The Sugar Quill
Author: A_Wash1979 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Awakened Sleeper  Chapter: Chapter 1: The Egg of the Phoenix
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There was chaos in the Potions classroom

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling.  No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

 

Acknowledgements: Thanks to DeathHawk for your comments.  They are greatly appreciated.  I want to extend a very special thanks to my beta, PirateQueen.  You've helped me so much!  It's truly been a pleasure working with you, and I look forward to our continued partnership.

 

 

“Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.”

-- Christina Baldwin

 

Chapter 1

The Egg of the Phoenix

 

There was chaos in the Potions classroom.  It was the first day of another year at Hogwarts, and Professor Slughorn was nowhere to be found.  Not that anyone actually noticed or cared.  Most students were too busy discussing their summer holidays, O.W.L. results, who was dating whom, and other topics that the average teenage witch or wizard considered vitally important.

 

Severus Snape was not your average teenage wizard. 

 

On this particular day Severus could be found sitting at a table in the back of the room, his nose buried in a book.  To the casual observer, it would seem that he was completely engrossed in said book.  In actual fact, Severus was listening very intently to a conversation taking place at the table in front of him. 

 

The first voice was rather animated; excited even.  “This is your year, mate!  I can feel it.  Don’t ask me how I know.  I just do!”

 

Oh, Black.  When has it not been Potter’s year? Severus thought bitterly.  Hogwarts would probably cease to function if Potter wasn’t here.  Pretentious prat.

 

The second voice – which Severus now knew belonged to James Potter – sounded bored; almost miserable.  “My year for what exactly, Padfoot?”

 

Padfoot?  Where do they get these ridiculous nicknames?  They sound as if they’re five years old.

 

“I just have a feeling that sixth year will go down in history as the year you finally snagged Lily Evans!”  This proclamation produced a few stares and chuckles from several students seated close by.

 

Severus took a chance and quickly glanced at the two of them.  Well, well, well.  That looked like embarrassment on Potter’s face.  He grinned into his copy of Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage.  I’d much rather see that look on his face instead of that smirk he loves so much.

 

“Why don’t you yell it a little louder, Sirius?” hissed James.  “I don’t think they heard you – in China!”

 

“Far be it from me to deprive the Chinese of this important announcement.”  At this point, Severus lifted his head completely along with the majority of the class, for Sirius Black was standing in his chair yelling at the top of his lungs.  “THIS WILL BE THE YEAR THAT JAMES POTTER WILL WIN THE AFFECTIONS OF THE FAIR, THE LOVELY – OUCH!”  By dropping several thick books on Sirius’s foot, James made certain that Sirius wouldn’t divulge the details of their conversation to everyone in the room.

 

For once, Severus was hoping that Black would continue with his silly antics.  Bravo, Black!  How I wished you would have completed your statement.  Oh, I could have replayed that moment of mortification in my mind over and over again.  The somewhat private conversation between the two people Severus Snape hated the most had resumed so Severus continued to listen.

 

“Stupid git!”  James sighed and said, “Why do I continue to call you my best friend?”

 

Maybe because you’re both self-absorbed twits who feed each other’s oversized egos?

 

Naturally, Sirius was ready with a flippant comeback.  “Because you’re a glutton for punishment, mate.  A masochist, if you will.  You probably did something really nasty in your early childhood, and you feel you must be punished.  As a member of the Sadistic and Most Vile House of Black, I’m happy to oblige.”

 

“Well, thank you for the Muggle psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.  Let’s get back to that ‘This is your year’ rubbish you were talking about.”

 

Yes, I’m just dying to hear the rest of this.  The more Severus thought about it, the more he realized that he was actually intrigued by this conversation.  I can’t believe I’m sitting here listening to these two chatter like a couple of gossipy first-year girls.  However, I could learn something that I can use to my advantage later.  Of course, Severus continued to listen.

 

“Look, I’ve figured it all out.  I even talked it over with Moony, and he approves.  This plan is golden.”

 

Black just loves the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he?

 

“You’re not making sense.  Just spit it out, ok?”  It was apparent from the tone in his voice that James was getting impatient.

 

“Ok.  You know how Lily is the best Potions student in our year, right?”

