The Man Of Mystery

"Mr Potter," the Headmistress pronounced. "I am very glad you could come."

"We haven't the time, Professor," Harry said restlessly, looking out across the lake to where the giant squid was making Cat's Cradle with six lazy tentacles. "Professor Dumbledore entrusted me with a very important mission – "

"I know that, Potter, but I also happen to know that you are recovering from a fractured coccyx today, and so may as well make yourself useful."

Harry flinched and said "Don't remind me, please. It was all Mundungus's fault."

"Quite. In any case, you have a few hours on your hands, so I should like you to do a service to the school, and find our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher."

Harry's eyes bulged. He spluttered for a few moments and finally detonated: "Professor McGonagall, finding new DADA teachers was practically impossible even for Dumbledore, and he always had the whole summer to do it in, not to mention my assistance, in the form of offering Horace Slughorn sexual favours..."

"I don't wish to know the details, thank you..."

"And yet he still managed to appoint an insane torturer who sent Dementors to kill my cousin – "

"Well, that was me, actually, I knew you didn't like him."

" – and someone who had to take several days off every month and be replaced by Snape – "

"Really?" said McGonagall with interest. "I had no idea Dolores's period pains were so debilitating."

" – and a delusional, narcissistic blond fruitcake with pink and green robes and a thing about peacock feathers – "

"Lucius Malfoy!" said McGonagall, profoundly shaken.

" – and three maniacs controlled by Voldemort!"

"The Headmaster was having trouble coming up with ideas for the practical part of the exam," McGonagall said loftily. "He decided hands-on experience would suit your needs."

"It didn't suit him very well."

"The Headmaster would not have allowed Professor Snape to kill him unless he felt that was what would best serve the needs of the DADA curriculum," was the Caledonian dominatrix's crushing reply. "And in any case, Mr Potter, you have misinterpreted what I require you to do."

Harry was brought up short pre-explosion, and stood staring at McGonagall with his mouth open until a bee flew into it. After some emergency choking and back-slapping, he coughed, "OK. Right. What exactly do you require me to do?"

"Well, Mr Potter," McGonagall said resignedly, "you seem to think that I wish you to make the appointment. The appointment has already been made."

"It has!" spluttered Harry. "Who is it?"

"His name," she sighed, drawing a letter out of the pocket of her robes, "is Bryon Dowdy, and he's a distant relative of Professor Sprout. He specialises in photographing particularly dangerous monsters in remote corners of the world; this is obviously a perilous job, which is why he is an unparalleled master of camouflage and disguise. Hence the name, presumably..."

"And what d'you want me to do again?" Harry said, confused.

"In a nutshell, Potter: Professor Dowdy has been here for over a week now, and I still haven't figured out where he is. You have several hours of free time today, so, as I said before, I would like you to go up to the castle and find our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher."