Chapter 22 - New Year, New Expectations
The students arrived at Hogwarts under a heavy rain. Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny were shivering with cold and were completely soaked just from the short walk between the train to the carriages and then from the carriages to the castle as they sat in the Great Hall, wainting for the sorting.
"Wow." Said Harry "it's a good thing we're not in first year anymore! The boat ride must've been terrible this year!"
But before any of the other could say anything, professor McGonagal walked in, followed by the line of wet first year students.
The Sorting followed as usual and when all the students, new and old, were seated professor Dumbledore got up. For Ron's good fortune – he was already complaining about being hungry – the headmaster didn't have much to say at that point and was done after a "Welcome all, let's enjoy our feast!"
Conversations on various subjects emerged between the students, among them the absence of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but eventually, when they were all satisfied, the headmaster stood up again. It was time to find out what would happen at Hogwarts that year.
"Now that we're all satisfied, I have a few announcements to make. The first is that the inter-house quidditch cup will not take place this year."
This announcement was followed by boos and shouts. The loudest were Fred and George Weasley.
"NO!" shouted the twins "you can't do this!"
"Calm down, calm down." Dumbledore went on "the reason for that is that Hogwarts will be the stage of another event this year, one that hasn't been held for over a hundred years. I'm pleased to announce that this year Hogwarts will be host to the Triwizard Tournament!"
The noise made by students buzz could be heard from the outside. Some looked to the others without understanding why they were all yelling.
"For those who already know what the tournament is about, I must ask you to ignore my next words, for those who do not know, the Triwizard Tournament is a competition between the three major schools of wizardry, Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Drumstrung, each school will be represented by a student and compete in three tasks to achieve eternal glory and honor to theirs school."
"Eternal glory?" Fred spoke "I'm in!"
"But!" continued Dumbledore "as a matter of safety, some new rules have been implemented in this year's tournament. Only students of legal age, i.e., students who have completed 17 years, may try to participate in the tournament."
"BOOOOO" shouted George "we have to find a way to enter this tournament."
"You can't!" Hermione snapped "you're not 17 yet!"
But before that discussion could take larger proportions, the doors of the Great hall opened with a bang. A male figure was illuminated by the lightning. From his seat at the Gryffindor table, Harry could see a scarred face and a strange electric blue eye. The hint of a wooden leg could also be seen in the barely illuminate room.
"Ah! My dear students, I would like to introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, the ex-Auror Alastor Moody."
Moody walked slowly to the staff table followed by whispers of students. Dumbledore talked to him for a few moments and then sent the students to their dorms. The arrival of Moody had left an impression on the students. An impression that actually managed to compete with the expectations about the tournament in the students' attention. The talks in the dorms lasted for a while that night. But classes would begin the next morning so, after some time, only silence could heard throughout the castle.
The first week of classes was a normal first week for Severus. Well... as normal as you can get in a magic school where daily caldron's explosions were the norm in his first years classes. All because Dumbledore insisted in grouping Gryffindors and Slytherins, something that Severus could never understand.
It was on the fourth day os classes that Severus discovered the first of the many problems he would have to solve during the year. It was just before dinner, when Severus had finally had a moment of peace, especially because the next day he would have to pretend to hate his own son for two hours, and he was trying to relax for a few moments when... knock knock knock ... someone was knocked on the door of his office. With a sigh of defeat, Severus returned the bottle of Ogden's Old to the bottom drawer of his desk and gave permission to whoever was outside to enter.
Draco Malfoy entered the office, his face showing grief that he would never dare to show in front of his peers.
"Draco." Severus said "what brings you here so soon in the year?"
"I think you should talk to Potter."
Severus looked at Draco as if he had sprouted a second head.
"And why should I do that, Mr. Malfoy?"
"Because Moody decided to show the whole class just how the dark lord killed his mother."
Severus was up in a second.
"What?" He could not understand why the auror would do something like that.
"Moody thinks we should know what to expect, so he showed us all the unforgivable curses in class today. Potter seemed shaken after he used Avada Kedavra on a spider."
"Alastor Moody used all the unforgivables in front of the fourth year students?" Severus's brain could not fully understand what that meant.
"Yeah. On a spider." Was Draco's answer "he made it bigger" that moment Draco could not suppress a shiver of disgust and terror "to better demonstrate the effects of the Cruciatus."
Severus stared incredulously at his godson.
"And he said he wants to put us all under the imperius..."
Draco didn't had time to finish speaking. Severus was already out of the room and was striding into the Great Hall. Not wanting to miss the show that was sure to happen, Draco quickly followed his godfather.
Severus was livid. He entered the Great Hall with a bang, causing the doors to hit the wall and come back nearly closing on a couple of Ravenclaws. He walked with long strides, cloak billowing behind him, the eyes of every students present fixed on him, and the tension-filled silence was interrupted only by the light sound of Severus' shoes touching the ground.
"Albus" the hissing voice of Snape ran through the hall "we have a serious issue to discuss, a matter of extreme urgency. Something that if it's not solved TODAY will surely bring many problems. Very. Soon."
"Very well, Severus." Dumbledore replied seriously "let's go to my office."
"Maybe it would be… advisable" continued the potion master "if all the head of the houses were present to this... meeting."
"A problem that serious in the first week?" Asked Minerva.
"I'm afraid so." He answered before turning and walking back down the hall, making his way to the headmaster's office.
When they were all accommodated, Dumbledore looked expectantly at Severus.
"Are you aware, Albus, of what Moody is doing his students?" Severus wasn't able to completely hide the anger he felt at the simple thought of a teacher raising his wand to a student.
"Alastor has carte blanche to do his curriculum, but he has my full confidence, Severus." The answer was director.
"So you would accept easily the idea of Moody not only talking, but DEMONSTRATING all of the unforgivable curses, for a fourth year class? A class that contains not only Ha ... Potter, but also Longbottom?" The words were steeled ice coming from Severus' mouth.
"Demonstrated, Severus?" McGonagall asked with a frown.
"Demonstrated, Minerva. Apparently he found it necessary to show the effects of the three curses in a spider. And to give greater clarity to these effects, he increased the size of the arachnid."
"I'm sure that's just an exaggeration ..." Albus tried to find an excuse.
"And you certainly will find that it is also an exaggeration of the students, the warning he gave? That in the next class he will put the students under the influence of the Imperius? Just so they have an idea of how it is to be under the control of another person?" With every word Severus showed more and more of the anger he felt.
"Alastor would never do that." Was Albus' answer.
"Just as he would never transfigured a student as punishment, Albus?" Asked Minerva.
"You have to see that there is something very wrong with Mad-Eye Moody, Albus." Spoke Pomona Sprout "I know he lives under the motto 'Constant Vigilance', but to expect that a fourth year student could resist to an unforgivable curse..."
"Very well." said Albus defeated "I think we have no other choice but to ask Alastor about it."
"I'll provide Veritaserum." Severus said rising " so we can clarify this as fast as possible."
And without giving Albus a chance to refute the use of the truth serum, Severus was out of the office. There was something very wrong with that man, and Severus would not rest until he found out what he was hiding. With the Triwizard tournament approaching, he would not rest until he was sure that Harry was really safe at Hogwarts. Which is not as easy as it seems, thought Severus remembering all the situations that Harry had gotten himself in his first three years at the school.