That Butler, Teaching
. . .
"I'd really quite like...to play
the tutor once again today.
That splendid sense of being always right
It's a fine art that scholars know;
The Devil lost it long ago."
-Mephistopheles, Goethe's Faust (Part II)
. . .
Harry sighed as he led Ron towards the library. Ron was still hesitant about confronting Hermione, who, according to him, was probably still upset. Upset enough to pull a curse on them, he had said ominously. Harry told him he was being paranoid.
"Listen, the sooner we apologize, the sooner she forgives us," Harry said firmly. Though, truth be told, he was also having doubts. He immediately squashed them as they entered the library. Madame Pince, the librarian, narrowed her eyes at them.
"But Harry!" Ron protested, his voice a low whisper. "It's a rule, mate! When a girl's upset, you give her a wide berth until she cools down."
"Says who, Witch Weekly?" Harry asked, throwing Ron a grin.
"Hey!" Ron snapped, in hushed tones. His ears went a spectacular shade of red, blending nicely with the colour of his hair. "It was Ginny, who was reading it aloud, not me!"
Harry chuckled with good humour as they continued to walk among the rows of bookshelves. As always, the library was silent, with the exception of the scratching of quills, and the turning of pages. Harry searched the heads of the students bent over books, until he finally spotted an all too familiar mane of bushy brown hair.
"Hermione," Harry said quietly, as he and Ron carefully approached her. Very hesitantly, they sat down on the vacant chairs across the table.
Hermione looked up sharply from her book. Her face was, not surprisingly, set in a frown. Harry could feel Ron quail beside him as Hermione regarded them with a rather cool look in her eyes. "What?" she asked tersely.
"Er…Ron wanted to say something," Harry said, giving Ron a pat on the back.
Ron threw him a look. "Traitor," he muttered under his breath, before looking up at Hermione, who raised an eyebrow at him.
"Well, go on," Hermione said. Her arms were crossed on the table, and her expression was a perfect replica of Professor McGonagall's own stern look.
"Er…" Ron began. He held his breath as, it seemed to Harry, he recoiled beneath Hermione's narrowed eyes.
"If you're just going to waste my time, Ronald, I suggest you leave," Hermione snapped, unfolding her arms and returning to her book.
"Wait!" Ron whispered urgently. Hermione huffed, and looked up at him once more. Ron took a deep breath. "I'm sorry about what I said earlier…about the prat bit, I mean."
Hermione folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. "And…?" she said.
Ron frowned, puzzled. "And…er…" He looked towards Harry, a confused expression in his eyes. Harry inwardly sighed, and gave Hermione's book a pointed look. "Oh, and…sorry about the copying bit," Ron continued.
"Go on…" Harry didn't fail to notice the small smile tugging at the corners of Hermione's mouth, and he grinned to himself.
Ron, failing to notice, visibly panicked. "And…and…" He screwed his face in confusion, as he struggled to remember his other offences. His expression suddenly shifted from flummoxed to enlightened. "I'm sorry about falling asleep in Binns's class," he said. He turned to Harry, an expectant look in his eyes.
"What?" Harry said, as Hermione shifted her steely gaze to him. "Er…right…sorry about not paying attention to Binns earlier."
Hermione regarded them for a moment, before she reached into her bag, drew out two rolls of parchment, and pushed them towards Harry and Ron. "Well, then, those essays aren't going to start themselves," she said briskly, returning to her book. Harry caught a look of satisfaction on her face before she bent her head.
"Now?" Rin said, aghast.
Hermione glared menacingly at him. "Er…right," Ron said, immediately turning to Harry. "Pass me a quill, would you, Harry?"
. . .
Ciel skulked into the History of Magic classroom, a smug smile on his face as he thought of Peeves. Suffice to say, the poltergeist wouldn't be bothering anyone else for now. For a moment, he wondered how Sebastian would react when he found out what he had done to Peeves (it was either insincere praise or ridicule. Ciel was betting on the former).
He looked about the room. One swift glance told him that the Gryffindors would be having the class with the Slytherins. Remembering his encounter with Draco Malfoy—whom he had learned was a Slytherin—he wondered how this class would turn out.
He took the seat at the back of the class, away from the other students. Taking out A History of Magic, Ciel opened it to where he had left off, and began to read, pointedly ignoring the stares the other students were giving him.
"S'cuse me, but is this seat taken?"
Ciel looked up—rather annoyed—to find a small-looking boy with mousy brown hair staring hesitantly down at him. The boy's eyes widened the moment he caught sight of Ciel's face.
"You're Earl Phantomhive!" the boy exclaimed, obviously excited.
Several people turned to stare at them. "Sit down!" Ciel hissed, pulling the boy down on to the seat.
The boy did not seem to mind the earl's irritability. If anything, he seemed more enthusiastic. "I can't believe I'm really meeting the Earl of Phantomhive in the flesh!" the boy went on. "I saw you during your sorting! I'm in Gryffindor, too! I actually saw you earlier, in Charms. I wanted to talk to you, but you were with Jonathan Alecott, and—"
"Who are you?" Ciel interjected. He closed A History of Magic, and frowned. Jonathan Alecott was still fresh on his mind.
