Harry Potter and the American Sisters
Chapter Five: Getting into the Groove of Things
The classes I had to take were nothing compared to actually finding your way around the castle. There were, much to my chagrin, a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts. I was extremely grateful that in the book Hogwarts, A History was included a basic map of the castle. What with the people in the portraits constantly going to visit each other and the walking coats of armor it was hard to get around.
The ghosts didn't' help much either, what with them walking through walls or gliding suddenly through a door you were trying to open. And Peeves the Poltergeist was an extreme pain in the ass, especially if you were late. He would drop wastepaper baskets on your head, pull rugs from under your feet, pelt you with bits of chalk, or sneak up behind you invisible, grab your nose, and screech, "GOT YOUR CONK!"
We had to study the night skies through our telescopes every Wednesday at midnight and learn the name of different stars and the movements of the planets. This was probably the easiest for me for I had taken a year of Astronomy back in my old life, as I called it. Three times a week we went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout. There we learned how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi, and found out what they were used for. I had to push myself extra hard in this class for I unfortunately have a black thumb when it comes to plants.
I suppose the most sleepable class was History of Magic, which was the only one taught by a ghost. Professor Binns had been very old when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him. I actually enjoyed the class for I had always had a fascination when it came to history. I scored lots of brownie points for actually asking questions in his class.
Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. Much to my amusement on the first day of charms he took the roll call, and when he reached Harry's name he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of site.
Professor McGonagall gave us a talking-to the moment we sat down in her class. It wasn't hard to understand why transfiguration became one of my favorite classes. After taking a lot of complicated notes, we were each given a match and told to turn it into a needle. By the end on class the only ones to make any difference in our matches were Hermione Granger and I. Hers had gone all silver and pointy. Mine was fully transfigured, from the silver body to the point to the little eye. I had my extra practice before school started to thank for that. McGonagall gave both of us a rare smile and five points each to Gryffindor.
Defense Against the Dark Arts turned out to be a joke. Quirrell's classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said was to word off a vampire he'd met in Romania and was afraid would be coming back to get him one of these days. His turban, he told us, had been given to him by an African prince as a thank-you for getting rid of a troublesome zombie, but we weren't sure we believed this story. For one thing, when Seamus Finnigan asked eagerly to hear how Quirrell had fought off the zombie, Quirrell went pick and started talking about the weather; for another, they had noticed that a funny smell hung around the turban, and the Weasley twins insisted that it was stuffed full of garlic as well, so that Quirrell was protected where ever he went. Only Chelsey and I knew what was under that turban.
Double Potions with Slytherin turned out to be rather amusing.
Potion lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was creepy enough even if it was without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls.
Snape started his class by taking the roll call, but paused at Harry's name. "Ah, yes," he said, "Harry Potter. Our new—celebrity."
The Slytherins, all except me that is, sniggered behind their hands. Draco, sat next to me, stopped when he saw the seriousness on my face. Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class.
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making," he began. He spoke barely more than a whisper but it was enough to keep the class silent. "As there is little foolish wand-wavering here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death—if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
More silence followed this little speech. Draco and I exchanged smiles. My sister, who was sitting between Harry and Hermione, looked bored. Hermione looked desperate to probe herself. Harry and Ron had raised their eyebrows.
"Potter!" said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
"Draught of Living Death," Harry answered automatically.
Snape's lips curled into a sneer. "Fine. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"
"In the stomach of a goat."
Snape looked even madder. "What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
"They're the same plant known as aconite."
"Three points to Gryffindor," he snapped, clearly not happy that Harry had been able to answer all his questions.
I could see that Jennifer had a twinkle of amusement in her blue eyes and something else… mischievousness. Just what was she planning?
As the potion lessons continued we were paired up into partners. Ron was partnered up with Hermione, Chelsey with Draco (surprise), and I with Harry. I made sure that Harry and I were far, far away from Neville who was partnered up with Seamus.
