Title: Because Hell is For Children
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K.Rowling. Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon and assorted others.
Summary: Willow sends Xander to summer school- remedial potions class at Hogwarts, to be more precise.
Notes: Timeline wise, this is Buffy post series and HP the summer before seventh year. My beta and I were discussing some challenges and she brought up one that she thought was ridiculously complicated, involving slips of papers, walkmans on shuffle, and seven items from your room. Well, if she says it’s too involved, obviously, that’s my cue to try, so here’s my response to Challenge 340.
My random Fandom is HP, my random song is Hell is for Children by Pat Benatar, and my seven random items in my room are- flying goldfish, a paddle, an armadillo, a giraffe, a picture frame, a mirror, and a music stand. This is my first attempt at HP, so let me know if you think it passes muster.
Because Hell is For Children
“But Mom, do I have to?”
“Xander, you promised you would try.”
“I said I would try to learn some of your witchy ways. I did not say I would take summer school in witchy ways. I’ve never taken summer school. I was a straight C student, I’ll have you know.” Willow gave Xander her patented puppy dog pout. “Aw, shucks, you know I can’t resist that face. You’re cheating.”
“Please, it would mean a lot to me if you try this. It would mean a lot to all of us. Giles thinks the new council should recruit watchers from this school, so it’s important for us to get involved. Besides, the teacher is supposed to be really good, and he’s been teaching high school potions for over a decade. You could learn a lot from him.”
“Well if he’s so good, why don’t you take the course?”
“Because I have to help Giles in Egypt, and you said you’d try to learn. Besides, he only does remedial tutorial during the summer. If you like his class though, I’m going to try to audit the NEWT level in the fall.” Willow smiled excited by the notion of a potential learning experience on the horizon.
“You’re my best friend but sometimes you scare me.” Xander sighed.
“So you’ll do it?”
One week later...
Xander approached a large grey castle, which eerily reminded him of his time as Dracula’s minion. “Oh well. At least I’m just taking a class, and not eating bugs in the dungeon again.” Xander mused, opening the door into the grand entry way. He was supposed to meet a representative of the school, but he was few minutes early. Looking around, he was overwhelmed by all the pictures, complete with moving characters. “Wow, I didn’t think they’d have flat screen tvs in a castle.” Xander frowned, dropping Willow’s cauldron of ingredients and going up to inspect the closest picture. “Well, I’ll be…” He lifted up the picture frame expecting to see a bundle of cables, but instead found a simple picture hook.
“Unhand me you knave!” Sir Cadogan barked from his landscape. Xander dropped the frame in shock, watching it settle back down against the stone wall. “How dare you drop my frame! Dumbledore must surely be alerted to the presence of such a villain in his halls!” And with that, the funny little knight went charging out of the picture frame. Xander watched as he galloped through several pictures, evidently on his way to the headmaster’s office.
“Can I help you?” Xander spun at the voice coming from directly behind him. Three teenage boys dressed in what looked like black lab coats were staring at him.
“Um, yeah.” Xander nodded. “I’m looking for the potions classroom?”
“Oh thank Merlin!” One of the boys sighed with relief. “I’m so glad the headmaster found someone else to teach this course. I don’t know if I could survive the summer with Snape.”
“Um, Neville?” The redhead looked at his friend oddly. “I don’t think he’s the teacher.”
“Actually, my friend signed me up for the class.” Xander admitted. “The headmaster here thought it would be good for people in my organization to interact with the school a bit more.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” The look on Neville’s face rapidly shifted from relieved to horrified to pitying.
“Nah, it shouldn’t be too big of a problem. I mean, it’s a beginner’s class right?” Xander looked hopefully at the youths.
“Not exactly.” The one with glasses frowned, eyeing his companions who looked content to let him act as spokesman. He took a look at the man in front of him, dressed in muggle clothes with a patch covering one of his eyes. Overall, the man looked mostly harmless, but then so did Cornish pixies. “Dumbledore said he was going to offer a remedial potions class, but it’s really an excuse to keep the three of us here for the summer. The staff here figured we’d be safer at school then back in London considering the, um, political climate. We really didn’t think anybody else was going to take it.”
“I still don’t see why Hermione doesn’t have to go to class.” The redhead muttered.
“Well, it’s not like she really needs it.” Neville offered feebly. "Just let her loose in the library, and she teaches herself."
“So you guys are taking the course too? Great, can you show me where it is?” Xander figured he may as well keep a positive outlook on the day.
