Thanks for the reviews guys! The question of how learning about musicals is practical came up in a review, and I feel you will find the answer to that written in this chapter. I hope you guys enjoy this! Also, I NEED A BETAfor this story, so if you're interested, please drop me a line!
There was major uproar at Professor Flume's words, but she immediately halted them with a raised hand. "I warned all of you that if you did not intend on being serious students that you could leave my class. I will not listen to whining! Set about your homework and I will see you tomorrow in class."
Before anyone else got a chance to reply, the bell rang and Professor Flume was in her office, her door slammed shut. The class, sensing defeat, rose to their feet and began to collect their things. Harry stared at the door, wondering what on earth had just happened.
Like everyone else, he grabbed his bag and followed after Hermione and Ron out of the classroom. Ron hung back, letting Hermione guide them, in order to talk to Harry. "Did you expect that?"
"Not at all, I was expecting that class to be an easy one," Harry replied truthfully. He had no interest in taking Muggle Studies in the first place, but he wasn't too upset about the idea because he anticipated the class being easy for him, having grown up with muggles. He'd never expected to class to have taken such a drastic turn.
"Have you ever heard of these musical things anyway? I mean, you lived with those muggles for a while and all," Ron questioned Harry as they rounded a corner leading to the Great Hall.
Harry shook his head, "I mean, the term sounds familiar and all but it was very unlikely for the Dursley's to invite me out to a musical when I was with them. If you didn't catch on, they aren't the most generous people."
"Oh yeah, forgot about that."
They quickened their pace to catch up with Hermione at the Gryffindor table. Harry scanned the table and saw Ginny glaring at him over her goblet. She was surrounded by her friends, all of whom were now giving him equally dirty looks. Ron noticed Harry's gaze and forced him to sit down, "Ignore her," he muttered before taking his own seat next to Hermione.
Without any mention of Ginny, Harry began to pile food onto is plate. He'd just begun to eat his potatoes when Hermione cleared her throat. Both he and Ron looked up at her, their mouths full with food. The pair looked at their friend with confused expressions until she spoke, "Well, that class was interesting, wasn't it? I assume you guys will need help with your homework?"
It was more of a statement than a question. Harry swallowed and answered first, "Yeah, I was planning on asking for a little help with that."
Ron only nodded his head in agreement, too immersed in his food to speak. Hermione clicked her tongue, her annoyance with Ron quite obvious. "It scares me to think of what your grades would be like if I did not always intervene. We're going to the library once we're done eating. We're going to have to do a bit of research to find out enough information on these musicals in order for you two to be able to write your own essays."
"Ah Mione," Ron said though a mouth full of food. Once glance from Hermione had him swallowing his food before he dared speak again. "Can't you just tell us what musicals to pick and what we should write about them?"
"I'm not doing your work for you Ronald," when Ron looked put out by this Hermione sighed. "Really guys, this project sounds like a lot of fun. I feel like I'm the only student who is anticipating this assignment."
"You're the only person I know who anticipates any assignment," Ron mumbled. Hermione ignored his statement and barreled on, her comments now directed at Harry. "Haven't you ever just wanted to be someone else, if only for a moment? That's what acting is. It gives you a chance to express yourself. It seems very liberating."
While Hermione hit the nail on the head about Harry wanting to be someone else, if only for a moment, he did not reply. Instead, he sat and stared at her, not truly seeing anything fun about this project ahead of him. Instead, he was regretting returning to school more and more with how heavy his workload already seemed to be.
Hermione sighed again, for Ron had gone on to ignore her and submerge himself in his food once more, eyeing a particular piece of potato in front of him. "Well, I'm going to get an early start on this. Meet me in the library when you two are done."
Once Hermione had gathered her books and left the Great Hall, Ron turned to Harry, "I'm making sure to remember that part she said about it being liberating and what not and use it in my essay. It's bound to make me sound loads smarter."
