Summary: Luna Lovegood decides to take a break from her position as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in order to search for proof of Crumple-Horned Snorcacks. Who will be her replacement? Will he (or she) be as successful at the subject?
Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter, this would have been part of the epilogue.
"But surely you enjoy teaching here?" Headmistress McGonagall asked Luna Lovegood. "You're the best Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor that Hogwarts has seen since Professor Lupin was here. In fact, you've managed to stay longer than a year! No one has been able to do that ever since…..Voldemort applied for the job!"
"I know, but I've got a lead on the existence of Crumple-Horned Snorcacks! This is some very reliable information!" Luna explained excitedly. "In fact, if my sources are correct, not only will I be able to prove to the rest of the Wizarding community about them, I'll also be able figure out how they've managed to keep from being found all these years!"
McGonagall was at a loss for words. Part of her wanted to show Luna the flaw in that plan, but the other part (the more intelligent part) knew that if she did, not only would she lose Luna temporarily, but most likely permanently. Anyone who knew Luna personally knew that only a fool would doubt the existence of the creatures of which she so frequently spoke. "Well, how long do you think you'll be?"
"I don't know. My sources only gave me various sightings of the Snorcacks all over the world. I haven't quite put together a migration pattern so I could be gone months, years maybe!"
McGonagall had to breathe slowly and bite her lips to keep herself from begging Luna to stay. "Can you at least stay until I can find you a replacement?"
"I suppose so," Luna replied uncertainly.
"Thank you, Professor," McGonagall said as she ran over possible candidates through her head.
"Harry, please," McGonagall tried to keep her voice from begging.
"I'm really, sorry, Professor," Harry said sadly as he closed his brief case. Minerva had caught him just as he was going home and sprung this job offer on him. "With the new baby on the way and James and Albus, I'm going to have trouble getting off work as it is, and that's just here. Think about how it would be if I were a teacher and I had to try to get off work so that Ginny could go back to playing quidditch. It just wouldn't work."
"I understand. Is there anyone that you could suggest?" she asked hopefully.
"Well, have you asked Ron?"
"Do you think that he'd be a good teacher?" Minerva asked already knowing the answer.
"No, I guess not. Besides, he and Hermione already have Rose and she's due in a couple of months….well, I have a list of everyone in my unit. I could give you names and you could see if any of them are interested."
"Thank you, Harry," McGonagall smiled.
Sadly, Luna levitated one of the last boxes out the door and down to one of the carriages that would be taking her home.
A man walked into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom where she and Neville were cleaning out her stuff. "Huh, I thought it would be more spacious in here," he said thoughtfully.
Luna looked up at him and smiled. "You must be my replacement."
He stared at her earrings then remembered that he ought to reply. "Erm, yes, I'm Jonathon Dithers. You must be Luna Lovegood."
"Yes, I am," she said shaking his hand which he took slightly reluctantly. "You might need this," she handed him what looked like a large green potato.
"And why is that?" he asked looking revolted.
"Have you heard about the curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts position?" she asked.
"Um, no. I was unaware that there was one," he said still looking at the thing in his hand.
"Well, many years ago, Voldemort applied for this position and Professor Dumbledore refused to give it to him."
"Yes, but Voldemort put a curse on the job. From that point on, no one has been able to keep the job for more than a year even after he died. That is, except for me."
"And why have you been able to keep the job?" he asked viewing her skeptically. He didn't notice, but Neville, who was sorting things into different boxes, scowled at him. Neville couldn't stand whenever people treated Luna like this.
"Voldemort was arrogant. The spell he used wasn't very good. Anyone with a gurdy-root could avoid this curse. You see, not many people know this, but gurdy-roots ward off spells like this even if nothing else will. As smart as Voldemort supposedly was, you would have thought that he would have thought about it."
"Right," Dithers said not believing a word she said. Neville decided to say something.
"She's right you know. They're dead useful. My fourth years are working on growing them."
"And you are?" Dithers asked sounding rather superior.
Dithers dropped the gurdy-root. "The Neville Longbottom! The one who destroyed one of You-Know-Who's Horcruxes?"