"Oh, sorry your lordship!" the boy said sincerely. "I'm Dennis Creevey! I've always wanted to—"
"Ciel will do just fine," the earl corrected. Normally, he basked in his title as 'Earl Phantomhive', but it simply would not do to be addressed as 'your lordship' while within Hogwarts.
Dennis Creevey's eyes widened. "Oh, no, I couldn't possibly," he said. "You're the Earl of Phantomhive, after all. My father's a milkman, you see, so we're muggle-born. He kind of looks up to your family, actually, saying how all of the Phantomhives were ingenious."
Ciel let out a breath. First, Alecott, now Creevey. He was starting to regret his decision to come along as 'Earl Ciel Phantomhive'. He could have altered his appearance, and used a common name, just as Sebastian had suggested (he had not been in a mood to listen to Sebastian's suggestion—the butler had beaten him in a game of chess).
"We actually loved playing with the Funtom toys when we were younger," Creevey went on, oblivious to the Earl's mounting agitation.
The demonic earl took in a breath. If it were not for the fact that Creevey was of the same House as him, he would have lashed out by now. He was about to tell the boy off, but was cut short when a ghost suddenly walked through the blackboard.
Ciel's eyes widened in surprise. The ghost was rather shrivelled in appearance, and wore thick, round spectacles. He was semi-transparent, and pearly white. He held an equally pearly white book in his hand. Ciel was not ignorant of ghosts—he had seen them floating about the castle, after all (and Peeves, though not really a ghost, was close enough).
"No need to look so surprised," Creevey said. "It's just Professor Binns."
The earl gave a curt nod. Being taught by a ghost should be interesting enough (what better personage to narrate the grisly goblin rebellions, and bloody giant wars?).
The moment Professor Binns spoke, however, it was safe to say that Earl Ciel Phantomhive was horribly mistaken. As Binns droned on—in a somnolent, dry voice—about the witch hunt of the medieval ages, Ciel felt his eyelids grow heavy. This was absurd, demons did not sleep!
He blinked vigorously, and tried to imagine Sebastian's snide remarks about not being able to stay awake. "However," Binns was saying, "despite the fact that witches often escaped muggle burnings with a basic Flame Freezing charm, there have been instances when a witch failed to escape, due to inexperience. As with inexperience, it was usually young, uneducated witches who were caught by muggles. More often than not, an experienced witch or wizard—usually the parents—would come to the rescue of the unfortunate individual, which only served to further advance muggle suspicions regarding those who used magic…"
No longer caring about what Sebastian might say, Earl Ciel Phantomhive's head slumped onto his desk.
. . .
"Hey, Harry, several people were wondering when you'd be holding Quidditch tryouts," Dean Thomas said, approaching Harry during lunch.
Harry, who had suffered a bump to the head due to an irritable plorkyplum in Herbology, gave Dean a puzzled look. "Oh, right," he muttered, abandoning his steak-and-kidney pie. As the new captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team, he should have thought about it beforehand. "Um…I'll book the pitch for this Saturday."
"Great!" Dean said, as he bounded off.
"You know, I nearly forgot that you were quidditch captain," Ron admitted.
"With everything that's happened, I nearly forgot myself," Harry said. Truth be told, the whole business with the Death Eaters and Ciel Phantomhive had driven a lot of things from his mind lately.
"But you're having tryouts this Saturday, right?" Ron went on.
Harry nodded. "We need several new players," he said. "Fred and George might want to have a go at it again." When the twins had left last year, after their spectacular escape from Umbridge, Angelina Johnson—the then quidditch captain—had failed to find suitable replacements to fill the role of beaters.
Ron fell silent as he turned his attention to his food. Harry took a sip of his iced pumpkin juice, eyes glancing around the table. Several people—mostly girls—were staring at him, whispering and giggling. Feeling a slight tinge in his cheeks, he turned his eyes away from them. He frowned, puzzled. Phantomhive had not shown up for lunch.
"Here you are, then," Hermione suddenly piped up, handing each of them a piece of parchment.
Ron took the one offered to him. "What are these?" he muttered, eyes scanning the parchment.
"Your schedules," Hermione said brightly, handing Harry his. "I've went and decided to make schedules for both of you, so you don't fall behind on schoolwork, like last year."
Ron apprehensively perused his schedule. "You've given me a lot of free periods!" he suddenly said excitedly, his eyebrows rising.
Harry checked his. Like Ron's, there were little boxes in his schedule that had been left with a blank. "You've given me free periods, too," he said.
Hermione scoffed. "Those are study periods," she said, immediately squashing both Harry and Ron's enthusiasm. "We'll be in our seventh years next year. With N.E.W.T.s coming up, we might as well start reviewing now. And Harry, I've left Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays vacant, for quidditch practice."
"Harry!" Harry nearly jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Fred and George Weasley were grinning at him, their identical faces eager.
"Heard you've got quidditch tryouts this Saturday," Fred said.
"That's right," Harry said. "You two don't need to try out anymore, though. You're the best beaters Gryffindor's had."
George scoffed. "I can imagine Oliver's reaction now…" he said, his voice reminiscent.
