Disclaimer: Ron's spell to turn Scabbers yellow could work, and I still wouldn't own Harry Potter. One of these days, Jo is bound to give me rights, but not yet. What a shame.
A/N. This story is Alternative Universe. set in Harry sixth year - Harry and Ginny are an established couple, Snape is still teaching Potions, Percy never fell out with his family and Sirius didn't die and has been declared innocent by the ministry.
"Ron…" Hermione sighed exasperatedly.
"Wa 'Mione?" Ron said through a particularly full mouth. Harry was surprised he could say anything at all, let alone something understandable.
"Why, for heaven's sake, do you have to eat so quickly? It makes me want to be sick."
"Hermione has a point there, Ronniekins," Ginny piped in mock thoughtfully, smirking. Ron swallowed his mouthful in one big gulp.
"DON'T CALL ME RONNIEKINS!" he bellowed. The owls that had just flown into the Great Hall looked rather intimidated and annoyed. Several Ravenclaw girls looked over and giggled, then began to gossip happily. Harry sighed theatrically, and then turned to his best friend.
"Look, Ron, mate, you're going to have to yell at us all somewhere else. People are looking at you strangely. And when girls giggle, it's never a good sign," Harry said. Ginny whacked him upside the head. "OW. Gin, what in the world was that for?"
"Since when was it a bad thing when girls giggled?" Ginny questioned, sounding affronted.
"Sorry…" Harry muttered, and pecked her on the cheek. Ginny looked considerably happier. "I don't mind when you giggle, but those Ravenclaw characters look like they could cause some trou - "
"I know who could cause some trouble," Hermione stated grimly. "And he's coming our way." Before Harry or Ginny could ask what she meant, since they were sitting on the opposite side of the table and couldn't see what Hermione could, their unasked question was answered by a familiar voice…
"Well, if it isn't Potty, Granger, and the Weasel," Malfoy drawled, completely ignoring Ginny. He was flanked, as always, by Crabbe and Goyle, who looked like they, if anything, had got even more stupid over the summer. "'Ronniekins.' Weasley, I ask you, who in their right mind could call you that? Perhaps your mummy, but she isn't in her right mind so I would understand…" He let his voice trail off.
"Shut it, Malfoy," Harry spat angrily, spinning around to face him. "Ron, Ginny don't listen to the ferret. If we don't leave now, we'll be late for classes." They all turned their backs on Malfoy, who stood there in disbelief, as if no one could just ignore him.
"Oh, yeah, we definitely don't want to be late for Potions," said Ron sarcastically. "I just can't wait to see - what was it your dad called him again Harry? Oh, right - Snivellus." Ron looked over his shoulder to see Malfoy still staring at them. "What do you want, ferret boy, just go away, why don't you?"
"Don't call Professor Snape that, Ron," Hermione said anxiously, as Malfoy and his goons slouched away, "Harry's right, we can't be late for our first N.E.W.T. class. And Ginny, you better leave too, you're doing O.W.L.s this year and McGonagall won't be happy if you're late."
"When is McGonagall ever happy?" Ginny muttered. "But, fine. You're right." She picked up her bag, stood on tiptoe, kissed Harry, and nimbly made her way down the aisle in between the benches to exit the hall.
"C'mon, then," Harry said, and he, Ron, and Hermione started on their way to the Potions dungeon. "Wonder what Snape'll make us do today. Probably something impossible for the first day of classes…" He trailed off miserably, wincing at the mental images his brain provided of what exactly Snape was planning for this lesson…
After several minutes, Harry's musings were abruptly brought to a close on arrival to the dungeons. Harry, Hermione, and Ron dropped their bags by their traditional place at the back of the room.
"Settle down, class," Snape said as he swept into the classroom. As always, the class quieted itself without needing any prodding due to Snape's presence. "Today you will be brewing Amortentia. Who knows –" Hermione's hand shot into the air.
"Amortentia is the strongest love potion in the world, sir," Hermione pronounced.
"Don't speak out of turn, Granger, that's five points from Gryffindor. However, you are correct, even though that is without a doubt taken word for word out of a textbook." Hermione reddened. Snape glared around the room.
"You have one hour and a half. Your instructions are on the board," At this, Snape tapped the board with his wand, and they appeared there. "And one more thing. One potion will be picked and tested on the brewer in the last fifteen minutes of class" He smirked. "You may begin."
Everyone in the class bustled to the store cabinet to get ingredients. After one hour, the entire classroom was full with pearly mist. Hermione's potion, of course, was the most perfect and looked exactly like the book said it should have.
"By now, all of you should have finished adding ingredients. It needs to stew for another fifteen minutes, then we shall pick someone's potion to test on them," Snape added maliciously. Harry gulped. He had an odd feeling he would be picked.
Fifteen minutes later, Snape began to prowl around the room, insulting Gryffindor potions and complimenting even the most horrendous cauldron contents brewed up by the Slytherins. He reminded Harry of a tiger stalking its prey.
"Now let's pick someone's potion to test. How about-" He looked around, apparently thinking. "Ah, Miss Granger. If you always think you are so perfect, let's try yours. I'll remind you that you will fall madly in love with the first person you see after you drink it." Hermione just about fell off her stool, but seemed to collect herself and stood up straight, staring defiantly at Snape.
"Well, Granger, what are you waiting for?" Hermione took this as her cue. Grinning slightly, for a reason even she couldn't comprehend, she dipped her vial into her potion, took a gulp, closed her eyes, and spun around three times. Then, very slowly, she opened her eyes again.