Five strands of human hair (student will use his or her own)
Ugh, Harry thought. Why do these things always seem to require human hair?
It was Wednesday evening, and Harry was in the middle of brewing the Imitor Ardoris. He
had begun with the jasmine tea. When it had steeped for five
minutes, he removed the tealeaves and returned his cauldron to the
fire. Then he began adding the ingredients in order of listing,
beginning with the Ashwinder eggs. He was glad he had remembered to
stop by Professor Snape's office and ask for them this morning; they
were the one required ingredient he didn't carry in his Potions
case. Well, other than his hair, of course, but that was obtained
The eggs dissolved immediately into the
tea. The rose hips had to steep for another five minutes, then he
removed them and added the orange blossoms, the powdered moonstone, and
the dried snozzberries. The cauldron began to give off a
pleasant, fruity odor. Harry stirred gently as the potion
simmered for 10 minutes. Then he added the five strands of hair
he had plucked from his head earlier. They dissolved into the
liquid with a slight fizzing noise, upon which the potion developed a
deep, golden color. Harry extinguished the flame under his
cauldron and continued to stir as the potion cooled; otherwise it would
separate and be useless. He noticed the liquid continued to fizz, not
unlike Butterbeer. He checked the consistency and appearance against
the description in his textbook; to his delight, they matched perfectly.
the potion had finally cooled, Harry looked around for his stoppered
vial in order to dip out a sample for Professor Snape. It was nowhere
to be found.
No, I couldn't possibly have forgotten...
dumped the entire contents of his rucksack onto his station. He
found a roll of blank parchment, several quills, his Charms text (which
had Ron's Divination assignment tucked into it) and a few other odds
and ends, including an empty Butterbeer bottle that Harry had polished
off on the way to the dungeons. He did not find a stoppered vial.
"Dammit!" Harry shouted to the empty room.
was required to deliver a sample of the potion to Professor Snape in
order to pass the exam. Harry couldn't carry the potion through
the corridors in an open cauldron; it was against school
regulations. Snape would fail him on sight. Furthermore,
Harry knew without asking that Snape would refuse to follow him back to
the dungeons in order to mark his potion there. He would remind
Harry that he had been responsible for gathering his supplies before
the exam began and again, would take great delight in giving Harry a
Harry paced, wondering if he could summon a vial from
his dormitory from all the way in the dungeons. When he took
stock of the number of doors the vial would have to pass through, he
thought it unlikely. Then his gaze focused on the empty
Why not? he asked himself. I can at least try - the worst he can do is fail me, which will happen anyway unless I get this potion to him.
carried the glass bottle to the sinks at the back of the room, where he
carefully rinsed out the dregs of the Butterbeer. Then he used a drying
charm to remove the last droplets of water, and for good measure, he
added a sanitizing charm as well. He didn't want to contaminate
his potion. When he was satisfied that the bottle would do, he
poured the contents of his cauldron into it and tamped the cap
down. Tiny bubbles floated to the top every now and then.
It looked almost exactly like butterbeer.
Bet it doesn't taste anything like it, Harry
thought, shuddering. He set the bottle on the countertop of his
workstation and then busied himself tidying up, disposing of unused
ingredients and scouring his implements. He had just replaced the
last item in his potions kit when a knock sounded on the door. Harry
opened it cautiously, expecting to see a glowering Professor
Snape. Instead, he found a disheveled Ginny Weasley.
Harry,” she said brightly. “Professor Snape told me you were still down
here. He asked me to tell you to hurry up, too, because your time
is almost up. Only he didn’t say it that nicely," she added, grinning
Harry couldn’t help but grin in return. Ginny’s hair
was coming loose from the braid she usually wore for Quidditch
practice, and he noticed there were smudges of dirt on one of her
“Rough practice?” he asked.
“Don’t get me
started, Potter,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You owe me one, and I
fully intend to collect.” Ginny took a few steps forward and glanced
briefly around the room before her eyes returned to Harry. “I don’t see
a cauldron. Have you finished?” she asked.