 

Second best!  Severus wanted to yell at Black.   As if I would allow some Mudblood to outperform me.

 

“Right…but what’s that got to do with me?”

 

“Well, you’re OK in Potions, but not spectacular.  I mean, you only got an A on your O.W.L.  Lily received an O.”

 

Oh, I see where this is going.  Potter’s too thick to figure it out, Black.  You’ll have to spell it out for him.

 

“Spell it out for me, Sirius.”

 

Ha!

 

“Oh, all right!  You’re going to go up to Lily Evans right now and ask her to tutor you in Potions.  It’s perfect.  She knows you’re not the greatest at Potions, so she won’t suspect that you’ve got…er, other things on your mind.  You can show her that you’re not a…what was it she called you last term…oh, yes!  A bullying toerag!”

 

“Thank you for bringing up such a very embarrassing moment once again, Padfoot.  That aside, this is probably the greatest idea you’ve ever had!  What am I doing wasting my time with you?”  James jumped out of his seat and said, “It’s been real, Sirius, but hopefully I won’t have to look at your ugly mug during Potions ever again.”

 

With that James crossed the room to speak to Lily, who was seated near the front of the room.  Sirius looked down at his watch and looked toward the door.  He must be looking for the other two members of his little clique, thought Severus as his gaze followed Sirius’s. 

 

On cue, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew ran into the room and slammed themselves down into the seats next to Sirius, both panting heavily.

 

Between pants, Remus managed to say, “Oh, good.  We beat Professor Slughorn.  I just knew we were going to cost Gryffindor some points.”

 

Sirius snatched up his books.  “Watch the panting, Fido.  I don’t particularly care to have you drooling all over my things.”

 

“Ha, ha, ha,” Remus replied with the dry tone of someone who was used to this particular type of joke.  “Stop it.  You’re killing me.  Really.  Oh, by the way, I noticed that you didn’t eat much at breakfast this morning.  I brought you a little snack.”  Remus starting rooting around in his book sack.  “Ah, here you go!”  He began chuckling as he slapped a bag of dog treats on the table in front of Sirius.

 

Through uncontrollable peals of laughter, Sirius managed to say, “Thanks, Moony.  What took you two so long?”

 

Peter hastily answered, “It was all my fault, Sirius.  The seam in my book sack finally ripped completely and Moony helped me gather my stuff.”

 

“Honestly, I thought you were going to chuck that thing in the rubbish bin at the end of last term.  I can’t believe you didn’t get a new one.  You did manage to mend it properly this time, didn’t you?”

 

“Oh, yeah.  No blood!”

 

“I’m thrilled.  Anyway, after what seemed like an hour-long explanation, I briefed Prongs on our little plan.”  Sirius gestured toward the front of the room.  “Look, he’s actually over there talking to Lily.”

 

The three of them looked across the room to see James attempting to engage Lily in conversation.  By the suspicious look on Lily’s face, things did not appear to be going as planned.

 

Good.  I hope he falls flat on his face.  He doesn’t deserve her.  Severus dropped the Potions textbook on the table.  Where the hell did that come from?  Maybe I should actually read this book now.  I’ve spent too much time listening to these berks; their idiocy is contagious.

 

It was at that moment the elusive Professor Slughorn finally entered the classroom.

 

“Pipe down; the party is over!  Find your seats quickly, please.”  There was a mad scramble as students rushed to find their seats.  James quickly sat in the empty seat next to Lily, who rolled her eyes and focused her attention on Professor Slughorn.

 

“I do sincerely apologize for my tardiness,” Professor Slughorn continued as he began to walk up the aisle.  “I had some urgent business that I had to attend to.”

 

Sirius turned to Remus and muttered, “Yeah, wheedling a few favors from somebody, no doubt.”

 

“Ah, Mr. Black!”  Professor Slughorn stopped abruptly.  “I didn’t quite catch that last comment.  Please speak up and enlighten the rest of the class, if you will.”

 

“Er…I said, ‘You’re in need of some tutoring from somebody, no doubt.’”  Sirius looked Professor Slughorn in the eye and continued.  “I was speaking to Remus about his O.W.L. results, sir.”

