The Golden Thread::Book Two::Chamber of Secrets::

Harry's Bad Day (Part Two)

Harry entered the greenhouse and saw Professor Sprout standing in front of a bench with twenty or so pairs of earmuffs. He slipped along the row and into his usual spot between Ron and Hermione

What was that all about? Ron asked, raising an eyebrow at him

Harry rolled his eyes in response Later.

Professor Sprout then began to speak "Today, class, we will be re-potting mandrakes. Who can tell me the properties of the mandrake root?"

Hermione's hand shot up, to nobody's great surprise.

"The mandrake is a powerful restorative." She said promptly "It's used to return transfigured or petrified people back to normal."

Professor Sprout smiled happily at her "Yes indeed, take ten points for Gryffindor. Now, mandrake root is a critical ingredient in most antidotes but it's also very dangerous. Can anyone tell me why?"

Hermione's hand shot up again almost knocking off Harry's glasses

Blimey, 'Mione. Harry thought, edging away from her slightly, she shot him an annoyed half-glance before she said "The cry of the mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it."

"Exactly. Take another ten points." Professor Sprout replied "Now, our mandrakes are only seedlings so their cries won't kill yet." She pointed to a row of deep trays with a hundred or so purpleish green plants poking out of them. Everyone moved forward for a better view. Harry thought the plants looked harmless and had no idea what Hermione meant by the cry of the mandrake.

"Everyone, take a pair of earmuffs." Professor Sprout said. The class rushed to grab a pair that wasn't pink and fluffy.

"Now when I give the signal put them on and make sure they're covering your ears completely! I'll give you the thumbs up when you can take them off. And..Now!"

They all secured their earmuffs in place. Professor Sprout then gripped one of the plants and pulled it out of the earth Harry let out a gasp that nobody could hear

Bloody hell Ron thought. Where there should have been roots to the plant there was a small, muddy and ugly baby with pale green skin who was clearly screaming at the top of his lungs. Professor Sprout placed the mandrake in a larger pot and buried it in damp fertilizer and compost until only it's leaves were visible. She then gave the class a thumbs up and removed her own earmuffs.

"Now, as I said before, these little mandrakes won't kill yet." She said "But they will knock you out for several hours and I know none of you want to miss your first day back so don't neglect your earmuffs! Four to a tray and I'll get your attention when It's time to pack up."

Harry Ron and Hermione were joined at their tray by a Hufflepuff boy who Harry had seen around before but never spoken to.

"Justin Finch-Fletchley." He said "I know you of course, famous Harry Potter and all that." Harry flushed a bit as he had his hand shaken.

"And you're Hermione Granger, always top in every class." He continued, Hermione grinned as he shook her hand too "And Ron Weasley..wasn't that your flying car?" Ron didn't smile, the letter and the month's worth of chores was clearly still on his mind. Justin then talked about how much he'd enjoyed Lockhart's books, Harry rolled his eyes at this, and how his name had been down for another wizarding school called Eton. After that their earmuffs were back on and they couldn't talk anymore. The mandrakes were hard work, they didn't like to come out of the soil but they didn't want to go back into either. They kicked, screamed and flailed. One caught Harry in the stomach with it's feet. By the time class was over they were all covered in fertilizer. They trooped back up to the castle for a quick washing up and then headed for Transfiguration.

This lesson turned out to be a difficult one even for McGonagall's class, which was always hard. Everything he'd learned last year seemed to have seeped out of his brain. He was meant to be turning a beetle into a button but all he managed to do was send the beetle scuttling along the desk avoiding his wand. Ron was having far worse issues he'd taped his wand back together with spellotape but it kept sparking and crackling at odd moments and then when he tried to transfigure his beetle it engulfed him in smoke that smelled of rotten eggs and, unable to see what he was doing, he crushed his beetle and Professor McGonagall got annoyed when he had to ask for another one.

Harry was pleased to hear the lunch bell as the class filed out he remained behind with Ron and Hermione. Ron banged his wand furiously on the table

"Stupid. Useless. Thing." He grumbled. His wand let off a volley of sparks like a firecracker

"Write home for another one.." Suggested Harry

"Mum's already angry enough with me." Ron huffed, stuffing the still sparking wand back into his pocket "I tell her I broke my wand and she'll give me an extra month of chores."

They made their way to lunch where Hermione annoyed Ron by showing them the handful of perfect buttons she'd made in Transfiguration.

"Err..what classes do we have this afternoon?" Harry asked, hoping to avoid an argument by changing the subject.

"Defense against the dark arts." Said Hermione at once. Ron snatched he schedule away from her and stared at it looking horrified

"Why" He demanded "Have you outlined all of Lockharts lessons with little hearts?" Hermione blushed furiously and snatched the schedule back, stuffing it in her bag. Harry felt a stab of annoyance. At first he brushed it off as his dislike of Lockhart but then he realized he'd felt the same thing in Diagon Alley before they'd even met..he realized it might have less to do with Lockhart and more to do with Hermione. He felt the same sort of annoyance coming off of Ron. Dean, who was sitting across from them again, chuckled and rolled his eyes.