the hospital wing over a simple euphoria elixir.
The yellow liquid slips down my throat and a bubbly laugh erupts in my chest, pushing outwards. I feel happy and giddy and my skin tingles from the potion rushing through my veins. I lift my arms, enjoying the feel of air rushing by. I spin and give Slughorn a tweak on his red nose, laughing as he sighs and scribbles on his paper.
Elle looks at him imploringly and slowly uncorks my vial. I stand on my tippy toes to watch her drink it, clapping my hands uncontrollably. She closes her eyes for a moment, holding the liquid on her tongue for a moment before swallowing.
Her wide smile is infectious.
‘Rose!’ She cries, linking arms with me and spinning us in circles. ‘I feel marvelous!’
‘And you have no desire to tweak my nose?’ Slughorn asks, leaning forwards in his chair, large stomach resting on his desk. ‘No singing? No Celestina Warbeck?’
‘None at all.’ She replies cheerfully.
I can’t help it. I throw my arms in the air and laugh triumphantly. I twirl down the aisle to where Malfoy is trying to glower through the potion and perch on his desk. My fingers find his pointy nose and tweak.
Honestly. It couldn’t be helped
Elle escorts me to the hospital wing, carrying the tons of curly red hair sprouting from my head and flying in every direction, grinning all the while.
‘It could have been much worse.’ She comments as we wait for the nurse to help me. ‘If he hadn’t been affected by the elixir I’m sure he would have thought to do something much more terrible. Hair we can fix with a flick of a wand. Don’t worry a thing.’
The nurse sets it right in a second – even more than right. It’s sleeker than before, and longer. Elle agrees that it suits me better than the ginger bush it had been this morning.
‘I’m going to have to thank Malfoy,’ I giggle loudly as we skip down the corridor to lunch. There’s still some elixir in our systems and the effects are evident. ‘I never liked my hair before.’
‘He’s a right jerk.’ Elle says, taking my hand. ‘I’m glad you’ve bested him this once.’
‘Not once. Or twice. This year is my year Elle. I’m going for an O – and I’m taking it from Malfoy.’ The giggle that follows takes the edge out of my voice.
‘I’m on your side, girl.’ She twirls as we enter the Great Hall. ‘As long as you don’t poison me. See you in Potions!’
She twirls away down the aisle, leaving me humming to myself.
‘Beat back those bludgers boys, boys,’ I sing lightly, trying to remember the rest of the lyrics. Hell, I can’t even remember the last time I’d heard that song. ‘And chuck that quaffle here, boys.’
I pat the head of an unsuspecting second year and spin into the arms of my cousin.
‘I didn’t know you liked quidditch, Rosie.’ James laughs, pulling me down on the Gryffindor bench.
‘I don’t.’ I say, bouncing in my seat. ‘We tested our Elixirs to Enduce Euphoria today.'
‘And? How did yours turn out?’
‘Best in class.’ I say proudly. Slughorn had congratulated me while trying to stop my rapid hair growth.
James nods, impressed. ‘If you’re so good at potions then how’d you like to help me with a little prank?’
‘Prank, huh?’ I lean forwards, intrigued.
‘I’m going to lace the drinks at the Slytherin table with a laxative potion.’ He grins, proud of his plan.
‘And? How am I going to help with that?’
‘First of all, you need to get past Slughorn. He keeps all of the ingredients locked away in his potions storeroom. I’ve been caught down there once this year already. You’re a real teacher’s pet, you can get in no problem.’ He lists for me. ‘Second, you need to brew the potion for me. I’m shoddy at potions – that’s why I’m not taking the advanced class. And finally, you need to convince the house elves to put it in the drinks. Only the Slytherin drinks.’
‘And you will do what while I’m sneaking, brewing and convincing?’
‘I’m the face of the operation. If we get caught I take the blame. It’s my idea after all.’ He sticks out his hand. ‘Sound like a plan, cuz?’
I roll my eyes, still humming that song. ‘Sounds like a plan.’
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