A group of teenagers in black robes over school uniforms with green and silver ties, were comfortable in their common room, as would be expected for a group of Slytherins who had been there seven years. One of the group included Sasha Burke, who was supposed to be in class, but never usually attended potions as her last teacher Professor Slughorn, insisted that she didn't have to. However while she relaxed with her friends, she didn't count on her new teacher and head of house, Professor S Snape cutting short her extra free period as he stormed into the common room and asked which of them was her,
"Miss Burke?" he asked.
A seventeen year old girl, with straight brown hair looked up at him and greeted him with brown eyes that spelt much unconcern,
"Yes sir," she replied.
"Are you or are you not supposed to be in potions?" he asked.
Sasha sat up a little straighter before she replied,
"Oh right...I meant to mention that Professor Slughorn cut short my classes. Only Thursday and Friday afternoons for me sir," she replied.
Snape raised an eyebrow,
"And why is this?" he asked.
"Because he is yet to find a question about a potion or a potion that I cannot do. He said it made him look bad and he thought I would steal his job sir," replied Sasha.
"In future you will attend all potions classes. I will decide whether or not you are worthy of a Monday morning off or otherwise. Is that understood?" asked Snape.
Sasha had no choice but to stand up and follow him to the potions class. The half a dozen who were there already looked surprised to see her, also a little put out at her presence. Sasha got to her desk and rolled up her sleeves, ready to show the dark robed potions master what she was made of,
'Do your worst Professor Snape. I will not be beaten,' she thought.
Sure enough Professor Snape put them all through their paces. Sasha found herself having to think more than usual to the test that they were given. To make matters worse, her new teacher marked them instantly and they flew themselves back to their owners, none of which were pleased with their results,
"As you can see, you all have room for improvement, or rather a three story manor with a few garden sheds included. Therefore you will be here on Monday mornings also Miss Burke. Don't make me come and find you like I did this morning," ordered Snape.
Sasha glared at him and back at her paper. 'Acceptable' was all she had scored on the test and she had never had anything less than 'Exceeds expectations'. So with that lesson done, Sasha had her second lesson without an hour long break before hand as well as scoring low in potions, she was not having a good morning by any means. Luckily charms was usually a calming practical lesson. Professor Flitwick didn't bother her unless he had to. A friend of hers called Catherine Nobel smiled at her. She had been present when Snape had turfed her out of the common room,
"Take it you got your Monday morning back?" she asked.
Sasha made a point of not looking happy and showed her friend Snape's mark on her test. Catherine's eyes widened twice the size,
"That's not right! It can't be right. You've never got that in your life, least not from Slughorn at any rate, McGonagall is a different matter. Are you sure he's not making a point and marked it wrong?" asked Catherine.
"Do you want to ask him? If I see him before lunch, he'll be having a defence against the man in black lesson and he won't like it," replied Sasha.
Luckily, Sasha did not see Snape before lunch. However it didn't stop her blood boiling when she saw him at the staff table and slammed her bag on the floor to make a point. Catherine winced as other Slytherins raised eyebrows. Sasha lowered her voice to her friends and muttered,
"Our new head- is a great, evil, son of a bitch. He took my Monday morning free and to make things worse...! He gave me an A,"
There were two gasps at the news of Snape taking away Sasha's home comforts. Many NEWT pupils valued their free periods for studying purposes, Sasha liked her free mornings to make sure she was fully alert for her next lessons. She sensed that if potions was dropping, other classes were sure to follow suit. Sasha saw only one option that she could take to stop the domino effect of failure,
"I'm dropping it. I quit potions before he chucks me out. I can't claim to be so good that I miss class and then get such a rubbish mark. He'll think I've lied to him or something," she said.
"Don't just rush into this. I'd check your answers by the library first and then drop it. They all look pretty good to me and it isn't like he wrote down any corrections to say otherwise," said Catherine.
Sasha checked the answers through the library. She couldn't help but feel that she had been right when Snape had marked her wrong and sure enough, a few hours later she found many examples that showed clearly, that he had marked her falsely.
Armed with the books and the test, Sasha knocked on the office door of the potions master and waited there until it opened to her surprise by hand. Snape looked at her with no emotion and Sasha wasn't for making a scene in a corridor of the dungeons,
"Can I have a moment?" she asked.
Snape let her in and Sasha put down the books and her test. She instantly started on her rant about the test and the false marks that had been given,
"You will find that many of these answers you have marked incorrect, are correct. Flies legs are the most important part of the speed potion because too little and a person goes too slow, too much and they won't be able to do a single thing at a decent pace. Also the correct answer was the beak of an..." began Sasha.
"I know. However I am quite disappointed that you didn't notice instantly when I gave you back your paper. Or was that your way of being polite?" asked Snape.
