Real Defense and Real Darkness
KNOCK, KNOCK. Harry woke groggily to the slight pounding on the door to his quarters. He laid in bed and stared up at the worn stone ceiling for several minutes until another knock startled him from his bleary thoughts. He glanced over at the old fashioned clock and saw that it was barely five a.m.
‘Who, in Merlin’s name, is knocking on my door at this hour?’ He threw a pillow over his head and burrowed under the blankets and tried to tune the third set of knocking out. Fate would deny him that luxurious thing known as sleep, however. He heard the door open and close and a moment later the door to his sleeping quarters was thrown wide.
“Go away!” he shouted from the muffled depths of the wool.
“Mr. Potter, honestly. I don’t remember you being prone to a sleep in. It’s time to get up and get ready for your first classes.”
Harry peeked out from his covers and glared balefully at Minerva.
“It’s 5 a.m. Professor. Breakfast isn’t for another two hours.”
“But you have to go over the class curriculum, student manifest, make notes for your studies, get your class room prepared, prep any unusual devices or creatures you may want to introduce. You have a full morning ahead of you and no time to sleep.”
“I was actually just planning to wing it and spent the day fending off questions of my past and getting to know the students.” Minerva pursed her lips and raised a single eye brow.
“Up, Mr. Potter.” He saw a flick of her wand and he grabbed at his covers; barely stopped them from flying away.
“Ok, ok! Let me get dressed.”
Minerva politely excused herself into the sitting room while he trudged out of bed and made the trek towards his battered old wooden wardrobe. He creaked the rickety antique open and tilted his head. Sometime during the night the house elves had replaced the few cloths he had brought with him with some dusty old fashioned teaching robes.
“Minerva!” he shouted out, “What did you do with my robes?”
He could have sworn he heard some chuckling from the other side of the door.
Harry collapsed in the chair of his office. Minerva wasn’t kidding when she said he had a lot of work to do. He had spent the entire two hours redoing the entire course curriculum. He got none of the other work done. The course wasn’t ‘bad’ per say. Just not advanced enough and focused on things that weren’t vital to survival. It barely covered the more unsavory aspects and focused more on the mild and more common uses of dark magic. The spells and objects that could barely be called dark. Harry felt that, if one was to be prepared, then they should be prepared for the most brutal and lethal practitioners of the dark arts, not the mere dabbler.
He understood the hypothesis behind the course plan. If the students didn’t know about something then it would die away. Harry disagreed. If a student really wanted to know about the dark arts, they would find a way. They would unearth some old book in the library or get some relic or scroll from an unsavory parent or uncle. Harry remembered what Snape had said in the brief time he taught the subject years ago. The dark arts were like the infamous hydra. Cut off one head and two more would sprout up. The dark arts would never die, nor would dark lords. There would be another Voldemort eventually. The key would be making sure the Wizarding community knew how to fight better and to recognize whatever new darkness that might arise.
Harry reached over his desk and closed the folder that held his notes. He had already set up the black boards and made the plans for the first week. His stomach growled and he glanced at the clock. The students would be heading down the breakfast about now. He guessed putting it off wouldn’t do any good so he stood up and heading out of the office, towards the Great Hall. He was both dreading and relishing Lily’s reaction.
He stopped in the shadows by a suit or armor to watch the various groups of students make their way through the door to the Great Hall. He was cleverly using a notice-me-not charm, so no one would think anything unusual if they happened to spot him. After ten or so minutes he spotted Lily, looking ragged and tired with wild wisps of hair poking out. Mark and Juliana weren’t looking much better as they trudged into the hall from their meeting with Professor McGonagall.
He moved from his spot and fell in behind them and walked into the Great Hall.
“I can’t believe that old McGonagall gave us a months worth of detention.” Mark was complaining to his friends. Harry raised a brow. A month was a lot, he would have to speak to her about that.
“I don’t want to hear about it any more Mark. I shouldn’t have even gotten in trouble. Dad told me to leave the castle after all.”
“Oh, shut-up, Lily. You’re the one that wanted to go to St. Mungos. We wouldn’t have gotten in trouble if you didn’t disobey your Dad.” Harry was surprised that the normally timid Juliana would lash out at her friend.
“Don’t you tell me to shut-up!”
The three of them started to bicker back and forth as they sat at the table. Them, and everyone else in the hall, oblivious to Harry standing there, hushed as Professor McGonagall walked into the Hall and rapped on the podium with her wand.
“Your attention please. I have a few announcements to make before classes begin this morning. yesterday morning Professor Granger’s husband was critically injured in his job as an Auror. I am sure the details will be released in today’s paper that should be arriving soon. As such she will not be with us for the next several days. When she returns, I ask that everyone to show her the proper respect and not give her any trouble, nor ask her any inappropriate questions. She is going through a hard time right now and will need all of our support.”
She paused for the wave of whispering to subside.
