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Chapter 15: Professor Tonks

When Harry woke up the next day, he couldn’t help but smile when he looked at Ginny, who was still asleep in his arms with a peaceful look on her face. He looked at her for a few minutes until she too slowly started moving and opened her eyes. She noticed Harry looking at her and smiled.

“I could get used to this.”

Harry laughed. “Me too. But I’ll pay for it when Ron finds out I didn’t come upstairs last night.”

As he said that, the door that led to the girls dormitories opened and Hermione entered the common room, fully clothed with her Prefect badge pinned on the front of her robes.

She looked at the couple surprised. “Are you already up?” When they didn’t reply, she observed their wrinkled robes and sighed. “You didn’t go upstairs at all last night, did you?” Ginny gave her a guilty smile. “You know that’s not allowed! I’m a Prefect now, you can’t keep going around breaking all the rules and expect me to do nothing about it.”

Harry grinned at her. “You’re not going to give us a detention on our first day back, are you now Hermione?”

She glared at him. “Now, get upstairs and get dressed. You can’t be late for class on your first day.” She walked towards the portrait hole. Before she left the common room, she turned around and said: “You didn’t.. You know?”

“No!”, Ginny said outraged. “What do you take us for?”

“Well I just wanted to make sure. You know how Ron will take this”, she said to Harry. “You better hope he didn’t notice anything.”

Harry and Ginny went to their respective dormitories to change clothes. When Harry entered the room of the fifth year boys, he saw that Ron was still snoring loudly. Neville was the only one who was already awake. He had already put on his school robes and was carefully pinning his Prefect badge on his chest when Harry walked in.

“Where were you last night?”, Neville asked. Harry put a finger on his lips and pointed to Ron. Neville nodded understandingly.

When Ron finally woke up it became clear that he was oblivious of the fact Harry hadn’t slept in his bed that night. Harry had closed the drapes of his four-poster so Ron wouldn’t notice his bed had not been slept in. Then he dragged his best friend along to go have breakfast with him and Ginny.

They sat down at the Gryffindor table, next to Fred and George and Lee Jordan. After peering down the table they noticed Hermione wasn’t there. They didn’t have time to wonder too much about it as they were joined by a tall, black seventh year girl.

“At your service, Captain!”, Fred said.

“Oh shut it”, Angelina sighed.

Harry smiled at her. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks”, she said gracefully, giving Fred a dirty look. “I’m thinking of holding the selections Friday afternoon, after classes. We’ll need a new Keeper. It won’t be easy to find someone as good as Oliver though.”

Harry nodded. Oliver Wood had been their Captain and Keeper for the first three years Harry had been part of the team. He had been obsessed with Quidditch, almost maniacal, but he had been an excellent Keeper. Harry knew Oliver was now playing in the second team of Pullover United, hoping to make it as a professional Quidditch player.

Towards the end of breakfast, Hermione finally showed up in the Great Hall.

“Where on earth have you been?”, Ginny asked.

“I er, I had an appointment with Professor Dumbledore.”

“Dumbledore?”, Ron asked. “What for?”

Harry looked at Hermione anxiously. “You’re not getting another Time Turner, are you, Hermione? I don’t think we can survive another year of that.”

Hermione gave him a small smile. “No, skipped the habit. Actually I wanted to propose something to him, but I’ll talk to you about it, tonight.” She quickly ate a little breakfast, before the food would disappear.

When breakfast was over, Professor McGonagall appeared and handed them their schedules. Harry groaned when he saw it. They would be starting with two of his least favourite subjects: History of Magic and Potions. The afternoon looked much better with Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid (although they didn’t know which creatures he would have up his sleeve for them), followed by Defense Against the Dark Arts. “Guess we won’t have to wait long to see Tonks.”, Harry mumbled.

Hermione nodded. “I’m really looking forward to it. And she’s an Auror! We’ll finally have a decent Defence teacher.”

Harry and Ron followed Hermione unwillingly towards the History of Magic classroom. Professor Binns had never been able to intrigue them with his boring lectures and this year was no different. Harry spent the class looking at every bird that passed the window and Ron was nodding off in his chair. Hermione kept giving them irritated glances, but didn’t say anything. After the class, she sighed and said: “You could at least try to pay attention. You won’t be able to borrow my notes for ever, you know.”

“Why not?”, Harry and Ron asked together, shocked.

“Well, once we’re out of school you won’t be able to rely on me for everything!”

