by Jared Ornstead
First day at Hogwarts was something of a holiday. There were no classes. It was a day for the first years to start learning their way around the many, twisty passages of the school, and for the older students to reacquaint themselves with old friends and start up new relationships.
It was also NOT a lot of time to learn how to be a Hogwarts professor, even an assistant one standing in for the soon to be hired real one to replace the one they'd killed. It was a bit weird, too, reminding Jared of some brutal gladiator games he'd once heard about - kill the old champion to take his place, only in this case it was teachers. McGonagall assured him that it wasn't really like that and none of the students would be trying to kill him to get his job. But it was still an unpleasant comparison.
Albus Dumbledore was a very kind, if somewhat distracted, mentor who knew just about everything. Unfortunately, he had long ago stopped teaching directly, or he would just have taken over the post of Defense Against The Dark Arts himself until a new teacher could be found.
But, as it was, he loaded Jared with a ton of extra books, gave him a speech about being fair and kind to all students, no matter their houses, explained how the point system was to work, and to be careful not to show favoritism in awarding to any individual or house - and on that note, kindly mentioned that he'd personally felt that killing Voldemort should've been worth fifty points to *each* participant, as well as an extra twenty-five to each girl for saving his life, but that seven hundred and twenty five points, while well earned, this early in the year would have destroyed the value of the point system. Gryffindor would have felt the cup was theirs - with some cause, it might be added, and their behavior would reflect a more casual attitude toward points and such. While the other houses might have felt they could not have won against so large an award and stopped trying. This, he explained, was why he and all the professors tried to be very sparing with points early on, then give them more generously toward the end of the school year.
It kept school discipline, and the students more interested.
As Jared left the secret staircase that led to Dumbledore's private office, he recalled that he'd gotten an armful of books, a lecture on fairness and how and why the point system worked, but nothing on actually teaching or *what*, precisely, his subject was to cover.
In a moment of shame-faced inspiration, he concluded that he hadn't asked any of those questions, and the headmaster had almost certainly brought on many highly qualified professors before. And, like old men often do, once he'd gotten started on something he'd done many times before he just did it the way he always did, giving the standard 'bring on the new hire' lecture almost entirely unknowing and completely out of habit.
That probably wasn't what he'd intended, it had merely come out that way once the old man had started, then fell more and more comfortably into the old, familiar rote, never even realizing that he hadn't covered the basics first.
Well, it was Jared's own fault for not asking.
Hermione stared at the door before her.
She couldn't help it, it was a little frightening. But it was also intriguing to her. It was clear to Hermione Granger that these people possessed magic that even their teachers didn't. That alone made them irresistibly fascinating to the young witch. But more, when she'd got to her quarters last night, she'd found a room with five beds all alone to herself and the sheets nicely warmed and turned down in all five. That made it clear to the girl that she'd originally been expected to share a bedroom with four of these other girls, and the empty room in the girls' dorm to her right was also five beds.
So that meant she and these girls were supposed to have been neighbors, even roommates. She could have learned all sorts of fascinating things from them that no one else knew.
She wasn't quite ready to let that opportunity be lost.
Steeling herself and her courage, Hermione lifted the heart-shaped knocker and let it fall twice, trying to imagine what friends did and what she should be doing when they met. If she had had any friends before Hogwarts this would have been easier. But she didn't. Other kids resented her for her brains.
So it was with some amount of fear that she took the initiative and knocked. Almost immediately when she did so, the door swung open and a girl stood there, puzzlement on her face. Disappointed, the one opening the door said. "Oh, I thought you were Jared."
Hermione shook her head, recalling the girl's name was Lita. "Sorry. I'm not. But I was wondering, I mean... you made the offer to be friends." She ground out helplessly.
Lita's disappointment at not seeing her husband there vanished into a smile, and she opened the door wider to let Hermione in.
Scooting past, Hermione was expecting to find a room much like her own. After all, how much space could they have if a tiny side tower? As she stood there gaping, Lita closed the door and came up beside her, enjoying the girl's reaction.
It was huge!
