A/N: Still a bit slow, but things will start picking up as Harry gets back into the swing of things.
Chapter Three: This is not Potions, this is DADA
The routine for the first day of school changed for the sixth years. Instead of McGonagall handing out their schedules, she called each of them up to confirm their classes with their OWL results. Harry really didn't think that it would change all that much, though. He had already made his choices about what classes he wanted to take, cutting out all of the classes that he didn't get a good grade in or just wasn't interested in.
"Here you go, Professor," Harry said as he handed his parchment over.
"Why don't you have Potions on this list?" McGonagall asked as she glanced over it.
"Snape said he would rather kill me himself than let me into his class. He said he wouldn't accept anything other than extra credit on the highest grade possible," Harry said. He had actually wanted to take Potions with Snape to continue to drive him insane, but Professor Snape did have the right to refuse people with OWLs lower than O. He had thought about putting Potions down anyway, but he figured that would only be a good strategy if Snape himself had been going over his schedule. McGonagall had put up with his insanity the previous year, but only to a certain extent and it didn't make sense to provoke her.
"Normally this is true, but Professor Snape is not teaching Potions this year. The OWL requirement has been relaxed to Average," McGonagall said. "With this in mind, would you like to take Potions?"
"But we didn't buy any of the supplies," Harry said.
"You should be able to purchase the supplies during the first Hogsmeade visit and until then you may use the student supplies that Hogwarts provides," McGonagall said. She gave him a stern look. "Thinking of your future, taking Potions would be a good choice for you. You'd be able to become an Auror."
"Oh yeah, there was something like that," Harry said. He had put the whole Career options thing aside after telling Umbridge he had wanted to become insane rather than holding an actual job. Now that she was out of his life, he should probably think about that again. "All right, I'll take Potions."
"Good," McGonagall said. She handed him his schedule for the year and pinned him with another look. "I hope you manage to restrain yourself more this year."
"I'll do my best not to cause you trouble," Harry said. Snape, on the other hand, he made no promises about. He knew that McGonagall was hinting that he should cut out his insanity act and behave himself once more, but he had plans and he wasn't about to let any teachers tell him what to do.
He waited until Hermione and Ron had gotten their schedules before he read through his one. He was only taking the basic classes, having dropped both of his electives and the more specific standard classes. Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Charms, Transfiguration and now Potions. With only those five classes he had several free periods a day.
"Awesome, we have a free period at the start of today," Ron said. "And look at all of these other ones."
"They aren't there just so that you can laze around," Hermione said. "You're going to need them for the homework you get in your actual classes."
"Yeah, yeah," Ron said. "But today we don't have any homework. I can go back to bed. Or maybe take an extended breakfast."
"You should use that period to do something to help you in classes. Get your books together or do some reading ahead of time," Hermione suggested.
"With the amount of books you have on you now, you don't need to worry about any of that," Ron said. He pointed at Hermione. "I bet you've even read ahead in all of our classes."
"I haven't managed to read ahead enough in Arithmancy," Hermione said. "But you are right; I do have all of my books on me."
"And let me guess, some books for light reading," Harry chimed in.
"I just didn't know what classes we were going to have first today," Hermione said. "Really, they should do this before the term even starts, that way we would have more time to prepare."
"Yes, poor Hermione, her first class is the class where she's only read five chapters ahead instead of ten," Ron said. He clapped her on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure that you know even more than the professor at this point."
"Honestly," Hermione huffed. She brushed past them as she headed off to class, even though there was still time before classes even started.
Ron and Harry lazed around in the Common Room before they headed down to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Harry was practically skipping along. "Oh, how I've missed this."
"This is pretty screwed up, though," Ron said. He shook his head. "Think about it, you're looking forward to being taught by Snape of all people. Better still, you're excited because you plan on driving him nuts."
"Hey, a guy has to have some kind of a hobby," Harry said. "I've just missed this adrenaline rush."
"Do you know what you're going to do yet?" Ron asked.
"Not quite yet," Harry replied. "I had all of these plans for the first day of Potions class, but I hadn't planned anything for Defense Against Dark Arts."
"You can't do too much of the same," Ron agreed.
"Oh well, I'm sure that something will come to me," Harry said. Already ideas were starting to swirl in his head. They flew away the moment he stepped into the classroom and spotted the portraits of pain.
"What is this?" Ron asked, his voice hushed. They joined the other Gryffindors who had already arrived.
"I knew there was a reason I didn't want Snape to become the Defense professor," Harry said. He shuddered. "Somehow I'm even wondering if Umbridge's kittens were better than these."
