Author's Corner: I love all of you. This story has achieved a hundred reviews out of three chapters and a note. You all rock in your support of this story, and I promise that I will do my best not to disappoint you. I'll do my best to make this story so seamless that you will think that this is just the way it must have happened.
It helps that L's past isn't really known other than a few tantalizing hints. It means that I can do whatever I want with it, and I intend to do some stuff with it.
I'm glad that my rendition of the Malfoys got so much love from you guys. It really makes me feel better about what I'm going to do to them. It's...I've never seen it done in hp fanfiction, but it's going to cause them...a little stress...but not until my version of GoF, so, you'll have to wait a while.
Introducing: The Rant line-Where Pryotra complains: One thing that really confuses me in Harry Potter fanon is the belief that Sirius and James never read and Remus was the smart one. While it works nicely with stereotypes, the books contradict this. Both were noted at being exceptionally bright (they would have to be to come up with how to be an animagi at fifteen) and Sirius flat states that he doesn't need to cram because he already knows the answers. While this is showing a lot of overconfidence, the claim seems to be backed up. There's nothing to say that Remus was 'the smart one'. It's more likely that he was 'the nice(r) one' while Peter was 'the parasitic tag along'. All of them were smart. You don't become Head Boy on charm alone.
Alright, so hear we go.
Disclaimer: Pryotra owns no part of Harry Potter or Death Note. She would not be wondering about how a seven dollar pizza will affect her finances if she did.
Thanks to my new beta, The Epitome of Eccentricity, for all his hard work.
The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.
In Sirius's dreams, the dead and the living often intermingled.
James talked to him, laughing about something that Harry had done and how Lily was still almost obsessive in her quest for a perfect house. Regulus sat close by, knowing that they really weren't that close, but still acknowledging their blood relationship as always. Remus (looking shabby and tired like always) read through the Daily Prophet, probably looking for a job, and sometimes commenting on something that James said, usually in that absent way that he'd gotten before... glowered at him for ruining her perfect new sofa with his dirty 'flea-ridden' body, but still smiled slightly when she mentioned that she would get him something to drink. Baby Harry sat on the floor, playing with the stuffed bear that they had enchanted to hug him back (Lily said he was too young for magical things, but James had talked her into it). Even Peter was there, laughing when James laughed, complimenting Sirius on whatever it was he was supposed to have done, and then smiling slightly as he touched his left arm.
Since he'd managed to get out of Azkaban, the dreams had come every night. Sirius was sure that this was some kind of mental healing, and, no matter how many times he woke up crying, he was always glad that he'd seen them again, even like that.
Everyone, that is, other than Peter.
The first real happiness that he'd had was when he'd seen Harry for the first time in twelve years. If he hadn't known better, he'd have said that James Potter had come back from the dead. Sirius hadn't expected Harry to remember him, but the fear in his eyes had hurt.
He wanted to know that Harry was safe, that he had made the right decision. Now, on his way to kill Peter, it became more and more important that Harry didn't know the truth. It was better that way. It wasn't like telling him would have done anything but caused pain. It would have been better for Harry to think that Sirius had killed Lily and James (which he obviously had, no matter how indirectly).
He had known from the moment that Hagrid said that Dumbledore had wanted Harry to go to his mother's family that he had already been convicted. All taking Harry would have done was delay things. Now, all he had left was Peter.
Peter, who betrayed them.
Sirius would get to Hogwarts and kill Peter. Nothing after that mattered. He could be killed, kissed, imprisoned, or whatever. As long as Harry was safe and Peter was dead, Sirius was alright with every option.
The lights of Hogsmead finally appeared beneath him, looking exactly the same as they did on the night when the four of them had sneaked up here on one of their full moon adventures. The castle itself was brightly lit, probably welcoming the students. Was it the beginning of term already?
Sirius let out a doggie sigh. How time flies when you're having fun.
Peter... no Wormtail was in there, waiting, perfectly positioned to take Harry to Voldemort at the very moment when he was regaining strength. Where would the best place to hide be? The Shack? Maybe... At least in there he might be able to take his proper shape for once. The forest? Oh, please no. One run in with those spiders was enough.
But Remus would immediately think of going to the Shack (it was their favorite place to go as students), and Sirius was sure that Dumbledore had gotten Remus there to help protect Harry. After all, who but Remus would have been willing to face a homicidal Sirius Black to protect his old friend's son?
So that meant the forest after all.
Sirius made his way down the mountain and into the village. It didn't look very different from when he had been there as a student. It seemed almost like it was yesterday and again like it was from the point of view of a completely different person. One whose only worries were how much he could flirt with Madame Rosemerta without getting kicked out
"Oh, aren't you a beautiful doggy!" someone called to him and Sirius turned to see an old woman come towards him, "come here, precious!"
Sirius failed to see how a giant, starving dog was all that attractive, but his nose detected the smell of food on her, and he tentatively crept near her. Remus hadn't told, had he? That couldn't be- they would have used something to catch him...
She was a small but strongly built woman, and she walked without the aid of a cane. Her thin gray hair was pulled up in a wispy looking bun, and she carried with her the unmistakable scent of dog. Lots and lots of dogs. She wore a simple looking gray dress with a bright yellow coat that went over it, and she was holding something out for him.
