The sixth year Defense class was unusually large. It was much larger, in fact, than any of their other N.E.W.T. level classes, and this was plainly because every single sixth year member of the DA had earned an outstanding on his or her O.W.L. Much to Harry's amusement, neither Malfoy nor any of his gang was in attendance. To his disappointment, however, neither was Gwyn. She had said that Defense Against the Dark Arts was not a required class at her school, and that she'd never taken it before.
Demetria Lindell was quite different from anything anyone had expected when they thought of their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Seamus and Dean had confessed they thought the young professor was pretty and therefore concluded that she would probably be a pushover. Harry thought she looked tough and that she might start teaching them something useful. Ron thought she couldn't possibly be as boring as Umbridge. They were all wrong.
They entered the room quietly, the excited chatter of the sixth years dying into respectful silence as the young woman surveyed them over the tops of her glasses from where she stood at the front of the room. Calmly she set a leather dossier on the desk and opened it.
"This is N.E.W.T. level Defense Against the Dark Arts for sixth years. If you received anything less than Exceeds Expectations on your Defense O.W.L. you should not be here." She paused, as if expecting someone to get up and leave, but when no one did, she turned to the blackboard and began writing in a small delicate script. "My name is Professor Lindell. I was, until recently, a Scriptionist and an Unspeakable for the Ministry of Magic." Harry glanced at Ron, whose eyes were wide and impressed; he wondered what on earth a Scriptionist was. Professor Lindell was drawing a complex set of diagrams on the blackboard. She glanced down at her notes, nodded, and let go of the chalk, which continued the drawing of its own accord.
"I have been made aware of your rather spotty history in Defense," she said, dusting her hands together as she turned back to face them, "and I must say, I am utterly astonished that, with the lack of proper rudimentary education you've been given in the subject, so many of you were able to pass the test." She gingerly set aside the first sheet of parchment from her dossier and took up the second.
"Miss Abbott?" she read, peering over the top of her paper. Hannah raised her hand. "Would you please tell me some of the similarities between the shield charm and the stunning charm?" Hannah stared at the Professor, her eyes wide.
"I..." she began uncertainly. Professor Lindell continued to stare at her with a hard level gaze. Harry glanced over at Hermione and was surprised to see her eyebrows knitted and her hand by her side. "They're both charms?" Hannah blurted out desperately. Professor Lindell raised one eyebrow ever so slightly, but said nothing. She made a small mark on her paper with her quill. Ernie patted Hannah's hand and looked daggers at Professor Lindell.
"Mr. Goldstein?" Anthony's face went a shade whiter as he put up his hand hesitantly. "Do you know the Reductor Curse?" Anthony relaxed visibly as he nodded. Harry had taught them all that curse in DA meetings the previous year. "Can you please tell us," Professor Lindell continued, "why that particular curse does not require a specific wand movement to accompany it?" Anthony blanched again. Ron turned to stare open mouthed at Harry, who merely shrugged.
"I'll take that as a no," Professor Lindell said, making another tick on her paper. She continued down her list asking each of them impossibly hard questions not about performing a spell, or what it did, but about why it worked and how. Neville practically fainted when she asked him to explain the fundamental differences between dark magic and regular magic, and Parvati Patil looked like she might cry when Professor Lindell told her that dark detectors like Foe Glasses and Sneakoscopes were not based on Divination principles. None of them, with the exception of Hermione, seemed to have any idea how to answer her questions, and Hermione only barely satisfied the Professor, earning herself an “Mmm...” for her trouble.
"Mr. Potter..." Harry's stomach clenched. He raised his hand, but Professor Lindell did not look up from her paper. "Ah yes. Mr. Potter. I have heard rumors that you are at the top of your class in this subject." Harry put his hand down.
"Yes Professor," he said quietly, wondering desperately what inane thing she might ask him and running over in his mind all the spells he knew. It was almost how he felt when preparing to battle a Death Eater -- but Death Eaters had never asked him to explain how he could do the spells he could do."I have also heard that you can conjure a Patronus, is that correct?" Harry nodded.
"Yes Professor. Several of us can." Hermione gave him a small smile.
"Perhaps you would be so kind then, as to tell the class what other types of charms the Patronus Charm derives from." Harry's mouth went dry, but then he remembered what Professor Flitwick had told him in Charms.
"Illusions?" he asked cautiously. Professor Lindell looked up at last to give him an appraising stare.
"Anything else?" she asked dryly. Harry shrugged, at a loss. Professor Lindell pressed her lips together tightly. "I will give you partial credit for at least knowing that," she said, as she ticked off his name on her list.
"Well,” she said after sufficiently cowing the class, “it seems I certainly have my work cut out for me this year, if I am to give you any semblance of a chance of passing your N.E.W.T.s. We will begin at the beginning with the root of all spells. Please copy the notes from the blackboard and use them to supplement your reading of chapters one through five for the next class."