"Fine, fine!" Harry said hastily. He could imagine, all too clearly, Oliver's furious reaction to his overconfidence regarding his teammates' abilities. "You two can join the tryouts, and if you're not good enough, you won't make the cut."
Fred immediately looked hurt. "You want us to try out? Blimey, you've seen us play, haven't you?"
"But, I thought you meant that Oliver wouldn't have wanted—" Harry began.
"Oliver would praise our skills, right George?"
"Right you are, Fred!"
"Fine, you don't have to try out," Harry said, exasperated.
George snickered. "Only messing with you, Harry, 'course we'll try out," he said, patting Harry on the shoulder. "Might be that our skills have gotten rusty, what with spending most of our time at the joke shop, and all."
Harry didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed. Decidedly, it was both. "Fine, see you this Saturday," he said.
The twins grinned. "Oh, and by the way," Fred went on, as he pilfered the remnants of Harry's pie. "You'd want to watch out for Defense."
"Why?" Harry, Ron, and Hermione automatically asked.
"Professor Michaelis," George said solemnly.
"What about him?" Harry asked eagerly. He was still baffled about Sebastian Michaelis and Ciel Phantomhive's midnight excursion to the Forbidden Forest.
"Bloody great teacher," Fred said, awe and respect in his voice (and this was rare, considering he was Fred).
"Knows his stuff, he does," George agreed. "S'almost as if he's experienced everything to do with the Dark Arts first hand."
"Bloody brilliant, too."
"He's one hell of a teacher, I'll give him that much."
"There is a bit of a snag, though," Fred said, chortling. "Most of the girls in class are in danger of failing."
"Yeah, I can see why," Ron said, looking pointedly at Hermione, who glared.
"Anyway, you'll find out for yourselves," Fred said. "Oh, and thanks for the pie, Harry!" With that, they stalked off.
Ron immediately dove into his bag to retrieve his schedule. "We've got him tomorrow!" he said eagerly.
"Since when have you been eager for a class?" Hermione retorted, folding her arms.
"Blimey, Hermione, Professor Michaelis must be really, really good to make Fred and George talk like that," Ron pointed out.
Harry bit his lower lip as a vivid mental image of Sebastian Michaelis's glowing, blood-red eyes flashed through his mind. "He ought to be," he muttered.
. . .
"But have you met the Queen?" Dennis Creevey asked as he and Ciel strode down the corridor.
Ciel let out a long sigh that he did not bother to hide. The moment History of Magic had ended, Ciel had bolted for the door—he couldn't stand Creevey's incessant talk (he had attempted to make small chat during History, but Ciel had fallen under the power of Binns's voice, leaving Creevey silent. The moment the bell had rang, he began to open his mouth and drone on, and on, and on, and on). It was all Ciel could to stop himself from lashing out, and doing what he did to Alecott earlier.
"Have you?" Creevey went on.
"Have I what?" Ciel asked, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Met the Queen?" Creevey sounded excited. In fact, Ciel did not fail to notice that he sounded excited about, well, about everything.
"Before," he said tersely. "Listen, aren't you planning on having lunch?"
"I was!" Creevey said, suddenly remembering. "I was planning on meeting up with Colin, actually, my older brother. You could meet him! He'd be really thrilled."
Ciel let out a long breath. He must not lose his temper. Creevey belonged in Gryffindor, and Ciel—though usually keeping to himself—was loathe to go against his own.
"I'm not in the mood for lunch," Ciel said. "I'm going to stay in the library, then head off to Herbology later."
"D'you want me to come and get you?" the boy asked eagerly. "I don't reckon you know where the greenhouses are. We do Herbology there, and it's really wicked—"
"Obviously, they'd have to be outside," Ciel said vehemently (predictably, the boy failed to take note of his vehemence). "I can manage. I wouldn't want you to rush because of me."
"Oh, it would be no trouble at all, your lordship!" Creevey said. He sounded happy that Ciel would be so considerate of him.
"I've told you to call me Ciel," the earl said, as people stared at them.
"Alright…Ciel," Creevey said, grinning as though it was their closely guarded secret. "I'll see you in Herbology then, Earl Phantomhive!" The boy waved as he left.
Ciel did not care if people were watching. He slapped a hand to his forehead, and growled.
. . .
Ron let out a frustrated sigh as he crumpled—for the eighth time—his parchment, before tossing it unceremoniously into the fireplace. "Rughorg the Remorseless, my arse," Ron muttered darkly, as he retrieved another roll of parchment from his bag.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione had just finished dinner, and were currently situated in the common room, right across the fire. Hermione had badgered them both about the pile of homework they had received, and Harry and Ron, albeit unwillingly, allowed themselves to be bullied into working.
Harry looked up from his partially completed essay, just as Hermione threw Ron a most scathing look. "If I were you, I'd read the book first, then write the essay," Hermione said, tapping a thick volume beside Ron. "That way, you won't have as many mistakes again."
Ron muttered something unintelligible as he drew the book towards him. "Then we've got old McGonagall's essay on Switching spells," Ron said darkly.
Both Harry and Hermione thought it wise not to incite Ron's temper with a reply. Harry leaned against his squashy armchair and glanced around. The common room was silent, with students moving quietly about (earlier on, it had been in absolute bedlam, until Hermione—reinforcing her authority as prefect—had threatened to report the noisemakers to Professor McGonagall, much to everyone's chagrin).
