Shorter than I like to make my chapters, but wanted it out before Christmas. Merry Chrismtas everyone, and thanks for still reading my stories after all these years.

#

Harry woke with a start, a Tourette's curse inspired profanity laced statement almost bursting from him out of habit.

In a split second he regained full awareness and looked around, taking in the slight rocking of the carriage and the surprised looking faces of his school friends, which was a bit of a shock since the last thing he recalled was going to bed at Privet drive just before his birthday.

Plus, they looked older. Like, a lot older.

"What the hell?" he asked. He thought about adding a few more pertinent questions but it would likely be fairly redundant as someone was sure to start filling him in soon enough.

"Oh, finally woken up have you?" said Sue in a far too casual tone. "Typical. Sleep through the whole year and then wake up on the trip home."

"What did I miss?" ask Harry stretching out as he luxuriated in the rare feeling of having finally gotten a good night's rest.

"Well the OWL examinations for starters," answered Sue in what Harry recognised as the tone she used as a prelude to an angry rant or stony silence that could last days (but that he preferred since it interrupted his resting less).

"Good," he said after a moment of contemplation. "Nobody needs that sort of stress in their life."

"You don't get it, Harry," said Han, taking up the slack as Sue started building herself up for a good yell. "You missed the exams, like didn't show up for most of them, and sat staring at the paper without writing anything for the others."

Realisation hit Harry harder than one of Hagrid's friendly punches.

"Oh no," he said, eyes wide and aghast.

"Yep," said Ern. "You failed, which means you have to repeat the whole year, and this time we won't be around because you will be with the younger class."

For a moment Harry thought he heard an excited "eeep" come from nearby and then the sound of a body falling to the floor, but he was far too distracted to think about it.

"Another year of school," he stammered, ignoring Sue as she began to rant at him about all his failures through the year. "Merlin's saggy wand bag!"

Harry woke with a start, a profanity laden curse spilling from his mouth as he struggled to sit up while fighting with the entangled blankets of his bed.

"Another bleeding nightmare," he gasped, wiping the sweat from his forehead and tossing the half empty bag of sweets he found to the other side of his small Privet drive bed room. "Why do I keep eating these things?"

Hedwig barked at him from the perch in the corner in what was quite obviously the owl equivalent of 'shut the hell up and go back to sleep', which he promptly did.

#

"Harry Potter is a Demon!" screamed Barty Crouch junior insanely from his prison cell. "His eyes glow! He is immune to death. You have to stop him! He will kill us all!"

The Dementors gathered not far away outside his prison cell, a small glowing animal that could have been a dog, except it had two tails, prowling up and down in front of them, keeping them a respectful distance away.

"Oh dear," said the Minister of magic, looking through the small window into Barty's cell. "Any news on how he escaped?"

"Most likely his mother smuggled polyjuice potion in with her the last time she visited and swapped places with him," said the jailer. "Obviously his father must have known, if not right away then soon after."

"Yes, well, we won't be getting any answers out of him until we find him," said the Minister. "Until then I suppose we shall just have to do our best to keep this quite."

"Or course, Minister," said the jailer.

He didn't really understand, though. Nor did he care. The games politicians play with their secrets and lies had nothing to do with him.

"And what about this 'Potter' he keeps yelling about?" asked one of the flunkies that always accompanied the minister where ever he went.

"Well obviously Barty Junior is delusional. Harry Potter was at Hogwarts. I saw him myself as he pulled off an amazing win. Quite a triumph that Tri-Wizard Tournament was," said the Minister, slightly tersely.

There was a sudden silence as everybody considered how to answer. The tournament had a been a total shemozzle; a public, international embarrassment.

"Best that's ever been," agreed one toady.

"Fantastic spectacle," agreed another.

"So very exciting," added another.

The jailer wisely kept his thoughts to himself.

"Yes indeed," said the Minister with a tone of satisfaction at hearing the chorus of agreement. "I think we can safely say, Harry Potter is not a demon and most certainly does not have glowing eyes. Although, it might be prudent to have someone keep closer eye on him. After all, he is a very important figure to the whole wizarding world, and we wouldn't want there to be any, er, 'issues' with him, would we?"

#

"I cannot believe you are back," said Dudley sitting across the dinner table from Harry.

It had taken Dudley a few days to get over his terror when Harry first showed up with Sirius in tow, but surprisingly he was really trying to get along, and not just because he was worried about being turned into a newt. Years of getting repeatedly whacked with the sticks each of the students at his 'elite' private school by the other students and the occasional teacher had taught Dudley a lot about how to behave nicely, when required.

His parents didn't do anywhere near as well.

