5: Potions Master And Tea With Hagrid
"Jace thinks he needs to save the world but you don't need to encourage him" ~ Book ~ City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Harry had heard rumours about the 4 Riddle sisters. All depicting them as evil and heartless. Most of these rumours came from Ron and the other Weasleys. Especially the twins Fred and George. But after late night talks with Melissa, he realised that she wasn't as evil as everyone made her out to be. And her elder sister Alinai was just as kind. Possible even kinder. She had shown himself and Ron to their classes a few times and sometimes, Harry even looked out for her in the Great Hall at the Ravenclaw Table, since he found out the first time she showed him around that she was in Ravenclaw. The house for the intelligent.
Friday was an important day for Harry, Ron and Lissa. They finally, after being told the route by Ali hundreds of times, managed to find their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast without getting lost once.
"What have we got today?" Harry asked as he poured sugar on his porridge.
"Double Potions with the Slytherins," Lissa said instantly before Ron could even open his mouth to speak. Ron glared half-heartedly at her, to which she ignored. "Snape's Head of Slytherin house. They say he always favours them - we'll be able to see if it's true" Lissa glared darkly over her spoon of porridge at the Slytherin Table. Harry had found out the day before that she had 2 sisters in Slytherin, Miracle and Lily. Their darker halves, though unfortunately, Harry found this out the hard way.
"Wish McGonagall favoured us" a feminine voice said before Lila Black seated herself into the seat opposite Lissa and diagonal from where Harry sat. Professor McGonagall was the Head of Gryffindor house, but it hadn't stopped her from giving them a huge pile of homework the day before.
Just then, the post 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 streamed into the Great Hall during breakfast, circling the tables until they saw their owners and dropping letters and packages on to their laps.
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. Harry didn't mind. He knew Melissa got nothing either. Besides an angry letter on the first day that made her cry and call for Ali who had immediately ran over. Harry only knew it was from her father, Lissa had told him nothing else. Ali had advised him not to press the situation.
However this morning, Hedwig flew in, fluttering down between the marmalade and the sugar bowl before dropping a note onto Harry's plate. Harry tore it open eagerly and Lissa stopped eating and watched him intently, a spoon of porridge halfway to her mouth.
Dear Harry, (it said in a very untidy scrawl that Lila, who had leaned over the table to look at it, had to squint to read it, despite that she was a very good upside-down reader)
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.
P.S Almost forgot, bring that Lissa girl I've heard about you hanging around with.
Harry borrowed Ron's quill, scribbled 'Yes, please, see you later. And I'll bring her' on the back of the note and sent Hedwig off again while Lila sat back down in her seat. Lissa looked at him, her bright blue eyes locked on his green eyes.
"Hagrid invited us over his Liss" he said. Lissa nodded and finally put the spoon in her mouth. He had told her about Hagrid and how he found out he was a wizard during one of their late night talks. He had also told her about his conversation about Voldemort with Hagrid. He had just passed off her flinch and the look of fear on her face as just her being one of the witches and wizards who feared him. And he was right, but that wasn't all.
It was lucky that Harry and Lissa had tea with Hagrid to look forward to, because the Potions lesson turned out to be the worse thing that had happened to them so far. Despite the angry letter from Lissa's father.
At the start-of-term banquet, Harry had got the idea that Professor Snape disliked him and Lissa knew why and she also know he was disappointed she wasn't in Slytherin with Lily. By the end of the first Potions lesson, he knew he'd been wrong. Snape didn't dislike Harry - he hated him. And Lissa wouldn't tell him why, no matter how hard he tried to get it out of her.
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, and like Flitwick, he paused at Harry and Lissa's name. It seemed that Ali was almost the smartest student in Ravenclaw. She once had a duel that Flitwick supervised in her second year, according to Lissa, and she beat a 6th year Ravenclaw. And Flitwick proved it to be true. So Ali herself won Lissa some fame. Even if only a tiny bit. But that did mean everyone expected more of Lissa then she could give.
"Ah, yes," he said softly, "Melissa Riddle, our new potions master. And Harry Potter. Our new - celebrity."
