Chapter 23 : Brewing Troubles
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Sometimes Albus even used puking pastilles (lent from David) to get out of class if the potion had to be tended to during that time. The Invisible Poison required Al to be there anytime of day, and sometimes even in the middle of the night. If the potion wasn’t important and they hadn’t gone through months of effort to get the instructions and ingredients; Albus would have quit by now. It was very irksome, and made it so Albus couldn’t spend time with his friends anymore.
Art frequently came down to the room, and helped find the ingredients Albus needed next. Albus was grateful for this, since the mess of bottles and jars made the process difficult. Rose and David tried to come down a few times, but Al banned them since they distracted him. Working on the potion required a clear, free, and careful mind, for several hours straight with no rest. When Albus could get sleep, he fell asleep faster than light.
The week before Easter break, the board in the common room held a sheet of paper explaining that, just like Christmas, all Hogwarts students were to stay at school over Easter break. The danger wasn’t over yet. Al had seen nothing since Christmas, but that didn’t mean nothing was happening. Albus just didn’t see it.
This time, speculation on exactly why everyone had to stay at Hogwarts heightened. Rumors flew around the school like bumblebees, buzzing from one obscure idea to the next. Students’ speculation, as wild as some of the suggestions were, hardly ever exceeded that real truth. Only a few did, and nobody believed those. Why, if Albus were to explain the actual truth, it would only be lost in the hive of theories.
Easter fell on April the first, so two holidays were celebrated on one day: April Fools Day and Easter Sunday. Albus got a chocolate bunny from his parents, which, when he bit into it, tasted like brussel sprouts. The bunny exclaimed triumphantly, “April Fools!” and ran away. Minutes later, Albus received a genuine chocolate bunny. After watching it run around the room for a few minutes, Albus finally bit its ear off.
The break from school allowed Al to have some free time when the potion would had a good several–hour brew. Albus used the time off to play around with David and Art, although Rose eventually convinced Albus to begin studying for exams. She explained that Albus wouldn’t have as much studying time as a result of the potion, so Albus had to get as much studying in as he could get.
Albus mostly studied in the cozy armchair of the Gryffindor common room, practicing spells on the table. For about every spell he knew how to reverse the effects, so he didn’t worry about levitating the table and such.
On Tuesday evening, Rose managed to convince all the Gryffindor boys to study for the exams. David and Art were just beginning their study process. David sat in an armchair, his eyes staying on page ninety-two for over an hour, and Art and Rose both poured over textbooks on the couch parallel. Albus was beginning to doze off, while continuously setting the table on fire. Albus wasn’t saying anything to do so, but nobody noticed. His head rested on the armchair, flicking his wand up and down as he set the table on fire over and over.
A long, shrill sound pierced the silence. Rose screamed, and Albus jolted awake. The couch, which Rose and Art were on, had caught fire. Oops. Al’s wand had drooped. Rose stood on the top of the couch, screaming as the flames licked the edges. Art continued to read his book, unmoving. Rose caught Albus’s eyes.
“Albus, you are an idiot! Fix this!” Right. Albus levitated the couch, hoping the couch would be out of reach of the flames. No such luck, as the bottom of the couch was already turning to cinders. It was then that Rose noticed Art.
“Art!” she exclaimed as she jolted his shoulder.
“Hmm?” Art asked, nonchalant.
“The chair is levitating and on fire!”
“Oh,” Art said, quickly looking down. He went back to his textbook. Rose threw up her arms, and climbed back up to the tallest point on the couch. It abruptly fell back down to the ground, the fire extinguished. Albus looked at his wand, bewildered. He hadn’t done that.
Victoire, who was standing up, put her wand down and helped Rose up off the couch. Rose beelined over to Albus.
“Albus Severus Potter, I cannot believe you just did that, you could have killed us…”
“Thanks,” Albus whispered to Victoire, through Rose’s rant.
“You’re welcome,” she told Albus, and then she walked away. Art sat in the same spot on the couch, still reading his textbook. That must be one interesting textbook. To get away from Rose, Albus quickly told her that he needed to tend to the potion.
Down in their secret room, Albus watched the potion sizzle and boil until it was finally ready. He stirred ten times clockwise, poured in acromantula venom, and stirred in twelve times counter-clockwise… making a potion was a tedious process. He worked and worked, until his eyes became droopy, and then went back upstairs, finished for the evening. David was sitting in the dormitory talking with Art next to him, listening.
“What are you talking about?” Albus asked, yawning and getting ready for bed.
“David’s birthday,” Art said. “It’s coming up soon.”
“April the fourteenth!” David exclaimed, enthusiastic. “First birthday at Hogwarts.”
“I won’t forget,” Albus said, grinning.
On the dawn of April fourteenth, Albus awoke to the sound of David jumping on his bed. Oh no! It was David’s birthday! He’d gotten David absolutely nothing. Last night, Albus stayed up late tending to the potion, which constantly needed attention. It was a hundred times worse than taking care of a pet.
Albus groaned dizzily and sat up, the world swimming crazily until his eyes came into focus. Art sat up, grinning at David, who did a little dance around the room. An owl pecked at the window, which flew in and dropped a present on David’s bed.
“Yes!” David exclaimed, leaping over towards the present. “I got stuff from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!” Turning around towards Albus and Art, David explained, “They don’t like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes very much. When I was younger they forbid me from getting anything from there, but I’ve slowly been able to convince them otherwise over the years.” As though David said something wrong, he grew silently and coughed a few times. “Anyway, I’m going downstairs. See you!” David sped down the stairs.
“Sometimes I don’t get him at all,” Albus said, talking to Art. “But more importantly, I completely forgot about David’s birthday! What are we going to do?”
“Rose and I didn’t. We asked your cousin Victoire to get a bunch of candy when she went to Hogsmeade a few weeks ago. We didn’t bother you with it, since you were busy.”
“Thanks,” Albus said, relieved. He was quite worried for a moment that they didn’t get a present for his friend.
After breakfast, Albus, Rose, and Art gave David a shower of candy and goodness from Honeydukes. There was even some fudge among the mix, which quickly disappeared. They had their own little party in the great hall. Other Gryffindors, like Marc and Rob and a few of the girls, joined in the celebration. David was ecstatic that his birthday was on the weekend, so he spent the entire day celebrating and procrastinating on homework. Unfortunately, Albus wasn’t their most of the day, since he worked on the potion. In the evening though, when the potion was brewing, David and Albus had a very violent chess match.
“Happy Birthday David,” Albus said, once the two of them fell into their bed, happy and exhausted.
Several weeks later, during the evening, Albus was still working on his potion. According to Albus’s calculations (Which were not nearly as good as Newt at the Quidditch Match) the potion should be completed about shortly after exams, mid-May. Under a month away. Those calculation, of course, depended on how long it took Albus for the actual brewing of the potion, which was mostly unpredictable. Albus was part-way done, but not completely.
Art came down, and Albus stopped once the potion had to sit for ten minutes. Yawning, he stretched onto a pillow, with Art at his side. Sleep didn’t exist for Albus, who stayed up late brewing. It was a miracle Albus hadn’t made a mistake yet, but that was because he was so careful. If he did just one single thing wrong, the potion would fail.
“We should make this room more comfortable,” Art said. “It needs to be more- homey. Right now it’s just a tough wooden floor with potion ingredients strewn all over the place.”
“I don’t want to fall asleep when I’m supposed to be brewing,” Albus explained.
“Then I’ll stay down here with you. Don’t live your life in misery. That’s a rule.” Albus gave a half-hearted grin to Art in the dim candlelight next to them.
“We have classes tomorrow,” Albus groaned.
“At least tomorrow is Friday,” Art pointed out. “Look on the bright side.”
“Yeah,” Albus sighed happily. That was one good thing about Art. He was always optimistic.
Albus went back to his potion book, since the ten minutes were nearly up. Art said a quick farewell and then left, after promising to talk to Rose.
Albus sleepily stirred the cauldron twenty-five times clockwise, yawning. This potion really was quite demanding, and he couldn’t stop working until another hour. Now he had to cut up some stalks from shrivelfigs. It called for seven stalks.
Albus grabbed eight stalks, and cut it with a thin knife. He pulled out the ruler, since he had to make his cuts exactly a centimeter apart. Half an hour later, Albus dumped the stalks into the cauldron, stirring it. That took less time than he had thought.
The potion should now be a pasty yellow. It took a few re-reads for Albus to process this. His potion looked like green seaweed. Uh oh. Was he reading the wrong section? No, he wasn’t What had he done wrong? On all eight stalks, he had cut them exactly one centimeter apart.
He looked at the step before. Take seven shrivelfig stalks and cut them precisely one centimeter apart. Right, that’s what he did, he took seven shrivelfigs… oh no. He’d taken eight! Albus counted the shrivelfigs he had left. Eight were missing, not seven. Albus climbed to the common room faster than the speed of light.
“Rose! Rose!” Albus yelled once he got inside the common room. She was sitting on the couch, yawning with a book in her lap. He lowered his voice. “I need your help quickly.” He explained what had happened.
“There must be something we can do. Al, have you considered finding an ingredient that will counteract the effects of the shrivelfig?”
“No,” he replied, alarmed. But it was a good idea.
“We need to search the library now, and quickly. There might be a limit to how much the potion can stay there. We need Art and David too.”
“Okay, I’ll go get them.” He headed up the stairs, towards the dormitory. Marc, Rob, David, and Art were all sleeping softly in their beds. It was nearly eleven, after all. Dreading the consequences, Albus shook David awake.
“Is it morning already?” David said sleepily.
“No, but we need your help.”
“Hmmm… okay.” David rolled up and fell back asleep, giving a small snort. This time, Albus dragged him out of bed.
“Wake up; we need your help. And be quiet, so you don’t wake up Marc and Rob.” Albus glanced over at the two boys, who were both sleeping soundlessly under the covers. Albus then walked over to Art, who woke up much quicker. Albus explained the situation to both Art and David. This alerted them to their senses.
“That is not good,” David said.
Albus, Art, David, and Rose snuck underneath the invisibility cloak, headed towards the library. They only needed the normal part of the library, after all. Once they arrived, Albus slipped out, quickly pulling potion books off the shelves and searching desperately. David, Art, and Rose all did the same.
Ten minutes later, Albus heard Rose say, “Oooh.” He glanced over his shoulder at what she was reading. The book was titled, Make a potion mistake? DON’T WORRY. In part of the book, there was a list of each ingredient and it’s counter-ingredient, arranged in a table.
“What ingredient did you add extra of to the potion?” Rose asked.
“I added an extra shrivelfig,” Albus said. After a few minutes shuffling through the book, Rose finally stopped on one page.
“Got it,” Rose said happily. “If one extra shrivelfig is added, you put it six drops of the potion Herbicide. And it can only be added less than twenty-four hours after you brew the potion.”
“Herbicide isn’t too hard to brew. It is a first-year level potion,” Albus said, observing.
“But how will you brew it?” Art asked, who joined in the conversation. “We don’t have another cauldron to brew it in. And we have to do it in less than a day!”
“There are plenty of cauldrons in the potions dungeon,” Albus said. “But it’s not like we could just slip it under the invisibility cloak, and then drag a huge cauldron around without anyone realizing anything. It was different when I snuck mine into the room, since there was nobody around. How shall I do this?”
“I know!” Rose exclaimed. Al could almost see her brain churning. “Professor Fawley adores Albus. We can just come up with some lie why Albus wants to brew Herbicide, and hopefully Fawley will allow Albus to stay after class and brew it in the room. Potions is the last class we have tomorrow.”
“I guess we’ll try that,” Albus said glumly. I don’t know if it’ll work. But I suppose that’s the best we can do.”
“Oooh, Rose is suggesting lying to a teacher,” David said teasingly.
“I only lie if it’s a good cause,” Rose said, retorting back.
“It’ll work,” Art told Albus. “It has to. We can’t just get this far back and then just stop.”
“Possibly,” Albus said in reply. He sure hoped it would.
“Let’s get some sleep,” Rose suggested. “We need it, especially you, Albus.”
Albus nodded, and drowsily went up to his dormitory. He heard a distant, dreamlike, “Good night,” from Art. Soon after, Albus fell into a deep sleep.
The next day, after an anxious (and boring) morning, lunch, and Herbology, Albus walked into the potions classroom. Professor Fawley was already there. Today, they were working on an antidote for common poisons. Albus brewed the potion easily, his mind hardly at the task at hand. Since he started brewing the Invisible Poison, potions class seemed a hundred times easier.
Albus was the first person in the class to be finished. He quickly glanced up at the clock on the wall. Fifteen minutes left in class. Excellent.
“Professor Fawley?” Albus said rather timidly, but Fawley still heard him.
“Albus! You’re finished! Fantastic! Why don’t you clean up, and have the remainder of the class to yourself.”
“Well, actually, sir…” Albus began. “Um, well, I want to get a present for my grandmom, and well, she has a lot of plants and such, so I wanted to brew her Herbicide, so I was wondering if I could stay after class and use your ingredients and brew it for her, sir?”
“Sure Albus,” Fawley said. “You can start right now if you’d like. I’ve got plenty of ingredients in the storage room.”
Grinning, Albus turned the pages in his book, and fetched the ingredients from the storage room. The rest of the class left, but Albus stayed. He hummed to himself to break the silence that followed. Professor Fawley bustled around, going back and forth between potion books on the shelves. He was probably figuring out what potion he wanted their class to brew next class.
“Done,” Albus said an hour later. He happily glanced in his cauldron, which was the same shade of green as the picture in the textbook.
“Excellent!” Fawley said, coming over with a glass bottle. “We can just pour that in here,” he said, handing Albus the bottle.
“Thank you Professor,” Albus said, cleaning up around him. Who knows, he even might give some to Grandmom Weasley. He didn’t need all of it for the potion.
The second Albus left the potions classroom, he took off running. Sure, the book Rose said Albus had twenty-four hours to correct his mistake, but he was sure something would go wrong. Something always went wrong. In his hidden room, underneath the staircase, Albus poured six drops into his cauldron. “Please, please please…” Albus whispered frantically. Would it work? He wasn’t sure. Would the herbicide react wrong with the other ingredients?
Albus stared at the potion, which was now yellow. Albus picked up Dark Potions for the Dark Potioneer off the ground. Yes! The potion was supposed to be yellow! With a triumphant fist pump in the air, he turned to the next instruction. Why delay?
An hour later, Albus heard the clamoring of feet above his head. A second later, there were three distinct thuds as David, Art, and Rose jumped down.
“Did you make Herbicide? Did it work?” Rose asked.
“Yes.” The next moment they were all pounding each other on the back, and Albus hugged Rose, and then Art, and finally David.
“When should the entire thing be completed?” Art asked.
“If I’m right, hopefully the week after exams.” He sure hoped he was right.
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