"Looks like you aren't the only one having a bad moment, Ron," Harry said quietly, as Ciel Phantomhive strode through the portrait hole, and into the common room. He wore his customary frown on his face.
Ron and Hermione looked up, just as Ciel climbed the staircases to the boy's dormitories. "Doesn't seem to be interested in working," Hermione said, clicking her tongue in disapproval.
"Give the guy a break, he's new to all this," Ron said, violently dotting the 'i' on his essay. "Besides, he's a third year—they haven't got N.E.W.T.s next school year."
"Professor McGonagall herself said that we should prepare, as early as now," Hermione pointed out, narrowing her eyes dangerously at Ron's bent head.
Harry, who could sense an impending storm, let out a long yawn. "Blimey, I'm tired," Harry groaned. "I'll finish this at dawn, I really need to get to bed."
Neither Ron nor Hermione answered him, as their voices rose in heated argument.
. . .
Darkness and silence surrounded him as he made his way up the aisle. The only sound that could be heard was the gentle swish of his cloak as he walked, his eyes narrowed as he quietly took in his surroundings. Above him, loomed the vaulted ceiling, hidden in the shadows, just like he was.
He sneered as he reached the end of the aisle, his eyes looking up at the stained glass windows. Moonlight streamed through the glass, throwing color on the floor at his feet. For a moment, he contemplated the artwork on the glass—a man seated on a throne, with a halo round his head, surrounded by angels and men, the latter of whom raised their hands in praise and thanks for their salvation.
Here, he thought, was man's ultimate folly—turning towards a power greater than them, so that they could be saved. He scoffed at mankind's stupidity. Why turn towards another power, when one could simply grasp it for oneself? Fools, the whole lot of them.
He, however, was not.
Turning his eyes away from the stained windows, he looked towards the altar, a nasty smile on his lips as he raised his wand. Immediately, a loud bang! echoed around him as the altar crumbled. Lowering his wand, he waited.
He did not have to wait long. Several minutes later, an old man quickly entered the chancel. The muggle had dressed quickly—he wore nothing but a bathrobe over his sleepwear, and a pair of slippers. He held an old-fashioned lamp in his hand, bathing him in a soft circle of light.
"Is anyone there?" the muggle asked aloud. His voice echoed about them.
He slowly emerged from the shadows, and made his way towards the muggle. The muggle's eyes widened in fright as he caught sight of him—they were always afraid. Amused, he watched as the muggle crossed himself, mumbling prayers that no one would hear.
He laughed, high, cold, and cruel, as he slowly raised the wand.
. . .
Screaming…someone was screaming…
Harry woke with a start, his heart hammering in his chest, and cold beads of sweat on his forehead. He was shaking, and the scar on his forehead was burning. A blurry face hovered above his, but he had no trouble making out the head of fiery hair.
"Ron!" Harry gasped, holding onto Ron's arm. Ron shoved his glasses onto his nose, and everything came into focus. To Harry's surprise, the other boys surrounded his bed. They wore both their pyjamas, and worried looks on their faces as they looked at Harry. Neville, Harry realized, was shaking just as badly as he was.
"Harry, what happened?" Seamus asked urgently.
Before Harry could answer, another flash of pain seared across his forehead, and he automatically clamped a hand to his scar. Seeing the gesture, the other boys paled.
"Is it your scar?" Dean asked.
Harry did not answer him, but turned to Ron. For a moment, they shared a knowing look. "We need to get Dumbledore," Ron said.
"He's out, I'm afraid."
Startled, they turned towards the door. To their surprise, Ciel Phantomhive leaned against the doorframe, arms folded across his chest. Like the rest of them, he was in his pyjamas.
"Out?" Harry repeated, and Ciel nodded.
"I overheard Professor McGonagall mention it during dinner," the nobleman said. For a moment, he regarded Potter with an amused smile. "Your head hurts, I suppose?"
"Never you mind!" Ron snapped, glaring. "Why're you here, anyway? Get back to your dormitory, this is none of your business."
Harry's grip tightened around Ron's arm, as he regarded Phantomhive, who ignored Ron. For a moment, their eyes met. And, for a moment, Harry wondered—would that blue eye flash to red?
"Hmph," Ciel said, turning his back on them. "You're right, Weasley, it doesn't concern me." He looked back at Harry from over his shoulder. "Oh, and Potter…Chamomile tea should help keep the bad dreams away." He gave them an amused smile as he left.
"Creepy git," Ron muttered.
Harry felt his scar prickling, and couldn't help but agree with Ron.
. . .
Harry lay in his bed, his eyes fixed on the canopy above him. The others had long since fallen back to sleep, as did Ron, whose snores echoed the loudest of all. Sleep refused to come, and he could hardly be blamed.
No, it hadn't been a dream. He was certain that he had seen what Voldemort had seen. And what exactly had he seen? A church, or cathedral of some sort…
What was Voldemort doing there, of all places? There had been an old man, Harry recalled. He frowned, his fists clenching. He was certain that Voldemort had deliberately lured the old muggle man to him, but why? What use did Voldemort have for a muggle? Or had the Dark Lord merely been in a killing mood? The questions were endless.
