CAN THIS TRAVESTY REALLY BE CALLED A TEACHER?
The day had been going so well. As much as Harry didn't like the physical gardening aspects of Herbology, he still found the theory fascinating, even if the mandrakes were ugly as hell. Transfiguration was staying around the top of his favourite lessons. But then, after lunch, they had Defence Against the Dark Arts. Or, as Harry and Hermione would come to know it as, the Hyperbaric Ego Chamber.
On the one hand, you had Lockhart, whose self-aggrandizement was breathtaking, and not in a good way. It was breathtaking in the same way as Aperture-brand neurotoxin was. On the other, you had GLaDOS, a genius computer who wasn't afraid to voice her barbed opinions about everyone else's stupidity.
As they headed to class after lunch, Harry had to also deal with some kid with a camera by the name of Creevey, who seemed in awe of Harry (and so had Ron's little sister Ginny, of course). And while Harry did have something of an ego, he wasn't actually comfortable with the fame he had as the Boy Who Lived. Damn, he hated that appellation. He allowed for one photo…and then got jeered at by Malfoy.
"I don't think getting your head cut open makes you special, myself," Draco sneered, concluding his insults.
"Oh, it depend on what bit's cut out of it. Do you know what a leucotomy is, Malfoy(1)?" Harry said with his best passive-aggressive tone (his great-aunt would be proud). On Malfoy's confused headshake, Harry asked, "A frontal lobotomy? Huh. I thought you'd be familiar with the techniques, as your retainers seem to have undergone the magical equivalent. The same goes for Professor Lockhart. Ask Professor Snape what a lobotomy is, he should be able to tell you."
Hermione's lips twitched. "Why is the Mudblood trying not to laugh?!" Malfoy demanded, only to find Harry right in his face, his expression stormy.
In a too-calm, too-quiet voice, Harry said, "Use that word to describe Hermione again, Draco Malfoy…and I will volunteer you to great-aunt GLaDOS for practical lessons. I am trying to be nice, trying to be civil, but you throw it back in my face. You are the one refusing to be civil or nice, covering up your imbecilic bigotry which has the scientific basis of zilch, nada, nothing, with the threat of siccing your father on me. I'll be blunt, Draco Malfoy, your father does not scare me. I have faced scarier things than him. If you were serious about wanting to be friends with me, then you'll be civil to Hermione. Otherwise, go away and stop bothering me."
Before Draco could sneer back in bravado, Lockhart intervened from nearby…and promptly turned it into a double photo-op, before trying to offer Harry some advice about his fame. Harry tried hard not to gag.
Hermione, at least, was willing to give Lockhart the benefit of the doubt. While she did concede the points GLaDOS and Harry made about Lockhart's exploits, she also pointed out that they had plenty of useful information. Which was true. Which was why the proof of the pudding was in the eating.
As they entered the DADA classroom, Harry thought about last night. As predicted, Luna Lovegood went into Ravenclaw, and when she began to alienate some of the other Ravenclaws with her eccentric behaviour, Harry made it very clear, as did Hermione, that she was under their protection. Hermione had been with Luna and Ginny for the trip to Hogwarts, and had argued with the girl about the creatures she spoke of, though Ginny smoothed things over. And Hermione followed Harry's lead. This seemed to bridge things between the two witches, especially when Hermione learned about the fate of Luna's mother.
Marietta Edgecomb, however, had some choice words to say about Luna, and it was only Flitwick's appearance that stopped Harry from retaliating. Harry was disappointed in Marietta, as he thought they were friends, or at least on decent terms. Cho was better inclined towards Harry, though. It was more fair to say that Marietta was Harry's friend through Cho rather than anything else. Cho Chang opted to remain neutral about Luna.
His great-aunt was standing there, looking rather stony-faced as Harry and Hermione entered, while Lockhart beamed. As soon as everyone was seated, Lockhart held up Hermione's copy of Travels with Trolls and held it up to show his portrait on the front. "Me," he began. "Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League, and five times winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award. But I don't talk about that last one. After all, I didn't get rid of the Bandon banshee by merely smiling at her."
Nobody laughed. And Harry thought, That joke physically hurt me. GLaDOS' rolling eyes suggested that she shared the same opinion.
"Now, most of you will not be familiar with my glamorous assistant, very nearly as intelligent and beautiful as I am, though I must say, her repertoire of repartee exceeds even my own! Professor Gladys Johnson of Aperture from the United States of America!"