"Just now,” Harry
answered, “but I have to drop a sample of my potion by Professor
Snape’s office. Let me grab my things and you can walk with me.
Harry reached up to grasp Ginny’s chin and
gently tilted it to one side to expose the smudges of mud on her
cheek. With the sleeve of his robe, he wiped them away but
discovered the faint beginnings of a bruise.
to hurt later. You should put some ice on it, or a cooling charm,” he
said, tracing the mark lightly with his thumb. Ginny drew back from him
so that he released his grasp on her chin. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to
“No, it’s okay, you didn’t. I, um, thanks,” she
said, before turning and stepping back towards the door. “Let’s go,”
she said over her shoulder. “If we don’t hurry, you’ll be late.”
retrieved his rucksack, his potions kit and the Butterbeer bottle, then
joined Ginny in the corridor, where together they set off for Professor
Snape's office. As they walked, Harry gestured towards the bruise on
her face. "What happened?" he asked, feeling guilty that she had
been injured while covering for him.
"Jack Sloper happened,
that's what," Ginny snapped. "He's had over two years; I just don't
understand.... I mean, how hard can it be?"
Harry groaned, almost afraid to ask for more details. "What did he do this time?"
"Well, I'll give him one thing. At least he managed to hit the
Bludger this time," Ginny grumbled. "Of course, then he let go of
his bat, which came sailing along towards me. I ducked, but I
wasn’t quite fast enough. The prat’s lucky I didn’t hex him."
you all right?" Harry asked, even more concerned now that he knew the
details of the injury. She didn't seem to have sustained any serious
damage, but he wondered if he should take her up to see Madame Pomfrey,
just the same.
"I'm fine, Harry. The bat barely grazed me.
Colin and I were working on the Porskoff Ploy, like you asked, and I
had just caught the Quaffle. Guess that’s why I didn’t see it coming in
"I hope you gave him what for," Harry said sternly. He
was seriously considering tracking down Sloper after he turned his
potion in to Snape.
"Believe me, I did," Ginny replied,
nodding. "Made him run laps around the pitch, too. Oh, before I forget,
the reason I came down here was because Ron needs his assignments for
Divination. Hermione said you were supposed to stop by
Trelawney's classroom this afternoon?"
"Right, I almost
forgot. I have them here, somewhere." Harry stopped in the middle
of the corridor and kneeled down to rummage through his books and
parchments. "Here, hold this a tick, would you?" he asked, thrusting
the Butterbeer bottle at Ginny. "I would have sworn I had tucked them
into my Charms text," he muttered, shifting the contents of his
rucksack this way and that. "Must've got mixed up when I dumped
"Harry, is this some sort of new flavor or
something? Snozzberry, perhaps?” Ginny asked. “It's awfully sweet. And
what were you doing with Butterbeer down in the potions dungeon anyway?
You know Professor Snape doesn't allow food or drink in his classroom."
A sense of dread overcame Harry as he turned to look up at Ginny. She was looking down into the Butterbeer bottle. The open Butterbeer bottle.
no!" Harry swiped the bottle away Ginny and peered into it.
The bottle was half empty. Harry moaned in horror. "Oh, Ginny,
"I didn’t what?” Ginny asked, confused. “You've
never had a problem with me filching Butterbeer off of you before.
Afraid you'll catch my germs?" she teased.
I can't believe this is happening, Harry thought. He re-capped the bottle and held it up to her. "Ginny, this isn't Butterbeer. This is my potion," he said fiercely.
was I supposed to know? It’s in a Butterbeer bottle!" Ginny shot back.
She cocked her head to one side and looked at the bottle, and then
looked up at him contritely. "I’m sorry, Harry, but at least there's
still enough of it for you to turn into Professor Snape."
"I wish it were that simple," Harry said sickly. "Ginny, you don't know what you've done."
Ginny’s eyes grew larger and her hand drifted up to her throat.
“Harry, you didn’t just poison me, did you?” she whispered.
