The classroom was almost completely empty, save the exhausted-looking man slumped over at the teacher's desk. With a groan, Sirius Black ran his fingers through his dark hair and collapsed onto the desktop, letting his eyes close and his head rest on the gargantuan pile of essays he was supposed to be grading. He had been up most of the night simply because of nervous energy-- he had not been able to sleep until three o' clock a.m. He slowly let his breathing relax, and he probably would have fallen asleep if the door had not opened and then slammed shut. "Padfoot, you're beginning to worry me," a voice said, and Sirius knew that it was Remus. "Oi, Moony," Sirius mumbled. "And why do I have the honor of your concern?" "I think being back in Hogwarts has resulted in you regressing to your childhood years. . . you know, when you managed to fall asleep in less than five minutes during class." "It's a good skill," Sirius yawned, struggling to sit up. His head felt as though it weighed ten thousand pounds. "What class do we have next?" "O.W.L. students," Remus replied. "We're working on offensive hexes today." "Oh, that'll wake me up," Sirius commented, stretching in his chair. He cast a disdainful eye down at the essays in front of him. "Remus, answer me a question. . . was our grammar this incredibly pathetic in Third year?" he asked, handing his friend a particularly terrible essay on boggarts. Remus quickly read through it, trying to keep his face straight. "Ah, well, let's read some of this aloud, maybe it'll make more sense: 'Tooday I were walking with a bunch of peoples to find a boggart. a boggart is a mean creeture that scares you. you should have had a large bunch of peoples their to help you fight it.' I must say, I love these spelling mistakes." "I mean, Merlin," Sirius exclaimed, "I knew how to capitalize when I was in--" "Sixth year? Yes, Sirius that was impressive when you finally learned how." "Shut up," Sirius said, grinning. "I, on the other hand, could capitalize from the moment I learned how to speak," Remus said loftily. "But I was always willing to help those less fortunate than myself." Sirius held up his wand threateningly. "Moony, don't make me shove this--" Mercifully, the bell rang, and there was a stampede of students in the hall. Laughing, Remus opened the door and then rejoined his friend at the teacher's desk. The students came in, laughing, gossiping, talking in low voices. They all greeted the teachers enthusiastically; Defense Against the Dark Arts had become most everyone's favorite class once more. Sirius grinned at Harry, Ron and Hermione as they walked in, and the three waved back at him. "All right, everyone, settle down," Remus called. The students separated from their tight little cliques and sat down at their respective desks, looking up at Sirius and Remus expectantly. "Today," Remus said, "We're going to be pairing up and working on offensive hexes. Have you all been researching some various spells?" There was a murmur of acknowledgment. "All right, then. . . follow us, if you please." As Remus opened the door, he could hear the distinct mutters of "where are we going?", but only smiled and pointed out into the hallway. He glanced over at the teacher's desk. "Professor Black, get your lazy butt up here and assist me in teaching this lesson!" The students laughed as Sirius groaned and stumbled towards the doorway, still looking thoroughly exhausted. Ron grinned. "You look knackered, Sirius." "Aren't I," Sirius mumbled, rubbing his eyes with one hand. "I'm going to skip dinner and sleep, I don't care what Cassie says." Harry could not help but notice a gaggle of girls, with Parvati and Lavender in the lead, walking close to Sirius. "Um, Professor?" Parvati asked breathlessly. "I wasn't quite sure how to do this one hex, it was called the, um, what was it, Lavender?" "The one where you cause your enemy to collapse," Lavender put in. "You know, it makes it seem as though they have no bones at all?" "I know how that feels," Harry muttered, remembering all too well when Professor Lockhart had removed the bones in his right arm during his second year. He grinned as Sirius began explaining the hex, seemingly unaware that the girls were not listening to a word he said but merely gazing dreamily at him. Hermione rolled her eyes as the class ascended one of the school's many staircases. "And what about that other charm, Professor, where you cause temporary blindness?" Parvati asked. Sirius, finally catching on, cast Hermione a sly look. "Why don't you ask Hermione?" he said casually. "She knows the charm very well." The girls all looked at each other. "Um, well, she tried to explain it to us," Parvati said vaguely, "and I always