"— will force a shape-shifter to reveal itself, normally used against the Polyjuice Potion and animagi. It's charm counterpart is the Restoring Spell. However, it is not strong enough to work on Metamorphagi, and I strongly advise you not to attempt it on a werewolf, lest you be intimately acquainted with your innards, either before or after you have administered the potion," Snape drawled on, a sneer in place as if he had expected all of them guilty in thinking of trying it, which was not entirely untrue. "Boggarts may –"
Harry could feel his eyelids drooping as he tried in vain to stay focused on Snape's voice and on his work area. He was partnered up with Malfoy again – no surprise there, though you'd think that Snape would have grown tired of shoving them towards each other in hopes of humiliating him – and he was sitting on the stool, in charge of the ingredients while Malfoy stood beside their cauldron, stirring and muttering the necessary spells to keep it at the right temperature.
Experience taught them that brawling wasn't going to get their potion to make itself (though that had been fun too, since Snape was forced to take points off Malfoy as well) so they came up with the agreement that Harry would be in charge of the chopping and the crushing and the dicing (living with the Dursleys had an advantage after all, Harry thought bitterly, other than the relation with his mother that prevented him from being Dark Lord-fodder) while Draco did the fancy work and the tricky parts.
Harry never did get precision and accuracy. He was more of the 'a bit, some more' type rather than the 'ten milliliters, ¼ cup of'.
Soon enough, Snape stopped speaking and was checking the cauldrons one by one starting from the back of the room, and Harry realized that he failed to pay attention again. He sighed, this lack of sleep was seriously doing him in. Okay, Restoration Potion. After the rat tails, what next? He thought, scanning his own travel-size collection of plants. At the same time, he racked his brain up trying to remember the ingredients that Snape had listed off earlier. Something wood… He picked up the southernwood –
"Wormwood, Potter, wormwood! Weren't you listening?" Malfoy said, sniffing with disdain. Even so, his hand continued stirring the concoction in perfect timing, never missing a beat. Harry could imagine him counting (…twelve, thirteen, fourteen…) up to the needed twenty-three clockwise stirs in his head even as he frowned with impatience and prepared to scold him.
Harry had long since admitted to himself that Malfoy was the Potions genius here, and grudgingly, he found it impressive as it was horribly annoying how Malfoy could be accurate in the number and the speed of his stirs and yet still keep an eye on Harry.
"Five points from Gryffindor for not listening, Potter," Snape's voice came up to them from across the room, making the Slytherins snigger and the Gryffindors curse under their breaths. Harry stared at his professor's back, who merely continued walking to the back of the room, checking on the cauldrons one by one. It was like Snape was so used to taking points off Harry, he does it almost subconsciously. Disturbing, that.
"I was listening, Malfoy," Harry lied, muttering so that Snape wouldn't hear.
"So the winter froze up your brain instead of your ears then," Draco drawled, retorting just as quickly as Harry did. "Not that there's anything to freeze inside that large head of yours," he said as an afterthought, smirking. The several Slytherins who were closest to them snickered openly. Draco took his wand out of the cauldron, letting it drip above the potion (Ah, done with the twenty-third stir then.) and waved a hand over Harry's chopping board. "Now crush the wormwood, not the southernwood."
"Yes, Your Holy Pratness," Harry drawled back, rolling his eyes as he put aside the southernwood that he had just been in the middle of crushing. He reached for a shoot of a green, leafy plant at the corner of their table – and promptly yelped when Draco smacked his hand away. "What the hell was that for?"
"Potter, that's tarragon," Draco said, sighing exasperatedly. "While they're closely related, I hardly think that tarragon looks the same as wormwood so you'll have to provide me with a good excuse or else I'll write it off as a result of your utter stupidity, yet again."
Harry glared at him, rubbing the back of his slapped hand. He looked at the plant again and realized that it was tarragon, and the wormwood was sitting pretty right next to his crushed and abused southernwood. He flushed at his mistake, and gingerly picked up the wormwood, embarrassed. He deftly crushed it with one hand. He glared at Malfoy once more. "Happy now?" he grumbled.
Draco was indeed happy now, if his smug smirk was any indication. "Honestly, Potter, you suck at Potions. Why do you even make yourself suffer?"
