Summary: Felix Felicis. A tricky little potion: a difficult prize to win. That is, of course, unless you are the Half-Blood Prince. But what does a sixteen-year old Severus Snape do with twelve hours of luck?
A/N: It is been far too long since I took a foray into fanfiction. But once I'd got this idea I just had to write it. I hope my readers whill enjoy and review. Thank you to Megan who is always there to discuss plots and to disagree with me over Hagrid's passion for sun bathing hehe.
Disclaimer: I've checked and I definately don't own Harry Potter. This is a work of my own creation, however.
It had been a hot, muggy week and the castle had begun to stagnate. The Easter holidays were but a distant memory, and the summer was on the other side of exams. The lessons dragged endlessly - the teachers too hot to carry out many practical demonstrations, leaving their pupils to work from their books or to practice spells from weeks before. "Always good to brush up on the fundamentals" Flitwick had said before collapsing back into his chair, fanning himself rapidly with one hand. "There is no time to dawdle," McGonagall had stressed, pausing every now and again to take a sip of water. "You are all N.E.W.T. students now and with this comes added pressure. You should all be very thankful for this opportunity to revise." Hagrid could regularly be seen sunbathing from the History of Magic classroom window, smothering the great expanse of his white, hairy stomach with lotion before donning a pair of sunglasses with lenses as large as saucers. Quidditch practice had stalled and the Hospital Wing had been overrun with cases of sun-stroke. There seemed to be no release from the heat or the tedium.
Snape had never been one for the summer. As a child he could remember watching the children in his street chasing each other, kicking a ball or running after the ice cream van from his front room window. He had never asked to join in; he had never wanted to. When he ventured to the park he was inevitably teased for his odd, ill-fitting clothes, or for being different, not quite like the other children, difficult to understand. But despite this Snape continued to go, to remain out of sight and watch as a skinny girl with mousey brown hair would run towards the swings. Seeing her he'd wait, straining on tip-toes from his hidden spot behind the tree, his eyes always hungry to see her. His heart would leap into his throat when she came into sight -all flying red hair, and freckled-flushed cheeks and scraped knees - as she would shout after her sister, "Tuney! Wait for me!"
And there she was, suddenly appearing in the dungeon corridor in the habit she always had when he was thinking of her. Lily passed him by and stood with her friend Mary, a curly blonde-haired girl with judgemental blue eyes that Snape despised, pointedly ignoring him the way she had done ever since the previous year when he had called her something unforgivable.
"Put your tongue in, Snivellus..." a malicious drawl interrupted, preventing Snape from thinking back to that day, and causing him to turn. Just as he expected Sirius was standing there, flanked by James and Remus, with Peter cowering somewhere behind. Sirius leant back against the wall, his nonchalance infuriating, whilst James grew increasingly red in the face. "I'm sure even Evans..." Here, Sirius raised his voice in order to attract the attention of the girls at the classroom doorway. It did the trick and even though Snape didn't turn he felt the atmosphere shift and it pained him to think that Lily was now watching whatever humiliation would follow. His face refused to register these emotions, however, and Snape watched coolly as Sirius finished, "...wouldn't want a slimy sod like you eyeing her up."
After composing himself Snape took a deep breath before exhaling silkily, "As much as I appreciate your suggestion, forgive me if I don't accept advice from someone who is incapable of thinking with anything above the waistband of his trousers..."
"Why you slithery ba..." James spluttered furiously, reaching inside his robes to withdraw his wand. But Remus prevented him just in time for the altercation was interrupted by Professor Slughorn, who suddenly appeared at the end of corridor.
"What's all this?" Slughorn asked, his eyes moving suspiciously between the two boys.
James was inarticulate with anger and so it was left to Sirius to attempt to put an arm around Slughorn's shoulder and explain, "Oh it's nothing, Professor...just a friendly disagreement."
"Yes...well..." Slughorn began, manoeuvring past them to make his way to the classroom door. "You're rather too old to be squabbling in the corridors. I wouldn't make a habit of it."
"Of course not, Sir," Sirius smirked as he spoke, digging James sharply in the side with his elbow to prompt his agreement.
