Dying sucked. A lot.
Especially if the way you died was by getting shot, because *surprise surprise* it hurt like hell.
A personal reminder for the future, if you ever see two shifty-looking men about to assault a girl in an alleyway, don't try to be a hero and pick a fight. You're at a clear numerical disadvantage and they might have a weapon.
CALL THE FUCKING COPS INSTEAD!
You can probably piece together what happened then. My dumb ass tried to interfere, one thing led to another and one of the guys accidentally pulled the trigger.
The last thing I remember was the sound of the girl screaming, the two guys cussing profusely, and a whole lot of pain. Blood came flowing out of the bullet wound in my chest, steaming in the cold December air as the world around me slowly grew darker and darker.
Wait hold up, if I'm dead, then why the fuck am I monologuing? How the fuck am I monologuing?!
Slowly the pain started to vanish, and I started hearing voices around me. A lot of them, chatting casually. The darkness started to fade away, and a whole new scene materialized around me.
I was standing in a hallway or something. No, a train, judging by the compartments on the left and right, and from what I could see out the windows. There was no longer a bullet hole in my chest, and the clothes that I was wearing... weren't mine either, they were much nicer. What the hell was happening?
Other people were bustling around on the train, some boarding with their luggage, trying to find a compartment to sit in, and others rushing out to quickly say goodbye to their families before the train left.
Some of them looked as old as maybe seventeen or eighteen. Others barely twelve. But there were no adults on the train, they were all outside on the platform, as if it was only the kids who were embarking on this journey to wherever.
Seriously, what the hell was going on? I hadn't just been... reborn, had I? No, that wouldn't make any sense... but if not that, then what else? A dream?
I began to walk towards the train door when I heard a girl's voice call out from behind, "Draco?"
I stopped. Draco wasn't my name... but why did I feel like it was? Why did I feel like she was calling out to me even though the name she uttered wasn't mine?
Instinctively, I turned around, and behind me was a girl, with a face that vaguely resembled a pug. "Yeah, Pansy?" I spoke.
Woah... I didn't know any girls named Pansy. Heck, I didn't even know that many girls to begin with. I had pulled that name out of my memories... only they hadn't been my memories, not exactly. It was like I was in a whole different body.
Wait a second, did I really get reincarnated?! No fucking way!
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"Nowhere." I said quickly.
"O...kay," she said with a raised eyebrow. "Well, come on then."
"Uh, to where?"
"The compartments. We prefects have our own ones now, did you forget?"
"What? Oh... oh no, I mean, yeah. Listen, er... you go ahead, I'll catch up. I need to go to the bathroom."
She nodded then walked away as I made my way to the bathroom on the train. I closed the door of the surprisingly not-cramped lavatory behind me and looked in the mirror.
I had silver-blonde hair, a pale face with a pointed chin and grey eyes. I looked... weirdly familiar. This face wasn't mine but...
Holy shit, was I actually Draco motherfucking Malfoy?! I had been reborn, hadn't I?
That explained a lot. Pansy... Pansy Parkinson, obviously. And the train, holy fuck I was on the Hogwarts Express!
And according to Pansy, I was a prefect, so I'm guessing I was in the fifth year? Or maybe sixth, but I didn't think so. Slowly more and more of Draco's memories started to come back to me, confirming that this was the fifth year. Meaning that Cedric Diggory had already died, Voldemort had returned, and the Ministry of Magic was in denial about it.
Wow... the fifth year kinda sucked. No wonder Harry was so grumpy all the time.
I washed my face with cold water and then left the lavatory, making my way over to the prefects' carriage. The carriage was divided into four compartments (that were considerably larger than the regular ones), one for each house's prefects.
The Slytherin compartment was right next to the Gryffindor one. I peeked inside it as I passed, catching a glimpse of the Gryffindor prefects including Ron and Hermione. Hermione's hair was a bit bushier than in the movie, and she wasn't quite as drop-dead gorgeous as Emma Watson had been in the later films, but still kinda cute. Ron looked more similar to his movie version, but taller and thinner.
They didn't see me pass by, or if they did then they didn't acknowledge. I opened the door to the Slytherin compartment and entered. Pansy was the only one sitting there at the moment, though judging by the amount of luggage present in the racks above the seats, other prefects had already arrived. I'm guessing they were saying goodbye to their families?
I sat down next to the window, across from Pansy. I caught a glimpse of disappointment flash across her face. I'm guessing she wanted me to sit next to her rather than opposite her.
Searching through my memories, it was kinda obvious that Pansy was into me (or rather Draco, though I suppose we're kinda the same thing now) from pretty much the start.