The room they were in was the size of the great hall they'd had the feast welcoming them all to Hogwarts! It was *at least* two stories high, with a second level made obvious by the railing running around, halfway up the wall. There were sweeping staircases going up and at least one wide portal leading down across broad steps to another level below this one. The stone was all a white marble veined with something blue, cut and curled in ways that reminded her of famous sculptures. In addition, there were tapestries and draperies and rugs and carpets strewn with pillows around fireplaces ringed by overstuffed sofas...
Hermione blinked, shutting her mouth with a snap. Her father had once attended a dentistry seminar held in a fancy hotel that didn't look quite so nice.
Not HALF so nice!
Several of those girls that boy was supposedly married to were lounging around, reading or playing. From an archway on their right came the sounds of a ball slapping flesh and Hermione could just see a glimpse of two girls playing volleyball at an indoor court.
"Like it?" Lita asked, enjoying the other girl's shock.
Hermione nodded numbly, managing just to squeeze out the question. "How does it all fit?" She asked in confusion.
"Oh, that." Lita tossed off the answer casually. "It's just folded space." She grabbed the other girl's arm and began to drag her toward the stairs leading down. "C'mon! Let's go for a swim!"
"Swim?" Hermione's startled squeak was cut off, objecting with a blush. "But I don't have a suit! What are we going to swim *in* anyway?"
"I'll let you borrow one. The pool came with the place. It's really nice. You should see some of the sculptures down there. I didn't know you could *get* a mermaid carved out of the ceiling like that. She looks like she's levitating, but it's only a trick of the light."
"POOL?" Hermione's voice was silenced as they went down the steps together. The dormitories had their own bathrooms, but they were strictly for washing up and taking care of necessary business - and they *weren't* very comfortable! And they *certainly* weren't extravagant!
The married dorm's bath was.
Justine Hofeling was having a *miserable* day!
Her sister, Jalisa, had been sent to Hogwarts a year before she was, and last night Jalisa and Malfoy had met. She quivered in revulsion at the memory of it. Jalisa had long, blonde hair - Malfoy blonde, the very same shade. Her eyes were blue - Malfoy blue. A person who didn't know better would say she was Draco's sister. You'd think she was one the way she acted, too. Jalisa was one of the few people who *still* wanted to be a Death Eater even when there wasn't a Voldemort to be a Death Eater _FOR!_
Justine's thoughts were not happy. ~Gee, I can see her as Malfoy's sister, take her off my hands, everyone's happy, I'm less a sister and Voldemort's up one supporter. Ok nevermind, that's not good at all.~
Her miserable thoughts were interrupted by Hermione walking in to a late breakfast. Not having classes today, everyone was supposed to be learning their way around or making friends. ~Well,~ Justine thought. ~Between Draco _Malformed_ and my sister all over anyone who'll listen to them there's no chance of my having any friends in Slytherin.~
So she set her lips, got up from the table, and went off to catch a Gryffindor.
They used the floo network, it was faster than the train.
Arriving in some inn or other McGonagall didn't bother to identify, she swept them imperiously out of the back door and into a dead end alley, coming to a stop at a brick wall. With an impulsive smile that was rare on her, she turned to see if she could use this as an opportunity to give her students a lesson, and see what she could of their potential as well. "Mister Potter," she said, meaning Jared. "The place we are going is on the other side of this wall. Do you think you could open a portal for us?"
She was intending this as a trick. There were no traps, but the puzzle lock was really a very solid spell and it ought to be quite interesting to see if he had the capabilities to decode the rhythm of strokes required.
Jared sized up the wall as he would an opponent, leaned close to put an ear upon the surface as he tapped it with one finger. McGonagall was quite pleased with this approach (though she knew it wouldn't go anywhere) when the child hauled off a mighty punch and shattered the four-foot-thick brick obstacle like a wrecking ball, smashing apart the stones as if they were lightly set together blocks of foam.
A final cartload of bricks tumbled down from above, revealing a hole through the barrier as effective as if a dragon had suddenly found the wall inconvenient and decided to demolish it.
McGonagall nearly choked.
The girls pranced through the brick dust and fallen blocks to see the alley beyond. McGonagall quickly followed, using her wand to transform the wall back to what it was (she hoped) before anyone noticed.
The dear Professor hadn't felt so flustered, so often, since she was a schoolgirl! The last time she'd been this off-balance had been when she'd gotten cake on the front of her dress at the Hogwarts graduation ball back when she'd earned her credentials!
