Steve swept through the corridors of Hogwarts. He exuded an aura of menace; when the students in the hall spotted him coming they either ran in the other direction, or were rooted to the spot with fear.

It made him uncomfortable, to be honest. Some people strove to maintain such a commanding presence. But all he wanted was to blend in. He wanted to be able to pass through a crowd unnoticed. Was that too much to ask?

He stopped in front of the gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's study.

Would you mind moving? I do have an appointment. Steve said to it. It stayed stonily still, and he felt as though it was mocking him. Perhaps this wasn't a good idea after all…

But he did have an appointment. So, with a sigh that could strike fear into the hearts of warriors, Steve swept through the gargoyle and began climbing the stairs to the Headmaster's office.

Headmaster McGonagall was looking through her schedule, and she was not happy about what she saw. She had thought Voldemort's death would mean the end of that fool curse, but her latest defense teacher was in St. Mungo's, and not likely to be teaching again anytime soon. And if no one wanted the most notorious position in Hogwarts history, she would have to teach the fool subject herself. If this interviewee didn't pan out…

"Come in." she said, not looking up. Steve glided through the door, and hovered just in front of her desk. The temperature of the room seemed to drop the closer he got to her.

Er, hello. I'm the twelve o'clock.

McGonagall looked up with a start. "Oh! Oh dear. Are you Mr. Phear?"

Please. Call me Steve.

She regarded the form in front of her with badly disguised horror. Steve tried to straighten out his swirling, ragged robes, but it was to no avail.

"I'm sorry." she said, after a long pause. "Is- is this supposed to be some sort of joke?"

I was under the impression you had an opening for a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. I am here to offer my services.

"Well, yes, but-"

I have excellent qualifications, I assure you.

"Yes, I'm sure you do. But-"

I have years of experience working for Azkaban.

"Yes, Mr. Ph- Steve. That isn't the problem. You see… I think I may run into problems if I tried to hire a Dementor as a professor. The parents might get upset, you see."

And there it was. Every time Steve had applied for any sort of position, he had run into this infuriating speciesism. How was a Dementor supposed to overcome these terrible stereotypes if no one would even give him a chance? Hogwarts was his best hope. If he couldn't get a job here, he may as well go back to Azkaban, and spend the rest of his days subsisting on the dregs of hope left in the scum of society.

Still, he wasn't done for yet.

Headmaster. I really must object to this. You are judging me before we have exchanged more than a few words.

She frowned. "I'm sorry, Mr.,, Steve. But we do have a policy against hiring non-humans."

Is your History of Magic Professor not a ghost, Headmaster? And I have heard that you once employed the centaur, Firenze as a Divination teacher. Both are hardly human.

"Well, yes. But it's hardly the same! Neither of them could kill students at a moment's notice, Mr. Phear, surely you see that. It's simply too dangerous."

Steve shook his head with a menacing rustle.

Mrs. McGonagall, most of your teaching staff carry wands, with which they could cast unforgivables on your students at a moment's notice. And yet you trust them not to do so.

McGonagall gave Steve a calculating look. He was clever, which she had not expected. And then, she really was very desperate…but what was she thinking? Was she honestly considering hiring this creature?

"I'm sorry, Mr. Phear. I'm afraid we don't have a place for you on our staff at this point."

Steve stiffened.

So that's it, then? You decide you don't like the look of me, and I'm out on my ear?

"Really, Mr. Phear. That's hardly-"

No. I'm going to talk now. Mrs. McGonagall, I am not impressed. Not only would I be an adequate Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, I would be an exemplary one. I have a lifetime of experience studying the psychology of Dark wizards, and I am perfectly able to teach your students how to defend themselves against any adversary. Furthermore, I am invaluable as a dueling teacher, because your students could practice any spell on me, save one, and cause no damage. But you are letting your small-minded prejudices against my species and its diet lose you this opportunity.

"Well? How do you intend to feed yourself if you accept this position?"

I can survive for decades without consuming anything. If I am still employed after that period, we will discuss matters then.

"Fine." she said, looking up from her papers with a small smile on her face.

I'm sorry?

"I said, fine. You're hired. I'll deal with the public relations, and you'd better live up to those promises."

I will. Thank you very much.

"My pleasure. Not yours, though. You're going to have a hell of a time with those seventh years. They're convinced that there's nothing anyone can teach them."

Oh Headmaster, you needn't worry. I'm sure I'll have no problem with classroom discipline.

"I'd wager not. Now, I really do have some paperwork I have to finish. If you'll come back in a few hours, we can discuss your arrangements."

Of course.

oOo

"Who's the new Defense teacher, then?" Michael called to his friend.

"Some bloke called Professor Phear."

Michael snorted. "Phear? I'll give him fear. I reckon it won't take us two weeks to have him running from the castle, tail between his legs."

The two swung open the doors of the Defense classroom, and stopped in their tracks.

Morning, gentlemen.