Disclaimer: Joanna Rowling owns all the characters you recognise from this story. No profit is being made from the authorship of this story.

Harry summoned his battered old trunk to him and looked up at the castle. The trees were smaller, the trunks more slender than he remembered, and there were fewer greenhouses, but apart from that it was the same Hogwarts he'd spent the last seven years of his life working, playing and getting into life-threatening situations in. With a reminiscent sigh, he picked up his trunk once again and mounted the stone steps leading to the studded oaken door.


"Padfoot, is it necessary to fill your mouth to its fullest capacity and treat us all to a lovely display of its contents before attempting to digest you food?" James asked irritably, aiming a practiced slap upside his friend's head. Sirius gave him a lopsided grin and carried on attacking his steak in a manner more than resembling that of a dog. On his other side, Remus rolled his eyes expressively at James and turned his attention to his gravy-drenched mashed potatoes. Sighing, James pulled out his wand and jabbed it sharply at Sirius's plate. The mangled steak sprouted stubby wings and flew in circles around Sirius's head, emitting taunting squeaky sounds. The black haired boy let out a barking laugh and retrieved his unruly piece of meat with his knife.

A loud knock interrupted the friendly banter of the students, as the door to the hall swung open. A tall-ish man in black robes stood there, leaning casually against the doorframe. He looked no older than seventeen. His black hair would have touched his shoulders had it not been pulled back into a small ponytail. He had deeply glittering green eyes that stood out starkly against his unnaturally pale skin, so transparent as to have an almost blue tint. Around his forearm, an emerald green snake was coiled like an armlet, its eyes gleaming like black diamonds. He gave an easy smile.

"Harry Potter," he said by way of introduction. His voice was quiet, yet heard by everyone in the hall. "I've come to apply for the defence post."

Even Dumbledore seemed slightly shocked by the mans entrance. His silver eyebrows were raised slightly, and his head tilted consideringly to the side. He rose to his feet.

"Welcome, Mr Potter. Do you have the qualifications suitable for the job?"

The man gave another sly grin.

"I'll send you a few." He closed his eyes briefly, and then looked intently at Dumbledore. The headmaster appeared to be receiving some mental message, and his eyes widened as he listened to whatever the man was silently telling him.

"Impressive, I must say, Mr Potter. May I inquire as to your age?"

"Eighteen last July," he said calmly, earning several gasps from the student body, "But I find age somewhat irrevelent to one's experience, wouldn't you agree?"

Dumbledore seemed to recover from the revelation of his age enough to nod his head, and offer, "Quite."

He turned to face his students and announced, "May I introduce you to your new defence teacher, Professor Harry Potter."

The students were too startled to applaud, but Professor Potter barely seemed to notice, and he merely walked up to the teacher's table with his trunk floating behind him. He seated himself next to Professor Flitwick, and pulled a plate of sausages toward him, smirking at the silence he had caused.

Slowly, the Hall returned to its normal chatter. Every so often, students would steal a look at their newest Professor, and many of the girls were eying him in a way that was hardly platonic. James glanced sideways down the table to the green eyed red head sitting a few seats down. She wasn't mirroring the sappy expressions of her friends, but merely looking at the Professor with frank admiration.

It was perhaps ten minutes after Professor Potter's startling arrival that his face suddenly flooded with fear. He was staring at the doorway and appeared to be swearing repeatedly under his breath. James frowned, but turned to follow his gaze, as had most of the school.

A slim, petite young woman with long red hair stood in the doorway. She was about their age, and wearing a pair of jeans and a chunky black polo neck sweater. Her arms were folded across her chest and her lips were pressed into a thin line. She walked up to the teachers table, her high heeled boots rapping against the stone floor. Professor Potter had stood up, and a look of pure terror was on his face. She stopped only a foot or so in front of him, her brown eyes boring into his.

"So," she hissed, eyes narrowing into slits "So."

"Hi Ginny," the Professor said hoarsely, his voice several octaves higher than it had been.

"Erm, what are you doing here?"

The woman exploded.

"What am I doing here? I could ask you the same question, Potter. I'm here because I didn't really fancy sitting at the headquarters thinking of imaginative ways to disembowel you the minute you got back, or comforting mum while she thought of the ways you were probably getting killed! And if you give me the slightest hard time about it, I'll tell all the overprotective prats that I'm going out with you!"

"B…but, you're not!" Professor Potter stammered.

"I know that," the woman said, a smile playing on her lips, "but they won't, and I'm pretty sure you remember what they did to my last boyfriend. Poor, poor Dean."

Professor Potter shuddered.

"So," Ginny said conversationally, "Are you going to give me a bloody good duel or not? I mean, at his become a bit of a tradition, and you know how much I love tradition, eh, Harry?"

The professor sighed and pulled out his wand, apparently having expected this all along.

"You do realize I'm going to have to Bat Bogey you, don't you?" Ginny asked, as though it was the standard punishment for the crime which, as yet, had become clear to no one but the two of them.