As the students began to work, they also began shooting furtively disbelieving looks at one another. Was this woman serious? Her notes were incredibly complex, going on and on about the origins of magic and the intricacies of spells, and the blackboard kept erasing itself when Harry was only half way through copying them, to start on the next bit. He hoped Hermione was faster than he was and that she would let him copy hers. Aside from the notes, he was also disgruntled with the reading assignment they'd been given. He had flipped through his text over the summer, but had immediately put it aside thinking he'd save it to read the next time he had a case of insomnia. Reading five chapters in two days was going to be no easy task.
When the lesson was finally over, everyone seemed in quite a hurry to get out of the room. Harry stuffed the pages of notes into his satchel and bolted for the door.
"Mr. Potter," Professor Lindell said, "I would like a word with you, if I may." Harry stopped, his hand already on the door. Hermione and Ron both gave him sympathetic looks as they passed. Harry turned back and stood next to the professor's desk, where she was writing furiously. She did not look up until every other student had left the room.
"Professor Dumbledore tells me you organized an illegal Defense group last year," she said bluntly. Harry nodded slowly. There was no point in denying it if Dumbledore had told her about the DA. Was he going to be punished for something he'd done before she even arrived?
"He expressed his desire for this group to continue as a proper club, and asked me if I would be willing to be your Staff Supervisor." Shocked, Harry found himself picturing her standing in the Room of Requirement forcing them to copy down even more elaborate notes, and he frowned slightly. "It is obvious from your expression that you don't want me interfering with your group, and frankly," she continued, "I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do so. I have much better things to do with my free time than play nanny to a group of students who want to hurl curses at one another." Harry scowled and started to protest, but thought better of it when Professor Lindell looked up at him. She stared at him with a somewhat sour expression on her face, and he noticed that her eyes were a steely grey.
"So," she said, laying her hands neatly across the top of her desk, "what exactly are we going to do about this?" Harry felt decidedly wrong-footed and he didn't know how to answer her. She picked up her quill and held it poised over her parchment. "Come now, you must have some ideas," she said tartly.
"Well, Professor," Harry replied nervously, "we did get on just fine last year without any, er... Staff Supervisor..." He wondered if that was really the right thing to say. He didn't like her to think that they didn't want her, but at the same time, they didn't.
"That was exactly my thought, Mr. Potter, but Professor Dumbledore was adamant that your group become a legal club, and by Hogwarts rules, all clubs must have a Staff Supervisor." She leaned forward, a glint of amusement popping unexpectedly into her grey eyes. "You don't want me there, and I don't want to be there, so why don't you just bring me a copy of your meeting schedule and a roster of everyone in the club, and we shall make that the extent of my involvement as your sponsor. Does that sound reasonable to you?" Harry nodded. It sounded more than reasonable; it sounded too good to be true. Afraid she might change her mind, he quickly turned to go.
"Mr. Potter, I also heard from the headmaster that you have been studying Occlumency with Professor Snape." Harry turned back towards her, hoping somewhat belatedly that his intense dislike of Snape would not show in his face. Professor Lindell raised her eyebrow slightly once again. "He has asked me to take over these lessons, citing personal reasons for Professor Snape's inability to continue them with you." She stared at him questioningly, obviously waiting for an explanation.
"Professor Snape and I, we... we don't really get along," Harry said finally. Professor Lindell's other eyebrow went up in an expression that might have been surprise, or even approval.
"Very well, Mr. Potter. It seems we have something in common other than an interest in Defense. I will see you on Friday morning for your first Occlumency lesson." She took up her quill and went back to her notes. Harry took this as a dismissal and bolted from the room. Hermione and Ron were waiting for him at the end of the corridor.
"What did she want?" Hermione asked anxiously.
"She's the new Staff Supervisor for the DA and she's going to be teaching me Occlumency," Harry said in one breath.
Ron groaned sympathetically. "That's rotten luck!" Harry shook his head.
"No, I don't think so. She doesn't want anything to do with the DA, so she's going to let us run it just the way we were before." Hermione looked surprised.
"But that's wonderful, Harry! We can pick up right where we left off and not worry about anyone telling us the spells are too difficult or too advanced or any of that nonsense." Harry nodded.
"And when she asked me why Snape wasn't teaching my Occlumency lessons any more, she let on that she doesn't like him any more than I do!"
"I wonder why?" Hermione said thoughtfully. Ron snorted disdainfully.
"Because he's a great slimy git, that's why!" Hermione rolled her eyes, but did not disagree. They rounded the corner and made for the entrance to the Great Hall, but before they could even pass through the doors, Harry was accosted by most of his Defense lesson.
"Oh Harry it was awful!" Parvati cried dramatically. "When are we starting up the DA again? We'll never learn anything from that hag!" Seamus pushed to the front of the group.
"She's hardly a hag," he said with a smirk, "but how are we supposed to learn any practical defense if she's just going to have us copying down diagrams all term?"
"We have to begin at once!" Ernie Macmillan threw in pompously. "Even if we have to go underground with it again!"
"Yeah Harry," Neville piped up from where he was being squashed between Terry Boot and Michael Corner, "with Voldemort back, we need all the practice we can get!" Several people shuddered at the name, and most turned to stare, somewhat shocked at Neville's boldness. Harry held up his hands.
"It's OK!" he said quickly. "We don't have to keep it a secret any more!"