Real, red meat.
Sirius liked to think that he was in control of any instincts that his dog self might have, but the sudden introduction of meat to his starving senses made it hard to control the dog, which said to eat first, and ask questions later. He found himself trotting over to her before he could even consider what he was doing.
The woman seemed to have some kind of experience with strays because she tossed him bits of the meat from a distance.
"You're a handsome one, you know that?" she said, smiling cheerfully at him, "what was your last owner thinking to leave you on your own? Must have been a Muggle."
Because only Muggles ignored their pets.
This woman didn't strike Sirius as being overly sane, but than again, most Wizards and Witches were only so sane. Still, he did give him food, and seemed convinced that he was just a stray so Sirius decided to play 'lovable, abandoned doggy' and the woman just about melted at the slow wags and sad eyes.
"Oh, you poor darling!" she gushed, "You just come here to Mopsy!"
Sirius dearly hoped that his hearing had been damaged from the screams in Azkaban and this was not that dog obsessed woman who had tried to catch him and Remus once when they were on one of their Full Moon runs.
Still, it was better than the forest...
The end of the feast meant that it was time for the students to go up to their separate common rooms, and after congratulating the nearly sobbing Hagrid, Harry made his way towards the exit, followed by Ron and Hermione. He tried to ignore the Slytherins, who seemed to be being entertained by some very funny story that Draco Malfoy was telling. Harry supposed that news of his fainting fit would be all over the school my the next day.
"Ignore it, Harry," Ron hissed, "Fred says that the little git nearly wet himself when he came running into their cabin."
"Most Wizards are terrified of Dementors," she added, "I don't see why Malfoy thinks that he can make this into some big deal. Most people won't even care."
Justin, who had followed them, didn't say anything. He just stared over at the Slytherins as if he was memorizing something. Harry deeply hoped that Malfoy had Justin as his potions partner from now on. It would serve him right.
Things would have gone on in an uneventful way if it hadn't been for the owl that was waiting for them the moment that Percy gave them the password (Fortuna Major, poor Neville).
Someone must have let the thing in, because the moment that he entered into the place, he could see the giant black red eyed horror screeching around the room, attacking anyone who got to close to it.
"Isn't that your owl?" Ron hissed to Justin.
"It looks like Nero," Justin nodded, "But I can't see why this place allows birds in the bedrooms.
He walked calmly as Nero decided to dive bomb Neville and Colin Creevy, who had been foolish enough to get near the thing with his camera. Harry supposed that he was hoping for a good picture to show someone.
The owl very suddenly turned to see Ron and with a screech, dove to attack him. Maybe it remembered him from earlier or something. Ron fell over, and Scabbers who had been hiding in his pocket the whole time, dashed out, avoided Nero, who was still busy with harassing Ron and almost run directly into Crookshanks, who dropped down from the stairs that led to the girl's dorms.
Scabbers let out a squeak of terror and ran off, managing to zig-zag through the legs of various students and finally slip out the open portrait hole with Crookshanks is hot pursuit.
"Arg, stupid cat! Bloody owl!" Ron growled as he dashed out of the portrait hole after his pet.
"No, Crookshanks!" Hermione yelled, also running after the pair.
Fred (or George) Weasley managed to get one of the windows open while George (or Fred) managed to persuade the owl to leave with a series of explosions. Nero disappeared out the window with a growling hoot of total disdain.
"Alright, who let in the psycho owl?" George said, looking around the suddenly quiet room.
Everyone was silent.
"Maybe it was a House Elf?"someone suggested.
Harry hadn't realized that there were House Elves at Hogwarts. His last experience with them made him feel a little nervous. Hopefully none of them were going to try to save him from Sirius Black. The last time a House Elf tried to save him, he had to have all the bones in his arm regrown. Painfully.
"Maybe it was Sirius Black," someone whispered to their friend.
"That's stupid," Fred said, glowering at the person who spoken. "If it were Black, he wouldn't have come in through a tower window would he?"
"Maybe he would have come through the Dungeons..." George muttered, a grin starting to grow on his face, "I would love to see some of the Slytherins deal with that."
"Enough, you two," Percy said, stepping up for the first time. It looked like Nero had managed to trip him up since his glasses were smudged looking, and he was dusting himself off. "We'll assume that this was either an honest mistake or a House Elf. There's no reason to be discussing things like Black. There's no way he could have gotten past the Dementors anyways. We're completely safe."
Somehow, he did manage to calm down pretty much everyone. Harry didn't like the thought of the Dementors, but, if there were out there, Black didn't stand a chance of getting by them.
"Er, shouldn't someone go find Ron and Hermione?" Harry asked, raising one hand.
Percy gave him a kind of sage-like nod.
"Yes, Harry. Since I am Headboy, I shall be the one to do that. While the term hasn't truly started yet, they still might be in trouble if they're caught out of bed. We wouldn't want to lose House Points before the term even started...Fred...George..."
Percy glared over at the twins, who were smirking at one another.
"I bet no one's ever done that before..."
The night had been mostly uneventful from Lawliet's point of view.
