Ginny’s friends flashed her
sympathetic smiles as she walked out of the Great Hall.
As she trudged down the steps
to the dungeons, she wondered what horrors Snape had in store for her tonight.
He couldn’t possibly make her scrub the floor, Colin Creevey had done that last
Monday, and it had been sparklingly clean since then. After Neville’s effort
last week she doubted if Snape was short of pickled rat’s brains, or would be
anytime soon; and judging by the disheveled, exhausted look Annie Parker had
given her last night when she passed her in the hallway, the trophies were in
tiptop order. Ginny cast about for assignments he could give her, but drew
blank every time. She herself had scrubbed the cauldrons last time she had a
detention and that had only been a week ago.
Finding herself in front of
the door to the Potions classroom, she laid her musings aside and opened the
door, greeting the surly Potions Master with all the brightness she could
“Good evening, Professor
“So you’re here, Weasley.”
Snape glanced at his clock and seemed to find to his dismay that Ginny was punctual,
so there were no house points he could extract for tardiness.
“I need to make a large batch
of headache-healing-potions for Madam Pomfrey. I need my ingredients prepared.
They’re in there.” Snape pointed to a door at the back of the dungeon. “I
expect first rate work, or you will have to repeat your detention tomorrow
Ginny was surprised at how
easy the assignment was. Most people that got detentions from Snape ended up
scrubbing something or other with a good amount of physical force, or doing some disgusting
menial work with potion ingredients, while Ginny escaped such work most of the
time. Her assignments were more often than not in the area of preparing potion
ingredients for the brewing of a potion or even making the potion herself. He
also seemed to save up the work of cleaning the crystal and glass tools until
he could give her detention. Ginny didn’t mind such work. Snape hadn’t even
objected when she hauled out a cauldron and heated the washing water. He also
didn’t mind her putting water repellant charms on her hands. After her three
years at Hogwarts Ginny had
come to the conclusion that
the Potions Master didn’t mind if she used small magic to help, as long as her
work was done appropriately, without complaint, and still had some punishment
value. But then again, Ginny got more detentions from Professor Snape than
Ginny set to work with
determination, deciding to get this over with as soon as possible. She
thoroughly enjoyed potions and excelled at them. The surly Professor hardly
ever criticized her work, and if he did, he usually said something like:
“You might want to cut those
shrivelfigs into smaller pieces next time, Miss Weasley, as that usually gives
a better result.”
Ginny worked, slicing and cutting,
and letting her mind wander a bit. She started humming slightly as she liked to
do while she worked, an old tune that had once been popular on the Wizarding
Wireless Network. An hour later, her humming had turned into singing as she
worked on grounding scarab beetles into fine powder. The barking voice behind
her was so unexpacted that she jumped in surprise and sent the mortar flying to
the ground, scattering the fine powder everywhere.
“Well done, Miss Weasley.
You’ll clean up this mess instantly and come back here tomorrow to finish the
The injustice of this was so
overwhelming that Ginny turned on Snape, suddenly furious.
“What???! I can’t believe
you! You intend to claim this is my fault?”
Snape looked at her with
malice, saying icily: “Ten points from Gryffindor for insolence towards a
professor.” Ginny almost breathed fire.
“You came barking up behind
me, despite the fact that you must have heard that I was very much in my own
world-” here Ginny flushed scarlet at the thought that the potions master must have listened to
her singing, but she didn’t stop “-and it was no big surprise I jumped in
shock! What did you expect? What were you trying to tell me anyway?”
“I was trying to tell you
that there was no need to ground the scarab beetles so fine, Miss Weasley but
that’s beside the point, the point...”
He could get no further
because Ginny interrupted him. “What! And make the poor sick people that come
searching for remedy choke on their medicine because they just discovered
something foul in it?”
Snape had obviously not
thought of that, but he wasn’t about to make that stand in his way of
reprimanding the first student in years to interrupt him.
“Fifty more points from
Gryffindor, Weasley, and if I hear another word of complaint from you I’ll make
“You could clean this with no
more than a flick of your wand, and get your ingredients tonight, but instead
you intend to blame this on me and make me suffer through another detention
tomorrow, while this one wasn’t even fair in the first place. What was it for,
again? Not being able to answer the question on the difference of the effect
between a blue butterworth and a purple one on a potion used to heal stomach
sickness! I looked for it! Blue butterworth is good to prevent menstrual pains
and cramps, while purple butterworth will cure it! I found it in the footnotes!