understand it so well when you explain it--" "I'm sure you do, Parvati," Hermione said quietly, smiling evilly. Sirius looked very happy at all of the questions, and Harry found that if he thought about it, he could easily see Sirius as his teenaged self, receiving countless female attentions. Remus brought them all back to earth, shaking his head in amusement. He was walking back and forth in front of a bit of the wall, and Harry suddenly realized where they were. "Everyone in here, please," he said as a door appeared out of nowhere. Some of the class burst forth in excited and confused muttering, but Harry and his D.A. members knew exactly what the room was-- it was the Room of Requirement. The class stepped inside and found themselves in a large, grand hall with a dueling platform in the middle. "Professor Lupin and I felt that we were destroying too many desks when we dueled in the classroom," Sirius said, and the students laughed. "So we figured we'd try it in here. Not that you're supposed to know this, but Professor Lupin and I hid in here many times when we got in trouble during school." There was more laughter. "What sort of trouble?" Seamus Finnigan asked curiously. Lupin gave Sirius a "Why on EARTH did you bring this up?" look, but sighed. "Namely when we got caught. . . um. . . bothering. . . other students." "SLYTHERINS!" the class yelled, roaring with laughter. Sirius grinned and Remus, still trying to remain professional, shouted above the din, "PAIR UP, PLEASE!" There was an odd number, so Harry left Ron to work with Hermione while he went to work with Sirius. Remus strolled up to the dueling platform and turned back to the students. "Offensive hexes take less mental control than defensive spells. Nevertheless, you must always maintain an appropriate level of concentration when attempting to use them. Do not hesitate or think when you attack, simply do it. If you do not act fluidly, that will allow your opponent time to work against you. Keep that in mind as you practice." Remus then sent them off to work. There were immediately sparks as spells tore through the air. Harry's D.A. students were already severely punishing the regular students, and Harry beamed proudly at them. "You've done a good job," Sirius said, smiling. "Thanks," Harry replied. At that moment, Ron had managed to successfully hex Hermione, but as he shouted in glee and pumped his arms into the air, she counter-attacked. "Make sure not to get carried away!" Remus yelled, his eyes wide as Ron staggered about, his entire head ballooning to gargantuan proportions-- Hermione had hit him with a Swelling Charm. Harry laughed and then turned back to Sirius. "All right, then," Sirius said, pulling out his wand, "Let's see what you've got, Harry." Harry was already prepared. "EXPELLIARMUS!" he bellowed, pointing his wand at his godfather. Sirius dodged and then yelled, "TARANTELLA!" Harry was a second too slow in ducking and ended up in a mad tap-dance. He snapped, "Finite Incantato!" and his legs were stilled. He twisted as Sirius sent another hex flying his way, and then shouted, "KORVIAS!" Sirius's eyes went wide, and his hands went out in front of him. "Where did everything go?" he asked, sounding slightly panicky. "Everything's black!" Harry grinned at Parvati. "Thanks!" he said. Parvati, who had not intended for her pre-class questions to be used in a duel, frowned worriedly. Sirius was still stumbling about like a blind man. Then, he finished the spell himself and glared at Harry, who was already back in dueling position. "You could have finished me off then," he said. "And end the fun?" Harry asked incredulously. "Never!" Sirius laughed and whipped up his wand, but Harry shouted "IMPEDIMENTA!" and Sirius's wand movements became exaggeratedly slow. By this time, the other students had stopped dueling and were watching Harry and Sirius in awe. "Dirty--trick--Potter," Sirius said through gritted teeth. He narrowed his eyes. "MELTIADEN!" Harry's wand clattered to the floor as his limbs flopped uselessly as he sank to his knees. Sirius loomed over him, grinning, and then Harry grabbed his wand in his teeth and hissed, "Rictusiempra!" jerking his head in what he thought was the wand movement. Sirius's legs flew out from underneath him and he landed hard on the stone floor. The students gasped, but Sirius and Harry started laughing quietly at the same time. Sirius pointed his wand at Harry and said, "Finite Incantato," and Harry was able to move. He shakily sat up, looking at his godfather. Sirius sat up slowly, rubbing his back where he had fallen. Harry was surprised when Sirius got to his feet. "Shall we resume?" he said, looking pointedly at Harry. "What? Resume?" "Resume," Sirius