Since the Defense Against the Dark Arts class was cut so short, Harry had plenty of time on his hands to do whatever he wanted. Hermione and Ron were both intent on pressing him for an answer to what he had been doing during the summer, but he shook them off by telling them he would tell them everything later. They weren’t going to let him off that easy, but he promised them he would tell them everything later that night after dinner.
Hermione had taken off for the library to get in a bit of pre-class studying, and Ron went along with her just because he couldn’t come up with a good excuse not to. Harry though had as good of an excuse as any love struck boyfriend could. He was going to sit outside the potions classroom where Ginny was currently imprisoned, just in case Snape decided to let them out early. They all knew that was a hopeless cause, but Harry was all right with just being that much closer to Ginny.
Snape stayed true to form though, letting the class out at least five minutes late. Ginny emerged from the class in what Harry could tell to be a barely controlled temper. She turned and caught sight of him leaning against the wall though, and her anger seemed to fade almost instantly.
“Don’t tell me he kept us that late,” Ginny said. “How did you manage to get here from your class so quick?”
“We got out early,” Harry said still wondering what had made Ginny so angry. “How was potions? Any problems?”
“Not in the first three seconds,” Ginny said, some of the temper returning. “After that was barely tolerable though.”
“What happened?” Harry asked.
Ginny started to tell him everything, but caught herself in time to ask, “Don’t you have potions next?”
“Yes,” Harry answered.
“I should probably wait until later to tell you then,” Ginny said. “Gryffindor can’t afford to have that many points taken off on the first day.”
“Oh he wouldn’t,” Harry said getting a hint of what it could be. “It was me wasn’t it? He picked on you during the entire class just because you’re dating me.”
Ginny was afraid to say anything one way or the other. If she denied it, Harry would know she was lying. If she confirmed it, she was afraid, seeing the look in Harry’s eyes, of what might happen.
“I thought as much,” Harry said fuming already. “I’ll deal with it.”
“Harry don’t,” Ginny said. “That’s what he wants. Don’t you know that? I can handle Snape on my own. You just worry about brewing your potions right and not letting your temper control you.”
Harry realized that she was right. The anger and hostility that Voldemort had put into him was threatening to take control of his actions. Harry forced himself to calm as he had in countless meditation sessions over the summer. He had only to concentrate on Ginny’s eyes to lose himself in an ocean of tranquility.
Once his breathing had returned to normal, Harry said, “You’re right. What would I do without you?”
“I hope you won’t have to find that out any time soon,” Ginny said with a smile as she leaned in and kissed him gently.
Harry and Ginny were just parting when Cassidy walked up and said, “Hi Ginny. Hi Harry.”
“Hi Cassidy,” they both responded together.
“I am in the right place for potions aren’t I?” Cassidy asked looking at the door to the classroom.
“This is it alright,” Harry said.
“So how is Professor Snape as a teacher?” Cassidy asked.
“I’m probably not the one to ask,” Harry said. “We usually don’t get along too well.”
“Not get along with you?” Cassidy asked. “He must be awful then.”
“I had better be getting to my next class or I’ll be late,” Ginny said not wanting to elaborate on Cassidy’s observation. “I’ll see you for lunch, Harry.”
“I’ll be there,” Harry said not wanting to let her go.
“It was good to see you again, Ginny,” Cassidy said a bit too sweetly for Ginny’s comfort.
“You too,” Ginny said as she turned to go.
“She seems like a great girl,” Cassidy said.
“The best,” Harry said still lost in watching Ginny walk down the hall.
“Shall we go in then?” Cassidy asked.
“Sure,” Harry said forcing his attention away from Ginny.
There were only a couple of other students in the classroom by the time they entered. Harry knew that Ron and Hermione would soon be joining him. He also knew that it wouldn’t do any good for him to take a seat in the back. Snape would seek him out no matter if he sat in the hallway.
“Are there any kind of assigned seats in this class?” Cassidy asked.
“No,” Harry said. “Not unless Professor Snape decided to change things this year.”
“Would you mind if I sat with you then?” Cassidy asked. “I don’t really know anyone else very well yet.”
“I don’t mind,” Harry said. “It will be a first in this class though. Gryffindors and Slytherin usually don’t mix much.”
“I think it’s awful,” Cassidy began, “the way they split you into these houses and create a natural competition between you.”
“I guess I never really thought about it any other way,” Harry said. “You don’t have houses at your school in America?”
“No,” Cassidy answered. “They go out of their way to promote cooperation between all of the students. Don’t any of the houses here ever mix together?”
“Sure,” Harry said. “Three of them anyway.”
“Just not Slytherin I take it,” Cassidy said.
“I think this is the longest conversation I’ve had with a Slytherin since I’ve been here at Hogwarts,” Harry said.
“Oh,” Cassidy said, “that is so wrong. I can’t let that last for long. People who never step outside their own house miss the rest of the world.”
“You’ll find quite a bit of resistance to that,” Harry said, “especially in your own house.”
“Hey Harry,” Ron said from behind them.
Harry turned to see Ron and Hermione standing there seeming a bit confused to see a Slytherin sitting with him.
“I know,” Cassidy said to them. “Harry told me that Gryffindor and Slytherin don't ever mix, but you all are the only ones I’ve really been able to feel comfortable with so far. If you're too uncomfortable with my sitting here though, I’ll move somewhere else.”
“Of course not,” Hermione said. “It was just a bit of a shock to see it at first.”
“I can’t wait to see how Snape reacts,” Ron said with a grin.
“He’ll probably find some way to blame Harry for it and take points away from Gryffindor again,” Hermione said.
“Does he really do it that often?” Cassidy asked.
“I don’t think there has been a class yet where Snape didn’t take at least ten points away from Harry,” Ron said. “Gryffindor loses more points in potions class since Harry got here than it does in any other class or at any other time during the school year.”
