The usual disclaimer applies, Harry and co. belong to JKR. Story is not-for- profit.
Harry scratched a cross through the 8th of August on his wall chart and climbed off his bed. He picked up his History book and started to leaf though it before screwing up his eyes and dropping it back on the bed. He was tired of reading, he’d been reading all day. He was still interested, but after years of not being allowed a library card by the Dursleys (“Who’s going to pay the fines boy?”), and only having access to the books he had to have for school, (“Don’t even think about touching precious Duddykins’ books”), he wasn’t accustomed to reading for long stretches at a time. It made his eyes hurt after a while, maybe he needed his eyes checked again.
Harry picked up his new telescope. He had looked at it quickly last week, before submerging himself in wizarding history. It was made of brass and was shiny. Harry wondered if he should have got something to polish it with in Diagon Alley. Did wizards use brass polish? Or was there something magical that did the same thing. Maybe there was a spell he could learn to keep it clean and shiny. There was so much he didn’t know.
Harry set up his telescope in the window, careful to keep it to one side leaving enough space for Hedwig to get past. He pointed it at the sky; he didn’t want anyone to think he was trying to look into anyone’s back garden. Not that anything would happen in Little Whinging anyway, everyone was like Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; terrified to be anything other than absolutely normal. Well maybe not exactly like the Dursleys, they at least did have the worry of his accidental magic getting loose. It wasn’t like that had never happened. Of course Harry hadn’t known that it was magic at the time but looking back a lot of things made sense.
Harry must have been about four the first time he remembered something funny happening. Dudley had been given a new Teddy Bear to coax him into going to pre-school. Harry must have felt that this wasn’t fair and the Teddy had squiggled away out of Dudley’s reach every time he had hugged it. Funny thing was that it had stopped once the ‘crazy’ Teddy had been given to Harry. Harry had always thought that Dudley had just been imagining things, because he had eaten too much sugar or something.
Then there was the time at the park; he had been made to go on the see-saw with Dudley and got yelled at because he wasn’t heavy enough to balance out Dudley’s weight even then. Dudley had gone off in a huff to demand an ice-cream and when his back was turned the see-saw had started teetering back and forth. It had been the best time on a see-saw Harry had ever had. Any time he was on one with Dudley he always got stuck in the air and then slammed to the ground when Dudley ran off and just let the see-saw go.
And the time all the forks in the house had gone all bendy for the duration of dinner, so it was impossible to spear any food with them. And when Harry had fallen out of a tree he had climbed to get away from Dudley and his gang, and landed awkwardly on his arm so he sprained it. By the time Aunt Petunia had arrived to collect him from school it was back to normal like nothing had ever happened. He’d been given a whole weekend in his cupboard for telling lies and wasting Aunt Petunia’s time.
Harry woke up at midnight when the repaired alarm clock rang. Harry quickly turned it off before Uncle Vernon heard it and looked over at Hedwig’s bare perch. She must still be out hunting. He scrambled out of bed toward his window making as little noise as possible before crouching down by his telescope. He had spent the afternoon playing with the focus and keeping Dudley away from it. There was a basic instruction leaflet that came with the telescope and Harry had read it cover to cover. He had also dug out a star chart of Dudley’s. As usual for something of Dudley’s that was vaguely educational it had never been used; it had come free in a box of UFO’s cereal when he was seven. It wasn’t that detailed, but it would serve Harry’s purpose. He only needed to have a vague idea of what he was looking at, so as to not make a complete fool of himself in at least one of his classes.
Harry stuck his eye to the viewfinder of the telescope and looked into the sky moving the telescope around. He hadn’t focused at all yet. Harry planned to find something bright, focus on that and then hopefully when he changed the angle it wouldn’t be so difficult to focus on the small stuff.
Pulling back from the viewfinder Harry looked along the telescope pointing it towards a particularly bright star that was twinkling. He looked through the telescope again to see the bright star on the edge of his field of vision. Moving the telescope so the star was in the centre, Harry started fiddling with the focus knob on the side of the telescope. He kept missing the clear point, just when he thought he had it in focus he would turn it just a little too far and have to start again.
Harry held the star chart up to the light, trying to figure out which star it was. Picking out the bigger stars on the chart he looked at the patterns around them. There were the three bright dots of Orion’s belt. That was near a big star on the chart which indicated a bright star in the sky. Looking along the telescope Harry found the star he had focused on and looked around it. He could see the three bright stars to the right of the star, which meant the star he was looking at was… the Dog Star, Sirius.
Pleased that he had managed to identify his star Harry bent over the telescope again to have a better look. The star was bright and appeared to have rays coming out of it, like in a little kids drawing of the sun. There seemed to be another star peeking over its shoulder too. That must be how Harry looked when he was trying to see past Dudley.
Harry gave up on the telescope for the night, looking back at the star chart. There was too much light from the street getting in the way of seeing much other than the brightest stars anyway, and he’d have to go back to sleep soon if he was going to be up at his usual time. The Dursleys were avoiding him but they’d still notice if he did anything out of the ordinary like that.