A faint hissing sound caught their attention and Harry glanced at the now furiously bubbling concoction in their cauldron. Now, Harry was no Potions Master, but he at least knew that the potion wasn't supposed to be doing that. The wormwood still rested on the chopping board next to the tarragon, almost insultingly. He grinned. "To drag you down with me," he quipped, sniggering when Draco cursed under his breath and hurriedly scooped the crushed wormwood in his hands and dropped it in the cauldron.
The cauldron seethed for a while more before slowly dwindling down into a faint simmer, just like before.
"Five points from Gryffindor for trying to deliberately sabotage Mr. Malfoy's potion," Snape said, sounding proud of himself.
There was a quiet thump where Harry's forehead collided with the table. He turned his head to glare at Draco, who was looking smug. "It's my potion too," he mumbled, raising his head, when he realized that the lump of crushed tarragon wasn't as wide as he remembered it to be. Malfoy must have scooped some of it up when he did the wormwood, not realizing it in his haste. He blinked when the hissing sound from before returned, and he whipped his head to look at their furiously sizzling potion. "Um, Malfoy?"
"What is it now, Pot –"
"Ten points from Gryffindor for sabotaging Mr. Malfoy's potion, Potter," Snape's snide drawl cut through the silence and the black smoke of the room. "And stay behind after class for your detention," he sneered.
Malfoy's scowl at having the cauldron blow up on his face immediately disappeared at the mention of Harry's detention. He flicked his wrist and Scourgified himself effortlessly, before remembering something. The scowl returned. "Thanks a lot, Potter, now we're going to have to re-do the potion."
Ron and Hermione each gave him sympathetic looks and pats on the back as they left him to his doom. Malfoy smirked at him with malicious glee as he too left the room with Goyle. Soon, it was only him and Snape who looked at him in that way of his that was haughty and insulting without him even trying.
It was Malfoy's fault, was on the tip of Harry's tongue, which was true, really. It was Malfoy who put the tarragon in the cauldron, though he didn't think that Snape would see that reason justifiable like he did. You'd think that the man would have softened up to him after the war and all, or at least after finally being openly recognized for his efforts in aiding the Wizarding World against good, old Voldemort, but Harry was obviously expecting too much.
While Harry didn't hate Snape's guts anymore, he still thought his professor was a slimy git. (which was okay to think, since the feeling was probably mutual.)
"Clean this room, Potter," Snape started menacingly, looking down his crooked nose at him. "I want the ingredients stored where they are supposed to be, and the tables, the floor and the ceiling positively sparkling when I return in half an hour."
So that was why Snape didn't tell the class to clean up their own tables, Harry thought sullenly.
"Leave the cauldrons to brew." And with that, Snape passed Harry with an impressive swoosh of his robes and out the door.
…But, okay, so maybe Snape did soften up after all.
He didn't take away Harry's wand, so all Harry did was go crazy with Scourgify and the room was spic and span. The ingredients would have to be stored manually though, since he didn't want to accidentally put moonstone together with monkshood. Time to get started then.
Of course, it didn't leave his attention that he really wasn't supposed to be doing this. It was Malfoy's fault. Arrogant git always trying to torment him as always. Though, Harry mused, nothing new there. It was comforting, honestly, to retain something normal for once. At least, the closest thing to normal that he ever got. After the war, everything just suddenly swerved and ceased to make sense. The Wizarding World treated him like their god, and so did the rest of the population of Hogwarts.
He agreed to go through the so-called eight year when McGonagall asked him, only because he wanted to stay on familiar ground and probably get back that sense of normalcy that Voldemort stole from him. The idea sounded good at the time, well, it's still good now, but he just didn't expect first years to line up in front of him asking for autographs or crowds gathering asking how did you do it how did you do it.
Thank goodness his friends still treated him like the same, old Harry. Ron and Hermione finally got together, as in really together, and it was really nice seeing them publically and comfortably showing their love to one another. But then Neville and Luna got together too, and Ginny became more aggressive with him, which… really shouldn't bother him, but it did.
After all, he liked Ginny… He could imagine them getting married and having kids. He liked Ginny after all, just…
Maybe just not like before.