“Right.” The boy with glasses nodded. “So I never caught your name?”
“Xander.” He watched as three eyebrows raised. “Well, it’s Alexander Harris, but everyone just calls me Xander.”
“I’m Harry Potter, this is Ron Weasley, and Neville Longbottom.” Ron nodded and Neville waved nervously. Harry waited the requisite fifteen seconds for the name recognition, but it never came.
“It’s nice to meet you, Harry, Ron, and Neville.” Xander practiced the names, knowing Willow was going to quiz him tonight over his first day at the wizarding school. She had already called him the night before with questions and suggestions of ways to impress Professor Snape. “So who’s up for mixin’ some potions?”
The guys all looked a little ill as they picked up their cauldrons. “Right, well, dungeons this way.” Harry led them down the second hall on the left.
“I hope you don’t mind me saying this mate, but aren’t you a little old for potions class?” The redhead asked as they started down the hallway.
“My friend Willow would say one’s never too old to learn.” Xander answered, silently agreeing with the kid.
“Crikey, your friend sounds as bad as ‘Mione.” Ron muttered.
The four reached a stairwell covered by a stone arch etched with 'Lasciante ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate'. “That’s a joke right?” Xander frowned, following the boys down the stairs. “This isn’t really the entrance to Hell?” He was far from fluent in any foreign language, but that was one of Willow’s favorite phrases in Italian. In fact, once she offered to spray paint it on the Welcome to Sunnydale sign.
“May as well be.” Ron muttered.
“Ah, Mr. Weasley, I see you haven’t managed to get lost on your way. That is a pity.” A drawling voice came from the first doorway. Weasley rolled his eyes, as he followed Harry and Neville into the classroom. “Ah, and I see you’ve found our visitor. Mr. Harris, I take it?”
“Yeah, hi.” Xander switched his cauldron to his left hand and offered his right hand to shake.
Snape just stared at Xander critically. “I did not approve of the headmaster’s request to have you included in these exercises, but I have no problem including you in this class, as undoubtedly it would be hard to find a more remedial group in the school.” He eyed the three boys with cold disdain. “Set your equipment on the left table. You will be working with Mr. Potter. Mr. Weasley, move your effects to Mr. Longbottom’s table. I will not have you and Mr. Potter talking throughout this period.” Xander quickly took his seat, getting flashbacks from his junior year chemistry lab. “Now today we are doing a very simple potion that any second year could handle. I trust you will have only minor difficulty with this. It is the animato draught. Who can tell me what it does?” Snape lectured as though it were a full class and not just four guys sitting in front of him.
They boys stared blankly at him, until Neville tentatively raised his hand. Snape nodded his head tersely. “It causes inanimate objects to live for a minute.”
“I see you have done your reading Mr. Longbottom… and still completely missed the point. The animato draught will cause an inanimate object to serve its function as though it were being operated by a human, but it is not technically alive.” Snape took a deep breath as though he was already on his last nerve. With a quick flick of his wand, the first four desks transformed into the instruments of a string quartet. “As you can see, there are four instruments and there are four of you. Your success in brewing this potion will be tested by whether you can make your instrument play for one minute, no more, no less. The instructions are on the board.”
Two hours later…
“Guys? Are your stews blue?” Xander whispered over at the other three.
“Um, sort of a turquoise.” Ron answered. “Can you pass the flying goldfish oil?” Xander handed the bottle over to Ron who cringed as he added a drop. “Whew, still blue.” He sighed, handing the bottle back over to Xander.
“Mr. Weasley, you are not to be gossiping with Mr. Potter. Do not mistake summer for being synonymous with vacation.” Snape barked from where he was sitting at his desk. Ron rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything more.
“Um, Professor Snape, sir?” Harry grudgingly approached the desk. “I think your giraffe tongue has gone bad.” Severus raised his face from the book he was reading and graced Harry with a snarl. “Potter, if I could take off house points now, you’d be down forty. As it is, I think you will benefit from composing a scroll on the properties of giraffe tongue. I’ll expect it on my desk by tomorrow morning.”
“But sir, it’s black.” Harry stared at the tall vial with the pickled black tongue in his hand.
“Yes, I know that.” Snape sneered. “Mr. Harris!” He barked, causing Xander to jump away from his cauldron. “Let’s see if they teach you anything in the colonies. Can you explain to Mr. Potter why the giraffe’s tongue is not spoilt?”
