Chapter 3 : SPELL PRACTICE
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Leonor had had a good relaxed night. Her guess what to practice with the students was a fit with the notes of the Slytherins. She had cursed Lupin for being so wishy-washy, but the upside was to be free of the ruling. She would try the Boggart first and see how it went. She could change her mind just in case she would run into trouble.
The third years where filing into the classroom chatting curiously. Leonor pointed her wand at the door and it banged shut. Several students startled. Leonor smiled nonchalant and introduced herself having full attention.
“Professor Lupin’s wish is repeating the subject and to exercise the spell ‘Ridiculous’. What topic would you like to discuss then?”
The students exchanged glances and Leonor could hear excited whispers and grins. Leonor looked around. Most students where obviously already at home. One girl tried to catch her attention with a nervously waving arm. A group of boys looked agitated while convincing a miserable looking round-faced fellow by something. She waited until the class became silent again.
“What’s your choice?”, Leonor pointed her hand to a blond within the group of enthusiastic looking boys.
“Oh, … we’d like to defend the Boggart. Not everybody has practiced yet. There wasn’t enough time”, he said with a mischievous grin.
“And you are?”
“Seamus Finnigan, Professor.”
“I see; you just want the fun part today. I’d like you to make two groups. All that have been fighting the Boggart in Lupin’s class to the left, the remaining to the right. We’ll change later if there’s time left.”
The students moved slowly. Leonor conjured cushions at the far end of the class room and requested the first group to get into pairs. Their task was to practise the disarming of the opponent. If they had managed the spell they could move to the other group. Then she started to work with the shape shifter. She moved the Boggart back into the cabinet after each try. Leonor didn’t want to see death bodies or similar scaring forms in front of the whole class. It gave her the opportunity to talk to each student first, while learning their names. Most of the fears where innocent so everybody got it’s turn. The students still glanced eagerly at the round-faced boy. He wasn’t successful with the other spell, very much to the disappointment of the others. The class was soon over and dismissed. Leonor was relieved, but called the clumsy boy who hadn’t managed the Expelliarmus spell to her desk and closed the door silently.
“What’s your name?”, Leonor asked friendly.
“Neville Longbottom, Professor”, said the boy staring down to the floor.
“It wasn’t your day today, was it?”
“Would you’ve rather liked to practice with the boggart?”, suggested Leonor and the boy almost jumped. Leonor looked at him unsure if he was afraid of his own boggart or if he was timid in general.
“What happened when you worked with Professor Lupin?”, Leonor bored deeper.
“I think there’s something you should tell me, shouldn’t you? I’m sure you have been entertaining your classmates. Don’t you think?”
“It was … all over the school”, the boy spluttered, “… but it’s … I cannot … he’ll kill … I mean I don’t want it … again.”
“A boggart doesn’t really kill.”
“Not the boggart … I mean Professor Snape.”
“And why would he do that?”
“He was in the robes of my grandmother … and everybody made fun of him. I’m not good at potions and it became worse ever since.”
“Is there anything else with Professor Snape?”, Leonor pressed further. The boy seemed to be ready to talk. Snape was terrifying him. That much was obvious.
“He was teaching one of Lupin’s classes last month and made us write an essay about werewolves. But we are not so far in the textbook.”
“Did you do the essay?”
“None of us did. Snape wasn’t right. He doesn’t like Professor Lupin. He’s so much in the Dark Arts. Harry has hinted that Snape is poisoning Lupin …”, and a weak smile twisted the boys mouth.
“Thank you, Neville. I assume Professor Lupin was aware of your Boggart before you cast the spell, wasn’t he?”
The boy nodded.
“Neville, it’s your right to practice a spell, but Boggarts can be horrific. I’m sure Professor Snape felt insulted and reacted cruel towards you. It’s not correct of him, but it would have been Professor Lupin’s task to fix it, at least afterwards. Do you want me to talk to Professor Snape about the incident?”, Leonor said quietly.
Neville was shaking his head.