Draco was well aware of Pansy's crush on him, and something told me he didn't exactly feel the same way. He managed to dodge every single one of her advances like fucking Neo from The Matrix, but never outright told her no.
He didn't seem like a player; his intentions certainly weren't like that. He was more like a... coward? Is that too harsh of a term? Maybe, who knows. I certainly don't, since I don't think any girl that I'd ever met in my previous life had liked me enough to develop a crush.
For over four years, Draco kept playing dumb, hoping that Pansy would get over it, but she didn't. Dear lord, talk about persistence. On both sides, in fact, since Pansy wouldn't give up and Draco wouldn't grow a pair and tell her he didn't feel the same way.
And that's when it hit me like a sledgehammer to the ass. I would have to tell her no.
But whatever, that's a whole other rabbit hole I'm not willing to go down right now. I literally just died and came back to life five minutes ago, give me a fuckin break, will you?
"Have you heard about what happened to Potter?" Pansy asked.
"The… uh, Dementors thing, right?" I recalled. "Yeah, there was a whole hearing and stuff, he got cleared of all charges."
You'd think that a simple case of underage magic wouldn't be such a big deal but you'd be wrong. I guess Harry Potter's involvement will turn anything into a big scandal... especially after the whole affair at the Triwizard Tournament last summer.
"Yeah, apparently Dumbledore himself came down to save his arse," she said nastily. "He'll take on the whole Ministry just to defend his favourite. He's off his rocker, s'why they kicked him out of the Wizengamot, too,"
I didn't say anything, just nodded and looked out the window. I hadn't thought about this. My views on this whole mess with the Ministry and Harry were probably way different than those of the people I hung around with at Hogwarts. That would certainly complicate things.
Well, I guess I'll figure something out.
The train finally started moving, and soon the compartment doors opened as the other Slytherin prefects entered. The journey was largely uneventful, save for all the fifth-year prefects being summoned to a special carriage to be briefed by the Head Boy and Girl. It was basic stuff, telling us our duties and whatnot.
The rest of the journey, I didn't say or do much, instead I tried to process everything that had happened. Dying, rebirth, all that crap.
I dunno if this was an appropriate reaction or not but I was kinda... alright with the whole reincarnation thing. My old life hadn't been great, and I hadn't exactly left much behind in terms of family or friends. Really the only thing I'd miss would be the internet, since wizards didn't use it. Also, it was 1995, so the internet, while technically a thing, wouldn't be remotely similar to the internet I'm used to.
Of course, this new world wouldn't be sunshine and roses, it had its fair share of problems in store as well, namely Voldemort and even worse... Umbridge, but this time I could actually do something about them. I knew what was gonna happen, how it was gonna happen, so I could probably figure something out.
After several hours, the train pulled into Hogsmeade Station. At this point I was starting to get hyped; I WAS GOING TO FUCKING HOGWARTS! MY CHILDHOOD DREAM AAAHHH-
I exited the train with the other prefects, and saw two guys, considerably taller and wider than me standing outside on the platform, arms crossed. Neither of them looked particularly bright, in fact they looked like the most generic tough guy henchmen you could think of. Crabbe and Goyle. Dumb and Dumber themselves.
Without saying anything whatsoever they both fell into place right next to me like actual fucking bodyguards. From my/Draco's recollections, these two were every bit the dumbasses the books made them out to be, and they practically were Draco's henchmen.
However, all other thoughts were temporarily put aside, when I saw something I really didn't expect. Beyond the platform, there were carriages that led all the students (save for the first-years, who went by boats) to the school. Only thing is, I could see the skeletal black horses responsible for pulling them.
I could see the Thestrals!
Wait, Draco couldn't see them normally, because he hadn't seen anyone die. But then how come I could see them now? Was it because my own death also counted? That... sorta made sense, I guess? It was weird for sure, but honestly? Out of all the things that had happened to me this evening, it ranked close to the bottom.
Throughout the ride, Pansy and a couple other Slytherin fifth years that tagged along kept talking. Every time they'd ask my opinion on something I'd just nod and agree, but my attention was elsewhere, I was looking out the front of the carriage, looking at the castle... and it was amazing.
For one thing, Hogwarts was massive. Like absolutely gigantic, just as big if not bigger than what they showed in the movies. A towering black mass of towers and turrets, with hundreds of windows, light shining out of each one, making them look like tiny golden flecks on the castle. The light of the full moon cast a silver, dreamy shine over the whole place.
It really did look like something straight out of a fantasy story. There were no other words for it, it was magical… I could almost hear the Harry Potter theme playing.
