Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The Potions Master

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disclaimer: I only own Arabella and anything that's not in the books.

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The Potions Master

'There, look.'

'Where?'

'Next to the tall kid with the red hair.'

'Next to that girl with brown hair.'

'Did you see his face?'

'Did you see his scar?'

Whispers followed Harry for the moment he left his dormitory next day. People queuing outside the classrooms stood on tiptoe to get a look at him, or double back to pass him in the corridors again, staring. Harry wished they wouldn't, because he was trying to concentrate on finding his way to classes.

Harry, Ron and Arabella kept getting lost to all their classes. There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts, each one trickier than the next. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely or tickle them in the right spot, and doors that didn't open at all, but solid walls just pretending, it was all very hard to remember, as everything kept moving around.

And once you managed to find the right door, there was the lessons themselves. There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few words.

They had to study the night skies through their telescopes every Wednesday at midnight and learn the names of different stars and the movements of the planets. Three times a week they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout, where they learnt how to take care if all the strange plants and fungi and found out what they are used for. Easily the most boring lesson was History of Magic, which was the only lesson thought by Professor Binns, a ghost. Binns droned on and on while they scribbled down names and dates. Twice Ron fell asleep, but Arabella, who as looked close to falling asleep, pulled on his ears to wake him up.

Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. At the start of their first lesson he took the register, and when her reached Arabella's name her he gave a little frightening squeak and continued on. When he reached Harry's, he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of sight.

Professor McGonagall was again different. Harry had been quite right to think she wasn't a teacher to cross. Strict and clever, she gave them a talking moment they had sat down in her first class.

'Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts,' she said. 'Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.'

Then she changed her desk into a pig and back again. They were all very impressed and couldn't wait to get started, but soon realised that they wouldn't be turning furniture into animals anytime soon. After making some complicated note, they were each given matched that they were supposed to turn into needles. By the end of the lesson, Hermione Granger and Arabella were the only ones that managed to turn their matches into needles. Professor McGonagall showed the class how their needles turned out and gave them a rare McGonagall smile.

The class that had everyone really looking forward was Defence Against the Dark Arts, but Quirrell's lesson turned out to be a joke. His classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which he said would ward off a vampire he met in Romania, who he was afraid would come back and get him one of these days. He told them that his turban was a gift by an African prince for getting rid of some zombie from their village. When Seamus Finnigan asked how he fought off the zombies, Quirrell went pink and started talking about the weather.

Harry was very relieved to find out that he wasn't miles behind everyone else. Lots of people had come from Muggle families and, like him, hadn't had any idea that they were witches and wizards. There was so much to learn that even people like Ron didn't have much of a head start.

Friday was an important day for Harry, Ron and Arabella. They finally managed to find their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast without getting lost once. Arabella suggested that they celebrate with bacon for their accomplishment.

'What do we have today' Harry asked Ron and Arabella as he poured sugar on his porridge.

'Double potions with the Slytherins,' said Ron. 'Snape's Head of Slytherin House. They say he always favours them – we'll be able to see if it's true.'

'I hope not. Potions sound interesting. And after the lesson with Quirrell, we need a teacher who isn't going to be a git during our lessons,' said Arabella, with a plate full of bacon. She was disappointed about how the Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson went, which was the subject she was most looking forward it.

'Wish McGonagall favoured us,' said Harry. Professor McGonagall was head of Gryffindor House, but it hadn't stopped her giving them a huge pile of homework the day before.

Just then, the posts arrived. Harry had got used to this by now, but it had given him a bit of a shock on the first morning, when about a hundred owls had suddenly steamed into the Great Hall during breakfast, circling the tables until they saw their owners and dropping letters and packages in to their pals.

Hedwig hadn't brought Harry anything so far. She sometimes flew in to nibble his ear and have a bit of toast before going off to sleep in the owlery with the other school owls. This morning, however, she fluttered down between the marmalade and the sugar bowl and dropped off a note on to Harry's plate. Harry tore it open at once.

Dear Harry, it said, in a very untidy scrawl,

I know you get Friday afternoons off, so would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me around three? I want to hear all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.

Hagrid

Harry borrowed Ron's quill, scribbled 'Harry borrowed Ron's quill, scribbled 'Yes, please, see you later' on the back of the note and sent Hedwig off again.

