Snape's Worst Nightmare
The First Potions Lesson
Professor McGonagall stared at the board in front of her with a determined, quiet intensity. The chess pieces still standing on the board had recently been specifically charmed to be absolutely silent and still. The Deputy Headmistress would tolerate no interruptions. The Defense professor stood from the comfortable armchair from which he was relaxing and raised his arms above his head. Letting out a low growl of satisfaction, he finished stretching his arms and wandered over to look at the battle engaged, before offering a particularly unwelcome suggestion.
"Why didn't you just buy a muggle chess set?" Harry asked her.
Her intense glare, known the country over at being able to reduce a student to tears, had no effect on Harry, who had been on the receiving end far too many times.
"If you have nothing productive to say, Potter, say nothing," she said scathingly.
Harry shrugged, unconcerned with her tone. "Very well, Minerva."
McGonagall sighed. "I'm sorry, Harry. I just think that Mr. Weasley has an unpleasant surprise coming up, and I cannot for the life of me see it."
Harry nodded and looked at the chessboard in front of the Transfiguration professor, running the tip of one finger slowly over his lips, deep in thought. Having played Ron hundreds of times in his life, and losing all but one of those games, Harry was a better than average player. Even so, after several minutes of examining the board, he had no idea what Ron's plan of attack was. Looking at the complex array of pieces still in play, Harry shook his head.
"How long has this game been going?" he asked.
"Three months, twelve days," McGonagall said absently, still studying the board.
Harry raised his eyebrows. "You still send you move to him by owl?"
McGonagall nodded. "This game is the decider. We are currently one game apiece."
Knowing the skill level of both players, Harry felt he had to ask. "How many games have ended in a stalemate since either of you won a game?"
McGonagall looked up at him and frowned in thought. "Seventeen, I believe."
"Then why is this game the decider?"
Harry had never seen such an arch expression on the Transfiguration Professor's face. "Because, Hermione has unilaterally decided that this will be the last game we play. Play by owl anyway. Apparently, Ronald is spending far too much time and attention on our games and not enough time and attention, ahem, on her," said McGonagall. "For her liking, anyway," she continued, a wicked smirk on her face.
Harry chuckled to himself before an enormous crash attracted his attention.
The black-clad Potion Master slammed the door to the staff common room hard enough that the chess pieces jumped on the board. Staring straight at Harry, the purple-faced professor approached, apparently so furious he was unable to speak a word. Traces of spittle had collected in the corner of the fuming teacher's mouth.
With a bright smile, Harry asked, "So, how was the first lesson with your first year Gryffindor and Slytherin students?"
"You... You... You..." snarled Snape, his quivering finger being shaken under Harry's nose.
"So, not so good then?" Harry said brightly.
With a huge deep breath, through clenched teeth, Snape managed to force out, "You could say that."
McGonagall raised her eyebrows. "Well, Severus? What happened?"
Snarling at her, Snape began telling them.
The dungeon classroom was as full as it had ever been in living memory. Even after the Dark Lord's first fall, there were generally less than a dozen new students in each house. With nearly a hundred new students this year, it was expected that around two dozen would be placed in each house.
Gryffindor took over a third of the new students in the sorting, due mainly to those damn Weasleys.
Now, more than sixty students were crammed into the tiny dungeon classroom. Even seated three to a desk, there were still some without a chair.
Snape strode around the room, casting some much needed expansion charms. Once there was enough room for all the new students he immediately wrapped himself in his cloak and gave them the speech he saved for the first lesson. One designed to instill the fear and respect he craved.
Only now, in the cavernous room, the effect was ruined. His deep, silky voice didn't reach the outer edges now, and the Gryffindors were smirking amongst themselves.
"-I will teach you how to brew fame, bottle-," he said, before making a disturbing discovery.
The three Potters and nine Weasleys were mouthing his speech, word for word.
"-glory, and even... put a stopper..." he continued, changing the pace and tone.
It didn't work, the nine red-headed and three emerald-eyed students all mocked him, and kept miming his speech.
"-in death," Snape finished.
'In death', the Potters and Weasleys mouthed.
Snarling at them, Snape was about to launch a blistering verbal attack on their mental capabilities and parentage when a Slytherin student at the back raised her hand.
"What?" he snapped at her.
"Um, Professor. We couldn't hear you back here. Could you repeat what you said?"
The Dozen Nightmares' faces lit up, as it became obvious they would have another chance to mock him.
"The Dozen Nightmares?" Harry exclaimed, a huge smile on his face. "Do you have any idea how pleased they will be that they have been given a collective name by their teacher on only their second day?"