 

Professor Slughorn furrowed his brow.  “Yes…I’m sure you were.  However, it seems strange that you would suggest tutoring to someone who ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in Potions.”

 

Never one to be outdone by anyone – even a teacher – Sirius never missed a beat.  “Well, sir, since ‘Outstanding’ is the highest score one can receive, it would seem that there is room for improvement for one who only ‘Exceeds Expectations.’  Also, I never mentioned that we were talking about his Potions O.W.L.s…sir.”

 

Clearly amused, the corner of Professor Slughorn’s mouth quivered a bit.  “Quite right, Mr. Black.  I have missed your cheek over the summer.  Nevertheless, I would like to proceed with teaching my class, if that’s alright with you?”

 

With a twinkle in his eye and a smug grin on his face, Sirius replied, “Of course you may, sir.”

 

Unbelievable!  I just don’t understand how Black and his crew of miscreants get away with such disrespect.  Severus rolled his eyes and redirected his attention where it belonged.

 

Professor Slughorn continued his stroll around the room.  “I’d like to share something with you all.  As you know, I’ve been teaching for quite a long time.  You might not believe this, but sometimes it gets a bit dull teaching the same things the same way, year after year.  You have to find new ways to keep things interesting.  So I’ve decided to shake things up a bit this year!”

 

There was a complete lack of sound in the room.  It was as if someone had cast a mass Silencing Charm on the entire class.  No one knew what to make of Professor Slughorn’s statement.

 

“This year each student will work with a partner.  Each pair of students will be given two potions – one to be given during our next class meeting and the other to be given after the Christmas holiday.”  Professor Slughorn’s excitement was almost tangible.  It seemed as if the air around him was crackling with excitement.  “You will not be told what type of potions they are.  Your task this year will be to determine the functions and ingredients of both potions, as well as to reproduce them.”

 

Now there were murmurs throughout the classroom.  This was completely unexpected.  However the worst was yet to come.

 

“Settle down, students.  I haven’t finished yet.”  Professor Slughorn had walked around the perimeter of the classroom and was now standing behind his desk.  “I’ve always felt that there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of competition.  A competitive spirit sometimes brings out the best in us.  But there’s been entirely too much tension among the four Houses as of late – particularly between Slytherin and Gryffindor.  I’m hoping I can help change that.  This year each Slytherin student will be paired with a Gryffindor student.”

 

Again, there was a moment of silence as every student in the room tried to wrap his or her head around what the Professor had just said.  Then all hell broke loose.

 

“Are you mental?”

 

“I’m not going to spend one second studying with a sodding Gryffindor!”

 

“I don’t care if I have to repeat my sixth year, I’m not working with a Slytherin!”

 

“I’ll be owling my parents about this!  He can’t make us do this!”

 

“He’s a loony!”

 

Every student in the classroom had something to say about their new assignment, even the students who were traditionally very quiet in class.  Finally, after about a minute or so, Professor Slughorn used the Sonorus Charm on his voice and said, “BE QUIET!”  Again, there was silence.

 

The professor pointed his wand at his throat and said, “QUIETUS!”  He cleared his throat and continued.  “That’s better.  I’m glad I warned the Headmaster about this ahead of time.  I had a feeling I was going to have to get extremely loud with you people.  I only hope I didn’t disturb the other classrooms in the castle.”  He shook his head.  “Your reaction to this assignment is exactly what I was talking about.  You children are too young to be carrying this much resentment about.”  To emphasize his point, Professor Slughorn banged his fist on his desk and said, “You will participate, you will like it, or you will be spending your entire sixth year in detention.  No Quidditch matches, no trips to Hogsmeade, NOTHING!”  Professor Slughorn took a minute to look each student in the eye to show them that he wasn’t senile and that he meant every word he had just said.  Then he smoothed out the front of his robes, smiled and said, “Do we have an understanding?”

 

The class mumbled in unison.  “Yes, Professor Slughorn.”

 

The professor glanced at his pocket watch.  “Well, we have just enough time left for you to receive your partner assignments.  I will put your assignments on the board along with a new seating chart.  Once you’ve found your assignment you are to find your new partner and your new seat immediately.”  With a wave of his wand, a seating chart appeared on the board behind him.  The names of the Slytherin students appeared in green, while the Gryffindor students appeared in red.  The students reluctantly began walking to the board to find out who they were paired with.