Sasha turned to him as she began to pack her things away. She looked confused and shocked that a teacher would do such a thing and be so sarcastic with her. Only McGonagall had showed her any disrespect, she didn't expect it from her own head of house,
"Why did you mark it like that? What was the point?" asked Sasha.
"You know you'll get a lot further with me if you are more polite Miss Burke," replied Snape.
Sasha glared at him to let him know the respect she was about to show would be very much forced to get information from him,
"Would you be so kind as to tell me why you did this sir?" she asked.
"Professor Slughorn warned me to keep an eye on you in his letter to me about my classes. He told me that you were in his words exceptionally talented at the subject and how he struggled to trick you. However I couldn't be the judge of this if you missed class. So I brought you in, knowing that you wouldn't spend your free period asleep. Sure enough I found him quite right. You seem to have a lot of knowledge about potions. I marked your test so that you would be sure to find me, because I want to know how you would feel about taking your NEWT early?" asked Snape.
Sasha frowned in amazement. She didn't agree with how Snape went about things but she knew that a NEWT already under her belt, would mean less pressure in the summer,
"Can you do that?" she asked.
"What do you think? I'm head of Slytherin and potions master, I want the best for my students. However it would mean that failure is not an option, you understand that it would be a waste of resources if you did and my time and effort," replied Snape.
"Yes sir. I'll make sure that I'm ready," said Sasha.
"I know. Dismissed Miss Burke," he said.
Sasha left the dungeons to go and do some work in the library on potions. Madame Pince tried to get her to go to dinner only to be told she'd be there later, which was an accidental lie in which she meant to go but was finding some of the stuff she was studying quite interesting.
The future potions mistress finally
left the library and returned her things to her dorm, before making
her way to the great hall for something to eat. When she wasn't
concentrating on potions, Sasha found that she was pretty hungry
considering she went to a school were food was practically on offer
all of the time, especially if one had access to the kitchens were
house-elves would do anything for her or anyone. The hall was close
to being deserted when she got there, the main meal was gone and only
sweets were available, mainly huge cream cakes, cheese cake, sticky
toffee pudding and ice-cream.
Sasha left the hall, only to get as far as the top step of the dungeon to find two familiar faces coming towards her. She backed up into the entrance hall and found that Professor Snape was behind them, they were her parents, Mr and Mrs Burke. None of them looked thrilled to say the least and Sasha feared the worst for her future at Hogwarts and her exams, or rather lack of. Mrs. Burke couldn't quite look her daughter in the eye and Mr. Burke as ever looked at her with little emotion in his eyes, as though he was putting forward a business proposition. Snape looked as though he had been through the rounds as Sasha saw it. Once her father's mind was made up, that was it. Nobody could stop him once he had an idea in mind, it became his life long ambition to see it through, just as it was his ambition to take Sasha, his only child, who held such promise and talent to succeed in the future as far as Snape was concerned, from Hogwarts to be included in the family business in Knockturn-Ally, which was shared by Mr. Borgain who had no family, meaning that at the end of her father's time it was his wish that she bought the whole place from his business partner, who was in total ignorance of the devious plan. Sasha had no choice,
"Get your trunk Sasha. You leave with us tonight. No arguments," ordered Mr. Burke.
As head of the pure-blood family, Sasha had no choice but to walk passed her teacher and into the dungeons to start packing, which her friend found most confusing,
"What are you doing?" asked Catherine.
"Leaving. I'm a shop girl remember? How stupid was I to think I could be more?" asked Sasha, close to tears.
"But...what about potions? Snape was...surely Snape doesn't agree to this? I thought after this morning you were his little golden girl?" asked Catherine.
"Golden girl or not...Snape has no chance of arguing against my father. Besides he has links to Lucius Malfoy. If he says I'm leaving without a NEWT to my name, then that is that, no questions asked. Although by the look of him, he did try his best," replied Sasha.
Catherine looked sympathetic and sad at the news, she was loosing a friend who meant the world to her and not just because she was quite intelligent,
"I'm sorry..." she began.
"MISS BURKE!" shouted Snape from down the stairs.
Sasha wiped her eyes and picked up her trunk. She was ready to go and she was going for good as far as she was concerned. Snape looked almost disappointed at the sight of Sasha with all of her things in a trunk, without having completed the potions exam,
"You have a choice. A hard one, but you still have it," he said.
"You're mistaken. Even if I did go for the being disinherited idea, where would I go after this year? Where would I find work? I have no choice, but thank you. I will always remember the faith you had in my abilities sir," said Sasha.
And that was that. Snape could only look on with regret as Sasha walked out of the huge, double-doors and out of Hogwarts without the recognition that she deserved. As far as he was concerned, he had failed her. He had failed to get Sasha the qualifications that she needed in life, his first ever student who has showed real potential in her work and knowledge, as far as he was concerned there would never be another. So he continued with his job and rolled his eyes as year after year, students left his class with a bit of knowledge and the basic requirements to be able to brew not overly-complicated potions.