The next few weeks were a flurry of activity for Harry. He not only had his own classes and homework, but he also had to teach. He found that he quite enjoyed it, though, and felt a warm glow of pride whenever his students successfully did things and got good grades. And if this wasn't enough, there was Quidditch practice on top of all this!
Plus there was his writing to Sirius, of course. It was much harder than he had thought writing his letters in such a way so no one could get anything 'interesting' from them, though most of the time it was basically describing how he felt about teaching and how much he enjoyed it.
And to add to all of this, Harry had begun to quite thoroughly enjoy his breakfast times. Hermione still got the Daily Prophet and the ICW had been slamming Fudge and his administration non-stop. Harry quite liked this because the inspectors and various officials were saying the truth and the Daily Prophet was actually printing it instead of the rubbish they had been spewing for months.
Hermione suspected that the editor of the Daily Prophet was more scared of the ICW than Fudge.
"So what's it say today?" asked Harry, looking towards Hermione. She had out her newspaper and was sipping coffee. Ron was busy eating. Harry shared his orange juice and bacon with Hedwig, who hooted quite happily at her boy's attentiveness and ate.
She grinned and just showed Harry the front page.
CORNELIUS FUDGE: STUPID, SENILE OR SINISTER?
In an interview last night, Maggie Parrish, who has been appointed Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards in an overwhelming election ever since Albus Dumbledore was removed, has mentioned a rather high number of disturbing events that has made the ICW feel obligated to assist Britain in this difficult time.
"I've been speaking with some students and staff," said Parrish, "and I admit, some stories are disturbing. One staff member informed me how Headmaster Dumbledore a few years ago could not focus on properly securing something for a friend of his as he wished due to Minister Fudge's constant requests for his aid."
As many readers of the Daily Prophet no doubt know, this statement is quite factual. Fudge wrote to Dumbledore when he was elected many times a day, asking for the man's advice. It makes this reporter wonder who exactly is the senile one if the Minister has forgotten that.
"Another incident that made me concerned was the unlawful arrest of another staff member for attacking students," Parrish informed this Daily Prophet reporter. "He was sent to Azkaban by Minister Fudge, who never even issued an investigation into the events. A simple one would have shown the staff member's innocence. He was never reimbursed for his missed time, simply granted a half-hearted apology and only released when the Headmaster wrote to the Ministry demanding his return and this was done after another attack that resulted in the near death of two students and the permanent hospitalization of another member of the staff."
Ron looked over at this, "Yeah, I remember that. Fudge had Hagrid arrested..."
"There's more," said Hermione with a grin.
Harry looked on with interest.
An investigation as to why Dumbledore did was unable to stop all of this himself showed that he had been forced from the school by the Board of Governors, who listened to Mr. Lucius Malfoy. Interestingly enough, when the Governors were asked about this, they all said that Lucius Malfoy had threatened to curse them. However, no one reported this extortion to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement due to fear that it would not be taken seriously. This concern was shared by many members of the Board of Governors and the reason for this was because it was well known that Lucius Malfoy is a huge contributor to Fudge's election campaign.
"The ICW is here for all its citizens," said Parrish in a closing statement. "We want all our young witches and wizards to get a good education. And though Headmaster Dumbledore seems to know what the ICW requires, from the teaching methods to the books we want, the British Ministry does not. Just the other day they were attempting to ban 'Alchemy, Ancient Art and Science' from the Hogwarts library because it showcases Muggle science in relation to a magical subject! We are residents of the planet Earth and need to remember that. It's what the ICW was founded on and that message will never change, be it from something like education to ensuring fair rights for all citizens in the magical world."
Parrish was right about the many attempts to ban books. The Board of Governors even attempted to ban 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' due to its depiction of a witch marrying a Muggle.
And those are just a few things that are going on. But it does raise the question of who exactly is the one forgetting things and out of touch with the times. Because from the evidence gathered so far, it most definitely is not Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
"That reporter has got to be one brave person," said Hermione quietly, looking over the newspaper. "Fudge won't be happy with this at all..."
Harry nodded in agreement as Ron took the paper to look at the Quidditch section.
"Oy! Harry, you're in the paper!"
"What?" Hermione and Harry both looked.