It lucky that Harry had tea with Hagrid to look forward to, because the Potions lesson turned out to be the worst thing that had happened to him so far. At the start of the term banquet, Harry got the impression that Professor Snape disliked him. By the end of the first lesson, he was wrong – Snape hated him, but seemed to loathe Arabella more.

Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here than up in the main castle and would have been quite creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls.

Snape, like Flitwick, started the class by taking the register.

'Black, Arabella,' said Snape with disgust in his voice. 'Probably turn out like her father.'

Some of the Slytherins snorted while Harry saw Arabella clutch her fist and glare daggers at Snape as he returned to taking the register. He paused at Harry's name.

'Ah, yes,' he said softly, 'Harry Potter. Out new – celebrity.'

Draco Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and Goyle sniggered behind their hands. Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black like Hagrid's but they had none of Hagrid's warmth. They were cold and empty and made you think of dark tunnels.

'You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potions making,' he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word – like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. 'As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power if liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death – if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.'

More silence followed this little speech. Harry and Ron exchanged looks with raised eyebrows. Harry saw Arabella still glaring at Snape for his earlier comment about her father. Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn't a dunderhead.

'Potter!' said Snape suddenly. 'What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?'

Powdered root of what to an infusion of what? Harry glanced at Ron, who looked as stumped as he was; Hermione's hand had shot into the air. Harry saw that Arabella had also raised her hand, but it was barely above her head.

'I don't know, sir,' said Harry.

Snape's lips curled into a sneer.

'Tut, tut – fame clearly isn't everything.'

He ignored Arabella and Hermione's hands.

'Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?'

Arabella's hands raised a little bit more, while Hermione stretched her hand as high into the air as it would go without her leaving her set. Harry didn't have the faintest idea what a bezoar was. He tried bot to look at Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, who was shaking with laughter.

'I don't know, sir.'

'Thought you wouldn't open a book before coming, eh, Potter?'

Harry forced himself to keep looking straight into those cold eyes. He had looked through his books at the Dursleys', but did Snape expect him to remember everything in One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi?

Snape was still ignoring Arabella and Hermione's hand.

'What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?'

At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching towards the dungeon ceiling. Arabella's hand raised some more above her head, but she was still sitting down.

'I don't know,' said Harry quietly. 'I think Arabella and Hermione do know, why don't ask them'

A few people laughed; Harry caught Seamus's eye and Seamus winked. Snape, however, was not pleased.

'Sit down,' he snapped at Hermione. He turned to Arabella, 'Black!'

Arabella put her hand down and looked at him when he shouted.

'Let's see if you are useless as your father. What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?'

'Draught of the Living Dead, sir,' replied Arabella, saying the last word sarcastically.

'Hm. Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?'

'Stomach of a goat.'

'What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?'

'Nothing, they are the same plant.'

Snape looked a bit stunned, but soon covered it up with a sneer. He looked around the class.

'Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?'

There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape said, 'And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter.'

This seemed to be the last straw for Arabella, as she suddenly leaped to her feet.

'But sir! Harry didn't do anything wrong! You should have asked one of the other students like Hermione or me, who actually knew the answer, instead of picking on someone!'

Silence fell in the classroom as everyone was either looking at Arabella in wonderment or at Snape to see his reaction.

'20 point from Gryffindor. Black sit down before it becomes 50. If you ever speak about my teaching methods in my class again, I will make sure that you will be on the train back home faster than you can say 'Wolfsbane'. Got it?' said Snape in a low dangerous voice, looking furiously at Arabella.

Arabella sat down, but was still glaring at Snape. The whole class returned back to scribbling on their parchments, not wanting to be picked on by Snape.

Things didn't improve for the Gryffindors as the Potions lesson continued. Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixing up a simple potion to cure boils. He swept around in his long black cloak, watching them weigh dried nettles and crush snake fangs, criticising almost everyone except Malfoy, whom he seemed to like. Neville seemed to melt Seamus's cauldron into a twisted blob and their potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes on people's shoes. Within seconds, the whole class were standing on their stools while Neville moaned in pain as angry red boils sprang up all over his arms and legs.

'Idiot boy!' snarled Snape, clearing the spilled potion away with one wave of his wand. 'I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?'

Neville whimpered as boils started to pop up all over his nose.

'Take him up to the hospital wing,' Snape spat at Seamus. Then he rounded on Harry, Ron and Arabella, who was working alone. Their table was right next to Neville.

'You – Potter – why didn't you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he'd make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor.'

Arabella started to open her mouth to argue back at him but Ron elbowed her.

