Posted: 21 July, 2013
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in this story that is recognisable from the Harry Potter books, movies, etc. Everything else however (eg. story plot, original characters, etc.) stems from my own imagination and belongs to me. No copyright infringement is intended and I am not profiting financially from this story in any way.
Chapter 17 - Training in Defence
Wednesday, 7 October, 1992
Harry and Neville were sitting in the common room, building a tower with Exploding Snap cards, when Neville brought up a topic he thought Harry had forgotten.
"Are you still willing to tutor me in Defence, Harry?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?" he said, carefully tenting a seven and jack together.
"Just that you've not brought it up, and it's been a while since our first DADA lesson," Neville said, laying a card to bridge the gap to the new peak, finishing off the row.
"Ah, well I've been doing some research first," Harry explained, as he took two cards and started on the new level. "There are some old, bound professor's curricula in the library I took a look at, as well as a guide to the O.W.L. syllabus. If I'm going to be teaching you Defence, I wanted to do it right; make sure I cover what should be covered and all that. I think we'll have to go back and learn a lot that was missed first year as well."
"Wow." Neville sounded surprised. "I didn't expect you to take it so seriously."
"Well, DADA is an important subject, and we can hardly depend of the fraud to teach us what we need to know."
"Excuse me," an outraged voice interrupted, "but surely you aren't talking about Professor Lockhart!"
Both boys looked over at Hermione. She was looking quite offended at their disparaging of the new professor. Beside her, Lavender also looked disapproving, though Parvati was another story.
"Yes actually," Harry said. "You've always seemed intelligent enough Hermione. Please tell me you see through that man's act."
"Act?" she gasped. "Act!? Professor Lockhart is a more than satisfactory teacher. The things he's done… He's a hero! I mean just look at his acknowledgements: he has an Order of Merlin, Third Class, not to mention is an Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League-"
"Yes, yes," Parvati interrupted her to add mockingly, "and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award!"
Parvati Patil's opinion of Lockhart had taken a nosedive after their first DADA lesson. No matter what her two friends said in defence of the professor, she remained firm in her negative convictions. Girls being complex and confusing beings, Harry couldn't be entirely sure, but he thought he got the gist of why.
With the addition of Hermione, the Gryffindor girls in Harry's year had formed a trio. Whilst Hermione was still bookish, and had in this timeline chosen Lavender and Parvati as the subjects of her nagging to study, the two girls had also had an influence on her. Occasionally Hermione would come down for the day with makeup on, albeit just a touch, and the pair must have changed her shampoo or something, because her hair was regularly much less frizzy than Harry had ever seen before outside of the Yule Ball.
Nevertheless, despite this, Lavender and Parvati were still the girly girls of the trio. If Harry had been forced to guess, he'd say that the girlier and most fashion conscious of the pair was Lavender, by a decent margin. That one lived and breathed makeup, fashion, hair care and Witch Weekly. He had since come to realise however, that Parvati's vanity was simply more focussed. To be specific, it was focussed on her long, dark, shining hair.
How he'd figured that out was through observation. It was hard to miss the way the Indian girl neatly tucked her locks up into a witch's hat every DADA lesson after the first, and glared at Lockhart whilst defensively shielding her head with her arms whenever they passed him in the corridor. It seemed Parvati was hair-proud, and the pixies playing tug of war with her hair had earned Lockhart a black mark in her books.
"Parvati," Hermione said, "I know you're angry about-"
"He's pathetic Hermione, face facts. You're just too busy drooling over his shiny teeth and fluffy hair to notice!" she spat.
Parvati was also, clearly, more than a little bitter over the incident, and willing to hold a grudge.
"Lavender, talk to her."
"Oh no," she said, raising her hands and shaking her head, blonde curls whipping about. "There's no way I'm getting in the middle of this. All I'll say is what neither of you can deny: that he's definitely handsome. Absolutely dreamy in fact."
Hermione sighed. "Okay, yes, but we were debating his educational merit, not his looks."
"Well, I think he's a terrible teacher," Parvati declared imperiously. Her fingers unconsciously smoothing the spot of hair the pixies had managed to rip out. She'd had to use a potion to grow it back, and complained that it just wasn't the same. "In fact, I'd love to hear what you have planned Harry. Do you have room for a second student?"
"What's this?" Seamus said, the other Gryffindor boys having listened in on the conversation. "You're teaching DADA Harry? Are you any good at it?"
"He's good at everything else," Parvati pointed out.
"Think you could give me some pointers too?"
"If Seamus is in, I'm in too," Dean added.
"But mates," Ron whined, "more work?"
"You don't have to join us."
"Sure, I could just be left out," he said sarcastically. "Nah, I'm in I suppose, so long as I can skip sessions when I can't be bothered."
"Well if you're all doing it, and Parvati's in," Lavender said, "then so am I, I suppose."
"What? I can't believe you all!" Hermione said. "Lockhart's a wonderful teacher."
