Chapter Two -- Ginny's Talent

         Ginny Weasley looked at the bubbling mess in her small student's cauldron, and decided it needed another pinch of powdered rat toenails.   She thought it should be turning a golden brown, but it wasn't.   She wished Hermione was here. She would know what the darn thing needed!  Her lack of interest was making it difficult to get it right.  She had missed Professor Snape's class the day he had taught this potion, and now she had to do it on her own.  If she wasn't so sure that Severus Snape had placed a guardian spell in his office, she would be tempted to pop in there and take a look at his notes on 'Pointers on Potions.'  No one knew where he had gone for the holidays, but probably back to his family home in the north of England.   The potion wasn't the right color, and it seemed to be too soupy, and of course it tasted terrible.   Suddenly, Ginny snapped her fingers and quickly added a mixture from a tiny vial.  In the same voice Professor Snape used, she muttered, "Vinegar and flies, and black beetle eyes, make this potion into a lotion."   She crossed her fingers, hoping that would bring the color right. It didn't.  Her shoulders drooped and she was about to admit failure when Hermione floated into the room.

         Hermione's toes were only inches off the floor, but she was definitely floating.  She had to push herself away from the doorway and then had to grab the arm of a suit of armor to stop, but she was rapidly learning how to move from place to place without touching the floor.  The suit of armor gave her a disapproving look and straightened itself back up, resuming its position, but a bit closer to the door away from Hermione.   Professor Biddlefinger had taught her the personal levitation incantation as a reward for her help, and now she was practicing it.  It seemed to wear off every few minutes, but it was easy to invoke and it was ever so much fun.  She couldn't wait to show Harry and Ron, but she decided that Ginny would be the first to see her new ability. Ginny's mouth was a perfect letter O as she watched Hermione slip into the room ---- just the reaction Hermione was hoping for.  "What's that?" said Hermione as she peered into the cauldron.

         "It's supposed to be a lotion for hair restoration, but right now it's simply a smelly mess.  I must have forgotten something, because as you can see the color is all wrong."  Ginny sighed and looked at Hermione, who was still dangling in the air.   Hermione had to hang onto the suit of armor to keep from being pushed about by the occasional drafts of cold air, since she didn't have her feet on the floor.  The suit of armor was the closest place to hold, so that's where Hermione stubbornly held on.   "Did you remember to add the earwax from a pigs' ear?  It won't turn color until you do.  That was on the exam last year, and I was the only one to get it right."

         "That's what I forgot!"   The soup in the cauldron began to thicken as Ginny added a small amount of earwax.   It also turned a rich, golden brown after a few minutes, and when it was just right, Ginny poured the potion into several blue bottles and put corks in them.  She set them aside to cool, then watched as Hermione was almost wafted out the door again by the cold wind that blew through the old dungeon.

         Hermione could feel her feet start to drag against the cold stones of the floor as the incantation wore off again, but she decided not to renew it. She let go of the armored arm, and once more the suit of metal straightened itself up.  With a huff it moved a short step away.  "The potion looks right now, but how will you test it?"

         "That's easy," replied Ginny.  She poured some in her hand and immediately wiped it on the helmet of the suit of armor.  The suit yelped as they watched course black hair sprout from the top of its head.  When she tilted the bottle again the suit ran off down the hallway, clanking as it turned the corner.  The two girls laughed so loudly they almost wet their pants, but Ginny quit laughing quickly when she looked down and saw her hand.   It was covered with hair which was still growing as they watched.  As she gasped and started to wring her hands, Hermione quickely waved her wand and said, "Hirsutitus, relinquo nos!"  The hair vanished.

         "My goodness, Ginny, that works so much better and faster than the potion we learned in class!   Let me look at your recipe of ingredients, because there must be something there that wasn't mentioned in Professor Snape's lecture."  And with that she picked up Ginny's notebook and scanned the smudged list.  "Oh, here it is."   She pointed to the third item.   "In class we just used a bit of cat's hair, but I see you have put in one of those disgusting hair balls that a cat spits up.  Good for you!" Ginny looked pleased with the praise and started putting the cauldron away.

         Hermione invoked the levitation spell on both of them and smiled as she said, "Come on, Ginny, I'll help you write your report on this later tonight, but right now, I want to explore that deep dungeon where the water pours into a cistern."



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