This is chapter 2 of my fic. Welcome to eva_is!! Get writing!! and Happy B-day, don't get too drunk :-P
Chapter 2 - No Matter How Hard They Try, Potions Just Won't Go Away
A/N: Ok, there is a ton of fluff in this chapter, partially due to a request, and partially due to the new album by Live, Songs from Black Mountain.
Sitting at a desk in the Department of Archives, Hermione took a deep breath and looked up, rubbing her eyes. The musty smell of old parchment and improper air circulation was comforting, but sometimes nauseating. This was one of those times. Sighing, Hermione left her desk and went out to the corridor to get some air. She had been going over old journals and personal accounts of Death Eaters, then cross-referencing them to genealogy charts to rule out possibilities of the new leader.
Hermione was so deep in thought that she didn't her Ron until he whispered her name in her ear in an eerie voice. Naturally, she jumped about a foot in the air and screeched, "don't do that! I hate being snuck up on!"
"I know, that's why I did it, I don't think I'll ever catch you off-guard again." Ron replied with a smirk. "You leaving for lunch?"
"No, it's only ten o'clock. And don't you have work to do? Possibly work that involves helping me?" Hermione said, looking slightly exasperated.
"Oh, yeah, work." Ron replied looking slightly sheepish. He immediately felt guilty for not being on time to help Hermione, and went to redeem himself by wrapping his arms around her, and kissing her gently. "Sorry" he said after a few minutes, his ears and Hermione's face identical shades of pink.
Hermione looked shyly at him and replied softly "its okay". Then turning more serious she asked, "Did you find anything out during the investigations?" The night before, Ron and Harry had been called down to Diagon and Knockturn Alleys after the Death Eaters had raided most of the shops.
"They cleaned out potions supply stores, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Borgan and Burks" Ron answered heavily. "It looks like they're planning an all out battle."
"The potions supplies - what did they take, can we figure out what they're making?" Hermione asked looking anxious and dragging Ron into the Archives Room.
Once sitting down at their desk, Ron looked even grimmer than before. "That's the thing. They took so many different things that we can't figure out what they're making." With this he took a piece of parchment out of his robes, and gave it to Hermione. "This is the list of everything they've taken, and Borgan and Burks isn't being very cooperative, he won't tell us anything about the items stolen from his store, only their names, so we have to figure it out ourselves."
Taking the list, Hermione went into the maze of shelves and emerged a few minutes later, carrying a stack of books. She flipped to the index at the back of one of them, looked at the list, and flipped to a page. "We can look up the potions based on the ingredients they took, and compile a list of possibilities," she said, writing something down on a separate piece of parchment.
"Ugg" Ron groaned, he hated this type of work, it was tedious and made his head hurt. In truth, he had come in to see Hermione and take her out to lunch, among other things. She had sworn to him that she wasn't a romantic and didn't like surprises, but he knew better. He silently cursed the Death Eaters, knowing that as long as they were around, he could never have a proper relationship with Hermione. Looking over and seeing Hermione working furiously, Ron picked up the list and one of the books, and got to work.
At King's cross, a very tired Harry watched as Ginny said farewell to her parents, and came over to him. He had come to the station straight from last night's investigation, and was ready to fall asleep at any given moment, but when he saw Ginny coming over, he suddenly felt a rush of energy and became awake. He walked toward Ginny, and upon reaching her, gave her a bear hug.
"Harry!" She cried, and then in a softer voice said, "I didn't come over for a hug." And with this gave him a quick kiss.
Nervous, Harry pulled away. "Your parents are here Ginny, I don't really think that's a good idea, you're mum's still mad about last week." With the reference to his birthday party, his ears went pink; they'd waited a few weeks to celebrate so that they could all go out. When Mrs. Weasley had found out the reason they'd picked the date, and well, it was worse than when she lit into Ron the morning after.
"Nonsense, mum's not mad at you, she still has it in her head that Ron did all of it. And besides, her and dad know about us, has Ron been giving you lessons on how to behave in public with you girlfriend or something?" She laughed and kissed Harry again.
Feeling tired again, Harry merely kissed her back, to tired to argue over it. When they broke apart he said roughly, "you'd better get on the train, it'll leave without you."
Ginny looked somewhat sad at this, and asked, "will you meet me on the first Hogsmead date?"
"Of course I will, just owl me with the date" Harry replied, looking at her fondly. "See you in a bit Ginny." And with this, he kissed her goodbye.
Ginny felt better as she boarded the train. She'd had serious apprehensions about not being able to see Harry for months at a time, and had seriously considered not returning to Hogwarts, but Harry's reassurances that they would see each other from time to time had changed her mind. She still had reservations about going back to school, she wasn't used to not having Harry, Ron, and Hermione there, but there was still Luna, and she had other friends at Hogwarts.
Walking along the corridor of the train, she found Luna in an empty compartment, and sat down next to her. "How was your summer? Did you find any more of them?" Ginny asked, forgetting the name of what Luna had gone with her father to find.