“In addition I am proud to say that Professor McGonagall will be resuming her duties in Transfiguration when she comes back.” She paused as a loud groan echoed through the Hall. She almost cracked a smile, but put on a stern face and rapped the podium with her wand once more. When the noise settled down she continued.
“I am also proud to say that we have found a new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. He is well regarded across the world as one of the foremost experts in Defense. His accomplishments have been documented in more books than any other Wizard since Merlin. His grasp of the higher forms of Magic are outstanding and Hogwarts is lucky to have him with us. I am sure everyone here will benefit greatly from his instruction.”
During the speech Harry had moved to the frost doors once more and removed his enchantment. McGonagall seemed to have picked up a flare for the dramatic. Harry would have preferred a more subtle entrance.
“I am proud to present to you, your new Defense teacher. Professor Harry Potter!”
Every head turned quickly to the door to see Harry walking down the lines of the tables. A mixture of shouts, cheers, whispers and gasps filled the spacious hall. Among them all though a lone girl with long dark hair stood up and screamed.
“Nooooo!” Lily cried out. Her face was contorted into a wounded and horrified expression. Harry walked right by her and ruffled her hair playfully. The other students darted looks back and forth between Harry and Lily at the outburst.
Lily moved and grabbed the sleeve of his robe and pulled him around to face her. She looked angry now and wasn’t thinking very much.
“You can’t do this to me! Wasn’t last year enough?”
Harry looked around and saw the curious and suspicious stares.
“This isn’t the place, Lily.”
“You’re right! This isn’t the place for you. You can’t take this job!”
Harry had to give it to her; she was very passionate when she needed to be.
“Sit down, Lily. We can talk about this later.” He turned his back to her and started to walk to a disapproving Head-Mistress. Lily, looking absolutely distressed plopped back down on the bench and dropped her head in her hands.
“O’Dowell,” Fergeson snarled from several seats down, “How do you know Harry Potter? Delusions of grandeur now?”
Lily ignored him and just stared at her food, her thoughts a jumble that she couldn’t sort out. Harry gave Minerva a look that told her he would, in no way, make a speech, and took his spot at the table. A few of the other Professors greeted him and he took a moment to shake their hands and thank them for their support. The entire student population, with the exception of the three misfits, were whispering and gesturing towards Harry. He could make out little bits of the standard gossip in the small swirl of chaos and he restrained himself from glaring at Minerva. She got him into this mess. He was going to be spending the entire week deflecting questions and dodging fan girls. Teacher? Bah! He was just a figure head in a school.
He ate his breakfast quickly, wolfing everything down. He met Lily’s eyes only once and grinned at her spiteful glare. He saw that a lot of her house mates were trying to talk to her, no doubt to ask her how she knew him, but she seemed to be ignoring them. Content to focus her energy into trying to glare him out of the job.
His first class of the day was the fourth year Gryffindor and Slytherins. He left breakfast early and hurried to his class. He spent ten minutes going over his lesson plan and making small adjustments. He looked up as the door opened and two students were staring into the room warily. He had made some serious changes that morning and it was like a whole new room for them. The room was darker now. The bright hangings and pictures of harmless magical creatures had been removed. Now the windows were shut and the place was lit by four spell globes that glowed in the corners. Large portraits were lining the wall, but covered with black cloth. In the back corner a tall rectangular object was hidden by some sort of cloudy obfuscation spell. If one listened closely they might be able to hear a moan, or a scream, breaking past the barriers.
Harry gestured for the students to come in. “Come on in. I won’t hurt you. Much.”
The students flinched, but stepped into the room, followed by a long line of eager, but cautious kids. They all found their seats and waited in silence. He saw that most of them were staring at his scar and he snapped his fingers to divert their attention to him and not the legacy of his child hood.
“Welcome to forth year DADA. Yes, I am Harry Potter, and yes, I killed Voldemort, and yes I survived the killing curse twice. That’s all I will say. I’m here to teach you how to survive, not to tell you stories. Any questions asked had best be related to the subject. I won’t answer anything else. Question’s so far?”
One daring boy raised his hand and called on him.
“Simon Dottingham, Professor. I was just wondering. Why is the room different?”
“Atmosphere. The Dark Arts, and the danger they possess, can’t be conveyed accurately with rainbows and cheering charms. The Dark Arts are a life style, and the practitioners of them rarely have yellow and pink curtains and pictures of unicorns and dragons on the walls. Anything else? No? Ok then. Let’s begin.”
He walked to the front of the class and started to pace across the front row, looking each student in the eye as he passed them.
“The Dark Arts are the nightmares of life. The horrors and pain that man can think of can be found in the magic they unleash. Death, pain, paralysis, mutilation; Decay, terror, hate, envy. All these things, and more, are the basis behind the Dark Arts. The foundation that fuels their effects. My job is to tell you how to recognize them. Your job is to survive if you come against them.”
Many of the kids shifted in their seats, but couldn’t take their eyes from his green. One young girl raised a pale skinny hand.
