Once again, it was a trying day in Potions class. Severus had to suppress every cringe, every gnash of his teeth, every growl that crept up the back of his throat as he listened to the student closest to him prepare her potion. The venomous glares he was unable to hold back.
Because of the singing.
Why was she singing? This could be easily explained. Beyond the black robes and commonalties in her uniform shared by all of the students in the room, there was a touch of sunshine to her outfit. There was also an annoyingly large and much too cheerful lemony yellow bow in her hair. The ends of the ribbon swished about as she hummed and sang, and it was all Severus could do not to turn the bow into a constrictor to put her and the rest of the class out of their misery.
Even more an annoyance than the bow was the song. The song that would be stuck in his head until the next session, when there would be a different song for the potion of the day.
“Doxy eggs will make it pink
Add one measure and make it stink
Add fairy wings if you are wise
The potion now turns turquoise
Add seahorses, one-two-three
And heat until it all turns green”
Of course, this one actually seemed less annoying that the very first time he heard her singing, during the first year, when it was ‘Six serpent’s fangs we shall mash, and add some slugs, just a dash. Now stir until you count to four, and for good measure, stir once more.’
Severus sucked air in sharply through his nose as he closed his eyes, and yet, he still glared at her behind the closed lids. The great blasphemy of it all was that in order to make things rhyme, she had sometimes mixed up the order of operations, and it almost always ended in—
“Aiee!” A small, yet colorful explosion rose up from the cauldron to the left. Severus kept his eyes on his own concoction now as the professor scurried over to tend to the singed and pouting Hufflepuff.
At least the singing had stopped.
* * *
Head down, gaze upon the floor, books and supplies clutched tightly. It was Severus’ typical routine when traveling from Potions class back to the Slytherin Dungeon. Conversation rumbled about on either side of him, and for the most part, Severus preferred to ignore it. He was about to round the corner to take the flight of steps downward when an unfortunately all too commonly heard chirpy voice announced something meant to be heard by only her companions.
“James Potter is an obnoxious imbecile!”
Severus halted so abruptly that a fifth-year almost walked into him. The Slytherin ducked around the older student as he mumbled an apology of sorts and approached the trio of Hufflepuffs. They were all his own age, but he somehow suspected that from the voice he had heard. A quick look about confirmed that the terrible James Potter was nowhere to be seen. Severus took one step closer to the now wary Hufflepuffs and uttered one word to his classmate.
“About what?” she asked.
The three Hufflepuffs exchanged looks. Finally, the girl with the much-too-bright bow in her hair spoke. “He suggested instead of Potions class it should be renamed Poisons class if I am in it.”
The three Hufflepuffs were quiet and looked over the boy. It was as if the girls were expecting the Slytherin student to laugh, but he did not, and so the disgruntled student continued. “Some of us came here to learn things, not just parade around and have everyone tell us how great we are.” She was pouting again, just as she had been at the end of the class. “Next week, I am going to work extra hard to get next week’s potion extra right, so that I can use it on that louse!”
“Don’t get sore about it, Buttercup,” advised one of the other Hufflepuffs.
“Yeah!” agreed the other. “You can show that James Potter he’s not good at everything at the Quidditch game!”
“Gryffindor doesn’t stand a chance against us!”
Severus would have begged to differ, from what he had seen of the Quidditch teams so far this season, but he declined comment and slowly slipped away as the three continued their discussion of the game.
* * *
Severus was currently breaking two of his self-imposed rules. One: Keep cauldron as far away from all other classmates as possible so that their failures do not accidentally leech over. Two: Speak to no one.
Part of his time was spent working on his own potion; the other half, he worked as tutor to the girl next to him.
She held up her prepared sneezewort, and he told her to use half the amount. She crushed the lovage, and he made her start over when he noticed she had left the seeds in. And when she started to sing about scurvy grass, he glared, and she stopped.
And in the end, they each had a perfect batch of potion.
And somehow, James Potter couldn’t figure out which end of the broom was up come the next Quidditch game.