'Don't push it,' he muttered he told her and Harry. 'I've heard Snape can turn very nasty.'

Arabella scowled, but returned back to her potion.

As they climbed the steps out of the dungeon an hour later, Harry's mind was racing and his spirits were low. He'd lost two points for Gryffindor on his first week. Granted it wasn't as much as Arabella. Why did Snape hate them two so much?

'Cheer up,' said Ron as he saw Harry's sad face. 'Snape's always taking points off Fred and George.'

He turned to Arabella. 'Are you ok? You look like you're ready to punch someone.'

Harry turned looked at Arabella's furious face.

'I am! How dare he! Saying that I would turn out like my father! Like I have a say in whom I'm related to!'

Harry and Ron looked to each other. They both knew about Arabella's father, as Harry told Ron about it in the morning after the welcoming ceremony. Ron was surprised to hear about it, but didn't treat her any differently as they met up with her in the common room.

'And Harry!' said Arabella, rounding to Harry. 'Don't let him pick on you like that! What kind of a teacher does that!'

She stopped walking and took a couple of steady breaths.

'Better?' asked Ron.

'Yeah. It's just, Christ; I lost 20 points in one lesson! Must be some new record or something,' said Arabella, running her hand through her hair.

'Don't worry about it. People will mostly remember that you're the first one that has stood up to Snape in a really long time. Students are dead scared of him,' said Ron, trying to cheer her up. He turned to Harry, 'Can we come and meet Hagrid with you?'

At five to three they left the castle and made their way across the grounds. Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest. A crossbow and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.

When Harry knocked they heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, 'Back, Fang – back.'

Hagrid's big hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.

'Hang on,' he said. 'Back, Fang.'

He let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black boarhound.

'Make yerselves at home,' said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Ron and started licking his ears, as Arabella started to laugh behind her hand.

'This is Ron and Arabella,' Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes in to a plate.

'Another Weasley, eh?' said Hagrid, glancing at Ron's freckles. 'I spent half me life chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest.'

He turned to Arabella. 'Yer Kassandra's kid, right?'

Arabella was startled at hearing her mother's name, but nodded. Harry guessed that it was first time she was call something other than Sirius Black's daughter.

'Yeah, yer look like her. But father's eyes. She was a good girl. Sorry to hear about her.'

Arabella gave him a small smile in return and sipped her tea.

The rock cakes almost broke their teeth, but Harry, Ron and Arabella pretended to be enjoying then as they told Hagrid all about their first lessons. Fang rested his head on Harry's knee and drooled all over his robes.

They were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch 'that old git.'

Harry and Arabella told Hagrid about Snape's lesson. Hagrid, like Ron, told them not to worry about it, that Snape hardly like any of the student.

'But he seemed to really hate us Hagrid! He took away 20 points because I stood up for Harry!' said Arabella, absentmindedly eating more of the rock cakes.

'Rubbish!' said Hagrid. 'Why should he hate the two of yer?'

Yet Harry couldn't help thinking that Hagrid didn't quite meet Arabella's eyes when he said that.

'How's yer brother Charlie?' Hagrid asked Ron. 'I liked him a lot – great with animals'

Harry wondered if Hagrid changed the subject on purpose. While Ron told Hagrid all about Charlie's work with dragons, Harry picked up a piece of paper that was lying on the table under the tea cosy. Arabella was looking over his shoulders as he read what was from the Daily Prophet:

GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST

Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the work of Dark wizards or witches unknown.

Gringotts' goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied that same day.

'But we're not tell you what was in there, so keep your noses out of it if you know what's good for you,' said a Gringotts' spokesgoblin this afternoon.

'Hagrid!' said Harry. 'That Gringotts break-in happened in my birthday! It might've been happening while we were there!'

Hargrid didn't meet Harry's eyes. He grunted and offered him another rock cake. Harry read the story again. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied that same day. Hagrid had emptied vault seven hundred and thirteen, if you could call it emptying, taking something out the grubby little package. Had that been what the thieves were looking for?

As Harry, Ron and Arabella walked back to the castle for dinner, their pockets weighing down with rock cakes they'd been too polite to refuse, Harry thought that none of the lessons he'd had so far had given him as much to think about as tea with Hagrid. Had Hagrid collected that package just in time? Where was it now? And did Hagrid know something about Snape that he didn't want to tell Harry and Arabella?

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think about Arabella and Snape. I tried my best with the two of them.

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