 

Severus scanned the board with the rest of his classmates.  With my luck, I’ll have to look at Potter or Black all year.  His eyes finally rested on the name Severus Snape right next to…Lily Evans.  His eyes widened in shock.  What?  I have to work with the girl I’ve been competing against all these years?  Severus felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.  He could feel someone staring at him.  He spun around suddenly and found himself staring into a pair of almond-shaped green eyes that were just as wide as his own.

 

After a minute of intense staring, Lily finally said, “W-we sit at the table directly in front of Professor Slughorn’s desk.  I guess we’d better sit down.”  She abruptly turned around and moved to her old seat to gather her belongings.

 

Severus continued to stand there, dumbstruck.  Then, suddenly, he felt like someone was staring at him again.  He looked to his left.  James Potter was glaring at Severus like he wanted to perform the Killing Curse on him.  A feeling of intense glee spread throughout Severus Snape’s body.  A smile slowly spread across his face.  Severus walked over to James.  He quickly glanced at the board before turning back around and whispering, “Don’t worry, Potter.  I’m sure Magnus McLauren can help you with your tutoring.”  Then he looked James in the eye and hissed, “Lily’s in good hands....  Well, she will be, I assure you.”

 

As Severus expected, James lunged at him.  Severus jumped back just as Sirius and Remus grabbed the back of James’s robe.

 

“Bastard!  Let me go!  NOW!”  It took Sirius, Remus, and two other boys to keep James contained.

 

“Settle down!  You boys take Potter out into the corridor immediately!  Severus Snape, what did you say to him?”

 

It was now Severus’s turn to turn on the charm.  “Sir, I merely stated to James that I was sure that Magnus would gladly help tutor him in Potions.  You see, earlier I overheard that Potter’s potion-making skills were wanting.  I don’t think he liked me pointing out his shortcomings, sir.”

 

“Well, Severus, not everyone likes their weaknesses pointed out to them.  So let’s refrain from discussing that particular topic with Potter again, alright?”

 

Severus nodded his head and replied, “Yes, sir.  I’m sure I speak for every Slytherin in this room when I say that although we were shocked and surprised by your assignment, you needn’t worry about any resistance on our part.”

 

Professor Slughorn grinned proudly and said, “I never doubted my own house.  Ten points to Slytherin House for attempting to reach out to your fellow students.  I’m taking ten points from Gryffindor for rebuffing the Slytherins so violently.”

 

There was a mixture of cheers and grumbles as Severus took his seat next to Lily.  Lily looked at Severus with an odd mixture of awe and revulsion.  “Now what did you really say to James?”

 

Severus opened his Potions textbook and calmly murmured, “I just told the Professor what I said.  Are you hard of hearing?”

 

Lily just shook her head and began jerking her books out of her book sack.  “Professor Slughorn obviously bought that performance, but I certainly didn’t.  I can’t believe you lost us ten points already.  Just don’t talk to me.”  Lily opened her textbook and began reading silently.

 

“Oh…I’m so terribly hurt.  Lily Evans doesn’t want to talk to me.”  Severus turned the page and dryly added, “I’ll try to muddle through somehow.”  I have to endure this for a year?  Severus stole a quick glance at Lily.  Then again, anything that makes Potter this mad can’t be all bad.

 

*~*~*~*

 

While the other students were inside trying to adjust to their new seating arrangements, Sirius and Remus were in the corridor attempting to calm James down.  “James, it’s over.  Let it go.  You’ve probably just earned yourself at least a week’s worth of detention.  Snape isn’t worth it.”  Remus was often the voice of reason, having to rein in the antics of his three best friends.

 

Sirius looked James in the eye.  “Listen to Moony.  You’ve already given Snivellus the satisfaction of knowing he got to you.  Don’t make it worse.”  Sirius gave James a hard pat on the back.  “Besides, now we get to have fun exacting our revenge.  And we do have to get him back for this.”  Sirius directed his last statement at Remus, who merely shook his head and chuckled softly.