Things from there went fairly normal, much to the professor's relief. At first she was a bit concerned, thinking they would have to wait in line at Gringott's, the wizard's bank, to get the required funds - and the goblins took ever so long to release anything! But the first few moments passed that fear away. Dumbledore had granted her permission to use school funds to outfit the poor fugitives from a home at war, but from the first moment one of the girls saw a dress she wanted it was amply clear that whatever else they had left behind, they had come well equipped with gold.
Even if the coins were of an unusual size and make, the merchants accepted them, relieving the elderly witch of one significant worry.
It was when they reached the bookshop that things again began to get interesting. The clerks had orderly stacks prepared, according to McGonagall's instructions, sent earlier last night by owl in order to speed the trip. But the Sailor Scouts exploded all over the shop in eagerness over seeing so many new things.
Trying to steer everything back to hold their attention where it should be, the elderly witch loudly cleared her throat and picked up one of the titles from the neat piles arranged by the clerks. "Ahem, yes. The Dark Forces: A Guide To Self-Protection. This will be your subject, Mr. Potter, the other students will have already bought their own copies. It would do well if you were to study it." She turned around to get a reply and had to back up to the door in shock and surprise - also not to get run over by the enormous stacks of books the students were carrying to the counter! They looked like columns of leather bound tomes with legs! And kept rushing to and from every cranny, nook and shelf like ants raiding a picnic!
They found copies of the Invisible Book on Invisibility. They uncovered A Hundred Hidden Mysteries. They came up with a small stack of Things Unknowable and Unseen. It looked like they'd taken a sample of every book in the shop! The shelves of Flourish and Blotts had never looked so bare! There were whole sections that had no books left!
The somewhat shaken professor tried to lend a little wisdom, advising restraint as she sorted over the top of the nearest pile, plucking out a book she knew they didn't need. "I commend your eagerness, but this is The Standard Book of Spells for grade seven, you won't be needing it for years to come."
Then she tried to hand it back.
Jared was already paying for it with an enormous stack of coins that made the teacher wonder how he'd walked under the weight. And Amy asked, "Has the book been the same for years?"
"Well, yes." McGonagall stammered.
"Is it likely to remain so?" Asked the girl she knew only as Pluto.
"Well, yes. It *has* been the standard for over five hundred years, that I know of."
The one named Mina nodded, as if that resolved everything. "Then we'll need it."
Professor McGonagall was about to object.
Mina rounded on her, putting hands on her tiny hips and cocking her head to the side. "Jay-chan will be teaching this subject, right?" She held up that very same text for this year's Defense Against The Dark Arts class.
"And every school year takes it?" Mina questioned, again with that direct look.
The Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts began to see where this was going.
"Well, if our husband is teaching students of all years, if they are doing something he can't at least look up, they'll walk all over him, won't they? I mean, what would be stopping them?"
"Discipline at Hogwarts is better than you might imagine." The witch tossed back sharply. Then she stared at the stack of already-paid-for-books and sighed. "Still, I can see your point. You didn't have to go *quite* to this extent, some of this material can be quite dangerous if you approach it uninstructed. But I'm sure you realize that. And it is admirable of you to try. Now my worry is how are we going to get all this back to Hogwarts with us?"
Jared answered that by simply shoving all the piles, even the girls' school texts, into one sleeve on his robe.
Well, at least now she knew where the gold came from!
It wasn't until the second shop that she realized they intended to make this a pattern. By careful questioning of the store clerks, they managed to acquire *all* the materials for *all* the standard years of study. McGonagall tried to remind them that certain things *did* change from year to year as new instructors were brought on and changed course work on to routes more suited to their own approach, but they heard none of it. If this year a subject was taught one way and next year it might be taught another, they didn't wish to miss a thing taught in either fashion!
It was an admirable attitude, commendable really, but she felt sure they were going to overload themselves. Still, in spite of it, or perhaps more because of that very zeal, she smiled and awarded Gryffindor house fifteen points in their honor, for such remarkable scholastic enthusiasm.
She only hoped that later that very year she wouldn't be penalizing them for having burned out early!