"No...." Harry replied in a strangled voice. Ginny seemed relieved until he continued. "This might be worse."
"What could possibly be worse?" she asked.
opened his mouth to explain, but not a sound came out, no matter how
hard he tried to answer her. He groaned in frustration. Snape's
"forbidding" charm wouldn't dissipate until he handed the potion in for
"Harry?" Ginny prompted.
Harry finally grabbed his wand and used it to draw a heart made of glowing red and gold sparks in mid-air.
"What...?" Ginny began in confusion. Then her eyes grew round as saucers, and her mouth fell open into a round O.
grabbed her arm and began pulling her along with him her. "Come
on, let's go find Professor Snape. Maybe there's an antidote."
"But your books...." Ginny warbled, seemingly incapable of forming a coherent a sentence.
"I'll get them later. Now, come on! If we hurry, maybe there's something he can do."
broke into a run, forcing Ginny to follow. When they arrived at
Professor Snape's office, they burst in without knocking, both huffing
from the exertion. Snape’s head shot up from where it was bent over his
desk, and he scowled furiously at them.
"What is the meaning of this, Potter?" Snape demanded. "How dare you...."
"Ginny drank some of my potion," Harry interrupted breathlessly.
set the half-empty bottle on Snape's desk. The professor peered at it
uncomprehendingly at first, but then understanding began to dawn across
"Do not tell me you were foolish enough to store a potion in a Butterbeer bottle," he snapped in an icy tone.
looked down at his feet. Somehow, Professor Snape never failed to
make him feel as clumsy and incompetent as he had his first day of
class. "Yes, sir. I thought I had included a stoppered vial when
I collected my supplies for the exam. Apparently I was
mistaken. The empty bottle was in my rucksack, so I used it
"Fifty points from Gryffindor for your abysmal lack
of judgment, Potter. And you may expect that your midterm grade will be
docked as well."
"I don't care about the points,” Harry said
impatiently. “I just want to know if there's an antidote for Ginny. She
had no idea, it isn't fair for her to suffer for my mistake."
Professor Snape’s glacial stare fell upon Ginny, who met it blankly.
"Miss Weasley, being a sixth-year potions student, and a female, you are familiar with the Imitor Ardoris potion, are you not?" the professor barked.
Ginny seemed to pull herself out of her shock. "The...the Imitor Ardoris?" she repeated.
"Yes," Professor Snape hissed.
Ginny nodded hesitantly as she answered. "Well, yes, I know it. That's the potion Harry was brewing?" she asked.
If Harry didn't know better, he would have thought she was smiling. From hysteria, maybe, he thought.
the professor confirmed. “Miss Weasley, do enlighten Mr. Potter as to
the effects of the potion, and the antidotes available."
administered, the potion begins to take effect within an hour at the
most. The subject will begin to experience, and act upon, feelings of
love and affection for the administrator of the potion,” Ginny
explained, easily citing facts as if she were reading them from a
textbook. “The symptoms will usually manifest as attempts to be close
to the administrator, including frequent demonstrations of physical
affection and flirtatious behavior. The subject will also indicate a
desire to accommodate the administrator in any way possible, such as by
performing tasks, providing information or fulfilling requests."
Ginny paused in her recitation, glancing over at Professor Snape. When he nodded sharply, she continued.
"Imitor Ardoris is
one of the milder known formulations of love potions, because it
simulates affection and love rather than infatuation or lust. The
effects last approximately forty-eight hours. There are no known
antidotes,” Ginny finished.
"No antidotes?" Harry asked weakly.
"No antidotes," Snape repeated darkly.
"Then what do we do? There has to be something," Harry insisted. "Maybe I should take Ginny to the infirmary."
Weasley is not ill, nor is she a danger to herself, to you, or to
anyone else. The only thing to do is to let the potion run its course.”
Professor Snape paused, and his lips formed into a horrible shape that
could only be described as a smirk. "At least you've saved me the
trouble of analyzing your potion, Potter."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, puzzled.
