The next morning, Harry awoke at dawn. It was hardly light out, but Harry had Quidditch practice. He slipped on his robes and started off to the Quidditch field. The grass was wet from the morning dew and the drops of water glistened in the rays of sunrise. The grass was as green as Harry's radiant emerald eyes. All was silent but the chirping birds in the treetops and an occasional cricket drumming its limbs. There was a slight breeze in the air that made Harry clutch his robes to his chest. The September warmth was evaporating into the October coolness. He watched as the gargantuan castle diminished behind him. Harry grasped his Firebolt tightly as he crossed over to where Wood was standing with the rest of the team.
"Alright guys, let's get to work. Next week is our first game against Slytherin. We HAVE TO BEAT THEM," Wood said emphatically. "Flint knows exactly what score they have to get to beat us, and we can't let him take advantage of that." He continued on at that subject until everyone was getting bored of the prep talk and itched to fly. Finally, Wood allowed them to go. By then, the sun was beginning its upward journey and the pink of the sky was starting to fade into the azure. Harry soared off and didn't touch the ground again until practice had ended. He was sweating but was in a great mood as he clambered back up to the tower to take a shower.
As Harry entered the Great Hall, he carelessly looked over to the Ravenclaw table where Cho sat. Her silky hair was flipped back and tied in a yellow ribbon. She wore a beautiful smile and laughed a bell like laugh as her friends surrounded her and traded jokes. She glanced over at Harry and smiled. Smiling back, Harry couldn't help noticing something, or rather the absence of something. There was something different, for Harry didn't feel the usual butterflies or the swoop in his stomach. He felt normal, as normal as could be. He turned away and glanced around the Great Hall toward the Slytherin table. He saw the pug-like Millicent Bullstrode and her squished face and blanched. Malfoy was sitting between Crabbe and Goyle with his white blond hair slicked back and coated with gel. Harry turned again and looked over to Ron, whose freckles shown beneath his pale skin and contrasted greatly with his flaming red hair. He looked past Ron, and then Harry felt it. The familiar swerve in his abdomen. Right when he was looking beyond Ron straight at Hermione Granger.
But Harry had no time to ponder over the strangeness of this all. He rushed over to the Gryffindor table and began piling food onto his plate, realizing if he didn't eat quickly, he would be late for his first class. Ron raised his eyebrows at Harry as he stuffed his mouth full of eggs. "Don' wanna 'e lade 'or 'otions," Harry said through a mouthfull of scrambled eggs. Hermione giggled, thinking he sounded oddly like Fleur Delacour. Ron snickered at the thought of Harry in long flowing hair and a beautiful dress. Harry scowled at the pair of them doubled up laughing and ate slower. Ron had calmed down, but Hermione was still grinning. Her hair didn't seem as bushy and her face was flushed pink from laughing so hard. Harry shook his head as he got up. Ron and Hermione followed suit and they set out for Potions.
Snape looked menacingly at the three of them as they entered the classroom, apparantly wishing he could give them all detention for something. They sat down and stared innocently at Snape, who narrowed his eyes. The class began and Snape tore his eyes away from the the silent Musketeers and said sharply, "Hand in your summer homework." There was a rustle of parchments as everyone rushed to pull out their essays on the effects of potions. Harry pulled his out and quickly glanced down at it. He had written it in the daylight rather than under his covers, so his handwriting wasn't as bad as usual. He looked over to Hermione's. She, too, was quickly scanning hers, and Harry saw that she had covered a whole five parchments in her miniscule handwriting with just one essay. Ron noticed as well. He whistled. "Hermione, I've got to hand it to you. How on earth do you write that much?" Hermione smiled and handed her stack of parchments in as Harry and Ron stared at her in amazement, for different reasons.The two of them stood up numbly and handed Snape their homework too. The class was silent as Professor Snape shuffled through the papers and pulled out an essay that Harry recognized as his own.
"Ah...Mr. Potter...let's see what you have to say about the effects of various potions..." he quickly glanced over the paper and shouted suddenly with a glint of triumph in his eye, "Wrong! This is wrong! Frog spawn should NEVER be added to a potion! That is a flagrant mistake! Fifteen points from Gryffindor!"
"I never wrote that!" Harry protested.
"Don't give me any cheek, Potter! I won't accept it! I know what you wrote, and now would you sit down!"
