The Potions Master (PS)

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A Book.

The Potions Master is the eighth chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Hogwarts

Everyone is talking about the most famous first-year at Hogwarts: Harry Potter. Whispers follow the boy wherever he goes, and everybody wants to catch a glimpse of him. He, on the other hand, is far too busy trying to find his way around the Hogwarts castle: there are one hundred and forty-two moving and moody staircases; strange and equally moody doors; suits of armour and portraits that constantly switch places.

The ghosts aren't always helpful. Unlike Nearly Headless Nick, Peeves is always delighted to frighten and play tricks on students. Argus Filch, the caretaker, is even worse; he owns a scrawny, dust-coloured cat called Mrs. Norris, which has bulging, lamp-like eyes. They patrol the hallways looking for troublemakers. Filch actually caught Harry and Ron Weasley attempting to enter the forbidden third-floor corridor by mistake, and threatened to lock them in the dungeons; Professor Quirrell, who happened to be around, rescued the two boys.

Friday is the first day of the week in which Ron and Harry don't get lost on the way to the Great Hall for breakfast. Halfway through the meal, the owl post arrives: about a hundred owls steam into the room, dropping letters and packages on their owners' laps. Hedwig usually comes to have some toast, but that day she brings a note from Rubeus Hagrid, inviting Harry to come to the gamekeeper's hut that afternoon.

Lessons

First-years' lessons are:

Potions

Snape, like Flitwick, starts class by taking the register. When he gets to Harry's name, he says, "Ah, yes. Harry Potter. Our new — celebrity." Draco Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle snigger.

After the register, Snape surveys the class with his cold black eyes; like McGonagall, he can effortlessly keep a class silent. "You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses ... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

Snape then begins testing Harry. "Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?" (Draught of Living Death) The boy, of course, doesn't know (unlike Hermione). "Tut, tut — fame clearly isn't everything. Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?" (stomach of a goat) Once more, Harry has no idea, but Hermione eagerly raises her hand again. "What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?" (they are the same plant, also known as aconite).

Harry repeats that he doesn't know, but suggests that Snape ask the anxious Hermione. The teacher takes a point from Gryffindor and puts the students into pairs to mix a potion to cure boils (some of its ingredients are dried nettles, crushed snake fangs, horned slugs and porcupine quills). He criticises all students with the exception of Draco, whom Snape praises instead.

Suddenly, clouds of acid green smoke fill the dungeon: Neville Longbottom has melted Seamus' cauldron. The potion splashes on Neville and spills all around the floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Neville has boils on his arms and legs. One wave of Snape's wand cleans the spilled potion. "Idiot boy," he snarls, ordering Seamus to take his partner to the hospital wing. He then blames Harry for not giving his fellow Gryffindors proper instructions, taking another point from the House.

Harry had the impression that Severus Snape wasn't very fond of him at the start-of-term banquet (PS7); he was wrong. Snape clearly loathes him. Ron attempts to comfort Harry by pointing out that Snape always takes point from Fred and George Weasley, and asks whether he can go meet Hagrid as well. Harry agrees and, at five to three in the afternoon, the two set off to meet the gamekeeper.

This chapter summary is not done yet. Please be patient.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
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