"The very one," Neville said coldly, but Dithers didn't seem to notice his tone of voice. Neville turned back to Luna, "Though, gurdy-roots weren't discovered when Voldemort applied for the job, were they? They were discovered a few years later, weren't they?"
"No, they were discovered in '56. Voldemort applied for the job in '63. He had no excuse for making that mistake. Not that I'm complaining. It made keeping this job much easier," she said as she picked up the second to last box and Neville picked up the last and the two of them walked out to the carriage.
Though she didn't, Neville knew perfectly well that Dithers had absolutely no intention of keeping the gurdy-root.
A year later….
"I quit," Dithers said plainly to McGonagall.
She looked up from the paperwork on her desk. "I'm sorry?"
"I quit," he repeated. "I can't take it. These kids don't get half of what I'm teaching and they're rude and….I'm done!"
"Perhaps they don't understand what you're saying. Have you tried explaining the material any other ways?" she didn't actually want him to stay; he wasn't very popular with anyone: staff or students, but she had to do the professional thing. She often didn't understand how Albus managed to cope with the stress that came along with this job. Then again, she didn't understand how he managed to do half the things he did…..
"It doesn't matter! I'm done!" Dithers cried and he ran out of the room.
Minerva just sighed. Forgetting the paperwork that was already on her desk, she pulled out a fresh roll of parchment and wrote clearly, "Wanted: Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor"…
"Welcome to Hogwarts, Professor Smith," Minerva smiled at the newest professor. She was slightly younger than what she hoped to get, but she was lucky that she had found anyone on such short notice. Really, what type of teacher quits his job just after the last day of school! Well, other than Professor Lupin, but he had a good reason.
"Thank you, Professor," she smiled as she unpacked her things into her new classroom.
A while after Minerva had left, Professor Longbottom came in to welcome his new co-worker. "Hello, I'm Neville Longbottom. I'm the Herbology professor," he shook her hand.
"THE Neville Longbottom! The one who destroyed one of You-Know-Who's Horcruxes?" she asked excitedly.
"The very one," he replied smiling. It never got old. He wondered why Harry didn't like the attention.
"Jennifer Smith," she smiled. Suddenly there was a loud banging sound. Smith ran over to her window where a large owl was trying to get their attention. He was holding a package that he clearly wanted to get rid of as soon as possible. Smith let the owl in and took the box from him. Immediately he took off for fear of having to carry another parcel.
Smith unpinned the note from the top of the parcel, read it, looked confused, and opened the box she'd been sent. It contained what looked like a large green potato.
"Ah, I see that Luna's heard about you," Neville said trying not to laugh.
"Um, she said that it would ward off You-Know-Who's curse, but….." she didn't need to finish.
"Listen. I know it sounds crazy, but it really works! The last DADA teacher didn't believe her and well, I don't think he found another job after he quit a few weeks ago. Luna really knows what she's talking about," he tried to assure her.
"Um, okay," she said uncertainly.
"Alright, so do you need anything else?" Neville said to Professor Smith. He'd been helping her set up for one of her classes.
"No, I'm fine. Thank you though," she said as she paper-clipped some papers together.
"Hey," he pointed at her window, "You took down the gurdy-root."
"Yes, well," she tried to think of a good lie, "It was starting to smell bad so I threw it out."
"It wouldn't have smelled bad if you left it in the window in the sunlight. If you left in a cold, damp place it would've," he said crossing his arms.
"Well, don't you think it's kind of odd, having one of those roots hanging in your window?"
"Listen, it really works. A lot of people think that Luna is strange, but she's also really smart. People also thought that Dumbledore was strange, but he's considered one of the most brilliant minds in history. Luna knows what she's talking about even if other people don't. I've learned to trust her judgment on these things." Truthfully, he was also saying that partially because everyone knew that he'd liked Luna for a while (especially after the incident at Harry's Christmas party a few years ago which only made them pretty awkward around each other), but mostly it was because he knew how smart she really was. Maybe even smarter than Hermione, though he wasn't stupid enough to say so, even if she didn't let on.
"Well, the curse is probably broken anyway," Smith mumbled.
At the end of the year, Professor Smith walked into Minerva's office looking guilty. Minerva sighed. "Yes?" she asked knowing the answer.