Even the incident with Nero wasn't that interesting, other than when the eldest brother had retrieved Ron and Hermione. Hermione was holding her cat, which looked annoyed about something, while Ron was obviously irate. He was glaring at Hermione, and Lawliet could actually see his ears turning red, which was rather interesting and very bad for concealment of emotions.
"Oh, Ron!" Hermione finally burst out, "He's probably hiding somewhere!"
"Or rotting somewhere..." Ron muttered darkly, "It's not fair. Scabbers was here first, and your evil cat had to go and kill him for no reason!"
It seemed that Ron was missing some important information about the food chain and how cats and rats were related on it, but Ron wasn't done, he then rounded on Lawliet.
"And it's your fault to! If you hadn't brought that owl in..." He raged.
Lawliet cocked his head, "I believe that I had nothing to do with it being allowed in."
"But it's your owl!" Ron yelled, his ears really were getting as red as his hair, how disconcerting.
Why was he so upset about that rat?
"Did you see the body?" Lawliet finally asked.
"Do you have proof that my owl or Granger's cat lead to it's death?"
"Did you see the death of the rat?"
"Then you do not have the evidence necessary to hold up a case against me or Granger. Circumstantial evidence cannot hold up well, and that is all that you have. Particularly when Granger is right, and there is a sixty percent chance that the rat is alive and hiding somewhere," Lawliet said. He was getting bored by this whole thing.
Ron looked livid.
"So because I don't have 'evidence' you're not going to take responsibility!"
"No. Not until you prove that the rat is at least dead. It would be unfair to demand payment until then. At any rate, there was nothing I could do to prevent the owl coming in here. Take it up with whatever servant opened the window."
"That's enough!" Percy cut in, "Really, it's not even the beginning of term. Ron, Wallace has a point. We don't even know if Scabbers is dead. We'll look for him in the morning, in the mean time, get some rest."
Ron past them by, glaring over at Lawliet as he passed and ignoring Granger's attempt to talk to him. Harry gave them both a sympathetic look and took off up the stairs.
"Oh, sure, side with Ron, you always do," Granger muttered, and stormed up herself.
Lawliet had the distinct feeling that this wasn't the first time that this had happened with them. He had read somewhere that a couple who fought with one another were healthy because all frustrations were vented out before they could cause damage to the marriage. He wondered if platonic relationships worked the same way.
Lawliet sat down by the fire, waiting for the other students to leave, most of them ignored him, until at last the room was empty. He stood, shuffled over to the fire, threw the 'floo powder' (which somehow sounded unsanitary) into the fireplace and named the hotel and room Wammy was at.
He had plenty of work to do.
Hermione and Ron still weren't talking to one another the next morning. Meaning that Harry had to sit between them and try to make a conversation while they would talk to him, but ignore one another. Justin wasn't helping either. He was crouched there, picking at a strawberry and ignoring the look that Ron was giving him.
A rush of wings overhead gave Harry the chance to, hopefully, change the subject.
"Mail's here," Harry said, watching as Hedwig came down to meet him, nipped him affectionately on the ear and helped herself to his bacon.
"You know, Hedwig's such a great owl," Ron said, "In all that time I had Scabbers, she never once tried to eat him. Not like some peoples' pets."
Hermione huffed to herself a little, but then she got distracted by her schedule. Looking it over and nodding to herself. Harry looked over at it. He remembered that she had been taking more subjects then him and wondered how that was going to work. Looking over at her, Harry's eyes widened.
"Hermione, did someone make a mistake with your schedule?" he asked.
Ron, completely forgetting that he was angry with Hermione, looked over to see what Harry was talking about.
"No, it's fine. Professor McGonagall told me just what to expect," Hermione said, smiling.
"But-" Harry started.
"Don't worry about it, Harry. My schedule's a little full, but it won't be a problem."
Justin, learned over the table to see the schedule. He blinked once, slowly, and cocked his head, like some bizarre parrot learning a new word.
"That's impossible," he said after a while.
Harry had to agree. There was no way that Hermione could have a Divination, Muggle Studies and Arithmancy class at the same time.
"Oh, honestly, it's my schedule. Neither of you should worry so much," Hermione sighed and glanced at her watch, "Oh, we need to get going if we're going to get to Divination. It's up in the North Tower, so we're going to have quite the walk ahead of us."
Hermione stood up, looked at the two boys expectantly, and then started walking away. Ron, looking a little too innocent walked after her, and Harry followed. He didn't notice that Justin was following them until they were already out of the room.
Did he have Divination too? Harry hadn't asked.
The run to the North Tower was long, and if it wasn't for the help of a nutty picture of a knight, they might not have gotten there on time.
Justin seemed to be walking on autopilot as his brain rebooted from a painted knight calling him a demon knight. Ron seemed to see the whole thing as some kind of justice for Scabbers and was in a much better mood then before. He still wasn't talking to either of them, though.
There was already a line waiting at the entrance, but at exactly nine, a ladder descended and they were allowed in. Harry almost gagged on the heavy perfume of the place, and Justin's eyes got so wide that they almost seemed like saucers.
"Come in," a dreamy voice said, "So lovely to meet you in the corporal world at last."
Hermione was scowling as the woman stepped into the slight.
Harry's first impression was of some kind of giant insect. The woman wore green and several necklaces that jingled and clanked together when she moved, and her glasses magnified her eyes to several times their original size.
