“Dunno.” Tom shrugged “Did you hear anything about who would be head of Slytherin? Or even how the Professor is?”
“Professor Qasim is acting head of Slytherin,” Laun stifled a grin, “As for Professor Snape, I don’t know much but I hear that he is stable.”
Rose shifted the books in her arms so she could grab a curl of golden hair. “I know you need a head of your house. And we need a teacher… but… it’s so soon. Poor Professor Snape. He’ll be back as soon as he’s better, right?”
“I hope so!”
“Ma said he wis bad aff still.” Céilidh came from behind wrapping her arms around Tom’s waist. “Thay still havnae figured oot wha potion hit him.”
“Well I want to go on record as saying I have no ideas. I’m taking a break this time, no crazy theories and what not, you can only bang your head against a wall so many times…”
“Snape is injurit an Qasim is watching ower his hoose.” It was unusual for Orlando to be on time for a class and for him to be early was unheard of. No one took notice of him standing by the shelves of Professor Snape’s class library. He pulled down one of the older tomes and tucked it under his arm. His eyes met Tom’s for the briefest of moments. “Funny tha. A wunner hou Snape feels aboot it.”
Danny was leaning against the other side of the bookcase. “‘A’maist mak’s ye wonder howfur accidental th’ mishap wis.”
Laun rolled his eyes. “So he obviously did it?” Laun scoffed, “And what does he gain? The grand prize of now being responsible for a bunch of teenagers and their endless problems. I’m sure Amen Qasim the great auror and world renowned adventurer across the wizarding world thinks that’s worth going to Azkaban for.”
“I don’t think they are exactly saying that Laun.” Tom stopped unpacking his equipment from his bag and folded his arms. “Besides, that would make almost no sense one teacher attacking another. It has to be who ever is causing everything else.” He shot Laun a look not to bring up that he and Laun were asked by Professor Qasim to casually investigate this year’s series of pranks.
So far he and Laun hadn’t really found anything terribly encouraging, or to that point even remotely connecting the incidents thus far this year. “And to be honest we don’t even know for sure that it wasn’t just an accident. I mean he had just ended a class, prolly one of the seventh years screwed up a potion bad and didn’t clean it up.”
“We aw ken Snape’s standarts efter OWLs. Naebody he’d keep wad make a mistak tha grave, no something tha the healers cannae e’en feegur oot.”
“Tha ink quill. Tha beuk tha Qasim cannae mak heids oor tails o. The kids tha e’en McGonnagal haesnae been able tae fix. Nou this ane is juist an accident?” Foozle shook his head. “Something’s rotten in Hogwarts.”
The Scot paused a beat before Danny chimed in. “Again.”
“Well it wouldn’t be Hogwarts without a little mayhem and mystery.” Laun smirked.
Danny’s eyes narrowed. “Whaur th’ wheesht bairn kin caw oot tae be a psychopath, whaur naethin’ is as it seems,” he said darkly. “Ah dinnae think we kin say fur sure that a seventh year micht nae huv dane it oan purpose, or even that a teacher wouldn’t huv it in fur annur.”
A shimmer of air shook just inside the door and Nicolette Ainscough appeared out of thin air. Her brows raised a little, surprised as she tucked the golden pendant back under her buttoned top. “Everyone is… early.” She looked to her brother and boyfriend. “Even you two.”
The Hufflepuff’s small smile was brightened in his eyes. “New Perfesser,” he replied as if that explained anything. Without a sound that book under his arm deftly dropped into his bag.
“I would think you wouldn’t even come to class at all.” She laughed and set her books on the tabletop. “Do we know who it is?”
“Nope.” Tom shook his head as more of the sixth years began to file into the classroom.
“Well, now,” there was a rather cheering voice from the back of the room. All the eyes and heads turned to find the short, and plump man filling the doorway. His thumbs were tucked behind the lapels of his dark green velvet suit. There was a broad grin on his thick cheeks that was hidden under the curtain of his shaggy, silver mustache that crawled down his cheeks as well.
“Is this all of you?” The man surveyed the classroom with bright, green eyes. “A rather small class for a sixth year.” The man laughed, and as he did his large belly shook.
