Severus always waited until his first year class had entered the room, that first day. He wanted them to relax, to think that perhaps the rumors that the Potions Master were a little exaggerated. He liked to send the door flying; he loved to see the shocked and perhaps scared expressions. He knew that first impressions counted; once the fear set in, he would have less unreturned homework, less chatter in his class and best of all, less potions accidents caused by inattention. Of course this meant more death glares, more complaints after they left the room and they thought he could not hear them, more warning notes from Dumbledore.

That day however, as the door closed and the class seemed to cringe in a bizarre Mexican wave, the movement halted with one young girl. She turned her large gray eyes to his with a vaguely quizzical expression on her face. There was a slight hesitation in his step, an odd tingle up his spine.

He halted in front of the silent class, glaring menacingly at them. He took the roll, noting the odd girl was a Lovegood. Not surprising, they had always been a little eccentric. The class was, thankfully, a mixed group of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw students. Most of the Ravenclaw students would have already read the textbook due to desire to learn. Most of Hufflepuff would be afraid of falling behind and read up on the first potions lesson due to their hard working reputation. There was one oddity, however. The strange girl, (he could now see a Ravenclaw crest sewn haphazardly on her robes) was sitting alone, and even the desks next to her were unoccupied. Most of the students seemed undecided whether they should be more afraid of Severus, or wary of sitting near the blonde haired child. Perhaps it was the wild hair-do. She had tied her hair into a bun on one side, and a fat plait on the other. Maybe it was radish earrings, or the necklace made from what looked suspiciously like popcorn. Severus realized that he had been staring at her, and quickly delved into his usual welcoming speech. He always said the same opening words, but changed the questions afterwards so that no two first lessons were the same.

"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of Potionmaking. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, some of you may not even realize this is magic. I don't expect you to understand the beauty of a softly simmering cauldron…" Severus watched the class as he spoke, gauging each student's reaction to his words.

Silence followed his speech, although they all looked a little awed so this was not unusual. He would choose the odd-looking girl to answer his questions; obviously her classmates had decided she was the odd one out, so why shouldn't he?

"Lovegood, tell me in which type of medicinal potion would earthworm powder most likely be added?" he barked suddenly.

She gazed at him dreamily. "Dentistry sir, usually with some form of ant added, whether burnt or otherwise,"

She started chewing gently on the end of her plait, and her eyes never left his.

"The use of Belladonna in a potion does what to the taker?"

"Causes drowsiness, or in large doses hallucinations," she replied steadily.

"And Sneezewort is used primarily in which potion?" Severus said steadily, although it was difficult. It was rare that any student matched his potions knowledge, especially when he asked questions beyond the first grade level. Even the other Ravenclaws had begun flipping feverishly through their books.

"Blood-Warmer, for people with chills," Luna answered blinking.

"Fine. Why aren't you writing that down?" Severus snapped suddenly at the rest of the class.

"And Lovegood, I must ask that you do not enter my class room with such a ridiculous hair style again. There is a dress code at Hogwarts and as I'm sure you're aware-" Severus started to say, but her musical voice interrupted him.

"My ear was hot sir," she said.

Severus arched an eyebrow.

"I didn't want to have sprites whispering in both ears all day, so I only exposed one. Having them whisper in one ear is better than two, my father always says,"

It was Severus' turn to blink down at the girl in silence. The class forgot themselves to titter quietly, halted by Severus' glare.

"See that you maintain dress standards, Miss Lovegood. Now, turn to page seven…today we will be brewing a potion to cure boils…"

He retreated to his desk as they started pairing off and the sound of chopping commenced. He could almost feel the gaze of the girl in front of him, even when he pulled a large textbook up that covered most of his face. It seemed Potions would be interesting this year.

A/N- this is writing for HPFC forum, and specifically for the "Fragment Challenge" issued by thelightningstrike. More chapters to come, enjoy!