Weasley's behavior over the next forty-eight hours will be a perfect
barometer by which to determine your grade. If the potion was
viable, you'll pass. If not, you'll fail." At that, Professor
Snape directed his gaze back to the parchments spread across his desk.
"I have work to do. You're dismissed. Return to your common room
"What do you want me to do with that?" Harry asked, gesturing to the Butterbeer bottle.
professor didn’t bother to look up. "Leave it. I'll dispose
of it properly. We certainly don't want anyone else drinking it,"
he said waspishly.
Harry's feet refused to move. He
couldn't believe his professor’s nonchalance towards the situation. It
was one thing when Snape went out of his way to harass him, but this
time Ginny was involved, too. Harry gaped at the professor,
preparing to give him a piece of his mind, but Ginny intervened.
on, Harry," she said, taking him by the arm and leading him through the
door. Harry expected her to head for Gryffindor Tower, but instead she
turned back towards the potions classroom.
"Where are you going?" Harry asked.
"Your books - you just left them in the corridor,” Ginny reminded him. “Did you forget?"
Yeah, I guess I did,” Harry replied with a sheepish grin. “I'll go get
them. You should go on up to the common room and, uh, rest...or
something," he finished lamely.
"Don’t be silly, Harry. I feel
fine. Besides, I was going to go visit Ron," Ginny protested. “I
promised I’d deliver his Divination assignment.”
"I can take
it to him. Unless you wanted Madame Pomfrey to take a look at your
face?” Harry asked, knowing that while Ginny didn’t mind visiting
someone in the infirmary, she hated being a patient there. Not
surprisingly, she wrinkled her nose in distaste.
“No, thank you,” she said firmly. “I believe I’ll go back up to the common room, after all. See you there.”
watched as she began to walk up the corridor alone. When she reached
the corner, she turned once and waved, smiling, then disappeared from
Was her smile a little too bright? And do her hips always sway like that? Harry
mused for a moment. Then he shook himself and started down the corridor
in the opposite direction, wondering how he would ever make it through
the next two days.
When Harry reached the Infirmary, Ron was
the only patient staying overnight. Madame Pomfrey cautioned Harry to
be quick, as lights-out was in a few minutes. Harry crept quietly
over to his best friend's bed to discover he was sleeping.
"Psst," Harry whispered.
Ron awoke with a start and peered over at Harry with bleary eyes.
Harry, it's you. I was having a nightmare that Millicent Bulstrode was
chasing me. I think she wanted to," Ron paused, turning slightly
green, "ugh, kiss me." Ron grabbed for the water glass on the
nightstand next to his bed and took several deep gulps.
"Why were you dreaming about Millicent Bulstrode?" Harry asked, trying hard not to laugh at Ron's distress.
grimaced. "She was here earlier, right over there," Ron replied,
gesturing to the bed next to his. "Said she sprained her ankle walking
to class this afternoon. I think...I think she was making googly eyes
at me." Ron shuddered heavily and took several more gulps of
water. "And Goyle was with her. Glaring at me, he
was. I think he fancies himself her boyfriend. He just stood
there, smacking his fist into his palm. As if I would be
interested in Millicent." Ron grimaced again at the very
thought. "I thought I just might kiss Madame Pomfrey when she
told them Millicent could go."
Boyfriend... Does Ginny have
a boyfriend? Am I going to have to explain to some bloke why I've given
his girlfriend a love potion? Harry wondered. No.
No. I'd know if she had a boyfriend. Now if I can just keep Ron
from finding out.... He's liable to hex first and ask questions
Harry shook his head and groaned softly to himself.
"What's wrong, mate?" Ron asked. "And why are you here, anyway? I thought Ginny was coming."
Ginny wasn’t really feeling up to it. She, uh, she took a hit during
Quidditch practise," Harry began to explain, but Ron interrupted.
"Is she hurt? Why didn't you bring her down here?" he demanded.
shifted his legs over the side of the bed, as if he was set to go and
see about his sister himself. Harry held out a hand to stop him.