Draco Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and Goyle sniggered behind their hands. Lissa blushed bright red and mumbled something about that Ali was the could-be potions master and that she didn't come close to her. But Snape ignored her. 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 act of potion-making," he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word. It sent shivers down Lissa's spine as his voice reminded her of her father whenever her and Ali did something wrong. Or of his voice from the howler. Like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. Though he needn't worry about Lissa making noise. She was already frightened of him before she even had her first potions class. "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 of 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. There's only been one student who's ever impressed me. And I believe Miss Riddle knows exactly who that is"
"Ali" Lissa whispered. More silence followed Snape's little speech. Even Lissa's whisper wasn't loud enough to break it. Harry and Ron exchanged looks with raised eyebrows as Lissa stared at the desk. Hermione Granger, one of the girls who had bullied Lissa into running for her sister on the first day, was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving she wasn't a dunderhead. But Lissa knew, with a small smile, that she would never beat Ali.
"Potter!" Snape said suddenly, so suddenly that it snapped Lissa out of her thoughts, made her flinch and look at her raven haired friend. "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. Lissa was staring at the table again. She knew the answer, but there was no way she was putting her hand up. Snape already expected her to be as good as her sister. But Ali excelled in practical and theoretical. Lissa only excelled in theoretical things. If someone were to ask her a question, she could answer it perfectly. But if they asked her to perform a spell or brew a potion, she would fail miserably. She knew if she answered, Snape would expect her to be like her sister. Answer questions correctly and brew perfectly.
"I don't know, sir," said Harry. Lissa instinctively grabbed his hand under the desk. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze as Snape's lips curled into a sneer.
"Tut, tut - fame clearly isn't everything." He ignored Hermione's hand.
"Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"
Hermione stretched her hand as high into the air as it would go without her leaving her seat and Lissa looked up at him, raising her hand slightly. So what if he expected more than he should? She was going to save her friend from embarrassment. He smiled slightly at her as if to say she didn't have to, but he didn't have the faintest idea what a bezoar was. He tried not to look at Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, who were 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? Snpe was still ignoring Hermione's quivering hand and Lissa's shy hand.
"What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?" At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching towards the dungeon ceiling and Lissa dropped her hand, knowing her shy hand wouldn't beat Hermione.
"I don't know," said Harry quietly. "I think Hermione does, though, why don't you try her?" Lissa smiled, he knew she also could answer them, but he was trying to keep her out of the spotlight. A few people laughed; Harry caught Seamus's eyes and Seamus winked. Snape, however, was not please.
"Sit down," he snapped at Hermione before turning to Lissa. "Miss Riddle. Stand up and explain to Potter what they are"
Lissa looked down before pushing her seat back and stood up. She looked up at Professor Snape who was watching her expectantly. She took a deep breath before speaking:
"Asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save one from most potions-I mean poisons. Monkshood and wolfsbane are actually the same plant. A plant that is otherwise known as aconite. Aconite is actually very poisonous and it is used in the Wolfsbane Potion to relieve symptoms of Lycanthropy. Because aconite is poisonous, the potion is dangerous if concocted incorrectly" Lissa sat down then. Snape looked at her for a few seconds.
"Maybe you'll be as good as your sister," he paused "And 5 points to Gryffindor for a decent explanation" he said reluctantly. He looked around the classroom at the still students.
"Well why aren't you copying down what she said?" he snapped. There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape said, "And a point will be taken from Gryffindor for your cheek, Potter."
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 put Lissa on her own because there was an odd number of students and because he thought she could handle this potion by herself. Harry had to admit, she wasn't doing too badly but Lissa knew that it was not even close to Ali's potions. But Ali had had 3 years. Maybe Lissa just had to practice. It didn't seem to matter though. Snape swept around in his long black cloak, watching them weigh dried nettles and crush snake fangs, criticising almost everyone except Malfoy and Lissa, despite that she slipped up once when he walked by. Snape just erased the potion allowed her to start again. Harry knew it was unfair, but he didn't hold it against her. Lissa turned bright red whenever Snape allowed her to start again and stared at her cauldron until Harry shook her shoulder slightly. Luckily for Lissa though, he had chosen to pick on Malfoy. He was just telling everyone to look at the perfect way Malfoy had stewed his horned slugs when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus's cauldron into a twisted blob and their potions was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Within seconds, the whole class were standing on their stools while Neville, who had been drenched in the potion when the cauldron collapsed, 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. Lissa longed to comfort him, but she stayed where she was. She would survive Potions till her seventh year if she just stayed on Snape's good side. She would help him later.
"Take him up to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Seamus. Then he rounded on Harry and Ron, who had been working 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."
