When I rose from my bed the following Monday morning, it was with a firm resolve to take my grandfather's advice and not allow myself to be goaded into losing my temper. As I stood before my vanity brushing my hair, I told myself that no matter what was said I would remain calm and keep my words soft. I was after all the granddaughter of Albus Dumbledore and I needed to start acting like it.
Since the term had started on a Tuesday the previous week, I had entirely new students on Monday so I quickly repeated the orientation before beginning the formal lesson. We continued discussing the European cave paintings as well as the tools and charms that were used to manifest that ancient magic. We also went over the magical properties of colors as well as ingredients that could be added to paint mixtures to add certain powers to spells.
"This is similar to Potions" a girl from Ravenclaw pointed out.
Reluctantly I agreed, "Yes in many ways it is. For example, you would not want to add too much Dragon's Blood to red. While that mixure will add a great deal of energy to a painting, too much could of course cause your canvas to burst into flames....so yes, very much like Potions, it's very important to take careful measurements."
At the conclusion of the morning class, I gave them their first assignment which was to write a brief essay on how the cave painting magic had been performed and carried out. The students seemed dismayed at receiving a written assignment as their homework for a Visual Magical Arts class but I explained that to understand how the work was done now, it was important to learn how this branch of magic had been developed originally. I then assured them that they would find the following week's assignment more entertaining.
With Monday half over, I spent my lunch time in the staff room in one of the comfortable arm chairs reading the Daily Prophet. As I was sitting there sipping my coffee Professor McGonagall entered the room looked a bit frazzled.
"Is something wrong?" I asked curiously.
"Oh hello, Gwen. I'm afraid that we are suddenly without a teacher for Muggle Studies." she answered.
"Really? What happened?"
"Peeves! That's what happened! He has been terrorizing Professor Andrews since last year and today caused that poor man to take a nasty fall down the Entrance Hall stairs." Minerva answered angrily.
"Oh my goodness! Is he alright?" I asked.
"He is now. He had a few broken bones that Madam Pomfrey was able to mend but Professor Andrews said he has had enough of Peeves and just handed in his resignation." Minerva replied.
"Oh dear." I said softly.
With a sigh, she said, "Oh dear is right! Of course now we'll need to find a substitute until a permanent replacement can be found. Your grandfather is going to visit the Ministry this afternoon to see about obtaining a list of suitable candidates. Teachers for Muggle Studies are so hard to come by!"
Indeed they were. Many professors considered that class frankly too boring to teach but it was important for the students, especially those who came from magical backgrounds to learn how the non-magical community lived.
"This isn't a good way to start off the term." I commented as I rose from my chair.
"No it isn't, but we'll do the best we can." my former teacher agreed. Smiling slightly she asked, "How are you getting along, Gwen?"
"Everything is fine Professor McGonagall." I answered with a smile.
"Well good. I'm glad things are going smoothly for someone here." she replied. Heading for the door, she added, "If you'll excuse me Gwen, I have a class to get to."
"Of course. Good afternoon."
It's quite interesting to see the faculty's point of view, I thought to myself as I placed my empty cup on the coffee table.
Leaving the room, I once again almost walked into Professor Snape just as he was coming through the doorway. How was it that we were always running into each other when our classrooms were a couple of floors apart?
As usual he regarded me with his stern, dark glare that made me feel as though he resented my very existence. His black eyebrows drew together as though the sight of me filled him with annoyance.
Before he could say a word I put my hands behind my back, forced a slight smile and said, "Good afternoon, Professor Snape."
He continued to glare at me silently for a moment and then said icily, "Professor Archer."
To my surprise he withdrew from the doorway and allowed me to pass into the hallway although he kept his eyes on me the entire time as though he didn't trust me not to try to pull something when his back was turned.
Slightly amused I returned to my classroom to teach my afternoon students and was thankfully able to end Monday on a peaceful note.
The following day was the first staff meeting, which was always held on Tuesday afternoon following the final dismissal bell. After a cheerful, if uneventful day, I locked up the classroom and made my way to the faculty room where my grandfather and Professor McGonagall along with a number of the other professors were already assembled.
"Hello, Gwen." said Dumbledore as I came hesitantly through the doorway. Gesturing toward the chairs, he added, "Have a seat. We'll get started as soon as the others arrive.
Feeling excited about my first staff meeting, I sat in one of the arm chairs that was close to the front of the room. Moments later, the remainder of the teaching staff filed through the door and either sat down in chairs or stood along the walls. Gilderoy was the last to arrive and he shut the door behind him before moving to stand next to the school governor, Lucius Malfoy and Professor Flitwick.
For the first few minutes, Minerva went over reminders regarding annual school events that were coming up that week including tryouts for each House's Quidditch team. The stern looking professor also mentioned some problems with some suits of armor on the fourth floor that had begun uttering obscenities at anyone who walked by due to an enchantment that a student had placed on them.