"I am Sybil Trelawney. So, you have chosen to study Divination, the most difficult of all fields. I regret to tell you that books can only take you so far in this field, and...around November, one of our number will leave us...forever..." The woman said. Her voice was soft and dreamy, and she moved in a quick, nervous way that reminded Harry even more of some kind of giant insect.
Maybe he should have taken Arithmancy, Harry thought as they were told to get some tea and drink it, he wasn't sure whether he was deeply creeped out or very impressed.
Tea with no sugar was one of the most disgusting things that Lawliet had ever had. Second only to coffee without sugar. At least tea without sugar only tasted like dead plants. Coffee without sugar just tasted like something dead.
Also, who in their right mind drank the tea with the leaves floating around?
Granger looked annoyed too, but it wasn't for the same reason. She had taken a seat with him on the table, while Weasley and Harry sat together. For a moment she had looked after them, but she'd huffed, sighed and looked at her tea.
"I hope you don't mind partnering with me, but since Pavarti and Lavender are always paring up with each other, and well..." for for a second her eyes flickered over to Neville Longbottom, the boy who had gone into the compartment who had already broken one tea cup.
Ah, so that would make him the outsider of the group. There was always one person who the rest of the children avoided. Not because they overly even disliked him, but because it wasn't adventitious to be with. In a school like this, someone who had little magic and was clumsy was obviously going to be avoided and mostly friendless.
Lawliet shrugged and made himself comfort able, trying to drink his tea and not gag and the same time. Most of the students had been very intimidated by Trelawney's rather impressive tactics. She had chosen the weakest, and most self-conscious of the group, guessed his clumsiness and exploited it, making herself look like she had foretold it. Obviously, someone usually got fed up and left in every class.
Lawliet hoped it was Potter.
Then he could leave too.
"Um...do you always sit like that?" Granger's voice seemed unsure of whether she should mention it or not.
Lawliet blinked, and noticed that she was looking at his crouch.
"I find that my mental ability drops forty percent when I don't sit this way," he said.
Granger blinked, opened her mouth and seemed to decide against saying anything. "Er...if you're done, I'll look at your leaves. I don't really expect to see anything though. This class is total rubbish. Particularly in connection to my Arithmancy class!"
Lawliet nodded once, and handed her the cup.
"Professor Vector actually seemed to know what she was talking around. I don't see why everyone seemed to think she was tough. It was worth more than this," Granger took the cup, opened her book and started to look around at the little symbols.
It was rather foolish to tell a complete stranger about a class that you couldn't possibly have taken (unless there was some spell that allowed you to be in multiple places at the same time) still, it was very informative about Granger's character and relationship with Harry. She wasn't as close to Harry as Weasley was, and between the two of them, Harry appeared to take Weasley's side.
"You have a big block," Granger finally said, "And there's nothing in the book other than a square. And that means immobility in the future."
Lawliet looked over at it, and he had to agree. The thing in the center looked pretty much like a rectangle. It was in the center, and almost looked ominous, if such a word could be used to describe tea mush.
"Maybe I'm going to read a book in the future," Lawliet suggested.
A smile started to appear on Granger's face. Lawliet blinked.
"Your turn," Hermione said, shoving the tea cup at him, "If you tell me I'm going to meet a tall, dark stranger, I'll leave right now."
"As a significant percent of the population of this school are tall and dark, and you do not likely know all of them, your chances of seeing one today are around ninety percent."
"Are you joking?"
Granger looked at him in a worried way, but looked at the cup.
Lawliet looked at it in a bored way.
"What do you see?"
"I know this is stupid, but we have to at least work at this," she said, huffing a little and seeming to expand, "You won't get good grades if you don't work hard, and you might have to deal with the first years."
Further conversation was interrupted by the fact that Trelawney was 'randomly' deciding to read Harry's cup. Lawliet had heard him and Ron snickering to one another, but was pretty sure that she was going to do something dramatic.
It would look so good to make some dark prediction about a celebrity, and it would get so much attention too.
Lawliet didn't really know why he did it. He mostly just felt like it, and he didn't like people who cheated to get respect. He'd met too many of them, and it didn't seem fair or just for her, who obviously couldn't predict if it would rain or not, to be preferred over candidates who had better experience, more talent, and needed the same job.
He suddenly threw his hands in the air as if in shock, let out out a gasp, and coincidentally knocked into the professor as she was starting to twirl Harry's cup around in a very theatrical kind of way. The sound of breaking china was rather satisfactory, but he turned to her with wide eyes.
"I'm terribly sorry. I thought I saw something in Granger's cup, but I was wrong," he lied.
The professor's lips pursed together in a very strict kind of way, and she drew a deep breath.
"No matter, my dear boy," she said in very breathy tones, "I foresaw what would happen the moment that I looked upon his cup. I saw...death..."
Having the assurance from Professor McGonagall that Trelawney had managed to predict the death of one student a year since coming to the school, Harry was able to listen to the animagi lecture in peace and go to Hagrid's class.
"So, since it's not anything to worry about, do you think we should drop the class?" Ron asked, "Who wants to hear that old bat moaning about death all the time?"