Harry desperately wanted to tell Dumbledore, but, according to Phantomhive, he was away. Speaking of Phantomhive…
Harry sat up, and rummaged in his trunk until he found the Marauder's map. Making sure that the hangings were drawn tightly around his bed, he held his wand in front of him, and murmured, "Lumos!"
"I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good," Harry said quietly. As the map of Hogwarts appeared in front of him, his eyes fell on Dumbledore's office, and chambers—both were empty. He scanned the entire map and—likewise—failed to find Dumbledore within the castle, or on the grounds. Where was he?
He was about to put the map away, and a movement on the map caught his eye. Two dots labelled 'Sebastian Michaelis' and 'Ciel Phantomhive', were moving towards the great double oak doors. Harry's eyes widened.
"What are you up to?" Harry asked aloud. His only answer was silence.
. . .
Ciel stood facing Sebastian, the cold night air blowing between them. Around them, the Forbidden Forest was still, not a soul stirring in sight. Sebastian's arms were folded as he regarded his master with an amused expression, his black robes billowing about him.
"My, my, young master," the butler said, smiling. "I've heard tell that you're a natural at Cheering charms. Indeed?"
"If you're going to lecture me about Alecott, you're wasting your time," Ciel said, drawing his wand from his robes. "I merely did what I had to do."
"Oh, no," Sebastian said, look of feigned surprise on his face. "I wasn't going to lecture you about Alecott, young master—I was going to lecture you about something else."
Ciel frowned. "About what?"
"Haven't I told you before? You will get no satisfaction from forceful mental manipulation of the human mind," the butler said.
Ciel scoffed. "I've heard your mantra about temptation, Sebastian. It takes too long, and I've no patience for it."
Sebastian's smile grew feral. "Oh, but you should," the butler said, amused. "Humans are more delectable, when they stray so willingly from the light."
"Enough," Ciel ordered, finally losing patience. "We came here so we could finish our little class from last night."
"Indeed, we did," Sebastian said, immediately the teacher. He drew out his wand, and smiled. "Now, where were we? Oh, yes…your failed attempts at casting the Wand-lighting charm."
Ciel narrowed his eyes. "You…you…" he hissed.
"Now, now, young master," Sebastian said, his tone amused. "You must clear your mind, and focus."
. . .
"Harry, you look awful," Hermione commented the next morning, as they made their way towards the Great Hall for breakfast.
Harry yawned. He had not been able to get an ounce of sleep last night, not after that dream. Ron briefed Hermione on last night's events, ending with: "Told him to mind his own business, that git."
"Very polite, Ronald," Hermione said sarcastically, before turning back to Harry. "What was the dream about?"
Harry frowned. "Voldemort," he said softly, as students walked past them. Ron and Hermione both winced, and they deliberately slowed their steps. "He was…I think he was in some sort of church, I couldn't make out much, it was dark…He raised his wand at an old muggle man there. I…I dunno if he killed him outright, or tortured him first."
"Did you recognize the church?" Hermione asked.
"No, it was too dark. Besides…I haven't been to many churches," Harry said. "The Dursleys wouldn't take me with them." He was silent for a moment. "I need to tell Dumbledore."
"But he left," Hermione said.
Harry sighed heavily. He supposed he could ask Professor McGonagall when Dumbledore would come back. However, he doubted that she knew. Still, there was no harm in trying. Speaking of which…
"I nearly forgot," Harry said. "Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian Michaelis—"
"Professor Michaelis, Harry," Hermione automatically corrected.
"—went off to the Forest again last night," Harry finished.
The other two stared at him. "Again?" Ron said. "Yeesh, not even three days into term, and already Phantomhive's caused that much trouble."
"I dunno," Harry said. Really, what were Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian Michaelis up to? If, as Hermione put it, Sebastian was only 'checking up' on Ciel, why must they leave the castle premises? In fact, why go into the Forest? Or was Ron right, and had Ciel already earned himself a week's worth of punishment? A mental image of the stiff, uptight nobleman flashed through his mind, and he thought the second guess highly unlikely.
"Isn't that Peeves?" Hermione suddenly said.
Harry looked up. The corridor was nearly empty, except for the unmistakable sight of Peeves, who floated along the passage. Harry did a double-take. Peeves—there was no other word for it—looked twitchy, glancing around him, as though expecting attack. He wasn't even blowing on a raspberry, cackling, or holding something with which to pelt students with. If anything, Peeves looked both twitchy and frightened.
The sight of a frightened Peeves was so disconcerting, that Harry stopped, and said, "Peeves—are you alright?"
Peeves jumped high into the air, letting out a gasp of surprise. "No, no, no, shan't bother you again!"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione glanced at each other. What had gotten into the poltergeist? "Er…Peeves?" Hermione said tentatively. "What…what happened?"
Peeves gave a nervous twitch, then blinked down at them. He blinked again, as though unsure of what he was seeing. "Why, it's wee Potty!" The jibe didn't have Peeves's usual flair of malice. He sounded defeated.