“Why would we need this when we’re out of school? We’re going to be Aurors”, Ron said. “Why would we care about History of Magic?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, but didn’t elaborate on the subject while the trio descended the stairs on their way to Potions.

Harry wasn’t looking forward too much to the class in the dungeon. Potions wouldn’t be such a bad subject for him if it was taught by someone else, but Snape had hated his guts since the moment he set foot in Hogwarts. Harry never really knew why, although he had heard from Sirius and Professor Lupin that Snape and his father had been tremendous enemies. It wasn’t the worst Potions lesson he had, despite the fact that Snape took 20 points from Gryffindor (10 for laughing and 10 for looking at him cheekily) and Malfoy ‘accidentally’ spilled a gallon of armadillo bile over his robes.

Despite the fact he had to run all the way up to Gryffindor Tower to change his robes and therefore he only had time for a quick lunch, Harry felt extremely glad that horrid morning was over. After lunch they headed for Hagrid’s hut on the school grounds, discussing what Hagrid would have planned for them this year.

“As long as he has slaughtered those bloody Skrewts, it can’t be too bad”, Ron said. Harry and Hermione fervently agreed.

When they arrived they greeted Hagrid happily. Hagrid seemed very excited about the lesson, excitement that was normally reserved for Blast-Ended Skrewts and baby dragons. Harry started to feel a little anxious, especially when Hagrid went inside his house and came out with something that looked like half a cow.

“Ah Potter”, a voice sneered from behind them. “Still in the company of the vermin of wizarding society I see.” The Slytherins had arrived and Draco Malfoy was smirking at the trio.

“Shut up, Malfoy”, Hermione sighed.

“Don’t you dare tell me what to do, you filthy Mudblood.”

Ron pulled out his wand but Harry stood in front of him. Hermione was right, Malfoy could make it really difficult for him now that he was a Prefect.

“Detention, Malfoy”, Hagrid growled. “And one hundred points from Slytherin.”

“One hundred?”, Malfoy said unbelievingly, accompanied by many mutterings from the rest of the Slytherins.

“You heard the headmaster last night, Malfoy”, Hagrid said. “Such behaviour is not tolerated at Hogwarts. There is zero tolerance from now on.”

“But – “

“No buts!”, Hagrid said firmly. “I will talk to Professor Dumbledore about you later. Now if you could stop whining, we can finally begin this class.”

Harry looked at Hagrid gratefully, as they accompanied him into the Forbidden Forest. A lot of the students seemed terrified about entering the forest, despite the fact that they didn’t go very far. Harry, Ron and Hermione who had entered the forest much deeper than that were completely comfortable.

What followed was an unusually interesting lesson about Thestrals, although Neville and someone from Slytherin called Theodore Nott were the only one who could see them. When Hagrid told them how it was possible that they were the only ones to see them, Harry was glad they were invisible.

After the break, they made their way to their first Defence lesson with Tonks rather hurriedly. The classroom door stood open as they arrived, but Tonks wasn’t there yet. After about five minutes she appeared and said: “Sorry I’m a bit late. I spilled tea over my robes during break and had to go and change.”

Her confession was met by a few chuckles and Harry grinned knowingly at her. Tonks was probably the clumsiest person he knew.

“Okay well”, she restarted. “Welcome to fifth year Defence Against the Dark Arts. I am Professor Tonks as you know and I work as an Auror. I decided however to take a year-long sabbatical to help out Professor Dumbledore, who was once again in desperate need of a new teacher.”

“So you’re not staying?”, Parvati asked.

“I’m afraid not”, Tonks smiled. “I will contribute to the tradition of your previous Defence teachers, although I hope to surpass their teaching capacities. I believe apart from Professor Lupin, you haven’t had a very”, she hesitated, “adequate education in this subject.”

“You can say that again”, Dean muttered, but it was clearly audible in the silent classroom.

Tonks smiled again before she continued: “I have high expectations of this class. Professor Lupin has told me a great lot about you, and it was quite clear you were his favourite class.”

“You know Professor Lupin?”, Seamus shouted.

“He is an acquaintance”, Tonks said after hesitating briefly.

Hermione snorted. “What?”, Harry asked, but Hermione merely shook her head.

“Now back to fifth year Defence”, Tonks said after a pointed look at Hermione. “As I said, I have high hopes for this class, but I’m afraid that your discontinuous education in this subject can’t have been left without consequences. I am of course here to help you guys to pass your O.W.L.’s, but I don’t consider that as my most important task as your Defence teacher.” She paused briefly as the whole class stared at her. “You all know about the recent developments in the greater wizarding world. There is a very big chance that we will have a war at our hands in the near future. I don’t say this to make you guys scared, I say this because you have to be aware. Ignorance would be our greatest threat right now. You have to be able to defend yourselves and above all you have to be prepared at any time. I do believe the words ‘constant vigilance’ will still ring a bell with you?”

