1994-12-15: Dirty Job

Participants:

Melissa_icon.gif Ginny_icon.gif Alice_icon.gif Rene_icon.gif Jacen_icon.gif

On Loan: Sprout_icon.gif

Scene Title Dirty Job
Synopsis Herbology class for first through third years involving repotting of mandrakes!
Location Greenhouses
Date Dec 15, 1994
Watch For Flying dirt!
Logger Sprout

The greenhouses on the grounds of Hogwarts always seem to be in full bloom and cheery despite even the worst weather outside. That is even the case today as class gets ready to begin. Inside the greenhouse, one long table has been arranged with potted plants along boths sides. The green tops of the plants seem to shake every so often, as if they were alive. In front of each pot, a pair of earmuffs. "Welcome, everyone!" Sprout starts, in her cheery voice. "Today we will be working with our hands, as well as our minds."

His overcoat spattered with mud, and a (very non-flying) broom in hand, Jacen rushes in, dropping the scraped and battered broom outside the door as he rushes in to take a spot in front of a plant. The first year pants a bit, looking the earmuffs over skeptically. "What're -these- for?"

Melissa smiles wide, pushing her glasses up her nose and examining the plants, then glancing over at the earmuffs. "Oh… is that what we're doing?" she says, getting an idea. "Hmm…"

Ginny arrives with Alice in tow, the two girls chatting energetically about absolutely nothing, as teen girls are wont to do. Ginny's usually cheerful countance is a bit pinched and anxious - Herbology was by far her worst subject. The situation looked fairly simple, though - she remembered the earmuffs from previous lessons.

Rene has filed in with the rest of the first years, finding a rather empty space near the middle, face furrowing at the earmuffs. Hmm. He waits and watches the rest of the class come inside the greenhouse, and then glances up towards professor Sprout, waiting for some further explanation.

"… and then he couldn't sit down for a week!" Alice says as she enters with Ginny, erupting into a string of tittering laughter, clamping a hand over her mouth. The blonde blinks, canting her head to one side as she sees the plants arranged as well as the earmuffs. Still, Alice offers a smile to Professor Sprout, bobbing lightly up and down on the balls of her feet, waiting for more instruction.

"Those, Mr. Starr," Sprout grins, "are earmuff. You'll need them for the lesson today, believe me." she adds, before glancing over the others who have arrived. "Today, we will be repotting mandrakes. They're growing to big for these smaller pots. Before we start though, who can tell me what mandrakes are useful for?" As the question is asked, she begins levitating larger pots over to the table.

Jacen blinks profusely. Mandrakes? He'd just read SOMETHING about them in his mad scramble he calls studying. Rolling the earmuffs over in his hand, he jerks upright with realization. "OH!" His hand shoots up, and he doesn't wait. "Don't they cause petrification or something?" Leave it to a Muggleborn.

Melissa grins. "Close, Jace," she says, raising her hand herself.

Oh, Alice knows this! There was, after all, that big hallabaloo her first year in which they came in useful. The blonde third-year is unable to keep a surreptitious glance at Ginny; no doubt the other girl is also very much familiar with the uses of these particular plants. But before she can raise her hand, Jacen has already blurted out an answer, causing Alice to look at him with mild surprise. "Wow, and just recently he didn't even know who Harry Potter was," she whispers in a sotto voice to Ginny.

Rene smiles to himself and winds the earmuffs around his neck preemptively, though he doesn't answer- not really. "Assassinating gardeners." He responds to the air, and just loud enough for most of the class to hear him. Shush, it was a clever joke.

"Well, there is that too, Mr. D'Allemagne." Sprout grins, catching the joke before she shakes her head to Jacen. "Not quite, Mr. Starr, but close. Perhaps Ms. Burch knows?" Her gaze darts to the first year, waiting for her to answer. If she doesn't answer correctly, random picking!

Experience makes information stick like nothing else. For once, Ginny knows the answer to a plant-related question, and her own hand goes up. She shifts from foot to foot, a smile brushing her lips at Rene's quip.

Jacen scrunch-faces, apparently -sure- he'd read that somewhere. As he's corrected, his brows furrow a bit, looking to Melissa for what he hopes is the -right- answer as he unrolls the earmuffs and slips them around his neck a la headphones.

Melissa nods. "They help cure petrification," she says. "When used in a potion, of course," she adds, mentally thanking Professor Snape- or at least the books he assigned.

"Excellent, Ms. Burch." Sprout says, smiling and clapping. "Two points to Ravenclaw. Keep studying those books." As the larger pots are finished levitating over to the table, she glances around for the others who raised their hands. "Ah, Ms. Weasley. Is the Mandrake Restorative Draught strictly for those who have been petrified?" Pop quiz! Who else hasn't she picked? "And Ms. Starr, why do we wear the earmuffs?"

