DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter, Hogwarts, or any other characters, subjects, or places mentioned in this story.


Summary: With the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for 1996-97 being unknown, Dumbledore assigns all returning students a summer essay, "What I have learned in Defense Against the Dark Arts while at Hogwarts" (this essay is to be sent to Hogwarts by the end of July to help Dumbledore & the new professor plan next year's lessons. Harry is working on his essay…

Length: originally was to be a one-shot (though after bk 6 is published, might be revisited) and I might follow up with the reactions of the professor(s) who read/corrects the assignment

Normal text: essay
Italics text: Harry's actions/thoughts as he writes & thinks about the last 5 years at Hogwarts


Harry sat at Dudley's old desk in the second bedroom of 4 Privet Drive. He knew what he wanted to write and that most likely it wasn't what the headmaster wanted when he distributed this assignment, but after five years at Hogwarts it was what Harry thought about whenever Defense Against the Dark Arts was mentioned. Now he just had to gather his Gryffindor courage and put it down on paper. Harry sighed as he picked up his quill and started writing his first draft.

Harry J. Potter


Sixth Year

Four out of five Defense Against the Dark Arts professors recommend that Harry Potter die or become otherwise incapacitated.

Harry looked at the opening line to his essay. It seemed easier to refer to himself in the third person rather than the first. Maybe this way he could pretend that it happened to someone else, Harry thought.

The first, Professor Quirrell, personally attempted to end Harry's life a couple of times, including jinxing his broom and strangling him. A jinxed broom during Harry's first Quidditch match almost caused him to fall to his death. It was only through the efforts of another professor, performing a counter charm that Harry was able to stay on until Quirrell got distracted and Harry was once more able to gain control of his broomstick.

The attempted strangulation was prevented by sheer dumb luck. Before returning to Hogwarts to teach, Quirrell met up with a spirit named Voldemort. Voldemort promised Quirrell power, fortune, and fame. All Quirrell had to do in return was kill Harry Potter and provide his new master with immortality.

Due to his earlier failures, Quirrell's body was hosting Voldemort at the time of the strangulation. With the magical link between the Dark Lord and the Savior of the wizarding world neither Voldemort nor a Voldemort-filled Quirrell were able to touch Harry's skin directly without suffering massive burns or disintegration.

As a result, Harry escaped with his life, Quirrell was burnt to ashes, and Voldemort disappeared in defeat, retreating to find another way to return to full strength.

From Quirrel, I learned that outward appearances and actions can be deceiving and that jumping to conclusions about people can put you in danger, since you focus on the assumed danger and make yourself blind to the real ones.

Harry shook his head as he remembered his first year. Due to various situations that occurred that year, he and his friends jumped to the conclusion that Snape was evil and out to kill Harry and that Quirrell was the innocent and misunderstood professor. The three friends were very fortunate that nothing more serious had happened, since they had trusted Quirrell and could've easily been lead to their deaths by him.

The second professor, Gilderoy Lockhart did not outwardly appear to want Harry dead. No, Lockhart was more subtle than that. Upon his first meeting with the boy-who-lived, Lockhart used every opportunity to generate more publicity for himself. It is believed that Lockhart was jealous of the boy's fame.

Well, Harry thought, Hermione believed it and she hasn't been wrong yet. After Hermione was returned to her normal state, Harry and Ron filled her in on everything that happened while she was petrified. Harry also mentioned the various conversations he had with the famous wizard. After much deliberation, the brown-haired witch came to the conclusion that Lockhart was jealous.

Yes, Lockhart won witch weekly's 'smile' award three years running, but the author of 'Magical Me' figured it was only a matter of time before Harry Potter gave him a run for his money, after all he was The-boy-who-lived and had witches falling at his feet before he even heard of Hogwarts.

Harry paused and grimaced as he reread that last line, it sounded like something someone as conceited as Malfoy would say. Definitely not something he would normally think or write, again, this is to be blamed on Hermione. Every time Harry mentioned how his 'fame' shouldn't affect the results of a smile contest, Hermione just shook her head, walked away and mumbled words like 'hopeless' and clueless'.

Most of all, Lockhart was jealous of Harry's skill. By the time Harry reached the age of twelve, he did more than Lockhart ever could, with respect to defense against the dark arts. Is it any wonder therefore, that Lockhart wanted him dead, or at the least, obliviated enough not to remember magic? If the spell had succeeded, not only would Lockhart have protected his secret but he would have disposed of the potential threat to his future as the wizarding world's most glamorous hero.

