Chapter 6 : Felix Felicis
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“You’ll find out on Tuesday,” John said as he tossed a small rubber ball at the wall in front of him, caught it, and threw it again. “You’ll never be able to narrow it down. What’s the point?”
“The point is I’m curious,” Rose said, without looking up. “It’s not a commonly used ingredient in student-made potions.”
“We used it before,” Matt pointed out. “Remember? I had to leave class.”
“Yes, but that was the only time,” Rose said.
“I suppose it’s good I dropped potions and herbology,” Matt said.
“And transfiguration and all those other classes you dropped,” John said. “How was your holiday today?”
Matt smirked. He now had Fridays off from class. “Quite nice, thanks.”
“Did you see the notice in the common room?” Amanda asked, looking up from her book. “Longbottom wants to meet with us next week about our career plans.”
John groaned. “Already? It’s the first day back.”
“He’s intending to meet with us once a month,” Amanda said.
“That’s a bit much,” Kaden said.
“It’s a good thing,” Rose said. “He doesn’t want us missing deadlines or anything. My application is due the second week in November.”
“Mine, too,” Albus said.
“Well, I haven’t got any applications to do. At least not like yours,” John pointed out. “I want to work in Quidditch.”
“You’ll have to apply for those jobs,” Rose reminded him.
“Yes, but not yet,” John said. “Speaking of Quidditch, Al, I’m calling first practice Sunday afternoon.”
Albus grinned. “Excellent. You won’t even have to do trials. Lucky.”
“Albus, did you decide if you’re doing an internship again?” Rose asked.
“I want to,” Albus told her. “I think it would be good for me to be in the department as I’m applying.”
Rose sighed. “That’s a good point. But if you do I’ll have to give you fewer patrols. You aren’t going to have time to revise.”
Fewer prefect patrols and more time at Auror Headquarters? Albus failed to see the downside. Plus, as far as he knew, none of the current sixth years were intending to become aurors. He wouldn’t even be competing with anyone for the internship.
“Matt, I think you should do another internship,” Rose announced.
Matt, who’d been staring at the same page in his book for the entirety of the conversation, looked up, his face paler than normal. “Er, why would I do that?”
“Well…because…” Rose trailed off.
“Because I’m not going to be able to find a job?” Matt supplied. “I know, Rose, and an internship isn’t going to help with that.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Rose said quickly. “I just mean since you aren’t taking a lot of classes it’ll give you something else to make you stand out. Either that or take the new international relations class.”
“Maybe,” Matt said. “It depends on what my dad says about the professor.”
“Well, if he’s one of those nutters who thinks werewolves shouldn’t go to school none of us are taking his class,” John said.
Matt smiled. “I just want to enjoy seventh year. It’s going to go too fast and then who knows.”
“Things are changing,” Amanda said quietly. “Did you see the Prophet this morning? People are still protesting.”
“Dad said all the attention is good for Boone’s case,” Matt said. “He said the more media attention it gets, the better.”
“Trial by media, I suppose,” Rose replied. “Just like before. Weird how the public’s view can change so much.”
“I don’t think it has. It’s just different people speaking out,” Albus said.
“If Boone wins this, it’ll be the best thing for werewolf rights since the anti-discrimination law that went into effect after the war,” Amanda said.
Matt let out a short laugh. “That law was a bandaid. It may have helped short term, but nothing’s going to change unless werewolves are reclassified as beings. If that happens, any and all discrimination will be illegal and there wouldn’t be any need for any individual laws against it.”
“If Boone wins the case it’ll change the public’s opinion. Or at least start to,” Amanda explained. “The Ministry will feel the pressure and they’ll start the motion-“
“And none of that matters because it’s up to the International Confederation of Wizards,” Matt interrupted, slamming his book shut. “Unless three-quarters of them agree on it, it won’t happen. And that won’t happen because Australia has half the Confederation wrapped around its fingers, promising them all sorts of deals on imported magical substances from the Australian outback. All of wizarding Britain could be in favor of changing werewolf classification and it wouldn’t matter.”
“That is so screwed up,” Amanda said quietly.
“Yeah, I know,” Matt muttered, standing up. “I’m going to bed.”
No one said a word until after Matt disappeared out the door.
“He isn’t wrong, you know,” Rose said, returning to her book. “The classifications haven’t been changed in ages. It’s more likely Boone’s case will result in better anti-discrimination laws.”
“But as Matt said, those don’t help as much as they should,” Amanda said.
The room descended into silence. John continued throwing his ball against the wall, Amanda returned to her book, Rose continued skimming the encyclopedia, Kaden pulled out a deck of cards and began building a tower, and Albus stared at the ceiling, thinking about where they’d all be next year.
Rose let out a gasp and everyone paused to turn to her. “What is it?” Albus asked.
“Aconite is in Felix Felicis,” she said. “You don’t think…no, we wouldn’t make that. Would we?”
“It’s damn near impossible to make,” John said.
“And it takes six months,” Rose added. “It can’t be what we’re making.”
“If it is, you’ve got to save me some,” John said, grinning.
Albus met Rose’s gaze. She had that look in her eyes that told him even if Professor Callahan wasn’t going to let them brew Felix Felicis, she was going to try on her own.
Albus signed up for one of the first meeting slots with Professor Longbottom, since he knew exactly what he wanted to do the following year. He figured he’d let his fellow classmates who didn’t have any ideas take the later slots to give them more time to come up with something. Matt, for example, had signed up for a Friday slot. In fact, Rose was the only one whose meeting slot was before Albus’s.
When Albus went to Longbottom’s study Monday for his appointment, Rose was still inside. Albus sighed and settled himself down on the floor to wait. He wasn’t surprised Rose’s meeting went overtime. He pulled out a book of defensive spells, one he was considering using for dueling this year.
Albus had scheduled the first dueling practice of the year for Friday and he was more nervous about it than he cared to admit. He’d thought being dueling captain would be less nerve wracking than being Quidditch captain, but apparently that was not the case.
The door opened and Albus scrambled to his feet. Rose stepped out into the corridor, looking excited. Her eyes were sparkling the way they did when she found out she did particularly well on an exam.
“Good meeting?” Albus asked.
Rose nodded. “I’m on track to get my application in on time. All I need to do is my essay and get three letters of recommendation. Professor Longbottom said he’d write one and I figure I’ll ask Professor Patil and Madam Pomfrey for the others.”
“Excellent,” Albus said. “I’ll see you at dinner.”
“Good luck,” Rose said.
Albus entered Professor Longbottom’s study, closing the door behind him. The study was cozy, with various plants set up in pots both on the floor and on every book shelf. It was cluttered, but not overly messy. Professor Longbottom sat behind his desk in a squashy red chair. Two identical chairs sat opposite the desk and Albus sat down in one and set his bag down on the other.
Professor Longbottom smiled and opened a file folder. Albus glanced at it and saw it was his own file. “Good afternoon, Albus,” Longbottom said.
“Hi, Professor,” Albus said.
Longbottom grinned. “It’s just us, Al. You can call me Neville.”
“Er, okay,” Albus said. He’d spent the first 11 years of his life referring to Longbottom as ‘Neville,’ but now had gotten into the habit of calling him Professor Longbottom and it seemed weird to switch back.
“I assume you’re still interested in becoming an auror?” Neville began.
Albus nodded. “Yeah, and I want to join the Department of Mysteries.”
“Let’s start with getting you into the Auror Academy,” Neville said, chuckling. “I’m sure you already know, but it’s a vigorous process.”
Albus nodded again. “My dad’s already told me about it. Application first and if that gets accepted, the rest of it.”
“Right,” Neville said. “Then it would be a physical test, mental health testing, and an extensive interview. The entire process takes months.”
“Dad said I won’t find out until spring, assuming my application gets accepted,” Albus added.
“Which is why many applicants often choose a second option so they aren’t left scrambling in the spring if they aren’t accepted. I have every faith in you and I’d be shocked if you weren’t accepted, but it’s something to consider.”
Albus chewed his lip. He hadn’t considered that. For the past few years, all he’d thought about was becoming an auror. What else did he like to do?
“Perhaps a regular MLE officer, just as a backup?” Neville suggested. “They recruit three times a year. Once in January, once in May, and once in September. You’ll know by May whether you were accepted to the Auror Academy.”