"Of course they were," Ron said. "I don't even want to know what those are. He's probably going to describe them in great detail, right?"
"It wouldn't be Snape otherwise," Harry said.
"Just when I thought I was done with him," Neville said, looking pale.
"I'll just have to give him what for," Harry said. He marched over to his desk and put down his bag. After rummaging around in it for a moment, he pulled out a collapsible cauldron and set it up on top of his desk. "I have more of these, if anyone's interested."
"Do we even want to know why you're carrying collapsible cauldrons around?" Dean asked.
"You never know when you need to brew a potion," Harry said. "It might be every time you see an ex Potions Professor in the corridors, you know."
"I would have thought that you would be done with this by now," Seamus said. He crossed his arms. "I could see why you did it with Umbridge, but now that she's not here?"
"You really think that Snape will be a better Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?" Harry asked. "Besides, I like being insane. I like the odd looks better than the regular old staring."
"If you say so," Dean said. "But won't Snape freak out if we all have cauldrons?"
"Of course," Harry promptly replied.
"Then I'll pass," Dean said, heading over to a desk away from Harry. "It will be fun to watch, though."
"Oh, good, I made it just in time," Hermione said, almost panting as she headed over to where Harry and Ron were seated. She pursed her lips when she saw the cauldron on Harry's desk, but ignored them. "Arithmancy ran late due to a debate. I was worried I'd be late."
"This is your right on time?" Ron asked. "It's ten minutes before I'd even think to arrive to class, fifteen before it actually starts."
"Why are so many of you here, then?" Hermione asked as she looked around. "And getting to class fifteen minutes ahead of time is not a bad thing."
"I think Harry freaked everyone out when he practically ran to class early," Ron said. "He's excited about this, can you believe it?"
"If only he was excited to learn instead of prank," Hermione said, shaking her head.
"I'm excited for Potions class in this new classroom," Harry said, firmly ignoring everyone. He didn't have long to wait before Snape swept into the room.
"Potter, what is that?" Snape asked almost as soon as he entered.
"I'm all set up for Potions class, Professor," Harry said. "I've been looking forward to this all summer long."
"This is not Potions. This is Defense Against the Dark Arts," Snape said. He banished Harry's cauldron and swept to the front of the room, beginning a chilling speech. It almost sounded as though he was praising the Dark Arts as something beautiful. He motioned to the portraits on the wall, explaining what was going on in each one.
Harry slipped down under his desk during the speech, remembering his past dislike of his professor. He covered his head with his hands and waited to be discovered. He would have liked to ignore the whole thing, but he knew that he couldn't. Defense Against the Dark Arts was his best course at Hogwarts and he wasn't about to let his grudge match with Snape to interfere with that. Besides, since he was almost directly confronting Voldemort, he figured it was a good idea to learn as much Defense Against the Dark Arts as he could in the space of a year's time.
"Potter," Snape snapped when he was done his disturbing talk. "Why are you under your desk?"
"I'm scared," Harry said. "The people in the Portraits are out to get me and my little dog, too."
"The Portraits cannot harm you, Potter," Snape said. "Although, I won't deny that they are cursed."
"I knew it," Harry breathed out. "Wait, does that mean that I'm cursed right now?"
"You will be if you do not behave appropriately in my classroom," Snape said. He whirled away. "Everyone to your feet. We're going to be doing Nonverbal Spells."
"Oh, I know how to do that." Harry scrambled to his feet and punched his fist out. "Bleelbedop!"
"Not that kind of Nonverbal Spells. I want you to pair up and try to jinx your partner without speaking a word," Snape said. "Just to let you know, I will not put up with even mouthing the spell you are performing by the end of the term. You'd best not get into the habit now."
"I know how to do this," Harry insisted. He put his arms up over his head and wiggled his fingers. "Episky."
"That's a healing spell and you just talked," Hermione said. She glanced at Snape out of the corner of her eye. "And I am fairly sure that you're meant to use your wand, just not say the spell."
"That is a rookie move," Harry said as he nodded. He pulled his wand out and faced Ron. "So do you want to defend or jinx?"
"I'll Jinx you," Ron decided. He held his want out and focused, screwing his eyes up and mouthing the words slightly.
Harry tried to figure out what kind of spell Ron was doing and eventually figured out that it was the leg locker. He flexed his feet as he waited for Ron to jinx him.
"I see you are having trouble," Snape said, sneering at them. "I thought I told you, Weasley, to keep your mouth still while casting."
