Thank you so much for all the support! I deeply appreciate it!
She waited all year for this moment.
Some students scooted their chairs as close to Professor Rose's desk as possible, others backed away as far as they could. One student trembled while another let out a nervous giggle. A few glanced at their professor, their eyes pleading for some hint of how they should handle this situation.
Professor Rose cleared her throat. "The greatest potions master who has ever graced the halls of Hogwarts once said that if you wish to understand a potion, you must first understand its ingredients. One key piece of knowledge is its origin."
She glanced down at the clear container on her desk. Inside, a king cobra slithered forward, as if to get a better view of the students.
"This is Madame Serpent," Professor Rose grabbed the beaker on the edge of her desk and placed it in front of her. "She will be providing the King Cobra venom needed for our pain relief potion."
Professor Rose stuck her right arm into the cage. The students' eyes grew as Madame Serpent slithered up to her elbow.
One student swooned.
"Obviously one should only handle a king cobra as I do under certain circumstances," Professor Rose explained. "Madame Serpent is relatively safe to touch. Her diet consists of a supplement which provides her with all the nutrients she needs. This supplement is charmed to keep her docile, quite an invaluable trait. Just as crucial is the fact that this diet increases the magical properties of her venom, making any potion she helps to create more potent."
A hand was raised.
"Yes, Mr. Wilson," Professor Rose drawled.
"I-is it true that you are a parsletongue?" He asked.
"No. Parseltongue is only a hereditary skill," Professor Rose answered.
He opened his mouth."
"Despite the outrageous rumors, my father was not the bastard son of Voldemort," Professor Rose continued.
The student nodded and folded his hands.
"Back to our original topic of discussion," Professor Rose picked up Madame Serpent by the head. The snake hissed before relaxing. "Madame Serpent has worked with me for years. She is crucial to my research, and I am pivotal to her survival. It is only natural to become attached to each other under those circumstances."
Madame Serpent opened her mouth as wide as she could. Professor Rose hummed.
The students held their breath.
Professor Rose held Madame Serpent over the beaker. With one swift motion she jammed the snake's teeth into the latex covering. Then she pressed on Madame Serpent's head. Yellow fluid trickled from her mouth.
"You must be firm yet gentle when milking a cobra. If you are too gentle then you will be unable to extract any venom from her; yet if you are too aggressive you will harm her."
A trembling hand was raised.
Professor Rose glanced at the student. "Is there a question Ms. Price?"
"Do, do we have to milk her ourselves?" She stuttered.
Professor Rose raised her eyebrow. "Do you want to milk her yourself?"
Ms. Price recoiled.
"It is quite enjoyable, once you have perfected the process." Professor Rose lifted Madame Serpent from the jar.
"I-I'll take your word for it," Ms. Price squeaked.
Professor Rose removed Madame Serpent from the beaker. "Thank you for your assistance. You did quite well."
The cobra flicked her tongue.
Professor Rose set Madame Serpent back in the cage. The snake slithered away from her arm and stared the students.
"I hope I have made my point clear about how difficult it is to obtain the cobra venom needed for this potion," Professor Rose intoned as she put a plastic cover on Madame Serpent's container.
A few muttered their agreement.
"Now, I expect this Śarpe Curat completed within the next hour and a half. That is more than feasible. When the potion is complete bring it up to me. If it is any color other than Prussian Blue then you have brewed the potion incorrectly and you are liable to poison someone with it. Obviously this will result in a failing grade."
"Yes Professor Rose," they mumbled.
Professor Rose stared at them. The students did not move.
"You have a limited amount of time to complete your project," She announced. "Do not waste it."
The students began assembling their ingredients and set to work on the project.
Professor Rose sat down into her chair. She tapped on the container. Madame Serpent glided over to her.
"How long do you think it will take for one of the students to blow up a cauldron?" Professor Rose whispered.
Madame Serpent raised herself and inflated her hood.
Footsteps could be heard from the hallway.
"No, I do not think it will take half as long as you seem to think it will," Professor Rose whispered.
Madame Serpent flicked her tongue.
The footsteps grew louder.
Professor Rose kept her eyes on Madame Serpent. Perhaps if she pretended her class and the snake were the only entities in the universe the visitor would disappear…
Against her wishes, the door opened.