 

James closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  They’re right, you git.  You’re supposed to be more mature now.  The type of guy who would just ignore Snape, not try to beat him senseless.  “You’re both right.  I’ll let it go, but I’m not going to forget what he said about Lily.  If I catch wind that he’s laid so much as a finger on her I’ll…I’ll…”

 

Sirius looked at James expectantly.  “You’ll what, mate?”

 

What would Lily want you to do?  James looked defeated as he shook his head and said, “Never mind.  Forget about it.”  He angled his head toward the classroom door.  “I s’pose we ought to go back in there and find out who we’ve been matched up with.”  And find out just how much detention I racked up, James thought to himself.

 

Remus studied James closely.  Over the summer the two of them had discussed the events that had taken place that late spring day last June.  Although, James had tried to hide it, Remus could see just how much Lily’s comments had hurt his friend.  James had always considered himself a decent fellow.  So when Lily had equated his behavior with Snape’s, it had been quite a blow to James’s ego.  After the initial shock had worn off, James had resolved to change for the better – to change for Lily.  At the time, Remus hadn’t taken James seriously, but as he studied James now, he realized that James was completely committed to changing his ways.

 

Remus smiled warmly at James.  “It’s time to face the music.  Just try not to look at him.  Walk into that room like the last few moments never happened.  That, my friend, will piss Snape off more than anything else will.”

 

James laughed as he began making his way toward the Potions classroom.  “You two coming?”

 

Sirius began to answer yes, but Remus interjected, “We’ll be along in a bit.”  James shrugged his shoulders and entered the classroom.  Sirius stared at Remus suspiciously.

 

“You obviously want to talk to me about something,” Sirius stated with caution.  He inclined his head and continued.  “So, what is it, Moony?”

 

Remus just stood there for a moment trying to find the right words.  Finally, he looked at Sirius and said, “Look, you know how much James likes Lily.  He’s gotten it into his head that if he can change – you know, stop all the hexing and joking around that you two have done in the past – that maybe she’ll begin to take him seriously.  He might be onto something.”

 

Sirius folded his arms across his chest.  “Fine.  What does it have to do with me?”

 

“It has everything to do with you.  I know you, Sirius.  Even now you’re plotting some nasty little trick to pull on Snape.  James is trying to be a little more mature, but being as loyal as he is, he’ll probably help you anyway.”  Remus took a deep breath.  He hated conflict, especially when he was forced to confront his friends.  His aversion to arguments was often the reason why he never stopped his friends when they were taking the mickey out of someone.  “Would it kill you to just let this thing go?”

 

Sirius softened his expression.  He could see how important this was to both his friends.  “I won’t do anything to the greasy git…this time.  I can’t promise anything more than that.”

 

Remus visibly relaxed.  “I wouldn’t expect you to.  C’mon, back to class we go.  You never know – you might make a new friend this year.”  Remus chuckled.  “You friends with a Slytherin.  Wouldn’t that make Mummy proud?”

 

“Oh, yeah.  I can hear her squawking now.”  Sirius cleared his throat and – in a rather shrill, high pitched voice – proceeded to imitate his mother.  “It’s good to see that you’ve begun making the right sort of friends.  You’ve shamed the family long enough.”  Sirius took his wand out and pantomimed blasting his mother with a hex.  “I wish I could blast the lot of them into oblivion.”  He put his wand away and looked at Remus.  Sirius could see that his actions worried his friend.  “Just joking.  Don’t take everything so seriously.”

 

Even though Sirius tried to behave as though he didn’t care about being the black sheep of the Black family, Remus knew that it bothered him.  Remus wanted to say something, but thought better of it.  Now wasn’t the time to get into a conversation about Sirius’s family dysfunction.  “Let’s get back in there before we wind up in detention as well.”  Remus allowed Sirius to enter the classroom first.  I have a feeling there are going to be lots of changes this year.  Remus sighed to himself.  And a lot of those changes won’t be for the better.

 

 

Author’s Notes:  Thank you for reading!  I consider myself a lifelong learner, and I am always in the process of self-improvement.  Your reviews will help me out tremendously.  So, what are you waiting for?  Review this thing already!

 

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