Ron pointed to a small article inside the newspaper, on the last news page but before the sports section, about the Teacher Assistant Program at Hogwarts. The article mentioned all of them and mentioned how creative many of the student-taught lessons were, along with many younger students who quite liked the classes.
"Apprentice Nott isn't as scary as Professor Snape," one student confided. "He's really funny and nice. But I really like Apprentice Potter too. He really knows his stuff and he's so nice! I was worried at first but he's so patient and kind and not insane at all!"
Harry groaned at that, covering his face while Hermione chuckled.
"Apprentice Potter isn't crazy at all! He's really nice and dead clever! And Apprentice Longbottom is really good at explaining everything about plants, plus he warns us when things are going to be harder than they look! They remember what it's like being a student because they're still students!"
Much of the article continued in that vein with more praise for the creativity and academic excellence of all the students involved in the program. Harry was bright red by the time he finished reading it and he found his orange juice quite interesting.
"It's good that other people are able to start countering the other stupid stuff that Skeeter started," Hermione said to Harry.
"Still," said Harry with a slight blush and shrug. He beckoned Neville over and showed him the article, making the other boy's eyes widen with surprise.
"Gran is going to either send me a Howler or actually be proud of me for once," he mumbled, bright red as well.
"She'll be proud," said Harry. "Just watch. Come on, it's time for history."
Harry had to admit, he was really surprised that Narcissa Malfoy wasn't bad as a teacher. He had been expecting her to be an evil old hag or showing extreme bias, but the woman genuinely seemed to just want to share history with them. She had shown them artifacts and things that reminded Harry very much of Muggle movies with historical events.
"Today we will be covering a bit more of the relationships between wizards and giants," said Professor Narcissa Malfoy. "Now then, can anyone tell me the last hero of the wars we discussed? Yes, Ms. Patil."
"Jack the Giant Slayer," said Parvati promptly.
"Excellent," said the woman. "A lot of legends sprung up from Jack, especially since he used an Engorgement charm on some bean plants nearby to reach a far off mountain ledge to find the giant that had been bothering a town. So let's continue with more of his travels. Firstly, does anyone know anything about Jack? Ms. Granger?"
"There are Muggle legends about Jack and the beanstalk," said Hermione. "Jack took the giant's riches and cut down the beanstalk before it could take them back and kill him and he and his mother lived happily ever after."
"That actually isn't too far from the truth, though it's simplified," said Narcissa Malfoy. "They shared the riches with the small village they lived in and other villages, having heard of Jack's success with his home, asked his help. Jack ended up slaying dozens of giants on his own, using traps and tricks and other devices. He showed that wizards could beat giants since before, all that was done was wizards trying to overpower them and failing. Once this became known, the tide turned and giants ended up being the ones who had to relocate because they could no longer walk into villages and take things from the people there."
Harry wondered what happened to the giant slayer. Having nothing to lose, he raised his hand.
"Yes, Mr. Potter?"
"What happened to him? To Jack?"
"He traveled, helping villages that asked for his aid," said Professor Malfoy. "Then, after many years of this, he began to train others in how to do it. Some say that his lessons were the inspiration for the Ministry's future Hit Wizards, since they learn many of the same methods for on-the-field work. As for Jack himself, he settled down, his duty to the people done, and raised a family that ended up producing quite a few Aurors."
Harry liked that; to do what needed doing, to teach others how to do it and then to be able to settle down and live a normal life.
It was a simple goal, but he suspected that it was one he might like for himself.
The bell had rung and they had an essay to write; they had to chose one of the places Jack had saved and write about the event. It wasn't a long assignment at least, and Harry was a bit interested in it.
He walked with the other Gryffindors to Snape's classroom, and he saw Draco Malfoy talking with Theodore quietly. Theodore looked concerned and was frowning slightly before placing his hand on Draco's shoulder. Harry honestly couldn't understand how Theodore could get along with such a git like Draco Malfoy, but perhaps he wasn't as much of a jerk to Theodore.
The only Slytherin assistant was, in Harry's humble opinion, the only good act Snape had done as a teacher. Theodore was an excellent tutor, he made everyone brewing a potion feel at ease and he had even helped Neville get a bit better.
Snape handed back their essays on anti-venoms and Harry grinned slightly. He had managed to get an "E." Neville looked completely astonished but even Harry could see the spiky "A" on his paper.
