Chapter 5 : Professor Burke
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Rose had saved him a spot at the Gryffindor table and Albus took it gratefully, happier than ever that Kendrick never made speeches before the feast appeared. He hadn’t realized it until he walked back to the Great Hall, but he was starving.
“And now, in the words of my eloquent predecessor, tuck in,” Kendrick announced.
The usual huge spread appeared in front of Albus and he immediately grabbed the tureen closest to him and piled beef stew onto his plate, topping it off with clumps of rice.
“We should all eat extra,” John said as he put a third roll onto his plate. “To make up for Matt skipping. Wouldn’t want the house elves to feel insulted.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Rose said.
“It makes sense to me.” Albus shrugged.
“Albus,” Rose said flatly, “you haven’t even looked at the new professors.”
Albus paused, his fork halfway to his mouth. He turned to the staff table, having momentarily forgotten there were any new professors, his hunger taking over. The usual suspects were there, of course, such as Longbottom, Polo, Patil, and the rest of the professors who’d been there since before Albus and his friends began Hogwarts. But there were three new faces as well. Two witches, who looked fairly young, sat on either side of Professor Cedonia. An older wizard, with white hair so wild it looked like he stuck is finger in an electrical outlet, sat to the left of Longbottom.
“Three?” Albus asked.
“Thank you,” Rose replied, sighing. “Three, yet only two people retired at the end of last year. And everyone else is there, except for Trelawney, but she never comes to feasts.”
“Who’s the third one for, then?”
“She’s obviously the educational liaison,” Rose explained. “Or he. Kendrick hasn’t introduced which one is which yet.”
“The bloke looks like Einstein,” Amanda commented as she slathered marmalade onto a piece of bread.
“He does a bit,” Albus agreed. “Except with even more hair.”
“I don’t care who he looks like. He’ll be good at teaching potions,” Kaden said. “I do miss Slughorn, though.”
“You’re about the only one,” John said. “Just as long as we’re not with the Slytherins again I don’t care who we have for potions.”
“I bet we will,” Amanda replied. “We’re always with the Slytherins.”
“Slughorn liked doing it that way because he liked Gryffindors and Slytherins best,” Albus pointed out. “Maybe whoever is the potions professor might not care. How do you know the bloke is the potions professor, anyway?”
“Are you kidding?” Kaden asked, his eyes growing large. “That’s Edmund Burke. You know, the famous potions master?”
Albus shrugged. He’d never heard of a Edmund Burke. Even Rose looked confused.
“As in Borgin and Burkes?” John asked.
Kaden groaned. “I’m the Muggleborn, yet none of you know who Edmund Burke is? He’s created dozens of potions and tweaked hundreds of others. He’s the one who created the 24 hour Polyjuice Potion. And Obliviserum, the potion that makes you forget things just like the Obliviate charm. That one’s controversial because it’s odorless and tasteless, so someone can sneak it into someone else’s drink. It’s very regulated.”
“How do you know all of this?” Rose asked, clearly impressed.
“I subscribe to Potion Master’s Monthly,” Kaden said. “Last year, when I said I wanted to be a brewer, I was serious.”
“So now he’s going to teach potions? Here?” John asked.
“Well, he’s not taking over for Madam Pince,” Kaden said. “And I can’t imagine he’s the education liaison. They say he’s completely mad, though. I can’t imagine why he wants to teach, when he refuses to be interviewed for PMM, claiming that it would take too much time away from brewing.”
“Is he related to the Burkes of Borgin and Burkes?” Albus asked.
Kaden shrugged. “No idea.”
“He probably is,” Rose said. “Half the people here at Hogwarts are related if you go back far enough.”
Discussion of Edmund Burke petered out as Albus and his friends became more involved in their dinners. By the time the puddings appeared, Albus was already stuffed, but managed to squeeze in a slice of rhubarb pie and biscuit with a scoop of ice cream on top.