Snape snarled at him. "It was obvious that the pair you ran with would be bad news too, Potter. 'Terrible Trio', I believe you were called by the staff."
"By only yourself, if I recall correctly," said McGonagall primly.
Harry shrugged, again unconcerned. "We didn't become close friends until after Halloween in our first year."
"Yes, I recall," Snape snarled. "The three of you decided that you didn't need to follow instructions given specifically for your own safety."
Harry tilted his head to one side, a mocking smile on his face. "I don't recall seeing you going after the troll either, Severus. Didn't you bolt for the third floor?"
The low growl emanating from Snape's throat wouldn't have been out of place coming from Remus Lupin during the full moon. "You know what I was doing, Potter!" he snapped.
Harry nodded casually. "That's right. Great work by the way, you did such a fantastic job of protecting the philosopher's stone that three first year students were able to get past all the defenses."
Snape's eyes bulged in their sockets. Before he could respond, the door to the staff room opened and Dumbledore entered. "Ah, Severus," the headmaster said. "How was your first-year class?"
Harry and McGonagall immediately put on poker faces as Snape whirled around to face Dumbledore. "Six of my Slytherins are in the hospital wing, Albus," he spat.
"Really? Good grief, what on earth happened?"
The oily Potions Master strode around the enlarged classroom, snarling and glaring at the young Gryffindors. Normally, the claustrophobic feeling of a small classroom would enhance the silent, sullen menace dripping from the former Death Eater.
Now, Snape just looked like an antisocial git.
One of those damn Potters and two Weasleys were sitting together. Snape glanced down at the parchment he held, the only good thing Harry Potter ever made (in his opinion). The parchment sheet was obviously modeled on the Marauder's Map, it magically mapped who was sitting at which desk in a specific classroom. Ah, 'Sirius' Potter. Wonderful, he thought. Bill Weasley's children, Isabella and Charles sat with him and worked at one stone bench on the edge of the classroom. Sirius was scanning the room, a calculating look on his face.
"Mr. Sirius Potter," he snapped, staring at the student in question. "Perhaps you could tell me what makes the faces of your fellow classmates are more interesting than the potion you are supposed to be working on?"
Sirius grinned right back, setting Snape's temper boiling. "I'm James, sir."
Snape froze. Did he look down at the sheet, confirming who the student was and make a fool out of himself if he was wrong, or just accept the little bugger's word and make a fool out of himself if he was right?
Figuring that most of history's great leaders lived by the maxim that it didn't matter if you were right or wrong, just as long as you were certain, Snape grinned maliciously. "Five points from Gryffindor, Mr. Sirius Potter, for pretending to be another student."
The smirk disappeared from Sirius' face, and Snape turned his back on the Potter-spawn. A table of three Slytherin students were smirking to themselves at Sirius' discomfort when Isabella tuned to face their table, and smiled seductively at them.
One by one, the Slytherin trio starred straight at the hauntingly beautiful part-veela. One of them, who was carefully pouring powdered basilisk tongue into the potion, shyly smiled back.
Isabella slowly slid her tongue out and tantalisingly ran the tip over her upper lip, then half closed her eyes and daintily puckered her lips, as if kissing them from a distance.
The shocked students were hurled backwards as the excess basilisk tongue added to the potion combined with the chilled vampire blood already within. The incident was later described in the Gryffindor common room by Brianna Weasley as a 'rather vigorous exothermic reaction'.
Harry smirked. "So three students from your house were hospitalised because they were distracted by a pretty girl?"
As Snape purpled, Dumbledore smiled and gently chided his Defense Professor. "Harry, please. I seem to recall you having a similar reaction to a Miss Weasley at one time. Your sixth year here, wasn't it?"
Harry had the good grace to blush. "Yes, well..."
Even in his enraged state, Snape reveled in watching the normally unflappable Defense Professor's embarrassment. "Those terrors of yours had better be brought under control, Potter!"
McGonagall, Dumbledore and Harry all raised an eyebrow in unison at this. "I'm sorry," Harry said. "I think I misheard you. Are you saying that you are unable to, and are requesting that I control some of your students?"
Snape hesitated, thinking over his demand. "Well, no. But Merlin help me, if they cause another student's injury I'll have them expelled!"
Harry's face turned grave. "If they cause injury to another student I'll pull them out of the school myself. What happened?"
Growling to himself, Snape continued.
Furious at the part-veela for causing such a disruption, Snape assigned a detention to her. Snickers all over the classroom could be heard from the Slytherin students.
