Chapter Thirty-Eight

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Note: By Harry's scar being born on the 31st of December, I meant that the scar is a Horcrux and Riddle was born then. Also, I was looking over Book Four when I was writing this and I noticed that Ron and Harry seemed to think Snape having 'seemed to have attained new levels of vindictiveness over the summer' was because he didn't get the DADA job again. Uh, hello? Sirius escaped from right under his nose right after exams and he can't even say anything because Dumbledore helped him. How do they not realize that's going to cause some bitterness? And that's not even counting the fact it's Moody (or supposed to be) since they have no way of knowing of Snape's…legal troubles… at that point.

Harry might have been looking forward to Actual Moody's first class – and he knew it was still Actual Moody as he had had the twins check just that morning. He was having them check so often in fact that they started getting a little annoyed and so he started paying them every time they did so. Naturally, they took that to mean 'seek Harry out at every available opportunity and assure him that Moody is Moody', but Harry didn't care. The twins needed the money for their awesometastic future joke shop. Anyway, Harry might have been excited, but not excited enough to actually show up early. Unlike the rest of the class. Even Hermione had had Neville and Ron drag her out of the library so she could stand outside the classroom in anticipation.

Harry actually showed up after Moody did, but before the bell had rung. His friends looked disappointed at his apparent apathy and made him sit in the front with them as punishment. Okay, maybe they didn't view it as punishment, but he was a normal teenager – well, sort of. Not at all, actually, but it was the thought that counted – and as such sitting in the front was never, ever something he wanted to do.

"I've got one year to teach you how to deal with Dark-" Moody was explaining when Ron so very rudely interrupted.

"What, aren't you staying?" he blurted, sounding upset. Harry wondered about that. They hadn't even been in his class for two minutes and Ron already wanted him to be their teacher forever? Then again, if the stories he'd been hearing about Moody's class all week (all vague, of course) were any indication, Moody knew his way around publicity too.

Moody shot Ron an 'are you stupid?' look but managed to restrain himself from making the biting comment that he so very clearly wanted to. "Does anybody want to answer that?"

Harry started to raise his hand, but Neville beat him to it. "Didn't Voldemort put some sort of curse on the position because he threw a hissy fit after Dumbledore realized he was evil and didn't give him the job? That's what Professor Black said."

"…I knew that…" Ron lied. Harry was rather impressed that even though Ron might have been the only one of the eight Gryffindors in their year not to get the fifty points Sirius promised for saying 'Voldemort', everyone else now used that name with such regularity that Ron had stopped twitching some time in early December.

Moody looked amused. "Sirius always was too reckless for his own good…Yes, Voldemort did indeed curse the position some forty years ago. Seeing as the curse was successfully thwarted for the past two years by people voluntarily leaving and having a one-year contract, I also plan to stay for only a year. I may come back in a few years if retirement proves to be too dull, but you'll be out of school by then so it won't matter."

"Are we going to get the Imperius Curse cast on us?" Harry asked curious.

Moody looked at him suspiciously. "How did you know that? Have you been talking to the other classes? Because if I found out they ruined this for you-"

"Oh, no," Harry assured him. "It's just that from what I can tell, surviving the Avada Kedavra gives you a psychic scar." He was a bit surprised the lesson would be the same. Then again, he supposed that gave credit to Crouch's acting skills the first time around.

"And he's made a career of stealing other people's thunder," Neville added helpfully.

"Is that so?" Moody looked as skeptical as everyone did when hearing that for the first time. Well, more skeptical of what Harry had said then what Neville dd.

Harry shrugged. "Find me another survivor to prove me wrong."

"You know two of the three Unforgiveable Curses; do you know the third as well?" Moody asked him.

"The Cruciatus Curse," Harry said shortly. "Nasty piece of work, that, and it will leave you shaking for hours." Seeing everyone's curious glances, he quickly added, "And no, I'm not going to discuss my experience with it, nor do I feel up to explaining what those are to those who have somehow managed to go at least four years in the wizarding world without learning the three curses that will earn you a one-way ticket to Azkaban for using…in most circumstances."

Harry only half-listened as Ron, Neville, and then Parvati explained what the three curses actually did and Moody demonstrated. The dead spider was disturbing, the tortured spider was giving him flashbacks, and the tap-dancing spider was mildly amusing, but mostly horrifying.

Harry didn't think Neville looked nearly as bad as he had the first time he saw the giant spider being tortured, but he still looked really pale and was trembling slightly. Harry shot him a reassuring smile, which the other boy weakly returned. Being confronted with a visual reminder of his parents' fate would never be easy for him.

"For the record," Harry said, as no one else seemed inclined to break the uneasy silence that had descended upon them. "I would like to say to everyone who thought I was making up that my Boggart fear of green light was actually the Avada Kedavra…I SO told you so."

"Right," Hermione rolled her eyes. "Because you're just a bastion of truthfulness who has never once given us any reason to doubt you, ever."

"I'm glad you've finally come to realize that, Hermione," Harry beamed at her.

"Um, Harry?" Ron said. "I think she was being sarcastic."

Harry sighed and shook his head sadly. "You've come a long way in your quest to correctly identify sarcasm, young grasshopper, but you've still got a long way to go."

Ron just blinked stupidly at Harry. "…Did you just call me a grasshopper?"

"Oh, never mind…"

"CONSTNAT VIGILANCE!" Moody suddenly screamed out. Everyone but Harry – who had experienced it before – jumped about a foot. "You see, if mere shouting can cause such an extreme reaction, than you are clearly completely unprepared for the world of combat."

"But…we're at peace," Lavender pointed out hesitantly.

Moody smiled knowingly. "We're always at peace…until war breaks out. The Dark Side rarely gives us advanced notice before attacking."

Harry wisely turned his laughter at the most likely inadvertent Star Wars reference into a coughing fit, but Moody still eyed him suspiciously. Then again, seeing as how this was Moody and Harry was hiding something, he figured he might well get used to it.

The class ended without Moody using the Imperius on them. Since Moody confirmed that he would be using it on them, Harry couldn't figure out if it was because he was mad that Harry had, as Neville so aptly put it, 'stolen his thunder' or if the lecture on the Unforgivable was a different lesson than the practical.

Since Neville still looked upset and Harry knew exactly why but that Neville didn't exactly want people to know, Harry suggested they head outside and they spent a very relaxing rest of the afternoon down by the lake.

That night, Harry, Ron, and Neville finally got around to doing that extra Divination homework Ron had gotten them. Ron and Neville were making things up haphazardly but Harry was putting some real effort into his…or so he thought.

"Harry, you've got 'I will be besieged by the stupidity of the general population' four times this month," Ron pointed out.

"Really?" Harry said mildly. "Only four times? This must be a good month, then."

"You're not supposed to do repeat fates," Neville reminded him.

"Oh, Professor Trelawney will understand," Harry said airily. "She faces the same problem in regards to Divination, you know."

"You've been going here for four years now and you're STILL taking issue with the fact no one else can keep up with your insanity?" Neville was incredulous. "Well...except for Luna, of course."

Harry shrugged. "Apparently so. Or so my scar insists and I know better than to doubt it by now."

"Hey, what are Fred and George doing?" Ron asked, thoroughly bored by the assignment. Harry didn't think it would be taking the other boy nearly as long as it was if he stopped making every day so damn epic. If Ron's month got any MORE tragic than their Professor might just decide that Ron was the student destined to die young from their year that she had somehow missed because he was being overshadowed by Harry - as per usual. Ron, superstitious as he was, would probably believe her and then they'd have to endure weeks and months of him bemoaning his fate until he might very well die...from being strangled to death by his irate friends.

Harry glanced over at the twins, who appeared to be plotting. "I'm guessing they're planning their future business. Interrupt them at your own risk."

"No thanks, I'm good here," Ron said quickly.

Neville snorted. "Finally, he shows some survival instincts!"

"Be fair," Harry deadpanned. "He's lived with them all his life. It's more twin instincts than anything."

"True," Neville agreed solemnly.

"Hey!" Ron protested.

"I'm finished!" Hermione announced, bounding into the Common Room. She glanced at Ron's paper. "You appear to be drowning twice."

"It's a good thing Dean's a qualified lifeguard then," Ron said amiably. "Still…you'd think I'd learn after the first time…"

"Don't you think it's obvious you made this up?" Hermione asked.

"Way to judge, Hermione," Harry huffed. "Just because you couldn't last a year in the class doesn't mean you should belittle those of us with actual talent."

Hermione glared at him. "By your own admission, you have no talent in the class."

"Ron does," Harry countered.

"So, Hermione, what's in the box?" Neville inquired quickly, preventing a full-blown argument.

"Funny you should ask," Hermione said, glaring at Harry. She took off the lid and revealed the horribly familiar sight of fifty or so multi-colored SPEW badges. Only they didn't say SPEW, obviously, since Harry had trademarked it. He should have known better than to hope that that alone was enough to stop Hermione crusade on behalf of House Elves.

"SHOE?" Ron asked, confused.

"Stop Hurting Our Elves," Hermione beamed. "You like it?"

"Hermione, no one's going to take an organization called SHOE seriously," Neville said frankly.

"It's not 'shoe', it S-H-O-E," Hermione corrected.

"Yeah, people aren't going to care," Harry told her. "It's easier to just say 'shoe'."

Harry didn't really care what scheme Hermione had cooked up to do this and figured he could always get a recap from Neville later.

"So…will you join?" Hermione looked so hopeful that he almost said yes. Then he remembered just how annoying SPEW had been and how crazy and idealistic the issue of House Elf rights made Hermione.

"Can I just make a donation?" Harry asked instead.

Hermione blinked. "A donation? Why?"

"Tax cut," Harry said simply.

Ron groaned. "AGAIN with the tax cuts? Are you obsessed or something?"

"Of course not!" Harry denied, highly affronted. "But seeing as how I'm the only one of us that actually has to pay taxes, I'm the only one who understands that every little bit counts. I won't get to make SHOE a deduction if I'm a member because then it will look like it's my own self-interest."

"You could just hire someone to do your taxes for you," Hermione pointed out. "That's what my parents do."

"Ah," Harry smiled. "I could. But I find better loopholes."

"I'm sure you do," Neville said absently. "Now, what would membership of this 'shoe' require us to do? Because I draw the line at bake sales."

Hermione nodded. "That's fair. How do you feel about knitting?"

Soon came the Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson that Harry had been looking forward to: the chance to purportedly be completely immune to the Imperius Curse on the first try. Granted, it had really taken him four, but that sounded much less badass.

"Isn't that illegal?" Hermione protested. "I could have sworn someone said something about it being a one-way ticket to Azkaban."

"Wizarding Laws don't really apply to Dumbledore," Harry explained. "I mean, what are they going to do? ARREST him?" He snorted, remembering when the Ministry had tried exactly that. "Good luck."

"While I wouldn't quite go that far," Moody said neutrally. "It's true that no one really wants to nitpick Dumbledore's every action."

"NITPICK?" Hermione couldn't believe it. "This isn't nitpicking, this is a curse that's apparently on the same level as brutally torturing someone and as automatically killing them and we can't just-"

"Besides," Moody interrupted her. "If you do not wish to do this lesson, the door is that way. Just don't be surprised if a Dark Wizard uses it on you and you're completely and totally unprepared and helpless to resist. It's not always used by Death Eaters, you know. Oftentimes it's used for less obvious evil and in conjunction with an Oblivious."

Gulping, Hermione stayed seated.

Harry watched impassively as his classmates were all rendered helpless under the Imperius Curse's effects. The actions they were doing – imitating a squirrel, hopping around the classroom singing the national anthem, doing some rather impressing gymnastics, ect – were in and of themselves rather amusing. The underlying implication that his friends and classmates would be utterly defenseless against a Dark Wizard or even just a morally-challenged one was not. Finally, it was Harry's turn.

"Potter," Moody growled. "You're next."

Harry calmly moved forward to the middle of the classroom.

Moody raised his wand and pointed it in Harry's general direction. "Imperio."

Harry felt the effects of the curse, of course, that blissful, floating feeling. Still, over the years he'd been under it so much – in fact, after the Second War ended Auror training mandated being put under the Imperius curse until you successfully fight it off and Harry had been put under a few times just to prove that he already could – that he barely noticed the effects.

Jump on the desk.

Harry sighed theatrically. "You know, I would, I really would. In fact, under normal circumstances I think it would be a great homage to 'Dead Poets Society.' Just the same, I cannot – as a matter of principle – obey any command I receive while under the Imperius Curse. It just wouldn't be right."

"Does that mean Harry's fighting off the Curse?" Hermione wondered.

"Maybe Moody's just getting creative," Ron suggested.

"Of COURSE Harry managed to be immune," Neville groaned. "Is anyone honestly surprised?"

No one said anything.

"Impressive, very impressive. Until yesterday I could honestly say I'd never seen someone so resistant to the Imperius Curse before," Moody said thoughtfully.

"What happened yesterday?" Seamus asked.

Moody smiled. "Yesterday I had the third year Ravenclaws and one Miss Luna Lovegood didn't even notice I put the Curse on her."

"That sounds about right," Dean agreed.

"I am so proud," Harry gushed. "Luna's great."

"That's all the time we have for today," Moody announced. "Even though no one but Potter managed to beat the Imperius on their first try, repeated usage develops a natural resistance in everyone so if anyone wants to work with me to build up a resistance, stay after class and we'll work out a schedule."

Needless to say, Harry went down to dinner alone.

Note: Next chapter the other schools arrive! Finally! And Harry actually remembers he has a godfather! Sadly, though, it doesn't look like anything in this world can stop Hermione's House Elf Crusade...

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