Bad Faith Book 1

2. Potion Master

By the time my Tuesday potions lesson rolled around, I was feeling rather exhausted. Despite my love of potion brewing, I couldn't find the slightest hint of enthusiasm for brewing a potion I had no use for.

Severus sighed lightly as he took the seat next to me. Breakfast that morning had been particularly quiet between the two of us as if my new friend could feel that I didn't have the energy to listen to him ramble on about Potter or Black. Then again, it might have been because I had told him that the two Gryffindors didn't bother me.

Slughorn sent us off to do our potions in pairs and I couldn't help but notice that while Severus's handwriting may be awful, he really did have skilled fingers. I watched with professional interest as Severus sliced fairy wings so perfectly that he nearly powdered them. It was his turn to watch with interest as I fiddled with the heat on our cauldron. He glanced at his own notes before comparing them with mine.

"Does the half of a degree lower temperature really make that much difference?" Severus asked as he compared the rest of our notes to see all the little differences I knew thanks to my summer tutor.

"It makes it more potent. It also increases the overall time by five minutes. Not that big of a difference, but most people don't know the tricks." I stood up and carefully stirred the potion so it wouldn't burn. I glanced around and noticed a few of the other student's cauldrons were already turning a hint of blue. Some of them, like Sirius Black and his partner Emmeline Vance, were already making mistakes. Theirs happened to be set too hot.

"If you want a good show, check out Black and Vance. Their potion is going to burn and turn a nasty shade of green here in about two minutes if they don't fix it fast." I whispered softly nudging Severus to look over at them.

A couple minutes later, just as my potion was turning turquoise, the room was filled with dark billows of smoke as Sirius and Emmeline's potion burned beyond repair. I rolled my eyes at Severus's smile and added doxy eggs to my potion. This time I turned the potion to the same temperature the book suggested.

Severus and I continued in silence as he helped me brew. I also noticed him occasionally looking around the room to compare our potion to the ones our classmates were brewing around us. I could see him making notes on exactly what shade different potions were turning. I assumed he wanted to know which ones were best.

Towards the end of class Slughorn did a sweep of the class and I sensed him stop behind us. "Oh, class, look at this." Professor Slughorn dipped a ladle into our potion and spooned it into a vial. I held back my wince. You really should never take samples of a half completed potion for any reason. "Look at this beautiful shade of royal blue. I daresay it's almost as perfect as my own Girding Potion."

Severus took over for me, following my notes instead of his own. I took the momentary break as a chance to glance around the room. Most people's potions had left the blue colour and were already heading towards green. A few of my classmates were actually turning their heat completely off to let their already green potions cool. Sirius and Emmeline, who had been forced to restart, were over-stirring their potion slightly, but I noted that it was turning a nice maroon colour. It was definitely a few shades off of the Gryffindor red that it was supposed to be, but it was close enough that it didn't look to be dangerous at the moment.

I stretched my arms wide and popped my back before kneeling down to make sure that Severus had followed my notes correctly. He had. I was starting to wonder if he had even needed my notes to realize that the book wasn't designed to be perfect. Every potion we had learned or would ever learn, in our entire lives, was subject to change if we would only bother to focus on perfecting it. That had been my first lesson last summer.

I smiled up at Severus. "Do you know how many times I had to brew this potion to figure out just what needed to be done?"

"You're the one who figured it out? I thought your Potion Master taught you." He whispered, slightly shocked.

"Oh no. Mr White was under the impression that you can't truly learn anything if you are told the answers. Many of his apprentices are excellent potion masters themselves because he taught them that a potion is never perfect. You can always improve it by changing the little things like stirring it half-a-time less or adding half a dragonfly thorax more." I laughed hollowly as I remembered the endless hours of brewing and experimenting and re-brewing. "He also makes you test your own potions that way you learn better if you mess up."

"Mr White is a wise Potion Master." Severus whispered reverently.

"He is indeed. He's very strict with his apprentices, but it's only because he expects the best of them." I sighed. "Turn off the heat. That's the colour of green it's supposed to be."

Severus cut the heat and we both relaxed into our seats for the last few minutes of waiting for the florescent green potion to fade to the perfect shade of light gold. It was only a few minutes to the end of class and Professor Slughorn was making his rounds again. He commented on many of the potions in the class, giving students advice and gentle corrections. Most of the potions had turned an agreeable shade, though one of the potions was a strange bronze colour that looked like it was something totally different. I didn't know its brewers names, but the Slytherin one looked a bit like a troll.

"Again an excellent display of the correct shade, Mr Snape and Miss Malfoy. Ten points each to Slytherin for brewing the best potion in class. Five points to each Miss Evans and Mr Zabini for brewing the second best." Professor Slughorn nodded to each table as he held up a vial of each of our potions. They were nearly identical, I had to admit. This Lily Evans truly was as decent of a witch as I

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