Professor Kendrick rose just as Albus ate his last bite of ice cream. “Welcome back to Hogwarts,” Kendrick announced. The room quieted down, so that the only noise was the chink of silverware against gold plates. “I think we can all agree that the house elves outdid themselves this year.”
That was for sure, Albus thought. He hoped Kendrick’s speech would be long so he could digest before showing the first years to the common room.
“I have three people to introduce before the start of term announcements,” Kendrick continued. He gestured to Edmund Burke. “The first is Professor Edmund Burke, who is taking over the position of potions master.”
There was a smattering of applause, the loudest of which stemmed from Kaden, which gave Albus the impression that his cousin was the only one who knew who Edmund Burke actually was. Burke stood, nearly knocking over his chair in the process, and leaned forward.
“It’s lovely to be here.” His voice didn’t sound as if he actually believed what he said. “I look forward to teaching all of you the beauty of potions.”
“I’ve never heard anyone describe potions as beautiful,” John whispered to Albus, who chortled.
Burke resumed his seat, knocking his goblet onto Longbottom and drenching him in pumpkin juice. Kendrick ignored this, and continued the introductions. “Next is Miss Marissa Walsh, our new librarian.”
The younger of the two witches gave a wave. Her hair was long, flowing with deep brown curls, and the wide smile on her face gave her the look of being Madam Pince’s complete opposite.
“I hope she’s nicer than Madam Pince,” John said as they gave another half-hearted applause.
“Won’t take much,” Albus pointed out.
“And finally, Madam Margaret MacDougel,” Kendrick said, gesturing to the other witch. “She is our Education Liaison from the Ministry’s Education Department and will be observing professors throughout the year and making reports back to the Ministry about how Hogwarts runs.”
“And he says that as if it’s no big deal,” Rose whispers.
“That being said, she will not be running the school. Madam MacDougel will observe and report. Depending on the reports, action may be taken, but it will take time and input from the professors, students, governors, and the Education Department. No large changes will be taken lightly. There is nothing to fear.”
“Obligatory disclaimer that she’s not another Umbridge,” Rose said.
“Now,” Kendrick continued, “I need to remind you not to do magic in the corridors, not to go into the Forbidden Forest, or get too close to the Whomping Willow. Any of those offenses will result in detention. I won’t list off the hundreds of items banned from the school because we’d be here all night, but if anyone needs a bit of late-night reading, they may obtain a list from Mr. Filch in his office.”
“I bet Filch wishes that was required reading,” John said.
“Finally, we are implementing a new tutoring program this year,” Kendrick announced. “All prefects have been assigned a subject to tutor, which they will do in the library on Saturdays and Sundays. It is drop-in tutoring, so there is no need to sign up, and you are not required to go to a certain number of sessions, or stay for an entire session. The tutors will answer questions and help with homework. Schedules detailing the times each prefect will be available have been pinned to all house notice boards. I hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity. First years, follow your prefects to your common rooms. Everyone, have a good night.”
“Albus, what’s the password?” John asked as they got up.
“Mandrake,” Albus said.
“Thanks. See you up there,” John said as he, Kaden, and Amanda disappeared into the crowd.
“First years!” Rose shouted. “This way!”
Albus and Rose led the group of wide-eyed younger students out of the Great Hall and up to the seventh floor. Albus smiled as he listened to their gleeful exclamations about the portraits, staircases, and the castle in general. Rose kept up a running commentary of Hogwarts history as they went and Albus had a feeling she was the first Gryffindor prefect to ever do that.
“Mandrake,” Rose said once they reached the Fat Lady. Her portrait swung open and Albus crawled inside, followed by Rose and the first years.
“Girls to the left, boys to the right,” Rose said as she gestured to the dormitory doors. “If you need anything, feel free to ask Albus or I.”
The first years dispersed and Albus looked around the room for John and Kaden. He didn’t see them, so he headed up to the dormitory, where he found Kaden helping John unpack his trunk. Bilius and Ethan weren’t there yet.