"As if it still would be after all this," Hermione grumbled under her breath as she looked around at the curious stares they were eliciting from other students.
"Professor Dumbledore is making us an official club, and Professor Lindell is going to be our Staff Supervisor. But-" Harry added quickly, as several people began to protest, "she's not going to come to meetings. We just have to have a teacher listed in order to be a proper club." A murmur of general assent passed through the group.
"So when are we starting, then?" Susan Bones asked, her face a mask of anxiety. It was Hermione who answered her.
"Have you all still got your coins?" Most people nodded, although Neville had a slightly panicked look about him. "Fine. Once Harry sets a date, we'll let you know that way, same as before."
"What about new members?" Justin Finch-Fletchly asked. "My brother's just started as a first year, but I'm sure he'd want to join." Harry frowned uncertainly. If they opened the club up to more people, he didn't know if he could handle it. They already had more than twenty students. Hermione quickly shook her head.
"We'll accept new members, but only fourth years and up. The magic we're doing is too difficult for anyone younger." Harry was grateful that she could take charge of those kinds of details. Finally, the group broke up and everyone scattered to their respective tables to bolt down some lunch before their next lesson.
Just as Harry was filling his plate with corned beef sandwiches and crisps, Gwyn dropped onto the bench right next to him.
"What was that all about," she asked with a grin, "the Harry Potter fan club?" Ron laughed and Harry gave them both a dirty look.
"No!" he said hotly. "Who told you that?" Gwyn started at his reaction.
"No one! It was just a joke. Geez, lighten up, Harry." Harry sighed.
"We were just talking about the first meeting of our Defense club," Hermione said, trying to change the subject. "Everyone wanted to know when we'll be starting back up." Gwyn glanced around the room at the various members still making their way to their house tables.
"Wow, pretty popular club," she said, sounding impressed.
"Well of course it is!" Ron replied haughtily. "Everyone knows that You-Know-Who is back, and we want to be prepared." Gwyn gave him a rather incredulous look.
"Prepared for what? The way you talk, it's like you expect an all out war! I supposed you're afraid of being drafted?" Ron wrinkled his nose at her. She glanced sideways at Harry. "Come on, even if there is a war, you don't all really think that you're going to be the ones who have to fight it?" Harry felt the familiar knot of guilt and fear forming in his stomach. Ron, Hermione, and the others? Maybe not. But him...
Hermione gazed levelly at Gwyn, her expression serious and her eyes cold. "Why shouldn't we think so? Ron and I have been helping Harry fight since our first year. The Death Eaters don't care how old you are; they'll kill anyone who gets in their way. And we tend to get in their way with alarming regularity." Ron nodded sanctimoniously and Gwyn gave a little laugh. Harry frowned.
"You still don't believe that this is real, do you?" he asked angrily. Gwyn gave him an apologetic look, but didn't answer. "Well, that's just great. I'll just go and tell Cedric's parents that he's not really dead then, shall I?" Hermione and Ron dropped their gazes to their plates, but Gwyn just stared.
"It doesn't matter," Harry cut her off. Feeling very disgruntled, he grabbed his sandwich and took and overly large bite. No one said anything.
Awkwardly, Gwyn stood and made to go. "I guess I'll see you in lesson then," she said quietly before walking back to the Ravenclaw table.
"Silly bint!" Ron spat. Harry didn't know whether to agree with him or not. He took another huge bite of his sandwich to avoid having to say anything and nearly choked.
"Well, you can't really blame her, Ron," Hermione chided. "She's just reacting to what she hears at home, where Harry and V-Voldemort are a bit of a joke." Harry made a face.
"Thanks a lot," he grumbled. Hermione gave him a withering look, but decided to change the subject.
"Why didn't Professor Lindell want to come to our DA meetings?" she asked.
Harry shrugged. "I kind of got the impression that she feels a bit above it all, didn't you?" Ron nodded enthusiastically.
"High and mighty if you ask me," he agreed, taking another sandwich.
"Well maybe we should try to change her mind," Hermione continued. "She could probably teach us a lot. I mean, she's a Scriptionist, and an Occlumens, and it's obvious she knows loads of fascinating stuff about magic and the dark arts."
"It is?" Ron asked skeptically. Hermione rounded on him.
"Well of course! You were taking the notes too. I thought her theories on the origins of magic were particularly interesting." Ron stared at her in amazement.
"You mean you understood all that rubbish?" Hermione nodded slowly.
"Well, most of it anyway," she admitted, blushing slightly.
"I meant to ask," Harry said quickly, before Hermione had a chance to explain what she found so fascinating, "what's a Scriptionist?"
"A person who writes spells," Hermione said simply. Harry frowned.
"What do you mean? She just writes them down?"
Ron shook his head. "A Scriptinoist makes up new spells. From scratch. They work in the Department of Mysteries. Dad's told me it's really really hard to do." Hermione nodded.
"It's one of the most difficult things one can do with magic, creating a whole new spell from the beginning. I wonder why she left the Ministry." She looked up and suddenly Harry noticed that the Great Hall was clearing rather rapidly. "Look at the time!" Hermione exclaimed. "We're going to be late!"