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Chapter Three: The Myth of the Butterbeer Panacea

"Ron, we've got to do something!" Hermione yelled over Parvati and Lavender's heads.

The other girls had grabbed Hermione when the curses had begun to fly, and now she was having a difficult time of it getting free.

"What's the matter, Granger? Don't you enjoy a little entertainment now and then?" Millicent Bulstrode asked, roughly pulling the two frightened girls off the indignant one.

"You leave her alone!" Ron demanded from the other side of the table.

Millicent smirked. "You're the one who's unable to protect his girlfriend, Weasley."

"Bulstrode, that's enough. We can't let them kill each other!" Hermione hissed.

"Oh, I don't know. What's one less Gryffindor?" Pansy Parkinson asked sweetly from behind Hermione, her wand raised.

Parkinson made a satisfactory thud as her unconscious body smacked the ground. Ginny Weasley stood angrily where the other girl had just been threatening her brother's girlfriend.

"What's one less Slytherin?" she spat, her eyes shining with anger.

Millicent smiled, taking in the smaller girl's curves with a roguish sweep of her eye. "Nice one, Weasley!"

Ginny blushed uncomfortably, and quickly turned her attention back to the fight upon the tables that had been pushed together in the Great Hall as a presentation platform.

She and the other students were so fascinated by the horror of Harry Potter and Professor Snape actually dueling that no one noticed as Neville surreptitiously pocketed Parkinson's wand.

"Stand down, Potter!"

"Why? So you can hex me to death? I don't think so."

Snape dodged a chair that Harry floated quickly toward his head.

"Stupefy!" he commanded, but his opponent dove to the table top and rolled the Potions master off his feet.

They both lost their wands.

Cho Chang shrieked, "Oh, now she's done it!"

And it did look as though Harry might be in trouble. Professor Snape was a good seven inches taller than the girl, and much stronger, but somehow, she managed to struggle free of him. With a roar of frustrated rage, Snape lunged again at Harry, whose right hand came up, flat of it to the professor, and then it seemed as if an unseen force hurled him across the Great Hall into the wall where the point holders were kept.

"One hundred points from Gryffindor for laying hands on a teacher!" Snape screamed.

Ron, indignant, yelled, "She never touched you with her hands!"

Harry, who looked completely stunned, rallied as her friends began to remonstrate with Snape. Turning to look down at him, she declared, "one hundred and fifty points from Slytherin for attacking a student!"

To everyone's shock, the points were removed from the jar of each house.

"Potter! What did you--"

The sound of clapping cut off the words of their professor, and the students turned to see Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, Sinistra, Hooch, and Dumbledore seated at the Head Table. They had not been there when the meeting of Dumbledore's Dueling Club had been called to order, and it seemed odd to find them approbative of what had just occurred. Everyone stared.

Oh, no. I'm going to be expelled for sure this time.

The headmaster spoke. "Well, Professor Snape, Miss Potter, that was an excellent example of what not to do during a formalized duel, but a realistic portrayal of what one might expect in a true fight. One hundred points to Gryffindor--and one hundred, fifty points to Slytherin, of course--for your efforts to . . . illuminate the students."

Harry was so relieved that she thought she might be sick.

Minerva McGonagall cleared her throat loudly. "I am surprised at both of you--"

Not as surprised as I am, thought Severus.

Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat softly.

"Your teaching methods are most unorthodox," McGonagall finished with a displeased glare at Snape.

Severus successfully fought the urge to laugh. He was shaken by his behavior, and at a complete loss to understand it.

Snape was back on his feet and had retrieved his wand, which many of the students noted was not lowered. Harry had also retrieved her wand. She looked quite prepared to begin fighting all over again. No one really believed that their duel had been for show, but almost all of the students forgot about the very recent unpleasantness at Professor Dumbledore's next words.

"As this lesson was very thorough, and it's still quite early in the day, I suggest that you all run into Hogsmeade until dinner. Surely it is too beautiful a day to waste it by studying."

The hall cleared fast enough, save for Neville--who was standing over Parkinson's prone form--Ron, Hermione, Harry, and, of course, Professor Snape.

"Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, take yourselves off this instant!" Professor McGonagall ordered.

They reluctantly did, but only as far as the other side of the doors to the Great Hall.

"Ah, Mr. Longbottom," Professor Flitwick said, walking toward the boy. "What have we here?"

While Neville quietly explained the situation to Flitwick, who began helping the boy levitate Pansy to the infirmary, Madame Hooch and Professor Sinistra--both smirking madly--left the hall. They shooed Ron and Hermione all the way into Hogsmeade. This left Harry, Snape, McGonagall, and Dumbledore alone in stony silence.

"How is it possible that she can take points?" demanded Snape.

McGonagall goggled at him. "Severus, you attacked the girl, and that is your concern?"

Snape said nothing, but Harry interjected, "No! He didn't attack me. I, uh, I attacked him first." She hung her head.

Severus stared at her as if she had sprouted an extra one.

Dumbledore chuckled. "I believe it would be fair to say that the attack was mutual, Harry."

"That does not excuse Severus' behavior, Albus!"

"Nor Harry's, Minerva."

"No," Severus and Harry said as one, starling themselves.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "Do you know, I did tell Harry that she was to be as a co-teacher of the club. I expect that was enough for Hogwarts. You're a professor, now, Harry. What do you think of that?"

Great. Something else to add to my list: former boy-turned-girl of prophecy becomes violent teaching freak--destiny unknown, embarrassment assured. Merlin has a sick sense of humor.

The adrenaline rush on which the girl had been running petered out just then, and she found herself sliding nervelessly to the floor.

Severus caught her before her body met the stones. "Harry, are you hurt? Did I hurt you?"

"No, you'd never hurt me," the girl said before passing out.

Minerva shoved Severus roughly aside and levitated Harry into the air. "It's a little late for you to be concerned about that, you idiot!"

She left the two men alone together, and took Harry to the Infirmary.

"Well," said Albus, looking darkly at his friend.

"I'm sorry."

"Sorrow is the least of what you will feel should you ever truly harm one of my students, Professor Snape," Dumbledore said coldly.

Severus felt the older wizard's words vibrate through his bones and hoped that they would not splinter. He knew, however, that if Albus Dumbledore wanted to crack every bone in his body and rip each of them out of it through his blistered skin, he could manage it as easily as he could suck a lemon sherbert into nothingness.

"I shall tender my resignation immediately, Headmaster."

"Frog balls, my boy! You shall do no such thing," Albus said in a light-hearted tone. "You shall simply collect Miss Potter from the Infirmary and take her into Hogsmeade," the man said, smiling at his friend's confusion. "It would do the students good to see the two of you looking companionable, and, at the very least, you owe her a butterbeer."

Where did you develop the notion that carbohydrate is a cure-all?


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