"Ron, she's fine. She was just sore, and a little tired, so I sent her up to the common room," he said.
"How did you find out about it, anyway?" Ron asked, appearing puzzled. "I thought you had a Potions examination, or something."
well, I did," Harry hedged. The last thing he wanted to do was try to
explain to Ron that he had inadvertently given his baby sister a love
potion. Harry imagined that if Ron found out, no one would ever find
all of his body parts. "She came by afterwards to get your Divination
assignment, but she, uh, looked so knackered that I told her I'd bring
it to you instead. Here," Harry said, thrusting a sheaf of parchments
"Thanks. You all right, Harry?" Ron asked, eyeing his friend. "You seem a little twitchy."
"Fine," Harry began in a croaky voice. "Ahem, I mean, I'm fine."
didn't seem entirely convinced, but he let the matter drop. "So, what
potion did you have to make? You can tell me now that it's over, can't
"Uh...." Harry went blank.
Fortunately, he was
saved from having to reply by the timely arrival of Madame Pomfrey,
shooing him away. Harry, relieved at first, bid Ron a good night and
let himself out into the corridor. Then, as he realized he must return
to the common room, and Ginny, panic began to set in. He walked slowly,
taking the longest possible route he knew of to get to Gryffindor
Tower, even braving Peeves's water balloons and Filch's wrath to put
off the inevitable as long as possible. Finally, he reached the Fat
Lady's portrait, where he stopped cold, taking several deep breaths to
attempt to calm his nerves.
"Whatever is wrong, dear?" she asked.
"What makes you think something's wrong?" Harry asked, irritated that he was so transparent.
"You're all flushed. Running a fever, perhaps? Or meeting a lady friend?" the portrait asked slyly.
"Oh, hush up, you cheeky bint," Harry grumbled.
“Oh!” the Fat Lady gasped, offended. Harry was immediately contrite.
sorry,” he muttered to the lady in the portrait, who had turned her
back on him. “Look, could you please just let me in? I’ve had a
The Fat Lady did not turn around right away, but after a moment she relented. "Password?" she intoned icily.
"Glumbumble," Harry replied in a dismal tone.
portrait opened to let Harry pass. He stepped quietly through the
opening, hoping to draw as little attention to himself as possible, but
in her pique, the Fat Lady slammed shut with a loud bang. Students
all around the room jumped in surprise, staring at him. Harry's eyes
fell upon Ginny almost immediately. She was sitting with Dean Thomas
and the Creevey brothers; they appeared to have been playing cards.
Ginny smiled, then returned to her card game. Harry felt his
"Harry. Harry? Harry!"
snapped to attention when he realized Hermione had been calling his
name. He walked quickly to where she was waiting at one of the study
tables and dropped into a chair across from her. When he angled his
chair just so, he could see Ginny over Hermione's shoulder. She had
resumed her game and was now giggling at Dennis Creevey, who was
slapping soot out of his singed eyebrows. Dean began dealing another
hand to each player, and as he flipped a card towards Ginny, he gave
her a wink and a grin. Ginny grinned in return, her eyes sparkling with
humor. Harry wondered if Ginny always smiled that way at Dean, in a
manner that was flirtatious and almost...well, almost sexy. He vaguely
heard someone mumbling something across from him. Harry shook himself
out of his stupor, feeling slightly queasy, and focused his attention
"Sorry, what?" Harry asked. Whatever Hermione had said to him hadn't registered at all.
rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Harry, I think whatever you were brewing
has gone to your head. I asked what potion you drew for your
examination?" she repeated exasperatedly.
"Oh. I thought we weren't supposed to discuss it with anyone?" Harry asked, puzzled.
Snape said we couldn't talk about it until after we had completed our
examinations. I finished mine earlier today; you just finished yours.
So, was it something dreadful?" Hermione asked, her eyes alight with
"Um..." Harry stalled, wracking his brain for an
answer, but he knew Hermione would eventually wrangle the truth out of
him. "It was Imitor Ardoris," he mumbled.
Hermione goggled at him in disbelief. "What did you say?"