“Got a new Puddlemere picture,” John said as he unpacked a framed picture of Puddlemere United’s 2020 team. “This will go in its usual place of honor.”
“Right next to Matt’s picture of the Cannons?” Albus asked, smirking.
“Oh, hey, Albus,” John said. “And yeah, of course. Once Matt puts his up.”
“Think he’s asleep?” Kaden asked as he walked over to Matt’s bed.
“Probably,” Albus said.
Kaden pulled the hangings back a foot. “Yeah, he is. I want to tell him about Burke, though. Burke’s done a bit of work on the Wolfsbane Potion. I bet Amy knows who he is.”
“You should probably just let him sleep,” Albus said, knowing full well Kaden wouldn’t listen.
“Aw, I just want to ask him one question.” Kaden prodded Matt’s arm. “Matt, hey, Matt!”
Matt rolled over and cracked his eyes open. He muttered something indistinguishable and picked his head up. “What?”
“I just wanted to tell you who the new potions professor is.”
“Why?” Matt muttered, closing his eyes. “I’ll see him in class eventually.”
Kaden ignored Matt’s comment. “He’s Edmund Burke, the famous potions master. Have you heard of him?”
Matt’s eyes snapped open. “Say that again?”
“Edmund Burke,” Kaden repeated. “You have to owl Amy and tell her.”
“He’s the one who made the potion I’m on right now, the one that’s supposed to ease the symptoms of the full moon.”
“Clearly he’s got a bit of work to do on it,” Kaden said, eyeing Matt skeptically, as if he couldn’t believe Edmund Burke could possibly create a potion that didn’t work. “So, have you met him?”
“No,” Matt said shortly. “I just take his potion. Healer Sterling organized it.”
“So you don’t know why he’s teaching here?” Kaden prodded.
“No,” Matt snapped. “His potion sucks, so I really don’t care. I just want to sleep. You can owl Amy, if you like.” He yanked the hangings shut.
“Told you,” Albus said.
“I think I will owl Amy,” Kaden said excitedly. Matt’s anger with him seemed to roll off his back like water off a duck. He grinned at Albus and John and left the room.
“Want a quick game of chess before bed?” John asked.
“Sure,” Albus said. “Let’s go to the common room.”
“Yeah,” John agreed. “Maybe there will be first or second years in the good armchairs and we can make them get up. We’re fifth years now, so we can use that to our advantage.”
“I’m a prefect, John,” Albus said as they went back downstairs. “I can’t do that.”
“What’s the point of being a prefect if you can’t use it to your advantage?” John asked, sighing. “I’m glad I’m not one.”
Albus laughed, still unsure of whether he really wanted to be one himself.
“Aw, you lot get to have Professor Burke for a double class today,” Kaden said as he peered at Albus’s schedule the following morning at breakfast. “That’s not fair.”
“When do you have potions?” Albus asked.
“Not until tomorrow,” Kaden muttered as he stabbed half-heartedly at his eggs.
“I’ll gladly switch with you,” John suggested. “He’s a new professor, so he won’t know. You can bring up my potions mark, too.”
“But then you’d bring mine down,” Kaden pointed out. “No thanks.”
“The education liaison isn’t here,” Amanda said, gesturing to the staff table.
“I bet she’ll give everyone a few weeks to get settled in,” Rose said. “We’d better get to defense, though.”
“Maybe we’ll get another clue as to what Young was doing at Borgin and Burkes,” Albus said as he got up.
Rose sighed. “I still say you’re reading too much into that. It probably meant nothing.”
“People don’t go into Borgin and Burkes for nothing, Rose.”
Albus had told Rose about their excursion to Knockturn Alley as soon as he’d returned home from John’s house, but she refused to entertain the idea that Professor Young could be doing anything illegal.
“Is Matt coming to class?” Rose asked after they said goodbye to Kaden.
Albus shook his head. “I doubt it. He was sound asleep when we got up and I think yesterday exhausted him.”