Whew... alright, deep breaths, deep breaths.
Given that my literal childhood dream was coming true, I think I did a pretty decent job keeping my internal emotions concealed. Or at least I hope so.
The carriages came to a halt in front of the steps that led to the giant front doors of the castle. I got out, as did everyone else.
The huge oak front doors swung open by themselves as the crowd of returning students approached. The Entrance Hall was ablaze with torches. We crossed the flagged stone floor, straight to the double doors on the right that led to the Great Hall. The doors of the Great Hall weren't quite as massive as the castle's front doors, but they were still huge, at least fifteen feet, probably more.
The enchanted ceiling of the Hall reflected the sky outside, and right now it was full of stars. Candles floated in mid-air, illuminating the interior. Ghosts were hovering around, chatting with each other and greeting the returning students.
We all sat down at our respective House tables, the Hall filled with excited chattering of students, exchanging news from the summer, shouting greetings at friends from other houses et cetera. I gazed at the staff table, which ran along the top wall of the Hall. I spotted Dumbledore in the centre, sitting in a tall and grand chair. On his sides were the other teachers, also sitting in fancy chairs but not quite as grand as Dumbledore's.
I recognized McGonagall with her signature pointed hat and uptight expression, Snape dressed in all black like the goth queen that he was, tiny professor Flitwick and... Umbridge, with her horrible pink cardigan. No Hagrid though, since he was probably still on his mission with the giants. In his place was a plump middle-aged woman who I'm guessing was Grubbly-Plank.
Soon, the Sorting Hat was brought forward by McGonagall and he began his song, the same old story about the founders and the houses. But then it took more of a sinister turn, saying "For Hogwarts is in danger, from external, deadly foes" and that "We must unite inside Hogwarts, or we'll crumble from within."
It was the same thing he sang in the book, more or less. Around the Hall, students were looking at each other curiously and whispering about the Hat's more-ominous-than-usual song.
"Branched out a bit this year, hasn't it?" I overheard Pansy say to a blonde girl sitting to her left, who whispered something in return that I could not quite make out.
The Sorting Ceremony began, and one by one, the nervous first years were sorted into their respective houses.
Finally, 'Zeller, Rose' was sorted into Hufflepuff, and Professor McGonagall took the Hat away. Dumbledore himself stood up, eyes twinkling and with a beaming smile on his face.
"To our newcomers, welcome!" he said in a ringing voice, his arms stretched wide. "To our old students, welcome back! There is an appropriate time for speech-making, but this is not it. So, tuck in!"
The students let out an appreciative chuckle, accompanied by an outbreak of applause as the Headmaster sat down smartly. Mountains of food appeared, from literally out of nowhere, across the tables.
I dug in eagerly, because it turns out, dying works up quite an appetite. Also, the food was so fucking good. The pies, the sausages, the pudding afterwards... and heck, pumpkin juice might be my new favourite drink!It was hands down the most delicious meal I'd ever had, and you're telling me that I'd be eating stuff like this thrice every day? Hell fucking yeah!
I must have had 3 or 4 servings, and I would have had more had my body allowed it. I was feeling comfortably drowsy at this point... somewhere in the castle there was a comfy bed waiting for me...
Oh yeah, in the dungeons. Forgot about that. But I suppose the beds will still be comfortable.
Dumbledore stood up once more, and all talking in the hall ceased immediately.
"Now that we are all digesting another magnificent feast," he said. "I beg a few moments of your attention for the usual start-of-term notices. First-years ought to know that the Forbidden Forest is... well, forbidden, to all students, and a few of our older students would do well to remember that too," he eyed Fred and George Weasley, who looked back at Dumbledore with exaggeratedly innocent faces.
Dumbledore went on, "Mr Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to remind you, for what he tells me is the four-hundred and twentieth time," -there was a small snicker at that- "that magic is not permitted in corridors between classes, nor are a number of other things, all of which can be checked on the list now fastened to the door of Mr Filch's office.
"We have had two changes in staffing this year. We are delighted to welcome back Professor Grubby-Plank-" he gestured towards her, who nodded respectfully in return, "-who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons. We are also delighted to introduce Professor Umbridge, our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher."
After a round of polite but unenthusiastic applause, Dumbledore cleared his throat again, and said, "Those wishing to play for their house Quidditch teams should give their names to their Heads of House as usual, and tryouts will..."
He broke off, looking enquiringly at Professor Umbridge, who got to her feet, obviously intending to make a speech.
Ah shit, here we go.