"I won't bother you again, your lordship!" Peeves said, as he zoomed away from them, muttering under his breath, and glancing nervously about him.
"What in the bloody hell was wrong with him?" Ron wondered aloud. "And why'd he call you 'your lordship', Harry?" Harry and Hermione—just as perplexed as he was—did not reply.
. . .
Ciel stared down at his bacon and toast, a heavy scowl on his face. If it were possible to skip breakfast, he would've done so already—he disliked the taste of ash. Unfortunately, Sebastian had told him to work on his appalling acting ("Young master, I'm surprised the other students haven't figured you out yet," the butler had said. "Humans are quite dim-witted, indeed.").
Huffing, he glanced about him. He was seated at the end of the table, away from the other students. Potter and his friends had yet to make their appearance. Perhaps Potter was sleeping in? Ciel smiled to himself. Remembering the way Potter had screamed in his sleep last night, Ciel could not blame him, if that were the case.
The earl glanced towards the High Table, where the teachers were having breakfast. Sebastian was having a rather animated conversation with Professor Sinistra (whose giggles, Ciel couldn't fail to hear, were those of a besotted schoolgirl).
Sebastian raised a forkful of egg to his mouth, and swallowed. Ciel frowned as he watched his butler. Sebastian made it seem so easy, the show-off. His red eyes suddenly snapped to Ciel's, and he grinned sardonically, tapping his fork pointedly to the corner of his mouth.
Ciel lowered his eyes to his plate, his scowl deepening. He raised the toast to his lips, and bit. He chewed, the toast immediately turning into ash as he swallowed. Disgusting.
"…seemed frightened out of his wits." Ciel looked up just as Potter and his friends walked towards the Gryffindor table.
"Yeah, but what could've frightened Peeves?" Harry asked, as they walked up along the table.
"Dunno," Ron said as they sat, and immediately filled their plates with food. "Maybe he saw Filch in the shower, or something."
"That's disturbing," Harry said. "Think we should tell someone about Peeves?"
"Nah, let's leave him," Ron said. "Makes a great change, really, not having to dodge spit balls on our way to class. I'm sure he'll get over it, whatever it was."
"Well, whatever it was managed to traumatize Peeves," Hermione argued. "It must've been really something horrible to terrorize a poltergeist, much less a poltergeist like Peeves. I think we should tell someone."
"Fine," Ron said, clearly not in the mood to argue with her.
Harry frowned as he looked down at his plate. What could have happened to Peeves? The poltergeist was the master of chaos, nothing unnerved him, not even the basilisk attacks before…
He looked up. Seated down the table, across from him, Ciel Phantomhive was regarding him with a look of amusement. The nobleman gave him a sardonic smile and, for a moment, Harry expected that blue eye to flash to red. It didn't.
Harry returned Ciel's smile, albeit reluctantly. He couldn't help but notice that the boy was seated on his own again, a little way off from the other students. Hadn't he managed to make friends, or even acquaintances? Remembering the boy's waspish disposition, Harry thought this the most likely case.
Ciel averted his gaze from Potter, as he looked down at his plate. He felt both amused and petulant. Amused, because it seemed as though Potter and his friends had discovered Peeves (he would have loved to have seen their faces). Petulant, because of the unmistakable look of pity in Potter's bright green eyes.
And what had brought that about? Was Potter wondering why he didn't eat breakfast with anyone? Was Potter wondering why he didn't have a single companion? He scoffed. Despite knowing that befriending Potter would help his contract with Dumbledore, Ciel found he did not wish to be friends—someone like him didn't need friends…
"Earl Phantomhive!" an annoyingly bright voice said loudly.
Ciel flinched as several people turned to stare at him, Potter and his friends included. Ciel looked behind him. Dennis Creevey grinned down at him, beside a boy who could only be his older brother. The latter held a camera in his hands.
"This is my brother, Colin!" Dennis Creevey said excitedly. "I told him we were friends, and he was wondering if he could have a picture?"
"Friends?" Ciel said, surprised at the boy's nerve. Colin Creevey held up the camera, excited. "No," Ciel snapped. "I don't want my picture taken, thanks."
"Oh, right, you're still eating," Dennis Creevey said, suddenly remembering his manners. "Maybe later, Earl Phantomhive, after Potions? See you around, then!"
And before Ciel could protest, the boys marched off. From the High Table, Ciel didn't fail to notice Sebastian leaning his chin against his hand as he regarded his master with an amused and mocking smile. That bastard.
Sebastian wasn't the only one. Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged surprised looks with one another. "So, they're friends with Dennis Creevey?" Ron asked.
"Seems that way," Harry said. Although, judging from Phantomhive's expression, Harry couldn't help but think that friendship was forged with both force and reluctance.
"Looks like your fan club's turned traitor on you, mate," Ron said, with mock sympathy in his voice. Harry threw his napkin at him.
"Kind of refreshing, actually, to have Colin's camera on someone else," Harry pointed out.
"Not too refreshing for him, though." Ron looked towards Ciel, who was scowling even more heavily as he ate his breakfast.
"I wonder why he prefers being alone all the time," Hermione mused. Neither Harry nor Ron replied—the scowl that Phantomhive wore was enough of an answer.