“Applebee, sir. Why would we have to face them? Didn’t you defeat You-Know-Who?”
He raised a brow and gave a wry little smile.
“In History of Magic you will learn that there are hundreds of Dark Lords strewn across the centuries. Of Dark Wizards, there are hundreds more around the world. I won’t even get into how many Dark Creatures are roaming around. Facing another up and coming Voldemort is possible. Indeed, the chances of another popping up in your lifetime are high.”
“Do. Not. Dismiss. The fact that you could face what I will be teaching you about this year. It’s very real. While they are the stuff of nightmares, they don’t live in your dreams. They live in the shady shop keeper. The smiling neighbor. The charming housemate. Your father, your brother, your child, or your friend. You.”
“They can be found anywhere and everywhere. You have to understand and deal with it.”
He looked at each of them again. Everyone was rapt and staring. Harry figured that no one had every explained the truth about this class. Well, it was time, he figured. They had to know.
“Now, onto the lesson. Can anyone name for me some mild dark curses? Anyone? You haven’t spent four years in Hogwarts without hearing about some nasty piece of work? Anything! That’s either very sad or very hopeful. I’m not sure which. I’ll tell you about one then.”
Harry moved to the blackboard and waved his wand. Some writing scrolled down to reveal a curse, its incantation and the effects.
“Quassento. From the Latin root ‘quasso’. The bone breaking curse. This is one of the most common dark curses out there. The Ministry barely classifies it as dark, but it is. When people think about a broken bone they picture a leg or an arm, maybe a rib. They don’t think about what could happen if this spell hits someone in the chest, in the back or in the neck or head. It’s lethal. It can cave in your skull, break your spine; shatter your sternum right into your heart. It’s easy to cast and easy to stop. A simple shielding charm can stop it.”
“The first and most important spell I will each you this year. Protego.” He waved his wand and another spell appeared next to Quassento.
“Protego is the first in line of shielding charms. It’s easier to cast than you might think. It can stop minor to moderate hexes and curses. Quassento is stretching its powers a bit, but I assure you; a properly cast shielding charm can stop a lot of spells out there.”
“Everyone partner up. I want two lines one side will cast a minor hex, nothing painful. The other will try to cast the shield spell.”
The chairs scraped along the floor as the students stood and moved the desks away. If took a minute but finally the students were lines up. Harry strode down the center and demonstrated the proper wand movement and the incantation. When he felt the kids were properly informed he stepped away and spent the remainder of the class helping those who were having trouble. By the end of the class more than a third were able to cast the spell somewhat successfully and the rest were close. Harry felt that a little more practice, maybe one more class and they would be able to defend themselves a little better.
The rest of the day until lunch time was much the same. He had a double period with the fifth years after that class and spent the moment going over the basic defense and offensive spells they have learned and made sure they could all cast a stunner, a shielding charm, a silencing hex and a confundus charm. Harry judged that, while slightly behind, they were adequately taught what had been on the former curriculum.
Before heading to the Great Hall he took a moment to floo Hermione at St. Mungos.
“Harry?” she asked when the nurse finally brought her.
“Hi. I just called to see how you were holding up?” His voice was full of concern. Hermione had bags under her eyes and her pretty brown eyes were blood shot from lack of sleep.
“I’m fine, Harry. Just tired. I didn’t get much sleep to tell the truth.”
“It shows. Ask the nurse for a dreamless sleep. You need to keep up your strength.”
Hermione shook her head. “I can’t risk it. Ron might need me, or one of the Healers might decide to alter your treatment plan. I’ve stayed up before. I’ll just take some pepper-up potion.”
Harry wanted to say otherwise, but he would probably be doing the same if Ginny was in that bed. “Ok,” he said after a moment, “Just keep up your strength. You’re going to have to deal with the students harping you with questions about me when you get back.”
Hermione forced out a chuckle. “Giving you an earful are they?”
“Not really. I scared the first two classes into submission. They were torn between fear or me and awe. It flustered some of them when trying to cast their spell, but we made it through ok.”
“It’s not nice to bully young kids, Harry,” she scolded, but with a tired smile to let him know she really didn’t disapprove.
“Speaking of bullying the students, I’ve heard that you’re the worst professor in the school. The students are thinking about dropping out if you go back to teaching Transfiguration.”
Hermione scowled. “They just don’t want to work for their grades. I’ve yet to have anyone in my class not pass their OWLS or NEWTS.”
“Really? Not one D or a T?
“No. Nothing less than an A. I have the best faculty results in Hogwarts in four hundred years.”
“Wow. I’m not sure I could terrorize them that much though. Anyways I have to get down to lunch. I want to hear the rumors about me.”
“Falling into the pull of fame, Harry?”
“Of course not,” he scoffed, “I just want to head anything off before it starts.”
“Ok. Good luck, and I’m glad you’re having fun.”
“Who said anything about having fun?”