It was strange, but Snape, though still cold and strict and unfair, seemed a little tiny bit less so. He didn't call them all dunderheads as often and actually spent time explaining things before telling them to brew potions.
"Maybe it's because he's not as stressed with Theodore helping him," Ron had said. "I mean, with the Order and all, even Snape's got to be stressed, git or not, and if Theodore's got the younger students that means Snape's just got students who already know what they're doing."
Harry and Hermione had gaped at this observation. "That actually sounds logical," Hermione had said.
"I have a brain too you know!" Ron had said hotly and he had held up a book to cover up his face before muttering a curse under his breath and flipping it the right way.
The memory of that still made Harry smile and even now as he sat in Snape's class, things didn't seem so bad. He left two hours later, having brewed Wiggenweld Potion and actually proud because it was the proper green color. They went to lunch and then to Divination.
Trelawney babbled more about dreams and other things. Harry tuned her out and focused on the book. He didn't need to hear about how he would die today, he was trying to figure out what dreams of long corridors meant. His book wasn't helping much.
'A corridor can have all kinds of symbolism,' his book said.
Great. Harry rolled his eyes, wondering what the book would say about a dream where he drowned Snape in a cauldron of shampoo. He burst out laughing, earning a glare from Trelawney, when he saw that there was indeed an entry for shampoo. And one for drowning. And one for cauldron.
But there was nothing for Snape. There was something for hair...
Hair represented money and longevity according to the Dream Oracle. Cauldrons represented a few things, one being... fertility and the womb? Shampoo represented a desire to present a new image to others... and someone other than yourself drowning represented that person needing your help with emotional support. Harry could barely keep a straight face.
"Mr. Potter, did you have an interesting dream?" asked Trelawney.
Harry decided to go with the made-up dream. "Yes, actually, Professor. I dreamed I was drowning Professor Snape in a cauldron of shampoo."
The entire class burst into laughter and Harry waited patiently before he continued. "Since I had multiple subjects in the dream, I looked up all of the pertinent ones. Since Professor Snape wasn't in the book, I had to make do. He's well-known for his hair, which represents money and longevity. And cauldrons can represent fertility and the womb..."
More laughter burst out at this and Harry waited, managing to keep a straight face, but Trelawney was listening raptly. "Go on."
"Yes Professor. Shampoo represents a desire to present a new image to others and someone that isn't yourself drowning means that person needs your help with emotional support. Therefore, Professor, by adding all of this together, I can only deduce that somehow, Professor Snape is pregnant and needs our support during this time because he's bound to want to show the image of a good, supportive expectant father and we're used to seeing a strict teacher."
The class burst into laughter at this deduction and Trelawney frowned. "I would say that is impossible but the signs do not lie... and Professor Snape did appear to have put on some weight when I last saw him..."
"But hair represents money," Parvati said.
"This is true..." Trelawney murmured.
"Well, Professor Malfoy's here," said Ron with a shrug. "Maybe her husband got lonely?"
Parvati's eyes widened, "But she's so pretty! How could anyone want Snape over her?!"
"The signs do not lie," said Trelawney mysteriously.
With that the bell rung and the class quickly left the North Tower. Harry wondered how long it would take for the Hogwarts rumor mill to start. But all he did was share his 'dream.' And if Snape complained, he could ask if that meant he was supposed to lie in class.
It would probably mean lots more of Snape-being-a-git-more-than-usual-ness towards him, but Harry found he couldn't quite muster up the energy to even care about the bitter man. Humming cheerfully, he entered Hat's class, rather excited. They would be covering a bit about dueling, dodging and shielding today.
"What's going on?" Hat inquired, noticing the students who had just had Divination whispering.
"Erm... N-Nothing..." Parvati said, looking nervously at Harry.
Hat raised an eyebrow at Harry.
"Professor Trelawney has us doing dream interpretation," explained Harry. "So I shared my dream and, well, the interpretation was very odd..."
"But the signs do not lie," said Ron with a perfectly straight face. "Professor Trelawney said so."
The students who all had Divination shared looks once more.
"... What sort of dream is this?" Hat asked slowly, taking in that sight.
"Professor Snape is pregnant!" burst out Parvati.
The rest of the class burst out laughing though Hat somehow managed to keep a perfectly straight face. Harry had to admit, he was impressed.
"Is he? Hm. I did think that he put on a small bit of weight..." Hat gave a slight shrug.