"He's doing the best he can," Harry defended.
"Then shall I show him how he is failing?" Snape said. He pulled out his wand and pointed it at Harry. "Are you prepared?"
"But, I thought that was secret," Harry whispered, glancing around secretively.
"Every one pay attention," Snape said, ignoring Harry. "I'll show you how it is done."
"Silent Progeto," Harry casted as a bolt of light left Snape's wand. The spell splashed off of Harry's shield and rebounded back towards Snape. The Defense Against Dark Arts Professor stumbled and glared at Harry.
"I told you not to speak," Snape said. "Detention for assaulting a Professor. To be served out with Filch on Saturday."
"Can I have ice cream instead?" Harry asked. "That was instinct, so I shouldn't be punished for it."
"Sir," Snape said. "And if it was really instinct then why did you add the Silent to it?"
"I don't think it's quite right to call me sir, but if you insist," Harry said. "I will teach you everything I know about Silent casting. Basically you just add Silent to the beginning of each spell and the enemy will know not to listen to the next word."
"Is that how it works?" Snape asked. "Only in that head of yours, Potter. There is no such thing as adding Silent to the beginning of each spell and actually having it be Silent." A chime marked the end of the class session and Snape whirled away. "Practice Nonverbal jinxes as your homework, but be prepared for heavy consequences if you do not behave while doing so."
"I'll turn everyone into slugs," Harry cheered on his way out of the door. He paused just outside of it. "Well, that went well."
"You disrupted class and got detention with Filch," Hermione pointed out.
"Okay, getting detention with Filch won't be that great, but Snape didn't try to kill me. I don't think," Harry said. "And he totally started it first. He approached me and tried to curse me."
"And who was the one who had a cauldron all set up at the start of class?" Hermione asked.
An owl tapped at the window before Harry could reply. He headed over to the window and let the bird in, taking the letter from it. "It's from Dumbledore; he wants to see me on Saturday. Lucky."
Hermione shook her head. "I can't believe this."
"Hey, Dumbledore is the one who wants to see me, it's not my doing that it's probably about the same time as Snape's detention," Harry said.
Hermione let the subject go and instead herded them off to the Great Hall to practice their nonverbal jinxes before lunch started.
After lunch they headed down to the Potions classroom. Even though things really hadn't changed much n the room, there was still a different sort of a feeling in the classroom. Maybe it was the cauldrons bubbling on a table at the front of the room. Snape would always have brown messes that he expected them to produce without instructions, but these were interesting potions with light smells and swirling smoke.
"I'm Professor Slughorn," the man introduced to them. "I've taught this class before many years ago. Back when some of your parents went to Hogwarts. I've taught many famous people, too, and I still keep in contact with them." He stopped off in front of Harry's desk. "That's the reason why I am happy to be teaching all of you. Mister Potter, did you know that your mother was the best in my class in her year?"
"Professor Slughorn, my uncle has spoken of you fondly," Draco said.
"Ah, yes, Malfoy, was it?" Slughorn moved away from Harry. Normally he would think that Draco was kissing up to the professor, and he probably was, but Harry didn't really care about that at the moment.
"That's right, Sir," Draco said.
"Ah, yes." Slughorn turned away. "Can anyone tell me what potions are in the cauldrons I have at the front of the classroom?"
The students guessed at the potion, reminding Harry of the game shows that he had performed the year before. Of course, the prize this time was better than the one for his shows. Liquid Luck, oh, the pranks he could pull off with that. But first he had to actually make the potion that Slughorn wanted. In order to do that, he needed a book.
Slughorn told him to grab a book from the cabinet and it was just his luck that he ended up with a book someone had scribbled in. The scribbles ended up being useful as he blindly followed what the book said and won the Felix Felicis. Hermione pouted the whole way out of the dungeon.
"I can't believe that you just followed what a book said. Are you truly insane?" she asked.
"I like Mr. Scribbles," Harry replied, clutching the stained book to his chest. "He seems to know what he's talking about. Yes, I very well could have made a poison, but I figured I didn't have anything to lose."
"I still think that you should do the research before simply following what a book says," Hermione said.
"But isn't that the whole point of books?" Ron chimed in.
"Handwritten words in books," Hermione said. "You can trust printed words to a greater extent, but even books can print biased or inaccurate things."
"Gasp, shock," Harry said. "But if you can't trust books, what can you trust?"
"Oh, shush," Hermione said. She stalked away and the two boys chased after her.