Harry, along with Seamus and Dean who had heard Ron's statement laughed. As he finished the rest of his own food, Harry found his mind travelling back to Hermione's words. How would it feel to be someone else? On more than one occasion Harry found himself wishing he could be someone, anyone else. Would this acting thing make Harry feel good? What if he was garbage at it? It didn't sound like something you could just do, from what they'd read in class at least. He had to sing for starters and that was something he highly doubted he could do. Yet he couldn't help but at least toy around with the idea in his mind for the rest of lunch.
They found Hermione holed up in her usual corer of the library dozens with of books scattered on the table in front of her. Ron plopped down unceremoniously next to her while Harry settled down quietly on her other side. Without a word, Hermione pushed a book in each of their directions before she going back to scribbling furiously on her own piece of parchment. This behavior isn't at all unusual for Hermione. It was unlikely that Hermione would speak to them for some time, not when she seemed to into her own work. Begrudgingly Ron and Harry settled about doing their own work.
Hermione had passed Harry a copy of Muggle Theater of the 20th Century. The book was thicker than Hogwarts: A History (not that Harry had ever cracked that book open) and he took this an ominous sign. He knew full well that if he didn't at least try to locate a musical worth performing with the class, Hermione would begin a whole new lecture on how Harry didn't care about his education or where his life was going now that the War was over. Which wasn't entirely false, but he still didn't want to hear it. He also felt he gave Hermione too much grief over the matter. Because he knew Hermione cared, he opened the book and began scanning the pages, praying that a title saying 'Pick Me for Your School Play' would jump out at him immediately. Sadly, Harry's luck wasn't that great.
Hours later, Harry pushed away his third text with the conclusion that he only understood one musical enough to write about and its name was Grease. The plot was about muggle high school students, which was where teenagers went after they completed primary school, where there were two teenagers in love. He still didn't get how singing helped express their love, but he found he honestly had stopped caring hours back. Hermione had left him and Ron helpless in the library almost two hours previous, having finished her own work rapidly.
"This is brutal," Ron moaned as he slammed his book shut. "Are you going with Grease too?"
"Yeah, why do I feel like everyone else will be as well," Harry said, letting his head fall with a thud onto the table.
"It's the only one that makes sense plus there's load of stuff about it, I'm almost done with my essay," Ron said while making some adjustments to his paper, or at least it sounded as such from what Harry could hear from the scratching of Ron's quill.
They sat in silence for a few moments, possibly longer, until Ron spoke again, his voice much lower than before. "Is it just me, or have you noticed how Malfoy is always alone now, and never with his old friends?"
Harry lifted his head to look at Ron, a questioning look drawn across his face. Since when did Ron just bring up Malfoy in such a casual way? "Huh?"
Ron nodded his head towards a table two tables down from them, where Malfoy sat almost exactly like them, books spread before him while he wrote his own essay. He was indeed alone, but Harry didn't see the cause of concern. Since when did being alone in the library count as isolating yourself from your friends?
"I hadn't noticed," Harry said with a shrug, resting his head back on the table, but continuing to look Malfoy's way. Thinking back, Harry hadn't seen Malfoy around his old cronies, not that many of them were left. Nott had left the country, after his father had been tossed in Azkaban. Crabbe was dead, while Goyle was most likely sharing a cell in Azkaban with Nott's father. Only Parkinson and Zabini had returned to Hogwarts and when Harry racked his brain, he couldn't recall a particular time he had seen the three together. Even though the three of them were taking Muggle Studies, Harry realized Malfoy had sat away from the pair. But that didn't mean anything; it wasn't like Harry was keeping tabs on Malfoy. Who cared if he had friends or not?
Harry shook his head suddenly. He knew if he kept this up, his mind would be plagued by Malfoy and why he wasn't spending time with his friends. He did not need to start obsessing over the blond that was the last thing he needed. Harry got up from the table a little too quickly, causing himself to stumble forward. Harry could hear the others in the library snickering at him, but he paid them no mind, instead he looked back at Ron.
"It's late," he muttered to Ron when the red head tossed him a funny look, "I'm heading back to get some sleep."
"That sounds like a good idea, I'll come with you," Ron nodded while getting his own books together.