Verily, in all her years, she didn't think that Diagon Alley had ever had so great a day of business from so small a group of customers! They spent gold that made McGonagall wonder if they could be persuaded to grant a small fund to Hogwarts, to expand their teaching staff. In length, before the boy had shoved yet another shop-worth of stores into his robes, McGonagall had to lean toward him and question.
"My boy, where will you get more money? No matter how much you have the way you are spending you're sure to run out. There's seven years of school left for all of you. Please, reconsider. We can return half of this. I'm sure the shopkeepers won't mind and for your studies you'll never miss it! Most of the staff haven't this much equipment. Child, you mustn't spend all you have!"
A snort came, followed by a chuckle. The boy almost laughed, and she was quite certain some of the girls did, hiding their grins in their hands. "There's no chance of that!" Was all the answer he gave, however.
In the apothecary they bought seeds for all the herbs instead of the dried and powdered forms used in classes, obviously intending to grow their own - a rare bit of thrift. They bought barrels of some of the ingredients (even the unfairly high-priced dragon's liver which was twice as costly as usual due to a bad harvest year), but when they came to the display of unicorn horns at twenty-one galleon's apiece, the boy and his... well, girlfriends was all she was willing to call them in public, stood and nearly cried.
Then they bought the house out of them.
It was getting to be quite an unusual day, both for the befuddled professor and the shopkeepers, and McGonagall was quite eager for it all to end, so it was with some relief they came to the last store on their list - one where she was *certain* they couldn't buy everything.
Olivanders, the only place for wands.
It did her no small bit of good to know Mr Olivander only sold wands, and only one per customer. Well, unless something happened that a wand became lost or damaged in a way that it could legitimately be replaced. But still, no rushing around the shop carrying cases of all the merchandise that couldn't run away properly - and even some that did!
In spite of her expectations, however, it easily turned out to be the most stressful stop of the trip.
It began typically enough, with Olivander taking his measuring tape and asking which was the boy's wand arm. The boy's response was that he used both arms equally and intended to do so with everything, wands included. Rather put off, Mr Olivander simply measured him more, chatting all the while about his favorite subject - wands, and how each of the ones he sold had a core of a powerful magical substance like unicorn hair, pheonix tail feathers or dragon heartstrings.
But the first wand he put into the boy's hand burned like a firework and melted to ash within moments.
"No." The shopkeeper clicked his teeth. "Apparently not."
A wand with a pheonix tail feather popped out of his grasp and became lodged four inches into the ceiling, driven in like a nail. A sixteen inch wand of good, strong oak with a dragon heartstring screamed and wilted, crawling off the desk like an inchworm when he put it down.
Three wands later Olivander was forced to admit. "I'm sorry, but for the first time ever I'm afraid I must tell a customer I don't carry any wands able to carry your _enormous_ level of power. There's never before been a need, and I must say I don't quite know how to approach it. I could, perhaps, craft something special. But that would take weeks, I'm afraid. Why, even identifying the materials..." The old, pale wizard shook his head, sure the problem could not be solved.
McGonagall swallowed around a very LARGE lump in her throat.
They moved on, but the problem, though not quite so severe, extended to all the girls as well as their youthful husband. By the end of it, Mister Olivander was every bit as flustered as Professor McGonagall, who didn't know what to do.
It was then that Jared, keeping a stiff upper lip about the problem, solved it by producing the silver unicorn horn he'd acquired from the animal they'd used to heal him and announcing. "I'll use this, then."
Mr Olivander was over to him in moments, going over the idea from a wand-maker's perspective, and saying. "Yes... it has possibilities. Normally, I'd say no witch or wizard would have a chance of animating the source of a unicorns power. That is why we use such an assortment of milder elements. But this... might do well indeed. Wait a moment." He vanished into the back of his shop, coming back with a scale and a box overflowing with a set of intricate tools. Sitting down at his desk, the wand maker attached a jeweler's eyepiece to his head and gazed at the horn, now rotating on a silver spindle.
"Ah, yes, I see. *This* is your wand... already attuned to you. No wonder all the others had such a negative reaction... Yes... Well, I can fit it with a handle. There's really too much to encase it in wood. No need, really. What kind of wood do you fancy for a grip?"
"Do you know one that could handle the strain?" Jared bowed to the wizard's skill.