“He won’t miss much, anyway,” John pointed out. “All the professors are just going to lecture us on O.W.L.s.”
John was right. Even Professor Young, the King of Worksheets, spent the first fifteen minutes of class urging them to study more this year than all their other years combined, and ensuring them they would pass if they completed all the work on time and studied defense during all their free time. He then passed out five worksheets, assigned three chapters of reading from their new (and up to date) textbook, sat down at his desk, and disappeared behind a novel. He gave absolutely no recognition of having encountered Albus and John in Knockturn Alley, and only spoke with the boys long enough to ask where Matt was. Albus managed to get one of the chapters read and two of the worksheets completed before the class ended and resigned himself to having an inordinate amount of homework for the remainder of the year.
Professor Longbottom took a similar route, stressing the importance of preparing throughout the year for not only their herbology O.W.L., but all the others as well. His lecture wasn’t as long as Young’s and was cut short by Janie Creevey accidentally knocking a potted mandrake to the ground, resulting in five students passing out, including Janie herself. Professor Longbottom himself looked fairly unsteady as he repotted the mandrake after having quieted it with a silencing charm. After Janie, Amanda, and three of the Hufflepuffs regained consciousness, Longbottom moved on to the actual lesson, which happened to be on the care and keeping of mandrakes.
“I suppose it’s a good thing Matt didn’t go to herbology,” John said as they walked back to the castle. “Remember when we repotted mandrakes in second year? I think he passed out every lesson.”
“I hope he’s over that now,” Rose said. “This year we’re growing them, not just repotting them.”
“Weird that they grow from seeds, isn’t it?” Amanda commented.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital wing?” Rose asked. “You still look a little off.”
“I’m fine. I swear. And if I go to the hospital wing I’ll miss potions and I don’t want to miss the first lesson with Burke. He looks crazy.”
“Kaden said he is crazy,” Albus reminded her.
Albus, Rose, John, and Amanda returned to the castle and ate a quick lunch with Kaden before journeying to the dungeons for their inaugural lesson with Professor Burke. Kaden stared at them mutinously as they left, before reluctantly traipsing to divination.
John let out a loud groan as they reached the dungeon and saw who was assembled by the locked door. Scorpius Malfoy and the other Slytherins gave equally loud groans when they saw Albus and the other Gryffindors arrive.
“This has got to be some sort of record,” John muttered. “An evil record.”
The door to the dungeon opened, revealing Professor Burke and a very large amount of smoke. He stepped aside and gestured for them to enter. Albus raised his eyebrows and looked at John, who shrugged.
Albus entered the classroom to find it completely transformed from when Slughorn occupied it. When Slughorn was the potions master, the room looked like what it was- a dungeon. Now, it looked like some sort of evil laboratory, with jars and jars of ingredients housed on bookshelves which lined every wall. Before, all ingredients had been stored in the store cupboard, which remained locked at all times. The bookshelves also held all sorts of glass contraptions Albus had certainly never seen before, but presumed were used to create more advanced potions.
The smoke seemed to emanate from one the smaller of the two silver cauldrons on Burke’s desk. While the potion no longer seemed to be simmering over a fire, it still smoked more than any potion Albus had ever seen before. The smoke was so thick it made Albus cough multiple times as he found his way to his seat. John and Janie joined Albus at the table, leaving the fourth seat free for Matt once he returned.
John poked Albus and pointed to the clock, just barely visible through the smoke. It was covered by parchment, but Albus couldn’t quite make out what was written on it. “Can you read that?” he asked.
Janie, who was sitting closest to it, squinted. “Time passes. Will you?” She started laughing. “Oh, I like that.”
“Potions!” Burke shouted, startling everyone in the class in the process. “How many of you like potions?”
Albus turned to look at his classmates. About half of them slowly raised their hands. The other half looked slightly terrified. Albus kept his own hand firmly on the table.