After helping Lockhart answer his fan mail during detention, Harry knew that some people in the wizarding world, mostly witches, thought of Gilderoy Lockhart as a suave, sophisticated hero. Of course, this was the image Lockhart projected with the publication of his books.

My second year was filled with many lessons in connection with the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Some of those lessons were personal in nature and some for general use. On a personal note, the lesson that 'fame isn't everything' was reiterated. Many people work hard for their fame, some even by illegal means. It is much better to be content with who and what you are then to try to track down fame and fortune. In a more general sense, I learned three lessons that I'm sure will impact my future: that when attempting to use a wand that is not your own, you should check to see if it is damaged before proceeding with caution; no matter how small and harmless something might seem (pixies), you should never underestimate their ability to cause significant damage; and finally, you shouldn't believe everything you read.

The third professor was the only one who did not deliberately seek to kill or harm Harry Potter in some way. Remus Lupin was actually brought to Hogwarts to protect Harry that year.

Being a werewolf, Lupin was physically stronger than most of those around him. With his wolf sense of hearing, sight, and smell, he would most likely detect trespassers before others would. He also had the benefit of personally knowing Sirius Black, who was believed to be the biggest threat to Harry's safety that year.

It was just a coincidence that the night Black and Potter finally met was the same night as the full moon. Lupin, in an effort to assist Harry and his friends, neglected to consume the wolfsbane potion that day, making him more of a threat than the previous years professors combined.

This had to be the most difficult part of this essay, Harry thought. Not only did he list the potential danger that his father's friend, Remus Lupin posed to Harry, but he also had to write about his recently departed godfather.

By far, Lupin was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts professor I had during my years at Hogwarts. Not only were his classes educational, but entertaining as well. Besides, getting the students caught up on the previous year's studies, he also took the time to teach me how to protect myself against Dementors. On a personal note, I learned that fear is not a bad thing; rather it is the absence of fear that could kill you.

For the year that he learned the most, it certainly is the shortest part of the essay, Harry thought, but he just couldn't spend too much time thinking about that year without breaking down and crying.

Most everyone believed that Harry's fourth year would be his safest yet. Oh, how wrong they were. It was perhaps, the deadliest. One of the reasons that everyone believed Hogwarts was safe and secure was the presence of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Alistor "Mad-Eye" Moody. As a retired auror, he was well qualified not only to protect Harry Potter and the other students, but on instructing them how to defend and protect themselves.

Unfortunately, the ex-auror was actually Barty Crouch, Junior, a Death Eater that many believed had died in Azkaban years ago. He infiltrated Hogwarts by using polyjuice, a potion that transfigured his appearance to that of Moody's. His mission: to bring Harry Potter to Voldemort.

Harry still had a hard time believing that no one suspected that Moody wasn't really Moody. Most of the students, Harry included thought Dumbledore knew everything that happened in the castle.

Cleverly disguised, Crouch/Moody arranged for Harry to be entered into the tri-wizard tournament. Forced into the dangerous game, Harry faced dragons, mermaids, grindelows, sphinxes, and giant spiders successfully. Later Harry realized that he had some help; the fourth year Defense Against the Dark Arts professor had cunningly guided Harry through the maze of the third task where a port-key would bring him to Voldemort's side. What Crouch/Moody didn't take into account was Harry's sense of fairness and his desire to share the victory with his classmate and fellow champion, Cedric Diggory. Once more, due to luck, Harry escaped, regrettably, Cedric was not as fortunate. Harry returned to Hogwarts injured and saddened after witnessing the death of his classmate.

My fourth year I learned that life is fragile and that it can end in the blink of an eye. I also learned that sometimes you don't have the power to change things. When all hope seems lost, and it appears that you are going to die, don't go down without a fight, sometimes you get lucky and miracles happen and you live to see another day.

Truer words were never spoken or rather written, Harry thought. He had been sure that his life would end that night in the graveyard, but he didn't give up. Even though he didn't expect his spell to have any effect on Voldemort, he wasn't going to just stand there waiting for death, he would go down with a fight, just like his mother and father had. It was that thought that had saved his life and allowed him the chance to escape.

While the fourth year was the deadliest, the fifth was the most shocking. A ministry appointed professor, Delores Umbridge, spent the year trying to punish and discredit Harry Potter. Some believed that this professor was in league with Voldemort, the truth may never be known until someone gets a clear view of her left arm.

Harry felt a little guilty for insinuating that Umbridge was a Death Eater, but then again, after her actions from last year, maybe it was well deserved. Besides, Harry thought, the only people who might read this essay would be Hogwarts' professors and Merlin knows that they don't hold any respect for Umbridge after what she did to them last year.