Harry traced his finger over the lines joining the constellations. They looked like the connect-the-dot puzzles he had done in the junior room at school. He recognised the names of some of them as star signs. Aunt Petunia said they were a load of codswallop but she still read her horoscope every day after Uncle Vernon had gone to work. There was Aquarius, and Aries, and his own star sign Leo. That was next to one called Ursa major. Harry wondered what Ursa meant, because the next constellation he saw was labelled Ursa minor. He guessed that Polaris had to be the North Star, since he knew that that was at above the North Pole. Draco caught his eye; Harry pulled out his Hogwarts letter again and looked at the crest. He was right; he had seen that before. On the ribbon under the crest was written Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus. He wondered what it meant. Harry added it to the mental list he had under the title ‘Things to find out when I get to school’. That list was getting awfully long now.
Harry froze when he heard the floorboards in the hallway creak. Uncle Vernon must have got up to go to the loo. Looking at the alarm clock, he realised that it was past one o’clock. Quickly switching off the lamp before Uncle Vernon could see the light Harry snuggled back under the bedclothes reciting the names of the constellations in his head. It was much more difficult than just counting sheep, but just as effective.
Harry trudged back towards Number Four, Privet Drive. He was on his was back from Mrs Figg’s. She had gone away for the weekend and Aunt Petunia had volunteered his services to look after her cats. Harry hated going to Mrs. Figg’s; but at least it was just feeding the cats, he wasn’t forced to look at the photo albums full of cat pictures. The place still smelt like cabbage though. Harry was sure that the smell had seeped into his clothes. Aunt Petunia was certain to blame it on him even though there was nothing he could have done about it and she was the one who sent him over there in the first place. It wouldn’t help Project: Keep Aunt Petunia Happy either.
Harry peeked in the back door to see if Aunt Petunia was around. He wanted to get up to his room and get changed as soon as possible. Even if Aunt Petunia didn’t yell at him for smelling like cabbage, Harry didn’t want to have to put up with the smell any longer than he had to.
The pile of cabbagy smelling clothes sat in the corner of Harry’s room for a day before Harry got too sick of the smell. Aunt Petunia usually did a wash every day but Harry had forgotten to take his clothes down. She used to collect the dirty clothes from his cupboard but she hadn’t been in his room since the day he moved up there. Stuffing the smelly clothes into the washing basket in the Laundry, Harry was reminded of something. He had had a vague feeling since he got back from Mrs Figg’s yesterday that there was something he should be remembering. That was it! The cabbage smell was similar to the smell of the Apothecary he had visited in Diagon Alley!
Harry finished stuffing his washing into the basket and raced back up the stairs. Since his trial run with the telescope two nights ago, Harry had gone back to A History of Magic, forgetting about the potions ingredients he had packed into the bottom of his cauldron when rearranging everything on the train. He’d pulled his books and robes out and got so distracted by the amazing things in his books that he had completely forgotten about the potion ingredients he had bought.
Reaching his room he emptied the cauldron on to his bed. Little foil wrapped packages fell out haphazardly onto the bedspread. There were packages of black beetle eyes, Lacewing flies, ginger, a vial of rat’s blood, another with essence of belladonna, some dried caterpillars, powdered pennyroyal, knotgrass, half a dozen hedgehog quills stuck in a cork, and a little jar of desiccated spiders. Harry grinned at the dried spiders; he would love to spread some of those in Dudley’s room. Not only would it scare Dudley but Aunt Petunia’s reaction when she found them would be priceless. He could always collect some more from his old cupboard after all.
Harry picked up one of the packages and started to unwrap it. He leaned over to peer at it, and inadvertently inhaled some of the powder. Something started tickling his nose and he started sneezing. Hedwig fluttered up off her perch and out of the window at the shock of the sneezing attack before coming to perch on a tree branch outside the window. Harry sneezed for a full five minutes uncontrollably. It felt like his eyes were going to pop out and his nose was burning off.
After lying on his bed for over half an hour Harry mustered up the courage to look at the package; this time keeping it at arms length and his nose pinched with his other hand in case he inhaled some again. He blinked at the label reading Sneezewort. With a name like that it’s no wonder that he had a sneezing fit. Careful to keep the package out of breathing distance Harry wrapped it up and placed it in his cauldron. Maybe he should read about the potions ingredients a little first. He didn’t want something like that or worse to happen looking at the other ingredients
Harry crouched down by the stack of books next to his bed and carefully slithered the Potions book out halfway from the pile. The books were about to topple over so he grabbed the book above it (The Standard Book of Spells (Grade One) by Miranda Goshawk) on either side and lifted the pile then using his knee prodded the potions book off the pile before dropping the pile back onto the books remaining on the ground.
Magical Draughts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger he read. Flipping to the index Harry looked up Sneezewort:
Sneezewort: a kind of yarrow. Powdered leaves cause sneezing when inhaled. Essence of sneezewort causes inflammation of the brain upon consumption
Harry was glad he only had inhaled the powder. He didn’t know what inflammation of the brain meant, but it didn’t sound good.