You wouldn’t have asked any
of the Slytherins to answer this question! As a matter of fact, you wouldn’t
have asked anyone else but me to answer this question! What is it with you? You
seem to hold grudges against some of your students! You give out more
detentions alone than the other teacher combined! You must have someone down
here every bloody night! Don't you have anywhere else to be?”
Ginny regretted the words as
soon as they’d left her mouth, and braced herself for the coming storm, and the
detentions for the next month she was sure to receive. Yet, to her surprise,
the explosion never came. Instead her Potions Master flicked his wand, sending
the scattered powder into the fire and then said curtly, but through gritted
Ginny’s jaw fell as she
watched Professor Snape sweep out of the small room. This was no ordinary response,
and certainly not the one she had expected.
Numbly she started to work
again on the potion ingredients while her mind whirred with double speed over
the revelation that had just been made, going this way or that stopping to
wonder whether there was any reason she so often got detention. Finally she
thought back to an over a month old discussion with a house-elf.
Ginny was quite fond of
house-elves, even fonder than Hermione, although she found the S.P.E.W. quite
ridiculus. Ginny could actually have given her friend a good lecture on
house-elves and their nature, but refrained out of fear of insulting Hermione.
In Ginny’s opinion, the reason Hermione hadn’t known there were house-elves at
Hogwarts until her fourth year, was because until she found out about their
working conditions she wasn’t interested enough to care. Ginny had taken the
trouble to get to know the house-elf that most of the time tended to her
dormitory, and often spoke with her when she came to do her work. She had even
managed to make her accept a christmas present! The elf’s name was Maia, and
Ginny had found out about a month ago that the house-elf had other duties
beside tidying her dormitory, Maia also tended Professor Snape’s quarters.
Ginny had come home, tired after a detention with Snape, cursing him for making
her stay so long, so now she was overdue with a Transfiguration assignment and
would probably have to stay up all night to study. Maia had been in the
dormitory and had unexpectedly disagreed with her on Professor Snape.
“But, miss, Professor Snape
is a very good man! He doesn’t get angry if Maia is there when he comes in. And
he knows that Maia likes music very much so sometimes I thinks he leaves his
music on just so Maia can listen to it.”
Maia had blushed faintly at
this and was obviously wondering if she’d revealed a secret she’d have to
punish herself for.
Ginny had cut her off rather
“His music? What do you mean,
“Miss, Professor Snape likes
music very much. He listens to it all the time. He has one of those radio
things in his study!”
Ginny had been to dumbfounded
to ask any further. She hadn’t figured that Professor Snape was actually
interested in anything besides potions and making other people miserable.
As her hands worked to cut
down roots and greenery, Ginny started, weakly at first, but gaining courage
from the silence in the other room, to sing. She couldn’t help but wonder
whether her guess was right, however she was determined to stay undaunted. The
dungeons, she had noticed earlier, carried sound very effectively, and taking
full advantage of that, she sang one song after another, until her work was
finished and she had come to a conclusion.
She didn’t dislike the
professor. She might disapprove of his methods, especially of his method of
gaining company. Yet, she felt somehow oddly sorry for him, felt like he was an
actor, playing a minor role he didn’t like. Also, she was interested in him,
wondered why he had nowhere else to be, and if he felt somehow detached from
the other teachers.
Tonight, she was sure, she’d
seen a side of him he’d kept hidden for a long time.
Walking a bit cautiously into
the outer room, Ginny neared Professor Snape’s desk. Suddenly, he looked up and
she nearly jumped back in fright. “Erm... Professor ... I was just
Snape cut her stutterings
off. “Say it, Weasley”
“Well, like I said, I was
just wondering, there is a potion for dreamless sleep, isn’t there? Not a
sleeping potion, just something to ward off bad dreams, isn’t there?”
“Yes, Miss Weasley, there is,
as I’m sure you already know.”
“Is it possible that I can
brew it? Because since my first year I’ve been having these bad dreams, and I
really don’t need Madam Pomfrey and mum to fuss over me...”
Ginny broke off, as she
thought she detected a strange glimmer in her teacher’s eyes. He seemed to be
considering the matter. Then he reached under the desk and pulled out a library
permission slip, filling it in, with the name of a book and his signature.
“Take this to Madam Pince,
she will give you the book you need. Bring those of the ingredients you have to
me on Monday evening. I’ll provide the rest and oversee what you’re doing, but
with your capability for Potions you should be able to manage it.”
Ginny was in the hallway
leading up to the portrait hole, when she stopped abrubtly. “Wait a second,”
she said softly to herself. “Was that a compliment?”
A small smile tugged at the
corners of her lips as she climbed through the portrait hole and made her way
up to her dormitory. At least, if her guess was right, there wouldn’t be any
detentions on Monday night.