Jacen again stares at the plant as it moves, one eyebrow arched considerably as it 'dances'. Under his breath (so as not to disrupt the class), he mutters, "…never mentioned this in grade school…"

Oh crap. Ginny doesn't know the answer to /this/! Biting down on her lower lip, her brown eyes dart from right to left, as if she could divine the answer from a leafy green thing. Well, she had a 50/50 chance, didn't she? "I, um. Er. Yes…?" Ginny's voice raises a few octaves at the end of the 'yes', and it turns into a question.

Alice blinks several times. Oh no! She's being called on. Luckily she actually knows the answer to the question posed, though it still takes her a few moments to gather her thoughts. "Uh, mm… b-because the cry of the mandrake is deadly if heard by unprotected ears. They scream when you pull them out of the ground." A question suddenly occurs to Alice who shoots up her hand. "Professor," she interjects, "I wonder… what happens when Muggles come across a mandrake in the wild? I mean, you really don't hear too often about a Muggle keeling over dead from pulling up the wrong root in their yard, do you? Does the Ministry have specialized gardening wizards who go around making sure mandrakes aren't in any Muggle areas or what?"

"My father had to call for help weeding out an entire patch when we moved over here…" Living in a well-preserved, semi-wild area will do that! Rene fiddles with the earmuffs around his neck as he answers Alice across the table. "So they must have someone handling a dangerous plants division… perhaps it is also those dealing with creatures?"

"No dear," Sprout says, shaking her head at Jacen but still smiling. "They wouldn't be teaching this at a muggle grade school." Yes, her hearing is up to par. After all, she does have to hear some of her plants. Ginny's answer earns her a smile, but also a shake of the head. "Alas, Ms. Weasley, it can be used for several other things. Such as restoring someone who has been transfigured. And excellent answer Ms. Starr. Two points to Hufflepuff. As for the answer to your question, and Mr. D'Allemagne's, the Ministry employs a large team of herbologists who make it their job to monitor the spread and locations of dangerous plants such as the mandrake. However, once in a while a muggle does stumble upon a full grown mandrake. Those are usually the ones the muggle authorities classify as…'unsolved' I believe it is." Glancing over the students, she gestures to the earmuffs, picking up her own set. "Earmuffs on, please. I don't want to have to send anyone to the infirmary. Even though these are only young mandrakes, their cry can still knock you unconscious for a few hours."

Melissa adjusts her glasses once more, and puts her earmuffs on tight over her ears.

Ginny flushes pink, though getting the answer wrong is softened when Alice pulls the attention away from her blunder. She shoots her friend a grateful look, though she's not entirely sure whether it was intentional or not. When directed to put on her earmuffs, she obliges, and all the ambient noise fades away.

Casting a sidelong look over at Rene as he mentions the help with his yard, Alice nods twice then looks back at Professor Sprout. "Ahh, that explains it, then," she says to herself, nodding once more and reaching for one of the earmuffs. She grins and winks impishly at Ginny before placing the muffs over her ears; yup, it seems it was intentional. At the ready and bouncing up and down on her feet excitedly, Alice peers eagerly at the tray of stems. She's never actually seen a mandrake up close before… this should be interesting!

Rene pops on his earmuffs after smiling a moment at Alice when she looks over at him. It's a whole lot more than a 'yard'! Ready, set, time to repot! Though he isn't bouncing around like Alice, it is clear that he is enjoying himself.

Jacen doesn't hesitate, carefully nestling his earmuffs in place. After the week -he's- had, he's leaving nothing to chance.

The earmuffs are charmed to protect against the cry of the Mandrake, but still allow the students to hear Sprout's voice clearly. "Alright, the process is very simple. Watch me closely." Her hand reaches out and grabs the wiggling greens of the plant. "First you grasp the top of the Mandrake and /pull/" she continues, pulling up her own plant. It almost resembles a small human, if it weren't for the roots hanging off it and lack of fingers or toes. When it's exposed, the Mandrake begins to shriek loudly. "And then…..into the new pot where you cover it with fresh soil that is lined down the center of the table." The plant is dropped into the much bigger pot and soon she has it covered my a pot full of soil. "See? Easy. Now it's your turn."

Ginny takes a few moments to amp herself up. You can do this, Ginny. You are strong. You are talented. Pot this mandrake like it's never been potted before! With a deep breath, she pulls as hard as she can, and the mandrake comes loose of its soil, unleashing a scream. Ginny herself lets out a little shriek of surprise, though it goes unheard by anyone wearing their earmuffs. Navigating her hand towards the pot, she places the plant into its new home and begins to cover it with soil.