The damp dungeon was a welcome relief from the rest of the castle. There were no windows which meant the sun could not beat down angrily onto the faces of the students, who were forced to wince through the light to make out the directions on the board. Snape took his seat at the work bench, spreading his Potions Kit on the desk before him. A dumpy, round-faced girl sat beside him, her scratched cauldron and lop-sided scales making his lips twitch into a smile. Although the extent of his Kit was not entirely necessary for sixth-year Potions he was extremely proud of it – the perfectly balanced scales, the heavy pewter cauldron, the stirrers with their quicksilver tips. There were vials of every shape and every design – short, glass ones, tall, thin, crystal ones. There were vials that kept their potions heated for hours after they were made, vials which held more liquid than looked possible. Of course he carried the same fundamental ingredients that were recommended to all of the students – dragon scales, flobberworm mucus, hellebore roots – yet Snape also prided himself on the more rare and wonderful ingredients he spent hours collecting; the wings from the rare Mesopotamian Firefly; the petals from the Moonlight Orchid, the invaluable powdered Opal.
Potions, more than any of the other subjects offered at Hogwarts, offered Snape the opportunity to excel. Although he was more passionate about Defence Against the Dark Arts, it was Potions in which Snape displayed most natural talent. Whereas others would struggle to understand the nuances required to make a successful mixture, Snape possessed the qualities to make him a talented Potions-maker; he was patient, he had a steady hand, he was observant. The changes he would make to the elixirs he would concoct would come as second-nature. He had always been able to look at the text book instructions and know instinctively where the instructions were wrong and make his own corrections accordingly. Only once had Slughorn caught sight of his copy of Advanced Potion-Making and complained of the untidy scrawl that seemed to obscure the text. Subsequently Snape had been more careful to conceal his annotations from the prying eyes of his Professor and his classmates, and as he watched Slughorn take his position at the front of the class he opened his text book and readied his quill to make whatever alterations were necessary.
"Now then...it has come to my attention that your lessons in other subjects may have been unimaginative of late..." Slughorn stressed this word delicately before pressing on hastily, "Far be it from me to cast aspersions on the teaching practices of my colleagues, however, I hope that many of you may be far more stimulated by what I have planned for you today." At this point Slughorn moved aside to reveal a cauldron that was placed on the bench behind him. The more interested pupils craned their necks in order to see what was inside. A potion like molten gold sloshed happily within and Snape recognised it immediately.
"This is a tricky little concoction named Felix Felicis..." Slughorn paused, watching as many of his pupils were attempting to translate the Latin name. "Can anyone tell me what this potion does?"
Snape knew although he was never one to raise his hand in class. Instead, he allowed Lily to explain to the class, "It makes you lucky...incredibly lucky..."
"Right you are, Lily, ten points to Gryffindor!" Slughorn announced, causing Snape to inwardly curse himself that he hadn't answered. But Lily's smile was enough to disarm him and make him forget his Gryffindor rivalry, and he watched her closely as she continued, "It's incredibly difficult to make, isn't that right?"
"Terribly difficult; gave me a little trouble myself this morning. Liquid luck," Slughorn announced, pleased that he had gained the intense interest of almost all of his class. "If taken you tend to find that everything you put your mind to tends to work out. Of course, its use in sports and examinations is banned. However, its use to simply give oneself an extraordinary day is perfectly acceptable..."
"Is that what we're going to be making, Sir?" Remus asked.
"No...no...That would be far too difficult, even for the more talented amongst you." Snape could not help but feel slightly disappointed. "However," Slughorn continued, "It is what I shall be offering as a reward to the student who successfully completes today's task." The dungeon fell silent. Even the more unenthusiastic students had raised their heads from their desks. "Enough Felix Felicis for twelve hours worth of luck. But I must warn you, your task today shall not be easy. To brew the Draught of the Living Death, instructions for which can be found on page ten on your text books." Here, the entire class opened their text books as one. "I do not expect a perfect potion from anyone. However, the best effort wins the prize. You have one hour. Off you go!"
The class immediately fell to their work. There was a rush to the cupboard to find the best ingredients, squabbling amongst friends as to who had the best bet at winning the prize. Behind him Snape could hear Sirius saying, "You hear that, Prongs? Twelve hours of luck! Perhaps that would mean even you could finally score with Evans." The thought of this caused the tips of Snape's ears to turn pink and he allowed his eyes to roam over to Lily, who was methodically laying out the ingredients required on the desk before her. She looked up and caught Snape looking, turning immediately away to ask Mary if she could borrow her silver knife. As much as he attempted to prevent the thought that pervaded his mind he couldn't help but see the truth in what Sirius had said. With twelve hours of luck perhaps Potter would finally succeed with Lily, after all – as Slughorn had correctly pointed out – you could achieve anything you put your mind too with luck on your side. But Sirius' words had not only inspired anger in Snape but a desire to succeed, to win the Felix Felicis for himself. For if it would provide James with the luck he needed in finally winning Lily's affections than perhaps, just maybe, it could do the same for him.
