DISCLAIMER: I do not own any rights to Harry Potter or any affiliated characters, all of it belongs to J.K. Rowling and any references to the films belong to Warner Brothers Co. This fiction is purely for my own enjoyment and yours. No money is being made by me or anyone else from this fiction.
Author Note: This is my first published fanfiction. Please read and review, I would love to have your feedback! A special thanks to Zenappa for beta-reading this, and to MissChocklitMilk, Delena2010, and all of my family members for their support. I couldn't write without you guys!
The minute Professor Snape stepped out of the dungeon classroom; everyone at once breathed a sigh of relief and turned to their classmates for help and conversation. They were supposed to be brewing a Dreamless Sleep Potion. As usual, Neville was having problems. A sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead as he stood before his potion, which instead of being a smooth, midnight blue, was a fizzing bright pink. Steam shot up from his cauldron in spurts like a train's smokestack.
"Oh no!" cried Neville, frantically scanning the instructions. Beside him, Seamus was muttering as well, for his potion was slowly congealing.
"Neville, what did you do this time?" asked Harry, whose potion, though not quite as dark as it should be, was at least blue.
"I don't know!" cried Neville, wringing his hands. "I think I switched the infusion of wormwood with the unicorn hair."
Harry frowned. "Hermione-" he started, but a loud drawling voice suddenly cut him off.
"Messed up again, Longbottom? God, you're pathetic." Malfoy swaggered over, signature smirk fixed on his face. "What's that even supposed to be?" He sneered at Neville's puffing pink potion.
Neville flushed and mumbled something incomprehensible. Malfoy laughed and the other Slytherins joined in.
"Sod off, Malfoy," Harry said with gritted teeth.
Malfoy only laughed harder. "Why stick up for Longbottom, Potter?" he jeered. "With him around you don't look like such a loser!"
As Harry opened his mouth to give a retort, Hermione appeared between Neville and Malfoy. "Let's see if we can't fix this Neville," she said kindly, though wrinkling her brow at the sight of the pink brew. She ignored Malfoy.
"Know-it-all Granger here to save your arse again, Longbottom!" Malfoy jeered, glaring at the back of Hermione's head. She made no sign that she even heard him and continued to examine Neville's potion and his instructions.
"You'll need some nightshade, Neville. Get some from the supply cupboard, next to the Powered Root of Asphodel," she instructed. Neville nodded, mumbling his thanks to Hermione as he went. Harry nodded, confident that she would sort out Neville's disaster of a potion. He threw a glare at Malfoy and went back to his own potion.
Malfoy, furious at being ignored, shouted over to Neville, "Oi, Longbottom! Sure you don't need Granger's help to read the labels?" He smiled in satisfaction when Neville's ears turned red. Neville quickly reached up and grabbed a vial and shuffled back to his desk. When he returned, Malfoy continued in his drawling voice, "You ought to be ashamed, Longbottom. A pureblood like yourself needing the help of mudblood Granger. But then again, you are practically a squib, so that doesn't make you much better than her, does it?"
There was a loud hiss from all the Gryffindors in the room and all the Slytherins burst into laughter. Harry had to hold Ron back as Neville turned a violent shade of red. Hermione slowly turned to face Malfoy, having finally acknowledged his presence. Malfoy's eyes gleamed and his smirk grew wider as he stared down at her. Hermione's face was calm, but when she spoke her voice dripped with ice. "And you ought to be ashamed, Malfoy, of being so incredibly pathetic and insecure with your own abilities that you have to stoop to insulting everyone around you, especially those with more talent and character than you could ever possess!"
This time it was the Slytherins who hissed in displeasure while the Gryffindors cheered. Neville, still flushed muttered, "D-do I add this, Hermione?"
She glanced briefly at him and nodded before turning back to Malfoy. Two patches of pink had appeared on his pale cheeks. He leaned toward Hermione menacingly, his grey eyes dark. "Talent?" he sneered. "I know you're not talking about Longbottom, he's lucky if he's holding his wand in the right direction!"
Harry and Ron jumped up to intervene, but Hermione held up a hand to stop them. Her nostrils flared and her face was set in a frightful scowl. The rest of the potions class stopped what they were doing to lean forward and watch. Everyone that is, except for Seamus, who had now pulled out his wand and was waving it over his potion while muttering frantically under his breath.
"Neville is ten times the wizard you'll ever be, Malfoy!" spat Hermione, saying Malfoy's name as though it left a foul taste in her mouth. She quickly glanced over at Neville, who was dumping the contents of a vial into his potion and then back to Malfoy. Her eyes flashed. "And you-" Suddenly she broke off, her eyes wide and she whirled around to Neville. "Neville!" she shouted. "Stop! Don't add that it's-"
Before she could finish, a tremendous boom sounded in the classroom as both Neville and Seamus's potions exploded, filling the entire room with thick pink smoke. At once everyone started coughing and tried in vain to cover their mouths from the smoke. Pansy, Parvati and Blaise were among the first to pass out, followed by Crabbe, Goyle, Dean, Lavender, Ron and Harry. Neville, Seamus, Hermione and Malfoy, who had been closest to the cauldrons, had received the brunt of the blast, but had covered their faces and didn't immediately inhale any of the smoke.
When they thought the potion had stopped spewing out smoke, Seamus and Neville lowered their arms. Unfortunately the smoke was still thick around the room, and with their mouths and noses uncovered, they breathed in the smoke and soon joined the rest of their passed out classmates. Malfoy, who had heard all the coughing and the thumps of bodies hitting the floor cautiously uncovered his head, but left his arm up over his mouth. His eyes widened as he took in the sight of the pink smoke-filled classroom and his collapsed classmates. He turned to Hermione, who had her hand firmly covering her mouth and nose. He smirked and dropped his arm to point at her, a snide remark on his lips. But as his opened his mouth, he got a whiff of the smoke. "Granger," he coughed, and then with his smirk still in place and a slightly confused look in his eyes, he fainted to the floor.
Hermione rolled her eyes and took small breaths under her hand, swaying a bit where she stood. Keeping one hand firmly over her mouth, she reached out with her free hand and grabbed the desk to steady herself. The room around her was a spinning pink haze. From somewhere she thought she heard footsteps and a shout, then suddenly the room was clear of smoke. Must stay awake, she thought dizzily, fighting to stay conscious. It was no use. Shapes moved in her peripheral vision, but she could not make them out.
Suddenly she was falling. This is going to hurt, she thought vaguely, and tried to throw her arms out to catch herself, but they were too heavy. It seemed to her that she fell slowly, like a leaf from a tree. Then all at once she hit something solid and she realized a pair of arms had caught her mid fall. She was now leaning against someone's chest.
"Miss Granger," a voice called, seemingly from far away. Hermione's eyes flickered. "Miss Granger!" the voice called again, louder and more urgently.
Hermione tried to force her eyes open, but her eyelids were too heavy. But she thought she recognized the voice. "P-P-Professor?" she croaked. She felt a hand on her cheek, directing her gaze.
"Miss Granger," Professor Snape said insistently. He was still holding her. "What happened?"
This was it. She needed to tell him. Professor Snape's face was only a blur of pale color before her eyes. "N-Neville," she whispered. "Asphodel."
"Asphodel?" said Professor Snape sharply. "What else?"
Hermione sank lower into Snape's arms as she slipped further into unconsciousness. "Switched…wormwood a-a-and uni-unicorn hair," Hermione murmured. "Asphodel...not nightshade…wrong vial…asphodel." And with that she finally fell into unconsciousness, her head falling again onto Professor Snape's chest.