Harry was also pretty sure that the fact that Lavender Brown and Pavarti Patil did. They were both engrossed in their Divination homework had also annoyed him. It was kind of irritating when they whispered to him in a low voices as if he was on his death bed or something.
It was a relief to be going to Hagrid's class.
Since Hagrid had never formally graduated from Hogwarts, it was going to be interesting to see just what he came up with. It would probably be exciting at least, and maybe, if they were lucky, Ron would forget about his anger with Hermione and Justin. Probably not.
It wasn't until he saw the backs of three very familiar people that he realized with a groan that this would have to be a double class with Slytherin.
"Why do we get pared with the Slytherins so often?" Justin hissed to him.
"Did you hear someone talking, Harry?" Ron asked.
"Er... because we do?" Harry didn't want to get involved with this fight, but he would answer a question.
Even if Ron was looking at him like he was a traitor.
Justin blinked at him and then looked back at Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle.
Malfoy seemed to have heard them and he turned to face them, giving Justin a very ugly look. Justin ignored them. Any real hostility was broken up before it started by Hagrid coming up, followed closely by Umbridge, the Assistant Professor. Harry had to wonder just what an Assistant Professor actually did. It sounded something like the person who would carry all the things that Hagrid didn't want to.
"Alright, you lot!" Hagrid called over to them, "Come over here. Great lesson comin' up!"
"We don't even sit in a proper classroom. Hogwarts is really going downhill. First that Mudblood who didn't even know he had magic until two years too late gets into our year, and next we have this oaf as a teacher. When my father hears about this...at least we have a somewhat decent aid. I'd be afraid he'd have thrown us to manticores or something..." Malfoy hissed to his friends.
Pansy Parkingson, a Slytherin girl with a face like a pug, nodded, "It's a complete shame."
Harry gave Justin a nervous look. Chances were that he would have no idea what a Mudblood was, but he might get angry, and the last thing that he needed was a repeat of last year. Particularly if Justin couldn't use magic. Justin either hadn't heard or didn't care, but Ron, despite the fact that he was still angry about Scabbers, was glaring at Malfoy.
"Do you think Hagrid would let me hex him?" he hissed to Harry.
"Only if you enjoyed a punishment. A teacher cannot afford favoritism," Maybe Justin had better hearing than Harry thought.
Ron glowered at him and turned away.
"Oh, really..." Harry heard Hermione mutter. He kind of wished that they would just apologize just so that they could all talk.
Though, Harry was a little surprised that Justin was still with them. Why hadn't he just hung around Dean or Neville? Than again, he was...well, Justin...and Hermione didn't seem to mind him much.
"Hermione, just apologize to Ron. That's all he wants!" Harry muttered to her.
Hermione gave him a very offended look.
"I haven't done anything! We don't even know if Scabbers is dead! If Ron would look for him instead of blaming us!"
Harry sighed as he walked over to the clearing where Hagrid was waiting. This could take some time. It He knew from experience that Ron and Hermione could go on like this for weeks, and Justin somehow struck him as being completely unbending. Looking like that, he'd have to be.
"Right now," Hagrid called over the crowd, "The firs' thing yer going ter want ter do is to open yer books!"
"How?" the derisive voice of Draco Malfoy cut across the crowd.
"How do you open your books?" Malfoy continued, taking out his spellotaped book.
"Er...didn't anyone manage to open yer books?" Hagrid looked crest fallen.
Justin alone raised his hand. The others look at him blankly and took out their books. Someone them, like Harry, had belted their books shut. Others had put them into tight bags, used rope or clamped them shut.
"You've...you've got ter stroke them," he said as if this was completely obvious, "Er...Wallace isn't that what you did?"
"No, I let it chew on my head for a while," Justin said, sticking a sucker that appeared out of nowhere into his mouth.
There were some snickers from the Slytherins, and Harry wondered just whose side Justin was on. He seemed utterly unaware of the glares from his housemates, who mostly supported Hagrid because the Slytherins hated him, and the amusement of the people who should have been his enemies. It looked like someone was going to need to sit him down and teach him the rules of the school or something.
"Er...right well...now that yer've got yer books open...you need the magical creatures..." Hagrid seemed to have lost a little of his wind, "So...I'll go get them..."
"Hem hem," the sound of Umbridge's small, breathy cough caught everyone off guard, "Mr...Hagrid...you don't seem to have a schedule for the lessons that you will be giving your students, may I ask a teeny tiny little question?"
Hagrid shuffled a little, "Er...I was gettin' to writin' that out...alright...what's on yer mind?"
Umbridge coughed again, "I was wondering if you were quite sure that exposing young children to such dangerous animals as Hippogriffs was...wise...or if you had gotten Ministry approval for this class..."
"Well, I did talk to Dumbledore about it and-"
"I understand, but he isn't a member of the Ministry is he?" Umbridge said with a sweet smile that somehow set Harry's teeth on edge, "Something like that requires getting some kind of permission or proof of ones...capability..."
"But don't worry," Umbridge said brightly, "I've already set up something that I think the students will find as a perfect substitute... now... would you all please follow me and put your wands away?"
There were some sighs, and Hagrid was visibly upset, but there didn't seem to be anything that he could do.