She glanced up. "Yes, Professor Malfoy?"
He took a deep breath. "Headmaster Longbottom needs to speak with you immediately."
"What does he need to speak with me about?" she asked.
"I'm not entirely sure," he answered. "All I know is that he wants me to substitute for your class for the next half hour or so."
Two students gasped.
Professor Rose scowled at the students. They returned their attention to their notes.
"I take it there is no possible way this can wait."
"From what Headmaster Longbottom said, it cannot."
Rose sighed. "If anyone explodes a cauldron feel free to deduct points and give that individual a troll."
Professor Malfoy nodded.
She turned her attention to the students. "I shall return by the end of the period. You cannot leave unless I have examined your potion."
"Yes, Professor Rose" they replied in unison.
Professor Rose then turned her attention to Scorpius. "Do make sure Madame Serpent remains in her cage. Left to her own devices she will roam around the dungeons and scare unsuspecting students who are on the verge of exploding their cauldrons."
Professor Malfoy glanced at the cage and shuddered. "I'll make sure she stays inside."
The snake hissed.
Professor Rose stormed out the doorway and up the stairs, robes billowing behind her. Upon reaching the first floor she wrapped the edge of her cape around her finger and paused.
Despite his less than stellar experiences with her father, Headmaster Longbottom understood the importance of potions. He would never interrupt her class unless it was of the utmost urgency. Could Dad have been injured in the course of running an experiment? Did a client attack Victor and leave him wounded? Was Violet on the verge of expulsion for another one of her ill-conceived antics?
Had Mum gone down hill?
She released her cape and raced up the stairs to the Headmaster's office. A pain formed in left her side halfway up the stairs, but she paid it no heed. She stopped in front of the gargoyle.
"Password," he intoned.
"Toadstool," she replied.
The door opened. She dashed through, only to stop dead in her tracks upon seeing the person in front of Headmaster Longbottom's desk.
"Professor Rose," Headmaster Longbottom began. "I am very sorry for interrupting your class."
Professor Rose snarled. "Why exactly did Percy Weasley find it acceptable to interrupt my class?"
"I do apologize for taking time out of your busy schedule of tormenting Gryffindors," Percy replied. "But what I must say is urgent."
Headmaster Longbottom leaned forward in his chair. "I expect that this meeting will be brief."
"Agreed," Percy replied.
"Why exactly have I been called in here?" Professor Rose asked.
"Mr. Weasley wants an account of your actions over the last month," Headmaster Longbottom replied.
"Which actions is he inquiring about?" Professor Rose asked. "I have performed quite a few tasks over the last month or so. It is difficult to keep track of them all."
"I would like to know why my daughter has received three detentions in the last month," Percy demanded.
Professor Rose's frown deepened. "Your daughter has severe difficulties in socializing with those outside her house."
"I'm sure it's sheer coincidence that most of the complaints concerning my daughter have been from Slytherins."
"It's no coincidence at all. That seems to be the house she despises the most."
"She wouldn't despise it as much if your Slytherins would stop calling other students, 'mudblood.'"
"I assure you that if any of my Slytherins were using such derogatory terms then that individual would be swiftly and immediately punished," Professor Rose replied. "Still, I find it convenient that only your daughter has heard them using this term. I've received no other complaints of such language from other students."
"The other students are too afraid of you to speak," Percy answered.
Professor Rose snorted. "I suppose that out of the hundreds of students who attend this school, your precious Molly is the only one courageous enough to stand up to me."
Percy crossed his arms over his chest. "My Molly is a very courageous girl. I am very proud of her."
"Unfortunately, I fear her recent behavior is no cause for pride," Headmaster Longbottom commented.
Percy pointed to Professor Rose, "You only believe so because of her and her campaign against my family."
"Are you accusing one of my professors of being unfairly biased against one of my students?"
"Well if anyone would understand the seriousness of a professor bullying a student it would be me," Headmaster Longbottom replied. "Still, I have yet to hear of any wrongdoing on Professor Rose's part."
"Molly has complained to me several times about Professor Rose's behavior," Percy argued.
"Two Slytherins in as many months have complained to me about Molly's behavior," Professor Rose cut in.
"Who would those Slytherins be?" Headmaster Longbottom winked at her.