“Um.” Xander looked at the jar, feeling slightly ill at the sight. “All giraffe tongues are black?”
“Are you asking me, or telling me?” Snape followed up.
“All giraffe tongues are black. At least, that’s what the National Geographic special said.” Xander replied. “Is that all you were wondering?”
“And why do we add giraffe tongue after the lily essence?”
“Um, so that it turns purple?” Xander mumbled.
“It’s hopeless.” Snape muttered at the ceiling before turning back to face his students. “I expect you all to compose an essay on the properties of giraffe tongues by tomorrow.”
“You know, when I was in high school, our teachers used to give us the assignments ahead of time and not just make them up as they went along. Have you ever considered lesson plans?” Xander asked, not noticing the vein throbbing at Snape’s temple. “My friend Willow has this computer program that formats lesson plans and everything. I’m sure if I asked, she could lend you a copy.”
“Mr. Harris, the British wizarding education system has far surpassed the American public education system for centuries. Obviously, their methods are still inferior if you are an example of their product.” Snape replied, focusing his attention on the American. Harry took the opportunity to sneak back to his desk and add the sliver of giraffe tongue, handing the jar to Ron when he finished.
“Well, you’re the prof. I just thought I’d mention it.” Xander stepped back. It wasn’t worth getting into another fight with this stuck-up jerk. If he hadn’t met Spike, he would have sworn that everyone from this country had the fun sucked out of them when they were born. If mister potions professor felt like a bigger man by assigning extra homework, then who was he to complain… just because he’d already been assigned four scrolls on ingredient properties due tomorrow morning already. And what the heck was with assigning all these scrolls, whatever happened to papers, or even reports?
Xander gave his potion a final three stirs counter clockwise then pulled his ladle out. “Alright, I’m through, what do I do?”
“Mr. Potter, demonstrate the proper bottling technique.” Snape ordered.
“Hrm, right.” Harry frowned nervously picking up one of Xander’s empty vials. Carefully he ladled a bit of the dark purple liquid into the glass container and added the cork stopper. He glanced over to his potion and breathed a sigh of relief to note that his was the same color. Even Neville’s was a dark purple; perhaps Snape was telling the truth when he said this was an easy one.
“I see you all believe you have completed this morning’s assignment. Let’s see if they work, shall we?” Harry carefully applied a few drops to the first violin which floated into the air, hanging idly. “The bow as well, Potter.” Snape added tiredly. Harry added the few drops and the bow joined the violin, playing a very poor rendition of Row, row, row your boat. Ron nervously followed Harry’s example using the second violin. The two instruments fell into a duet that would make a Suzuki teacher cringe, but Ron breathed a sigh of relief. Xander added a few drops to the cello, and was actually surprised when it fell into the round, even playing in tune.
Unfortunately, Neville completely missed the chair with the viola and fell on the music stand, shattering his bottle of potion. “oops?”
“Oh well, at least a used music stand doesn’t do anything that a normal music stand doesn’t do.” Harry offered consolingly. Neville shrugged and stood up. Snape however, had his eyes fixed on the music stand in a sort of horror. “Mr. Longbottom, what was the third ingredient of the potion you added?” He asked, watching as the music stand grew fangs and its feet started flexing talons.
“That gray fur?” Neville mumbled.
“Chinchilla hairs?” Ron asked, backing away nervously as the music stand took a menacing step forward.
“That’s latin for Chinchilla? I thought it said armadillo.” Neville cringed.
“Mr. Longbottom, I should take a paddle to you for your incompetence. If I ever…” Severus’ tirade was cut short as the music stand let out a menancing growl “Run!” The professor yelled as the music stand pounced to the merry tune of row row row your boat.
The following week…
“Xander?” Willow called, dropping her luggage in the front hall.
“I’m in here.” Xander called back. “How was Egypt?”
“Hot, but very interesting; I have pictures. So how’d the classes go?” Willow asked eagerly, entering Xander’s bedroom. “Are you the new potion master of the Watcher’s Council?” she asked teasingly, before noticing what Xander was doing. “Oh goddess! What happened? I thought you weren’t patrolling.”
Xander, staring in his bedroom mirror, prodded the bandage on his check slightly, trying to avoid the bruises around his eye patch. “I didn’t patrol.” Xander growled, applying a bit of antiseptic to the bite on his ear.
“I’m never taking potions again. I told you I was too old for summer school.”
“But Xan…” Willow looked at her friend worriedly.
“Let’s just say, that sort of hell is for children.”