Harry ignored him and didn't budge. "But I never even mentioned frog spawn in my essay! There was nothing on it! I'm sure of it!" He made a grab at his essay as Professor Snape drew his hand back.
"Quiet, Potter! I've had a whole vacation without your impudence, and I don't want to hear it now! Shut your mouth before I take any more points from Gryffindor!"
Ron kicked Harry and he finally sat down, not before attempting again to grab for his essay. From across the room, Draco Malfoy sneered and snickered. Snape heard and noticed Malfoy's presence. He shuffled through the papers once more until he found Draco's essay and pulled it out. He looked down at it and said fervently, though the warmth not reaching his eyes, "This is excellent, Draco. Excellent! Your father would be proud of you, ten points for Slytherin!" Even from his chair, Harry could see that Malfoy's essay was nothing but a paragraph. Malfoy grinned at Harry as Snape sifted through the pile again. When his hand came back out, Hermione's stack of parchments was in his grasp. "Ahh...the clever Granger...what have you to say about this topic?" Hermione wriggled in her chair.
"Oh no..." Snape said in a dangerous voice, "No, no, no...Miss Granger seems to have made a mistake..." Hermione stared at him in horror as he went on, "Potions for curing boils are NOT to be used on anyone with a rash anwhere on their body!"
"But Professor, in the book Potions As Cures, it states clearly on page 159 that the Boil Potion can be administered on any person as long as they don't have rashes three inches from the boil itself, and in-"
"Don't tell me I'm wrong, Granger," Snape said in a soft voice, "I am NEVER wrong. YOU are the one who's wrong. I teach Potions, and have taught it ALL MY LIFE, so I have reason to believe I know more about it than a silly girl like you!"
"But in the book," Hermione argued, "it says that-"
"I don't care about the book! The book is wrong!" Snape looked wild as his greasy hair tossed and his beady eyes flashed threateningly. "You are an arrogant girl, Granger, to think you know everything! You don't know anything!"
Hermione wimpered and Harry felt rage surge up in him. Snape went on, "How DARE you challenge me? I am telling you, the Boil Potion is NEVER to be used on a person suffering from rashes. Do you hear me? NEVER! Idiot girl, to think you may know more than me!" Hermione looked down as a tear drop slid out of her large brown eyes. Ron glared at Snape, but Harry had had it. He stood up so quickly his chair was knocked over. "Prove it!" He shouted, "Prove that you're right! Give us any evidence that the Boil Potion CAN'T be used on people with rash! Hermione has proof, right from the book! Where's your proof? If you can't justify your statement, then you're wrong!" His bright green eyes flashed as his hands clenched into fists. How dare this greasy haired teacher talk to Hermione this way! Snape strided over to Harry, and for a moment, Harry though he was going to strike him. Instead, Snape said in a dangerously soft voice, "I DO have proof, Potter. But I have no reason to show you. In fact, my proof is much more than a book! It would frighten all of you morons in this room right back onto the train home!" His eyes glittered and his mouth was set in the most outraged way Harry had ever seen. Harry hesitated. Dare he speak? Was he going too far? No, Snape deserved it, and he would go to any length to defend his friends. He said in a low voice so only Snape could hear, "No wonder my father despised you." Snape's eyes bulged with wrath and he screamed, "SHUT UP, POTTER! SHUT YOUR MOUTH!!!" Snape pounded back to the front of the room. The rest of the class was staring in bewilderment, all wondering the same thing: what had Harry said to him? Ron was looking at him in admiration and surprise, and Hermione was looking at him in gratitude and something else that Harry couldn't recognize as anything except- strange. Harry was still fuming at the end of class. Snape had assigned them mounds of homework and taken 60 points from Gryffindor. Harry walked in between Hermione and Ron as they headed toward the common room. "I can't stand it anymore! I can't stand him being so cruel and rude to us! I've never done ANYTHING to him, and neither has Hermione. Who does he think he is, a god? That does it!" He stopped suddenly and changed direction.
"Harry!" Hermione called behind him, she and Ron were running to catch up with him. "Harry! Where are you going?" She and Ron were even at pace with Harry.
Harry's eyes glittered as he talked, "I'm sick of the way Snape treats us all like dung beetles. I'm going straight to Professor Dumbledore."