James looked at one trio of Slytherins who were outright laughing at 'Bella's punishment. With an exaggerated lofty sigh and a roll of his eyes, James looked at the trio's potion.
"Oh, please. I thought Slytherins would be ambitious enough to try the more potent version of the potion. I am," he said loudly to himself.
With a snarl, the student on the end replied, "Yeah, like you'd manage it."
James turned with a smirk, and motioned to his partners, Brianna and Arthur. "We've already done it."
In a flash, the smiles vanished from the faces of the three Slytherin students. Two of them looked uncertainly at the center student, who sneered. "Fine. We'll do it. We only need to change the order and quantities of some of the ingredients and add some ginseng extract as a binding agent."
James gave him a wicked grin. "Don't forget to stir it anticlockwise instead of clockwise."
The center Slytherin looked uncertain. "You don't need to do that."
James turned back to Bri and Art, elbowing his cousins in the ribs. "Yes you do, don't you guys!" he said, his tone suspicious. "You definitely have to stir the potion anticlockwise, don't you?"
Arthur looked at him curiously for a second before a massive smile split his face. "Precisely, James. You must stir the more potent version of this potion anticlockwise."
Brianna looked at the pair, disgust evident on her face, and didn't answer.
The center Slytherin sneered at them. "Yeah, riiiiight," he said, and started to stir the potion clockwise.
Snape noticed and opened his mouth to yell at him to stop the instant before the potion changed colour and expanded, overflowing the cauldron and covering the desk in less than a second. The now corrosive liquid started bubbling and spitting, causing boils and burns to appear where ever it struck the three Slytherins.
"So let me get this straight," said Harry, the other teachers looking at Snape with disapproving expressions. "You are complaining that my son gave a student correct instructions to brew a potion, and when the student didn't follow the instructions, it is somehow my son's fault."
Snape thrust his large, hooked nose right up against Harry's own. "Your son used a tone that indicated he was playing a prank!"
Harry smiled sweetly, knowing it would infuriate the Potions Master. "I seem to recall an incident where Draco Malfoy told Neville Longbottom in a tone that indicated he was playing a prank not to add a diced oak leaf to the aging potion."
McGonagall stopped smirking and glared daggers at Snape's back.
When Snape didn't respond, Harry continued. "When Neville ignored Malfoy's instructions and his cauldron melted, I also seem to recall that you yelled at Neville for not confirming with yourself the proper method."
Snorts of amusement sounded from around the room, but when Snape spun around to glare at the offenders, not a single teacher was even smirking. Growling with frustration, Snape spun back to Harry.
"That's not the point, Potter!"
"Then what is the point, Severus?"
Unable to say anything due to his rage, Snape simply lifted up the hem of his robes, allowing all present to see his unshod, black, slightly smoking feet. Scraps of leather, now unidentifiable as coming from footwear clung to the top of Snape's feet.
Snape made a mental note to himself not to engage Arthur Weasley in a verbal sparring match unless he was thinking clearly. As furious as he was, Arthur's quick mind and passive aggressive techniques simply enraged him more, while making him out to be the bully.
The third Potter was whispering with his partners, another pair of Weasleys. Snape glanced at the map of the classroom. At least grouped as they are, there are only 4 tables of Potters and Weasleys, he thought to himself.
Snape continued his march around the stone desks as the period drew to a close. The third Potter, Remus, watched him carefully, memorizing his path around the room.
As Snape passed behind Remus, the quietest Potter started shaking, and spilled some of the vampire blood right on Snape's shoes.
"I'm sorry, professor Snape, I'm so sorry," he babbled, earning him confused looks from his cousins and scornful looks from the Slytherins.
As angry as Snape was, twenty points were deducted from Gryffindor. As the bell rang, he turned and strode away from a suddenly calm and collected Remus.
With a wicked grin, Remus tossed a handful of powdered basilisk tongue between a pair of desks. The students had all packed up and were leaving as Snape completed his usual stalking path through the desks and stepped on the powder.
The iron discipline of the Transfiguration professor finally cracked, and McGonagall burst out laughing at Snape, his scrawny white legs still on show.
Every single teacher, with the exception of the fuming Potions Master, were howling with laughter. Harry sat down in a chair, tears streaming from his eyes.
"Don't be so joyous, Potter! Or any of the rest of you. You all still have to teach them too!"
As Snape stormed out, Harry's voice could be heard over the laughter.
"They popped your clogs!" the Defense professor howled, still holding his sides.