Olivander thought for a moment, pursing his lips. "No." He concluded sadly.
Everyone looked at each other, though no one said anything.
Then Jared, once again, solved the problem by hauling out of a pouch on his belt a six foot shaft of tooth that looked like it might have belonged in a dinosaur exhibit. "Would a dragon fang suffice?" He asked.
Mr. Olivander was out of his chair like a shot, examining the object. "Normally, no. I wouldn't risk it. But it this case... yes, ivory instead of wood. I think I see the possibility. It will take me some time to research the spells, of course. Then to cut, carve and polish... But I believe it can be arranged. A hundred galleons for the work. I'll deliver it in two weeks."
Glancing at his wives, the redhaired boy placed a pile of unicorn horns and a hefty sack of coins both on the counter, sighing. "Better make a dozen. We'll have need of them."
"Yes." Olivander muttered, too absorbed in his work to count students.
McGonagall led the little troupe out, not bearing to tell the boy Olivander's wands usually ran five to six galleons, with the occasional seven or, rarely, eight! A hundred per wand, *with* the customer providing the materials, was simply unheard of! She didn't dare bear that type of news for fear it might get around.
Twelve hundred galleons for the work! It was as much as he made in a year! In two weeks! Well, two weeks without a wand in Hogwarts would put these children back somewhat, but it was nothing that couldn't be adjusted for.
Still, the professor was only too glad to put this shopping trip behind them.
The days blazed by.
It didn't help that there was so much to do. One doesn't exactly learn how to teach in a day or two. Studying with Hermione helped, but it wasn't until his wives pointed out that he was a master of the Anything Goes school and, if circumstances were that desperate, he could simply teach the classes on how to throw punches, that he began to calm down.
Anything Goes WAS the art of supreme adaptation to any circumstance, after all. He'd just have to found the side branch of Anything Goes Magical Instruction. His classes would never know what hit them.
On that note, they came up with a surprising study strategy.
"What are you all doing?" Hermione wrinkled her nose. It was the evening before their first classes and she'd dropped by (carrying a towel and a newly-bought swimsuit she had ordered by owl) to see how they were doing.
What she'd found was the entire family sitting round a table set with plates, glasses, forks, spoons and knives... with a thick schoolbook sitting on each plate. "Ah! Hermione," Jared called. On seeing her, he invited, "Come join us!"
Lita came bearing another plate with a steaming textbook on it as the rest of them made room and Saturn brought another chair to the table. Feeling this was rather strange, even for them (which, she had quickly discovered the Potter family was even odder than the usual goings on at the magical school), Hermione sat down, just as Lita served her a freshly cooked copy of their Defense Against the Dark Arts text.
Jared said a prayer asking a blessing on the food and they all dug in.
Hermione looked at her fork but didn't dare pick it up, staring at her friends as they neatly cut off corners of the boiled leather covers. Some opened the tomes and cut out pages, folding them several times around their forks like they were reeling in spaghetti. In all, they seemed quite serious about this.
Picking up her fork, miss Granger asked. "Excuse me, this is a rather unusual meal, isn't it? Why are we eating books?"
"Oh!" Amy was glad to answer, seeing their friend/guest didn't know. "One of the items we picked up on our shopping trip was a magic cauldron. It was on a special display advertising itself as a help for witches on a budget. It promised to make anything cooked in it healthful, nutritious food."
"Just not exactly tasty." Rae snickered into a bite.
"Oh." Hermione said, not seeing the point to any of this.
"Well," Amy concluded. "Our Jay-chan knew a spell for reading books by licking the pages, nibbling a corner of the cover, putting parchment in your mouth to suck, and so on. It was a way he'd developed for reading in the dark."
"Mostly for those times when dangerous monsters about meant that you couldn't risk having a light." Jared amended, a bit defensively.
"Originally, yes." Pluto added, with a smile. "But it has turned out to have other uses."
Venus nodded, slurping up a few inches of the page hanging out of her mouth, then swallowing. "So we enchanted the table and tableware with that spell. Now, if you eat any written material sitting at it you *should* get the knowledge that was in it."
"We are having an experiment today." Michelle took a forkful of a page concerning vampires. "If this works it should make our coursework much easier."
