Harry Potter Blogfest - Bite-Sized Harry Potter Holiday Fictions

Welcome to the Harry Potter Blogfest 
hosted by Michael at the In Time... blog.

My entry is a re-worked scene from my novel-length fanfiction Professor Burbage and the Potions Master.  For me, this blogfest ended up being more an experiment in editing rather than writing---the original scene is 900+ words, but Michael's a very strict professor, and his requirement was 500 words, so I've chopped this baby down to nearly half its original size (525 words).

It wasn't nearly as impossible a task as I at first thought it would be---merely a matter of removing unneccessary dialogue tags, paring back on overly detailed physical descriptions, cutting redundant phrasing, and searching out ways to say things more efficiently.  That's all.  What's amazing is that the scene lost absolutely nothing, but is now a smoother, sleeker version of its original self.  Editing rocks.  Thanks for making me challenge myself, Michael.

Professor Elson and the Potions Master

"What is it you need, Professor Elson?" Snape asked as the substitute Muggle Studies teacher clunked a heavy box onto his desk.

"I’m having trouble with a few simple potions," she explained, pulling small corked bottles from the box. Each contained a muddy brown liquid.

"Perhaps you should enroll in my class next term," he said flatly.

"Ha ha. These potions are fine—they do exactly what they're supposed to do, but I was hoping you'd show me how to make them more attractive."


"Yes. I was thinking of various shades of green and gold."

"Why on Earth would you want to do that?"

"I'm giving them as Christmas gifts, and as you know, presentation is everything."

Snape responded with a look that seemed to indicate he very much wanted to hurl her out one of his windows. Lucky for Nicki, he had none down in the dungeon.

Taking a more practical tone, she added, "I've tried changing the appearance myself, but every time I add a new element, the effect of the potion changes."

"Potions 101, Professor Elson. Are you sure you don't want to sign up for my class?"

"Well, aren't you the cheeky one? Honestly, Severus. You act as if I don't know the difference between wolfsbane and monkshood."

"There is no diff—" Snape started, but he stopped short when he saw Elson's playful smile.

"Oh please, Severus! You're the expert. Will you please, please just show me how?" Whether it was her batting eyelashes that did it or the fact that he wanted her far away from him as soon as possible, she didn't know, but Snape finally agreed to help her.

As he selected various jars and tubes from the shelves of his store cupboard, Nicki asked, "Would these potions have the same effect on Muggles as they do on wizards and witches?"

Snape poked his hooked nose out of the cupboard. "Professor Elson, you're not planning on giving these potions to Muggles, are you?"

She laughed lightly and said, "Oh, heavens no. These are for my students."

"Students?" Snape shot her an appalled glare before he returned to rifling through his shelves.

"I wonder though,” Nicki pressed on, “what would be so terrible if the potions did find themselves in Muggle hands? This one’s just a harmless mix to add sparkle to the girls' hair."

Snape returned to his desk with an armful of ingredients. "The harm would be that the magical world would be exposed if Muggles were suddenly sparkling all around town."

"Oh, I know. I'm thinking more philosophically. Think about it—if potions have the same effect on Muggles as they do on us, then this can be the great unifying factor! The one branch of magic that Muggles and wizards can share in equally."

Snape's forehead creased between his sheets of black hair. He didn't seem to like the idea, but he didn't argue her point either. Instead, he set immediately to work and huffed, "It's getting late, and I'm sure you'd like to get your beauty sleep before class tomorrow." After a brief pause, he added dryly, "Presentation is everything, you know."

Hope you enjoyed! 

Click on the Harry Potter Blogfest icon or here to indulge in more bite-sized Harry Potter holiday stories.


Cherie Reich said...

What a fun story! I really enjoyed seeing Charity. We get so little of her in the movie and book, so it was a lot of fun to read, and I loved the last line. It made me laugh and smile.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, this was great! I love the irony of trying to explain 'presentation' to Snape *snort* Do you write a lot of fan fiction, or just the one story? I've done a fair bit--it's all at HPANA--in fact the fan fiction is what got me to a point where I decided to give more serious writing a shot. Very nice!

erica and christy said...

Ooh, a potion for sparkly hair? Yes, please.

It always strikes me as funny when people have trouble paring down their stories. I write "skinny" and have trouble meeting minimum requirements most of the time.

Fun, sparkly entry, Nikki. Good luck at Hogwarts and don't make Snape too mad!

Brenda Drake said...

I love the picture of the vials at the top, really put me in the mood for the story. I really enjoyed this piece and snorted when Snape repeated Professor Elson's phrase - "Presentation is everything..." Brilliant!! :D

Summer Ross said...

