Author's Note: Sorry that it has been some time since I updated this. I was busy with other things in my life. In other news, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a great movie and worthy addition to the Harry Potter universe. I loved the interaction between the characters and everything else in the film. If you have not seen it, I strongly encourage you to do so.
With December came the Christmas holidays and the Hufflepuff Nine prepared to return to their respective homes for it. Sirius decided to throw a New Year's Eve party during that time and made sure that the entire group, plus their families, were invited to it. The only other guests invited were Luna and her father and the only relatives that Sirius was on speaking terms with, Andromeda and Ted Tonks and their daughter Nymphadora, who was in training to be an Auror. The latter made it clear that she preferred to go by her surname, though she was okay with her father and Sirius calling her 'Dora'. When Ernie asked why Tonks didn't go by her middle name, she made a face and said flatly, "Because it's just as bad as Nymphadora."
Sirius looked over at his cousin. "What were you thinking when you gave Dora the middle name of 'Vulpecula' anyway, Andromeda? You broke away from the family by marrying Ted, so there was no need for you to carry on the family tradition of naming after stars. I'm certainly never doing that, if I ever have a kid."
"Actually, it was Ted who suggested that we follow the tradition," Andromeda answered.
"But I wasn't expecting you to pick a star like 'Vulpecula'!" Ted protested. "I thought you would pick something like Arista or Carina."
"See, Mum, why couldn't you have picked those stars?" Tonks demanded. "Arista and Carina aren't bad-sounding names, and I wouldn't have minded going by them. But no, you had to saddle me with horrible first and middle names."
"At least your name isn't as hard to pronounce the way Welsh names tend to be, at least among non-Welsh speaking people," Ria pointed out. "And my parents, instead of using the slightly more modern and prettier-sounding 'Rhiannon', chose to give me the old Celtic form of it, 'Rigantona', as my middle name. Even when they told me that the name meant 'great queen', I was still unhappy with it."
"I think the wizarding world has a habit of using names that aren't that great, or at least would be considered weird or old-fashioned in the Muggle world," Remus said thoughtfully. "Anyway, Tonks, at least your first name can be shortened into 'Dora'. James's dad had the first name of Fleamont, after his paternal grandmother's maiden name, since she didn't want the name to die out. He used to tell us Marauders that his name was the reason why he was so good at duelling, since he got into a lot of fights at Hogwarts over teasing of his name."
That led to several of the other adults telling stories of themselves or family members with first or middle names that could be considered embarrassing. Even Justin's father contributed a story about how his family had traditionally named one son per generation Shirley. Originally it had been a male name, but slowly over time it became gender neutral until the point that it was more commonly a female name. Luckily for Mr. Finch-Fletchley, he had been given Shirley as a middle name, so he'd avoided teasing of it back during his school days, and he had put an end to the tradition when Justin was born, not using it for either first or middle name.
The school term resumed after the holidays. Professor Lockhart's class was still as pointless as ever and the Hufflepuff Nine wondered if his end-of-year exam would end up being just as stupid as his 'little quiz' from the first day of term. The rest of the classes were fine, except for History of Magic, where Professor Binns continued to be boring.
Quidditch practice started up again and Harry was busy with that in addition to his schoolwork. Hufflepuff won their matches against Gryffindor and Slytherin, mostly thanks to Harry catching the Snitch, at least for the one against Gryffindor, since the Lions been ahead by fifty points by the time of the Snitch capture. Once again, Hermione and Ernie became extremely worried over the end-of-year exams after the final Quidditch match and dragged the rest of the Hufflepuff Nine into studying for them. Even when Lillian pointed out (again) that Hermione didn't need to worry since she was so advanced and the best student overall in their year and that Ernie wasn't that far behind, the two dismissed that and insisted that they still needed to study.
"There's nothing you can say or do that'll stop them, Lil," Ron sighed. "But if they're like this now, imagine how they'll be when we're in fifth year and it's the lead-up to the OWLs." The other shuddered or made faces, other than Hannah, who began looking alarmed.
"Calm down, Hannah," said Neville. "It's still three years away, and I'm sure we'll do fine on our OWLs. We've never failed a test before, unless you want to count Lockhart's so-called test at the beginning of the school year, and all of us are at least decent students."
When exam time came, the Defense exam ended up being administered by Professor Dumbledore, who just had them list all the defensive spells they knew of and to explain what each spell did. When Susan asked Professor Sprout about this, the Hufflepuff Head explained, "The other Heads and I asked Professor Lockhart to submit copies of his exams for approval. They were horrid, focusing primarily about himself, with a few bits of things from his books. We scrapped those and with Professor Dumbledore, came up with the one that was used, other than the OWL and NEWT students, since theirs are administered by the Ministry."
When Susan mentioned this to her aunt, this led to an investigation into Lockhart. By the time term ended, it was revealed that he was fraud, having tracked down the witches and wizards that actually did the deeds in his books, questioning them, and then Obliviating them immediately after. Rita Skeeter took great delight in writing articles that tore Lockhart's reputation into shreds for the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly. Meanwhile, this resulted in him being sacked as the Defense teacher and brought to the Ministry for further questioning and most likely some kind of punishment for Obliviating magical people and committing fraud.
Sirius's response to all this was, "I knew it! He couldn't live up to the grand claims he made back when he was attending Hogwarts, so he decided to take the credit of the great deeds that other people did and became famous that way."
Mrs. Weasley was a little bit upset to discover that Lockhart was a fraud, but not as upset as she could have been, since all the things Sirius and Remus had told her about their overlapping years at Hogwarts with Lockhart earlier in the year had given her second thoughts. She got over it quickly, however.
Meanwhile, the Hufflepuff Nine settled down to enjoy their summer holidays. While they still had to do their summer homework, it only took them the first two weeks to finish the work (in Hermione's case, she was done within a week), with time in-between to relax and hang out. In the second week of July, Mr. Weasley ended up winning the Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw, consisting of seven hundred Galleons. He decided to spend the money on the whole family visiting Bill in Egypt.
Both Sirius, Amelia Bones, and the Longbottoms thought it would be a great idea for Harry, Susan, and Neville to experience Egypt as well, so they paid the money for the three to join the Weasleys on the trip, with Sirius and Alice Longbottom coming along. Hermione would have joined them, except her parents had already made plans for the family to visit France. Justin's family was doing the same, and Hermione and Justin planned to seek out and learn more about the French wizarding world while they were there.
The next couple days were a flurry of packing for the Egypt trip on the part of the Weasleys, Harry, Susan, and Neville, and on Monday morning in the third week of July, everyone going to Egypt showed up at the Ministry with their luggage to take the international Portket to Egypt.