. . .
In Harry's opinion, Charms could not have gone fast enough. Professor Flitwick had introduced the Water-Making spell and had set them into pairs. Ron had had the misfortune of being paired with Malfoy. Professor Flitwick had to intervene no less than ten times to ensure that neither of them drowned from the jets of water their wands emitted.
By the time the bell had rung, Harry, Ron, and Hermione trudged out of the Charms classroom and towards the Defense classroom. Their robes—like everyone else's—were dripping with water. "One of these days, I'm going to drown Malfoy," Ron vowed, wringing the hem of his robe.
"I'd like to see you try, Weasel," a sneering voice behind them said.
They spun around to find Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle standing behind them. Crabbe and Goyle cracked their knuckles menacingly at Ron. "Bet that was the first time you've had any clean water to drink, wasn't it, Weasley?" sneered Malfoy, eyes glinting with malice.
Ron's hand immediately went to his wand, but before he could pull it out, Malfoy had his pointed at Ron's head. Harry automatically raised his own wand at Malfoy, while Hermione had hers trained on Crabbe and Goyle, whose wands were both fixed on Harry.
"Back off, Malfoy!" Harry snapped.
"You'd love that, wouldn't you, Potter?" Malfoy said softly. "Can't really do much, can they?"
"What are you talking about?" Harry said. Beside him, Ron's fingers twitched, as though he was itching to place them round Malfoy's neck.
"Your precious Order," Malfoy hissed venomously. Harry narrowed his eyes, his grip on his wand tightening.
"And what do we have here?"
They all jumped. Sebastian Michaelis was standing behind them, arms folded across his chest. "P-professor Michaelis!" Hermione stuttered, as they immediately lowered their wands.
"I believe the use of magic in the corridors was forbidden," Sebastian mused. "That will be…five points from Gryffindor, and ten points from Slytherin." He smiled deridingly at them.
"What?!" Malfoy exclaimed.
"You started it, I believe," Sebastian pointed out.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione glanced at one another and grinned. Malfoy's face flushed, and he threw the three of them looks of deepest loathing before storming past them towards the Defense classroom. Sebastian Michaelis whipped out his glasses, put them on, turned to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and said, "Off you go—I'm not overly fond of late arrivals."
. . .
By the time Harry, Ron, and Hermione had entered the classroom, most of the seats at the front had already been occupied—mostly by girls—and this left them to occupy the remaining seats at the back, much to Hermione's dismay ("We don't be able to hear a thing!" Hermione wailed, as Harry rolled his eyes).
The door to the room promptly opened, and Sebastian Michaelis strode in, his black robes billowing about him. "Good morning!" he greeted, as he stood in front of them. Several seats in front of him, Harry couldn't help but notice the glare Malfoy was sending their professor.
"As you may, or may not be aware, my name is Professor Sebastian Michaelis," Sebastian said, smiling at them.
"Oh, we're quite aware, all right," Parvati said, giggling. Even Millicent Bulstrode appeared flustered.
"I have been informed," Sebastian went on, pacing in front of them, "that you have had several teachers for this subject, all of whom undoubtedly taught you to the best of their capabilities—"
"What capabilities?" Harry muttered, thinking of Lockhart.
"—but I will be teaching you rather differently," Sebastian concluded, clasping his hands behind him. He tilted his head, smiled, and said, "Wands away!"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione glanced at each other, worried, and they were not the only ones. Had Fred and George been joking about Sebastian's class? This was very reminiscent of Umbridge. Sebastian must have seen their expressions, because he suddenly called out, "Ms. Granger, is there a problem?"
Hermione's eyes widened, and she blushed. Harry gave her a kick beneath the table, and she cleared her throat. "Um…Professor…aren't we going to…to use magic?" she asked hesitantly.
Sebastian smirked, and Harry could have sworn all the girls melted into puddles at their feet. "Now, what gave you that impression?" Sebastian asked smoothly.
"But…you said wands away," Hermione said, rather breathlessly. Harry and Ron both rolled their eyes.
"Ah." Sebastian sounded amused. "Allow me to rephrase, then: Wands away, for now."
Hermione raised her hand again. "Yes, Ms. Granger?" Sebastian asked, red eyes fixed on her.
For an instant, just as instant, Harry couldn't help but think of how Sebastian, with his pale complexion, jet-black hair, and unusual red eyes, reminded him too much of a certain student who, like them, had undoubtedly sat in this classroom fifty years ago.
"Professor, I've been meaning to ask," Hermione went on. "Why wasn't a book assigned for this class?"
Sebastian grinned. "You won't be needing it," he said, much to everyone's awe. Hermione looked rather crestfallen, and Harry and Ron grinned at her. She glared at them.
"Now, then, where was I? Oh, yes," Sebastian continued. "For the first half of the school year, we shall be taking up the basic principles and the application of an esoteric form of magic, no longer in use today, but which, given the circumstances, will be most useful."
Everyone sat on the edge of their seats. This sounded rather promising. Even Harry, who was suspicious of both Ciel and Sebastian, waited with baited breath.
"We will be tackling," Sebastian went on, pointing his wand at the board, "an ancient form of magic known as Venenatis Libero." The words appeared on the board, and Sebastian smiled at them. "Now, does anyone have an inkling as to what this entails?"