Harry glared over at the other students somewhat relieved looks. How bad could it have been? He was certain that whatever Hagrid had had planned would have been far more interesting than what this Umbridge woman was going to do.
It looked like there was a covered area on the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest that was used for the class. Umbridge had already prepared seats to be in pairs along with a small covered cage in front of it.
Harry and Ron sat down in one seat, and Hermione and Justin sat down a little away from them.
"Good morning, class," Umbridge chirped at him.
There were some mutters but mostly stares.
"Tut tut, that simple won't do," Umbridge said, wagging a finger in the air, "When I say good morning to your, your answer should be 'Good morning, Assistant Professor Umbridge'. Now, let's try again: good morning, class!"
"Good morning, Assistant Professor Umbridge," the class chanted back at her, but still managed to sound bored.
"Well, that's better," she simpered to the students.
Hagrid stood to one side, completely forgotten as he looked around in a confused kind of way, trying to get the class back under control.
"Now, I've given the matter a great deal of thought, but I think, Mr...oh sorry, Professor Hagrid, that you should do something that the class has already had one experience with, though that time with with a teacher who most certainly did not meet the Ministry requirements for a a professor, so...we're going to review."
With a wave of her short, stubby want, everyone got a good look at just what was in the cages.
Harry blinked, and he looked around to see what everyone else reactions were. While everyone knew that the pixies weren't overly dangerous, at least so long as you didn't let them out of their cages, the Gryffindors had had a very bad experience. Word must have gotten around because the Slytherins were looking more or less suspicious as well. Blaise Zabini, a tall boy with high cheekbones and slanting eyes, had both eyebrows raised and was giving the pixies a more or less cautious look. Justin seemed to be the only one who wasn't overly worried, as he sat in his same crouch and didn't seem to even notice the pixie making faces at him through the cage.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if this ending in a Lockhart-ish way?" Ron hissed to Harry.
Harry smirked a little bit. There was just something about Umbridge that made him want everything she did to blow up in her face.
So, completely ignoring Hagrid, Umbridge began her lesson.
It was really a clever move.
While Lawliet found the woman's voice to be incredibly irritating, he had to admit that she had done and excellent job of taking power from Hagrid. There was a seventy-two percent chance that Hagrid wasn't going to be able to get power back for quite some time. As he had already made a mistake with the books, and the Gryffindor students didn't seem to have any real personal loyality to him, rather they were just siding with the man to make the Slytherin students annoyed.
Who came up with these rivalries?
The lesson itself was boring. Umbridge blathered in that voice of hers, coughing every so often, and addressing them the way that she would talk to very young children who may or may not have been dropped on their heads as infants. The facts about the pixies were mostly common sense things, and she didn't appear to have actually read the book (thirty percent chance of doing any actual research) before starting the lesson.
Still, she managed to put herself in control and at least pretend that she had some idea what she was doing.
All in all, she was obviously a politician.
The pixie itself was interesting, if only because it was blue, small, winged and seemed to be intelligent enough to cause trouble (did that mean that the legends of the Fair Folk were true as well?) and, from Granger's worried looks, had caused the students trouble before.
"You've dealt with these?" he asked after a while.
Granger sighed and looked at the blue thing, which was making a hostile gesture at her.
"Last year, we had a teacher in Defense Against the Dark Arts that let them lose," she said, in the kind of clipped tones that hinted that she didn't really want to talk about it.
Therefore making it worthy of pursuing.
"And this caused trouble? Is that why you need a new teacher this year?"
Granger sighed and gave him something of a dirty look.
"Lockhart was... very popular... so no. Besides, pixies aren't a big deal. We just didn't know how to handle them. Actually...he lost his memory so he had a give up his position. He was the second Defense teacher that we had...there are rumors starting to go around the the job is cursed..."
"This school sounds surprisingly dangerous."
Lawliet was distracted by Umbridge coming over to all but salivate over Harry, talking about how, as long as he did well, she was sure that the Ministry would be proud to welcome him into its fine ranks.
"Oh, honestly," Granger muttered, "She's so obvious. The only reason she probably took this job is because Harry was here..."
Lawliet cocked his head, and reached in his pocket for a hard candy that he knew he had put in there last night. He hoped that was the only reason, but judging by the one falsely sweet look she'd given to him, it was anything but just one thing.
"Well, what are we doing here?" Umbridge's voice drifted over to them, "Oh, how sweet, it's so kind of you to help out Mr. Wallace...it must be so difficult...particularly when you're unfamiliar with the creatures yourself."
Umbridge was speaking only the Granger, completely ignoring Justin's presence. Granger herself seemed to have noticed this and looked pretty irritated.
"Justin's fine. He's read the book, so we're at the same place," she said in those same clipped tones, and huffing just a little.
It was kind of fun to watch. She had such an obviously black and white view of the world, and she seemed to be attempting to find a place for the woman while still keeping her view of teachers as all wonderful people.
"Hagrid," Granger said, looking over that the giant, "What do you think of how we're feeding him?"
Hagrid looked more than happy to join into the lesson now that he had a chance.
"Well, Cornish Pixie's arn't to fond o' milk. They're picky little things. Usually, when ya have to work with 'em, it's best to use a bit o' cake...just a minute!"