No applause, but GLaDOS certainly gained more attention now. "Hello, and welcome to this enrichment session. Before we start, however, keep in mind that, although fun and learning are the primary goals of all DADA activities, serious injuries may occur. For your own safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from any activity that will lower your IQ, such as drinking alcoholic beverages, reading fanfiction, and casting magic. I am required to remind you that we are committed to the well-being of all participants. Cake, and grief counselling, will be available at the conclusion of the lessons. Thank you for helping us help you help us all(2)."
The silence that followed was so thick, you could spread it on bread. Hermione shot Harry a look of annoyance and fear mixed together. As much as she already knew of GLaDOS' dark sense of humour, this was beyond what she was used to.
Lockhart laughed a nervous laugh, and said, "Like I said, her sense of humour is very sophisticated. Just out of interest, will there actually be cake, Professor Johnson?"
"I did not stutter, Professor Lockhart. The cake is not a lie, contrary to popular opinion."
Lockhart nodded, before he rallied, and said, "Right! Well, I see everyone here has a complete set of my books. Thank you very much! Anyway, Professor Johnson and I thought we would start with a little quiz, but we had a mild…disagreement about what it should be about. So, we opted to use two separate quizzes. Professor Johnson, admittedly, hasn't done as comprehensive a quiz as mine, so you should be able to blaze through it like the proverbial hot knife through butter. And mine should not be anything to worry about, just something to see how well you've read them…"
Oh dear GLaDOS no. They had forty minutes to complete 54 questions on Lockhart's quiz, and 12 questions on GLaDOS'? Harry grimaced when he saw the types of questions on Lockhart's, too, so he began writing snarky answers to some of them, some in Latin and some in English. Everything sounded profound in Latin, unless it was the mangled Latin the wizards used for their spells.
For example, the answer to question 1 (Lockhart's favourite colour), he wrote down livor mortis. It literally meant 'bluish colour of death', and meant the discoloration that appeared on a corpse. Question 2 (about Lockhart's ambition), he put down, as a bit of snark, 'he has already achieved it: blinding the masses with his dazzling smile'. Question 3 was answered in the same way.
It went on in this vein, until he reached the last question, about Lockhart's birthday and his ideal gift. He wrote down the correct birthdate (he had, after all, read the books anyway, and found them moderately entertaining, and had answered the less ego-oriented ones that way), and put in, as some snark, a trepanation(3) as an emergency measure for self-image hypertrophy.
His great-aunt's test was considerably more challenging, and in a good way. She had asked, for example, a name of one of the Unforgivable Curses, the correct procedure when dealing with brief, acute Dementor exposure (chocolate, of all things, was a potent restorative after Dementor exposure! Thank you, Moony!), and to name a key skill of a Cursebreaker (Harry suspected GLaDOS put that one in for Ron to answer, given that his brother, Bill, was a Cursebreaker for Gringotts). He was smiling when he finished that one. It was challenging, and refreshingly so.
Unfortunately, it was spoiled when Lockhart collected the exam papers and marked them (well, his), and tutted. Harry knew the correct answers to most of them, he just didn't care enough to put most of the correct answers down. His great-aunt was right, the books were more glorified travelogues than DADA texts, and while they had useful information, the test questions were less about those and more about Lockhart's personal qualities…though calling them qualities was something of a stretch.
GLaDOS, however, was even more scathing…though Harry was used to it. Her tongue was sharper than monofilament razor wire, even that experimental stuff Cave Johnson had created to dice lemons for burning, and which could cut through even diamond…
"…And another thing, Mr Malfoy," GLaDOS said. "As Mr Goyle is your vat-cloned bodyguard, minion and retainer, I would like you to help instruct him on good penmanship, and the fact that fire, as much as I would like it to be, is not the solution to all problems. Neither is punching, despite what a certain Mr Duggan would believe(4). Your own responses are certainly…adequate, but keep in mind I can read hundreds of different languages, including multiple variants of Latin, so be careful what you write down as insults in the margins. Please ask your Head of House what happened to a certain Mr Pettigrew if you think you can press your luck with your admittedly impressive command of Medieval Latin."
Draco paled, even as he tried to scowl. Harry would later learn that Snape had, indeed, warned the blonde ponce about annoying GLaDOS, with graphic details of what happened to Pettigrew. Harry was already blasé about the various dubious experiments at Aperture, but knowing Pettigrew's gruesome fate was very satisfying. A shame he wasn't there in person to see it happen.
With GLaDOS having finished her dressing down of Draco Malfoy, Lockhart beamed. "Now, now, my dear colleague, perhaps it's past time that we got down to the nitty-gritty of the subject matter?"
"Well past time," GLaDOS said dryly.