Dumbledore looked momentarily surprised, but then sat down smartly and looked attentively at Umbridge, as though eager to hear what she had to say.
Other people in the hall, teachers and students alike were not as adept at hiding their surprise. Apparently, nobody had ever dared interrupt the Headmaster before.
"Thank you, Headmaster, for those kind words of welcome," Umbridge simpered. "Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts, and to see such happy little faces looking up at me! I'm looking forward to getting to know you all and I'm sure we'll be very good friends!
"Now, the Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of vital importance. The rare gifts you were born with..."
I tried to pay attention to her words, I knew it was important, but the speech was every bit the mind-numbing bore-fest the books claimed it was. On top of that, her high-pitched, breathy voice made me want to smash my head into a plate. The fact that she talked to us like we were five years old did not help either. Despite my best efforts, my attention started to waver, and staring at that one cute-as-fuck girl on the Ravenclaw table seemed far more appealing than listening to that awful speech.
Eh, it'll be fine in the long run. I knew the general gist of what Umbridge said, anyway.
I wasn't the only one losing interest either. Umbridge didn't command nearly enough respect as Dumbledore to garner the same attentive silence while she spoke, and soon students around the hall began chatting with their friends instead of listening.
The teachers on the other hand, were paying full attention to her words, and none of them seemed to like what they were hearing.
After what felt like an hour (that I found out later had only been seven minutes) Umbridge finally sat the fuck down. Dumbledore clapped, bringing the students' attention back to the Head Table, and they clapped too. Some of the teachers only brought their hands together once or twice before stopping.
"Thank you, Professor Umbridge, that was a most illuminating speech," Dumbledore said, making a polite bow to her. "Now, as I was saying, tryouts will be held..."
"Did you understand a word of what she said?" Theodore Nott, who was sitting in front of me on the other side of the Slytherin table, asked, looking quite confused. "I stopped listening after a minute, but I think it was important."
"Yeah... it means the Ministry's interfering with Hogwarts," I replied, saying the exact words that Hermione was probably telling Harry and Ron over at the Gryffindor table.
"About time," Pansy said. "Goodness knows this place could use some interference. Also, did you see, that oaf Hagrid's gone too. We might actually have a half-decent Care of Magical Creatures class now!"
I was pretty tired by the time the feast ended. Being a prefect, I had to help the first years find their way to the Slytherin dormitories, which was simple enough.
The common room was pretty cool, honestly. It was built in a dungeon that extended partway under the lake, and the windows looked straight out into the water, casting a green tint all over the room. There were floating green lamps, providing additional light and an elaborately carved fireplace, where a brilliant orange flame was crackling. The furniture was made of polished dark wood, with dark green cushions.
After telling the first years where their dorms were, along with a few other important things, I went up to my dormitory. There were four others I shared the dorm with, those being Crabbe, Goyle, Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott.
"Good summer, Draco?" Blaise asked as I entered.
"It was alright," I responded, loosening my tie. "You?"
"Good, good... by the way, I'm thinking of trying out for the team this year, as a Chaser, I mean," he added.
"Sure, go for it," I shrugged. "Got a broom?"
"Cleansweep Eleven," he said, grinning. I let out a soft whistle; the Cleansweep Eleven was a pretty good broom. Brand new, and arguably more advanced than the Nimbus 2001, which the rest of the Slytherin team had (thanks to none other than Lucius Malfoy aka my dad)
After changing into my pyjamas, I laid down in bed and closed my eyes. The bed was quite comfortable, and soon I started to drift in and out of consciousness. My last thoughts before sleep took me were of the girl in the alley. I hope she got away; it would suck if I had died for nothing.
(The next day)
I was terrified that the whole reincarnation thing would turn out to be a dream when I woke up, but when I saw the four-poster bed, with its polished black wood and dark green blankets, a wave of relief washed over me. It wasn't a dream after all, I was still Draco Malfoy.
I lay in bed for maybe fifteen minutes or so before I could no longer tolerate my own breath and had to get up. Everyone else was asleep at the moment, so I had to be careful not to wake any of them.
After changing out of my pyjamas into my robes, I exited the dormitory into the empty common room. It was eight o'clock, meaning breakfast had already started by now. As if on cue, my stomach gave a rumble, and I figured it would be best to grab a bite.
The ceiling of the Great Hall showed a stormy grey weather outside, pretty different from the clear skies of yesterday but I was fine with that. I liked this kind of weather. I walked over to the Slytherin table and sat down. The Hall wasn't exactly empty right now but it wasn't nearly as crowded as it was last night. More than half the students in the school hadn't even woken up yet.
