phoenix ashes
bloody potions



Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a fine British school for young witches and wizards who want to learn the basic knowledge in a variety of subjects that would one day prove useful in the real world...or so they were supposed to believe. After yet another week of several professors breathing down their spines, assigning increasingly difficult homework, and preparing for the O.W.L.s, which were the exams to be taken by all Fifth Years at the end of their school year, the students were really looking forward to the weekend. There was just one small obstacle to overcome that Friday afternoon: Potions. Ah, yes, Potions, everyone's favorite class at Hogwarts. Shall the sarcasm end here? Very well.

The "Trio," as they had been so aptly named, had just finished lunch in the Great Hall and were heading back to Gryffindor Tower to collect their things for their last class of the week. Once they reached the Fat Lady and gave the password ("flobberworm mucus"), Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger entered through the small opening and into the common room. Several students were there, discussing their plans for the weekend, which mostly consisted of talk of Honeydukes at Hogsmeade or butterbeers at the Three Broomsticks. Between the two, it was enough sugar to rot both their teeth and their minds.

Hermione scoffed at the behavior of the other students as the Trio walked past, "Really, you'd think they would be just a bit more responsible. The O.W.L.s are only a month away, and I, for one, will not be wasting my time filling up on sweets when I have loads of studying to do this weekend."

"Let me guess," began Ron dryly. "You'll be spending your weekend in the library."

"Exactly where you two should be if you expect to pass with good marks," Hermione insisted, her brown eyes glaring right through Ron's blue ones.

"You worry too much," Harry shrugged, giving Hermione a wry grin. "C'mon, let's get our stuff. We don't want to be late for Potions."

"Well, at least that's one thing we agree on," Hermione muttered as she left the boys and went up to the girls' dormitory to find her books, parchments, quills, and Potions ingredients.

While the boys grabbed the necessary items, Harry rolled his eyes, causing Ron to laugh. "You know, she really needs to straighten out her priorities. She acts like she's a teacher sometimes," Ron admitted.

"Well, she's close enough; she's the teacher's pet," Harry mumbled.

Returning quickly to the common room, Ron and Harry found Hermione waiting near the entrance. She had an impatient look written across her face, and her curly, bushy brown hair was in a frenzy. "It's about time you two made it down here," she said crossly.

"Oh, give it a rest, Hermione," Ron replied, obviously tired of hearing the girl complain. "You're worse than usual today."

Hermione's eyes flared, and if she could emit rays from them to shock the boys, she would have. Instead, she turned around and stomped out the door, leaving Harry and Ron to catch up. They weren't quite as foolish as she was treating them. They did, after all, know that if there was one class you didn't want to be late to, it was Potions. The professor who taught the subject was Professor Severus Snape, who, as Head of Slytherin House, loathed Gryffindors and loathed Harry "The Boy Who Lived" Potter even more. He looked for the slightest reason to deduct points from Gryffindor, and any attempt made by a student to defend his or her position was futile. Angering Snape was the last thing anyone wanted to do.

As they made their way down to the dungeons, where Potions class was held, the temperature dropped about twenty degrees. Harry swore sometimes that Snape enjoyed having class down there in the dungeons, treating the students more like prisoners than pupils. How they had endured nearly five years of Potions was somewhat miraculous, but what was more miraculous what the fact that Neville Lottombottom, who was Hermione's partner in class, hadn't blown himself up yet from his countless mistakes. The poor boy had been the object of Snape's wrath on too many occasions to remember, and it was probably only thanks to Hermione that he managed to pass the class.

Ron and Harry sat down in relief, glad they weren't late, and practically threw their Potions materials mindlessly on to the bench in front of them. Hermione glanced at them and rolled her eyes. They're hardly making this any easier on themselves, she thought. When Snape comes in and sees how they've just thrown their things like that-"

Her thoughts were interrupted by the slamming of the door. Professor Snape came bursting into the classroom, his long legs taking quick, graceful strides. Even when the man was in a hurry, he managed to walk with elegance. His black robes billowed around and behind him as he made his way to the bench at the head of the classroom. He firmly placed a vial of some strange type of red liquid on the table in front of him, and keeping his hand gripped tightly around the neck of the bottom, he looked up, glaring at the class with his black eyes. One look in those eyes was enough to scare any student and probably make a nervous First Year wet himself. Like endless tunnels, you could find yourself lost peering into his intense eyes, which were further shrouded by tendrils of his lank, raven black hair that hung in his face and stopped right above his shoulders.