Everyone automatically turned towards Hermione, but—to their immense surprise—she looked just as confused as the rest of them. "Anyone?" Sebastian asked, raising an eyebrow at the class. Hermione silently swore to finish off every book in the library before Christmas.
"Well, then," Sebastian said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "This form of magic was practiced by the first known users of magic during the ancient times, long before the Mesopotamians. It is, quite simply, wandless magic."
An interested murmur immediately rippled through the class. "Wandless magic?" Hermione mused to both Harry and Ron. "I've never even heard of it."
"Is it even possible?" Harry asked.
"Why, of course it is, Mr Potter," Sebastian said, amidst the murmurs from the class. Harry gave a small start of surprise. "Wands were not commonly used during ancient times, they were discovered much, much, later, as a means of easily channelling magic. As you all know, wands also serve to amplify a witch or wizard's magic, via its core. However, before the discovery of wands, the ancient wizards used their raw magic without channelling it through a medium."
"As if," Malfoy scoffed. Harry was quite certain—by the way his red eyes flashed—that Sebastian heard him, but chose to ignore the remark.
"Hm…" Sebastian went on, eyes scanning the class. "I can see that most of you are doubtful. Well, then…" His eyes landed on Neville, and he grinned (Harry couldn't help but think it was a rather feral sort of grin). "Stand, Mr Longbottom."
Neville twitched nervously as he stood. "Tell me," Sebastian said, as he sat on his desk and crossed his legs (it was to be noted that several girls were no longer paying attention to his words), "at what age were you able to first perform magic?"
"Um…" Neville began. "When I was about eight. My great uncle Algie accidentally dropped me from a window, Professor." Several people sniggered, and Sebastian raised his eyebrows pointedly at them. They immediately shut up, and Sebastian gestured for Neville to continue. "I fell, and bounced into the garden, and onto the road."
"And?" Sebastian prompted. "Did you notice anything rather peculiar?"
Harry immediately understood. He thought back to the times when he had been angry or desperate. Before discovering Hogwarts, he'd made a number of unusual things happen, from growing his hair back overnight, to accidentally releasing a boa constrictor at the zoo. As a wizard, he recalled being so angry with Aunt Marge, he'd unintentionally inflated her a like a balloon. And during all of those times, he hadn't had a wand.
Sebastian waited patiently for Neville to figure it out. "I didn't have a wand at the time, Professor," Neville said at last.
Sebastian smiled, and Neville quickly sat back down. "Just so," their Professor said, as he stood from his desk. "Each and every one of us is born with an inherent well of magic. This magic is usually used when a witch or wizard is under intense emotional distress. I say 'usually', because there are times when this magic cannot be tapped, no matter how enraged the witch or wizard is."
Beside Harry, Hermione was taking down notes, her quill nothing more than a blur as she wrote. "Which brings us back to our lesson," Sebastian said. "For a good portion of the year, I will teach you how to utilize this form of magic to perform simple, basic spells. Once you've grasped the basics, you are free to continue practicing the magic you know without a wand."
"Be warned—this form of magic is trying for most people, which is why it is rarely used. In fact, it can take weeks to perfect even a Levitation charm without a wand," Sebastian said. His red eyes snapped to Malfoy, who was busy whispering to Crabbe. "Observe."
The class watched, transfixed, as Sebastian fixed his red gaze on Malfoy's wand, which suddenly shot into the air. "What the—?!" Malfoy exclaimed, looking up at his wand. They watched as his wand slowly turned and pointed towards his forehead. Malfoy jerked back.
"You will pay attention in this class, Mr Malfoy," Sebastian said. Harry couldn't help but notice the rather menacing tone in his voice. "Five points from Slytherin." And with that, Malfoy's wand fell with a clatter to his desk.
The class clapped. Sebastian waved a hand for silence, and everyone immediately stopped. "That is another advantage of practicing Venenatis Libero," Sebastian said. "The spells involved must be nonverbal."
Harry and Ron glanced at each other, puzzled. "Is there anyone who can tell me what the advantages of nonverbal spells are?" Sebastian asked, and this time Hermione's hand shot into the air.
"As the incantations are mentally recited, this gives you a split-second advantage," Hermione said.
"Good, take five points for Gryffindor," Sebastian said, much to the Gryffindors' glee. It was safe to say, if the Slytherins had Snape, then the Gryffindors had Sebastian. Hermione sat down, her face glowing. Harry and Ron gave her flat looks, which she ignored.
"And thus," Sebastian went on. "If we are to tackle wandless magic, we must first take up nonverbal spells. Now, be warned—both topics are of the utmost difficulty, and require intense mental concentration and discipline." He pointed his wand at the board, and neat, elegant writing immediately filled it (no other teacher in living memory—not even Snape—had managed to give them so much to write in one class). "Take this down, all of you."
"Well," Harry said, looking at the amount of words on the board, and remembering Sebastian's words earlier, "this is going to be one hell of a school year."
. . .
Well, there you go. I'd like to thank everyone who read and reviewed, as well as those who placed this story on their favorites and alerts. Please, continue to review! : D