Bottom line was, everything's all crazy now. Well, 'everything' had been crazy all his fucking lifebut he thought, okay, the psychotic Dark Lord hell bent on taking over the world and killing everyone else is gone and down, so it's time to live like a normal wizard boy now! (He's eighteen now, hardly a boy anymore, but still…)
Admittedly, even Harry had to admit that he had been too hopeful that everyone would forget about The Boy Who Lived Twice. It was too good to be true, after all. Being simply Harry, that is –
A shrieking laugh interrupted his musings.
"Oh, Potter, you Rotter –"
"Peeves!" Harry scowled, looking up as Peeves floated through the wall and flew in circles above him, cackling gleefully.
"Oh, Potter, how charming! Think he's so dashing! His big head a-swellin'! Until it go poppin'!" Peeves sang, grinning maliciously and showing his teeth. He darted away when Harry swiped at him with his hand and promptly busied himself with the bottom shelf of the ingredients cabinet, working his way up.
Harry watched in horror as jars and bottles flew from the cabinet to the opposite wall with a crash and a thunk and – a blub? What? –
He whipped his head towards the wall in panic, half-expecting to see a hole. There was no hole, but he really didn't find relief in that because Peeves was having his wicked way with the ingredients cabinet. He did not know how to strangle a ghost, but damn, he wanted to find out!
"Snape'y not happy when he sees Potty –" Peeves sang on, almost giggling with joy as he turned away from the cabinet and did somersaults in the air, then invading Harry's personal space when he went down, enjoying the boy's expression of horror, panic and anger in close-up. "Poor Potty is he –"
The door slammed open.
Both Harry and Peeves froze, heads whipping towards the door where Snape stood, shocked, and body stiff with repressed fury. Harry would have felt sorry for him if he weren't busy feeling sorry for himself.
Especially when Snape started shaking and Peeves very conveniently rushed off and disappeared through the ceiling.
"I-it wasn't me!" Harry squeaked out.
Snape wheeled in at him, and sneered. "I know that, Potter!" he snapped. "Now get out of here before I make you clean this up too!"
Harry bolted out of the room as fast as his feet could carry him.
"Damn poltergeist –" was the last thing he heard before he scrambled out of the room and up towards Gryffindor Tower.
Let it be known that Harry Potter wasn't stupid. He knew escape when it was presented to him on a silver platter.
Poor Professor Snape, though.
But on the other hand…
He was already close to the portrait of the Fat Lady; all he had to do was cross the seventh floor corridor, and so he hurried his pace – and a square of the floor under him completely disappeared.
He cursed, one hand grabbing his wand from his pocket and the other scrabbling for whatever else he could grab even though there was nothing close to him as he fell. He let out a pained 'oof' as his fingers frantically reached out and clung to the edge of the floor, and he hissed at the impact of stone against his cheek, his hip and his knee, as well as the sudden strain on his fingers at having to hold up his entire weight.
Harry exhaled deeply, not sure if he should thank his lucky stars for his reflexes or not at all for having put him in this situation, again. With his hands occupied, he didn't think he'd manage to do any fancy wand-waving.
He clung to bits of stone on the floor using his nails and pulled himself up with great effort, using his elbows when he finally could.
Last week it had been a broom closet, yesterday had been a wall…
As soon as Harry got himself out of that hole, he immediately stood up and ran the remaining distance to the portrait of the Fat Lady. He wasn't taking any chances if more of the floor decided to eat him up.
He burst through the portrait, immediately rushing to Ron and Hermione who were bent over their homework in front of the fireplace. (At least, Hermione was.)
"The castle is trying to eat me!" he burst out, succeeding in making his two best friends and possibly a few other Gryffindors who were closest to them look at him as if he had finally gone bonkers.
"Um," Ron started out, slowly and a little nervously. "You okay, mate?"
"What do you mean the castle's trying to eat you?" Hermione asked, an eyebrow raised.
"Well –" Harry started, then blinked. Now that he thought about it, the explanation he had on mind sounded like he really was off his rockers. It sounded good a while ago, and really, the more he thought about it, the more it was… unbelievable. "I'm not sure," he finally said, collapsing on a chair. "I'm probably just being clumsy," he shrugged.
Ron laughed at that. "And you go and blame it on the castle?"
Harry couldn't help but laugh back at that.
As he lay in bed that night, he thought that maybe they were just accidents.
He probably just tripped over something and ended up falling into the broom closet, and he did lean on the wall yesterday, so that must have triggered something… He must have done something to trigger the floor as well.