“Yeah, that could work,” Albus said, even though he had no desire to be a regular MLE officer.
“Good,” Neville said as he flipped through the file. “Your marks are excellent and should not be a problem, assuming you keep up the same work this year and do well on your N.E.W.T.s. You’ll need four letters of recommendation, which will be more difficult.”
Albus swallowed. He’d assumed getting letters of recommendation would be easy. All he’d have to do is ask people, right?
“It’ll only be difficult because they can’t be from anyone you’re related to,” Neville explained. “And since I’m your godfather, I can’t write you one, either. Most people ask professors, but since you interned in the Auror Department, I suggest asking one of the aurors you worked with.”
“You mean Johnson?” Albus asked.
Neville winced. “No, I wouldn’t ask Johnson. Not with what happened between him and your father, not to mention the inquiry he’s facing.”
“What about Dawlish?” Albus asked, thinking of the only other auror he worked closely with, other than Teddy and Uncle Ron.
“Hmm,” Neville said, drumming his fingers on the desk. “He’s facing an inquiry, too, right?”
“No, they dropped his,” Albus said. “Just Johnson and Balladanis.”
Neville nodded. “Okay, there’s a good start. And I think any of the professors here would be more than happy to write you a recommendation. Except myself and your father, of course.”
“Right,” Albus said.
“So,” Neville said, straightening the file. “By next month, when we meet again, I’d like you to have the application filled out and have asked for your letters. They should be sent directly to the Auror Academy in sealed envelopes. I’d also like a draft of your application essay.”
“Okay,” Albus said.
“You’re in good shape, Al,” Neville said, standing up. “I can’t believe you’re old enough to apply for the Academy.”
Albus smiled as he stood up. He never knew what to say in response to when adults commented on how old he’d gotten. Time just sort of passed. He had no control over it.
Neville laughed. “Well, you’d best get to the Great Hall. If you have any questions about anything before next month’s meeting, let me know. And, Albus?”
“Yeah?” Albus asked, pausing on his way to the door.
“Tell Matt not to worry about this,” Neville said quietly. “I’m only going to help. I noticed he signed up for the last possible slot on Friday.”
“I don’t think it’s the meeting he’s worried about,” Albus said. “But what comes after.”
Neville sighed. “I suppose you’re right. You’re very insightful, Al. That’ll be useful when you’re an auror.”
The potions classroom was filled with a thin, gold mist when Albus, Rose, and Amanda walked in on Tuesday morning. It seemed to be emanating from a tiny cauldron on Professor Callahan’s front table. A small, but roaring fire burned beneath it and the air smelled of something sweet Albus couldn’t put his finger on.
“She’s not serious,” Rose whispered as they walked to their usual table.
“What?” Amanda asked.
“Felix Felicis!” Rose hissed. “That’s what’s in that cauldron. I’d bet my entire savings on it. It’s the only potion that emits gold mist and smells like sugar toffee.”
That’s what the smell was. It made Albus’s stomach growl even though he’d just eaten lunch.
“But you said that’s one of the most difficult potions to brew,” Amanda said.
“And it takes six months,” Rose said.
The rest of the class trickled in, but none seemed to recognize the potion the way Rose had. Everyone else gave it a glance and took their seats, continuing conversations from the corridor. Albus would’ve done the same had it not been for Rose. They’d all gotten used to strange potions and their continuous presence when they were taught by Professor Burke.
“Welcome, welcome,” Professor Callahan said after the bell rang. “Welcome to your final year of potions at Hogwarts. N.E.W.T. year. I don’t think I need to reiterate how important revision is this year. I daresay my colleagues have covered that over the past few days.”
There was a snort from the back of the room and Albus was sure whoever it belonged to was thinking of Professor Patil’s 20 minute lecture on the importance of revision.
“I’d like to jump right into this year’s curriculum,” Callahan continued. “Now, I believe everyone here is taking herbology this year?”
There was a murmur of ‘yeses’ and nods of the head. Professor Callahan smiled. “Good. Professor Longbottom told you about how this year I want you to grow your own potions ingredients as often as possible. By doing this, you will learn the properties of each ingredient as well as what they can do in various potions. Now, who can tell me what plant you worked with last week in herbology?”
Rose’s hand shot up into the air and Callahan called on her. “Aconite,” Rose answered excitedly.