Finally, my grandfather stepped up to the podium and said gravely, "As many of you know by now, Professor Andrews has handed in his resignation so we are currently without a teacher for Muggle Studies. We will have a substitute who will be arriving Monday and will hopefully be able to stay until we find a permanent replacement. For the remainder of this week I will need to ask some of you to substitute for the Muggle Studies class on days when you have a free period."
Dumbledore's eyes turned towards me at the end of that sentence. Since I had some free hours on Thursdays and Fridays I would likely be asked to fill in, not that I would be able to really teach the students very much on that particular subject.
After a pause, my grandfather continued, "The Ministry is currently going over a list of possible candidates and we will begin the interview process shortly." There was another moment of silence before he added, "We have come to the decision that the new Muggle Studies professor will in fact be someone from the Muggle community."
His statement was followed by gasps of surprise from the staff as well as an exclamation of outrage from Lucius Malfoy.
"You can't be serious! A Muggle? Here?" he roared from the back of the room.
"You have a problem with this decision, Lucius?" asked Dumbledore as he rested his eyes on the blond wizard.
"Yes I have a problem!" Lucius retorted. Tightening his grip on his cane, he continued, "It's bad enough that you allow Mud-....Muggle-born students to attend...but a Muggle teacher as well! You've gone to far!"
"Why do you say that? Who would know more about how the Muggles live than one who has lived their lives without magic?" my grandfather responded softly.
"Personally, I don't understand why that course is a part of the curriculum at all! Why should we concern ourselves with how Muggles go about their insignificant lives?" said Lucius, his eyes blazing.
To my surprise, my grandfather smiled at Lucius and said in a quiet, but firm voice, "A very knowledgeable witch once said that it's best to keep your words soft and sweet, lest someday you have to eat them. You would do well to heed that advice, Lucius."
I smiled to myself for it had been my own mother who had made that statement from time to time. Dumbledore's eyes again turned towards me for a moment before he continued with the meeting.
The Headmaster's gaze moved around the room as he explained, "Once a suitable professor is hired, we will need to assign one of you as a guardian, at least for the duration of the first term, to help our new colleague adjust to his or her surroundings."
"So the Muggle is going to need someone to play nursemaid to it!" Lucius sneered.
"It?" asked my grandfather as he again turned his eyes towards the blond, outraged wizard. With a very firm, mildly angry tone Dumbledore continued, "That sort of prejudice is the very reason we have decided to search for a Muggle teacher. The students need to see that those from the non-magical community are not really so different from us!"
Lucius said nothing more for the remainder of the hour but I could tell from his sour expression that he was far from accepting the Ministry's decision regarding the new Muggle Studies professor. Minerva concluded the meeting saying she would be in touch with a few of us the following day about substituting for Professor Andrews' class for the rest of the week.
As I gathered my belongings and left the staff room I thought about Lucius's outburst and couldn't help but feel sorry for the yet unknown Muggle professor who would soon be joining our staff.
The day after the staff meeting I was not surprised when a note from Minerva was delivered to my classroom asking me to stop by the faculty room at the end of the school day. Figuring that it was regarding the need of substitutes for the Muggle Studies course, I made my way to the meeting immediately following the final dismissal bell.
A few other teachers were already assembled at a long table that had been moved to the center of the room. As I came through the doorway I abruptly came face to face with Gilderoy Lockhart.
"Professor Archer! There you are are! You know, if I didn't know better I would begin to think that you have been hiding from me! Didn't I tell you that you needn't be shy around me?" he exclaimed.
Forcing a smile I answered, "Yes as a matter of fact you did, Professor Lockhart."
Chuckling, Gilderoy winked as he said, "I know, I know. It's still so hard to believe."
Before anything else could be said I was rescued by my grandfather who at that moment got up from the table.
"There you are, Gwen." he said as he put his hand on my shoulder. With a smile, he added, "Please have a seat."
He directed me to a chair that, much to my dismay, was directly across the table from Snape, who was sitting there with his arms crossed and glaring at me. As I sat in the chair, I couldn't help but notice that his black eyes never blinked as he blatantly kept them fixed on mine.
"Professor Snape." I greeted him coldly.
"Professor Archer." he replied in an icy voice.
For a few minutes nothing more was said as I crossed my arms and silently returned Snape's glare with my own. Somewhere in the background I was slightly aware of Minerva and Dumbledore thanking Gilderoy for being able to substitute for Muggle Studies on Thursday. It seemed to take quite a while for him to be convinced to teach from the regular textbook instead of referring to one of his own. Throughout all of this, Snape and I continued to silently glare into each others eyes, each refusing to back down.
At long last, Gilderoy left the room and Minerva took a seat at the head of the table. She made some quick notes on a roll of parchment that I assumed was the list of teachers that would be taking Muggle Studies for the rest of the week.