"Today," began his silky voice in a very mild-sounding tone, "we will be brewing potions meant to ease headaches and other minor aches and pains. Madam Pomfrey has insisted I teach you dunderheads a thing or two about how to properly deal with such minor ailments. If I were you, I wouldn't waste another moment of my precious time, now!" he suddenly shouted.

The whole class jumped, startled by his volume raising itself several notches. It really shouldn't have been that much of a surprise by now, but Severus Snape had a method of intimidation that no other professor can touch with a ten foot pole. Even Minerva McGonagall at her strictest couldn't come close to the effect Snape had on practically stupefying his students without even the slightest flick of a wand. Of course, the Potions Master detested most wand magic, having made it clear his first day of instruction that "wand-waving" was "foolish." From day one, Harry knew he would constantly be at odds with the man.

Knowing he should have read chapter thirty-seven of his Potion textbook, Harry swallowed slowly as he opened the book to the necessary pages, the thick saliva going down his parched throat. He dared not to look up as Snape stalked the classroom, walking between the benches, his eyes monitoring every slight move a student made.

"Did you forget to read it, too?" Ron whispered as he leaned over toward Harry, trying his best to keep his voice low.

"Yeah," Harry admitted reluctantly, glancing over at Hermione as she began to prepare the proper ingredients for the potion.

"What was that I heard?" Snape suddenly cut in. His head right between the two boys, Harry and Ron could both feel Snape's breath cold on their necks, making the tiny hairs there stand on end. They swore Snape must have had hearing like a hawk.

"Um, nothing, Professor," Ron lied, gulping down his words. His freckles stood out starkly against his skin as his face turned about three shades lighter. Harry, however, turned as red in the face as Ron's carrot top.

"Maybe if you'd mind your own business, we'd be able to actually get some work done around here," Harry said between clenched teeth, trying his best to control the last bit of his temper that hung from a fragile thread.

Snape, however, cut that thread. "Potter, if you knew what was good for you, you would learn to shut that mouth of yours. Stop attempting to give me a headache, or else I'll give you one as a gift for your insolance. Then, Potter, you'll be wishing you would have brewed that pathetic potion that could have remedied the soon-to-be headache you will be experiencing in detention at seven o'clock this evening!"

"Is that a threat?" Harry scowled.

"No, Potter, it's called a detention, and I want both Mr. Weasley and yourself here at seven o'clock, sharp. Do I make myself entirely clear?" Snape asked with venom so thick it could poison a Mountain Troll.

"Yes, Sn-, uh, Professor Snape, sir," Ron quickly mumbled, then hastily hushed Harry before he could say anything more.

All the while, Hermione kept glancing at Harry and Ron as Snape enjoyed tormenting the two trouble-makers, or so he called them. Neville was actually not giving her too much of a problem today, so she continued to work diligantly on the potion, carefully dropping the ingredients into the cauldron in the proper order. Everything was going fine until Neville reached over to the smoldering cauldron with something foreign to the recipe in his chubby hand.

"No!" exclaimed Hermione, grabbing his hand and pushing it away. "What do you think you're doing?"

While she was rescuing her hard work, she felt something warm and wet between her legs. Afraid it was going to be what she feared, she looked down toward her seat and noticed a red stain on her skirt. Oh, no... Hermione panicked. What if Neville notices? Or worse, what if Snape-"

"Trying to play savior again, are we, Miss Granger?" asked Snape sardonically as he leaned over the table.

Oh, no...

"You, Mr. Longbottom!" he burst out in an accusational tone. "What have you got in your hands?"

"Uh- uh..." Neville stuttered stupidly.

Hermione didn't care what was going on between Snape and Neville, though. No, she had more important things to worry about in that heated moment. She cursed herself silently for forgetting to pack the necessary feminine products for her unwanted monthly visitor, and she knew that Snape never excused a student to use to lavatory to relieve herself, let alone deal with the curse females were forced to live with for anywhere between thirty-five and forty years of their lives.

Swallowing nervously, Hermione decided to attempt to proceed asking a question in the way she always did: by raising her hand. Snape was still eyeing Neville up and down, glaring at the poor boy with utter contempt. Hermione wiggled her arm back and forth in the air several times, trying to gain Snape's attention, but it was of no use. She knew she would have to say something.

"Um, excuse me? Professor?" she asked timidly.

Snape turned to Hermione, giving her a glare that went right through her. Trying to regain some of her composure, she continued, "I have a question to ask you."

"Well? What is it?" Snape practically barked. "Of course, that's nothing new, is it? You've always got your hand waving in the air, wanting all the attention. Well, Miss Granger? I don't have all day."