Professor Rose's expression lightened. "Daisy Parkinson and Dolores Smith."
"Well now," Headmaster Longbottom replied, "Both of them are wonderful students who have never graced my office for disciplinary reasons."
"S-so you're just going to believe them?" Percy stuttered.
Headmaster Longbottom shrugged. "I see no reason not to."
Percy's face was as red as his hair. "Well, I can think of a good reason not to believe Rose's account of events."
Rose rolled her eyes. Here we go…
"Her family has been at war with mine since the day she was conceived," Percy argued. "This is just one extension of her parents' feud."
Rose bit her tongue.
"You of all people know how Snape can hold a grudge," Percy pointed to Headmaster Longbottom. "You know how unfairly he treats those he has taken a disliking to."
Rose muttered, "Indeed it is beyond unreasonable for him to be disgusted with the family of his daughter's kidnapper."
"Even two decades after the fact he's still fuming that Hermione tried to pass Rose off as Ronald's," Percy continued.
"Excuse me!" Professor Rose exclaimed.
"What accusation did you just level against my mum?"
"I said, your mum attempted to pass you off as a Weasley. Instead of being upset with her, your father takes his frustrations out on us."
"You're a liar."
"Indeed, you are. Mum has always acknowledged me as a Snape," Professor Rose argued.
"If she was so certain that you were a Snape then why didn't she contact your father immediately after she discovered herself to be pregnant with you?" Percy asked.
"Dad turned her away because he was a dunderhead. Even he admits that," Rose retorted.
"See, that's the lie you've been told," Percy replied. "The reality is that Hermione attempting to pass you off as Ronald's child. When that failed she admitted you were a Snape. Your father has never forgiven us for almost raising you."
Rose hissed. "Ron was a man who went crazy after a career ending injury. Mum never claimed I was his daughter."
"Yes, she did, and your dad has never forgotten it," Percy argued.
"Mum would never try to cut Dad out of my life. She told Ron from the beginning that I was a Snape. Ron was so furious with her for cheating on him that he expelled her from his life then went mad months later," Rose retorted.
"If he was a madman then why was she so insistent in the beginning that you were a Weasley?" Percy argued.
"You're lying!" Rose shouted.
"Prove it," Percy approached her. "Prove that everything I've just said is a lie. Prove that your mother didn't lie to your father. Prove that Snape has never held a grudge because you were almost raised as a Weasley."
Both of them turned to Headmaster Longbottom.
"You've heard Professor Rose's side of the story, and you know why I have no reason to distrust her. I would strongly suggest that you leave and forget this conversation ever occurred," Headmaster Longbottom ordered.
"But Molly…" Percy began.
"Deserved every detention she's received," Headmaster Longbottom cut in.
"She is being treated unjustly," Percy argued.
"Please leave before I call Rita Skeeter and report that you are harassing Hogwarts employees instead of running an honest campaign," Headmaster Longbottom ordered.
Percy glared at him. "This isn't over, Neville."
"Yes, I believe it is," Headmaster Longbottom answered.
Percy sputtered. "But you only..."
"Do you believe it is becoming of a candidate for the Minister of Magic to be harassing headmasters?" Neville asked. "Because I certainly don't."
Percy stomped towards the floo and shouted out the address to the Ministry. He stepped through the green flames and disappeared.
"I am so sorry to have interrupted your class for this," Headmaster Longbottom began.
"No, I understand the necessity of having me come here," Rose replied. "He wasn't going to leave until he got a chance to scream at everyone."
"His attitude certainly puts young Molly's behavior into perspective," Headmaster Longbottom noted.
"Indeed it does," Professor Rose answered.
Headmaster Longbottom grinned. "You are doing an excellent job educating your students. Keep up the good work."
Her lips twisted upwards. "Thank you, Headmaster. I only hope Percy does not decide to retaliate."
Headmaster Longbottom sat down. "Don't worry about Percy. I will make sure he does not show his face around here for the foreseeable future."
"Thank you," Rose replied. "Thank you for everything."
"Anytime Rose, anytime," Headmaster Longbottom answered.
With a nod, Rose sauntered towards the basement with one thought echoing throughout her mind:
Was there any truth to what Percy had said about Mum?