"Well, we kind of had to," said Harry, digging into his meal. "My headmaster said this is about the safest place for me from, apart from school and he isn't allowed to let me live there outside of the school year after some law was passed a few decades ago due to paedophiles, or was it poltergeists? Maybe paedophile poltergeist? Something like that anyway."

Making any other arrangements would be a lot of work, and Harry really didn't see what he could possibly hope to gain from making the effort. He would have happily stayed in Diagon Alley, but Dumbledore apparently wanted him somewhere safer, without actually telling him what he was in danger from, which was a bit concerning. He still had no idea how, or why, the headmaster of his school got involved in his personal life outside of it, but it was easier to let the adults do something useful rather than sorting it out himself, or letting Sirius take care of it for that matter. Staying in a rotting, decrepit shack that was famed for the terrifying ghosts it housed was not something Harry was going to do.

Sue offered to let them stay with her, but that really seemed like it would be a lot of social interacting and being neat and polite and stuff that Harry was just not that into due to the effort involved, not to mention he wasn't sure how house trained Sirius was.

Moon Girl also somehow found out about his lack of housing and sent a letter, but Harry was not really certain what it was she was offering since it included the word 'Snorklark', which didn't sound particularly pleasant, and even worse, the word 'hiking', which was downright disturbing. There were a lot of other words in her letter that he had no idea what they meant and he was not going to look them up, just in case he was forced to think way harder than he wanted to.

"That's a real dodgy school you go to, for sure," said Dudley reaching over to take the salt shaker from his Aunt Marge's hand. "You certain they won't remember any of this?" he asked nodding towards where his parents and aunty sat frozen like statues.

"According to Sirius, they will have memories of everything being 'normal' for the whole week, if Tonky did the spells properly," answered Harry.

"I'm not sure what normal means when it comes to you lot," stated Dudley, shovelling more food into his mouth. "Good thing those little buggers of yours can cook well though. I might have to talk to them about making a few dishes better, but at least they can do a mean roast."

Testi the House-elf froze as she heard The-Great-Harry-Potter's cousin-of-unusual-size's words echo into the extra dimensional space they had added to the Muggle kitchen.

He was going to talk to them about their cooking?

For a split second, primal instincts kicked in and she felt an overwhelming desire to take the fat boy and turn him into a spicy soup using just a pair of tea spoons and a cake knife. Unfortunately that would probably upset the The-Great-Harry-Potter, and that was unacceptable.

She returned to preparing the desert, leaving Dudley completely unaware of how close to a grisly death he had just come, although his desert suddenly lost a lot of its flavour.

"Yep," agreed Harry, sitting back and rubbing his very full stomach. "I kind of feel a bit bad about leaving Sirius live in a tent in the back yard, except the damn thing is a whole house anyway. I'd go stay out there with him but I think he enjoys being alone and having a bit of privacy. I hope Ripper isn't causing any problems."

Ripper tried to squirm further back under the scant protection offered by the bushes as the terrifyingly massive black hound patrolled around the tent, possibly looking for food. Approaching the interloper in his usual manner and trying to assert dominance had failed so spectacularly that Ripper was currently reassessing his place in the universe.

So far could not see himself rising any higher than 'food' for the abomination that had taken over the area, and his tiny hype-aggressive brain was starting to understand that maybe there were alternatives when dealing with other creatures, ones that didn't need to involve violence at all.

Sirius was almost completely unaware of any of this. He had nearly eaten the small, angry dog that had suddenly jumped out at him and Harry when they arrived, mistaking it for a large rat, but luckily for Ripper he wasn't actually that hungry at the time after a nice dinner at a greasy spoon type restaurant in London.

What he really wanted was some nice juicy special mushrooms...

"Speaking of which, I've got a favour to ask, well actually it's more I want to do you a favour really," said Dudley.

Harry was of course instantly suspicious, since it was not that long ago that Dudley thought not pulling Harry's pant down before pushing him into the girl's lav at school was also 'doing Harry a favour'.

"Can I take Sirius for a walk?" the huge lad asked with way too much enthusiasm.

"What?"

"I mean with him turned into that dog, Paddy or whatever-"

"Padfoot."

"Yeah him. Can I take him down the street for a walk like a regular dog? I really want to see the look on Pier's face when I rock up to his house with that monster. He thinks his ugly mutt is so tough, wait till he sees Padfoot!"

Harry briefly wondered if Dudley had even considered that Sirius might find it demeaning. Then again, he probably had, and rightfully concluded the insane former convict would think it was a great lark. Actually, it was a pretty good idea with a lot of amusement an disaster potential.

"You'll have to ask him yourself," he said figuring it was no skin off his nose. "Just don't let him go too nuts, and don't forget he is a grown man and pretty dangerous."

"Not likely to forget that," admitted Dudley with a shudder. "Still," he grinned, "it's going to be great."