We set to mixing up a simple potion to cure boils. Snape swept around in his long black cloak, watching us weigh-dried nettles and crush snake fangs. He was just complimenting (grudgingly) Harry and my potion when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus' cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people's shoes. I was one of the first to stand on their stools, followed within seconds by the whole class while Neville, who had been drenched in the potion when the cauldron collapsed, moaned in pain as angry red boils sprang up all over his arms and legs.
"Idiot boy!" Snape snarled, clearing the spilled potion away with one wave of his wand. "I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?"
Neville whimpered as boils started to pop up all over his nose.
"Take him up to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Seamus. Then he rounded on the rest of the class. "You had best take to heart what the consequences can be for no following instructions exactly."
An hour later we, Harry, Ron, and I, trudged through the front hall, headed to Hagrid's hut. "Cheer up," said Ron. "We actually managed to get some points from Snape and he's always taking points off Fred and George."
Hagrid lived in a small wooden house of the edge of the forbidden forest. A crossbow and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.
When Harry knocked I could hear a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, "Back, Fang—back."
He let us in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black boarhound.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
'Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at me.
Giving a little, "Eeep," I hid behind Ron who got his ears licked instead of me. Don't get me wrong, dogs are okay, but I'm more of a cat person. Besides, is I went back to my room smelling of dog Astrid would have a hissy fit, pun intended.
"This is Ron," Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate.
"Another Weasley, eh?" said Hagrid. "I spent half me life chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest."
I had to roll my eyes at some of the Weasley twin pranks that had been pulled on Hagrid that he told us about. "Do your brothers have a death wish or something?" I asked Ron.
The redhead shrugged. "They've always been that way, drives Mom bonkers.'
All three of us shared our first day experiences with Hagrid. We were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch "that old git."
"An' as fer that cat, Mrs. Norris, I'd like ter introduce her to Fang sometime. D'yeh know, every time I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can't get rid of her—Filch puts her up to it."
Harry told Hagrid about Snape's lesson. "He seemed to really hate me."
"Rubbish!" said Hagrid. "Why should he?"
"You know," I said, "Snape could be one of those teachers who just hate everyone. Had on like him back in my muggle school, never could figure out why someone who hates kids would go into teaching in the first place."
"How's yer brother Charlie?" Hagrid asked Ron, changing the subject. "I liked him a lot—great with animals."
While Ron told Hagrid all about Charlie's work with dragons, Harry picked up a piece of paper that was lying on the table under the tea cozy.
It was a cutting from the Daily Prophet, which I read over Harry's shoulder.
GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST
Investigations continue into the break-in at
Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the
work of Dark wizards or witches.
Gringotts goblins today insisted that nothing
had been taken. The vault that was searched had in
fact been emptied the same day.
"But we're not telling you what was in there, so
keep your noses out if you know what's good
for you," said a Gringotts spokes goblin this afternoon.
"Hagrid!" said Harry, "that Gringotts break-in happened on my birthday! It might've been happening while we were there!"
Hagrid refused to meet Harry's green eyes and said nothing.
That night I wrote my ten-inch essay of Uric the Oddball for History of Magic. My essay included some facts of his known pet and challenges that I had gathered from a collection of books I checked out of the Hogwarts library (my favorite place!)
"Uric the Oddball is known to have slept in a room containing no fewer than fifty pet Augureys. During one particularly wet winter, Uric became convinced by the moaning of his Augureys that he had died and was now a ghost. His subsequent attempts to walk through the walls of his house resulted in what his biographer Radolphus Pittiman describes as a 'concussion of ten days' duration."
"Uric the Oddball attempted at one time to prove that the Fwooper song was actually beneficial to the health and listened to it for three months on end without a break. Unfortunately the Wizard's Council to which he reported his findings were unconvinced, as he had arrived at the meeting wearing nothing but a toupee that on closer inspection proved to be a dead badger."
To say the least my dreams that night were a little…odd.