“You did. Your face says it all, Harry. It’s just like the DA. You take pride in seeing people learn to protect themselves. Its cute how animated you seem to be about it all.”
Harry and Hermione exchanged their good-byes and Harry made his way down to the Great Hall for a bite to eat.
As he sat taking a nibble of his food he tried to listen to the muttering of the gathered student population. The fourth and fifth years were both being interrogated about his classes and exaggerating how splendid or scary they were. The biggest topic seemed to be the changes he made to the room and vague wonderings about his adventures and where he had been all this time. A few groups were talking about rumors of his own school extravaganzas though; all of them wildly inaccurate, but any good story needed some embellishments.
Minerva leaned over to speak to him. “You seem to be an instant hit here, Harry.”
He shrugged. “For now. Wait till we get to the harder stuff and the homework. I’m sure I’ll just become another Professor in a couple of weeks.”
“Somehow I doubt that. From what I heard, you taught most of your first class the shielding charm in one session. If you keep that up, the Ministry will be flooded with qualified Aurors in a couple of years.”
Harry choked on his own spit at that thought. “Years?” he managed to gasp out with an incredulous look directed to his former head-of-house. “I never agreed to that.”
“Well…we will see what happens at the end of the year. You have awhile to get used to the idea. With The States taking almost every qualified teacher we can find you’re the best and brightest that we can hope to have. I never apologized, but I’m sorry that I forced you into his, Harry. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. There was no one-simply no one, who would take the job.”
“It’s ok. I really couldn’t keep the shop open every day. With the amount of merchandise I was going through I would have had to close up shop in a week anyways and spend six making more. I’ve a feeling the Ministry will be buying the recipes of most of my creations anyways. That should give me enough to live on for most of my life.”
Minerva looked at him curiously. “What about the money your parents left you?”
“There wasn’t much left after six years of schooling and seven years of traveling. It took most of what I had left to start up Perfect Protections. I need a lot of rare components for some of my items and those can get costly. Also I bought that nice little manor house in Hogsmead, all in all it about broke me to be honest. I made enough from my sales to the Ministry though to cover most of my expenses. Then added to what I sold in the two days I went public; well, I made a handsome profit.”
“I’m pleased to hear of your success as a business man and wizard, Harry. While I always knew you had great potential I must admit, there were times I despaired of you becoming lost in indecision as to your future.”
“Back then I wasn’t really sure I had a future, Professor.”
“Yes, well…You do and you are making the best of it. I’m very proud to have been your Head-of-House, Harry.”
He blushed at the yet another show of affection from the usually stern woman. “You flatter me, Professor.”
“Minerva. Call me Minerva.”
“You flatter me, Minerva. I’m not anything special. I just have had a run of bad luck followed by good luck.”
“There is a saying that luck is nothing more than taking advantage of an opportunity. You do that well. You make your own luck Harry, never doubt your ability.”
He was about to reply when he saw Lily sitting at the closest end of the Gryffindor table where the older students usually sat. She was turned and glaring at him with her arms folded across her chest. His words died on his lips as their eyes met, and he gave a small nod, and motioned with his head towards the trophy room off to the side. She returned the nod and stood up abruptly and started walking towards the door. Harry excused himself with Professor McGonagall and fell in beside her. Most of the hall broke out in even more whispering as every eye in the room fell on the two of them. To her credit, Harry saw that she cared not about any possible rumors and was ignoring the attention that had been focused on her all day. A mark of growing maturity in his opinion.
When he closed the door behind him she whirled around and started to tap her foot impatiently. Her anger was every bit as raw as it was this morning.
“Well?” she said tersely.
She rolled her eyes and blew that troublesome bang out of her face. “Why are you here?”
“I thought that was obvious. I’m the new DADA teacher.”
“No!” she stamped her foot on the stone floor, “You can’t teach here. You have to leave!”
Harry moved to a wall and leaned casually against it. “And why do I have to leave?”
“Cause I won’t allow you to coddle and smother me. I dealt with it all last year and I won’t put up with it again.” Her face put on that rebellious pose that he had thought he was drove out of her. He was obviously wrong and wasn’t amused one bit.
“Won’t allow?” he said quietly and walked over to stare down at her diminutive form. “I think we had this talk once before, young lady. You don’t ‘demand’ anything of me. You are not the parent. I am. I don’t know where you get the nerve to talk to me like that. Especially after that stunt you pulled yesterday. Was that not enough punishment for you? Very well. You will have double detention for a month, now. With me.”
She gaped at him like he had slapped her. “What? You can’t do that!”
“Do you want to make it two?”
She quickly shut up, but her eyes burned with a barely contained insult or three.
“Now to make something else clear. I’m not here to coddle you, smother you, embarrass you, look over your shoulder, or drive you harder than the other students. I’m here because Professor McGonagall was my former head of house and needed me. I owe her more than you could possible understand, Lily. I’m here to teach. You go on and on all the time about how I never taught you how I do some of the things I do. You have that opportunity now and you’re acting like a spoiled brat.”