“Professor Slughorn!” Laun’s eyes went wide as did his omnipresent grin. Laun had known the professor for years and was quite disappointed that he missed out on being in the man’s class.
The blond boy raced over to the older man and jovially shook his hand almost pulling his arm right out of the socket.
“How are you my boy, I missed seeing you at your mother’s annual Christmas extravaganza! Your mother said you were doing charity work? How noble.”
“Yes well…” Laun pulled at the collar of his shirt, “My mother…” then deciding it wasn’t worth it he shrugged, “I did miss the festivities sir.” He said finally.
Tom looked at Rose “Professor Slughorn?” He whispered. “I hear he’s amazing.”
The blonde bit at a curl. “He’s too happy,” she whispered back.
“Decidedly so.” Tom nodded. “Do we dislike him?” A lopsided grin hit his cheeks.
“No. It’s just…” She sighed. It wasn’t as though she’d been especially close to Professor Snape. But he was a good teacher in his own prickly way, and he’d helped her. “He’s just different.”
Professor Slughorn moved through the aisles of the potions dungeon as easily as a man less than half his size. Orlando and Danny watched him take his place at the front of his classroom. He was saying something about how the desk was just where he left it.
Foozle propped his chin on his fist. “Ye wis Snape’s predecessor, yeah?”
Slughorn nodded, chuckling again. “I was and quite happily retired, but…” the potions master drifted off with a roll of his wrist.
Not willing to dwell on the subject he examined the faces of his class. When he looked toward Tom those light green eyes seemed to sparkle and his walrus’s grin grew. “Well, Michael Llewelyn.” His hands clasped over his rotund stomach. “I believe I have taught every member of your family, seen your brother at nearly every of his home games. He sends the tickets, charming young man.” There was that chuckle again. “I hear you are quite the promising player yourself.”
Tom’s cheeks reddened a bit. “Thank you, sir.” Tom shoved his hands in his pockets. “I appreciate that.”
“And the first registered animagi in nearly twenty years.” The walrus mustache seemed to now have a greedy grin underneath it. “And before you even took your apparition test? That is truly marvelous!”
Tom’s head cocked his head to the side curiously. “To be honest sir,” Tom slid next to Céilidh and put his arm around her, “Céilidh has also registered as an animagi right after I did, as did Danny. And Orlando is just about to as well.”
“Yes, but,” his mustache twitched with laughter, “you were the first. Take pride in that.” His eyes squinted as he laughed again “Stop being such a chivalrous Gryffindor.” He clapped Orlando on the back. “Isn’t that right?”
The Hufflepuff smiled, his brow wagging at his brother. “Been tellin’ him tha fer years, Perfesser.”
“Oh aye,” Danny chimed in, “he’s aweys givin’ Lando an’ me credit for things he’s had a hand in.” As Slughhorn looked back at Tom, Danny shot the Gryffindor a wink.
Tom had the definite look of someone who wanted to be any where but where he was at this exact moment.
“And you must be Ambrosia.” He rounded warmly on Rose. “Your father is the Prophet’s best photographer. Always gets my best side.”
Rose smiled. “He’ll be delighted to hear that, Professor. He always has such nice things to say about you too,” she replied, automatically slipping into ‘charm the teacher’ mode.
“And you my dear,” he took Nicolette’s hands in his, “I missed our dance at the Christmas party this year.” His large belly shook as he laughed. “I hope everything is well with you?”
Nicolette’s laugh was forced, and not deceivingly so. “Oh, yes… that…” She pushed her hair back behind her ear. “Just spent Christmas… abroad.”
“That sounds astounding my dear.” He shook her hands a few more times. “And your parents? How are they?”
Her cheeks tinged red. “Oh, same as always. You know how they are.”
“Well, of course,” he laughed and his whole face scrunched up, the hairs of his mustache seemed to be alive and rolling laughter as well.
“It’s now time for us to start our first class together.” He strode to the front of the room, his eyes sparkling. “Welcome to all of you,” he said with a bright smile on his face. “My name is Professor Horrace Slughorn. I was Potions Master here at Hogwarts until a few short years ago and have agreed to reclaim this post while Professor Snape is…” he cleared his throat, “under the weather. Now for today’s lesson…”