"Think of it as a study group Hermione," Parvati soothed.
"Oh, fine," she sighed, swayed.
Harry meanwhile, had listened to the conversation with bewilderment. Now as they all stared at him, he felt a bit overwhelmed. He looked to Neville for help, but he just looked amused, and instead said:
"We should ask Luna along as well. Since we're covering first year stuff too, she should be on an almost even level with us."
Harry just stared. It looked like he was being roped into a mini-version of the DA. And three years early too. Finally, as he stared from one hopeful face to the other, he sighed, defeated.
"Fine, fine. I'll do it."
They all cheered and he huffed, turning back to his card tower. The moment he lowered a queen and a six to the top level however, they blew up, taking his left eyebrow and the tower with them.
Sunday, 11 October, 1992
"Okay guys, now normally if we started at the beginning, school curriculum wise, there'd be some bookwork. Basic history of dark uprisings, Ministry regulations in relation to duelling and defence, that sort of thing," Harry said.
He stood at the front of the classroom he and Neville had cleared out yesterday. The other Gryffindor second years, as well as Luna, were seated at a row of desks that curved around his position. Well, sitting atop the desks, as this was an informal class. Hermione was the only one in her chair, and she looked excited at the talk of 'bookwork'. Others, particularly Ron, looked less enthused.
"Come on Harry," the redhead groaned. "Tell us we're doing something more interesting that that. Something not boring."
"Bookwork is not boring, Ronald," Hermione said, sounding scandalised at the mere suggestion. "There are so many fascinating things to learn about-"
"Hermione, cool it," Lavender said. "We get it: books good."
"Guys, maybe we should let Harry speak," Neville suggested and everyone quietened.
"Thanks Nev. As I was saying, normally we'd do that, but I'm bright enough to realise that a bunch of twelve year olds-"
"And an eleven year old," Luna chirpily interrupted.
"And I turned thirteen in September," Hermione felt required to add.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Twelve year olds, or thereabouts then. I'm bright enough to realise that bookwork won't hold most of your attentions, especially not in a non-compulsory class. So, I'll just give a basic summary, and then I'm handing out a parchment to each of you, with a listing of references you should read up on in your own time. Once that's done, we're going to do something interesting."
"Define interesting," Dean said.
"You'll find out soon. First, the basics. The latest dark lord was best known as You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I assume you all know what he was really called."
Dean, with him all-Muggle background, was the only one to shake his head. "No one's been willing to tell me."
Harry paused, reluctant. After having lived under the Taboo he was hesitant to speak the name boldly and defiantly as he once had. The whole 'fear of a name increases fear of a thing itself' catchphrase was all well and good, until you'd lived through a time where speaking said name got you hunted down. Finally he gave in though.
"He went by Lord Voldemort," he said, and everyone flinched, Parvati and Lavender letting out little screams.
"Blimey Harry," Ron said, pale. "Was that really necessary?"
"Sorry. He deserved to know. I won't say it again," he said, which appeased them all. "Now back to the story. You-Know-Who rose to power, starting in the early seventies. His followers were called Death Eaters, and his credo was pureblood supremacy. Or that's what he said to gather support anyway. Mostly he was a a psychopath who wanted to rule us all. He was defeated Halloween of 1981, at Godric's Hollow. He killed my parents, James and Lily Potter, before apparently being stumped by me, when I somehow reflecting the Killing Curse back on him, leaving me with only this scar." He briefly pulled back his fringe to show off the lightning bolt. All but Neville and Luna leaned forward in fascination, since Harry generally tried to hide the mark.
"The dark lord before that," Harry continued, "was Gellert Grindelwald. He wasn't much of a presence in Britain till the latter stages of the war. Mostly he stuck to the continent, where he played a part behind the scenes in the Muggle Nazi regime and World War II. His credo was 'For the Greater Good', which was his justification in his goal for wizards to rule over Muggles. He was defeated by Albus Dumbledore in 1945, and imprisoned – ironically – in Nurmengard, a prison he'd built to hold his enemies.
"Those are the two main and most recent dark uprisings. That was of course a very brief explanation. Now, onto Ministry regulations." Hermione, who had been taking hasty notes, perked up in interest, only to deflate when Harry said simply, "Basically: don't start it, don't kill someone, and don't be seen by Muggles."
Most of them seemed amused and appreciative of his brevity. Hermione did not share their views.
"B-but, that's a gross oversimplification of the ministerial regulations," she objected. "What about the 'Code of Wand Use'? Or the 'Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery'? There's some important information there. Or-"
"Hermione," Lavender interrupted, stifling the other girl with a hand over her mouth.
"He said 'brief'," Parvati pointed out, but then allowed, "But he did promise a reading list, remember? I'm sure that'll have some of that stuff you're going on about."
