Brewing Up Mischief
Dawn chewed her lip nervously. She’d been late to breakfast, so she hadn’t had a chance to talk to Hermione before class. She was hoping she could catch her in the hall before she entered the classroom. Otherwise things would probably not play out the way she wanted.
She looked up at the sound of footsteps.
Hermione smiled, and Harry grinned, but Ron frowned at her. He’d found her somewhat suspicious ever since she’d been sorted into Slytherin.
“We’ll see you inside,” Harry said quietly, dragging Ron into the room.
Dawn figured he’d worked out what she wanted to talk to Hermione about and was keeping Ron from insisting that they could work as a trio instead of a pair.
“You’re hoping I’ll be your partner, right?” Hermione asked before Dawn could say anything.
“It didn’t take long to work out you’d be the only Slytherin without a parner,” Hermione said wryly. “Also, I’ve never seen you look this nervous before. Don’t worry, despite Ron’s noble intentions to protect me from the evil Slytherin, I’d really rather take my chances with you than with Ron.”
“I thought you two were together?” Dawn asked in confusion.
“We are,” Hermione said easily. “And we’re more likely to stay together if I don’t have to correct his sloppy work on a regular basis.”
She eyed Dawn intently.
“Are you going to be able to pull your own weight? It would be just like your housemates to steer you to me so I can carry you.”
“I’ll keep up,” Dawn said, letting her determination into her voice. “But either way, I’d like to ask one more favor.”
“What?” Hermione asked curiously.
“Can we sit in the back instead of the front?”
The Gryffindor blinked, and Dawn tried not to giggle. She’d heard it was difficult to surprise Hermione, but apparently she’d managed. Unfortunately, she couldn’t share this one with her housemates.
“Why?” Hermione demanded.
“I know you like being up front,” Dawn said quickly, “but if we’re in the first row, both our houses are going to treat us as the entertainment- they’ll be watching constantly to see what’s going to happen. Either one of us will snap and do something drastic to our own housemates, or we’ll get distracted by them and muck up our potions.”
She paused, then added what was from her perspective the best reason.
“Besides, it’ll drive them crazy not being able to see what’s going on.”
Hermione shook her head.
“Fine, it’s a deal. I’m starting to think the Hat may have been onto something putting you in Slytherin.”
“Come on, we’re the last ones in.”
They might have been last, but they still had several minutes to spare before Professor Slughorn called the class to order. Dawn suspected both houses had been hoping to catch the show. Faces on both sides of the room fell as they realized that Dawn and Hermione were not making their way to the worktable in the front row that had been left conspicuously empty.
Hermione set up the cauldron while Dawn pulled out her textbook, notebook, supplies, and quill. As she opened to the appropriate page of the text, she heard the suppressed noise of disapproval as Hermione caught sight of the markings on the page.
“You shouldn’t write in books!” Hermioned hissed, just quiet enough that Malfoy and Zabini, who had maneuvered themselves into the table just in front of the girls, couldn’t hear them.
“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried,” Dawn told her new lab partner blithely. “Besides, it’s not like it’s a library book.”
Hermione sniffed, but said nothing as Professor Slughorn started the class and they began working on the Draught of Living Death. Hermione diced the valerian root with near-machine precision, while Dawn focused on heating the cauldron to the correct temperature- her research suggested most people neglected temperature control prior to adding the ingredients, but that oversight could be the difference between a perfect potion and a poison.
Dawn was about to cut the Sopophorous Bean when Hermione shook her head.
“Don’t cut it,” she said. “Crush it with the flat of a silver dagger.”
Dawn was mystified, but she trusted her partner, so she did as she was told. To her amazement, she found that it released the juice perfectly. Glancing around, she saw folks cutting were having a difficult time of it. She tipped the juice into their cauldron and was pleased to see their in-progress potion turn shade of lilac the book said it should be.
“How did you know?” she asked Hermione as she scribbled a note in her textbook next to the appropriate step.
“Harry's book,” Hermione said. Her clipped tone said it was a long story, and complicated, and that Hermione herself wasn’t sure how she felt about the book at this point.
“Well, we owe whoever marked that book up,” she said decisively. “They’re a genius.”
They continued the rest of the potion, with Hermione contributing occasional deviations based on what she remembered from Harry’s book, and Dawn once suggesting they try something she’d run across in the Slytherin house copy of Advanced Potion Making.
When they finished and bottled a sample of their potion for grading, Hermione looked decidedly smug.
“Ours is even better than Harry and Ron’s,” she said with satisfaction. "Even though Harry's using his book."
Glancing two tables up, Dawn saw she was right. Harry and Ron’s wasn’t quite the same shade as theirs, though it was clearly leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else in the room.
Hermione smiled and began cleanup as Dawn turned their sample in to Professor Slughorn.
“You know,” she said, her quill nearly as busy as Dawn’s as they both scribbled down notes about the process, “if you always prepare for class like this, we’re going to be quite the team.”
She sounded pleased and relieved.
“I take it the boys aren’t much for studying?” Dawn asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Their idea of studying is to ask me what they need to know, usually just about the time I’m ready to leave the library or the common room.”
“So if you were to start studying with your lab partner, they might have to actually get it together on their own?”
Hermione’s grin wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Slytherin common room.
“Why don’t we try it and find out?” she said.