Harry ignored Ron's presence the whole walk back to the common room, his mind was flooded by thoughts of Malfoy. Why did Malfoy always get such a reaction out of him? It wasn't like Malfoy had said anything daunting to Harry at all, in fact Malfoy steered clear of Harry at all costs. They'd only had that one conversation a few days back and then Harry had managed a polite conversation with the blonde, and now he was being ignored? Maybe that was it…maybe he wanted Malfoy to pay attention to him. No, that's stupid. Why would he want to go back to the childish antics both he and Malfoy once endured? No, he would just ignore Malfoy and get through his last year. Malfoy was an arse who didn't deserve for Harry to be wasting precious thoughts on. He had N.E.W.T's to worry about and basically anything and everything else to think about besides Malfoy. Yes Harry thought idly as he settled in to his bed, Malfoy was the last thing he needed to worry about.
The following day, Harry awoke later than usual. By the time he had showered and changed into clean clothes, everyone was already filing out of the Great Hall and making their way to their first classes of the day.
"Here," Hermione said, shoving a muffin into Harry's hand, "Eat it quickly before Transfiguration, you know there is no way McGonagall will allow it in her class."
"Thanks," Harry beamed at his before forcing the muffin down his throat, earning a disgusted face from his bushy haired friend.
Transfiguration proved to be tougher than ever. Harry was almost sure this was because McGonagall was no Head of Hogwarts and she wanted to be taken more seriously than ever. They were working on Conjuring Spells, which were much more difficult than anything they'd worked on in their previous years. The task they had been given was relatively simple, they were to conjure an arm chair to sit in. Some students, Harry included, were able to conjure the cushion but not the actual chair. After her fourth attempt, Hermione was able to master the spell, conjuring a plush arm chair which she proceeded to plop into and began reading while the rest of the class struggled around her. Both Ron and Neville, who had astonishingly made it into the N.E.W.T level class, had made no progress at all with the spell. By the time the bell had rung, all they had conjured were buttons that they hoped were meant to go on their chairs.
There was a break between Transfiguration and Muggle Studies which gave Harry enough time to finish up his essay for Professor Flume and get in a small lunch before rushing up to the Muggle Studies classroom.
He was one of the last students to take their seat in the giant circle, only being followed by Neville who apologized profusely to Professor Flume, for he had been in a deep conversation with Professor Sprout when he realized the time and hurried to class.
"No matter," she said, waving for him to take the only empty seat. "It's not as if you missed a thing Mr. Longbottom. But, because I am feeling slightly vindictive, I will volunteer you for first today."
Neville swallowed hard before speaking, "You mean I have to tell everyone what musical I picked?"
"Precisely," Professor Flume replied sweetly, her lips stretching into a wide, complacent smile. "Don't look so worried dear, I'm sure what you picked is just fine and that your explanation will be fitting. I have faith in that."
Harry wasn't sure if Neville was more anxious about going first or because of the smile Professor Flume was giving him. Whatever it was, it caused some students to stifle giggles as Neville dug through his bags and pulled out his parchment. "Er," he started, biting his lip and shuffling his feet at the same time. "I saw a lot of good musicals when I researched yesterday, but I found one that seemed really different and I kind of liked that about it. It's called Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It's actually very dark, since it's basically about this barber who kills people."
Zacharias Smith snorted a few people away from Harry and muttered to Justin next to him, "Yeah you couldn't get that much from the title of the musical."
Justin laughed audibly which intensified Neville's anxiousness. Professor Flume shot the boys a pointed look before looking back at Neville, the same smile on her face. "Yeah, and um well what was most disturbing, yet kind of cool, was that after Sweeny kills these people, this lady Mrs. Lovett bakes them in these meat pies –
"That's disgusting!" Parvati Patil cried. Some of the other girls gasped in shock while the guys in the circle seemed mildly interested in the story.
"I know," Neville agreed with her, his anxiety seeming to ebb away, "but I also like that Sweeny isn't this bad guy from the start. He's killing people out of revenge, see cause he was sent wrongly away for fifteen years and comes back to find that his wife poisoned herself after being raped by the judge who sent him away and their daughter is locked up in the judges house."