"Oh yes, Sweden was lovely, and the Crumple-Horned Snoracks are alive and well. They really are miraculous creatures." And with this, Luna went on a twenty-minute lecture on the Crumple-Horned Snoracks and their importance to the wizarding world.
Ginny leaned back in her seat, and leaned back. This is going to be a relaxing, normal year for once she thought and let her mind wander
After hours of looking at indexes of potion books, Ron let his head bang down on the table with a loud thunk. Hermione looked up from her work, amused. "Bored yet?" she asked wickedly.
"Fghr mgnphen phsheu lefngm komfgd nkzsf." Was Ron's reply, his head still on the desk, talking into the book.
Hermione couldn't help but smile at this. As long as she'd known him, Ron had always spoken with his mouth full, or with his head banged down on a desk. "What did you say?" Hermione asked, still smiling.
"I said: I am going to shoot the book with my plasma ray gun." Ron lifted his head on the desk, slightly cross-eyed and blinked a few times.
"Do you even know what a plasma ray gun is?" Hermione asked, remembering when Ron last used the word.
"Fred and George were talking about a muggle alien movie they saw once. I think its some kind of weapon thing."
Hearing Ron's reply, Hermione got a truly cruel idea that would pay back Ron for everything he had said and done over the years to irk her. "Actually Ron, its a slang term for, er, a certain part of the male genitalia."
Upon hearing this, Ron's ears went bright pink, and in an attempt to divert attention from his embarrassment, asked, "So have you finished your list; because I think mine's done."
Still looking amused, Hermione looked down at her parchment and said, "I think I've found everything I can out of these books, we can go over the potions more closely now if you want to."
"Sure, I'll start," Ron said. " 'Softer Toadstools in a Week' doesn't really seem like a practical potion to use to terrorize the general public." And with that, he put a line through it on his parchment.
"Well, I've got 'Freshto Lilacius', it makes the drinker smell like lilac."
"Yeah, they're going to defeat us by smelling strongly of lilac. Who would even think to invent a potion like that?" Ron snorted.
It continued on like this, and kind of became a game, with one person reading out a ridiculous potion, and the other coming up with a way they could be defeated by it, until Ron took a more serious tone of voice and asked Hermione a question. "Have you ever heard of 'Protectum mortus'?"
Hermione looked up, startled at the question. "Its on your list? Its a potion that's supposed to protect the drinker from any harmful spells, kind of like a permanent protegio spell."
"Yeah, it’s on my list, and it might be useful to the Death Eaters?" Ron grabbed a book while saying this, and found the directions for the potion. "Blimey, this is quite the potion," Ron whistled through his teeth.
Hermione took the book from him, and her eyes went wide. "Ron, this potion is almost impossible to make, it takes four months to brew, and must have the brewer's and drinker's blood in it, and the brewer and drinker can't be the same person. Wow, it requires a litre and a half from each person, and if even there's the slightest mistake, they both die when the person drinks it. People attempted to use it when Voldemort first came to power, but they all ended up dying, and there's no one of that kind of talent to make it anymore."
Ron took the book from her, copied down the instructions and said, "I'll talk to Lupin, maybe he knows something more about this."
Excited by a new lead, they continued to pour over the potions, and after a couple more hours had finished both their lists. They'd come up with a few more possibilities of potions, but they could be easily detected and neutralized with a simple spell. Hermione looked at her watch after they finished the last potion and saw that it was five o'clock, and they hadn't eaten since breakfast that morning. Immediately feeling guilty, Hermione stood up and walked over to behind Ron's chair. Totally immersed in his work Ron didn't notice Hermione behind him until she was rubbing his shoulders, sending a shiver down his spine. Hermione's hands were surprisingly strong, and worked deep into his muscles, loosening them.
"Grhgle," Ron moaned in pleasure as Hermione's fingers found and loosened an especially tight muscle. He was slightly surprised that Hermione was doing this, she generally wasn't comfortable touching him in any way, but too pleasures to particularly care. After a few minutes of this, Hermione pulled her hands away and shook them out.
"Sorry," she said sheepishly, "my hands are getting sore."
Ron looked at her amazed, Hermione was apologizing to him? She would never cease to amaze him. "Hermione, don't be sorry, that was brilliant, thanks." Ron lifted himself out of his chair, and went behind Hermione. "My turn," he said, gently rubbing her shoulders in return.
Hermione pulled away though and asked, "you must be pretty hungry. How does an early dinner sound?"
"Fabulous, I know just the place, its called 'Chez Ron' and it makes a mean bangers and mash, and trifle for pudding," He replied, gently kissing her on the cheek. "We don't even need reservations."
Hermione couldn't help but look at him adoringly. He always knew how to make her laugh, even when she felt she would never be able to laugh again, and he always found a way to have fun. "That sounds absolutely perfect, let's go," she said, taking his arm, and together they left the Department of Archives.
Harry walked onto the property apprehensively. It appeared like a normal house with a well-kept lawn and garden, and the house itself tidy looking. It was a modest wooden house, light blue, with a large front porch, and freshly cleaned windows. This appearance didn't fool Harry in the slightest. He knew Mad-eye Moody, and his reputation for charming common objects to become home security devices.
