A Vial of Phoenix Tears
Sirius had successfully created the potion and Lily bottled a vial for grading. They were packing up the potions kit when Sirius mentioned needing to get Remus from the hospital wing, where he'd left him. "Go on, I'll finish up packing here," Lily said, smiling, "Still need to wake Slughorn up, too. You go ahead."
"You're sure?" Sirius asked, "I can wait and walk with you up to Gryffindor Tower first..." But she could tell by the look on his face he really wanted to go fetch his Moony.
She nodded. "Go on. I'll be alright." She smiled and Sirius hurried out the door.
Lily finished putting away the ingredients they'd gotten from Slughorn's store and closed the Potions kit, then washed out the cauldron dutifully and put Sirius's book inside like he'd had it. Then she took the vial up to the front of the room and put it on Slughorn's desk. She turned to Slughorn himself next. "Professor," she said, tapping him gently on the shoulder, "Professor Slughorn. Wake up."
He snorted and grunted awake and shuffled to sit up, "Oh my, I did fall asleep didn't I?" He clucked in disapproval of himself, then saw the little vial on his desk, "Oh what a lovely shade!" he said and he pushed himself out of the chair with a groan and waddled over to pick up the vial and turn it over in his hand. "Very nice indeed. And Mr. Black did this all himself?"
"Completely by himself," Lily nodded.
"Very good indeed! I knew all the boy needed was a bit of focus. You'll help him improve marvelously, Miss. Evans." Slughorn opened the cork and smelled the potion carefully, then, "Interesting. The figs are especially prominent! However did you achieve that?"
"We spent a bit of time on the figs... we, uh, we let them sit a bit. Longer than the recipe calls for," Lily said, remembering the figs had sat on the counter for nearly their entire talk.
"Excellent! I shall teach that going forward, I think it adds a nice touch to the potion, don't you?"
Slughorn capped the vial and put it back down on his desk, "I do wonder if this will be the first Exceeds Expectations that Mr. Black has received in his academic career," he chuckled.
Lily smiled. "I'm sure he'll be pleased when he gets it."
Slughorn smiled, "It's a good thing you're doing, Miss. Evans, helping him. I'm certain that he appreciates your assistance."
Lily flushed. "He's one of my best friends, Professor, I couldn't ever say no to helping him out when he needs it."
Slughorn's eyes twinkled with pride as he looked at her and he said, "You know, Miss. Evans, I don't subscribe to the whole pureblood way of thinking that many of the students in my house do. I believe that we're all equally gifted with magical talent, regardless of our blood... Now, granted many a time the purebloods appear more gifted - perhaps it's because they've grown with magical roots, you know what I mean? - but you, Lily, you break the mold because you're the brightest witch and also a muggle-born, aren't you?"
"Yes sir," Lily answered. She wasn't entirely positive how she felt about this little speech, but Slughorn looked at her with such pride that she had a feeling he was trying to say something nice in his bumbling sort of way. "Thank you."
"Of course! Of course!" He smiled and patted her on the shoulder, "You're one of my favorite students, Miss. Evans. I really mean that."
Lily smiled. She had a feeling he would've liked to hear that he was one of her favorite teachers but she didn't quite want to lie about it. "You're a grand teacher as well, Professor," she said instead because she didn't know what else to say.
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