“Fine. I wouldn’t mind if you visit me with your questions if I’m at Hogwarts, also about potions. I also assure you that Professor Snape won’t harm Professor Lupin”, added Leonor thoughtfully. “Neville, please concentrate in potions, get focused and I assure you Professor Snape will leave you alone.”
Neville nodded again and headed for the exit. Leonor was left with her doubts. She was sure to have revealed the ‘accident’, but was more worried about Snape and if she had promised too much to the already stressed boy.
The remaining lessons went well. Leonor was satisfied with the day and decided to go for a walk.
It was almost dark outside. The clouds where covering the pale moonlight and the air smelled like winter again. The festive spirit captured Leonor. The decoration at Hogwarts left no wishes unfulfilled and Leonor was looking forward to the feast. She was unsure about what it would be like.
Leonor was following the path into Hogsmeade and was soon overwhelmed by the last-minutes shoppers. The patrolling dementors wouldn’t disturb her today. She smiled and realized the difference to all her years before. She had never had something to do around this time of the year. But now she felt like in a swirl. The sweets shop was full of people. But Leonor could ignore it for once and bought beautifully wrapped chocolate candies. She would give it to her new colleagues in case it was appropriate. She hated to be unprepared for special occasions. She felt more settled down and returned to the castle happily with a cold nose and some snowflakes on her shoulders. Her room was warm and even without a personal imprint it felt homely. She would take a hot shower and start to enjoy the evening.
Severus had the duty to patrol the corridors tonight. He had volunteered while most of the other staff members where busy with preparing their own holidays. His desk was full of essays to be marked. He could already hear the excuses of the students for all mistakes made by distraction. But all the hustle and bustle at this time of the year wasn’t bothering him. He would catch up with his work as soon as the castle became quiet. Severus had been looking out for Scott. Wilson told him that she had returned all the notes in the morning. There was a new rumour that Scott had explained the reaction on certain types of dark curses and possible counter spells and potions to the seventh years. It sounded like a welcome refurbishment of the run-down teaching post and even the Gryffindor’s seemed to hold in their regular reason of complaint. Severus couldn’t hide a slightly malicious joy. Scott seemed to be smart. Lupin wouldn’t like it too much.
Severus was abruptly ripped out of his thoughts about Scott. The Bloody Baron had appeared to his side and whispered about a ‘treacherous’ attack two floors down. The ghost was inflated as always, but his scary demeanour would forbid any joke. Severus was on guard instantly. His mind already processing the possibility of another attack by Sirius Black. He turned into a hidden passage behind a tapestry to appear seconds later in an empty corridor. Muffled noises came from somewhere around the corner. The classroom near the marble staircases was just lit by a wand and Scott knelt next to a student. She was uttering some incantations, but the student continued weeping painfully. Severus was about to light the torches with his wand.
“No light, please!”, called Scott and looked at him. She must have seen or heard him.
“I’m not sure what happened. But when I came down to collect my forgotten notes from the staff room I saw a dazzling white flash and heard the yell of the girl. I didn’t find the source. There’s nobody. I need to see her eyes, but more light might make her scream. What’s her name, do you know?”, asked Leonor with a questioning look at Severus. The girl was still desperately covering her eyes.
“Rose Saunders, my house, first year”, said Severus searching the room intensively with his eyes.
“Rose, please I need to examine ... does the pain lessen a bit?”, pleaded Leonor, “It’s dark here, just a little bit light of the wands. The flash is gone. Professor Snape and myself can help you, if you let us.” Leonor was stroking the girl’s hair and watching Severus. He pointed to a shabby brown book with golden letters next to a broken quill. It lay open on the floor as if it had been thrown across the room.
“Professor Snape … the flash was similar a ‘Caecitasatis” charm…”, said Leonor calmly, “… Rose you should try to open your eyes, one eye would suffice for the moment.”
The girl was still whining into her hands and Leonor’s soothing words didn’t seem to have an effect. Severus had picked up the book and his face became an odd expression; his voice concerned: “Mrs. Saunders, I’m tempted to believe you’ve been in the restricted section of the library searching for dangerous and forbidden spells. I suppose you’ll like to let us know the reason for wandering the castle tonight? It’s detention or you’ll help Professor Scott!”