“By the end of this year, my goal is that all of you will raise your hands when I ask that question,” Burke barked. He leaned forward and peered at the class. “I love potions. You probably know that. Maybe you’ve read my book, or maybe you haven’t. I don’t care. I haven’t even read my book in its entirety.”
Albus stifled a laugh. John did not stifle his laugh.
“You!” Burke exclaimed, pointing at John. “What’s your name?” Burke hadn’t bothered to take attendance at the beginning of class.
“Er, John. John Brickston.”
“John Brickston,” he said. “Is your father Jeff Brickston?”
“Yes, sir,” John answered.
Burke grinned. “He is an excellent healer. I’ve worked with him on a few occasions. Well, John Brickston, bring me that purple vile on the second shelf of the first bookcase.”
John tentatively stood up and walked over to the bookcase. He touched the first purple vile on the second shelf.
“No, not that one!” Burke shouted. “The other one! Hurry up now. We don’t have all day and I could drop dead at any moment. I’m fairly old.”
Albus glanced at Janie, who looked like she wanted to run out of the room.
“Oh, come on, that was a joke,” Burke said. “Let’s go, Mr. Brickston.”
John brought the vile to the front, handed it to Burke, and made to return to his seat.
“Not so fast, Mr. Brickston. I am about to show your classmates how exciting potions are and I want you to help. See this cauldron right here?” He pointed to the larger cauldron. “No, the one without the smoke. It’s an infusion of wormwood with a half-strength solution of bulbadox juice. What I want you to do is pour the contents of that purple vial into the cauldron.”
John glanced at Albus and then back to Burke. “Right now?”
“Yes, right now.”
John carefully poured the liquid from the vile into the cauldron and purple sparks shot up out of it, bathing the entire front of the classroom in pale light. There was a chorus of ‘ohhs!’ and ‘wows!’ from the rest of the class. Albus’s eyes grew large as he watched the purple light dance around the room.
“See!” Burke exclaimed, throwing his arms up in excitement. His right hand collided with John’s left and sent the vile flying across the room. It crashed near Scorpius Malfoy’s table, shattering into a million pieces. “Just leave it. I’ll clean it up later. Mr. Brickston, you can return to your seat.”
John couldn’t get away from Burke fast enough. He slid into his seat and turned to Albus. “Kaden was right,” he whispered.
“As you can see, potions is fun!” Burke exclaimed. “Look what you can do! This year I will teach you not only how to brew potions, but also why the different interactions work the way they do. We’ll dig deeper than just the surface, and by the end of the year you will be more than prepared for your O.W.L.s. If you choose to continue with potions next year, which I hope you do, I may allow you to become involved with researching new potions and help with the work I am currently doing.
“Now, in order to convince you even more that potions can be fun, today you’ll be making chocolate.”
There was a ripple of excitement throughout the classroom. Albus had a feeling Matt was going to regret missing class that day.
Burke pointed his wand at the board and instructions appeared. “The ingredients are on the back table, along with special cauldrons. Do not use your regular cauldrons. These ones in the back have been treated to prepare food. I don’t want anyone accidentally poisoned.”
By the time the double period ended, Albus felt much better about potions than he had before class, which was probably Burke’s goal. He was still unsure about Burke himself, since he did seem thoroughly mad, but any professor that taught him how to make chocolate was good in Albus’s book.
“Best potions class ever,” John said as they left. Albus, Rose, and Amanda nodded in agreement.
“Kaden is going to love him,” Albus said.
“I love him,” John said as he poured his vile of chocolate into his mouth.
“Burke said it won’t harden until tomorrow,” Rose told him.
“I know. But I’m impatient. Plus, it’s delicious.”
“He never told us what was in the other cauldron,” Amanda commented. “The smoking one.”
“Maybe he’s saving it for next lesson,” John suggested. “Weird, though.”
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! I won't be updating next week as I'm going on vacation and am not bringing my laptop with me due to lack of free Internet at the hotel.
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