The whole class smirked as they thought of their previous Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

“Therefore the main focus this year will be duelling”, Tonks continued. “Not only one on one, but also in groups. And today I will test all of you right away.” She smiled when she saw the anxious faces looking up at her. “Don’t worry, you won’t be judged. I just need to have an idea where you’re standing.”

The rest of the lesson Tonks called two students at a time to the front to demonstrate a duel. Nobody really could do much more than disarm the other, except for Harry, Ron and Hermione who had learned a lot of curses during Harry’s preparation for the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. Hermione had stunned her opponent long before Lavender had even raised her wand. Harry and Ron’s duel took quite some time longer and it wasn’t until after a well-timed Body-Bind Curse that Harry was able to defeat his best friend.

“Very good”, Tonks said after she had revived Ron. “I see the two of you are quite advanced already, as is Hermione. Now before you go, I still want to tell you something. I know every teacher probably thinks his own subject is the most important, but I don’t think I have to point out the great importance of Defence Against the Dark Arts in this time. Therefore, merely coming to classes and making your homework won’t be enough. You will have to practice duelling on your own as much as you can. Please don’t take this lightly, for it might just save a life.” She glanced at Hermione and added: “But maybe Professor Dumbledore might have an idea for that. Class dismissed.”

When they left the classroom Harry asked Hermione: “What did she mean by that?”

Hermione merely shrugged. Harry knew his best friend knew more about it, but decided not to push it. That didn’t usually help much with Hermione, she would tell them when she wanted to.

The sixth years met up with Ginny and the twins for dinner and afterwards all of them returned to the Gryffindor common room together. When they sat down on various couches and armchairs, Hermione cleared her throat, looking quite nervous.

Ron looked at her with a raised eyebrow: “What’s up?”

“We’re finally going to find out now?”, Harry asked.

“Find out what?”, Parvati asked, looking puzzled.

“Why she had to go to Dumbledore this morning.”, Ron said.

“Maybe you should let her talk”, Harry laughed as he saw Hermione struggling to get a word in between. Something she normally didn’t have a problem with.

“Well”, Hermione said. “I talked to Dumbledore about an idea I had.” She hesitated.

“Yes…”, Ginny said impatiently.

“I thought that now that You-Know-Who is back, we will need to learn to defend ourselves.”

“Yeah, but that’s not a problem, is it?”, Ron said. “Tonks is here now. She’ll be a decent teacher, I reckon.”

“I am sure she will be”, Hermione said. “But you heard what she said. It’s not enough to just go to classes and make homework. We have to practice as much as we can. Tonks won’t have time to supervise more than the classes, she will be preparing seventh year N.E.W.T. students who want to get into Auror training after hours. So I thought we could start a group.”

“A group?”, Dean asked.

“Yes, like a study group, you know?”, Hermione explained. “Only this group would be exclusively practical Defence stuff. I asked Dumbledore what he thought about it.”

“What did he say?”, Harry asked.

Hermione hesitated before she answered him. “He thought it was a good idea over all, but I think he had another view on it when I proposed it to him. He wanted to confer with Tonks and with you before he responded.”

“With me?”, Harry asked. “What do I have to do with it? What did you say?”

“Nothing about you, Harry!”, Hermione assured him. “I merely proposed a Defense Against the Dark Arts practice group, but I think he might want you to, well…”

“To what?”

“Well”, Hermione said. She didn’t seem to understand Harry didn’t comprehend it immediately. “He might want you to lead the group.”

“Me? Why me?”

“That’s a good one”, Ron said and the rest of them laughed. “You’re probably the only student in this school that has actual experience with fighting the Dark Arts. You stopped You-Know-Who from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone. You saved Ginny’s life back in second year.”

“Yeah well”, Harry said. “I’ll have enough work with classes and homework and Quidditch practice. And Dumbledore told me he wanted to give me private lessons too. I probably won’t have time for some study group.”

Hermione looked at him a bit disappointed, but didn’t say anything for the time being. She wouldn’t force Harry to do anything he didn’t want to, but she knew she wouldn’t give up without a fight. And if Dumbledore had in mind what she thought he did, this would be considerably more than a simple study group.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” – Albert Einstein

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