“Except of course when Snape is patrolling the hallways,” Hermione added.
“Incredible,” Cassidy said. “Why does he do that to Harry?”
“He hates my dad,” Harry said.
“But I thought your dad was killed,” Cassidy said.
“He was,” Harry said. “Snape never got to take his anger out on him, so he has to settle for taking it out on me.”
“How thick do you have to be, Potter,” Malfoy said as he walked into the classroom and spotted Harry. “Why do you even bother taking a potions class?”
Cassidy turned around and Malfoy realized for the first time where she was sitting. She leveled a glare at him that was enough to silence him immediately, and made him take a seat on the other side of the room.
“I still say the sorting hat made a mistake,” Ron said.
“Maybe it just isn’t used to examining an American brain,” Cassidy said with a smile. “It doesn’t matter to me what house I’m in though. I make friends with whom ever I please.”
Snape suddenly entered the room out of his adjoining office and waved his wand to close and lock the doors at the back of the room.
“As you can see,” Snape said in his usual stern manner, “doors to the class will be locked at the exact time class is to begin every day. Anyone not inside by then will miss the class and points will be deducted from your final grade. Snape looked over at Harry when he mentioned it and the scowl on his face seemed to drop, if possible, even further when he saw who was sitting with him.
After a moment taken to recover from the initial shock, Snape looked right at Harry and said, “Well, Potter, you seem to be doing a better job of picking your friends. Miss Silverwood may prove to be a good influence on you. You should warn her though that you tend to drag your friends down with you in this class.”
“I think she should be fine since I’m not dating her, Professor Snape,” Harry said pointedly wondering if Snape would take the bait.
“Careful, Potter,” Snape seethed. “Disrespectful insinuations could be grounds for taking points. I would hate for that to happen. Just to show you how much I want you to earn points in this class, a little quiz perhaps. Answer the questions correctly and Gryffindor will earn points. Give the wrong answer and you will lose points. Would you like to try, Potter?”
“Professor Snape, I don’t think that is…” Cassidy began to say.
“I will warn you only once Miss Silverwood,” Snape said cutting her off, “ you speak only when asked to in this class. I will overlook it this time since you are new to the school and don’t know the rules as well as everyone else.”
“I’ll do it,” Harry said calmly.
“Harry, don’t,” Hermione said.
“That is five points from Gryffindor, Miss Granger,” Snape said with a smile of satisfaction. “You have been here long enough to know the rules.”
“We’ll get them back soon enough,” Harry said. “Five points per question? Or would you like to raise the stakes a bit?”
“What did you have in mind?” Snape said intrigued.
“Five questions,” Harry said. “Each one worth, say, twenty points?”
“You must have lost your mind over the summer, Potter,” Snape said smiling as Hermione and Ron had to bite their tongues to keep from saying the same thing to Harry . “You would throw away one hundred points that easily?”
“Or gain them that easily,” Harry said. “That isn’t all I want in return though. If I get the questions right, then you can’t turn around and take them back away at any point during the day. If you do take points away, they have to come from your own house.”
“And when you lose?” Snape asked.
“Then you can take as many other points from Gryffindor as you feel are necessary,” Harry answered
All of the Gryffindors in the class didn’t know if they wanted to cheer Harry for standing up to Snape, or beat him to within an inch of his life for even opening his mouth.
“And the questions?” Snape asked seeming like a man who was anxious to make the kill.
“Can be about the magical uses or properties of any potion ingredient,” Harry said.
“Fool,” Snape spat, “you should have at least limited it to ingredients we have covered in class.”
“I only have one more condition,” Harry said. “From now on, if you have a problem with me you take it up with me, not my girlfriend.”
Snape was so beside himself with joy at the opportunity Harry had laid before him, he would have agreed to almost anything if it meant bringing the famous Harry Potter down a few notches.
“Agreed,” Snape said with a sadistic grin as he wrapped his robes about him. “Dicentra spectabilis.”
“One of the main ingredients in several love potions,” Harry said immediately astonishing everyone, “though it is rarely used since it’s effects are more temporary than some other more trusted ingredients.”
Snape was surprised, but not wanting to show any signs of being flustered said, “Farsera speciosa.”
“Minor ingredient in a potion used during meditations to help focus thought,” Harry said.
“Bloodwort,” Snap said.
“A resin that can be combined with other more minor ingredients and burned to drive away evil and negativity,” Harry said.
“Inula dysenterica,” Snape said through gritted teeth.
“Used in a potion to drive out possessive spirits in exorcisms,” Harry said.
“Quickbane,” Snape forced out.
Harry paused for a moment to give Snape some hope that he may not know the answer before he said, “Reduces the influence of outside stimuli on mental processes, therefore it is used as one of the main ingredients in a potion helping werewolves resist transformation during the full moon.”
Snape was so livid he could barely see straight much less teach a class, so he turned and began walking toward his office. He waved his wand at the doors he had locked and they flew open as he said, “Class dismissed.”
“I think you forgot something, Professor,” Harry said. “I believe you have some points to award.”
Everyone in the room was sure that Snape was going to turn around and hex Harry. They all waited as Snape stood motionless with is back to them just outside his office door.
“One hundred points to Gryffindor,” Snape finally said grudgingly just before he slammed his office door behind him.
The entire class was so stunned by what had just happened that not one of them other than Harry began to stand up. They all looked at him and saw that he had a small grin on his face. He was acting like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.
Harry gathered all of his things and turned to Ron and Hermione and said, “I’ll see you all at lunch. I’m going to go and wait for Ginny to get out of her class.”
They all just stared as Harry walked out of the classroom. They could swear they heard him humming to himself as he walked down the hallway outside.
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