Harry grinned as well and wondered if you could make a memory orb from a Muggle, although it would probably be considered Muggle baiting, and if did, did he really care?

#

As the pink monstrosity's voice finally faded away, all around the Great hall dozens of dulled minds slowly shook off the glazed look in their eyes and came back to life.

"So basically, the Ministry is exploiting the fact Dumbledore was having issues finding a defence professor for this year to put one of their stooges in to mess things up and make everyone's life harder in some sort of power play," stated Harry, causing the rest of his Hufflepuff year-mates to stare at him in bewilderment.

"Harry, you normally sleep through anything and everything that is even the slightest bit boring," said J. "How in Merlin's bent wand did you manage to not only listen to the pink frog droning on for fifteen minutes, but actually get to the bottom of what she said?"

"Oh, I fell asleep after the first minute," admitted Harry as he heaped his plate full of his favourite foods while everyone else was either still struggling to revive their brains from the dark pit of mindlessness the speech had dropped them into or were distracted by his announcement.

"Then how did you come to that conclusion?" asked Sue, herself slightly better off having received anti-meeting training from her Aunty who had regularly been subjected to hours of meaning less dribble spouted by politicians and bureaucrats.

"Malfoy told me," said Harry. "On the train he was boasting something about his dad recommending the new professor to the Minister or some rot. I know Moody wasn't coming back in case the one-year curse got him, and I know they were looking around for someone to take the position because Sirius wanted it, but Kitty told Beardy she would quit before letting him anywhere near a bunch of teenagers, which is actually pretty reasonable considering his mental state."

"Professor McGonagall is a lot wiser than most wizards," agreed Han, whose brief encounter with Sirius at Sue's house had apparently left a bit of an impression, despite him being on his best behaviour while there.

"So, it just makes sense that Froggy up there is not here to make anything better for the rest of us," said Harry. "I mean, look at her, really look at her."

The group collectively turned to look at the newest professor sitting at the head table.

"One glance and you can see, just from the obviously magically puke enhancing effect of her shear 'pinkness', that the only thing on her mind is getting noticed in the most obnoxious way possible, and that means forcing everyone else to deal with her the way she wants or risk being subjected to more of her presence," concluded Harry.

"Bit of a stretch," said Ern. "She could just be obnoxious all on her own you know."

"And I don't think that cardigan is magical, just horrible," said Sue as she shuddered. "Really, truly horrible. Parvati looks like she might spew and I think Lavender fainted."

"That's bordering magical then," said Ern. "Nothing natural can do that to person."

"Meh," said Harry. "You never met my Aunt Marge."

#

It only took a week for the whole school to realise there was something seriously wrong in the new defence professor's head, which was quite frankly nothing particularly unusual, but this one's ridiculous 'instruction' left even the most tolerant student ready to push her out of the top window of the astronomy tower.

Even Malfoy had been heard complaining that his two bookend buddies were finding it a strain and had gotten several detentions from a single class when they were actually trying to behave.

The issues 'Pinky' caused everywhere she went over the next month upset pretty much everyone, except the caretaker, who appeared to genuinely like her, but he also liked to watch small creatures dying after spraying them with various toxic mixtures secretly obtained from student's failed potion attempts, so it was not a good endorsement.

Her obsession and ability in twisting even the most benign rule in order to find something to punish students about, was verging on obscene. They could have tolerated it if she was also a good teacher, or even a decent one, but nobody had managed to learn anything remotely useful from her so far, and it didn't appear that was going to change, if Hermione was right about the text book they were assigned for the class. Nobody else had managed to read enough of it without dozing off to dispute her statement.

Hermione's disgust was so great she had apparently thrown the book into the Gryffindor common room fireplace and hit it with a spell so powerful, the Weasley twins were still roasting chestnuts on it two days later.

"She is a megalomaniac on a power trip," said Sue after receiving a detention for something so totally insignificant that she couldn't even tell the others what had happened, or so she claimed.

Harry secretly thought she had been busted perving at boys out on the Quidditch pitch again, but he wasn't going to say that.

"We have to do something or we are going to fail our defence OWLs," said Ern to the general agreement of everyone, except Harry who was again fairly content to just let them rant while he snoozed.

"What can we do? Reporting her to the other professors hasn't worked," said Sue. "And you heard what Madam Pomfrey said, 'We all have to just grin and bear it'."

"What can that twit possibly have going for her that is keeping her here?" wondered Han, not for the first time.

"Peter Principle," mumbled Harry from the corner where he was dozing, as usual.

"The what?" asked Han.

"The Peter Principle," Jay said. "The idea that people in organisations get promoted for success, going higher and higher with increasingly difficult responsibilities until they reach a position where they have reached beyond their capabilities and are no longer able to succeed so therefore are no longer promoted because they are now doing a rubbish job in their current position."