Rose’s sobs stopped like in shock and Leonor was about to protest, but strong words had brought the girl to her senses. She removed slowly the hands and whispered horrified: “The eyes feel sore. Everything is blurry. There are only moving black spots.”
“I will examine your eyes with a little light”, said Leonor and took out a special torch.
“Can you see the light, Rose?”
Rose was shaking her head: “It’s dark. There’s no light. What is with my eyes?”
Leonor gave a knowing look to Severus and nodded.
“Rose, you are blind for the moment. But there’s a potion and by tomorrow all will be normal again. Your eyes will still be a bit sore and red, but I assure you Christmas will be bright … Please can you stand up. No worries ... Madam Pomfrey will comfort you while the potion will be prepared.” Leonor was holding Rose around her waist and helped her up.
“Professor, please take her other hand … and Rose, you grab our hands if you need to. We’ll lead you safely to Madam Pomfrey now.”
Leonor glanced at Severus. He hesitated shyly to touch the girl until Leonor gave an encouraging smile. Rose had regained her composure and the walk downstairs wasn’t too difficult. Madam Pomfrey had grudgingly agreed to Severus’ suggestion to brew the healing solution in the dungeons.
Leonor followed Severus closely out of the ward. The potion would need a while and she hoped that the ingredients would be available at the stocks of the school. Passing below a chandelier a mocking cackle came from above:
“Scott and Snape
None is great.
Snape and Scott
Together is odd.”
Snape turned quickly and shot a silent spell into direction of the whisper. The ghost was gone. The two professors looked at each other. Leonor laughed heartily. But her momentary cheerfulness was drowned in Severus’ horror until his gaze became expressionless again.
“A powerful vanishing charm for a naughty poltergeist, isn’t it?”, said Leonor somewhat restraint.
“You wish to hear the gossip tomorrow in the hall? I prefer to keep Peeves’ mouth shut about my affairs”, answered Severus as cold as any warning could be.
Leonor felt embarrassed; he was clearly right. She was puzzled again. The dark tall men teased her brain. He was respectful and clever and just there if she needed help the most. The chill in the dark grey eyes was thrilling. But the flashes of emotion showed a soul somewhere deep down. They still stared at each other. Snape’s lips curled, and the tension was gone.
“Scott, I suppose you are adept of brewing the potion required for Mrs. Saunders?”
“Sure … Snape”, stated Leonor.
It was late, when Severus asked Scott into his office; his thoughts still circling around the events of the evening. ‘Caecitasatis’ was a defensive spell, but rarely known. Most wizards couldn’t shield themselves from blindness.
“Scott …”, he started but Leonor had taken his arm.
“Would you mind calling me Leonor?”
Her voice sounded insecure, but determined. The closeness made Severus uneasy. Nobody had been close to him, not since before Hogwarts. She was bright and had a liking in his favourite magic. The shining dark eyes were interested and curious. An interesting mixture, but she wasn’t a beauty … not like ... He brushed the private matters away … a schoolgirl had to be patched up tonight.
“Leonor, the book in the classroom contained this piece of parchment. It is still dimly glowing. I assume someone trapped the blindness spell in it waiting for somebody to look through the book.”
“It sounds reasonable. Is it possible to find out who borrowed the book from the library?”
“Unlikely. I’ll talk to Slytherin House tomorrow and inform the headmaster and parents”, said Severus in a business-like tone searching through a cabinet. After a while he handed a flask with a transparent liquid to Leonor. He watched her delight secretly.
“You don’t need to take it, but it would save time”, said Severus sneering, “… of course you can finish it yourself, if you are pleased with the equipment, you could start.”
Leonor was baffled. She was shaking her head in disbelief. In a loss of words, she walked over to Snape’s workbench. She mustered the table while rolling up her sleeves. She took the cauldron, cutting board and knife from the shelves. Everything was well organized.