Snape opened his text book and concentrated on the instructions hard, assessing which would have to be corrected in order to produce the best potion. He knew from his experience with the Sopophorous Bean that cutting it was often more trouble than it was worth – crushing it with the side of a knife always worked far better. After adding his own annotations beneath the text book instructions Snape finally collected the ingredients he needed from the store cupboard. Mixing them quickly to the cauldron, Snape flattened the Sopophorous Bean with his knife before squeezing the exuding juice into the potion. Immediately his potion changed, adopting the lilac shade as described in the instructions. A furtive look around the classroom confirmed what Snape suspected: that those who were religiously following the instructions were not progressing far. Remus' potion was spluttering furiously, Sirius' had turned bright green. Peter's had congealed into a gloopy mass before leaping out of the cauldron and onto the floor. In fact, only Lily's potion was as close to the text book description as Snape's, for she too had the same instinct for Potions. He smiled to himself as he heard her friend Mary, "I just don't understand how you do it, Lils..."
Snape turned his attention back to his copy of Advanced Potions-Making and read the final line of instructions: Stir counter-clockwise until your potion adopts the appearance of water. Snape retrieved one of his quicksilver-tipped stirrers from his Potions Kit but waited, watching what happened when his classmates began to stir. James had stirred his too vigorously and had burnt the bottom of his cauldron. A thin, foxy-faced boy named Walter Fillygreen had stirred too slowly and was now spluttering as a cloud of blue smoke billowed from his potion. Snape watched carefully as the round-faced girl beside him stirred her mixture and it refused to change colour. A quick look in Lily's direction confirmed that her potion too had refused to change. Snape re-read the instructions, placed his stirrer into the mixture and begun to stir counter-clockwise. He counted the turns under his breath and watched carefully as the mixture began to shimmer then change. He noticed, however, that the more he stirred the more purple his mixture appeared. So he decided to change direction and, counting to the seventh stir, he suddenly changed direction and stirred it clockwise once. At once his potion changed to the palest pink and before he forget Snape dipped his quill in ink and made a note in his book.
"That's it everyone!" Slughorn announced, eliciting groans from some portions of the class. Snape placed the stirrer next to his cauldron and looked triumphantly down at his potion. His instincts had proven correct once again and, as far as he could see, only his Draught of the Living Dead was deserving of the prize.
Slughorn moved from student to student, sighing at most people's attempts, stifling laughter at others. As he reached the table behind Snape he heard Slughorn say, "Not a bad stab at it, Sirius. Not bad at all..." He moved to where Lily and Mary were sitting and with obvious disappointment gazed down into Lily's cauldron. "Well, I have to say, I expected a better effort from you, Lily. But, then again, it is a particularly difficult potion. Now Severus," Slughorn had appeared at Snape's side and he held his breath and watched Slughorn's face as he looked down into his cauldron. "Why, Severus! This is near perfect. As good a potion as I could have made myself! Twenty points to Slytherin. You are clearly most deserving of the prize."
"Can you b...believe that?" Snape heard Peter stammer behind him.
"That slimy, snivelling, slippery git!" James snarled. Snape remained unreadable, however, as Slughorn handed him the small, tear-shaped vial of golden liquid and, with a wink, said, "Make the most of it my boy. Oh to be sixteen again with twelve hours of luck!"
Snape thanked Slughorn quietly and as he dismissed the class Snape held back, staring down at the potion that he cradled in the palm of his hand. He couldn't believe it. Although he had not doubted his own abilities he had never dreamt he would win such a prize. Would it really work? he wondered. How would it feel? What repercussions would it have? How much would his day change when luck was on his side? What should he do? Slughorn's words still reverberated in Snape's mind Oh to be sixteen again with twelve hours of luck and he allowed himself to smile as he pocketed the potion and left the classroom.
Updates coming soon. I hope you enjoyed :)
Updates coming soon. I hope you enjoyed :)