"No. That would require her to actually be good at something," said Sue. "I really don't think she is good at anything except annoying people."

"Good point," Jay admitted.

"Maybe they just sent her here to get rid of her from where ever it was she torment people before," said Harry, habitually going for the simplest explanation.

"That's not as far-fetched as it seems," laughed Jay.

"So, what's the easiest way to get rid of her, Harry?" asked Sue.

"No idea," said Harry. "I haven't given it much thought to be honest. I mean I've not gotten any detentions to have made the effort-"

"Yet", interrupted Sue.

"-yet," accepted Harry. "All she wants us to do is sit still and read that bat-shit boring text book. I mean it is not hard to do. We don't even have to cast any spells in class, and homework is just parroting pages of the text practically verbatim. It's not difficult. I can literally do it in my sleep. This is going to be a really simple class this year."

"What?" he said a few moments later realising everybody was suddenly staring at him. "What did I say?"

"Are you saying you like her classes?"

"Like, no! Merlin no," said Harry quickly. "I just can't see any point in fighting her about them. I mean Greasy is still way worse, I swear he tried to melt me with that messed up recipe he gave us the other day. Who the hell can stir exactly forty six times at exactly the same speed, and if you don't your mixture super heats and melts through cauldrons?"

"You are just angry because it melted your egg beater."

"It was stainless steel – cost me 5 quid!" grumbled Harry.

"You haven't had a detention yet, have you, Harry?" asked Ern.

"I have one tonight," said Harry, unconcerned. "Got it for being alive I think. Froggy might be taking notes from Greasy."

"Sounds about right," said Ern. "But you know we all call her Pinky, right?"

"Meh, not going to change now," said Harry.

"Yeah, let's see how you feel after she has you writing lines," smirked Sue.

Harry shrugged unconcerned. Boring and repetitive he could handle, but why was everyone looking at him the way Dudders sometimes used to when he knew Harry was about to get into trouble?

#

Harry noticed the itching in his hand immediately. He quickly associated the scratching of his quill to the itching, and after a few minutes caught on. The quill was cutting him, using his blood as ink.

While painful and upsetting, it also oddly made him start thinking. What if it was possible to move where the quill was taking blood from? Could he make the perfect back scratcher that didn't require actually reaching up over your shoulder?

Would a similar enchantment be used in conjunction with a switching spell and his auto-quill to make tattoos without the artist needing to touch a person's body? Could the whole process be automated to make perfect tattoos every time from any picture or design?

And how much money was such an invention worth? His mind whirled with potential.

"Is the message starting to sink in?" asked Froggy in a sickenly sweet voice from the front of the room interrupting Harry's thoughts.

Oh yeah, he was in detention. He had forgotten for a moment as the excitement of a new idea had taken hold. Now, what to do about the Frog?

A second year near Harry groaned as the magic cruelly cut into her, giving Harry an idea.

"Oooohhh," he moaned, writing the next line. And then a bit louder with the next one. "

"Aaaaahhh," he sighed, then started scribbling faster and faster, panting excessively and making everyone else in the class stop to look at him.

His noises got progressively less 'pain-filled'.

"Mr Potter!" screamed the Frog. "What are you doing?"

"Wrriiittting, writing, ahhh oh yeah, writing lines Miss," Harry groaned out, not stopping as he wrote madly.

"Stop that ridiculousness immediately," she yelled, standing up as Harry continued to write, and moan

"Just, just a bit more," he gasped out, increasing his writing speed even more.

Umbridge yelled for him to stop as she raced around her desk and over to him to snatch the quill out of his hand just as he let out a huge dry and slumped back into his seat, bonelessly.

"That's the stuff," he sighed in apparent contentment.

The pink clad professor was apoplectic with rage and disgust.

"Get out!" she yelled. "All of you, get out right now!"

Harry grabbed his bag and stumbled to the door, a glazed look of happiness on his face. As soon as he got out of sight of the obnoxious teacher he straightened up and his face returned to normal, the blissful look disappearing in an instant.

Between uncle Vernon's secret habit of watching late night foreign TV after everyone else had gone to bed, the 'educational' memory spheres Smiley was still producing, and a few weeks of exposure to Sirius, Harry no longer had to wonder what joke the upper years had played on him when they enchanted Larry's mouth.

Best bit was Umbridge didn't even notice that Harry had stopped actually writing with her special quill and was just been pretending to touch the page as he scribbled, laving his off hand completely unmarked.

Harry hummed a jaunty tune to himself as he walked towards the Common room, twirling the strange quill he taken with him as he left. He pointedly ignore the looks the others who had been in the detention were giving him.

The rumours tomorrow were going to be fascinating, but that was Tomorrow-Harry's problem to deal with.