“Now. Here is what you’re going to do. Don’t roll your eyes at me. Look at me and pay attention. Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go to class like normal, and pay attention and do your work as normal. After classes and in the common room I’m sure you’re going to be bombarded by questions. Tell them the truth. That you’re my adopted daughter and we hid your name to avoid the attention it would get.”
Her obstinate look morphed into a stunned and bewildered expression. “But I thought we said it should remain hidden.”
“I did. Now however, I can’t deal with trying to keep us a secret. It’s easier to come clean and focus on your protection than it would be to try and keep the secret safe. Once people know and it’s in the open I can get the Ministry to provide you with some additional security and the professors to keep a closer eye on things.”
“I don’t need babysitting!”
“Damnit, Lily, Its not babysitting!” he snapped, “It’s for your safety, not to cause you any more trouble. Now will you stop giving me lip and just accept the fact that I’m here to stay for awhile? It won’t be nearly as bad as you think it will be.”
“Oh now? Then why won’t you tell me why you’re so famous? Why is everyone talking like you’re the most amazing person to walk through Hogwarts? All you’ve ever told me is that you’re famous for something you did in the past. It has something to do with the night you found me here, after Papa Severus died. I know it does. I remember everyone cheering your name and talking about you, but I never knew why. Tell me, please?”
Harry sighed and summoned a couple of chairs from across the room. “I guess it’s time you know. Its better that you hear it from me than from some fifth year who doesn’t know a thing outside of inflated rumors. Sit and I’ll explain everything.
And so he did. He told her about Voldemort and how he killed her parents. He told her about how he was the only known survivor of the Killing Curse. She listened raptly and in horror as he explained his life on Private Drive and the mistreatment at the hands of the Dursleys’. She looked in awe as he told her about his encounters with Voldemort and the resurrection in the Graveyard and she sprang tears at the death of Sirius. She frowned at the prophesy and cringed as he went through his entire hunt for the Horcruxes. When he was finished she was looking down in her lap and wringing her hands together.
“Wow,” she said softly, “I never knew you had it so rough.”
“I don’t like talking about it. I had a lot of help from my friends and I don’t like taking all the credit.”
She looked to me mulling over something and was biting her lip, as if hesitant to speak up.
“What is it? You know you can ask me anything. I may not tell you everything, but I’ll never lie to you.”
“I was just thinking…”
“Well…after hearing about the Dursley’s’ I guess I don’t have it so bad. You’re not so bad a father,” she whispered; lowering her head to look at the tiny fractures in the old floor.
“Thanks,” he drawled, “That is so heart-warming.”
He reached over and placed a finger under her chin and tilted her face to look at him. He thought she was a remarkably beautiful young lady, if a bit incorrigible.
“Lily, you can’t just expect that the rules don’t apply to you. Every one of those adventures I told you about growing up, I paid the price for my rule breaking. I’m not strict on you because I’m following some parent 101 guide. I know from experience how much trouble and safer it is to follow the rules. I did what I did because, at the time, I had to. They were very abnormal circumstances. They don’t apply to you, thank Merlin for that. I love you very much. You’re the center of my life and always will be. It’s gonna be fun this year. I promise you.”
“You’re not going to single me out? Dote on me and make the kids harass me?”
“Of course not. I’ll treat you like every other kid in class, but at night, if you want to come down to my room and play some exploding snap with me, you’re more than welcome to.”
“Really?” Her eyes started to swim with barely contained tears.
“Of course. Come ’ere, munchkin!” he held open his arms and she crawled into his lap and they hugged.
“Daddy?” she asked after a long moment of comforting silence.
“I’m sorry for yelling at you.”
“It’s ok, I forgive you.”
“Even the detentions?”
He chuckled and kissed her brow. “Even the detentions.”
“Thanks. I’ll try to be a good student. I promise. I won’t cause you any more trouble. I’ll be good.”
He laughed warmly and tickled her side, causing her to squeal with laugher and pull away. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’d be too boring if you did everything you’re told. Peaceful, yes, but boring.”
She tilted away from his arms slightly and gave him a grin. “You’re going to regret saying that, Dad.”
He surveyed the seventh years silently, letting them stew for a bit before pulling out his wand.
I know its kind of late to tell you this, but seeing how your entire seventh year curriculum has been changed; Welcome to seventh year Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
He hopped off the top of his desk and gave a lazy wave of his arms, causing the spell globes to burn a bit brighter.
“Before, most of your work was going to be learning the more powerful shields and spells required for your NEWTS. We will be going over those, but it will be rushed. However, you will still be required to learn it all since they will test you on it at the year. Now DADA has a certain calling. Those that have stayed with it after your OWLS should have a certain knack for picking up the curses, jinxes and hexes by now. From what I can tell if you can prepare for your NEWT classes fairly easily then you probably shouldn’t have taken the course anyways. After all, I’ve noticed that when it comes to a cool spell that can knock someone out or blow down a door, students seem to pick it up faster than say, a charm to cause a rain cloud over a garden.”