Well, at least he didn't fall through the hole like he did with the wall yesterday. It took him three hours just to figure out how to get the wall to open again, and by the time he got out, it was already past midnight.
He wanted a complete night's sleep, thank you very much.
Considering what happened in the Potions classroom, he probably needed it to prepare himself for utter hell in the morning.
Snape was in a bad mood, and when Snape was in a bad mood, everyone was in a bad mood because that meant more points taken and more snide remarks. When Snape got like this, even the Slytherins weren't safe from Severus Snape's inherent skill of tongue-lashing.
Harry sank even further in his seat, feeling like it was his fault somehow but guiltily thankful that Snape didn't decide to dump his bad mood entirely on him. Of course, he already got 10 points off Gryffindor just fifteen minutes into the class, but at least he wasn't the only one.
They had Potions as their last subject yesterday and their first today, so their cauldrons were right where they left them.
"I'm guessing this has something to do with you, Potter," Draco muttered beside him, raising the small glass of Polyjuice Potion that Snape provided them to peer at it.
"What? The Polyjuice Potion?" Harry asked, confused.
"No, you twit, Professor Snape's sudden inclination with wanting to bite all our heads off."
Harry turned away so that he could hide his guilty flushing. "Sudden? He's always had an inclination to bite all our heads off."
Draco scoffed. "Your head, you mean. Slytherin's had ten points taken off already!"
"Don't complain, Malfoy," Harry said mournfully. "Gryffindor's had thirty."
Draco smirked. "So it is your fault then?"
Harry turned his head to glare at him. "No, it isn't," he said hotly.
"Okay, partly then," Draco replied, shrugging.
Harry had no idea how to reply to that so he settled for grumbling as Snape finally finished harassing Lavender Brown and told them all to start trying out their potions.
Draco looked at the Polyjuice Potion with disgust. "I can't believe I'm drinking something with your hair in it, Potter. The mere thought of it is revolting."
Harry, who was about to pull out a few strands of his hair, smirked at him evilly. "I could always spit in it, Malfoy."
Draco turned green at that. "Must you be so crass? Hurry up and put your hair in it while I'm not looking so I can pretend that it's not there," he snapped.
Harry merely fingered his hair a little more. "We can always exchange places, you know. I'll try out the potion."
He had no idea why Malfoy suddenly found it his obligation to be the one who always tries out their potions, though he figured it was to take learning about potions to a next level. After all, what better way to study potions than to actually experience them?
"No, Potter," Draco rolled his eyes, pushing the glass of Polyjuice towards him again. "Now hurry up."
And so Harry did, pulling out a few strands and dropping it in the glass. It sizzled for a bit and started turning into a clear, bright-gold color. "Cheers, Malfoy," he grinned.
Draco turned towards him, a little bit paler than usual. He scrunched his nose up at the glass. "Anything with you in it has got to be poison," he muttered, before downing it, looking like he did so with great effort.
Harry turned away, thinking that Malfoy would want a bit of privacy. He remembered his own experiences with Polyjuice and while it wasn't exactly painful, it still felt weird. He looked around the class and was amazed by what he saw. Two Blaise Zabinis, two Lavender Browns, two Padma Patils, two Hermione Grangers, two Ron Weasleys, two Gregory Goyles… He turned back to his own partner, and couldn't help the laugh that escaped him as his own splitting image stared back at him in wonder.
At his laughter, Draco-Harry sneered at him. "I'm glad you find this hilarious, Potter. That was absolutely horrid." Then he paused, surprised at Harry's voice coming out of his mouth.
Harry laughed some more. At least now he knew that a sneer did not fit him.
Draco turned himself around, looking down at himself. He grinned evilly. "Taking the Restoration Potion seems like such a waste now. It'd be so much fun dancing on top of the Gryffindor table like this."
It was during times like these that made Harry wonder what life would have been like had he taken Draco's hand back in first year. At the peak of the war, the Malfoys suddenly turned against Voldemort and Harry remembered being surprised at how relieved and lighter he felt after he found out that Draco and Narcissa were on their side. Lucius, however, stayed firm beside the Dark Lord and was now currently locked up in Azkaban.
Various groans around the classroom got their attention, and one by one, the Polyjuiced students returned to their original selves after drinking a glass of the Restoration Potion.