Ewww. Alice doesn't know what exactly she was expecting a mandrake to look like, but it certainly wasn't that. She wrinkles her nose a bit, but dutifully retrieves one of the plants as well as the larger pot to replant it. "I wonder why we just don't put these things in large pots to begin with?" she asks rhetorically, wrapping gloved fingers around the stem of her plant and jerking upwards. It doesn't quite break the surface on the first try, so Alice has to heave another go, wrenching the screaming, unpleasant thing out from its soil. Dirt flies everywhere as the mandrake struggles and writhes in her grasp, Alice grimacing as she tries to keep the darned thing in hand. Despite not liking being removed, it doesn't appear to want to go back IN, either, and it takes Alice some time to finally force all the flailing, rootlike limbs into the pot and begin covering it in soil. And even here the mandrake fights her, flinging dirt out even as she tries to bury the thing; two scoops of dirt in, one scoop being tossed out.

Jacen winces a bit at the shrieking, eyes focused on what Sprout's doing, and more importantly, -how-. Maybe his Nanny's gardening'll come in handy after all. Looking at his own plant, the firstie's lower lip slips between his teeth after one more check of the earmuffs. Reaching over, Jacen gets a grip with one hand, flex-gripping a couple of times as he moves the larger pot next to the first and inhales deeply. "Aight, Jace, You can do this." For a firstie, Jace shows impressive strength as he yanks the mandrake free, taking a half-step back at the initial shriek. Blinking, he sets the thing in the new pot, grabbing handful after handful of dirt, shoving it in the new pot until the ear-piercing shrieking ceases.

With gloves that seem to make his hands twice as big, Rene readies a grip on the top of the plant, and yanks the thing quite mightily out of its pot; of course it screams, it yells, it flails like it has never flailed before. This one flings its dirt just like Alice's mandrake, even as Rene tries to scoop the new dirt into the bigger pot with it. He mutters something somewhat angry- though determined- and keeps at it until the little beast on a stem seems to realize that there is dirt again.

Melissa watches apprehensively as the others work. "Here goes…" she says, pulling up her own mandrake. Almost immediately she has to spit dirt from her face as the thing seems to take its aggression out on her. "Get in there, get in there," she sputters, packing soil over it in desperation, watching the others for ideas.

Sprout watches with a keen eye as the repotting begins. There's a few students who seem to have initial trouble getting their mandrakes out of the old pots due to the fact that they were overfed and quite…well…fat. But it looks like everyone has managed to get their mandrake into new pots and either covered, or well on the way to being covered. "They will fight just a little bit, as you're putting the new soil in." she states, walking up and down each side. "If yours seems to like to throw the soil out as you're putting it in, try sifting a little of it through the greens. It helps to calm them."

Dogged perseverance and elbow grease, that's the Hufflepuff way! And this is how Alice finally manages to get the thrice-damned mandrake buried in soil. Although Professor Sprout's advice is not ignored; Alice smiles brightly at the teacher and sprinkles soil through the stem and leaves. It does, in fact, calm the plant down immeasurably. She finishes burying the nasty blighter and steps back, brushing the flecks of earth from her robes. "Ugh, I'm going to need a bath after this class," she mumbles to herself.

Jacen continues his efforts, lower lip still stuck in his teeth, and left brow arched as he keeps his Mandrake faced down a bit in the pot, making it difficult for the thing to kick dirt back at him. Somehow, however, it still manages to send soil back in the black-and-blue haired boy's face. "Stubborn..!" At Sprout's suggestion, however, he does so, grabbing a handful of dirt, letting it dribble through the side of his hand over the leaves. Seeing it relax, Jace exhales, quickly scooping dirt in to cover the abominable plantlife as fast as humanly possible. Looking up to the professor, that brow's still in the air as he asks, "Isn't there some kinda -magic- to do this? I mean, really. If these things can -kill-?"

Ginny squeaks as her mandrake makes a leap for freedom. "No! Absolutely not! You stay in there!" Ginny can feel herself speak, but not hear it - a rather odd sensation, altogether. She takes the Professor's advice and begins to sprinkle the dirt just as the mandrake surges upward; the result is a lot of dirt down the side of the table, and some on her robes and skin. Sighing, she tries again, and this time the dirt seems to soothe the creature.

Just when it looks like the plant is potted down, it flings a large clump of dirt at Rene's face- which sticks- and the boy simply grabs a bigger handful of dirt and dumps it on the greens in retribution. It seems to love that, thankfully, and also happens to stop fussing around. "They remind me of my baby sister…" Whether or not anyone else can hear him, he needs to say it! While he wipes the dirt off his face. Which is very much a fruitless effort.