Some of them chuckled. These weren’t kids. Most of them were of age now and more than ready to embark on the beginnings of their careers. He had to teach them a different way from the fourth and third years. One person raised their hand and he called on them.
“Professor,” they asked, “Could you tell us how you killed You-Know-Who?”
He pursed his lips and grew pensive.
“I should have added that. For this class, questions or discussions about my past that I don’t bring up myself, are taboo. I don’t want to hear them, nor will I answer them. Any other questions not related to Voldemort or Death-Eaters? Yes?”
“Sir, If you’re changing the curriculum, then what will we be learning?” A woman with a mob of dirty blond hair asked.
“Good question. This year, we will be focusing on wards, area effect spells, various memory charms and how to undo them. We will also delve into the mysterious art of wand-lore.”
“Yes, wand lore. Its time that you all understood exactly what wands are, how they focus your powers, why they interact only with you, while others may hinder your spells. In addition towards the end of the year we will learn the theories and practices behind the molding of your own spells and the altering of current ones. This year will be extremely hard on you. However, I promise you this. Those of you who can pull off an E or better in this class at the end of the year will receive my personal recommendation towards any career you might choose that will involve the use of your defensive skills.”
“Like the Auror Program?”
“Yes, like the Auror Program, or the Dark Force Defense League, for those of you who feel the irrational pull towards hunting down rogue Vampires, Dementors and other dangerous dark creatures. There are many paths that your skills could take you and I will endorse them all. Now let’s begin.”
A few of them chuckled again and he began the lesson. He reached to the table beside him that had a large black cloth covering its contents. He tugged the covering away and tossed it to the floor. On the table were three demonstrations that he had prepared. There were three shimmering circular wards that held an object in each. In one there was a simple quill. In another there was a large rat that kept scurrying about and pressing its dingy pink nose against the invisible wall. In the third was what seemed to be a stunner; held motionless in the air? You could see the bits and pieces of the magic flying off the spell, but nothing seemed to be moving. Everything in the ward seemed to be suspended. It was a remarkable sight to see raw magic in such a way. The students ‘ooohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ appropriately.
“Can anyone tell me what these are? Yes, Miss. Turner.”
“A quill, a rat and … something.” The rest of the students broke out in chittering and the girl ducked her head and quickly sat down. Harry saved her a little by nodding and smiling.
“My fault. I should be more precise. Yes, a quill, a rat, and …something. More precise there is a ward over each of these. Can you tell me what the wards do, Miss Turner?” He wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself. It was wasted as the girl blushed and shook her head slightly.
“Anyone else? Mr. Wallace…you have a younger brother in Gryffindor, am I correct?”
“Yes sir, Mark.”
“Very well, take a stab.”
“Well the one with the quill is a Protection ward of some sort. You can’t reach in and take the quill. The one with the rat is an imprisoning ward of some sort. It can’t get out. The third…I’m not sure what the third is…Sir!” he added hastily.
Harry gave a small nod, but felt a little disappointed in the class so far.
“Close enough.” He wouldn’t award points for such a vague and obvious answer.
“The ward around the quill is a Tutaminus Ward. This line of ward is indeed a protection ward. They are used to protect objects, homes, and sometimes people. The effects they can produce are extremely varied. I’m sure you can find one that would do just about anything in some little book or another. From just keeping you away to death, these wards are common-place in the Wizarding world.” He looked around and saw some people nodding. Only the shy Miss. Turner was taking notes.
“I should see everyone in the class taking notes. Ten points Miss Turner.” She looked up and blushed again before hiding her face behind her hair. Timid one. The rest of the class was quickly dipping their quills in the ink and scratching on the parchment they had. Harry gave them a moment before continuing.
“The one with the rat is from the Contineos line of wards. These bits of magic are almost exclusively used on people or animals. Rare in the item that can get up and walk on its own to attack someone. Although I do recall being attacked by a desk after a stray spell hit it in charms class.” The boys snickered and the girls giggled.
Harry turned around and started to scratch out something on the board. He turned around quickly when he could have sworn he felt a hand on his bum. He rubbed the offended part and looked suspiciously around the class. The faces ranged from amused, to curious, to innocent wonder. He had no idea who had done it. He reluctantly turned back towards the board and finished the writing.
“The third ward you see before you is a Stasis ward. These wards are extremely hard to cast and prepare and can be unstable if not done right. These are best used for magical experiments. To contain or stop wild or uncontrollable magic or their effects. What you see here is just a simple stunning spell held in the thrall of the ward. This year we will go over each of these lines. Learning various types for each and the theories behind them. As far as the stasis ward. The first one of you to successfully cast one by the end of the year will receive a hundred house points, 100 galleons and your choice of either a job in my personal business as an apprentice or a job in the Ministry. I’ll speak to Minister Kingsley myself to get you into whatever position you desire.” A flurry of hands flew up into the air and Harry was momentarily taken back by the sudden involvement of the class.