"Men can't get pregnant!" snapped Hermione, giving the Divination students a glare while others laughed.
Hat scoffed, "And magic isn't real according to most of the world. It's Hogwarts. I've come to think that anything can happen."
The class fell silent at that, sharing looks of horror.
Harry really, really hoped no mini-Snapes would be showing up to make him regret sharing the fake dream. The thought alone was enough to make him want to jump out a window.
"Right then: dueling!"
Their attention refocused onto the class but by dinner time... Harry couldn't control his amusement. It seemed as if every student was glancing towards Snape, trying to determine if he had gained weight at all. Even Hat glanced towards him a few times curiously.
Harry wisely finished his dinner quickly that night and went to the Gryffindor Common Room. He had a suspicion that Sirius would like to hear about this 'dream' of his and the interpretation. He was about to write the letter, but a few second years asked for his help. Harry helped them with their homework and had started on his own when the Common Room door opened and he could hear peals of laughter from a nearby room.
"What...?" he asked as Ron and Hermione joined him.
"Hat probably told McGonagall about your dream," said Ron with a grin. "She couldn't even stay in the Great Hall. She just stared at Snape before running out and well, you heard her."
"That was McGonagall laughing?!" Harry asked, astonished. "Oh my."
"Harry, did you really dream that he was pregnant?" Hermione asked this sternly.
"No no, that was the interpretation," said Harry. "I was drowning him in a cauldron of shampoo. Oh. I have to tell Snuffles about this. Come on."
Hermione gave him a slightly exasperated look. "You are an Assistant! You can't just do things like this!"
"All I did was interpret a dream! It was the assignment!" complained Harry as they walked.
"He's right," said Ron sagely. "It was."
"You know perfectly well Harry didn't dream that!" said Hermione, rounding on him.
"I think everyone's dreamed that at some point," Ron argued back. "And the assignment was to say a dream, it didn't say it had to be while we were sleeping! Daydreams are dreams too!"
Harry grinned broadly at his friend, who grinned back.
"Well... well... just because a lot of people have those kinds of dreams doesn't mean Snape's pregnant!" retorted Hermione.
"But Hermione, Divination is about the future," said Harry. "And as Professor Trelawney says, the signs do not lie. Besides, maybe nobody's interpreted the dream properly yet."
"You two are impossible!" Hermione said, but she was smiling slightly as she said it and they reached the Owlery. "Just be careful, Harry. You know Snape's going to be foul to you when he learns about this."
"What else is new?" asked Harry with a shrug as he wrote his letter to Sirius about his dream and the interpretation gathered from it. He was sure it would give his poor, trapped godfather a laugh.
Harry hated the thought of Sirius being stuck at 12 Grimmauld Place with that mad house elf, but what could he do? Though knowing how impulsive his godfather was, Harry was worried that he might show up one day during a Hogsmeade trip just to see Harry.
He trudged back towards Gryffindor Tower with Ron and Hermione when something occurred to him.
"Laws can be changed." Fudge had said that after Harry's hearing. And the laws had been changed in Sirius's case; he had been sent to Azkaban without a trial.
"The ICW is here for all citizens." That had been what Maggie Parrish, his history tester, had said.
Sirius was a citizen. And the ICW was trying to fix things with Hogwarts...
"Guys, I'll be back in a bit," said Harry, deciding. "I've got to go to the library."
Ron looked horrified and Hermione looked excited. "The library? I'll go with you! What do you need to look up?"
"I want to see what the ICW has to say about innocent people spending over a decade in Azkaban," said Harry firmly.
His friends looked surprised for about two seconds before they realized what Harry meant.
"That's brilliant," breathed Ron. "Let's go!"
The three friends grinned at each other and rushed off to the library where they began to look up information. It was much easier with his two friends helping and after borrowing quite a few law books, they returned to the common room to draft out a letter.
Harry felt comfortable writing to Parrish though; he had met the woman twice, after all. He explained the issue, citing the events that had happened in his third year and what he had learned about the various laws and the like.
And so, after having his friends look over the letter, Harry took a nervous breath, hoping that this could help, and walked up to the owlery to give the letter to Hedwig.
Then the teen returned to his common room to make sure that his homework was done and so were his lesson plans… and to remind himself to be patient and hope things went well.