"Hey, Clara! Catch!"

Clara whipped her head around, copper hair following, just in time to have a balled up page of "The Art of Potion Making" hit her square on the nose."Ouch!" She rubbed the spot, and, picking up the ball on the floor, gleefully threw the projectile back at her friend Geoffrey. He pushed his messy brown mop out of his eyes and put his hands in front of his face. The ball fell harmlessly to the floor. He blew another strand of hair away from his mouth, laughing all the while,

"Take it easy, Clar, I was only fooling!" Clara grinned, her sea-green eyes twinkling merrily.

"I know, mate, but if a girl can't throw stuff at her best mate, who can she, then?" Geoffrey returned the smile. He snatched the crumpled paper up off the grimy dungeon floor, and was just about to return the favor when light but determined footsteps were heard approaching the door. Everyone immediately quieted down. No one wanted to be silenced by Snape. He didn't just say a simple "Hush!", mind walked in with his dark robes billowing behind him.

The look on his face told everyone that they would be sorry if they crossed him today. Of course, he had that same look everyday. He pulled out his wand and began using it to scrawl on the board: September 27, 1981

It had been exactly one year since Clara's father had been murdered by Death Eaters while working alongside Aurors as a Curse Detector. It had been his job to look for specially designed curses and traps that most Aurors couldn't pick out, even with their advanced training. Clara had been so proud of her father when he first got the job. But, none of that mattered now. He had wandered off by himself in the field, away from the watchful eyes of the Aurors assigned to keep track of him.

They saw the flash of green light, and came running to find Andrew Kennsey, glasses askew, staring up at them. Seeing nothing. The Aurors had done a thorough investigation, but, after several months, came up empty handed. They deemed the cause to be accidental, maybe a counter curse gone awry or a faulty trap. Clara and her mother had been devastated. They still were. However, Clara's mother had simply decided to forget the event had ever happened and go on with her life. Clara, though, hadn't. She wouldn't forget. Ever.

She vowed the day that the Ministry of Magic closed the case on her father that she would find his killer and bring him to justice. Even if that meant she had to be judge, jury, and shook her head clear of the thoughts, and looked up at the board. Snape had only just finished summarizing a crucial paragraph of the chapter "Paying Attention To Your Potion".

He suddenly had his eyes on Clara."Have you written any of this down, Miss Kennsey?" Clara gulped.

"Well, Professor, my, er...quill had been malfunctioning today, and I-" He sneered. "It would seem that your brain has alsoceased to function as well, hmm?" A couple of Slytherins towards the back snickered quietly. Snape's attention quickly went to them.

"That will be 2 points from Slytherin for your cheek, Mr. Stradton." The red faced boy stood, mouth agape.

"But, Professor--" Snape gave him a look, and the boy sat back down with a huff. Clara was shocked. TheProfessor Snape, tormentor of Gryffindors ever since he started teaching at Hogwarts a few weeks ago, and generally not nice person who acted like they had a wand up their--

"Miss Kennsey, I have been asking you a question for the last minute. Are you daft?" Clara blushed.

"No, Professor, I was only--" Snape's mouth was set in a grim line.

"What is the key to successful Potion making?" He said this in a slow, mocking way, the sort of way that you would talk to a small child who doesn't know a Hippogriff from a gnome. Clara sighed. She didn't know.

"I'm afraid I don't know, Professor Snape." Snape's eyebrows rose.

"Isn't thata surprise, class?" There was a smattering of laughter, mostly on the Slytherin side of the room. Two rows over, Geoffrey clenched his fist in anger. He hated it when Snape did this to Clara. He seemed to be out to get her every class.

Snape turned back to board, saying, "Well, then. Silently read Chapter 47 on the dangers of overheating your potion." Clara was fuming. Biting her lip, she muttered,

"Maybe if you weren't such a rotten teacher, I could learn something," ;she said this louder than intended.

Snape slowly placed his wand back on the table; he had been in the middle of writing the chapter title on the board. He glared at Clara, who, confused, whispered to Geoffrey.

"What did I do?" Geoffrey gave her a pitying look.

"He heard you. We all did." Clara noticed the whole class was staring at her. Yeah, thought Clara, they're probably all thinking what unimaginable horrors that leech is going to put me through. He can't do anything, I'm a student--Snape approached her desk with a deadliness that made her heart catch in her throat.

"You are to come to this dungeon for detention this Thursday, Miss Kennsey." Clara breathed again. That wasn't so bad, she supposed. She didn't even have to miss Geoffrey's birthday party Friday night--

"And every Thursday after that, until the year is over. Maybe you will learn a little better from more intensive Potion classes." Clara blinked. She must be dreaming.

"No, Professor, I can't--" The corner of Snape's mouth twitched, as if it wasn't used to being this close to a genuine smile in a long time. The next time he spoke, it sounded like the oily snake had finally crawled partway out of Snape's mouth to show itself.

"That's final, or I'll dock a hundred points from your house, Miss Kennsey." The Gryffindors in the room gasped. Clara knew she had no other option. She raised her eyes up to meet Snape's.