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The Newlyweds by Potioncat [Reviews - 10]

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This story was entered in the Sycophant Hex: Spring Faire Festival under the General Story: The Potion Master's Wife.

The criteria is below:

The Great Hall of Hogwarts was packed for the beginning of term feast. Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting together as usual at the Gryffindor table at the opening of what would be their last year at Hogwarts.

"Who's she?" asked Harry.

"Who?" asked Hermione.

"That woman sitting at the high table, I've never seen her before." He pointed to the woman next to Professor Snape with whom, uncharacteristically, the Potions master seemed to be having an animated conversation.

Hermione followed his gesture. "Oh, her?" She smiled with the air of one who knew a secret. "That's Madam Snape. She often visits on weekends."

1. The story is to start with the above sentences.
2. The back story, description and explanation of above are left to the author.

Notes: I made one change in the required opening: “Last year” was changed to “sixth year”.

The Newlyweds

The Great Hall of Hogwarts was packed for the beginning of term feast. Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting together as usual at the Gryffindor table at the opening of their sixth year at Hogwarts.

"Who's she?" asked Harry.

"Who?" asked Hermione.

"That woman sitting at the high table, I've never seen her before." He pointed to the woman next to Professor Snape with whom, uncharacteristically, the Potions master seemed to be having an animated conversation.

Hermione followed his gesture. "Oh, her?" She smiled with the air of one who knew a secret. "That's Madam Snape. She often visits on weekends."

Harry’s eyes darted from the pair to Hermione. He stared at her, dumbfounded. He saw that Ron seemed to be as surprised as he was. In fact, Ron actually seemed to be in danger of choking until at last he sputtered, “Who on earth would marry Snape?”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Honestly, haven’t you seen her before?”

Both boys looked to the head table. The woman beside Snape appeared to be tall and slender. She wore her long red hair down her back, gathered in a sort of lacy net. Her robes were a deep green, almost black. At the moment she was smiling and nodding to Snape. To Harry’s shock, she actually reached over and placed her hand on Snape’s shoulder, receiving a smile in return.

“They seem to have a lot to say to each other. Wouldn’t you think she’d be glad to send him off to Hogwarts?” Ron asked.

He’s been…”—Hermione looked around—“away quite a bit. Maybe they haven’t had time see much of each other over the holiday.

Harry scowled. “He had time to write nasty letters!”

Ron, Hermione and Ginny all looked at him in surprise and Harry realized he’d have to explain. “Didn’t you get a NEWT Potions letter?” he asked, feeling embarrassment swell up inside him at the memory of the letter he’d received.

Dear Mr. Potter,
This is to inform you that you have been accepted into the NEWT Potions class for the upcoming year. The minimum requirement for taking this course has been lowered from Outstanding to Exceeds Expectations on the OWL exams. Professor Dumbledore feels this change is warranted given the unpleasant events of our time.

I hope you will not think the quality or expectations of this class have changed. They have not. You should anticipate a challenging course and should prepare yourself to work diligently. Hard work is the only path to success in Potions. Those of you who earned less than Outstanding on OWLs will find this course very difficult and may have little time for extracurricular activities if you are to succeed in potion making. Plan your time accordingly.

Enclosed is the assignment to be completed prior to arrival at Hogwarts.

S. Snape
Professor of Potions
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Harry quoted the letter as best he could to his classmates. He was pleased to be taking Potions—if only so that he would be able to apply for Auror training—but the thought that Dumbledore and McGonagall had pulled strings for him to be in the class made Harry feel uneasy.

“It’s the same letter he sent me,” Hermione argued. “I thought he was assuring us that the course still maintains high standards.”

“Even though he had to lower his standard to let me in?” Harry snarled. “He says so! I think Dumbledore made him do it and now he expects me to quit Quidditch!”

“Not just you. I squeaked out an “E” too,” Ron said, less concerned about it. “He doesn’t say anything about Quidditch! Look at her! What could he say that’s so funny! Have you ever seen Snape funny?” At the head table Madam Snape was laughing. She turned to speak to Madam Sprout, who also began to laugh. “You know, maybe it isn’t Snape at all. Maybe it’s someone drinking polyjuice.”

“That’s why she looks so happy!” Harry agreed, although he could recall many times that Snape had made Slytherins laugh at the expense of Gryffindors.

“They were married just after last term. They’re newlyweds. Of course they’re happy,” Hermione explained.

Ron stared at Hermione. “And were you the Maid of Honour? You certainly know a lot about it!”

“It wasn’t exactly a secret!” Hermione snapped. “There was an announcement in the Daily Prophet. They were married in Hogsmeade right after the end of term. Dumbledore officiated.”

“And I ask again, were you the Maid of Honour?” Ron hissed. “Hermione, I don’t care if Crookshanks officiated!”

Hermione gave up on the boys and turned to Ginny. “You’ve seen her before, haven’t you?”

Ginny studied Madam Snape. “She visited a lot last year. We were Snape’s last class on a Friday, and sometimes we saw her coming into the castle as we were leaving the dungeon. I spoke to her in the library once. We were both looking for books in the Potions section. I think she was researching something for Snape, but she took the time to help me find the information for the essay I had to write.” Ginny turned back to her dinner, and added as an afterthought, “I made an Outstanding on the essay because of her. She gave me some good ideas.”

Ron snorted, “My sister, chums with Snape’s wife!”