Hagrid moved startlingly fast for someone so big, and in what seemed like a very short time, he had reappeared, holding a plate of...very hard looking rock cakes. Granger seemed to think the same thing, since she looked at the offered plate dubiously, and smacked the cake as hard as she could against the table, cracking it open, and soaked it in the milk before she offered it to the pixie. The little blue...thing...looked at it suspiciously, but took it and sat down to eat.
The other students who seemed to have been watching since Granger cracked open the bread, all grabbed one cake. Lawliet noted that Umbridge was looking at Granger, and it was a look that was cold and calculating and very ugly. Granger's life was likely to get worse very quickly, but she didn't notice that. Really, she looked rather pleased with herself.
Lawliet would admit that she was clever by figuring out how to break Umbridges power, but she wasn't clever enough. Maybe that was why he even opened his mouth.
"She's only going to repeat that next class," Lawliet said so that only Granger could hear as Umbridge walked towards the pug girl and her friends, "And now she knows that you are going to be difficult. That was a foolish move."
"I don't care!" Granger hissed back, "I won't let that old cow treat Hagrid any way she wants. It's not right. Besides, I didn't see you or anyone else willing to help him."
"Because this situation wasn't one that could be won automatically. Besides, Hagrid has the authority to tell her to stop. If he doesn't use it, that's his problem."
Hermione glared at him.
The best thing about the school was that the rumors flew around so quickly that Lawliet didn't even need the help of Wammy or the usual sources. However some of them were as useful as 'did you hear when those people did that thing at that place?'
"I heard that Sirius Black was seen in London yesterday!someone hissed to their friend.
"But I heard that he tried to get into the Gryffindor tower!"
"I thought that he'd just gotten into Scotland..."
While they were useless, it also meant that there was little anyone knew about his movements. At least, not anything that was being released to the public. The Ministry of Magic seemed like one of those annoying governments that seemed to think that it was alright to hide crucial information from people 'for their own good'
Maybe that was why they didn't have Wizard Universities. Because if there were, people would ask too many uncomfortable questions, and being that it would be a university, it would probably end up with revolutionaries.
Lawliet would be glad to never see it again.
Weasley still wasn't talking to him or Granger, and Harry was looking unhappy. Though he didn't tell his friend off, Lawliet supposed that in Harry's mind, Weasley had a justification. Granger was trying hard to look like she was morally right while she ate her steak and kidney pudding, but she was starting to look unhappy.
"Hey...Ron..." Harry said, looking over at one corner of the room, close to where they were sitting. "Isn't that...Scabbers?"
Ron glared at Harry, but didn't look up.
Lawliet turned around to see what Harry was looking at, and did notice a rat eating something that someone had dropped.
Lawliet couldn't tell the difference between one rat and another, but he did want to get this childish little division over with since it was hard to get close to Harry with Ron glaring at him. Apologizing would be a waste of time to him. Lawliet had seen people like him before, they didn't easily let go of grudges. He wasn't at the level of being someone he'd actually have to consider (at the moment, Malfoy's little friend was the only one on that list).
Also, for some reason, he just didn't want to play along with Weasley.
"It looks like him," Justin said.
"I think it's even got a toe missing like Scabbers," Harry said.
"Scabbers is dead," Ron muttered.
"There's a sixty percent chance at this moment that if your rat paraded in front of you, you wouldn't believe it," he said, ignoring Ron's glare.
"Can't you at least check on it," Harry sighed.
Ron scowled and looked down.
Hermione glared at him, stood up and pointed her wand at the rat and said clearly.
Apparently all spells were done in bad latin, since the rat froze and Hermione stalked over, grabbed it, and thunked it on the table in front of Weasley.
"Your rat, Ronald," she said with great dignity.
Weasley blinked, and grabbed the rat just the moment that the spell wore off.
"Scab-ouch!" he suddenly waved his hands as the rat bit him, and dashed off, disappearing into some hole in the castle (with one this old it wasn't all that surprising). Weasley jumped to his feet, and dashed out of the room after his rat.
For some reason, Lawliet felt a glow of satisfaction that usually only came once he had figured out the answer to a case. Granger was smirking, and even Potter looking a little happier.
When Ron came back he looked at the three faces staring at him, and scowled.
"Alright, so your pets didn't kill him. But they scared him enough to make him attack me!"
"Apology accepted," Granger said. She looked annoyed, but that was probably one of the few times where she got something like an admission of a mistake.
"So, how was your first day of classes?" Wammy asked that night as Lawliet looked over a case file.
Lawliet looked up and stared at Wammy. He wasn't sure why he was interested. It had little to do with the cases, and Wammy had seldom taken a great interest in such things in the past. Perhaps he was simply making conversation, but it was unlikely. (Twenty-nine percent)
"They are immature. Potter is depressingly oblivious to attempts of others to use his fame to their advantage, Weasley holds grudges like a young child, and Granger holds a black and white view of the world and justice that is unrealistic. None will be willing to listen to an opposing opinion, and in all likelihood they will end up the tool of whoever manages to convince them they are right without questioning anything."
Wammy looked amused.
"They sound to normal young teenagers to me," He said at last, "I take it that you don't get along with them?"