"The 'Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery' is not 'stuff'. It's the backbone of-"
"Hermione!" Harry interrupted. "Like Parvati said, there'll be more on the reading list. And like I said, bookwork won't hold the majority's attention. Which is why I've kept it simple. Alright?"
She sighed, sounding put out. "Oh, alright."
He nodded and continued. "Okay, now onto the interesting stuff: spell casting."
"Finally, something good," Ron cheered.
"I'm going to start you off with a very basic spell. It's called the Disarming Charm. The incantation is 'Expelliarmus'. I want you all to say it." They all chorused the word. He corrected Ron's pronunciation and then nodded. "Okay, and the wand movement, is thus." He demonstrated. "I want you all to try it, but don't incant just yet." They did so, and he made some corrections to most of them. Finally though, he was satisfied.
"Okay," Harry continued, "now follow me to the back of the room. Right, as you can see me and Neville cleared the area, and piled pillows up on one side. Everyone pick a partner. The first to cast, stand on the left side of the room, and the other person, stand on the right, in front of the pillows. They're going to break any falls." They hurried to obey. Neville paired with Luna, Dean with Seamus, Lavender and Parvati together, and… "Okay, no, definitely not," he objected. "Seamus, you're with Ron. Dean, with Hermione."
"Because, you two together," he enunciated slowly, "are just a blow-up waiting to happen. Hermione, you're too superior and impatient. And Ron, you're too sensitive and temper inclined," he said bluntly, and before they could argue they noticed their friends nodding. "So, no. Now change spots. Okay, that's better. Now, on the count of three, I want you all on the left to cast the Disarming Charm on your partner. Okay? Alright. Ready… three, two, one, go!"
Results were varied. Hermione's spell gave a flash of scarlet light, and Dean tripped over backwards into the pillows, but managed to keep hold of his wand. Neville almost managed the same with Luna, the girl stumbling but just managing to stay upright. Parvati's spell was more of a red fizzle, and barely nudged Lavender, let alone tugged on her wand. Ron too managed a fizzle, but missed his target.
"Okay, you all need to work on putting more power into the spell, but that comes with practice. Ron, you could use a little practice aiming. Let me think on that. Now swap places with your partners. Okay, now on three again. Ready… three, two, one, go!"
Again, mixed results. Dean's Expelliarmus forced Hermione back a step, but she maintained her balance and retained her wand. Luna's spell was weak, though not as much as Parvati's, since he saw Neville grip his wand more firmly, his arm jerking as it was tugged on. Lavender's spell was a red fizzle, and missed Parvati by an even wider margin than Ron had missed Seamus. And as for Seamus, Harry had to act quickly to put out the sparks that had caught on Ron's robes.
"Honestly Seamus," Ron said, inspecting his robes for damage. He didn't find any; Harry's repair job had been quite well done. "How d'you always manage to set things on fire?"
"Eh, it's a gift," the Irish boy shrugged, though he looked a little sheepish.
"Okay, that wasn't bad for a first try guys," Harry said. "All of you need to work on power which, as I said, is a matter of practice. Magic, or our ability to use it, is like a muscle, people. Only giving it a work out it will make it stronger. Lavender, your aim needs work too. And Seamus, you fouled up the wand movements; I think that's where you went wrong.
"So, first…" Harry said, as he moved over to the blackboard and drew four concentric circles. "You two, Ron and Lavender, come to the front here. I'm going to teach you two the Paint-Ball Spell – basically a colouring spell with a small area affect – and then you can take turns aiming for the target I've drawn up, to practice your aim.
"The rest of you, meanwhile," Harry continued, "swap sides and try the spell again. Keep taking turns casting. Seamus, you'll be with Parvati now. Let her keep the casting position till I've finished with these two though. I want to correct your wand movements before you try again, so you don't set Parvati on fire too. She'd eviscerate you if you burned her hair."
Seamus gulped and nodded quickly as the Indian girl suddenly acquired a fierce look, indicating that yes, she would indeed be displeased, even homicidal.
He spent a few minutes teaching Ron and Lavender the spell. It really was a very simple charm, and soon they'd mastered it, so he left them to their target practice. He put Parvati into rotation with Hermione and Dean while he pulled Seamus aside. Correcting his wand movements took a bit more time, but eventually he felt it safe to put him against Parvati. The Irish boy earned a cheer from the room when his spell knocked the girl into the pillows, her wand dropping at her feet. Seamus looked visibly relieved that he hadn't harmed the hair.
Eventually Harry returned Lavender and Ron to the back of the room, partnered up, but told them to stand nearer each other, since their aim was better but still not perfect. By the time the lesson finished everyone had managed to disarm their opponent at least once, though in most cases the wand just fell to the ground at the bearer's feet. Only Neville and Hermione managed to send the wand flying in their general direction, though neither caught it.
Still, it was an encouraging first lesson, and the students all left in high spirits, chattering excitedly. Harry even thought a few of them – in addition to Hermione of course – would look into the reading references he gave out.
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