"Imitor Ardoris," Harry
repeated in a louder voice. Lavender and Parvati, who were sitting at a
table behind Hermione, glanced at him, giggling. Harry flushed in
"Harry, that's a love potion," Hermione whispered. "Are you certain you read the assignment correctly?"
Harry sighed in exasperation. "I'm certain, Hermione. I even asked Snape about it because I didn't believe it myself."
can't believe he would assign a love potion as a midterm," Hermione
mused, half to herself. "Though it makes sense, sort of. Love potions
are notoriously difficult to concoct. How did it go?"
"Umm...okay, I guess," Harry muttered.
"Just okay? Do you think you passed?"
was certain he felt Ginny's eyes on him, but when he risked a glance,
she was chatting with her fellow card players.
Am I imagining it, or has she scooted her chair closer to Creevey? he
thought. As he watched, Colin slipped his arm along the back of Ginny's
chair. He wasn't quite hugging her, but he might as well have been, as
far as Harry was concerned.
"Harry? I asked if you passed?"
"Oh. I don't know, yet, Hermione," he said, irritation creeping into his voice. But it certainly doesn't look like it, so far, he thought.
turned and followed his gaze to the table where Ginny sat. She turned
back to find that Harry's gaze hadn't wavered, and a knowing smile
crept across her face.
"Something wrong, Harry?" she asked innocently.
Harry's answer was terse. He nodded his head in the direction of
the card players. "Are she and Creevey going out?"
"Not that I know of," Hermione replied breezily. "They're just friends. Why do you ask?"
reason,” Harry said. “I was just thinking it would be hard to slip a
sheet of parchment between them, is all. She's practically
sitting in his lap."
Hermione laughed. "Since when do you care who Ginny's chummy with, Harry?"
Since she's supposed to be flirting with me, Harry thought. He forced his gaze away from Ginny, but couldn't quite bring himself to look Hermione in the eye.
always cared," he protested. "She's my friend, isn't she? Besides,
Ron's in the infirmary. Someone's got to look out for her."
"The last thing Ginny needs is yet another big brother hanging over her shoulder, Harry," Hermione replied matter-of-factly.
"I'll say," Ginny agreed, startling Harry, who hadn't noticed her approach and stand at his elbow.
"I didn't exactly mean it that way," he muttered darkly.
"Good," Ginny said coolly. "Speaking of big brothers, did you see Ron?"
nodded, not quite trusting himself to speak. His pulse had begun to
race the moment Ginny had appeared, and he was certain he was beginning
to blush. Ginny didn't seem to notice anything out of the
"Was he all right?" she asked.
swallowed to ease the tightness in his throat. "Fine. He was
fine. I only stayed long enough to give him his assignment."
"You didn't mention you were going to visit Ron," Hermione said in a hurt tone. "I would have gone with you."
"But.... I..." Harry stammered, unsure how to explain.
"Harry went in my place, Hermione. He thought I might not be feeling well," Ginny explained with a smirk.
"Is there a reason you might not be feeling well?" Hermione asked.
looked pointedly at Harry, who flushed dully and looked away.
Hermione's gaze darted between the two in apparent fascination.
Ginny finally relented.
"It was nothing, really,” she said. “I had a run-in with a Beater’s bat at practise, that’s all."
"Oh, are you okay, Ginny?" Hermione asked, concerned.
"Yeah, Ginny. How are you feeling?" Harry inquired sharply.
feel perfectly fine, Harry, no different from the way I always do,"
Ginny replied, laying a hand on his shoulder and gracing him with a
genuine smile. "In fact, I think I'll go up to bed and get a good
night's sleep. See you two in the morning." With that, Ginny waltzed up
the stairs. Harry watched her go, and then he turned to find
Hermione watching him, her head cocked to one side.
"Harry, is there something going on between you and Ginny?" Hermione asked. "Have you argued?"
"No, Hermione," Harry replied shortly. "Nothing is going on at all. I'm going to turn in, too. Goodnight."