The Sugar Quill
Author: Miss Pince  Story: The Detention  Chapter: Default
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“See you!”

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 muster.


“Good evening, Professor Snape.”


“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 night.”


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 anyone else.


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 ingredients.”


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 it double.”

“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 teeth: “No.”


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 incredulously-


“His music? What do you mean, his music?”


“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.



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