“… and you don’t mind if I use your workplace?”, asked Leonor conversationally, “… I’ll put the solution to the cauldron, heat it slowly and then add Belladonna and Arnica. Fresh Euphrasia, commonly known as Eyebright, would be the icing on the cake. Are we allowed to check the greenhouses for it?”
Severus walked over to the fireplace and thrusted some powder into the fire. He spoke with a firm voice to Professor Sprout giving a brief explanation of the reason for the late disturbance. The agreement of Sprout came promptly including the location of the plant. Leonor concentrated heating the base of the potion until it was simmering slowly. She added the medicinal herbs from Snape’s stocks.
“We can walk to the greenhouses now”, said Leonor turning to Snape and almost knocking a mug out of his hands.
“I suggest you try before dooming it”, grinned Snape and vanished the spilled tea with his wand.
Leonor took the mug and nodded her thanks. The infusion was dark and almost opaque. The smell was aromatic.
“You expect me to trust it’s not poised …”, said Leonor and took a large sip. She smiled at Snape. He had been watching her, but averted his eyes quickly. The tea tasted light and refreshing with an energetic undertone. She swallowed the drink swiftly admiring the uncommon blend.
“Elderberries with a mix of Oriental herbs … very nice”, said Leonor thoughtfully, “… should we go?”
Leonor and Severus walked next to each other along the snow-covered path to the greenhouses. The nature seemed untouched. The muffled steps where peaceful.
“Why are you not applying at St. Mungo’s?”
Severus glanced sideways looking at Leonor. She considered him for a moment.
“I’ve already worked at St. Mungo’s. The positions I’d like are not free. I will take the British exam for the ‘Level A Magical Healing’ next July. I’ve a ‘Doctor of Medical Sciences’ as well as several wizarding certifications. This type of education is very uncommon in Europe.”
“You are a muggle doctor?” Severus couldn’t hide the nasty remark.
Leonor grinned: “Yes, a muggle doctor. I lived with muggles almost all my live … it only changed about 3 year ago, when I moved to England. Since when are you teaching potions at Hogwarts?”
“For 12 years”, said Severus indifferently.
“Matteo Romano, he’s been your student for seven years. Was he in your advanced classes? Was he good?”
“Yes, one of the rare Hufflepuff’s to excel in potions.”
“Matteo is the son of my friends and trainee at St. Mungo’s in the meantime. His parents run an Italian restaurant in London. I’ll help them from time to time. I’d like to invite you there. Are you sometimes in London, Diagon Alley perhaps?”, said Leonor somewhat surprised about herself. She’d never invited a colleague somewhere. She hoped instantly he would spare a sarcastic remark and simply continue the pleasant conversation about something else.
“No.” The chill in the answer was unmistakable.
The remaining way to the greenhouses and back went by in silence. On return the simmering potion was quickly improved by the fresh herbs and ready for the treatment of Rose. Leonor and Severus found Rose still whining silently into her pillow, even though she confirmed to see the teachers as shaded figures again. Madam Pomfrey was tackling Severus about the usage of dark magic in the Slytherin House and shooed him away from the bed.
“Madam Pomfrey, the spell which hurt Mrs. Saunders was no dark magic. It was an almost forgotten defensive spell. It can also be trapped in objects and was historically used to catch thieves. There’s no proof about the origin of the cursed parchment. Rose just picked it up when searching for her quill in a classroom after lessons. I think it’s not right to blame it on any house so far. Severus, please could you take Mrs. Saunders hands again. I’d like to apply the eye drops.”
Madam Pomfrey was fuming and Leonor bit her lips. Her remark wouldn’t bring improvement of the relationship with the matron. Severus did as been asked by Leonor, but he would have clearly preferred to hand the task to Poppy.
“Rose, I’ll look after you tomorrow, but you’ll make a full recovery. I promise. Try to sleep best as you can”, said Leonor while holding the girls hand.
Leonor and Severus left the ward quickly afterwards; both relieved the day to be over and with the reassurance of the soon recovery of the young Slytherin girl.
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