Harry nudged him and grinned. “At least we know who to go to for help. She can dash off an owl to Madam Snape whenever we have trouble with homework!”

Ginny turned red and glared at Ron. “I said she was helpful. I only spoke to her that one time.”

“Look at her,” Seamus said: “She looks like a lit match!”

Ginny started to protest until she saw that he was looking at the staff table. Madam Snape was indeed blushing so furiously that her face was even redder than her hair. Inclined to this themselves, Ron and Ginny both scowled at Seamus. He added weakly, “Well, what could they be talking about to get her to blush like that? Have you ever seen Snape talk so much?”

Ginny giggled. “Maybe it’ll be good for us if she visits more often! Snape a newlywed!”

“Please, I’m trying to eat,” Ron said, pausing with a forkful of pie at the ready.

Harry looked back at the table just as Madam Snape looked at him. Her expression was exactly as Snape’s had been that very first night at Hogwarts. It was as if his scar remembered the jolt of pain, so vivid was the recalled event. Harry shook his head and looked back, but her eyes had moved on.

Hermione was studying the head table and frowning. “Do you ever remember a teacher’s spouse coming to a feast? I wonder…”

“I don’t remember ever thinking the teachers were married. Who would want to marry any of them? Especially Snape!” Ron answered.

Hermione tossed her napkin to the table and jumped up. “Look at the time. We’re on duty now. Come on Ron.”

Because the only thing left was Dumbledore’s speech, Harry decided to go with them. The last thing he heard as he left the Great Hall was Dumbledore’s voice saying, “I’d like to introduce Madam Snape…”

The Gryffindors received their schedules at breakfast the following morning. Harry had Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts that very afternoon. He was hoping for a teacher like Lupin in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and dreading the session with Snape, but was too busy in his morning classes to worry about it.

At lunch all the talk was about the tension everyone felt this year. The war had made a big difference in the atmosphere at Hogwarts. A seventh year complained that Sprout had snapped at his class first thing. Harry agreed that McGonagall had been sterner than usual. A first year dropped to the table weakly. “I just had Professor Snape’s class. It was horrible! No one knew any of the answers to the questions and now we have to write a research paper by the next class! Is it always this bad?”

Harry nodded, “You’ll get used to it. Just keep your head down and pay attention.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Fine advice coming from you! You never paid attention in Potions.”

A second year shook his head. “Potions is much worse than last year! One of the Hufflepuffs in my class melted his cauldron and now everyone in the class has detention!” The second year mimicked Snape, “Let’s see if that will teach you better safety techniques!”

“So much for the happy newlywed!” Ron hissed. “Maybe they had a fight after the feast. I know! He wanted her to stay and she couldn’t wait to go!”

Harry whispered back, “You don’t think he’s taking it out on everyone that I was allowed into his NEWT class do you?”

Neither Hermione nor Ron risked an answer, but seemed very interested in the food on their plates. Colin Creevey dropped into a seat beside them. “I just had Defense Against the Dark Arts. It was horrible!”

“Not another Umbridge?” Hermione asked.

Colin looked surprised. “No, more like Moody. Only, well --you know-- worse! The professor said now that the war is on there will be lots of hands on, practical material. We’re going to be dueling. And he says if we don’t pay attention it won’t be his fault if we end up in the hospital wing.” The boy gave a shudder. “He knows his Dark Arts all right!”

After lunch a handful of Gryffindors made the descent to the dungeon classroom for the sixth year NEWT level Potions. In the past they had lined up at the door and waited for the Professor to admit them, but today the door was open and the students filed in, took seats and waited. Everyone began to look around at each other. Harry knew most of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. There were five Slytherins. Harry hadn’t expected to see Crabbe or Goyle, but he was surprised that Malfoy wasn’t in the class. He wondered if Malfoy’s OWL marks had been too low or if he simply hadn’t signed up for Potions.

Just as it was becoming too uncomfortable, the door burst open and Professor Snape strode in. Black robes billowed and heels clicked on the stone floor. “Good afternoon class. This is NEWT level, not OWL level. Why aren’t your cauldrons heating? Five points from each of you. Yes, you too, Slytherins. Start your preparations quietly while I take the register. Harry and Ron were dumbfounded at the chain of events and were slower than everyone else in setting up.

“Potter, Harry.” The professor, paused, just like in the very first Potions class. “Potter, still living up to your reputation, I see. Five more points from Gryffindor for your slack and from you as well, Mr. Weasley.”

Harry regained his senses and began setting up. Register taken, the book was slammed shut and the professor spoke, “This is first year NEWT Potions. You are expected to have a certain level of expertise. I am well aware of your abilities and talents…such as they are.” Professor Snape looked directly at Harry, eyes gleaming. “We have a great deal of work to do.” A wave of the wand and a complex set of instructions posted themselves on the blackboard, followed by the command, “Begin.” But before anyone could even start, the professor began lecturing on the concoction they were about to assemble. There was a confused bustle as students tried to take notes and follow the directions on the board at the same time.

An hour and a half later, the bell rang for the end of class. Harry was drenched with perspiration in spite of the cold dungeon air. Everyone looked spent and eager to escape, but the professor held them back. “That was not so bad for a first class,” the professor said, though there was nothing encouraging in the tone. “There is one bit of protocol we did not cover at the beginning, but we should attend to now. To avoid confusion, now that there are two Professor Snapes at Hogwarts, you may address me as Madam Snape. Good day, class.”

The Newlyweds by Potioncat [Reviews - 10]

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