"Well," she mumbled, "it's kind of, um, a personal question."

"Excuse me? Maybe you ought to use your mouth and annunciate the words when you speak to me, Miss Granger. If you can't even speak properly, kindly stop wasting my time."

"I said it's a personal question."

Snape was completely taken aback by her statement. He had expected her to ask about such-and-such ingredient and what it did and where it came from and the like. The last thing he expected to hear was this. He blinked a couple of times and sneered at her. "A personal question?"

Realizing he must have misunderstood what she meant, Hermione quickly amended, "Not about you; it's about me."

"Miss Granger, I don't have time for silly games. Why would you bother to ask me, your Potions professor, a personal question about yourself? Your logic seems a bit, dare I say, flawed."

"Please, Professor Snape, it's important," she pleaded. "I can't ask you in front of everyone."

Snape didn't give her any reason to continue, but she did when she realized that he wasn't going to respond. "Very well," she sighed, feeling defeated. "I, um, need to go to the girls' lavatory."

"You should have taken care of your business before coming to my class, Miss Granger. You know I don't allow students to go wandering the halls when they should be in class. It can wait until after class."

With that, Snape turned to leave, but unable to control her reflexes, Hermione reached out and grabbed Snape by the arm. The other students looked at her like she was insane, but she was desperate now. As soon as Snape turned to face his attacker, she flinched and felt more of the warm, wet fluids draining from her insides between her legs.

"What do you think you're doing, Miss Granger?" Snape asked between clenched teeth. "I demand you release my arm and leave me alone, unless you would rather spend the rest of your Friday afternoon and evening cleaning out the bed pans in the hospital wing."

"You don't understand, Professor," Hermione insisted. "You see, I had an accident. It's my, um, time of the month."

A few Slytherin girls nearby giggled, knowing full well what Hermione was talking about. Most of the boys, however, looked confused, and Hermione noticed the same confused expression on Snape's face. No matter what the age, men are men. For a brief minute, she thought he might grant her pardon to leave and take care of the necessary business, but his face soon hardened, and he pulled his arm jerkily away from her death grip.

"What are you talking about, child? You must be losing your mind. Perhaps it's possible you've been spending too much time studying," Snape said icily and gave her a glare that would have sent a whole class of First Years to the Headmaster in tears.

"I know full well what I'm talking about," Hermione defended herself. "You have no right to insult a young woman who's having her-" She felt extremely flustered, but continued, "-her bloody period."

The amount of discomfort that last statement caused Snape was unbelievable. He lost face for several moments, and a few students had the nerve to laugh at his discomfort. This only angered him, and as the initial shock wore off, he twisted his face into one of the ugliest sneers he could render.

"Shut up!" he bellowed at the class. In all his years of teaching at Hogwarts, never had he been caught so off-guard, and what made the embarrassment worse was the fact that it was over some young girl's blasted period. He didn't try to understand the minds of adolescents, and he didn't want to. He knew one thing, though. This girl in front of him had humiliated him in front of the whole class by asking such an absurd thing, in his mind anyway, of him. He would never admit his feelings to those fools, but he had to keep his dignity. He glared straight into Hermione's eyes, and as their eyes met, Snape noticed the pleading look she had in her soft, brown eyes. For only a moment, not a second longer, that was enough to soften his brash exterior.

"Fine, you may go," he said stiffly, "but I must insist that next time you come prepared before you go making such an unnecessary scene."

Hermione, feeling relieved, nodded and mumbled, "Thank you, Professor," as she briskly walked past him.

"Don't thank me, Miss Granger. If you think for one moment that I'm doing this as some sort of a favor to you, you're competely wrong."

"Then why are you doing it?" Hermione couldn't help but to ask.

Because I'm saving my own hide, you silly girl.

"You have no right to ask me that," Snape scowled at her. "Now, get out! Out!"

Pointing his long, bony index finger toward the door, Snape stared the girl down as she left the classroom. Snape glanced around to see about twenty-five pairs of eyes on him. He breathed in rigidly, and upon exhaling, he regained full composure, more than enough to say, "What are you looking at? Back to work! Now!"

The totalitarian rule he held over his classroom back in place, Snape returned to his desk and started grading papers. He frowned at the poor efforts of the majority of students, but when he came across Miss Hermione Granger's homework, there was nothing to correct. It was perfect, too perfect. Taking the quill to the parchment, he gave her the highest mark possible. As the blood red ink hit the paper, Snape thought aimlessly to himself, Bloody potions. No one saw the small smirk play across his face.

Questions? Comments? Kisses?