This was also the first "professor" who attempted to kill Harry Potter before school started.

By the end of Harry's fifth year, Umbridge had quite a list of crimes against her, including but not limited to: sending Dementors after Harry while at his summer residence; the use of a blood quill on Harry and other students during detention; illegal use of veritaserum; and threatening the use of Cruciatus Curse on Harry and other students.

Harry couldn't believe that a ministry employee, someone sworn to protect and defend the citizens of the wizarding world had come so close to succeeding when Voldemort and his Death Eaters had failed.

In my third year, I learned that the Ministry of Magic does make mistakes. This year, my experience in Defense Against the Dark Arts reinforced that lesson. In fact, this year, I learned that no one is infallible. While some mistakes are made by people not listening or following the advice of those who are older or wiser, other mistakes are made by people trying to do their best to help and protect others. After all, that is only what any of us can do. I also learned that I have the power to learn. I can read and teach myself things I need to know if there is no one available to help me. I can also share that knowledge with my friends.

If Professor Dumbledore reads these essays, Harry thought, I hope he understands that I accept his apology and offer my own in return. Harry was glad he was able to include some of the things he learned as a result of the DA, after all, the DA wouldn't have been necessary if they had a property Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Now I just have to write the conclusion.

As you read, I learned many things in connection with Defense Against the Dark Arts during my years at Hogwarts. One of the main lessons was summed up in the opening sentence: four out of five Defense Against the Dark Arts professors want Harry Potter severely injured or dead. As shown, Harry Potter has been placed in life threatening situations by each of his Defense Against the Dark Arts Professors. Four of them, Quirrell, Lockhart, Moody/Crouch, and Umbridge, purposely sought ways to endanger the boy, while the fifth, Lupin, tried to protect him.

There, Moony, Harry thought, maybe that last sentence will take away from what I previously wrote.

Through luck and some skills, Harry managed to survive all of their attacks. Some of those skills he learned on his own, others from professors or friends.

Since we are in the middle of a second war against Voldemort, Defense Against the Dark Arts is more important than before. With Voldemort's tendency to attack Harry Potter, it is a logical conclusion that where ever he is, danger is bound to be close by. Since Harry spends the majority of his time at school, it isn't a far stretch to believe that, just like previous confrontations, the next could occur at Hogwarts as well. Unfortunately, it is my belief that very few of the current students attending Hogwarts have the skills to defend themselves against the dark arts that Voldemort and his Death Eaters will use.

While I look forward to a reunion with my friends on September 1, I will be cautious when meeting the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and attending his/her classes. This new professor is an unknown and could quite possibly be a threat to my existence, especially when considering my previous history. The returning professors, however, all have my respect, admiration and trust for how they have guided me the last five years. I suspect that the majority of the students feel the same, regardless of what house they are in.

Hey, I never said anything about likingthem, Harry thought as he imagined Ron's reaction to the last few lines that talked about respecting, admiring and trusting all the returning professors, including Snape.

During my years at Hogwarts, I learned that Professor Flitwick was a dueling champion; I am confident that he did not defeat his opponents and win that title by using tickling or levitation charms. Headmaster Dumbledore defeated the last Evil Wizard and is currently the only one Voldemort fears. I do not believe that he is feared because of his brightly colored robes, but rather because of his skills. On my first day at Hogwarts I learned of a rumor that Professor Snape desired the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor position, and during Umbridge's review, it was confirmed that he has continuously applied for that position. I am curious to learn why he has not been offered this difficult to fill position. I have no doubt that Professor Flitwick, Headmaster Dumbledore, and Professor Snape all have the skills and knowledge to teach us what we need to know to survive this war.

Most of all, I have learned that it is time for the students of Hogwarts to have such a professor as the ones mentioned above for this crucial subject. The students should view the subject of Defense Against the Dark Arts with excitement not trepidation or laughter. With a talented and trusted professor teaching this subject, the class would cease to be referred to as 'Defense Against the Dark Arts Professors' and would once more be responsible for saving lives.

Not bad for a first draft, Harry thought. Definitely needs some improvement, but for the most part, it gets his point across.

Of course, it's a good thing that this was a summer essay, Harry thought, otherwise he would never hear the end of it from Hermione for not taking an assignment seriously. Then again, this was his life, you can't get much more serious than that.

Let me know if anyone might be interested in the reactions of the professors when they read this essay (I myself am curious about Snape & Dumbledore's reactions).

Idea came to me one morning when I was brushing my teeth...was originally meant to be humorous, now kind of borderlines on serious, I think.