I loaded eggs, bacon, and some toast onto my plate and dug in. A few minutes later, Pansy entered the Hall and she didn't look like she was in a great mood.
"Morning," I greeted her as she sat down next to me.
"Morning, Draco," she grumbled.
"You seem quite chipper today," I said.
"Sorry, it's just… I got some bad news,"
"Oh… what is it?"
"We're sharing Defence Against the Dark Arts with the Gryffindors!"
"That means we have three, three classes with those losers now!" she said, throwing her arms in the air dramatically.
"Oh… well, is that it?" I asked.
"What do you mean, is that it?" she repeated incredulously.
"I mean, the way you were acting… made it sound like something bad had happened," I pointed out.
"I'm sorry, but being stuck with Potter and his sidekicks in three separate classes is not a bad thing?"
"Oh, never mind," I said rolling my eyes, returning to my food.
Pansy may be upset at this new development (a bit of an overreaction if you ask me), but I wasn't necessarily. If I recall correctly, Gryffindors and Slytherins didn't share DADA in the fifth year, so I wonder how that impacts things...
Whatever, that was the final lesson of the day. Speaking of which, our timetable for the day was hot garbage. First period was Transfiguration, followed by double Potions, History of Magic, then double Defence Against the Dark Arts.
At nine o'clock the bell rang, and we all headed off to first period. Professor McGonagall was already in the classroom when we arrived. I picked a seat at random and sat down, Pansy almost sprinted across the classroom and sat down next to me before anyone else could, and Crabbe and Goyle sat down at the table behind us.
Professor McGonagall spent the first fifteen minutes lecturing the class on the importance of OWLs.
"Keep in mind, that these examinations will impact your futures for many years to come," she said seriously. "You cannot pass an OWL, without serious application, practice and study. I see no reason why everybody in this class should not achieve an OWL in Transfiguration as long as they put in the work."
I saw her eyes briefly dart to Crabbe and Goyle. Pansy noticed this too, and let out a tiny snort of laughter, earning her a disapproving glare from Professor McGonagall.
"Today we are starting Vanishing Spells," McGonagall continued. "These are easier than Conjuring Spells, which you will not attempt till NEWT level, but be warned; this is still among the most difficult magic you will be tested on in your OWL examination."
She really wasn't lying; Vanishing Spells turned out to be, by far, the hardest Transfiguration spells we'd tackled in the last five years. There was a lot more to a spell than just saying the incantation, and even if you've nailed the theory, it was a whole other story in terms of practice.
"Evanesco," I muttered irritably, pointing my wand at the snail for what felt like the hundredth time. Nothing happened.
"Evanesco," I said again, and again, nothing happened.
"Evanesco!" I nearly shouted, putting all my concentration into the spell, when a few sparks shot out from the end of the wand.
That… that was the best I'd done all day, and it didn't do shit. These little fucking sparks were the best I could do! Jesus fucking Christ!
The bell rang before I could have another go. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who had struggled. In fact, the only one who had made any progress at all, had been Daphne Greengrass, who had managed to make the snail's shell disappear, but not the snail itself.
Needless to say, McGonagall told us all to practice the spell as homework.
Next was double Potions with the Gryffindors. I joined the queue of students lined up outside the door of Snape's classroom in the dungeons.
I could feel the tension between the Slytherins and Gryffindors, none of them were even looking at each other's way.
Yikes… why did they hate each other, again? Surely there must be a reason?
The doors of the classroom creaked open and we filed inside. I took my usual spot near the front of the room.
"Settle down," Snape said coldly, shutting the door behind him. There was no real need for the call to order; the class had been pretty silent to begin with.
"Before we begin today's lesson," Snape said, sweeping over to his desk and staring around at us all. "I think it appropriate to remind you that next June you will be sitting an important examination, during which you will prove how much you have learned about the composition and use of magical potions. Moronic though some of you are, I expect you all to, at the very least, scrape an 'Acceptable' grade in your OWL, or..."
He didn't finish the sentence but the implication was clear. Also, Snape spoke exactly in the slow dramatic way as the movies, further enforcing my belief that Alan Rickman was an absolute legend and a perfect casting for Snape (and if you disagree, fuck you).
"After this year of course, many of you will cease studying with me," he went on. "I take only the very best into my NEWT Potions class, which means that some of you will certainly be saying goodbye."
His eyes lingered on Harry, on the other side of the class, and I could Snape's lips curl slightly, probably at the thought of him not making the cut for NEWT-level Potions.
