Shadow boxing

As usual, there is a need for a Defence against the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts. Pressed to find a suitable candidate, Dumbledore applies a young man of a somewhat controversial origin... Crossover with Roger Zelazney's 'Books of Amber'. There will be some quite heavy spoilers for those excellent books ahead. Most of the things that doesn't belong to him belongs to Rowling.

The paintings were eagerly gathering in the frames in the staff room of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and magic, many of them squeezing into the landscape pictures, the earliest arriving paintings - among them the fat lady and her friend Violet - sitting in a picture of a comfy sofa, and a few unfortunate seventeen century wizards having to be in a picture of a ship in storm, keeping a firm grip of the rigging as they tried to hear the words of the headmaster.

Albus Dumbledore was sitting at the staff table with a small cup of tea in his hand, addressing the annual staff shortage problem.

" despite young Potters efforts, I am sad to pronounce that mister Slughorn decline to presume his old post as a potions master. I therefore have to ask you, Serveus, to maintain that position for yet another year." Snape nodded silently, his face reflecting his disappointment. Some of the other members of the staff looked quite relieved, and one of the paintings actually made a rude gesture to the dark potion master.

"Which leaves us yet again to the tricky matter of appointing a Defence against the dark arts teacher," Dumbledore went on, taking a small sip on his tea. "As you are all aware, the ministry are allowed by Educational Decree 22 to appoint their own teacher in case I should fail to identify a suitable candidate. I fear that even if Miss Umbridge shows an eagerness I sadly to say not always can identify in the more regular members of my staff, she might be somewhat improper as a Hogwarts teacher during the circumstances."

"She's roaring mad, she is," Hagrid bellowed, making Flitwick who sat next to him jump. "Ye can't let that scum back... Mind," he added thoughtfully, "those mules back in the forest would do 'er short."

"Thank you, Hagrid," Dumbledore said, his voice slightly raised to be heard over the angry voices of the paintings, agreeing with the Care of magical creatures-teacher. "I think I have a quite clear picture of the capacities of miss Umbridge."

"Do you have any candidate at all?" Sprout asked anxiously, her newly washed hands not totally free from stains of dragon dung fertilizer and stinksap.

"Luckily, yes," Dumbledore said, hesitating a moment before continuing. "The American gentleman I have mentioned previously..."

His voice was immediately drowned in the outcry from several of the teachers. He held up the hand, trying to silence them.

"I am perfectly aware of the... difficulties, but in the situation at hand..."

"Seriously, Dumbledore," Pomfrey said, her face red. "Werewolves, Dementors, Dragons, Umbridge... and now one of Those. Do you want me to open a permanent portkey to st Mungos?'"

"The parents and governors will freak out, not to mention the ministry!" the Ancient-Rune-teacher said sharply.

"There is simply no prejudice..." Binns begun but no one paid him any attention.

"Ye can't have one of Those here with the children," Hagrid cried.

"BLOOD! DEATH!" Trewalney exclaimed.

"I must say," said Vector, usually a silent member of the staff meetings, "that I deem the desiccation somewhat rash. His kind doesn't even use our kind of magic. What would he teach the students?"

"Silence!" McGonagall snapped. "Would you prefer that toad from the ministry back? Don't you think Dumbledore has done everything in his power to find a suitable teacher? If he gives this... person his trust, I can't se why we shouldn't." Her angry speech actually managed to silence the staff, even if there was much whispering among the paintings. Dumbledore stood up.

"Thank you Minerva," he said, putting his long, delicate fingers to his temple for a moment, as if putting his thoughts together. "As I said, I am well aware of the difficulties at hand, but to be frank, the situation is such that we have to overlook earlier prejudice and see to the future. It is of utter importance that our students learn proper defence against dark arts, now as the times are what they are, and I think you all will agree that this young man will be able to teach them things they would never learn from anyone else." Pomfrey whispered something to Sprout, who nodded grimly.

"As for the conventional spells and curses which, as professor Vector so kindly reminded us, this gentleman is not in the same command of as a conventionally trained wizard, I hope I can ask you, Serveus, to fill in with those lectures." His eyes met with Snape's. The potions master nodded shortly.

"Very well, headmaster," he said icily. "But I do hope you remember what I have told you about this mans father."

"I do," Dumbledore sighed. "Very well. I know you are not agreeing with my decision, but I do hope that I still have your trust. We will hire this Merlin as a defence against dark arts teacher. I will owl him immediately."

"And much good will come from that," madam Pomfrey mumbled, but she did not peruse the issue.