said. "Verb. The act of continuing a prior engagement." The class burst into laughter, and Harry grinned. They both assumed a fighting stance, and Sirius immediately shouted, "TORNODREIAN!" The result of this spell was immediate: Harry felt himself spinning faster and faster, only glimpsing Sirius as he revolved quickly, feeling sick to his stomach. However, he raised his wand, fighting against the forces of gravity-- if he planned it right, he could just manage-- "VERAVERTO!" he yelled, wondering how he was not throwing up as he did so. He said the first spell that came to mind, but as he watched, he realized that the spell did not hit his godfather as intended, but Ron. And, as Ron transformed into a water goblet before his very eyes, he realized that it was a Transfiguration spell. Everyone started laughing even harder than before, and Remus transformed Ron back into his normal self. "Thanks a lot, Harry!" he yelled, grinning. But Harry could not answer, he was too busy focusing on not vomiting. Sirius ended the spell, and Harry bellowed, "FALADRIAN!" This was a newly-learned spell he had come across in teaching the D.A. It supposedly mentally transported you to a state of vertigo, and you could not tell up from down, left from right. Sirius's arm faltered as he clutched his head in one hand, one eye twitching as he swayed on his feet. Remus watched, intense and intrigued. Sirius stumbled a few steps, almost sinking to his knees, but then whipped his head up and roared, "WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!" and Harry shot up into the air. The students' eyes were wide. Sirius shook off the effects of the spell, his wand held in place to keep Harry poised in mid-air. "Good job, Harry," he said, smiling. He slowly let him down to the floor, and Harry stared at him, breathing hard. "You too," Harry said. The class burst into applause and Remus stepped forward. "Now we know. . ." "Know what?" Sirius asked. "If we want anybody else to do the lesson, we cannot pair the two of you together or everyone will just end up watching you." The students smiled as Remus said this. The bell rang in the corridor, and the students scrambled to collect their things. "Take a break from homework!" Sirius called. "I don't think I can stand grading any more essays." Grinning and talking excitedly, the students filed out to go to dinner. Harry, Ron and Hermione stayed behind to chat. "That was an amazing duel," Remus said, and Sirius nodded in agreement. "You had me on my toes, Harry," he said proudly. "That was incredible." "Oh, that was so fun to watch," Hermione said. "Yeah, mate, even when you managed to turn me into a water glass," Ron said, smirking. Harry laughed. "Sorry about that. Sirius, if that spell had hit you, the duel would have been mine." "Yes, probably," Sirius said. "But it wasn't. So there." "How mature," Harry sniggered. He looked at his friends. "We should probably get to dinner," he said. "We'll see you later, then?" "Yeah," Sirius said. "Well, actually, you might see Remus later. I'll be unconscious on the floor of my room, most likely." Everyone laughed, and the trio picked up their school bags. However, as they did so, Ron froze and stared straight ahead. "Hey, Ron, what's wrong?" Harry asked, still smiling. "See a spider?" But Ron did not answer, and Harry frowned. Sirius and Remus looked over, as did Hermione. Ron's lips were moving rapidly, but making no sound. "Ron?" Remus asked, confused. Ron's voice was slowly becoming audible. "--I try and I try but nothing is good enough for that man, blasted Malfoy, making me do his dirty work--" With a start, Harry remembered that Ron had been talking in his sleep the night before and kicked himself for not remembering to mention it. However, as he watched his best friend, he slowly realized that Ron had not been talking in his sleep, not at all. "--And now I must see what the whelp is up to, why can't Malfoy do it himself?!--" "What is this?" Sirius asked. Ron's eyes snapped to Sirius, and they both stared at each other. Sirius's jaw slowly dropped as he saw how Ron's eyes, normally brown, now had a steely gray behind them. Ron whipped up his wand. "CRUCIO!" he roared, and Sirius fell to the floor, screaming in pain. As he lay there, writhing and twitching, Remus strode over and was about to yell "EXPELLIARMUS!" but Ron hit him with the Cruciatus Curse as well, and had whirled around to face Harry, his wand jabbed painfully under his friend's chin. Remus was on his knees, panting, and Sirius was lying still. Hermione was against the wall, her hands covering her mouth, her eyes wide and horrified. "And now I must kill the whelp," Ron whispered.
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