"However, we have yet another year to go till that happy day, so whether or not you are intending to attempt NEWTs, I advise all of you to concentrate your efforts upon maintaining the high pass level I have come to expect from my OWL students.
"Today we will be mixing a potion that often comes up at Ordinary Wizarding Level, namely the Draught of Peace, a potion to calm anxiety and soothe agitation. Be warned, if you are too heavy-handed with the ingredients you will put the drinker into a heavy, and sometimes permanent, sleep, so pay close attention. The ingredients and method are on the blackboard-" (he flicked his wand and the instructions appeared on the board) "-you will find everything you need in the store cupboard. You have an hour and a half... start."
Okay, Draught of Peace... a calming potion. But you could put someone in a permanent sleep if you're not careful.
How hard could it be?
(An hour and fifteen minutes later)
Very, very hard, as it turns out. It was an extremely tedious process. The ingredients had to be added to the cauldron in just the right order and quantity; the mixture had to be stirred in a precise manner and number of times; the heat of the flames had to be adjusted to exactly the right level for a specific number of minutes before the final ingredients could be added.
It was hard work, but Draco turned out to be pretty damn good at Potions, so I more or less managed to get it right.
That is, until I got to the final step. Once the syrup of hellebore had been added, I had to let the potion simmer for seven minutes, after which I would have to cast a simple enchantment on the potion. The spell was by far the simplest part of the process, we had been using it in potion-making since the third year.
No biggie, right?
I gave my wand a little twirl and muttered the incantation, only for nothing to happen... what the fuck?
I tried again, causing little blue sparks shot out and fizzled. Uh…
Okay, third time's the charm (no pun intended), I did the appropriate wand-motion and muttered the incantation, concentrating hard, and a small flash of blue light shot out from the tip.
After a few seconds, a silvery vapor started rising from the potion, just like Snape said it should. There we go! Not bad, if I do say so myself, although admittedly, the colour of the potion itself was still a bit darker than the turquoise blue it should have been.
"Time's... up!" Snape said, rising from behind his desk.
He began inspecting the potions one by one, starting with mine. He looked at my cauldron for a moment, before saying, "It seems that your final spell was imperfectly cast, Mr. Malfoy, hence the darker colour of the concoction. Apart from that you do not seem to have made any mistakes... however, if you failed to cast such a simple spell correctly, that is frankly... concerning."
He moved on to the next student. I let out a sigh and looked at my wand. What was the matter with it? In Transfiguration I hadn't been able to get the spells right, but frankly no one else had either. However, this spell had been much simpler, we had learnt it in the third year and had used it a lot since then. It should have been easy...
I pondered on that for a while, but was shaken out of these thoughts by Snape announcing, "Those of you who have managed to read the instructions, fill one flagon with a sample of your potion, label it clearly with your name and bring it up to my desk for testing. Homework: twelve inches of parchment on the properties of moonstone and its uses in potion-making, to be handed in on Thursday."
I filled up a flagon with my potion and handed it over, then I packed up my things and left the class. Three periods were done, three more to go, but right now was lunch break.
Hello, tasty food!
After lunch was History of Magic, which was notorious for being the most boring class of them all.
But how bad could it be really? Call me a weirdo but history had always been one of my favourite subjects. Throw a healthy dose of fantasy in the mix and you have yourself a cool as fuck subject.
Though from what I recall, it's less the subject itself that's boring, and more the teacher, Professor Binns.
But still, how boring could it be?
(Forty-five minutes later)
Very, very, very boring, as it turns out.
I was a hundred percent correct when I recalled that it was less the subject itself and more the teacher's fault, that so many students found it boring.
In the hands of any other teacher, History of Magic would have been pretty interesting. But in the hands of Professor Binns, a literal ghost determined on boring everyone else to a similar fate, even the Great Werewolf-Vampire War of 1894 wasn't enough to keep me awake.
The bell finally ringing jogged me awake, and I packed up my stuff and headed off to the final class of the day. Double Defense Against the Dark Arts, with the Gryffindors and... Umbridge.
Umbridge was already in the classroom when we arrived, wearing the same horrible pink cardigan from the previous night.
"Good afternoon, class!" she said in a falsely sweet voice, to which a few people mumbled "Good afternoon" in reply.
"Tut-tut," Umbridge said. "That won't do at all, now, will it? I should like you all to reply 'Good afternoon, professor Umbridge'. One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!"
"Good afternoon, professor Umbridge," we chanted back. A few members of the class glanced each other, some with looks of uncertainty, others trying to suppress a giggle.
"Much better," Umbridge said. "Now, wands away, and quills out, please."