"I'm resigning. I got a job at a different school. It's a charms job and that's what I really wanted to do," she started to ramble, but Minerva held up a silencing hand.
Hermione Weasley sighed. She'd been trying to get a promotion by taking on so much extra work and she'd neglected a very important report that she had to turn the next day. She had nearly finished it (it's Hermione remember), when suddenly someone walked into her office.
Luna entered with her usual dreaming expression and holding the reins on an animal that looked like a combination of a moose and a goat. Hermione jumped up from her seat looking alarmed. "Hello," Luna replied. "I found a Crumple-Horned Snorcack. Is this enough proof? If it isn't, I have some pictures that might prove their existence," she said completely seriously.
"No, no, that's fine," Hermione whimpered. She went over to her fireplace and flooed her head into the office of the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. "Um, sir, I have a Crumple-Horned Snorcack in my office," she said urgently.
"A what?" he asked annoyed.
"A Crumple-Horned Snorcack! Just get in here!" she cried desperately. Hermione pulled her head out of the fireplace and shouted, "NO! Luna, don't let him eat that report! I have to turn that in tomorrow!"
"No, Norman! That's not food!" Luna shouted (somehow soothingly) as she tugged one the Crumple-Horned Snorcack's collar to keep him away from Hermione's desk.
"You named him Norman!"Hermione cried.
"I had to name him something!" Luna explained.
"Why hasn't my discovery been put in the Dailey Prophet yet?" Luna asked Hermione slightly hurt. It's been four days since she brought "Norman" into Hermione's office.
"Well, there are certain tests that need to be performed before it can be made public," Hermione explained.
"What sort of tests?" Luna asked looking worried.
"Oh, just a few DNA tests and things like that. They need to make sure that's it's an actual new species that you've discovered," she said at the puzzled look on Luna's face.
"I already told you that I found a Crumple-Horned Snorcack! It's what I've spent all this time looking for!" Luna protested.
"Well, yes, but they need to make sure that you've really discovered a Crumple-Horned Snorcack and not just a deformed goat," Hermione said trying to sound offensive. The look on Luna's face told her that she'd failed. "You have to admit that it does look a little like a goat!"
"Yes, goats and Crumple-Horned Snorcacks are in the same family, but that doesn't mean anything! Horses and zebras are in the same family, but you can always tell which one you're looking at!"
"Hello, Professor McGonagall," Luna skipped into the Headmistress' office. "Have you read the Prophet today? It finally reported about Crumple-Horned Snorcacks!"
"Yes, I did. I must say, I'm impressed," Minerva said with a smile on her lips.
"So, who's currently holding the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?"
"At the moment, no one," Minerva sighed.
"Could I apply?" Luna asked smiling.
"There's no need. You have the job. That gurdy-root really works. The last two professor's didn't keep it and neither of them lasted."
"Professor, do you think I would say something if it weren't true?"
Neville ran into the DADA classroom. The moment that Professor Flitwick had informed him that Luna was back, he'd started toward her classroom and thinking about what he was going to say without even saying goodbye to Professor Flitwick. Panting, he burst through the door to see Luna (or, Professor Lovegood now) unpacking boxes.
"Neville, hello," she smiled.
"Luna! I just found out….." he put his hand on his knees, "….I read that article…. congratulations….always knew that you'd prove everyone wrong…..I'm glad you're back…"
"Thank you, Neville," Luna smiled. "I knew that you believed me!"
"Thanks," he said still panting. Why did the Charms classroom have to be so far away from the DADA room? "Need help?" he asked gesturing to the boxes.
"Yes, thank you," she said leaning over to pick up another box.
After a few moments of awkward silence (besides the sound of unpacking), Neville cleared his throat and mustering up all of his courage (he was a Gryffindor after all) said, "Um, Luna, there was something I wanted to say to you."
"What's that?" she turned to face him and he realized that he couldn't put in into words. Taking a deep breath, he leaned over and kissed her.
Moments later, Minerva walked past the DADA classroom, though they didn't notice her (they were pretty occupied) and she didn't seem to notice them. …That is, until she coughed, which sounded suspiciously like, "Finally."