Harry didn't think the class could get any duller. After sitting in the chair listening to Slughorn go on and on about the potion they were about to make for nearly an hour, he found himself wishing they could just start already. He knew this potion would be exceptionally easy to make; hell, even Neville could have done it, now that Snape couldn't bother him.
"Alright, everyone, get set up and get going!" Slughorn finished excitedly, oblivious to the bored expressions on the students' faces.
As Harry predicted, the potion was effortless. Hardly paying attention to it, he carried on until it was nearly done.
"Are you sure that's right? It shouldn't be so dark. And blue." Ron pointed out in the instructions where it said the brew should be a light orange hue.
"I would have to agree with Mr. Wellinby, Harry. It appears as though you've made a very different potion." Slughorn popped up, seemingly from nowhere, peering admirably into Harry's cauldron. He didn't notice Ron turning red from his use of the wrong name. "Are you quite sure you added frog liver concentrate and not just a frog liver? While that would make a lovely Tempus Subsinctus potion, or even a stomach reliever, I'm afraid that was not the assignment. Though that you were able to make this is more evidence to your talent, I must ask you to restart, as one of the possibilities is exceptionally illegal. I'm sure my best student can manage to finish in the remaining time. Oh, and please dump it in the basin, the fluxweed and salamander blood don't go very well with cleaning spells." The professor then turned to check on another girl's work.
After checking that all the correct items were at his station, Harry lifted the cauldron to dump it out. Some of the students, having already finished the assignment, were doing various work for other classes. Unfortunately, this included silent spell casting.
Suddenly, Harry felt a spell hit his knee, causing it to give out, and he soon found himself following his cauldron as they both fell to the floor. Despite any attempts to avoid landing in his work, Harry landed in the middle of the mess with a mouthful of the sticky liquid. Though, as the brew had spread to about a third of the room, it would have been very impressive had he not landed in it.
"All right there mate?" Ron carefully stepped in up to his friend to help him up, only to fall in as well.
Laughing, Harry replied, "Yeah, great. I always wanted to swim in the Potion's classroom."
"Oh my, this is a mess, isn't it? Harry, dear boy, why don't you head back to your dorm and get cleaned up. You too, Mr. Whitlery. I'm sure I can get a student from detention to clean this up." Slughorn dismissed the two potion covered boys.
The remaining students skirted around the edge of the puddle and the drenched boys.
On the way to the Room of Requirement, as neither wanted to dirty the common room or the showers, the two Gryffindors enjoyed the calm and quiet of the empty halls. Ever since the end of the war, the Golden Trio hardly ever got a moment to themselves. They were constantly being thanked, questioned, or just plain barricaded by the crowd they always seemed to attract. Whenever the three friends found themselves needing privacy, they often escaped to one of a few safe havens they had claimed over the last few months.
The first choice, surprisingly enough, was the Chamber of Secrets. Now that they could all at least 'speak' enough parseltongue to enter the chamber, they often hid there, as they were the only ones that now had the ability to open it. Harry found it completely hilarious whenever they tried speaking parseltongue though, because they never knew what they were actually saying. While they could at least imitate some of the sounds of the language, they couldn't time it right. Ron usually ended up saying something along the lines of "My cups have intimidating" or " She eats the table".
On some nights, if they were feeling particularly claustrophobic, they slept in the Room of Requirement. Frequently, Neville also found refuge there with them, as he was revered as the Great Snake Slayer. Not very original, but most teenagers weren't. The four bonded tightly together because of these sleepovers, causing them to drift slightly farther from the rest of the world.
Hermione was still constantly mothering the boys, a habit which had been progressively getting worse since the war had ended. Harry personally thought she was expecting the war to restart, or for them to suddenly drop dead from a delayed curse from the last battle.
Because of such behavior, the boys were completely unsurprised to see the third member of their trio wordlessly falling in step with them about four minutes later.
"How'd you get out of there this time?" Ron asked, halfway through their trip.
Hermione waved off the question. "It was hardly a challenge. I'd already finished, so I mentioned that you had forgotten your things and suggested that I should return them."
They all knew she had probably just announced her departure rather than ask permission. All three of them would do that at seemingly random times in all of their classes. Especially when they were attending different subjects, as when Hermione was in Arithmancy, or the boys were in History of Magic. Harry concluded this was probably due to a combination of a couple things:
One, Hermione was infecting them all with the same need to be in each other's presence.
Two, they all had vicious flashbacks. Usually it was a memory from their year of hiding, but sometimes, it was from the last battle. None of them could shake the horrific memories of Harry lying at Voldemort's feet, seemingly dead. They could never forget Fred's last smiling word's, or seeing Remus and Tonks lying peacefully at each other's side. The images of the war haunted everyone, but those at the front line always had it the worst.
The rest of the walk up was spent playing a word game Hermione had played when she was little in the car with her parents. This was a common occurrence between them now, as a sort of insurance that the other's were still alive and sane.. This time, Ron had started it off by beginning like this, " We're on our way to the Room of Requirement, and in our suitcase, we have an Acromantula."
They continued on, each time trying to out-weird the last.
"... Bane the centaur."
"... Canary Creams."
"... a Death Eater."
"... the Fat Lady."
"... Gilderoy Lockhart's left sock."
"... the Holyhead Harpies."
"... Igor Karkaroff."
"... Kreacher's nose hairs."