Several students exchanged looks again, this time with gloomy expressions. The term 'wands away' had almost always been followed by a dull lesson. I shoved my wand back into my backpack. I had known this was coming, but I also felt a bit relieved since my wand was being a bit unreliable today… I wonder what was up with that? At the same time, I began preparing myself for the shit show that was about to come.
Umbridge took out her own, unusually short wand and tapped the blackboard sharply with it; words appeared on the board at once:
"DEFENCE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS
A Return to Basic Principles"
"Your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and fragmented, hasn't it?" she stated, turning to face the class, hands neatly clasped neatly in front of her. "The constant changing of teachers, many of whom did not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your OWL year.
"You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory-centered, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year, copy down the following, please."
She rapped the blackboard again; the first message vanished and was replaced by:
1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
2. Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic can legally be used.
3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use."
After everyone had finished writing down the course aims, Umbridge said. "Now, turn to page five of Defensive Magical Theory and read 'Chapter One: Basics for Beginners'. There will be no need to talk."
A few dull minutes passed of everyone reading, or pretending to do so. Hermione however, had not even opened her copy of Defensive Magical Theory, instead she was staring fixedly at Professor Umbridge with her hand raised in the air.
A few other people noticed her as well. They all looked surprised, apparently, they had never seen Hermion refusing to read a book. Umbridge however, was looking resolutely in another direction. A few more minutes passed, and soon everyone was looking curiously at Hermione, to the extent that Umbridge really had no other option but to address the situation.
"Do you want to ask something about the chapter dear?" she asked.
"Not about the chapter, no," Hermione responded. "About the course aims, actually,"
"And your name is?" Umbridge asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Well, Miss Granger," Umbridge spoke in a voice of determined sweetness. "I think the course aims are perfectly clear if you've read them through carefully,"
"Well, I don't," Hermione replied. "There's nothing written there about using defensive spells."
"Using defensive spells?" Umbridge repeated with a little laugh. "Why, I can't imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. You surely aren't expecting to be attacked during class?"
I thrust my hand in the air.
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy?" Umbridge said with a fake smile that showed her small, pointed teeth.
"Isn't there a practical bit in our OWLs though? Surely, we're gonna need to know how to use spells, right?"
A few people looked at me curiously. Apparently, I was the last person they'd expected to speak up in Hermione's favor.
"As long as you've studied the theory well enough, there's no reason you wouldn't be able to perform the spells in a carefully-moderated examination," Umbridge replied.
"Without practicing beforehand though?" I responded, keeping my hand raised, and ignoring the way the entire class was looking at me now. "What good is that? It's like if in Potions, we were only taught the instructions instead of actually having to brew it as well. Or if in Transfiguration, they only taught us the incantations. Only this time, the consequences could potentially be a lot more dangerous."
"Dangerous?" she said with a little laugh. "What danger are you talking about? What do you imagine would want to attack children such as yourselves?"
"We're not gonna stay children forever though, and besides-"
"I repeat, Mr. Malfoy," Umbridge cut me off. "As long as you have understood the theory correctly, you will know exactly what to do, be it in an examination, or in the 'real world'. Am I understood?"
Hermione raised her hand again. "But surely the whole point of Defense Against the Dark Arts is to practice defensive spells?
"Are you a Ministry-trained expert, Miss Granger?" Umbridge asked in her falsely sweet voice.
"Well then, I'm afraid you are not qualified to decide what the 'whole point' of my class is. Wizards much older and much cleverer than you have devised our new program of study."
"Older than her, maybe. But not cleverer, not by a lightyear," Ron interrupted, causing Hermione to turn red.
Umbridge glared at Ron, before saying, "Five points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley, for that useless interruption. Now, as I was saying, you will be learning defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way-"
"Well what use is that?" Harry interjected loudly. "If we're going to be attacked, it won't be-"
"All students will raise their hands when they talk in my class!" Umbridge cut him off loudly, turning away from him.
Several other people raised their hands now.
"And your name is?" Umbridge said to one of them, a Gryffindor.
"Dean Thomas," he replied.
"Yes, Mr. Thomas?"
"Well, it's like Harry and er, Malfoy said, isn't it?" Dean said. "If we're gonna be attacked it won't be risk-free."
Umbridge talked over him. "I do not wish to criticize the way things have been run in this school," she said, an unconvincing smile stretching her wide mouth, "but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very irresponsible indeed – not to mention, extremely dangerous half-breeds," she said with a nasty little laugh.
"If you're talking about Professor Lupin, he was the best teacher we've had so far-" Dean interjected angrily.