This was a fun read, your right it is very smooth and flows well. yay for editing.

C.A. Marshall said...

oo hoo! what a dis there at the end, Snape!

Thanks for the cute story!

Dominic de Mattos said...

This was brilliant! Definitely deserves to be in the top five!

When I belonged to an HP forum there was a big (and very long!) debate on the role of magic in potions and whether a muggle would be able to make them. Yeah. We were that sad!


gideon 86 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gideon 86 said...

Nicki, Nicki, Nicki,

How can I put this.... I loved what you did with this piece! Your editing is flawless. As you said, nothing is missing from this scene. I didn't read your original, but I don't need too, this one is perfect.

Where do I begin ...

First and foremost, you NAILED Snape. I actually heard him saying the dialogue in my head as I read your story.

Second, you as Professor Burbage was a great tie in for you to be in the story. So clever picking the muggle studies professor- brilliant.

Third, the scene itself. Smooth reference for the holidays. A glittery hair potion. And yes, presentation is everything.

Finally, this piece made me laugh so hard. I adore Snape's nastiness and smugness and you handled it perfectly.

Thank you so much for adding to my blogfest. I truly enjoyed your entry.


I didn't edit before posting.... I should have lol.

Nicki Elson said...

Do you know what I wish Blogger had? A button to reply to each individual comment, like they do at Word Press. Hmm, must find suggestion box...

Cherie - It was fun to get to create my own personal view of Charity. I'm happy the last line was a hit w/ you.

Hart - Fanfiction is what got me writing seriously too! I've only got the one story line in HP, but I've done more w/ Twilight and Hellsing. Not a huge fan of either of those last two series, but the characters leave a lot of room to have fun with. :)

erica - Haha. I've got a party tonight--that sparkly would come in handy. I thought I was a fairly skinny writer too...until I started chopping away at this!

Brenda - Glad you liked the potions bottles - it was a last minute inspiration. I'm so happy the last line went over well. Looks like I decided to cut the scene at just the right point. :)

Summer - Thanks! I'm happy to know it read smoothly for ya.

C.A. - That Snape has quite a way with the zingers, eh?

:Dom - Hooray! I'm so happy you like it that much. I agree w/ you on the forum...if by "sad" you mean "awesome"! I'd love to hear the results of your in-depth discussion of Muggles & Potions.

Michael - You crack me up coming back to edit. But hey, I am more than happy to see your super amazing comments twice! I'm all giddy about it to tell the truth. :D I'm so, so, so pleased that you liked it so well. I especially appreciate your comments about Snape. Thank you (again) for hosting this clever blogfest - I had a ton of fun revisiting and revising this scene. And yeah, I'll admit it - it was TOTALLY fun to insert myself between the walls of Hogwarts. :)

Melissa said...

This was very well-written. I liked how you incorporated yourself and Snape has always been one of my favorite characters.

N. R. Williams said...

Nice to meet you. I loved the story. Sheets of black hair, excellent.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Su said...

Hee hee, sparkling Muggles. Fabulous. Snape is perfect in this scene!

Nicki Elson said...

Thanks Melissa, N.R., and Su! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for pointing out your favorite parts. :)

pensees said...

Great job. This is one of my favorite entries so far! I loved the wolfsbane vs monkshood part. Very clever. :)


Roland D. Yeomans said...

Your editing was seamless. I didn't spot one jerk or jump. And Snape was perfectly ... Snape. Poor fellow. He really didn't have a fun life, did he? Early actions have long-lasting consequences. No wonder he was so surly all the time. Have a happy, healing Christmas. Roland

gideon 86 said...

I am sure you guessed.... YOU'RE IN THE TOP FIVE!!!!!!! Congratulations Nicki!

Yours was on of my favorites....


Pk Hrezo said...

Awww... this was cool! Snape has to beone of the best character in the history of fiction. Congrats on top 5! :)

Nicki Elson said...

pensees - Ah! I'm so excited you loved the wolfsbane & monkshood part---that's my absolute favorite part of this scene too!

Roland - I'm glad the editing was smooth. :) Yeah, Snape's sad life was actually what inspired me to write this story in the first place - I just couldn't stand to have it end with nothing happy in this life. I wishing you a happy, healthy Christmas too.

Michael -- BLAHHH!!! I'm so excited! I was happy enough to know that you liked it so well, but I'm beyond thrilled to have placed in your top five. :D I'll be by your blog w/ more squeeing. ;)

Pk - Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. I'm fascinated by Snape too. Thanks for the congrats.