“What do you mean as an apprentice in your business sir? You mean you’re personal apprentice?”
“Of a sort. I run a business called Perfect Protections. Its purpose is to create and sell magical items to the Ministry and the Wizarding World. For a period of two months over the summer you will work with me in the difficult branch of magic called Artifice. These wont be simple charms of glamour on a ring that anyone can do. You will learn and study a great deal of obscure and difficult magic. However, at the end of those two months, you will be equipped for greatness in wherever you decide to go from there. I promise you.”
“Just from casting a spell?” the man asked doubtfully. Harry gave him a malicious little grin.
“A stasis ward is no little spell. There are maybe twenty wizards in all the British Isles that can cast one properly. The chances of any one of you pulling it off are slim. Now end of questions. Time for lots of notes and homework.”
Harry then went into the long and difficult time of dictating the properties and effects and rules governing each of the lines of wards. At the end of the long double period the students trudged out, their writing hands sore, but with looks of excitement on their faces. Harry had no doubt that the subject of the apprenticeship would be of major discussion in the school. He wondered if anyone would be able to pull it off. If so they would be headed for greatness. He was sure.
“Your father? HA! That’s a laugh, O’Dowell. Everyone knows Harry Potter don’t have no kids.” Fergeson was sneering doubtfully at her. His vicious denunciation of her claim had many of the other students equally doubtful.
“What wonderful English, Fergeson. Talking like that, it’s no wonder you can’t even transmute a rock into a stool.”
The boy growled and opened his mouth to say something back, but Lily continued right over him.
“He is my Dad. It was his Phoenix, Sirius, that delivered the note yesterday. I’m not trying to brag or anything, but Dad just thought that it would be better to let everyone know, rather than try to keep it all hushed up. He told me to tell everyone to truth tonight. If you don’t believe me, just ask him yourself. We have his class on Wednesday.” She dared anyone else to counter her or call her a liar again by glaring at everyone. Her house-mates dipped closer to whisper and glance back at her. It was one enterprising young man named Simon that defended Lily. He stepped up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I believe her. You should to. We’re Gryffindor. We stick by each other through thick and thin. She has my support.”
Lily looked back at him startled and gave a timid, but hopeful smile. Simon was the perfect man. He was a fourth year that all the girls dreamed over. He was handsome, rich, talented and charming. Lily had tried to chat him up a few times, but he never really showed any interest. That he now defended and supported her made her heart soar like an eagle. Her knight in shinning armor.
“Thanks, Simon.” she told him happily. He gave her that beautiful smile of his and a wink.
The rest of the house, except for Fergeson of course, voiced their own support of her tale and were giving her their own nods and smiles. For the first time this year she felt like she really belonged to Gryffindor.
Once everyone went off to do their own thing, or had asked her some questions about growing up with the legendary Harry Potter, she was settled in some chairs with Juliana and Mark. They were all chatting away about how great their house was when Simon came up to them and sat next to Lily. She looked started for a moment, and then looked away quickly.
“Thanks again, for sticking up for me. You didn’t have to do that.”
“Of course I did. Like I said, we’re Gryffindor and so are you. What kind of man would I be if I didn’t help a Lady whose honor was being called into question?”
She giggled like a little girl and blushed to the roots of her hair. “I’m no Lady.” she told him.
Mark was looking at her like she had grown a horn and sprouted wings. Juliana was too busy staring hopefully at Simon.
“You’re wrong. You’re a very pretty and kind woman. The house is lucky to have you.” Simon replied.
Lily didn’t think she could blush any deeper, but she somehow defied the laws of physics and almost melted from the heat rushing to her face.
“Listen, I was wondering…well…I’m not really any good at this, but I was wondering if you wanted to go to Hogsmead with me next weekend?”
Lily’s head jerked up and stared at the charming face wide-eyed. Did he really just ask her out? Her? No-body Lily. He was the heart-throb of the younger classes. Why did he want to go out with her? She surprised herself by nodding dumbly and quietly agreeing.
“Oi! She can’t go to Hogsmead with you! She’s a second year! You can’t go to Hogsmead until third!”
Lily glared at her prat of a friend and stomped on his foot.
“Shut up, Mark.” She turned back towards Simon who was looking rather chilly at her friend.
“I’d love to go to Hogsmead with you.” She told him in a flirtatious voice that she didn’t know she had. Any other time she would have been disgusted with herself. Now she was just happy that she made him smile.
“Awesome! How will you get there though?”
“I’ll find a way. Meet me in Honeydukes?”
“Sure. I’ll see you there. Do you want to sit with me at Breakfast tomorrow?”
“Oh yes! I mean. I’d be happy to.” Gods, she was acting like an idiot.
