Chapter One: The Polyjuice Potion

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It was June, and it was boiling hot in the Potions dungeon, but Snape didn't care.

"Can anyone tell me what this is?" he asked his miserable class, all of whom were stifling in their robes, and he lifted a beaker of glutinous brown liquid high into the air so they could all get a gander at it.

Hermione's hand shot into the air, as usual.

"Polyjuice Potion," she said promptly, and gave a little shudder. She was probably recalling how it tasted, thought Harry with an inward grin, remembering the afternoon three years ago when he, Ron and Hermione had all drunk the shape-changing potion in an attempt to turn themselves into replicas of Slytherin students so they could sneak into the Slytherin common room.

Snape ignored her. "Anyone?" he said, scanning the class.

Draco Malfoy raised a pale, lazy hand into the air. "Polyjuice Potion," he drawled out of the corner of his mouth. Harry glared at him. Where the rest of the class looked sweaty and miserable, Draco looked as cool as if he'd just eaten a bag of Ice Mice.

"Very good, Draco!" said Snape enthusiastically. "Five points for Slytherin. Now," he went on, "Can anyone tell me what it does?" He rounded suddenly on Ron, who blinked. "Weasley?"

Ron, startled in mid-yawn, said, "It, er, changes you into somebody else."

Snape, looking disappointed, said, "That's correct." He did not give five points to Gryffindor, however; he only picked up the vial and began dispensing measured amounts into small paper cups. "Now," he said, straightening up, "I'll be splitting you into groups of two. You'll each be drinking half a cup of Polyjuice Potion with a hair from each of your heads in it....no, you don't have to swallow the hair, Miss Brown.....there's enough potion to turn you into your partner for half an hour exactly. No more, no less. That'll give you an idea how the potion's supposed to work. Tomorrow, you'll try making it yourself, then drinking it. I warn you, however," he said, directing this last bit to Neville, "that making a mistake with Polyjuice potion can have...unpleasant consequences. You might end up half yourself and half the other person, never able to return to your true appearance."

Neville squeaked.

"Right then," said Snape, "Miss Patil and Miss Brown, come up," and Lavender and Parvati came up to the desk, took a cup of Polyjuice potion, and sat down, giggling. Snape quickly paired off Crabbe and Goyle with each other, put poor Neville with bulldog-faced Pansy Parkinson (who cast a longing look at Draco as she went over to sit by Neville—if she couldn't have Draco, she seemed to be thinking, at least she could be him for a while). Ron was paired with Hermione, and Harry...

"Potter," said Snape, in an icy, amused voice, "and Malfoy, come up here."

Draco's jaw dropped; so did Harry's. "No!" they said, in unison.

"I won't be Malfoy," said Harry in a furious voice, but Snape was not impressed.

"Get up here, both of you," he said.

Malfoy was the first to get to his feet. Casting an icy glance at Harry, he stalked up to the front of the room, grabbed the potion, and stalked back to where Harry was sitting. Harry cast an anguished glance at Ron and Hermione, who gazed back in sympathy. Ron shook his head; Hermione mouthed something at Harry that he didn't quite catch, but he knew Hermione well enough to know that she was saying, You'd better go along with it Harry, it'll count towards your final marks!

***

All over the room, students were drinking down the potion—there were gasps and giggles from Lavender and Parvati, a yell from Neville, who, having transformed himself into the much larger Pansy Parkinson, suddenly found himself being choked by too-small robes, and helpless laughter from Ron and Hermione.

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