"It seems you've done a fair amount of research Mr. Longbottom," Professor Flume said gleefully as she rose to her feet once more. "You may sit down now, you'll receive full marks for today's work, just hand your parchment in at the end of this lesson. Now," she said while turning towards the rest of the class, "Who is willing to go next?"
Dean put a timid hand in the air and at once Professor Flume called upon him. He began talking about one musical called Cats which he said his parents had gone to see in New York City. After Dean, Luna suggested they do a musical called Miss Saigon, which rather than go not detail on the musical, Luna related it to the search for a Crumpled Horned Snorkack she had gone on that past summer. Professor Flume did not say anything about this particular suggestion but merely asked for someone else to speak. Padma got up and was the first of 11 to suggest they do Grease, which seemed to be displeasing for Professor Flume, because she felt the class hadn't gone into enough research because so many students merely settled with that musical. She seemed ready to give up on them when Malfoy rose a pale hand to suggest his musical.
"Yes Mr. Malfoy?"
The blonde stood up, like everyone else before him. "I was thinking about The Phantom of the Opera."
Professor Flume's eyes lit up at this, "I have seen this show numerous times! What a wonderful selection, indeed I look forward to reading why exactly you picked it; hopefully you have insights on it that I have yet to breech. But, we have very little time left of class and I still must hear from Miss Granger, so if you do not mind?"
"Not at all," Malfoy replied, his expression unreadable. Harry held back a laugh, he could only imagine how annoyed Malfoy must have been to be cut off on his presentation for Professor Flume could hear all of Hermione's.
"Very well then, Miss Granger what have you selected for us?"
Hermione looked almost as anxious as Neville had previously, but Harry didn't see why she would be. She had been the first to finish her homework and clearly had the most knowledge on the subject matter. Then again, Hermione was always worrisome when it came down to her work. "Well, I was reading about this new production called Wicked."
"I do believe I have heard of that, never seen it though" Professor Flume said. Like she had been all lesson, she was writing in a note pad, most likely marking what each student was saying about their selections. When the fourth person had gotten up to suggest Grease, she had begun to scribble furiously. Harry assumed she noting what student's papers to read together to see if there had been any copying of the sort, which was probably the case for most of them.
"It's brand new," Hermione told her, which Professor Flume nodded at. "Well, I'm sure it's not likely that most people here have read or heard of The Wizard of Oz, it's a muggle tale that was later turned into a motion picture. Well, that story follows this girl named Dorothy in her journey through Oz. She is searching for the Wizard in order to find her way home and along the way she makes friends with the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. She also learns of the Wicked Witch of the West and East, the Witch of the East having died once she arrived in Oz. While there is more to that story, it's those characters we are concerned about in Wicked. In Wicked the story starts before Dorothy's arrival in Oz. Before she is known as the Wicked Witch of the West, she is Elphaba Thropp, a girl with electric green skin who possesses magical talents. The musical goes on through Elphaba's life, where she attends school and you find out how she becomes tiled as 'wicked.' It was because of this concept that I thought Wicked would be a wonderful musical for us to perform, given then we can relate a little. It's brilliantly written, with an amazing musical score and has gotten astounding reviews. If you've seen The Wizard of Oz, Wicked really fills in the holes. I wrote all about that in my essay!"
"I was not lied to by my colleagues Miss Granger; you do go above and beyond with your work. I'm rather excited to read what you've prepared for me. You may take your seat." Hermione did so quickly, a grin plastered on her face from the Professor's praise. "I will read over all your essays and by the next class, I shall have decided which musical we are going t perform. It would be prudent of you all to look up the musicals mentioned in class today to ready yourselves for my choice. Before you leave, make sure you place your essays on my desk. You're free to go."
While she was teaching, Professor Flume seemed years older, but once she had dismissed her students, she was her own age again. She pulled her long hair from its pony tail and shook it out while humming a tune that Harry did not recognize. Most of his fellow classmates were packing their things away, paying their professor not a speck of attention. That was, everyone besides Lavender Brown, who appeared to be working up the courage to walk over and speak with their professor. Harry watched her silently march over and tap her on the shoulder. Professor Flume spun around to face her. It was then Harry noticed her eyes were no longer blue, but brown. He frowned at this, hadn't then been blue only moments earlier?