Enough explanation. Hermione dug in.
Hermione was sitting with a pleasant, full sensation in her tummy and all sorts of knowledge from the book she'd eaten bubbling happily at the back of her mind as they started classes the next day.
The first try had gone so well they'd had a serving of Potions textbooks for breakfast and were expecting to have their Charms tomes for lunch. It wasn't their only copies - the boy had shown her they had flying quills moving about copying the books on their own, all they really needed was paper. So it wasn't like they were going to get into trouble for not having their books at lessons.
No, it was just that they were _consuming_ knowledge. Hermione'd never expected to take that meaning literally.
Jared was having a less than pleasant day.
First, McGonagall had given him this hourglass and told him that to do all his own classwork, as well as teach, that he would have to use this magical object to have more time in the day. She'd proposed a schedule of a turn here or a turn there to get by with the minimum use, but her way sounded *awfully* confusing so he was just going to teach today, have a nice nap at the end of his assignments, and turn the thing several times in order to do the day over again as a student.
It sounded simpler to him, easier to maintain.
Each year took this subject, and most houses took separate classes. Since each year had to be taught at different levels, and the houses made for more classes than that, he about twenty (a little over that) class sessions each week he had to be prepared for.
There was also the matter that his first class was coming in, and he was anxious in going over all he'd prepared. It was fairly simple, really. There was so much to learn today that he was going to spend this one having his classes teach *him!* A dirty trick he planned on excusing under the title of "finding out where they are."
It worked for other teachers, why not him?
I suppose it helped that his first class was seventh-year Ravenclaws. If anyone knew anything it ought to be the most advanced seniors in the house chosen for their brains, right?
As the class was seated, Jared took the roll (to the disbelieving snickers of many of the oldest girls), then he started with the question, pointing to one of those snickerers. "Tell me: You are alone in the woods, armed only with your wand. A dozen, armed, poisonous trolls are advancing on you. What do you do?"
The student stammered in disbelief, eyes bulging.
"Run away." Snickered one of the boys.
Jared frowned. This wasn't going the way he'd intended. He pointed to the boy. "You. While you are running, you fall into an ambush. Ten goblins attack you with spears from the front while the trolls are still closing from behind. What do you do?"
The older boy turned white, then angry red. He shouted. "What? Do you expect me to just wave my wand and they'll all go away? What do you EXPECT me to do?"
Jared suddenly felt on *very* familiar ground. Teaching this class held no terror for him at all, anymore. He smiled warmly, answering. "Well, that depends on your style." He motioned three dozen suits of armor toward him, positioned before class around all the walls of the room he was given to teach in.
"These are Doomguards." Jared explained to the class. "Animated suits of armor with only one purpose: to fight, kill and destroy. Many wizards where I come from use them as guards. They do not feel pity, or remorse. They do not know pain, nor do they know fear. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be bargained with, and they absolutely will not stop until they or their target is dead."
Posing in the heart of the circle of animated suits of armor, Jared assumed a relaxed position and ordered his Doomguards. "Attack me!"
The first rank of a dozen or so armors lifted high their broadswords as the girls in the class shrieked on his behalf.
Justine hadn't known whether to get to class early or late.
Draco Malfoy, for who alone knew what reason, had decided that since her sister Jalisa had joined his close-orbiting crew with Crabbe and Goyle, that Justine belonged there too.
Justine would rather kiss a frog.
So she was wondering what it would take to avoid him... all year... every year, and had come to the conclusion that it wouldn't be easy.
Not easy at all.
So, what she was doing was watching closely, seeing what Draco's patterns were so she could avoid them by the least obvious route - necessary precaution if she did not want him to use his father's influence to cause trouble for her mom.
Draco had nearly been late to his last class, their first one of their year, and she was trying to school herself to be early. Maybe if she was *very* early she could hide in a dark corner where there wouldn't be any good places to sit by her and he wouldn't try. Though she had NO idea what to do if he called out, inviting her to join his crowd. Probably go, she guessed. She couldn't afford to tip him off that she couldn't stand him.
Less than a week as a Slytherin and already she was tired of the scheming.
Their second class was Defense Against the Dark Arts. Already she was wondering what the boy could possibly teach her when she approached the class, to see seventh-year Ravenclaws coming out, shocked expressions on their faces and many of them pale with fright.