Harry went over to the window to look at Hedwig sitting in the tree. He picked up his potions book and made his way down the stairs collecting a glass of water in the kitchen on his way into the back garden. Positioning himself against the trunk of the tree Hedwig was in he set his glass down beside him and opened the Magical Draughts and Potions to the introduction.
Welcome to the wonderful world of potions. The subject of Potions is one of the most exacting but useful disciplines in the magical world affecting every aspect of wizarding life in Britain today. Potions range from the very simple, such as a boil-cure potion to the extremely difficult and dangerous, such as the Werewolf taming Wolfsbane potion, and every manner of potion in between in terms of both usage and difficulty of brewing. Potions can have short term and permanent effect, or with careful brewing also be time-delayed. There is an incredible range of effects that can be achieved with a well-brewed potion. There is also an incredible, and oftentimes harmful, range of side-effects to nearly every potion known to wizardkind making potions exciting and demanding, requiring precise and careful attention from any potion brewer, whether absolute novice or experienced expert.
This book is intended to introduce the beginner to potion brewing and bring them through to a level of competency adequate for the average witch or wizard. As you advance in proficiency and confidence, you will come to appreciate, and hopefully come to share my passion for, the magic of Potion making.
- Arsenius Jigger
Harry started to leaf through the book, noting the names of potions in the text. Potions looked like it was going to be interesting, even if it did sound hard. As he flicked through the book he came to section on potion ingredients
As a general rule, the obscurity of a potion, it’s difficulty and the number of exotic ingredients all increase in scale with each other. Thus a standard cleaning potion will use common ingredients and almost any beginner could brew any number of simple cleaning potions correct on the first attempt. Potions requiring rarer ingredients such as ground dragon horn, or easily acquirable human ingredients, such as hair or a drop of blood are achievable by the majority of wizards with OWL level proficieny. The extremely difficult potions, such as the already mentioned Wolfsbane, have both extremely exacting recipes but usually also obscure ingredients. Some human-origin ingredients are included in this category; All but two of these are major organs, which cause death if prematurely removed, the exceptions being skin, which can be regenerate, although this is extremely uncomfortable for the donor, and Maiden’s blood.
Eeewww! The thought of having his skin stripped made Harry’s skin crawl. He didn’t quite understand why maiden’s blood would be so hard to come by though. Surely any girl could give some blood? Harry had seen people giving blood for the blood donor service, it didn’t look so bad. Maybe it was hard to get because girls were squeamish. The girls in his class at school squealed if they even saw a drop of blood.
Some of the potions seemed a little odd to Harry; there was the boil-curing potion mentioned in the introduction, something called Haematoma minimiser, a Scintillation Potion that one appeared to perk people up, like coffee but longer lasting. A Forgetfulness potion made it hard for people to remember things, and a Swelling Solution inflated whatever it was applied to. Harry thought that potions looked kind of cool; he wished he could try some out, but everything needed to be properly brewed and he didn’t have a fire to work over. He was thinking about the potions he would like to slip in Dudley’s Coca-Cola when he heard Aunt Petunia come home.
Harry went to help her unload the car. He’d have to do it anyway so he felt it was best to volunteer. He needed to ask Aunt Petunia about name-tags anyway. He had been reading over his letter again, and was double checking the shopping list when he realised his robes didn’t have any place to write his name on them. Harry didn’t have any tags with his name on. All his clothes had been Dudley’s so they still had D. Dursley tags sewn in at the neck.
“Excuse me, Aunt Petunia? All my school clothes have to have name tags in them in case they go missing. Could you get some for me please?” Harry was doing his best to be super-polite. He still wanted to ask about his mother and he didn’t want to waste any of his brownie points on little things like name tags.
Aunt Petunia turned on him “You’ll have to sew them in yourself, and be careful. I won’t buy you any replacements for that freak school of yours if you do it wrong.” Harry agreed and thanked her quietly and slipped out of the kitchen and back into the garden. He felt it was best to make himself scarce for a while and he needed to pick up his potions book before anyone discovered it and he got in trouble for ‘flaunting’ his ‘freakishness’.
Dudley had wandered out into the garden too, but he hadn’t noticed the book. He was too busy keeping an eye on Hedwig. He was edging away from the tree she was perched in and around to the path leading down the side of the house never taking his eyes off her. Harry stayed out of his view and then quite loudly said “Cowabunga”. It was just a nonsense word he had heard on one of Dudley’s television shows but Dudley didn’t have enough wits about him to realise that. His gaze shot from Hedwig to Harry and then he lumbered off around the corner of the house. Harry smiled to himself as he picked up his book and settled back under the tree. He might just have to try that one again sometime.
A/N: Ursa is the genus name for the bear. Ursa major is also known as the Plough or the Big Dipper.
A/N2:“Cowabunga” is taken from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, One of my favourite shows when I was a kid in 1991, the same time as this is set.