Chapter 1 : Full Marks
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Scanning the dimly lit dungeon, Snape’s dark eyes came to rest on one lone bubble of happiness quietly working at the back of the room. Rolling his eyes, he scrutinized her under pretense of watching her potion making techniques. With her mismatched socks and air of unaffected contentment, this student baffled him above all others.
Humming to herself, Luna stirred her concoction one last time, oblivious to the fact that the purple liquid swirling within her cauldron didn’t look like the other students’ bubbling grey creations. Her book lay closed on the table beside her, unused and forgotten. Professor Snape noticed that she had looked at neither the ingredients list nor the directions for mixing Somnus Venenum, the sleeping potion he had assigned the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor second year students.
As he stalked across the dungeon, students scurried out of the scowling professor’s path. The slight feeling of power and domination their fearful glances gave him brought what little joy he could glean from teaching. However, as he approached the workspace Luna occupied he did not instill the anxiety he had hoped. The small girl’s abnormally large eyes simply watched him swoop toward her like a dark, winged creature. Cocking her head to the side as if studying him, Luna did not flinch away from the steel in his most menacing glare. Her bright blue eyes met his with a probing curiosity that made the very private man feel uneasy. She never failed to leave him at a loss for words or comprehension.
As he reached her table, he stared into the boiling liquid she had created. It had neither the correct color nor the proper consistency of the potion he’d assigned to her. Anger at her blatant disregard for his instruction began to fester within him. Days such as this tested his tolerance for his chosen profession, leaving him to wonder as he lay in bed at night if there might not be some position somewhere in which he would not have to deal with such irritating children.
“Miss Lovegood,” he snarled, “would you care to explain why you failed to create the potion I required of you?” Snape leaned menacingly toward the child, watching for the cowering reaction he normally invoked. The words died on his lips as she laughed merrily, as if he’d made an enormously funny joke.
“Oh, Professor Snape! I couldn’t possibly mix that potion. The ingredients called for the blood of a Turquoise Sloth and the wings of a Crumple-Eared Bat. Not only does that require killing magical creatures, but everyone knows that the Crumple-Eared Bat is the main diet of the elusive Iguaniphant. Using those would lead to the breakdown of an entire ecosystem! I knew that if I explained, you would understand.”
Luna’s face grew animated as she spoke of an imaginary animal of which her professor had never even heard. The blood pounding in his temples, he snatched her flagon from her. Luna’s expression of eager anticipation for her teacher’s reaction never wavered. Snape held the potion to the light, keeping his eyes off the strange girl. He purposefully clenched his other fist tightly, restraining himself from hexing the little idiot into oblivion. Well aware that his past required punishment, he never dreamed that he would face decades of dealing with inane ignoramuses.
“And how did you expect to pass my class if you refuse to perform the correct assignment? Miss Lovegood, your outlandish tales and behavior may excuse you in other classes, but being a freak will not buy you anything in my classroom!”
Again, her smile flabbergasted him. Turning away to hide his increasing frustration, he uncorked her potion. Holding it at arm’s length, he sniffed to discover the scent of lavender and valerian root. Bringing it closer, he studied the contents in disbelief. For several seconds, he stood rooted to the spot looking from the bottle in his hand to the child that had created its contents. The blood that had been rising slowly in his anger drained from his face.
Luna giggled, her cork necklace bouncing, as she skipped around the table to face her teacher. “You wanted a sleeping draught, Professor. My mum used to make this one all the time in her workroom, and she let me watch while she brewed it. It is entirely plant based and works just as well as yours. You look as though you could use it, sir. It puts you to sleep, just like the Somnus Venenum, but it lasts longer and doesn’t give you creepy dreams. A good rest might help get rid of those dark circles under your eyes. I think I’ll fill a few more bottles for you, sir.”
Staring at the twelve year old with complete bewilderment, Snape set the bottle on the table. Luna Lovegood had mixed a perfect Profundis Somnium. Severus shook his head in wonder. Even his seventh years had not attempted such a difficult potion. It required extremely difficult procedures of which most students were unable to complete adequately. Yet here before him, this skinny little blond adolescent enigma produced one without breaking a sweat. She ignored his instructions and requirements in order to do things her own inexplicable way, but ended up fulfilling the assignment anyway. He scoured his mind for any reason to fail such an impudent student. Sighing, he found none.
“Full marks, Miss Lovegood.” The remark actually caused him physical pain. His head throbbed, and he suddenly desired nothing more than a strong drink before the fire in his quarters.
As she skipped from the room, Luna’s response clanged through his aching head.
“I know, sir!”