She entered to see bits of armor blown all over the room as if by explosions. Bits were sticking out of pillars at odd angles, a breastplate had nearly cut in half one desk, and smashed bits of what used to be suits of armor were littered everywhere underfoot.
She found a quiet corner and waited for class to begin.
After their young teacher had called the role, he smiled winsomely at the class. "Well, glad to see you all here. Sorry, I seem to have used up all of my demonstration materials in the last session, so we'll just have to wing it."
Draco Malfoy had wrinkled his nose at their student instructor. "And what are we supposed to learn from *you*?" He sneered. "Everyone knows you Potters were raised by muggles."
Jared calmly lifted his hand toward the rebellious student. "Fireball."
A streak of fire, no more than a small dart of that energy, struck Malfoy in a second and exploded upon impact, engulfing the rich boy in roaring flames, which he screamed trying to put out.
Then the flames vanished, leaving a surprised Malfoy perfectly intact.
"Maybe," Jared ventured. "You'll learn how to tell a *real* attack from an illusionary one. Now, class, if you would all turn with me to page nine?"
There is nothing that draws attention so much as the strange and unusual.
This was even true for Peeves the Poltergeist.
The girls affectionately known as the Sailor Scouts were strange and usual even by Hogwarts standards, both for uniforms and perhaps everything else as well. Peeves got his eye caught by them early on, and, as with anything that caught the poltergeist's notice, he attempted to tease and frustrate them. But no sooner had he dropped a waste paper basket over Mina's head than Lita, reacting the fastest out of all of them, plucked a jeweled hammer from where it hung at her waist and cried out "THUNDERER!" as she threw.
The warhammer trailed a bolt of lightning as it flew the short feet and smacked into the spirit with a deafening thunderclap that bowled over the living and the dead alike (all save the Sailor Scouts, who had innate magical protections added to their costumes) over a radius of thirty yards, sending their Hogwarts classmates sprawling in black-robed heaps.
The thunderbolt-trailing hammer was chosen as being less dangerous to bystanders than her regular Sailor Scout attacks - which were friend or foe exclusive, but none of them felt all that right about automatically assuming *all* Hogwarts students were friends, as there were some definite exceptions.
While not *quite* enough to permanently disrupt Peeves, the hammer had been sufficiently magical that it HURT, and another hit surely WOULD destroy him. The walls were slimy with ectoplasm sprayed out from the mighty hit. Seeing the rest of the girls ignite or power up additional magical weapons, Peeves dove right through the nearest wall, more scared of them than of anything he'd feared in his whole un-life.
So great a stir this caused that there was hardly a ghost seen in the entire castle while they discussed this and conversed about the event in the dankest parts of the dungeon. All the ghosts, that is, except one.
"So what class is this?" Michelle asked, having been late dealing with her hair this morning, getting it the proper fluff.
"Magical history." Pluto plopped down her books. "I'm quite looking forward to it."
"Yah... Eek!" Sailor Moon pivoted in fright, bringing her crystal wand up, as a ghost, the teacher of this class, floated through the wall behind her.
"LOVELY!" Was all Professor Binns was able to say before the impact of a nine-foot wide pink heart blasted him out of existence.
Everyone stood in silence for a long moment.
"That was our teacher, you know." Ron supplied helpfully, having been told in advance by his brothers this class was taught by a ghost.
"Yes, I read about him in: Hogwarts, A History." Hermione agreed.
Jared's gaze riveted on Hermione. "You've read this course's book, right?"
"Obviously." She blinked, wondering what he was on about.
Immediately he and two of his Scouts were hustling Hermione to the front of the class, where he set her upon the stool behind the desk (very dusty since ghosts don't sit). "Okay," Jared commanded. "Begin."
Miss Granger blushed, then went white to her hair. Insistently, she whispered. "I can't!"
He smiled at her fondly, shaking his head and saying, "Hermione." He waved at the class. "Nobody here knows any of this stuff better than you."
"But I don't know how to teach!" The young lady insisted, hunching her shoulders in defense against the gazes of her classmates.