This was so unfair that both Harry and Lissa opened their mouths to argue, but Ron kicked Harry behind their cauldron and Lissa followed Harry in staying silent, remembering her plan.
"Don't push it," Ron muttered. "I've heard Snape can turn very nasty."
"He can," Lissa muttered back. "Can and does."
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 in his very first week - why did Snape hate him so much?
"Cheer up," said Ron. "Snape's always taking points off Fred and George. Plus Lissa here will just earn us them right back. The teachers all love her! Thanks to her sister. I'll have to thank Ali when I next see her. Can I come and meet Hagrid with you?"
Harry nodded and Lissa blushed bright red for about the seventh time again that day at the compliment.
"I think Ali would appreciate that Ron" she said.
"Well someone's got to show her kindness from the Weasley family. Might as well be me"
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 that made Lissa jump. Then Hagrid's voice ran 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. Lissa looked at it fearfully and hid behind Harry slightly. There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fan, who bounded straight at Ron and started licking his ears. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he looked. But Lissa still clung to Harry's arm.
"This is Ron," Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto 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." It was then that he noticed Lissa, still clinging onto Harry.
"Blimey. You look exactly as your sister said you did. Small, light brown haired, soft blue eyed, pale skinned and timid. And the first Riddle in Gryffindor! I couldn't believe Ali when she said you were a Gryffindor and that despite looking more like your father than Ali, your mother is obvious in you" Lissa released Harry.
"You-You've spoken to Ali? How is she? Is she okay? Are the 3rd year's treating her okay? She hasn't broken down yet has she?"
"Calm down. She seemed fine. In fact, I believe she finally got George Weasley to talk ter her again. But she seemed a little downhear'ed that it weren't Fred" Lissa relaxed visibly before smiling.
"Good, perhaps this year will be better than last year"
The rocks cakes almost broke their teeth, but Harry, Lissa and Ron pretended to be enjoying them as they told Hagrid all about their first lessons. Fang rested his head on Harry and Lissa's knees and drooled all over their robes.
The trio were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch 'that old git'.
"An' as fer that cat, Mrs Norris, I'd like ter introduce her to Fang some time. D'yeh know, every time I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can't get rid of her - Filch puts her up to it"
Lissa told Hagrid about Snape's lesson. Hagrid, like Ron, told them not to worry about it, that Snape liked hardly any of the students. That Ali was probably the only non-Slytherin student to catch his eye which was why he favoured Lissa.
"But he seemed to really hate me."
"Rubbish!" said Hagrid. "Why should he?"
Yet Harry couldn't help thinking that Hagrid didn't quite meet his eyes when he said that.
"How's yer brother Charlie?" Hagrid asked Ron. "I liked him a lot - great with animals."
Lissa and Harry wondered if Hagrid had 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. It was a cutting 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 the same day
"But we're not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you know what's good for you," said a Gringotts spokesgoblin this afternoon.
Harry remembered Ron telling him on the train that someone had tried to rob Gringotts and Lissa had been told by her mother the day after it happened since she worked in the Ministry, but neither had mentioned the date. Which happened to not only be on Harry's birthday, but the day after Lissa's.
"Hagrid!" said Harry. "That Gringotts break-in happened on my birthday! It might've been happening while we were there!" There was no doubt about it, Hagrid definitely didn't meet Harry's eyes this time. He grunted and offered him another rock cake. Harry read the story again. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied earlier that same day. Hagrid had emptied vault seven hundred and thirteen, if you could call it emptying, taking out that grubby little package. Had that been what the thieves were looking for?
As the trio walked back to the castle for dinner, their pockets weighed down with the rock cakes they'd been too polite to refuse, Lissa more then the 2 boys, Harry and Lissa thought that none of the lessons they'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, like Lissa did?
Lost in his thoughts, he didn't see the small dark hooded figure slip down to Hagrid's hut. The figure rapped on the door quickly. When Hagrid opened the door, they slipped in before he could say anything. Hagrid looked at the figure confusedly before the figure slipped their hood off to reveal a spill of white-blonde hair, that looked white-silver against the cloak, with startlingly dark blue eyes in a pale narrow white face. Alinai Riddle.
"Ali! What are you doing here?"
"It's happened Hagrid. My mother's powers. They've shown. I have them. I'm as much of the prophecy as Harry is."