Keeping his wand at the ready, Harry advanced down the drive slowly, prepared for any garden hose to attack. After five minutes, he had only made it a short way up the walk, when Moody came out. "What are you doing boy, waiting for the flowers to fly? Get in here," he barked, looking at Harry like he was daft.
Grinning sheepishly Harry made his way up the walk at a much faster pace, and followed Moody into the house.
The interior of the house was a sharp contrast to the tidy exterior. The wallpaper that lined the front hall was a faded maroon paisley (it reminded Harry of Ron) that was almost completely peeled off of the walls, with shreds of it hanging down. The paint on the ceilings was also peeling, and had turned a brownish yellow in colour. The green shag carpet on the floor was coming up in most places, and had large tears in it from Moody's false leg. The living room where Moody had lead Harry was also in the same state of disrepair and chaos. The only furniture in the room was a worn leather recliner, and a small round table in front of it that balanced both a wireless and what looked to be a pensieve on it. Bookcases that had seen better days lined the walls, each shelf of them packed with dark arts books and gadgets so complicated Harry could not even fathom their practical purposes. Harry's eyes became fixed on the pensieve, and he was trying to figure out if it was indeed a pensieve. It was a simple stone basin with carvings of ivy along the rim, and emitted an eerie glow.
"Damn pensieves, won't use them, there are too many enemies that can get at the memories and learn your weaknesses," Moody growled, noticing Harry studying it. "We seized this one at a raid of a Death Eater, and I've been asked to look it over for any curses or spells. It's why I asked you here."
Harry looked at Moody, then the pensieve, and said, "I don't know if I can help you detect any spells that may have been cast on it, if you haven't detected any, then no one else will be able to, least of all me."
"No, no, there aren't any spells on it, there's a memory I want you to see," Moody replied, looking at Harry as though he had suggested that elephants were orange. "It's a memory of our dear Tom Riddle, and someone he went to school with."
Harry approached the pensieve cautiously. He was used to viewing the memories contained in them, but he still didn't like the decent into them. He gently placed his hand into the swirling white mist, and immediately felt himself being sucked into the memory.
Harry found himself in the dark and dingy potions classroom at Hogwarts, but instead of Snape at the front of the class teaching, it was Slughorn.
"Well," Slughorn said to the class with a gesturing to them with his arm, "Partner up and get started, we'll be testing the potions at the end of class."
Harry stood in the back of the class and watched as the students partnered themselves up and started brewing their potions. Harry had noticed Riddle almost immediately upon entering the memory, sitting in the front of the classroom. As the other students were busy working in pairs, Riddle remained by himself, and began to start the potion alone.
Slughorn looked up from his desk, and saw Riddle working alone. "Riddle, do you not have a partner?"
"No sir," Riddle replied, "but its alright, I work better alone anyway."
"Nonsense my boy, everyone needs to work with other people. Here, work with this lad," Slughorn said jovially, gesturing towards a small Slytherin boy.
The boy Slughorn gestured to gathered up his things and moved over to Riddle's desk. He was a small weedy-looking boy with a sharp nose and small narrowed eyes and robes that were far too big for him, making him look even smaller than he was. Riddle looked at the boy with his nose wrinkled and said, "well, you might as well start cutting up those roots there."
The boy looked at Riddle disgusted, but took the roots and started chopping them up. They worked like this for most of the class, with Riddle giving the boy mundane tasks, and the boy doing them with a sour look upon his face, until he gently knocked Riddle's hand away from the cauldron as he was about to add the key ingredient. "How dare you," Riddle hissed at him, looking furious, "you could've ruined the whole potion."
The boy was oblivious to Riddle's anger and merely said, "just wait, if you let the potion sit for just a bit longer before adding the bark, you won't have to stir it for as long after, and the potion turns out better."
Riddle looked at the boy with his mouth slightly open, outraged, but didn't add the ingredient. Instead, he watched with the boy for a few minutes as the cauldron started to boil furiously. "Add the bark now," the boy said as the potion bubbled furiously and started to turn purple. Riddle dropped in the bark, and the potion immediately turned the bright scarlet they were trying to achieve.
"Well, that was certainly a lucky shot," Riddle said loftily, "you certainly don't seem the type destined for greatness in the art of potion making."
Slughorn looked up from his desk to see where the muttering had come from, and was surprised to see the boy's and Riddle's potion. "My, I've never seen any student brew this potion as well as you two have. Full marks for both of you, and 20 points each to Slytherin."
The boy smirked as Slughorn said this and muttered to Riddle, "Lucky shot eh? Maybe you should try your luck again next time."
The last thing Harry saw from the memory was the look of absolute outrage on Riddle's face.
"I thought it might be relevant after what happened last night," Moody growled as Harry oriented himself. "The one boy seems to be a right good hand at potions, so robbing an apothecary makes sense."
"What was the boy's name?" Harry asked.
"All I've been able to get out of the memories is a last name: Willis," Moody replied gruffly. "You'll have to figure out the rest."