It's not Herbology without someone getting dirty. Even better if the whole class gets it. But, that will have to wait for a future lesson. At Ginny's words, Sprout glances over in time to see the advice given is taken and the plant calms down. "There is magic that can be used, yes, Mr. Starr, but to understand the plant you have to actually work with the plant. Though I can assure you, as you progress up through the academic years and choose to keep herbology, there will plants you have to contend with involving magic. But not as a first year." Rounding one end of the table she ends up right by her own Mandrake. "Once you have your Mandrake covered and settled, you can remove your earmuffs and head to your next class. I'll make sure they get put back in their own greenhouse. Everyone will receive five points a successful repotting!"

Alice lets out a heavy sigh as she finishes patting down the soil on the mandrake. The surface of the soil is no longer angrily roiling and threatening to explode out again… looks like the little monster tired itself out, or at least got used to its new home. Alice reaches up to remove her muffs, but pauses, glancing over at Ginny. She taps the other girl on the shoulder and mouths words slowly, while gesturing first to her, then to herself, then to the nasty plant the Weasley girl struggles with, "DO. YOU. WANT. HELP?"

Ginny jumps as she's tapped, so involved she is in dominating this little bugger. Her eyes are narrowed and her tongue sticks out in concentration. "SURE!" Ginny mouths, gesturing rather exaggeratedly for Alice to sprinkle some dirt while she continued to pile soil on the wriggling form.

Sputtering a bit (Seems he's doing that a lot lately) to get the last bits of saliva-mud out of his mouth, Jacen looks down at the repotted Mandrake curiously. After checking everyone else to make sure there's no more shrieking, he reaches out and gently pats the plants' leaves one last time before removing his earmuffs. "That was kinda fun!" he exclaims, looking pretty pleased with himself despite being coated in mud and dirt. Where'd that mud come from, anyway..?

Giving a gloved thumbs-up to her fellow third-year, Alice flashes a bright grin and immediately regrets it as she's smacked in the gob by a particularly large bit of dirt. Spitting, she glares evilly at the mandrake, but scoops up some dirt and begins to sprinkle the dirt on the greenery. "Calm down you little…" and it's a good thing no one can hear her muttering, because she lets loose with a shockingly un-Puff-like string of profanity calling into question the plant's parentry, species, and impending death in a potion of silence.

Rene removes his earmuffs when the rest of the class collectively does so, trying to still use his robe sleeves to wipe off his face. "I prefer less deadly plants." He glances over to Jacen, before glaring momentarily back at his mandrake as if it might leap back out of its pot for revenge.

Melissa surprisingly got hers done rather quickly- apparently when it couldn't see any bespectacled girls to sling dirt at, the mandrake decided to give up. She looks at it, satisfied.

"Excellent work, everyone!" Sprout says, smiling and clapping her hands. "Next week, we'll check on them to see how they're coming along. Until then, I want you to read up on gillyweed. We'll be harvesting some of it next time we meet." With that, she gives a little wave dismissing the class.

The mandrake finally calmed down, much to Ginny's relief. With another squawk of displeasure, it seemed to settle down and accept its fate. She pulls her earmuffs off, and nods as Sprout speaks. Jotting down 'gillyweed' on a slip of parchment, smiling at Alice. "Thanks!"

Alice lets out a sigh of relief once the plant is place, taking off her earmuffs and setting them back where they were at the beginning of class. She brushes herself down, nodding several times, muttering to herself, "Gillyweed, gillyweed." Glancing over at Ginny, the blonde gives another thumbs up and grins again, "Not a problem! Can't say I like these things, though."

Jacen gets to the door and pauses, looking back over the Mandrakes before pushing his way out, muttering the word 'Gillyweed' over and over like some kind of mantra. Seems he's got something else on his mind, and it has nothing to do with Herbology.

Melissa takes off her earmuffs and nods. "Gillyweed, she said?" she asks herself, nodding as she makes her way over to Ginny, giving Jacen a brief wave as she passes. "Nice job, Ginny," she says with a smile. "Good teamwork."

Rene seems to brighten at the prospect of Gillyweed next week, a grin splashing over his face. "We had that all over back home." He says this largely to himself, strolling down memory lane as he leaves the classroom after gathering his things- when it comes to the Mediterranean climate where Gillyweed grows naturally, Rene is too familiar. This means no Herbology homework for him this weekend, either. Score!

"Want to walk to the next class together?" Ginny asks Alice as she brushes dirt off her robes. How did it get into so many little crooks and crevices? She casts a wary glance over her shoulder to make sure the mandrake hasn't leapt out of its pot.

"Sure," Alice replies to Ginny as she scurries along with the redheaded girl out of the classroom, smiling wryly, "Though I'm actually rather tempted to try and grab a quick shower before next class. Oh, I wish I was better at cleaning charms! At least I could do that if nothing else."

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