"Teach, bah!" Jared tossed his hands, then leaned close over her. "Hermione, you CAN'T teach history. Nobody can. It's all about living. History is everything interesting that has ever happened ANYWHERE! You can't just memorize it like times tables. Those who try to *teach* it are doomed to be boring, and their classes will soon forget it all or get it all wrong! No, history is lived. And if you can't live it personally then you must live it vicariously through stories. This class, this subject, is all storytelling. There's no other way to convey what all that history really means."
Hermione shrank in on herself. "But I don't know how to tell stories, either."
Jared snapped his fingers. "Now, *there* I can help you."
Mina materialized at his elbow carrying a pair of leather tubes, Amy and Rae stood behind her. Jared took the leather tubes and began tying them, with Susan's help, on to Hermione's arms, like long shirtcuffs. "These are Bracers of Bardcraft. Bards are a type of wandering minstrel, a storyteller by trade and therefore *exactly* the sort of skill you need here."
Amy slipped in behind and fastened a golden torc around Hermione's throat. "This will grant you the skill of a storyteller so long as you wear it."
Rae almost seemed... sly (or was that indifferent?) as she handed a potion flask to Hermione. "Here. Wet your whistle. You'll be talking alot."
Still feeling vastly underconfident, the Granger girl took a gulp and found that it tasted like sweet custard.
"Storytelling." Jared told her, hands out like a drama coach.
"Storytelling." Hermione agreed, nodding and feeling better about this.
"Magical History." He continued.
"Magical History." She agreed. Then she let a long breath in and out, suddenly not worried about this at all! She was sure it was magic, she could *feel* it was magic. What type of magic she didn't know, but she touched the golden torc around her throat and felt better about it, about everything.
Somehow, someway inspired by what magic she could not tell, she began to tell the stories.
The stories she told were not new, many in the class had cracked their books before. But even as she began to tell them her class hushed as they felt their special sort of magic. Soon she discovered, in the very act of doing it, that her voice could roll like thunder or hush down into a zepherlike whisper that carried to the farthest corner of the room. Five minutes later she found she could imitate the voices of a dozen men at once; whistle so like a bird that the birds themselves would come to the classroom windows to hear what she had to say; and when she imitated the howl of a wolf, the sound raised hackles on the backs of her listeners' necks and struck a chill into their hearts like the depths of a Scandinavian winter. Halfway through she found she could make the sound of wind and of rain and even, most miraculously, the sound of snow falling. Her stories were filled with sounds that made them come alive, but more even than that, her words cast these dusty, age-old villains in clear and harsh and unforgiving light that made them leap out into the imaginations of her students - looming and fearful, full of immediacy and danger. They could almost say they stood there with the heroes fighting at ice-encrusted rocky streams, feel the wind cut through the clouds of foggy breath, and see how much sacrifice and sorrow was involved in their fall, for even true heroes die, after all. All through the lesson, the sounds and words which wove her tales, sight and smell and even the very actual sensations of strange times and places seemed to come alive for her spellbound listeners.
Nobody in that classroom would ever mix up Emeric the Evil or Urik the Oddball.
When the crash came from a metal end table pushed over by a student arriving for the next class, leaning on it while he stood to hear, the class was startled awake every bit as rudely as by an alarm, and hurried, upon seeing the clock, to rush out to their next class.
Hermione rushed over to get her books, intent on following them out, when Jared caught her arm and stopped her, motioning to show her the new class filing in. "Wait. You aren't going anywhere. You are substitute teacher for the day. Seeing as how we blew apart the real one and there is no one else."
Then he drew her close and whispered in her ear, something the arriving fifth-year group of Hufflepuffs couldn't overhear, then he was out the door and she was alone looking at a class that didn't know what to think about her being there.
Settling herself once again on the stool, Hermione began to show them by weaving tales of majesty and horror that made their history come alive.
Jared ran with his Sailor Scouts to catch up with the rest of the first-year Gryffindors on their way to Charms class. Hermione met them at the door, smiling, with her textbooks held quietly in her arms. They joined up and took seats inside.
As his Scouts later pestered him to know, he explained that he'd already taught a full day as their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. At the end of that he caught up with Hermione, and together they turned the hourglass amulet Professor McGonagall gave him, so that they had time for naps and were now taking the same day over as students.