It was the last potions class of the semester and Harry could think of nothing but wanting to skiv off and go sledding on the lake with Hermione, Ron and Neville, who had decided to spend the holidays at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
He turned to the ingredient list for the Warming Potion Snape was having them make. Seeing that some of the Hufflepuffs had suffered frost bite last week from playing in the snow too long, the hated potions master was having no more idiot children without the benefit of a potion to keep the munchkins from losing precious flesh to the cold.
Harry sighed as he crushed his poppy leaves and dragon scales. Does Snape really care that much? Harry wondered, as dragon scales were expensive to procure.
"I'm counting on you all," Snape sneered from his perch at the front of the classroom, "to pay heed to your brewing as this potion is too expensive to waste on small, inept minds! As fifth years, you will be expected to produce perfect potions. If you cannot follow this recipe to make something as simple as a warming potion, you will repay the school for the expense of the dragon scales. Which some of you will spend the rest of your lives doing if you screw up Weasley."
Harry gulped as Ron put down his mortar and pestle as he was pulverizing the scales, not simply crushing them. Not having a partner for this potion today (Neville was in the hospital wing), Harry bent over the recipe one more time, going over the steps carefully before continuing. By Merlin, he was going to prove Snape wrong for once.
Forty minutes later, Harry carefully folded in two parts of a tincture of willow bark that he wouldn't have known to prepare if he hadn't read ahead and an infusion of honeysuckle in mint leaves, which would speed the potion's effects through the bloodstream by raising the metabolism a mild sustained sugar rush.
Harry stirred counterclockwise four times to strengthen the potency of the dragon scales with the poppy leaves, the main elements of the potion, the book explained.
He turned down the flames to let the potion simmer before cooling completely. Wow, he'd never gotten a potion perfect before and from what he'd picked up in Herbology with Neville was finally kicking in. Voldemort's hell was freezing over, Harry Potter was getting the hang of potions.
"Bring me a vial of your potion Mr. Potter," Snape's menacing form crowded over Harry's shoulder, a frown furrowing Snape's brow.
"When does he never frown," Harry thought, labeling the vial and moving to set it on the professor's desk.
Snape grabbed the vial from Harry's hand, whiffing the golden contents under his nose. Malfoy snickered from the back watching as Snape tasted the potion, something he rarely did with a student's work.
"Everyone else toss your potions, including you Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Potter was the only one of you to remember to fold in two parts of your willow bark tincture along with the infusion of honeysuckle. The rest of you, including Ms. Granger, have made an expensive, poisonous pain reliever that would eventually burn your friends from the inside out as the dragon scales shriveled up their veins. Thankfully you won't be able to kill anyone with it. Evanesco!" Snape's wand flicked away what was left to the sanitizing drain.
"I expect a three foot long essay from each of you on the effect of willow bark on dragon's scales, including medicinal effects, due when you come back from hols." The classroom emptied with a multitude of whispered groans.
"And please don't even think of wishing me a Happy Christmas Ms. Granger. You will not earn any bonus points for being unfailingly polite."
Harry gathered the rest of he belongings and was about to empty the remains of his potion into the drain when Snape's hand took his cauldron.
"Do not dump your cauldron Mr. Potter. Warming Potion sells quite well on the market this time of year. I doubt even Madam Pomfrey could persuade Dumbledoore to buy yours."
"What are you saying Professor? I thought potions made by students were school property," Harry stammered.
Snape sighed. "I'm saying Mr. Potter, that through sheer dumb luck or some new found brain growth, you managed to brew the purest, most potent warming potion comparable to that of a potions master. The school has a reciprical agreement with one of the apothecary's in Diagon Alley to sell outstanding potions slightly below market value to give student's with potion's potenial a wand up in the world."
Harry continued to stare at Snape, dumbfounded. All he'd done was follow the directions.
"All a brewer has is his reputation, Mr. Potter. It has to start somewhere. Giving students with potion's potential some exposure helps them decide if they really want to persue such a competitive, rigorous career."
Snape continued, "Perhaps you work better on your own from now on, Mr. Potter. It is clear to me now that you have a brain after all. Please don't forget how to use it over the holidays."
Harry smiled. Snape, being un-Snapish. The world was coming to an end.
"I will bring you the proceeds from what I can sell to the apothecary in London," Snape continued, frowning at Harry's lack of response. "The school will get a cut of the proceeds, of course."
"Thank you, Professor Snape, sir," Harry finally answered as he swept out the door. "And Happy Christmas, too."
"No bonus points Potter!" Snape's voice echoed in the hallway as Harry ran out of the dungeons, eager to go sledding with his friends.