Turning her attention to me, Minerva said, "Alright, Gwen.....Gwen?....Gwen!"
"Hmm...What?" I tore my eyes from Snape's and looked at my former Head of House. "Oh yes!"
Looking as though she were trying not to smile, Minerva asked, "Would it be possible for you to teach the Muggle Studies class at two o'clock, Friday afternoon?"
"Yes, I would be happy to. Anything I can do to help." I answered sweetly as I turned my eyes back towards Snape who was still silently glowering at me across the table.
Minerva glanced once at Snape and then back at me as she replied, "Very good. We're covered now for the rest of the week. Thank you, Gwendolyn."
"You're more than welcome, Professor McGonagall." I said, still defiantly keeping my eyes on Snape.
My grandfather came to the side of the table and said cheerfully, "Perhaps now we should all go together to the Great Hall for supper."
Minerva looked up at him puzzled as she asked, "It's a little early for supper isn't it?"
"Perhaps, but later this evening we could sit down for dessert or a drink together." He answered. Smiling he turned to Snape and I as our silent glowering continued and said, "Does that sounds alright to the two of you?"
"I think that's a wonderful idea." I answered, never once moving my angry gaze for Snape.
"How about you, Severus?" asked my grandfather.
"Of course, Headmaster." Snape answered coldly his eyes still glued to mine.
"The perhaps we should go now then." said Dumbledore merrily as Minerva rose from her chair. She was still looking back and forth warily between the black haired wizard and me.
Even as we rose from our chairs, the battle of wills continued between Snape and myself and eye contact was not broken until we were all in the corridor and walking toward the Great Hall. Along the way, my grandfather suddenly had something very important to tell Minerva and had her walking next to him, forcing me to walk side by side with Snape. Every few steps, I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye and each time caught him doing the same as he continued to glare scornfully at me.
Well, I thought angrily, if he thinks he can intimidate me that way he is sadly mistaken.
Instead of sitting at the usual staff table, my grandfather directed us to a small room that was located at the back of the Great Hall where a table for four was set up and waiting for us. Dumbledore quickly directed us to our chairs. He and Minerva sat on one side while Snape and I sat on the other.
At that point, I was seriously wondering what my grandfather was up to. Was he trying to force us to get along? If so, his plan wasn't working. Even though Snape and I were seated side by side, we still managed to give each other angry, silent glares throughout the entire meal.
After taking a sip from his goblet of wine, my grandfather smiled, "This is nice. I've been wanting us to have a quiet meal together since Gwen arrived."
Minerva replied, "I have to admit, it's nice to have a meal now and then without all the noise in the background." After taking a swallow from her goblet she added, "This wine is excellent."
"It is, isn't it? I've been saving this for a special occasion and what can be more special than welcoming my granddaughter to the staff?" asked Dumbledore cheerfully.
"Of course we can't have anything less than the best for the Lady Gwendolyn." said Snape coldly.
No longer caring about be subtle, I blatantly turned and glared at Snape who was also no longer making any secret of scowling at me. Minerva was looking nervously across the table at us.
"Ah, dessert!" exclaimed Dumbledore happily as plates with raspberry tort appeared where our supper plates had been earlier in the evening. Smiling across the table he asked, "Has everything been going well for your class, Gwen?"
"Very well." I answered as the scowling war with Snape continued. Keeping my gaze fixed on the Potions Master, I added, "I have no complaints at all about my class!"
Snape's black eyebrows drew together making him look as though he were silently wishing for me to burst into flames.
Nodding, Dumbledore said, "Good. I wanted to make sure that we didn't miss anything when preparing your supplies."
"Yes. It's very important that Professor Archer has everything that she believes she needs." Snape whispered.
"Right you are, Severus." replied Dumbledore, seemingly oblivious to the angry glaring that was going on directly across the table.
Minerva on the other hand, had frozen with her fork halfway to her mouth and looked as though she thought at any moment Snape and I would withdraw our wands and start hexing each other.
"This was nice. In fact the four of us should have a quiet supper again soon." Dumbledore commented as we finished dessert.
No longer trusting myself to keep the friction to angry glaring, I smiled at my grandfather and said, "This really was a lovely evening Grandfather, but if you'll excuse me, I'm feeling a little tired so I believe I will retire for the night."
"So soon?" asked Dumbledore looking disappointed. With a slight smile, he added, "Well, of course dear. Sweet dreams."
"Thank you." I replied as we all rose from our chairs. Smiling across the table, I said cheerfully, "Good night Grandfather, Professor McGonagall."
Turning to the wizard at my side I scowled, "Professor Snape."
"Professor Archer." he hissed as he glared down his hooked nose at me.
Leaving the hall, I was annoyed with myself for being the first to leave but I thought it was better to do that than end up getting into yet another argument. The week was now over halfway finished and I was determined to get to the weekend without allowing Snape to goad me into another outburst.
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