"My name is Harry Potter and I will be your Defense professor," Harry said, standing before a room of rapt-attention-paying seventh year NEWT students. "In this room, I will teach you to live and die by your own ability; I will give you the tools to defend yourselves and others, to overthrow tyrants and oppose the evils of the world.
"I will arm you with the power to move mountains and shake the earth." Harry put his hands in his pockets. "I will show you how goodness is won and evil undone," he pulled his hands out of his pockets and raised them before his chest, rotating his hands, palm up, palm down. "I will show you how great men and women have lived and died and why.
"I will show you fear in a handful of dust," he said, flicking his right wrist and throwing a handful of sand which morphed itself midflight into the incorporeal image of Lord Voldemort, then shimmered out of existence into something ethereal, "and what I see when I turn out the light."
"Does anyone have any questions?"
The class was for a moment struck dumb by the theatrics before a thin boy in the back, who reminded Harry forcibly of his old Professor Snape, called out, "What happened with the Dark Lord?"
"Voldemort was the most skilled duelist I've ever seen, and I killed Him."
"But you beat Him, like you said," began a pretty, bespectacled brunette up front. "So doesn't that make you better?"
Harry waved it off, "A technicality. I was an inferior duelist to Him until the day He died. And even then, never discount the force of chance."
"But what happened with Him?"
"I killed Him, Mr. Doherty," the professor said simply, and with a smile.
"But how?" asked the brown-haired girl.
"But are the rumors true?" she continued. "Did you…?"
"Avada Kedavra, Ms. McConnell?" The class recoiled. "Yes."
"How long did you duel?" asked the boy in the back from earlier.
"A few hours hours. Long enough, obviously, for the end-result."
The class was silent.
"You want details, but you won't get them," Harry said. "That's not what this class is about, and I won't pretend it is. I am here to teach you to defend yourselves against the evils of our world, not to tell stories better sent to the flames."
"Did you finish Hogwarts after the Fall, Professor?" asked the boy in the back, not missing a beat. "I've heard you didn't."
"No, I did not. After the Fall, after the country was beginning to stabilize under Minister Shacklebolt, Ginny and I left. I completed our education. Neither of us finished Hogwarts. Yet here I am."
"Are you qualified, then, sir, to teach us?"
"The Headmistress seemed to think I was qualified, Mr. Doherty," Harry said, dispelling him. "Hiring ultimately falls to her, and it is not for you or me to decide whom she does or does not deem qualified."
"But you never finished, Professor," he protested.
"No, Mr. Doherty, I did not; but that is the only true argument against my credentials. If even my track record fighting the Dark Arts is not enough for you, perhaps you will accept my professorship in light of the number of articles I have written for the various trade journals. Scholastic achievement is universally scholastic achievement, is it not?
"I have written three articles for Transfiguration Weekly; one on inter-species Transfiguration; one on Transfiguration in dueling; and one article on the Animagus transformation.
"I have written six articles for Challenges in Charming; two on the Fidelius Charm; one on stealth-related charms; one on the Protean Charm and its derivatives; and two articles on Shield Charms, one on pre-existing Shield Charms and one on Shield Charms of my own invention.
"I have written nine articles for The British Journal of Defense; one on each of the Unforgiveable Curses; four on psychomagical techniques and uses within the context of battlefield magic; one on dueling techniques; and one on the curses I created during the second war.
"I have won many awards for my articles," Harry continued. "Several of them have been reprinted in your textbooks; I believe Professor Malfoy's NEWT students use Loxley's Transfiguration in the Modern Age, in which four of my six articles for Transfiguration Today have been reprinted, with notes and comments by Mr. Loxley.
"However, Mr. Doherty, if you feel I am unqualified for my position, you are free and encouraged to lodge a complaint with either the Headmistress or the Board of Governors."
The class, which had spent the last several minutes in silence watching their professor tear into a doubting student, burst into laughter at Harry's conclusion. The entire class, save, of course, Mr. Doherty. Even the Slytherins he had come in with – a short boy with red hair and a tall, pretty girl with black hair – had turned to laugh at their comrade.
"However, Mr. Doherty," Harry said, interrupting the eruption, "I admire your courage in questioning authority; if we had had more people like you around when Fudge was Minister, maybe the second war could have been avoided," Harry said. "And so, Mr. Doherty, twenty points to Slytherin for your tenacity."
"Sir," began the McConnell, "I'm sorry, I couldn't help but notice; you have written for all of the main journals but The Practical Potioneer."
"That is true."
"Why haven't you, sir?" she asked, but was not finished, her eyes glistening with a clever question. "Draco Malfoy was editor-in-chief before you got him his job here; was your old rivalry to blame for your lack of articles in the Potioneer?"
"No, Ms. McConnell," he said with a smile, "Professor Malfoy is not to blame; I have not written anything for The Practical Potioneer because I am an astonishingly incompetent potion-maker; it's nearly killed me more times than I care to think, actually; I am truly awful."
Harry smiled wryly. "As for your characterization of the relationship I had with Draco Malfoy as a rivalry, I must disagree; Draco Malfoy was not my rival, he was my enemy. Ours was not a competition, or was not, at least, since the earliest of my Hogwarts years."
"But Professor," countered McConnell lost in his eyes, "why, then, did you endorse him as a professor here?"
"Because he was the best person for the Defense job;" Harry said simply, sticking to the old line, "his past had uniquely positioned him for this position, and I believed he could bring a perspective to the job that no one had since Severus Snape years earlier."
"The perspective of a Death Eater?"
"Yes, Ms. McConnell; the perspective of a Death Eater. But," Harry continued, "as I said, he was the best person for the job."
"Well, Ms. McConnell, I'm here now," he said with a grin to her blush. "Now! Any more questions, or can we get to the business of Defense now?"
"Sir?" asked a girl in the back.
"Yes, Ms. Grant?"
"Do you know all of our names?"
"If I need to," he said vaguely.
"Does the word Legilimency mean anything to you, sir?"
"What House are you in, Ms. Grant?"
"You would be," he said, smiling. "Thirty-five points to Ravenclaw for Ms. Grant's shrewdness, and for bringing us to our first assignment for the year."
The class groaned.
"Mr. Doherty: You asked what happened with Lord Voldemort. Ms. McConnell: You asked how I did it. I answered truthfully; I killed Him with the Killing Curse. But I defeated Him with Legilimency."
Suddenly, the class didn't seem to dread their homework quite as much.
"Sir, what is Leg…. Legilimiticy?" asked Ms. McConnell.
"Legilimency, Kathryn McConnell, is how I know your name. But I suspect you seek a slightly more clinical definition." He smiled. "Ms. Grant?"
She reddened and cleared her throat. "It – Legilimency – is sort of like, well…. Muggles have this concept called mind-reading; it's an example of their made-up sort of magic, but that's more or less what Legilimency is: mind-reading. It lets the Legilimens – that is, the person performing Legilimency – pick up on thoughts and memories of the person they are using Legilimency on."
"I know what mind-reading is, Sandra," bit Kathryn McConnell, scandalized. It took only seconds for her to realize, however, that her professor had access to her thoughts. And when she realized it, her eyes grew wide.
"You're in our heads? You can read our thoughts?"
"Not as such, no," Harry quelled. "Though I certainly am able to access every thought in every head in this school, I use it very sparingly. However, one of the side-effects of the 'Last Battle,' as the media likes to call it, is that the surface thoughts of non-Occlumens come to me unbidden. For me, it takes a concerted effort to completely cease my use of Legilimency.
"But don't worry; the most I can pick up passively are little things like your name. People are so tied to their identities these days that you all wear your names like badges. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, or just a thing, but I despair for the future of collectivism if individual distinction and nomenclature are so important to you."
The class seemed largely disturbed by the idea of a teacher in their heads. And it showed on their faces. Because something had to, and Harry's individualism rant certainly couldn't.
"Honestly – don't worry about it. If I were to lose myself, you would have much more to worry about than me finding out what you did last summer."
For reasons he wouldn't fathom, that didn't seem to comfort them either.
"Well, on to the good news, then!" He smiled. "The first thing we're doing this year is teaching you some degree of proficiency in Occlumency, which is Legilimency's opposite; if Legilimency is offensive, Occlumency is defensive.
"Even the most basic Occlumency shield will enable you to block out my passive Legilimency. You just have to have something in place to keep me out, and then I'll have to will myself into your heads to actually get anywhere."
Still nothing. He promised them mental security; but the trade-off was learning an obscure branch of magic with an obscure and intimidating name.
He sighed. "All right; twenty points the first person to smile."
And it worked; the entire class forced obscene, mirthless smiles onto their faces, like mad clowns.
"Slytherin again," he said, then addressed the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs: "You've got some catching up to do."
"Sir?" voiced Kathryn McConnell. "Will we be learning Legilimentsy ourselves, or just Occlumency?"
Harry smiled again. "It's le-gi-li-men-cy, Ms. McConnell. But to answer your question: I will only teach you Occlumency. Legilimency is a very powerful, potentially very volatile magic; it is the one lethal art I will not teach you, and I think over time you will come to understand why."
The boy in the back, Stephen Doherty, saw fit to turn the discussion back on his new professor. "Why didn't you come back to Hogwarts, Professor, after the Fall?"
"Oh, let's not get into that," he returned.
"It's a legitimate question, sir," countered Kathryn McConnell, looking at him with lust and longing, trying to impress him by forcing him into a situation, counterintuition working on overdrive. "You are the teacher of a very important subject in our NEWT year, but you never finished Hogwarts yourself. We have a right, if not solid a foundation, sir, to be concerned. I mean, Professor, you didn't come back."
"I didn't, no," Harry said with a very deep breath. "All right; full disclosure. I'll address it fully, but after this, we're done with this line of questioning. Agreed?"
The class gave silent consent.
"After the Fall," he began slowly, then paused. " After the Fall, I couldn't face things any more. I didn't have it in me to come back to school, to be the student of people who would call me their savior, I couldn't sit in a class with my peers thanking me, prodding me, worshipping me, declaring me god."
He sighed. "The idea – the idea – of being looked at with gratitude by people who were supposed to be equals, superiors, was too much; it was painful to consider in serious terms.
"And to be perfectly honest, after I went through what I went through, it seemed silly to come back to Hogwarts and sit in class reading about things I had already experienced. Defense Against the Dark Arts in theory is not what it is in reality. And everyone who might have had a thing or two to teach me about fighting the Dark Arts was dead.
"The idea of sitting in a class and being excited about anything was just too foreign to me at that point. It didn't make sense to come back to that atmosphere of false constructs and false enthusiasm, not after what I'd seen. Not after what I'd done.
"And so, when it looked like Minister Shacklebolt was going to be able to take care of things, Ginny and I disappeared, breaking quite a few laws in the process, actually. If the Ministry wanted to, they could, I suppose, charge me with kidnapping, and…" Harry trailed off, beginning to blush. "Well, quite a number of things."
Most of the class snickered, with a few boys in the back of the class cheering, to Harry's immediate and immortal mortification, but Kathryn McConnell looked like she'd just been kicked in the teeth.
"So no, I didn't come back to Hogwarts as a student. Headmistress McGonagall did offer me this position, though, the day after the Fall. I turned it down. Which was wise, I think.
"I was on the brink of collapse, anyway," he added. "We both were."
"But Ginny Weasley was younger than all of us when you disappeared. Didn't her parents object?" asked Kathryn McConnell, envious and hopeful.
"They did, yeah," he nodded, "but we didn't present it as a question, or as something we were considering; we didn't seek their blessing. Which was another wise move, I think; her father would have given it, her mother wouldn't have, and it would have made things harder than they needed to be. By not asking permission, we avoided a split in her house; her parents could both get behind being upset at us if we left without consulting them. We told them that we were going to go away for awhile, and we thought they'd like to know."
"So you just ran away?"
"Into the sunset, yeah," he said sarcastically.
The girls all seemed overtaken by romantic fantasy; some cast sideways glances at the boys in the room, and some of the boys returned them.
"We used to talk about it, when it was just the two of us in hiding, during the second war," Harry said, for the first time that day, offering information rather than being pressed for it. "We said we'd run away when everything was done, that we'd disappear completely to never be found.
"Until the Fall, it had always been a fantasy, and we both knew it; we treated it in fantastical terms. If was a big word back then; if we both survived the war; if the world could still be left; if we were even able to disappear, if the media wouldn't be so incredibly overbearing that we'd never get the opportunity….
"We used to lay under the stars at night and talk about it; the little house we'd build in some remote part of the world; not letting anyone know where we were, not a single soul; being completely free from danger; no apocalypse to keep us in check; no having to walk, to live and breathe, in silence and darkness….
"We used to dream."
The class looked at him with sympathy and longing; they felt for him, but some part of them, the part that rebelled against the largely comfortable lives they had lived, wanted the life he had for those nights under the stars.
"Where did you go, Professor?" asked Kathryn. "After the Fall, I mean."
"I'd tell you that if I didn't think it would find its way back to the Prophet. Suffice it to say, and this might be a topic of controversy at some point – the Prophet has to deal with slow news days somehow, I suppose…. Suffice it to say that we left the country."
The unspoken implication, that a national hero had in essence defected, was the wet dream of the sort of tabloid journalist which Rita Skeeter epitomized.
"Professor?" began Sandra Grant, her hand aloft a moment later. "How did you use Legilimency to defeat Voldemort? And how has it made you…."
"Unable to turn it off?" he offered to her nod. "There is a dangerous and ugly answer to that unassuming question. If you want it, I will provide it, but be warned; it was war, and I a warrior."
The class, as one, seemed to bid him speak. He nodded.
"I used Legilimency to infiltrate and overtake the minds of Voldemort's Death Eaters. I used them to attack, distract, and taunt Him. When it was convenient, I used them to block His curses, often to the expense of their lives. Before the night was over, I used them to kill each other. One lived. He is now in St. Mungo's Criminally Insane ward. His mind is scrambled. He doesn't know his own name."
What he had said, he said to immediate shock and horror.
"I told you it was through Legilimency that I defeated the Dark Lord, and that was the truth. I picked His mind apart, clawed through ancient thoughts and memories, terrorizing and torturing Him with all His past and future. I butchered his mind, annihilated his cognitive powers, tore out his ability to reason, deliberate. All I left him was the ability to feel. And he did feel, in his dying moments as he lay dying, begging for the end.
"Legilimency, properly used, is a brutal weapon. I knew that, and so I trapped my supporters in the Great Hall. If they had come along to join the fight against Voldemort, their fates would have been His and the Death Eaters'.
"I know because I've been there. Lord Voldemort did the same thing to me in my fifth year. It is a brutal magic, excruciating, and almost impossible to defend.
"The violent overthrow of so many minds and consciousnesses is what has driven me to my state of Legilimens perpetual."
The class was absolutely silent. Every face stone-white, every body stone-still. After several minutes of the class staring at Harry and Harry at the ground, Kathryn, her voice wavering, dropping in and out with her resolve, broke ranks and spoke:
"Are you Unforgiveable, sir?"
"Are you a murderer, sir?"
"Are you a war criminal, sir?"
"Are you repentant, sir?"
"I do not apologize for the things I have done. I was judge, jury, and executioner. But I do not apologize. My brutality was in place of yours. We all do terrible things to the ones we love; we all wish terrible things on the ones we hate; circumstance is what separates us.
"And I do not repent."
A chill ran through the class; even Kathryn McConnell, who had spent the class period thus far with a mix of love- and lust- struck awe in her eyes, looked at him like a sick dog. Some still felt the debt that hung around all their necks, resting on their chests beside their Legilimental name badges, but the feeling was fading fast, leaving fear in its wake.
Few had ever imagined that Harry Potter himself, the trumpeted and celebrated, the savior and saint, the hero of their generation, their nation, would ever declare that he was the things he had; fewer had ever fathomed he might declare these things and stand defiant before judgment.
"I have done terrible things for men, women, children and to them. But absolution is one thing you cannot grant me, it is one thing I cannot seek. What I have done is for me to live with. And there is no power in this world that would hold me to account for my sins.
"Reckoners: This is what I have to teach you; this is what you must learn. Protect and save yourselves and those you hold most dear. The mind is a terrible thing to lay to waste, and I am not the only one who can. You must protect yourselves, mind, body, and soul. If you will listen, I will teach you. You have lived ten years' contented existence, ten years' relative peace; but all things must pass, thus too must happiness.
"There may well come a day when you stand on the threshold of eternity and all that separates you from death is what you will learn in this room.
"You must learn Occlumency. You must learn defense. You must learn offense. You must learn the lethal arts of war and peace, of love and hate, if your generation is to survive. Tens of thousands of my generation, of my parents generation and yours, fell to a power-mad, self-aggrandizing man because those who saw His genesis, who saw what He was becoming, who saw where He was going, did nothing to stop Him, because by the time the world knew what He was, no one could.
"The rise of Lord Voldemort was as slow as His Fall and no one stood up when they could have, no one saved my generation, my parents', your parents'. Men lived and died resisting in futility because those who came before permitted a monster. They were not armed, my generation and that which preceded it immediately, they were not prepared; they did not comprehend, nor should they have been made to, the evils of gods and men.
"You will not be a mirror to their failure. You will be ready. Because I can't do it again and I won't pretend I can; I have saved this world, and never again. It's in your hands. Destiny is yours to forge; and nothing so precious as the future should be left in a man's hands.
"I could have died at any time. What would have happened then? We, your heroes, are men, and men are mortal. You cannot depend on us to save you. Be your own heroes. Defend yourselves and your country, your ones loved and hated, not just from some primal scream of self-preservation, but because it is your duty as you live and breathe to save yourselves and those around you.
"Tyrants rise because good people let them. Strike down your evils.
"Give me your eyes and I will show you how."
He looked away from his disciples and to the would-be sky. "There is evil both before and behind. I can't be held responsible for what will happen if you cannot rise above yourselves. If you cannot topple your tyrants, you leave it in the hands of those know not how to create, but to destroy. The world should not be built by those who have ruined it."
Three minutes' silence reigned. Harry looked his disciples in the eye, one by one, probing, but without the aid of Legilimency, exhorting, but silently. Finally, after silence had overstayed the welcome afforded it, the reliable Kathryn McConnell broke it.
"Sir," she began again, "I have another question."
"Go ahead," he granted, some part of him relieved, some part dwelling on past horrors.
"What happened at the First Battle of Hogwarts?" The class perked up. "There have been rumors since the day of the battle that the Ministry had covered things up. Dumbledore was found dead the next day; you and Ginny Weasley disappeared. There's a lot of… mystery, I suppose, surrounding that day. There are a lot of unanswered questions.
"I suppose what I'm asking, sir, is: what happened there?"
"I have no knowledge of the story the Ministry put out;" Harry began, "by the time Ginny and I disappeared, the cover-up hadn't been put in place, and I didn't hear about it in the time between the Fall and our departure for greener pastures. So what you will hear, if you would like, is my memory of the events unmisted by Ministerial propaganda.
"However, I must warn you all that your homework for the night is increasing with every minute we don't spend on the material. If you are willing to accept that penalty, I will tell this tale, but on your own heads."
Consent was silent and uncontested.
"In 1996, Lord Voldemort attacked Hogwarts with a number of Death Eaters, he—"
"Was Professor Malfoy one of them?" asked Steven Doherty from the back.
"That is not for me to say," Harry half smiled. "Professor Malfoy and I have known each other for almost twenty years; if he has not told you himself the extent of his activities as a Death Eater, then I won't either."
"Sir," began the brunette, "about the attack…."
"Right. During my sixth year, in 1996, I studied very closely with Headmaster Dumbledore. The night of the attack, the Headmaster and I had just returned from an errand abroad. We rushed in, but the Headmaster was unwell."
No one spoke.
"Professor Dumbledore and I joined the resistance already within Hogwarts — led by Headmistress McGonagall, Ginny and Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger — and tried to fight back.
"We had the Death Eaters nearly beaten when Lord Voldemort showed up," Harry continued. "He was after us, the Headmaster and me, specifically; he must have been. If usual death and destruction were his aim, he would have accomplished it," Harry mused aloud.
"At any rate, we, Headmaster Dumbledore and I, we dueled Lord Voldemort. I was very young then, younger than the youngest of you. I was weak, was foolish, Dumbledore was ill, and Voldemort was all but omnipotent.
"Professor Dumbledore ordered the disciples and staff out of the room — the Great Hall – and Voldemort ordered the Death Eaters to leave the school. The attack was aimed to draw us out. He wouldn't have banished the Death Eaters had it been anything else….
"At any rate, I don't know if any of you have ever seen a tandem duel, but between Headmaster Dumbledore and I, we were able to hold our own against Lord Voldemort for awhile."
"Professor Dumbledore did die that night then, Professor Potter?" asked Kathryn.
"Yes, Ms. McConnell, he did.
"The Professor and I had grown very close since the end of my fifth year. He is as much to thank as I am that Lord Voldemort is no more; without Professor Dumbledore, I could not have defeated Him. I wouldn't have known how, and I wouldn't have had the power."
"I made a mistake when we were dueling. I exposed myself to an attack that Professor Dumbledore saved me from, to his and my expense. The curse was fatal. I charged the Dark Lord — that was the first time I used the Killing Curse — and got enough curses by to force Him to flee."
The class looked impressed, but Harry continued; he did not aim to impress.
"Professor Dumbledore died in my arms, the first person to. As he lay dying, he turned the tide. His dying words were an incantation and an exhortation to use his wand. I learned some time later what the incantation was, and I continue to use his wand to this day. As he lay dying, Professor Dumbledore transferred his power, if not his ability, to me. As much of his power as he had in him, at any rate. It was an infusion of magical power; and had the curse not killed him, the transfer would have."
The class was silent for several full minutes, sitting and staring, some considering the facts of the situation, some putting themselves in his or the Headmaster's place. When Harry did speak again, however, the classroom clung to his every breath.
"Shortly after that night, Ginny Weasley and I disappeared for the next year, working to undo what made Lord Voldemort unconquerable. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger stayed at Hogwarts and helped try to maintain organized resistance. It was everyone's feeling, and we came to be proven right, that it was only a matter of time before, with Dumbledore dead, Lord Voldemort took over Hogwarts.
"When it came, in late October of that year, Ron and Hermione disappeared into Hogwarts and spent the next six months with the Invisibles; they were the heads of their operations within Hogwarts, raiding Voldemort's people within the castle and keeping disciple resistance and disobedience up."
"I'm sorry, sir," interrupted a boy in the front with blonde hair and blue eyes. "But who were the Invisibles?"
"You don't know?" asked Harry, surprised. The boy looked guilty, and he was not the only one. "Raise your hands, all of you, if you know who the Invisibles were."
None of the disciples did, to Harry's consternation.
"The Invisibles was the name of a resistance group to Voldemort's rule; not everyone saw the Ministry to be a puppet government, but many of those who did joined the Invisibles, so named for the speed of their attacks and because they attacked at times of low visibility. Until the Fall, they were the most powerful resistance force in the country.
"There was a group before them, and if you haven't heard of the Invisibles, I doubt you've heard of them either. The Order of the Phoenix was a group Dumbledore set up during the first war and which he reactivated with the start of the second. It was the premier group until Dumbledore's death, when it fractured into bits and pieces." Harry shook his head. "My parents were members the first time around, and I was an informal member until its collapse.
"After the Order fell apart, a number of successor groups formed; the Invisibles was one of them. The national leader was my parents' old friend, and my old Defense teacher, Remus Lupin; he died in Hogwarts on the day of the Fall.
"When I was a disciple here myself, in my fifth year, I formed an organization called Dumbledore's Army in response to the way the Ministry was interfering with the Defense program here at Hogwarts; nearly every single member of the DA — that was the name we come up with to be able to speak about the Army without anyone knowing…. Nearly every single member of the DA joined the Invisibles, either after or instead of Hogwarts."
The class were all leaning forwards in their chairs, elbows on the desks, awaiting his next words.
"But I think I have wasted enough time on ruminations on the past for one day." The class groaned as one. "We have a lot of work to do; Occlumency is a very difficult branch of magic, and an obscure one. So let's get to it."
"But, professor, what about—?"
A/N: Honestly, the things I do with capitalization and personal pronouns... In some countries, it's probably illegal.
Anyway, I'd appreciate your thoughts on the chapter, if you have any. I know, I know -- it's not Phantasmatic, but that seems to have stalled lately. School's back in session, after all. So you're stuck, at least for now, with this. And another chapter of the old FDPS on Sunday. But: