Considering the impressive, albeit mixed comments people have made regarding this little piece of work, I've decided to throw caution to the wind and see where it takes us.
And so, like so many others out there, here is my rendition of Harry Potter's Fifth Year of Hogwarts, only with a Professor that most certainly ISN'T someone the Ministry and Fudge can boss around.
I almost feel sorry for Umbridge…and if you believe that, I've a realm to sell you.
Deal with a Devil
It was always raining this time of year in the United Kingdom, so much so that many people would hold off on any big plans simply out of habit. This was especially true for Scotland, a fact that many would consider a right pain in the arse, were it not for the fact that, being used to the weather, they found means of occupying themselves.
But for the secret wizarding society the rain was in fact a double blessing, as it not only allowed the various witches and wizards to go about their regular routines whilst their muggle neighbors stayed indoors, but it kept those nosy researchers away from the various magical sites that littered the higlands, most notably the Hogwarts grounds, as the area around the castle forest was renowned for it's landslides in fierce weather.
True the muggle-repelling charms helped, especially on those annoying hikers that just wouldn't take a bloody hint and feck off, but nothing kept nosy parkers away than Mother Nature when she was in a bad mood.
It was at this time that we turn our attention to the wizarding school itself, or more specifically, towards a single, solitary light that shone from a window near the top of one of the castle's lofty towers. Behind this window was a room, more specifically an office, and within said office, looking out into the rain with an unreadable expression in his normally twinkling blue eyes, was the current Headmaster of Hogwarts, Chief Warlock of the Wizengammot, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and quite possibly the most powerful British Wizard alive, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
If the lack of his trademark twinkle in his eyes weren't hint enough to the Headmaster's state of mind, the fact that his pet phoenix and loyal companion, Fawkes, was crooning softly from his perch at the back of the room, should have made it amply clear that Dumbledore was NOT in a good mood.
The reason for this was Fudge, and we're not talking about the addictively delicious treat either, but rather the bowler sporting minister of magic, Cornelius Fudge, who was proving most unreasonable of late.
The little twat, despite years of sucking up to Dumbledore, badgering him at all hours of the day for advice, refused to see that Tom Riddle, or as the lad preferred to be known: Lord Voldemort, had returned from his near death experience, apparently stronger than ever and eagre to pick up where he left off, namely 'purging' the wizarding world of the 'impurity' of muggles and muggle-borns. Apparently there was a running pattern for would be dictators.
Fudge was so far in denial that he'd had the audacity to have Albus' rank of Chief Warlock of the wizengammot stripped from him, apparently taking on the title for himself despite the protests of more than a few members. However, not even the Minister of Magic could outrank the clout Dumbledore had with the other members, not for lack of trying mind you, which is why the professor had been able to attend the supposed 'trial' of one Harry James Potter, otherwise known as 'The Boy Who Lived', scant seconds before Fudge could pull any tricks.
Not that you could call it a trial, in fact, had Dumbledore been as loathe to address it as anything other than a farce, he would have called the proceedings a proverbial 'Witch Hunt'. Young Harry had been hauled up on charges of illegal use of magic in front of a muggle, his own cousin no less, a crime that many a wizard would have been heavily punished for, but for an underage student, was indeed most grim.
The fact that Harry had apparently fended off a pack of Dementors had mostly been scoffed at, after all everyone KNEW the despicable creatures were in the Ministry's employ, though the fact the boy could perform a corporeal patronus, and had demonstrated as such to Alice Bones, had made several would be condemers reconsider their verdict. Fudge, of course, wanted nothing more than to have Harry expelled from Hogwarts, doubtlessly believing that by removing the boy from Dumbledore's 'care', he'd be of better use to the ministry.
Fortunately, the plan had, predictably, fallen through, as Dumbledore had merely had to set foot in the court room to remind the insolent little bureaucrat who was top dog. Not that this brought the professor any real form of pleasure mind you.
Well, admittedly it HAD been a real treat to watch Fudge stew in his impotency while he'd led Harry out of the proceedings, but such matters paled in comparison to the dilemma the professor now faced. For while the attempt to discredit Harry could be swept subtly under the carpet, the fact that Hogwarts STILL hadn't been able to locate a creditable Defense Against the Dark Arts professor was not so easy to cover up.
It had been a long-standing tradition that, should a candidate not be found to fill in for a professor, the Ministry would supply one until such time that a replacement could be found. Ordinarily Albus would have accepted this without question, but ordinarily he would have had Fudge wrapped around his little finger, and thus could have selected the candidates from amongst the Auror Corps.
As it stood however, Dumbledore had a pretty good hunch as to whom Fudge would send to Hogwarts, and the idea of allowing the woman in question, who had slithered her way into the ministry through use of blackmail and the overused 'Imperius Legislation', into a position of authority, rankled the headmaster's beard. And considering the length of the Professor's facial hair, that was quite a knot to untangle.
"Ah Fawkes…" the aged magician muttered, gazing out the sole office window into the relentless storm with a sigh "It is indeed dire times we find ourselves in. Not only do I find myself trying to think three steps ahead of Tom, but now I must think a step ahead of Fudge and his lackeys, not to mention keeping an eye on young Harry."
He stared out into the rain for a few minutes, his face a mask of grim discomfort, only to break the façade as lip lip quirked in a smile. "I haven't had this much fun in years." He admitted with a chuckle, a familiar twinkle returning to his eyes as Fawkes trilled in agreement behind him.
But fun and games aside, having Dolores Umbridge take up the position of DADA professor was NOT something Dumbledore was willing to accept without a fight, especially if he wanted Harry prepared for the upcoming challenges. He'd seen the book list that the woman had requested, and there was nothing in there that hadn't already been covered or discarded as bunk in first year, clearly an attempt to discredit the school, and Albus by proxy from the inside. Quite frankly the only way Harry could use the ministry assigned books against Tom was if he chucked one at the man's head.
The problem was that while Fudge was undoubtedly an incompetent, kowtowing bureaucrat, too desperate to hold onto his delusions of grandeur and the seat of power he'd only received because Dumbledore didn't like being in the spotlight, he was STILL the Minister of Magic, and as such could see to it that all of the possible candidates for the position were either occupied or on the ministry's payroll. It didn't help that many believed the position was cursed, especially with Hogwarts' track record for going through an new professor per term.
'How ironic that the professors that have contributed the MOST to Harry's education against the Dark Arts have been a Werewolf and a Death Eater…' The professor mused, shaking his head at the irony of Bart Grouch Jr. teaching his master's enemy spells that could wind up killing Tom one day. The REAL Alastor would have never taught the students anything so dangerous 'Why if I didn't know any better I'd suspect the only ones that can teach are those that are dark themsel-!'
He trailed off, his silvery brow furrowing as an epiphany struck with the force of a reductor curse. Turning his back on the driving rain, a quick charm drawing the curtains shut, the aged professor began to pace before his desk, Fawkes following his movements with interest.
'Would it work?' he wondered, his blue eyes deadly serious as he stroked his moustaches in thought, his half moon spectacles glinting in the firelight 'One the one hand I would be absolutely certain that Fudge has no sway over them,'he grimaced suddenly 'but on the other, fact remains they aren't the type to listen to ANYONE.' He snorted, wry amusement visible in his eyes at some distant memory 'Just like their mother really…' he chuckled, only to shake his head with a frown to get back on track.
'But which one would be best suited?' he muttered, resuming his pacing as he ran over what little he knew of the men in question 'True the younger is more inclined to the light, but his methods and mannerism are far too muggle for him to be accepted…' he frowned suddenly 'and as for the elder…were it not for his indifferent stand towards people in general I wouldn't be surprised if he usurped Voldemort at some point.'
'However,' he noted, stroking his moustache again as he paused in thought 'Unlike his brother, the elder one has ambition…' he turned his eyes towards his bookcase 'and like any ambition, he needs the right tools to obtain it…'
Decision made, Albus walked to his desk, magically summoning a sheet of parchment and an inkwell out of thin air as he set about drafting a letter to the man, he hoped, would be willing to meet with him to discuss the possibility of taking up the DADA position.
He kept the letter formal, but to the point, as while the man was loathe to beat around the bush, he still demanded a certain level of respect and caution in any conversation, and it wouldn't do to unintentionally agravate him.
Signing the letter with his usual, curled signature and promptly sealing the envelope with a drop of wax and the Hogwarts stamp, the aged Headmaster set about casting the usual delivery charm over the address, usually reserved for Hogwarts acceptance letters, before entrusting the letter to Fawkes, who vanished with a flash of fire to deliver it.
"Now all I can do is wait." He sighed, popping a lemon drop into his mouth and sucking away happily at the bitter-sweet confectionary, his hands clasped over his stomach as he leant back in his large, comfortable chair, already formulating the next gauntlet to lay before young harry. "Hmm…perhapse a little…jealous motivation?" he wondered, turning his eyes to the list of new Prefects that were to be appointed this year, more specifically the Gryffindor and Slytherin names.
In a dark, deserted street...
A man paused in his step, his eyes narrowing in suspicion as he looked up, his hand moving steadily towards his hip as he eyed a particular patch of air before him.
A sudden flash of fire, preceded by an even more sudden flash of steel, was followed by a cut-off squawk of shocked indignation, even as the flames vanished, great gouts of ash dropping to the floor at the man's feet, a small envelope fluttering down to land on top of it.
Intrigued, the man knelt, picking the dusty missive from the ashes, quirking an eyebrow at the irate peeps that erupted from the infantile phoenix, before turning the letter over, his eyes narrowing as he espied the unusual address, which listed not only his name, but his exact coordinates, right down to the the lampost he was standing next to.
"What the hell?" he muttered, slitting the envelope and withdrawing the contents, ignoring the irate peeps of the phoenix with a detached air as he skimmed over the contents "Interesting…"
It had not even been a full day since the Prefect letters had been posted out with the Hogwarts book lists when Dumbledore, who had retreated to the sanctity of his office after yet ANOTHER attempt to make Fudge see sense, was roused from his nap…MEDITATION, by heavy footfalls, so heavy they actually caused the dust of centuries past to fall from the ceiling, coming up the corridor to his office.
Hogwarts, several days later...
"Come in, Hagrid." the professor called out, sending a wandless alohomora to open the door, revealing Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts groundskeeper, dressed in his usual moleskin overcoat, one hand raised in the act of knocking on the door.
"I'll never figure out 'ow you do that professor." The half-giant muttered, his face, what little was visible behind his mane of black hair and beard, lined with shocked awe as he stooped under the archway "Didn't even 'ave ter say the password."
"My dear Hagrid," Dumbledore chuckled, smiling at the good natured, if socially inept groundskeeper with the air of an amused grandparent "have I not always said my door is always open for those I trust?"
Hagrid blushed behind his beard, nodding his head in agreement in a manner reminiscent of when he'd been a student himself. Dumbledore had been looking out for Hagrid since the latter's expulsion, his unfair expulsion at that, mainly by seeing to it that the half-giant's occasional use of magic, despite his wand being snapped, was swept aside.
"Be that as it may," the professor stated, looking up at the larger man, his silvery brow quirked as he leveled an inquisitve stare at him "is there a reason you've come to see me?"
"Well…" Hagrid muttered, shifting uneasily from foot to foot as he looked over his shoulder at something that was blocked by his considerable bulk from the headmaster's sight "There's someone 'ere to see yer professor, say's he's got business with yer or summat."
"Indeed?" Dumbledore asked, internally breathing a sigh of relief that Hagrid wasn't trying to 'adopt' another of the numerous horrors from the forbidden forest, before quirking an eyebrow in interest "Would he happen to be a man of regal standing and appearance?"
"The same sir…" Hagrid admitted, nodding his head in awe of the headmaster's deduction skills "Dressed in silk and lookin' like…" he twitched slightly "Begin' yer pardon sir but he looks like a Malfoy that got of his arse and did an honest days work."
"I don't believe I came here so that my appearance could be criticized." a cold, decidedly regal tone pointed out, the suddeness of it startling Hagrid enough that he actually jumped, causing several of Dumbledore's desk ornaments to fall to the floor with a crash, rousing several of the former headmasters' portraits from their slumber. "If you called me here to waste my time…"
"I assure you I have not." Dumbledore spoke up, standing from behind his desk as Hagrid stepped aside to admit the speaker into the office, the professor nodding at the half-giant in thanks "Please come in, thank you for escorting him Hagrid."
Hagrid nodded and left without a word, eager to get away from the mysterious young man that, despite being dressed like a noble, inspired a type of terror in the half-giant that not even the fiercest of forest creatures could match.
"Quite a menagerie of freaks you've assembled here." The man noted, his head turned slightly to the side as he listened to the half-giant's massive footfalls recede "I had a most interesting time getting here through the forests, you DO know that Acromantulas have established a colony on your doorstep?"
"Hagrid may have mentioned it at some point…" Dumbledore admitted, his eyes twinkling in a manner that made it clear the younger man wasn't getting anything else out of him.
"I see." The man noted, his tone making it clear that he really could care less, as if the question had been a test of sorts, before walking over to a chair in front of Dumbledore's desk, his movements speaking of a catlike grace. It even showed in the way he sat, making it so his clothes would not wrinkle, but to all outside purposes he put no effort into doing so.
"I believe THIS is yours." The man noted, extending a hand, in which rested a bundled hankerchief towards the headmaster, who accepted it only to find an irate, infant Fawkes glaring deadily up at him "Your pet startled me, were he not a phoenix I'd have already buried him for you."
"Blessed be for small mercies." Dumbledore chuckled, stroking Fawke's head soothingly as he carried the mollified chick to his perch/nest, carefully removing any stains from the man's hankerchief with a charm before returning it "Am I to assume then, that in coming here you are, at least, interested in my proposal?"
"Perhaps." The man suggested, leaning back in his chair and meeting Dumbledore's eyes with his own, the headmaster's blue eyes latching onto the th steel-like blue of his guest unflinchingly "Though quite frankly I highly doubt the 'information' you claimed to possess is worth the hassle of babysitting a bunch of snot-nosed, would-be wand wavers."
"Yout suspicions do you credit." Dumbledore applauded, his tone polite, though not without his usual amiability as he walked towards his considerable bookcase "I cannot say I did not anticipate it, which is why I took the liberty of bringing this as proof."
The man quirked an eyebrow at the small, purple tome the headmaster extracted from amongst the vast collection on display. It was old, if the styling of the cover and the coloring of the parchment were any indication, but other than that was virtually unimpressive.
"Please," Dumbledore offered, setting the book on the desk before him and resuming his seat, his hands steepled before him "Consider it a down-payment, in good faith."
The man said nothing, but nontheless picked up the book, turning it over idly in his hands, before opening it to the first page. He stiffened suddenly, his eyes locked onto the text written there with an intensity that could have easily burned a hole through the back of the tome.
"I've had several people look over it to validate it's authenticity." Dumbledore informed the man, though wether he was heard was up to debate, as his guest did not react to his voice "The text is clearly Infernal in nature, though the book and ink itself are of muggle origin."
"Where did you get this?" the younger man demanded, his steely blue eyes shifting their focus from the book he held in his hand, the other drifting slowly to the side of his chair, where his weapon rested in it's sheath "Where?"
"I shall be glad to tell you." Dumbledore admitted, smiling serenely at the visibly incensed young man, his eyes twinkling in silent victory "All I ask is that you teach the Defense Against the Dark Arts class this year. Do this, and I shall gladly tell you of where I came across that particular piece of text."
Start of the term...
Harry James Potter sighed as he sat at the Gryfindor table, waiting for the first years to finish being sorted so that he could get a decent meal before heading off to bed.
So far his fifth year as a wizard was NOT going so well. First he and Dudley had almost had their souls sucked out by Dementors, forcing him to summon a patronus despite the law against underage-magic. As a result of this, he'd been hauled up before the wizengamot, the wizarding court, where Corenlius 'couldn't find his arse with both hands and the four-point spell' Fudge had done everything in his power to have him expelled.
The only good thing that had come of the whole affair was that he'd gotten out from under the Dursley's eyes a little earlier than he'd expected, spending the rest of the summer at the ancestral home of his outlaw Godfather, Sirius Black, who he'd missed terribly despite keeping in regular owl-contact. Though the moment had been ruined somewhat when, despite everything he'd done, despite all the trials he'd faced, despite proving time and time again his loyalty to the ideals of Gryfindor, Dumbledore had passed him up for the position of prefect.
Not even the fact that Ron and Hermione, his best friends of five years and counting, had been appointed prefects could improve the boy-who-lived's mood, as Draco Malfoy, his sworn enemy of five years and counting, had been appointed prefect of Slytherin, meaning the pureblood prick could make his life hell with the backing of the faculty.
Not that Harry believed for one minute that the professors, most notably Minerva Mcgonagall, would believe the little ponce over him, but Malfoy happened to be on good terms with Severus Snape, who seemed to have it out for Harry simply because he hated the boy's father. It didn't help that, with the exception of his eyes, Harry was the spitting image of the late James Potter.
But now, just as he was resigning himself to a year that would doubtles be as hectic as all the others combined, he'd spotted a familiar, unpleasant face amongst the faculty members, one that he'd last seen sitting at Fudge's right during his hearing, like some bloated bullfrog in a tacky sweater.
All conversation in the great hall came to a halt as Dumbledore stood, his arms stretched wide as if to embrace every student, new and old, welcoming them all once more and for the first time to the most magical place in Britain.
"To our newcomers: Welcome!" the aged professor greeted, his beaming smile soothing the feelings of bitterness in Harry's heart as he looked up at the man "And to our old hands: Welcome back! There is a time for speech-making, but this is not it. Tuck in!"
Quite frankly, Harry wouldn't have minded another long winded speech, the sorting hat's alone had given them all a lot to think of, and anything that could keep him from having to watch Ron gorge himself like a pig was always a plus.
He might be Harry's best friend, but you couldn't have paid the boy who lived to put his hand near the redhead's plate at that moment for fear of losing a finger or three. That, and it was rather disgusting to have to keep wiping chunks of potatoe and other vegetables off his robes when the Weasley teen made the mistake of talking with his mouth full.
Thankfully, the meal ended in due course, the assorted plates vanishing as the house elves whisked them away without setting foot in the grand hall, even as Dumbledore again stood up to address them, running through the usual 'stay out of the forest' speech and once again pointing out that the caretaker, Argus Filch, a sour old Squib that stalked the hallways looking for students to punish, had placed a list of contraband goods on his door which mostly consisted of anything that could be classified as 'fun'.
"We have had two new changes in staffing this year." The headmaster pointed out, nodding his head down the staff table "We are pleased to welcome back professor Grubbly-Plank, who will be taking Care of Magical Creatures lessons." There was a scattering of applause, more enthusiastic from the female students, who hadn't forgotten the time the woman had introduced them to Unicorns. "Our Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor is running a little late, but assures me that he will be here before the end of the day. Tryouts for the Quidditch teams will take place on the…"
Harry blinked, looking up in interest as Dumbledore's voice suddenly halted mid-speech, his eyes widening as the toadlike woman, Dolores Umbridge, stood up from her chair, drawing looks of surprise from the students. These looks paled in comparison to the looks the staff levelled at her, ranging from Professor Sprout's look of shock to Professor McGonagal's thinly pressed lip, a clear sign of ire in the reserved witch. Harry also caught Snape levelling a glare that he'd thought only applied to HIM at the woman, a look of disgust, as if the Potion's Master had stepped in something particularly nasty.
"Ah, yes." Dumbledore spoke up, apparently unbothered by the woman's audacity at interrupting him, though the jovialness of his tone didn't match his eyes "May I also introduce Dolores Umbridge, a representative of the Ministry of Magic who will he overseeing the year as a sign of good faith between Hogwarts and the Ministry."
Silence reigned in the hallway, as if Umbridge was waiting for a round of applause at her introduction. When none came she cleared her throat, an amiable smile on her face that belied the slight scowl that had adorned it seconds before "Thank you, Headmaster," she offered, her voice breathy and decidedly fake "for those warm words of welcome." She cleared her throat again and addressed the audience"Well, it is lovely to be back at Hogwarts I must say!" she smiled, revealing a mouth filled with decidedly pointy teeth "And to see such happy little faces looking up at me-!"
The doors to the great hall slammed open with such force that Professor Flitwick, the charms master, let out a squeak and fell off his chair, everyone in the hall turning round, eyes widening in surprise as they gaped at the figure that stood there.
The man in the doorway was dressed in a long, gold trimmed coat, under which he wore a dark leather shirt and waist coat. His equally dark leggings were trimmed to his tall, lithe frame, and tucked neatly into his black riding boots.
He had a regal, almost noble air about him, as he looked over the assembled wizards and witches with his cold, steel-like blue eyes, his white hair, swept back over his head, shining in the candle light as he looked up at the staff table, his eyes coming to rest on Dumbledore.
Silence reigned in the grand hall as the two men looked upon one another, neither breaking the other's gaze. Then the stranger nodded, walking through the doors towards the staff table, Harry's eyes widening as he espied the sword, a katana he realised from one of Dudley's old video-games, the stranger held in his left hand.
The man walked down the aisles, heedless of the looks of confused awe he was receiving from the students, until he'd reached the steps leading up to the staff table, climbing them at the same sedate, but purposeful pace as before, until he reached the top and was standing before Dumbledore.
"Ah, welcome." The Headmaster greeted, smiling amiably at the yonger man, holding out a hand for them to shake, which the latter accepted after a moment's silence "Please, take a seat."
The man said nothing, but did as he was asked, taking a seat between McGonagal and Dumbledore himself, leaning his weapon against the table despite the disaproving look it received from the Transfiguration Mistress.
"Well it seems that another introduction is in order." Dumbledore chuckled, his eyes twinkling in merriment as Umbridge, her thunder effectively stolen by the arrival of the man, resumed her seat with a huff, looking absolutely indignant "Students, allow me to introduce your new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, Professor Vergil."
Once again, for those asking, this is set BEFORE the events of DMC3, during the year between the last time the brother's Sparda saw one another and Vergil encountering Arkham in the demonic library.
Expect copious amounts of Umbridge and Slytherin bashing, as Vergil isn't the type to let incompetents have their way.