However, enjoyable as celebrations such as the Halloween banquet were, there was also less enjoyable aspects to life at Hogwarts. To most of the students, Potions class was one of the worst parts of their time at school. The exceptions were the Slytherin students, particularly those like Cassandra Goyle, who were favoured by Snape and were rarely even scolded by him.
For the Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff students, on the other hand, and class taught by Snape was to be regarded with terror.
This was even more true for James Potter than for the other students, partly because as Harry Potter’s son and the first James Potter’s grandson, he was singled out for particular abuse from the Potions teacher, and partly because his utter terror of Snape led to him being even more incompetent than usual. Snape seemed to take perverse pleasure in seeing the descendant of his old adversaries struggling and never lost a chance to comment on it.
To be fair, Richard and some of the other Ravenclaws, would have been more than willing to help him, but Snape expressively forbade this.
“10 points from Ravenclaw,” he would announce, whenever he suspected that one of them was helping a Hufflepuff student. “I told you all that this work was to be completed on your own. I did not ask anybody to show off.”
Most Hogwarts students were of the opinion that Snape just made up rules as he went along!
After Halloween, the first year Potions classes had begun working on a laughing potion. It was quite a difficult potion for wizards of their level and far more advanced than the two potions they had already learned.
Some students, such as Richard were enjoying the challenge.
“I wonder will he ever let us actually make it,” he commented one day. “I’m getting bored just learning off the ingredients needed and listening to his descriptions of how you would make it.”
James was bored too. Snape had now spent three classes simply describing how to make it, and quizzing them on what they were supposed to have learned. Nonetheless, he would be just as happy if Snape never asked them to actually make it. It was hard enough to remember all the ingredients to be used and which was to go in first, second and third. It would be practically impossible, he was sure, to actually brew the potion itself.
It was an odd thing that even when James could have recited by heart the way in which a spell should be cast, he often had difficulty actually casting the spell. It was as if he was incapable of thinking while he was doing something.
Not that he held out much hope of Snape neglecting to require them to create the potion. Nobody could accuse Snape of expecting too little from his students!
Sure enough, after they had spent nearly two weeks on the potion, Snape announced that they would be making it in the next lesson. Richard and a number of the other Ravenclaws were delighted. This would be a far more exciting class than the preceding ones, and it would also, in Richard’s words “be a chance to find out exactly how much we really have learned.”
James was more concerned about Snape finding out how much he had learned. He was quite sure that he was not going to be able to brew the potion to Snape’s satisfaction. Mind you, if he mentioned this to his father or to Ron, he was quite sure they would both give him the same answer.
“Nobody had ever done anything to Snape’s satisfaction, so there’s no point in worrying about it!”
But it was easy for them to say. It had been years since they had been sitting in Snape’s dungeon, waiting for him to come around to inspect their potions. James felt that they had forgotten how terrifying that experience actually was. Particularly when you knew for sure that you had made a mistake and had absolutely no idea how to correct it.
Therefore, he spent almost the entire evening in the library, revising what they had learned about the Laughing Potion, and insisted on Harriet quizzing him on what he had learned and giving him some tips on how to ensure his potion turned out correctly.
Despite his precautions, however, when they came to make the potion, James was convinced that he had done something wrong. Unlike his attempt at the Acne Antidote, his potion this time was at least the correct colour, but there was an odd smell off it, which James was quite sure it shouldn’t have.
For a change, Snape did not go around the class inspecting the potions as they made them. Instead he just stood at the top of the room, a dangerous smirk on his face. All of the class were quite sure that smirk implied that he had something dreadful in store for any student who’s potion wasn’t up to scratch.
Five minutes before the end of class, Snape announced that everybody’s potion should be complete at this stage.
“Now,” he continued. “I want all of you to take a sip of your potions. A SIP, mind! We don’t want anybody getting hysterical.”
The students dipped ladles into their potions and took small sips. Then the class erupted in giggles.
Unlike the rest of the class, however, James did not start to laugh. Instead his head and throat began to ache and he started to feel dizzy and weak.
“What is happening to me?” he thought worriedly. Had he poisoned himself or something? Surely even Snape wouldn’t allow them to drink a potion if there was any chance that a mistake could poison them. James couldn’t entirely convince himself of this though. He felt that Snape was capable of anything.
It didn’t take the teacher long to notice that James wasn’t laughing like the rest of the class.
“Well, well, what have we here,” he asked in a sneering tone. “It looks to me as though you have somehow managed to create a ‘flu formula. Is your head aching?”
James opened his mouth to answer, but found that he could only whisper, so he merely nodded his head.
“I thought so. Looks like you forgot to add the fish liver. Madame Pomfrey could give you the antidote, of course. Or I could. But I don’t think I will. And I forbid you to go to the hospital wing. Maybe having to live with the effects of your potion for a while will teach you to be a little more attentive in future.”
There was no way that James could face the rest of his classes that day and as he was forbidden to go to the hospital wing, he simply heading up to his dormitory and lay down on the bed.
After the day’s classes ended, Alice came in to see him.
“Are you ok?” she asked.
“No,” James replied. “I feel as if I’m dying.”
“You should go up to the hospital wing. I’m sure Snape can’t do that.”
“No point. He’s probably already told Madame Pomfrey not to give me the antidote. Besides can you imagine what he’d do if he found out? It would probably be 100 points from Hufflepuff and a week’s detention.”
He was starting to lose his voice again. Snape was truly evil, to allow his students to suffer like that, simply for making a mistake in their potion brewing. James wondered how long the effects of the ‘Flu Formula lasted.
By the next morning, he was feeling a whole lot better. The formula obviously only lasted 24hours. James was relieved at that. He never wanted to go through another experience like that.
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