"Very well!" Lockhart proclaimed dramatically. "Now, be warned! It is our job to prepare you to face the foulest creatures known to wizardkind! You may find yourself facing your worst fears in this room…"
"I doubt it, as you wouldn't let me bring in a Boggart," GLaDOS snarked.
Lockhart actually shot a glare at GLaDOS, much to Harry's surprise. Either he really was stupid, or else…nah, he was just stupid. "Now, keep in mind that no lasting harm can befall you whilst we are here. All I ask of you all is to remain calm," he concluded, as he lifted a large cage from behind the desk. "And don't scream, as it may provoke them."
Harry would have been more anxious, had he not noted his great-aunt rolling her eyes in disdain. And soon, he realised why when Lockhart dramatically whipped off the cover from the cage, to reveal the caged creatures as Cornish Pixies.
Only one thought went through Harry's mind as he looked at the electric blue creatures flatly. What.
Okay, while they weren't particularly dangerous in of themselves, they were mischievous and tricky. Dealing with them might be a bit of a task for younger students, at least en masse. Then again, he was teaching a group of Ravenclaws and Slytherins, who had studied ahead. The former because it was learning, and the latter because they were ambitious enough to learn things ahead of time…especially relating to the Dark Arts.
And then, Lockhart showed himself to be even more like Wheatley than they suspected and opened the cage door, allowing the little critters to swarm out. Utter bedlam ensued. Harry watched with amusement as Malfoy was hauled by his ears by a pair of Pixies. A few tried to attack GLaDOS, only for them to be given a Look. Harry knew that Look: it was the Look of Uncertain Death.
As the Pixies broke things and vandalised most of the classroom, Lockhart looked confused. After admonishing them to try to stop them, he decided to try a spell of his own. "Peskipiksi Pesternomi!" he yelled as he brandished his wand.
If there was such a spell (and Harry realised it was just a mangling of English instead of the mangled Latin wizards usually used: 'Pesky Pixie Pester No Me'), it had sod-all effect. Indeed, one of the Pixies took his wand, and threw it out of the window, causing Lockhart to dive under his desk. The chandelier, along with its burden of Draco Malfoy, crashed to the floor. GLaDOS sighed a long-suffering sigh, before she snapped her fingers. Suddenly, the Pixies all looked at her. She pointed to the cage. "Go from Outside to Inside, or I will make your Insides go Outside."
A few went for the window, only for GLaDOS to fire a spell at them, causing them to drop, smoke purling from their bodies as they twitched. With a series of chittering shrieks, the others all flew into the cage. GLaDOS plucked the zapped Pixies off the floor, and none too gently tossed them back into the cage, before shutting it and locking it. As the bell rang, she remarked, all too smugly, "Here endeth the lesson."
Harry knew that his great-aunt had most definitely left an impression. On the other students, on Lockhart, and on the Pixies. Harry couldn't help but notice an annoyed expression flash across Lockhart's face, before he recovered his equilibrium, and smiled. "Thank you, Professor Johnson. Well, that was most certainly a learning experience. Now, I expect those of you who didn't do very well on my pop quiz to revise my books. You never know when certain information may come in useful."
Harry met the eyes of his great-aunt, and knew he was sharing the same thought as her. Can this travesty of a man really be called a teacher? They both suspected, as they had for some time, that the answer was no…
CHAPTER 6 ANNOTATIONS:
Okay, sorry for the long wait for a new chapter, and I'm afraid it'll still be a long wait for the new chapters anyway. Frankly, I suck at writing sequels to my stories now. I like fresh and new ideas to do, not continuations of stories I've finished. I'll try to continue the sequel stories I have published, including this one, but no promises.
That being said, this chapter comes with a huge update for me. It includes the final chapter of one of my oldest fics, my Naruto fic Observations of a Wannabe Kunoichi, along with the first chapters of my 100th story, a Kingdom Hearts crossover with the Potterverse called Hollow Heroes.
1. As you might have inferred, a leucotomy is another name for a lobotomy, coming from 'leuco' or white, as it involves removing white matter from the brain…usually the frontal lobe.
2. If GLaDOS' speech sounds at all familiar, it's because it's a modified hybrid version of her speeches from Test Chamber 1 and Test Chamber 15 of the original game.
3. Yet another head surgery joke: trepanation is one of the oldest surgical procedures, by drilling a hole into the skull. In modern times, it's used to treat epidural and subdural haematomas, amongst other things.
4. Duggan was a rather…aggressive detective who teamed up with the Doctor and Romana in the excellent Doctor Who story City of Death. He had a bad habit of punching people…though this came in handy when he punched out the villain of the story in time to save humanity, leading the Doctor to say that it was the most important punch in history.