Callahan smiled. “Yes, aconite. Otherwise known as wolfsbane or monkshood. Aconite is most famous for its role as the active ingredient in the Wolfsbane potion, but it is a very common ingredient in other potions as well. But we only ever use the flowers. Why is this?”
“Because the leaves are poisonous,” Rose answered.
“Indeed they are, but only if ingested. Touching them will not affect you. Unless, however, you happen to be plagued with lycanthropy. Lycanthropes are deathly allergic to all parts of aconite and merely being in its presence is enough to elicit a reaction. However, once it is combined with the other ingredients in the Wolfsbane potion, it allows a lycanthrope to retain their human brain during a transformation. It truly is amazing how the reactions between ingredients can result in completely different effects.
“Now, we will not be brewing Wolfsbane in class this year. Not because it is an extremely difficult and finicky potion, but because it is of absolutely no use to anyone here. I believe students learn best when they are learning and creating something that they will directly benefit from. Unfortunately we cannot do that all the time, but as seventh years, we have a bit of freedom.
“Because of that, we will begin a year long project to create something coveted by many and useful beyond your imagination,” Callahan said as she gestured to the tiny cauldron. “It is every bit as finicky and difficult as Wolfsbane, but if you’ve done it correctly, you will be able to use it.”
Rose’s eyes were as wide as saucers. She was still the only one in the room who had any idea what the potion was, other than Albus and Amanda, judging by the hesitant looks on their classmates’ faces.
“Does anyone know what this potion is? Yes, Miss Weasley?”
“Felix Felicis!” Rose exclaimed, breathless. “Liquid luck.”
There was a collective gasp from the room and everyone began whispering at once.
“Settle down, settle down,” Professor Callahan said. “Yes, Miss Weasley is correct. This is Felix Felicis.”
“So we’re brewing that?” Justin Brink called out.
“Yes, Mr. Brink.”
Rose raised her hand again. “But Professor,” she began. “Isn’t Felix Felicis a Class B non-tradeable substance?”
Professor Callahan nodded. “That is correct. But we will not be selling nor trading it nor distributing it in any way. I did have to obtain a special permit to brew it and to teach you to brew it, but it was not difficult since this is an educational setting. Assuming you brew it correctly, you will be held to the same regulations as anyone else who takes the potion. Does anyone know what those regulations are? Miss Weasley?”
“It’s banned in all organized competitions, like Quidditch,” Rose answered. “It’s also banned during exams, elections, and any other type of competition.”
“What about job interviews?” Scorpius Malfoy asked.
“Well, Mr. Malfoy,” Callahan began. “I certainly don’t believe it moral to take it before a job interview, but we all have different morals, don’t we? Many businesses and all government entities have written into their contracts that you did not use any sort of magical persuasion during your interview and it’s grounds for termination if you’re found out.
“Some wizards are opposed to Felix Felicis on a moral ground and believe it out to be banned outright, like Polyjuice. They believe it’s nothing more than deception. Others believe we should be allowed to use our magical abilities to reach our highest potential. We’ll get more into the morals and ethics of Felix and other potions later on in the year.
“Right now I’d like to explain a bit about Felix. It takes six months to brew and can go wrong at any step. Something as simple as a two degree change in the temperature in the room can be enough to render it ineffective during the brewing process. You won’t get it right the first time. I can guarantee that. But if you figure out your mistakes and keep trying, it’s possible a few of you might succeed come June.”
“And we get to keep it if we do?” Amanda asked.
“Yes,” Professor Callahan answered. “It will be yours to do what you’d like with, assuming you follow the law.”
Albus glanced around the room. Every single person was paying rapt attention and every single person had a look of excitement in their eye. Malfoy, however, looked slightly anxious as well as excited. That didn’t sit right with Albus. Why would Malfoy be nervous about creating a luck potion? To Albus, this was just fun. Felix Felicis wasn’t something he needed and certainly wasn’t something he’d expect to get, so if he succeeded, it would be a bonus. Why did Malfoy look like he absolutely had to succeed?
A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews! As of right now, I am updating at a quicker pace than I'm writing, so if I keep that up I'll have to go down to an every other week update. Hopefully that won't happen!
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