"Yes Miss Brown?"
Harry noticed he was not the only student watching the interaction. Many others had stopped gathering their things to listen. Lavender's cheeks grew red as she spoke, "I was just wondering if I could ask you a question…?"
"I see no harm in that, what is it?"
"Uh well, I was talking with some people and we were wondering...uh, why is it we're learning about musicals and stuff? I mean, aren't there more practical muggle things to learn about like electricity and junk?"
"Excuse me?" Professor Flume, her smile completely vanished, her lips now pursed in a thin line as she glared at Lavender, who seemed to be shrinking under her intense stare. In that moment, Harry believed he was looking at a young McGonagall, she looked so much like their Head of House.
"Well…um, I didn't mean to offend you. We," she looked behind her, hoping someone was there to back her up. No one looked her in the eye, "just didn't understand the relevance of this to our education and all, you know not that it's not cool but why are we doing it?" Lavender was no longer looking at Professor Flume, but was instead particularly interested in her fingernails while she waited for an answer.
This seemed to aggravate Professor Flume further, "Look at me," she paused and waited for Lavender to do so. "If you or anyone else has such an issue with my assignment, I suggest you drop my class now. However, if you all seem to share the same feelings as Miss Brown, "Professor Flume said, her eyes now grazing over the remaining students, "I can gladly have your noses stuck so far in your text books that explanation the use of a muggle telephone and the history of the first airplane is impressed upon your faces in ink, if that seems more practical to you. Would you all rather I assign 15 inch essays each night on the history of muggle technology? Would that be a more proper teaching method Miss Brown?"
Lavender's lip quivered and she did not answer. Hermione took a step forward, "Professor, I don't have any issues with your teaching methods. I'm excited for this project, it's a whole new experience for almost all of us and it sounds like it will be fun."
"Thank you Miss Granger," Professor Flume said, her eyes still boring into Lavender, waiting for her to dare suggest that they learn about telephones or something else more practical. The bell rang, yet no one made to move. "I think it would be best if everyone left and went to their next classes."
And like their last lesson, Professor Flume marched into her office and slammed the door shut behind her.
"That was so rude of Lavender," Hermione huffed as they climbed the stairs leading to Gryffindor Tower. "Of all the people to criticize teaching styles, it should be me, but I wouldn't dare question Professor Flume. I think what she is doing is brilliant."
Ron nodded in agreement with Hermione, knowing by now it was better to just agree with his girlfriend rather than challenge her. Harry on the other hand, didn't have as much praise for their new professor.
"I guess some people may think it sounds like fun and all Hermione, but I don't see how this whole musical thing is going to work. Can anyone in our class even sing?" Harry asked as they approached the fat lady, "Fizzing Whizbee," he she quickly before Hermione responded.
Rather than looking put out, Hermione only laughed. "Harry, you'd be surprised by the talents some of our peers hold. I think you should have a little more faith in McGonagall as well. I think she selected Professor Flume for a particular reason and that she has faith in this performance we're all going to put on."
While Hermione was probably right about McGonagall's choice in Professor, she was a god judge of character, Harry still didn't see how that helped him when it came down to the singing portion of the musical. He was sure that he couldn't hold a tune to save his life. Then again, that could work to his benefit. Maybe every student didn't actually have to be in the musical. Maybe he could just paint sets or whatever and never set foot on stage. Now that Harry thought about it, that idea was actually very plausible. He may not even have to show his face in the production at all, which made the project sound monumentally better. There was no way he would be even a half way decent actor, let alone singer. Yes, Harry would just be behind the scenes, someone else could gladly take the spot light. He'd had enough of that in his life.
How did you guys like the chapter? Next Chapter we will see a bit of interaction between Malfoy and Harry ;) Please review and let me know what you think! Also, who heard about the screening of Deathly Hallows in Chicago this past weekend? I read some of the fan reviews and it sounds AWESOME! Who else is uber pumped for November now?