By the time they had gotten to the room, they had made it through only to T("...Thestral droppings"). Entering, they found a familiar sight: Neville wrestling gently with a very large, very deadly plant. This was, unfortunately, not the first time they had found Neville literally in the thralls of his new project. The three that had just returned from potions tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle their laughter, but eventually, a snort from Ron tipped Neville off to his audience.
"Oh, thanks guys. Just stand there and laugh it up, why don't you. Mind helping me with this?" Neville greeted his friends," NO WAIT, DON'T GO NEAR THOSE!"
Unfortunately, his warning came a few second's too late, as he had figured out what the thin yellow vines did as soon as he had been trapped by them nearly half an hour earlier. Soon, all four of the brave students had foolishly been wrapped in the tendrils. It reminded them slightly of their run-in with Devil's Snare back in first year, which was not a comforting thought.
"Thanks for the warning, mate."
"Sorry! I tried to tell you."
"It's alright Nev. Okay, any idea's how to get out?"
"No clue. I've been stuck for ages."
"Alright, so the herbology expert doesn't know. You, Hermione?"
" Me?! How should I know?"
"Because you're brilliant."
"Really, Ronald, flattery can't get you anywhere right now."
The four spent the next twenty minutes arguing until Hermione noticed something.
"Guys? Hey, boys. OH MY GOODNESS SHUT UP FOR A SECOND YOU THREE!" Frightened of Hermione even in their current situation, the boys quickly shut up. "Good. I've just noticed, wasn't it yellow before?"
Sure enough, the once bright yellow vines were a dark green, which was rapidly turning into the same shade blue that covered Harry and Ron.
"That's probably not good is it?" Harry guessed.
"No, it's fine. A lot of plants absorb liquids. Though I've never seen it happen like this before." Neville looked pensive for a moment before continuing in a slightly more panicked voice, "Do you guys feel like it's getting tighter?"
Three sets of eyes widened as they realized what he meant.
"Yeah, that's it, I'm getting us out of this. Sorry Neville, but I don't fancy being crushed today." That was when Ron, as the only one with access to his wand at the moment, decided to exclaim "Diffindo!"
"RON NO!" Three voices chorused, slightly too late.
The white light shot from Ron's wand, and when it made contact with a particularly large vine in the middle of the group, there was suddenly a vibrant blue light coming from every inch of the plant. The light grew brighter and brighter until finally, the entire plant exploded.
Now, though they were free of the confines of the plant, they found themselves with a new, though considerably less life threatening, problem. The entire room was now covered in the potion that had previously only covered Harry and Ron. Granted, this was no issue for them, as they had already been uncomfortably sticky and wet for the past half hour or so.
Ever the savior, the Room of Requirement obviously sensed their need to be rid of the mess, so they were glad it had changed into a large room with many shower stalls.
Sighing, the four lions gratefully each chose a stall and attempted to wash all of the potion off. By the time Hermione was done ("I had to wash out my long hair, do you have any idea how lucky you three are not to have to deal with this every day?"), Ron pointed out that it was nearing time for dinner.
"Say, Nev, what was that thing called, anyway?" Harry curiously probed.
"Dunno, it was a project for Herbology. We were supposed to find out what it was and decide how best to care for it. Guess I'll have to find a new one now."
"Sorry 'bout that, man, I sorta panicked."
"Nah, it's alright. Won't be too hard to start over, I just got it today anyway."
With that, the Golden Trio and the Great Snake Slayer left for dinner.
A few minutes earlier, a certain Charms teacher was just exiting her quarters to do the exact same thing.
Unfortunately, she had to patrol a few of the levels first. Starting from the eight level and working down to the Great Hall, the Professor set her thoughts on the current issues in the world.
The Dark Lord had gone into hiding for the second time a few months ago, so the entire wizarding world was completely panicking again. She thought it was a tad ridiculous how they were more afraid of him when he was not present than when he was actually terrorizing them. Not that they should relax in his absence, she just thought they shouldn't panic either.
Halfway through the eighth floor corridor, a first year Ravenclaw girl collided with the woman, sending her books and parchment flying.
"Goodness! Are you quite alright there, sweetheart?" the woman said worriedly.
"Y-yes,P-p-prof-fessor Pott-tter. Thank y-you." Nervously, the girl packed the rest of her belongings into her bag, then raced off towards her common room.
Professor Lily Potter shook her head, smiling slightly. She certainly liked working with her students, but she felt bad for the first years. They always seemed so nervous and skittish. Thankfully, her daughter, who was currently enrolled in her third year at Hogwarts, showed no signs of the same behavior. Lily supposed that's what having one's mother and godfather for two teachers did to a student.
James and Lily had been so happy when Rosemary had come. After H- their son had been killed, they both had nearly lost all joy in the world. Although they always loved Rosie with all of their hearts, they knew there was something missing. A son-shaped hole now existed in their hearts. Every Halloween, they shut themselves in their rooms and mourned instead of celebrating with the rest of the school.
He would have graduated by now, Lily realized. He would probably have been starting Auror training now. Perhaps even working alongside his father and his own godfather. He might have become Quidditch captain. Maybe he would have been top of his class. He might hav-
Lily cut her train of thought when she realized that she had tears blurring her vision. She blinked away the evidence of her sadness and focused on her task.
Turning the corner, she collided with someone for the second time that night, though this time, they were large enough that both of them fell to the ground.
"I am so sorry! Are you okay?"
She looked up into bright green eyes.