"Hand, Mr. Thomas!" Umbridge cut him off again. "As I was saying, you have been introduced to spells that have been quite complex, inappropriate to your age group, and potentially lethal. You have been frightened into thinking that you are likely to meet Dark attacks every other day-"
"No, we haven't," Hermione said. "We just-"
"Your hand is not up, Miss Granger!" Umbridge trilled. "Now, it is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your examination, which, after all, is what school is all about,"
"But what good's theoretical knowledge going to be in the real world?" I said, raising my hand again.
"This is school, Mr. Malfoy, not the real world."
"But isn't school supposed to prepare you for the real world? Aren't we supposed to be ready?"
"Ready for what, exactly?" Umbridge said, her patience starting to wear thin now. "I repeat, what exactly do you think will want to attack children like you?"
"Like I said, we're not gonna stay children forever. Say, if we're walking down the street one night and we get cornered by a sketchy bloke that wants to mug us or worse, I'd consider that a pretty big threat, and-"
"And Lord Voldemort too, now that he's back," Harry interjected, causing several gasps and a small scream across the class.
Umbridge looked at Harry with a grimly satisfied expression. "Ten points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter… for spreading such nasty lies."
"It's NOT a lie, I saw him, I fought him!" Harry shouted, his voice shaking with anger. "You're not implying that Cedric Diggory just dropped dead of his own accord, are you?!"
There was a collective intake of breath from the class. Nobody had ever heard him talk about Cedric before, save for Ron and Hermione. I quickly raised my hand, so that Umbridge's attention would be redirected elsewhere and Harry wouldn't land himself in detention, but she paid no attention my way. "Cedric Diggory's death was a tragic accident-" she began.
"It was murder! Voldemort killed him, and you know it!" Harry cut her off angrily.
The class was stunned silent, Umbridge's face was quite blank. It looked for a second like she was about to scream her head off, but instead she just said calmly, "Detention, Mr. Potter. Tomorrow evening, my office, five o'clock."
I sighed. Here I am, trying to save Harry's ass from detention, and he ends up getting it anyway, no fucks given.
Umbridge took out a roll of pink parchment from her handbag, sat down at her desk and started scribbling something on it. After a minute or so, she said, "Mr. Potter, take this to Professor McGonagall."
Harry got up, still looking furious, and walked up to Umbridge's desk. Everyone in the classroom was looking at him, and in fact, Theodore Nott was looking at Harry with an expression that may well have been awe.
"Now that the disturbance is over," Umbridge said once Harry had left with the note. "I shall repeat for the final time, that this whole tale about the Dark Lord returning is a lie. If you see anyone else spreading such tall tales, I would very much like to hear it, I am your friend, I am here to help you. Now, we'll continue with our reading of 'Basics for Beginners' kindly."
But nobody really continued reading after that. Most of the class was still shocked by the whole shouting match, some scared, others fascinated. The bell rang half an hour later, signaling the end of the first day back at school.
As we left the class, Pansy jogged up to me.
"Draco! Hey, what was that all about back there?" she asked. "We finally get a worthwhile teacher and you decide to piss her off on day one? Were you trying to make it look like you're on Granger and Potter's side?"
Well… technically I was, but nobody else needed to know that justyet.
"It's not about whose side I'm on, Pansy," I replied. "Going into OWLs without ever having practiced the spells beforehand is just plain ridiculous."
"Yeah, but that whole bit about getting cornered in a street or whatever…"
"What about it? It's possible," I said.
"I agree with Draco," Nott said, catching up to us. "This whole new approach is nonsense. We need to learn how to defend ourselves, y'know… now that he's on the loose again-" he stopped abruptly.
"Who's on the loose again, Nott?" Pansy enquired.
"Er… Sirius Black," Nott said quickly. I met his eye, but he quickly looked away. Something was off… and I had a feeling he hadn't just been talking about Sirius Black.
"Dear lord, you're both starting to sound like Potter, with all this paranoid talk. Next, you'll be saying that You-Know-Who's back, after all!" Pansy stated dramatically.
Apparently, not every Slytherin was aware that Voldemort was back, even a few students whose parents had been Death Eaters (like Pansy) didn't know yet. I met Nott's gaze again, and he quickly looked away.
However… I'm willing to bet Nott knew, and something told me he wasn't too hyped about it.
Well, that's chapter one! This is something that's been on my mind for a while now, and I finally got around to doing it. I hope you enjoyed it!
Chapter two is well underway, but no guarantees as to when it'll be done.
Let me know what you guys thought. Just be nice and constructive about it :)