"I don't know if it's that simple," Lawliet shrugged, "They are extremely close knit, so it will not be easy to find excuses to follow Potter around without at least attempting to be 'friends' with him, and to do that, one must get past Granger and Weasley who do their best to guard him, though I'm not sure if it's through affection or ulterior motives yet. Weasley is angry with me because someone opened a window and that owl I bought attacked his pet rat. At the moment, Granger feels a camaraderie with me because her cat was also blamed by Weasley, but that is likely to pass quickly, and her views on how the world works is likely to cause trouble."
He never knew just how stupidly complicated working with people in this situation would be. There were so many things that had to be planned for. While Granger's view of morality was...cute...it was also a liability to him and his methods, which would have to be unimpeded by this.
Then again...she might be the best one to use to get to Harry. Slowly a smile formed on his face, transforming it into something slightly more like the child he should have been.
Umbridge and Granger had just provided him with an excuse to hang around Granger, and therefore to hang around Harry. Weasley would respect it because of Granger. He should thank the Minister of Magic because by sending Umbridge, he had just provided Lawliet with the means to break into the trio's little close knit group.
"By the way, L, did you apologize for your owl?" Wammy asked suddenly. He had gone back to his reading, and he hadn't noticed Lawliet's smile.
"No. Why should I have? He couldn't prove anything, and the rat was still alive in the end."
"It might have helped you have a friendship with the boy and therefore one with Harry Potter. The lie would have been very useful."
"...I didn't wish to apologize," Lawliet said after a pause, leaning over his case file again, ignoring the smile on Wammy's face.
Omake: Evil Incarnate
"So...let me get this straight..." a seventeen year old Sirius Black said to James Potter, "You're afraid to entire your room because of a teddy bear?"
"It's not a normal bear anymore," James muttered darkly, looking at the door to his room, "It's evil incarnate. It's the devil in plush toy form. It's-"
"Still a teddy bear," Sirius muttered. "Honestly, Prongs, can't you take your own experimental spell?"
James looked at the door and ran one hand through his hair nervously. Something growled on the other side and Sirius raised one eyebrow. While he knew better than to enter his best friend's room without permission, he didn't know that James had figured out how to make his door growl at him. He'd have to asked how he'd done it.
"I made it for Lily, so she didn't have to deal with her sister or...other stalkers...digging through her stuff while she wasn't there. And it's really good at that kind of thing. The problem is I didn't remember put in how to make it stop in the spell or for it to...um...listen to me..." James sighed.
"And everyone thinks I'm the one who doesn't think before he acts," Sirius muttered. "This was why they did these kinds of things together. In case someone forgot something or made a mistake. (Or, in the case of Sirius, figured out the perfect way to do something without considering anything in the long term.) "How bad could it be?"
He opened the door the moment that James whispered to him, "It'll eat you."
For a moment Sirius got a good look inside the room, staring with a slightly open mouth at the small brown plush bear that was looking at him with very sharp looking, very big teeth. Then he closed the door the second that the thing sprang to attack. He stared at the door in silence for a while as James talked.
"It's a flesh eating teddy bear. Once I perfect it, not even Moldy-Voldy will be able to get through our things," James said, a touch of his usual egotism appearing in his voice.
"That was the most horrifying thing I've ever seen," Sirius finally said.
And that's it for now. Honestly, I didn't like this chapter much, but it's important for building up changes and reasons and such. Next chapter I intend to introduce Snape and possibly Luna. I hope that you've enjoyed.
Sorry for the delay, my Christmas break was pretty eventful since my grandmother stayed with us for the entire time. I will try to chug out the next chapter as soon as I can.
Mopsy: Mopsy was a character in Rowling's earlier drafts of GoF. She was ultimately cut out, but I kind of wanted to use her again. I intend on using some of these rejected characters as opposed to using OCs. According to the Harry Potter wiki she was an "eccentric elderly witch who lived at the edge of Hogsmeade. She was especially fond of dogs, and kept several, much to the chagrin of her neighbors" ...chagrin... I'm probably the only person who can't hear that word without giggling.
Why L Didn't get a time turner: Because he didn't have anyone behind him saying how trustworthy and what a good student he was. He was new, and he didn't have Hermione's reputation. That and the Ministry doesn't overly like his involvement anyways.
Tea: As a tea drinker myself, this is easily the worst way to drink tea. There is a reason for tea bags and strainers. The tea itself tastes fine. The leaves...not so much. It gets this awful bitter taste, it's too strong, and it has an aftertaste that can sometimes stick in your mouth for about an hour. I know this because I once had a tea bag split open while I was drinking it, and I was like 'oh, whatever, I'll drink it anyways'. Bad move, Pryotra.
Umbridge: In the books, she had as much subtlety as a brick, but I'm trying to change that. Slightly. For one thing, she has no reason to hate Harry or Dumbledore, so her actions are going to be different.
The Marauders: I'm thinking of having some of the omakes focus on them and some of the things that they did. Any thoughts on the issue?
And now for your local source of crazy: The Epitome of Eccentricity! Thank you, Pryotra, for allowing me to beta this. The chapter was very, VERY late due to problems on my side of things, mainly a huge virus that nearly destroyed my lap top. From now on, everything should be smooth sailing for any future chapters. Remember everyone, review!