“Great! I’ll see you tomorrow. I have to get to the Library now. Bye!” He got up and left with his bag without even looking at Mark and Juliana. Lily watched him go with a dreamy expression; her stomach full of butterflies.
“Lils! You can’t meet him in Hogsmead. You just can’t!”
She turned towards him and sent a look he had never seen her give before. Malice and spite.
“You leave me alone Mark Wallace. I’ll do what I want. If you ruin this for me I’ll make your remaining years here hell!”
Mark flinched and looked at Juliana in confusion. She looked concerned as well but gave a small shake of her head.
“I was just saying that your Dad wouldn’t like it.” he muttered. Lily’s anger dropped away and she bit her lip and looked towards the ground.
“He doesn’t have to know…it’s just one Hogsmead trip. I mean, I’d be able to go next year. What’s one more year? Come on Mark, what’s the matter? I’m not asking you guys to go along or get in trouble with me?”
“But what if they ask us where you went? We’d have to lie and then we’d be in trouble all over again.” Juliana spoke up.
“Then don’t lie. ‘If’ they ask you, then tell them the truth and I’ll take all the heat. Just let me have this day. What could happen? I snuck out to see a boy on a Hogsmead trip? Lots of kids do it!”
“I’m not so sure about this, Lils. I mean he never gave you the time of day before. He’s only asking you out cause your Harry Potter’s daughter.” Mark, it seemed, had gathered back his courge.
“He is not! He’s the best guy in Gryffindor and he asked me out. Me. Stranger, transfer student Lily. Trouble-maker Lily. Don’t say that about Simon.”
“Jeeze, Lils’. Fine. Do what you want. Like always. What do we know? We’re just your friends!”
Mark angrily grabbed his bag and stalked off to his dorm-room. Juliana glared at Lily as well and soon followed after him. Lily sat alone with her thoughts. If she wasn’t so angry at Mark for trying to deny her a little fun she would have felt wretched. She did feel a small pang of self loathing, but she figured that would pass tomorrow at breakfast. She still couldn’t believe it. Simon asked her out. All the other girls would be so jealous.
Eric stood in his grandeur robes at the cliff face, looking down at the churning mass far below. The deep cave in the mountains held plenty of room for secrets. He continued to watch the show for a moment and listened to the cadaverous chanting that echoed across the smooth magic carved walls. Lights played across his robes and the smoky countenance of his facial glamour, like a rainbow reflecting off of dancing waters.
He turned as their powerful Leader stepped up next to him.
“You made if back safely. I am pleased.”
Eric bowed his head in servitude. “It wasn’t hard. The explosion covered my tracks and gave me time to move while the apperation signatures faded away. It was a shame that Auror Weasley pulled through, but we accomplished what we wanted.”
“Indeed. They will be after you now. You are the face we need for misdirection. With you we can lure Potter iif our current plan fails.”
“Current plan sir?”
“Worry not about the details, just rest assured if it works the book will be ours.”
Eric nodded and looked back down the cliff face.
“The army has grow impressively. How soon till we can move?”
“We have the numbers now, but we will still need more. We need enough to account for anything Potter might throw at them. From his history he has proven remarkably resourceful. We only have one chance at this. If we fail then we will be set back years. I want four times the numbers here.”
“Four times! Reverence, there must be ten thousand down there. Do we have the resources for more?”
“We have enough for hundreds of thousands.”
“I’ll need to make some adjustments. I’ll no longer be able to move the product like normal.”
“We already have the product. We have everything we need.”
Eric scowled inside his silver hood. “Then what should I do now? My key position has always been as to acquire product and resources for whatever needed to be done. My influence in the council will be significantly reduce. What do you need me for then?”
“Indeed. What do I need you for?”
Eric’s eyes grew wide and he scrambled for his wand. “No! WAIT!”
Blackness, deeper than the pitted shadows around them, swallowed Eric O’Soul. A shriek rose and meshed with the rolling sounds of the screams below. The silver robes that graced his powerful form were torn away and in seconds his flesh and bones chaffed from his body to pool into a pile of ash below. A pale skeleton stood swaying for a second before falling apart and clattering to the ground. The leader tucked his wand away into the golden folds and turned towards another figure that had moved from the shadows.
“His resources and money are now yours. Close down all points and pool them into our holdings here. Contact Mr. Malfoy, extend to him a formal invitation to the council.”
“Are you sure, Reverence?”
“Positive. He will be yet another nexus in our web.”
The leader glanced back at the skeleton.
“Dispose of it.” He stepped into a tall shadow and faded away like a fog banished by a breeze. The other mercury clad wizard waved his wand and banished the gory bones over the edge.
Down below, the bones vanished into the churning mass of the Inferni. Decayed and stagnant mouths opened to reveal rotted teeth, and gorged, blackened, tongues. Milky, seeping eyes raised towards the cavern ceiling and a loud moan rose like a tide of promise.