Draco-Harry sniffed remorsefully. "Shame," he said, shrugging as he Scourgified the glass that held the Polyjuice earlier before proceeding to transfer the Restoration Potion in their cauldron to it, filling it up halfway.
"Shame, indeed," Harry replied dryly.
Draco-Harry raised the glass to him in mock-toast before downing it in one go. He shuddered at the taste, setting the glass on their work table –
And Harry watched as Draco crumpled to the ground before him.
He panicked, jumping off his stool. His knees bumped painfully against the floor as Malfoy fell against him, shaking violently.
Snape was beside them in an instant. "What did you do, Potter?" he hissed.
Harry opened his mouth, eyes wide as he looked at the body convulsing in his arms. "Nothing! I – he suddenly –"
Then Malfoy suddenly went still, collapsing limply against Harry.
Harry took in a deep breath, turning him around to look at his face and feel for a pulse. He let out a shaky breath when he found one.
Everyone was around them now; scared, angry, shocked and curious faces crowding.
Snape cast a lightening charm on Malfoy, hissing at the other students to get out of the way as he picked Draco up in his arms. "Class is over, clean your workplaces. Granger, take charge." Then, he rounded on Harry, sneer in place. "Potter, come with me," he snapped, before he rushed out of the classroom, robes flying furiously behind him.
Harry took one last look at Hermione and Ron's white faces, before scrambling to his feet and towards the infirmary.
Draco woke up feeling light-headed for some reason, and he squinted at the white that was the ceiling. He could hear Snape's voice, and was that – Potter? And also Madame Pomfrey. He blinked – then groaned as he realized that he was in the infirmary.
With no idea why, he thought sourly.
He sat up, then groaned as a small wave of dizziness hit him.
The voices immediately stopped and suddenly there were hasty footsteps coming closer.
Draco blinked to get his vision in focus, before looking to his right where Madame Pomfrey was walking hurriedly towards him. He frowned. He blinked harder, because there were clear spots dancing in his vision. They became more visible as Madame Pomfrey came closer.
He stared dumbly.
Madame Pomfrey was finally beside him, talking to him with words that he wasn't listening to because he was busy staring at the… Well, they weren't spots anymore. Like a faint shimmering surrounding the witch. It was actually sort of pretty.
"I'll just do a few spells, Mr. Malfoy, just a quick check-up, okay?" Madame Pomfrey said, flicking her wand several times before she frowned.
Snape was now behind her, glancing at his student. "Is there anything wrong, Madame Pomfrey?"
There was that faint shimmering thing around Snape too.
"Nothing at all, Professor Snape, he's…" Madame Pomfrey trailed off, looking at Draco with confusion. "He's perfectly fine."
Snape raised an eyebrow at her.
"What was the potion that he took, again?"
At that, Snape glowered and Draco's attention was brought to Potter as he stood by the end of the bed, looking nervous and guilty and just confused. The same shimmering light surrounded his figure.
"Restoration Potion, supposedly," Snape replied, putting emphasis on the last word. He glared at Potter. "What did you put in the potion?"
"Nothing!" Harry said, waving his hands in front of him in defense. "Well, there was tarragon – wait, no, that was the one that blew up, but we followed the instructions perfectly the second time!" he let out sullenly.
"So you put nothing in it?" Snape said dryly.
"I already told you, nothing!" Harry replied, getting annoyed despite himself.
"It's possible, Professor Snape," Madame Pomfrey began, and all heads turned to look at her. "That Mr. Malfoy may have just had a bad reaction with the potion." She turned to Draco. "Mr. Malfoy, do you feel anything different?"
Draco shrugged, rubbing at his eyes. The shimmering was still there, around the three of them. "Not really, but you're all… shining," he finished dryly.
They all looked at him in incredulity.
"Shining," Snape repeated, unamused.
"Alright, dear, I think you need some more rest," Madame Pomfrey said. "You may be in perfect health, but that potion knocked you out pretty good."
Draco nodded, thinking that he was just still sleepy and he did feel a bit nauseated and dizzy…
"I'll wake you up before lunch, dear, now go back to sleep," Madame Pomfrey told him, before promptly closing the curtains around his bed.
He heard her shooing Professor Snape and Potter away, telling them not to disturb her patients.