Chapter 23

Care of Magical beasts was the next exam that Jade was taking.

She wrote assiduously, choosing three essays from the choice of five; Jade picked 'Discuss why Murtlaps may be found in association with Mackled Malaclaws'; 'Outline the significant features that differentiate the different kinds of dragons' and 'describe in detail the psychology of the hippogriff and discuss in which ways this leads to both advantages and disadvantages in the handling of the creature."

She discarded 'Describe in detail with illustration the life cycle of the Billlywig' and ' give examples of the illnesses to which magical horses and horse-like beings may be prone'; this latter was too easy and Jade considered that it was almost cheating to answer it.

David Fraser had encountered Mackled Malaclaws in his practical; and Jade deduced that at least THAT was not likely to be a part of the exam as there were other NEWTs to follow and the bad luck caused by the bite of the Malaclaws lasted a full week. She had heard David's speculations on the fact that the tentacular growths on the backs of murtlaps that could cure cursed wounds enabled the little creatures to be in some way immune to the curse of ill luck; and had asked Professor Carcano about it; and discovered that the class had covered just that fact the previous year. She therefore wrote confidently on the subject. Writing about dragons was easy, having grown up hearing Hagrid on the subject; and she knew as much about hippogriffs as anyone.

The practical involved using a portkey with the examiner to what looked to Jade to be the set of a Western movie; where there was a Re'em visible in the bluffs. The examiner pointed, handing her a silver knife and a flask.

"The test is to get blood from it; you are not to kill the beast to harvest blood. If the re'em dies it's an automatic fail; if you fail to get blood you will only lose marks. You get extra marks for high amounts of blood; good luck."

Jade nodded.

"Understood" she said. It was a tough test; re'em were fierce and fairly resistant to spells. Also she did not want to scare it too much. It already looked jumpy; Seppi Buser and Cacilia had already been and there were fresh scars on the giant ox's golden skin.

Jade started to dance; she knew no Native American dances but she tried to replicate what she had seen on films of a more reputable nature. The sand and dust rose beneath her feet and as she danced coalesced and flew at her bidding to corral the beast and bring it to a more convenient place. She sang a song of soothing too; and the great golden creature came almost up to her. Jade scratched the creature between the horns and flipped the flask over to a good sized artery in the beast's neck and murmured

"Diffindinimo" to make a small cut; ready to cast "episkayo" the moment she had the flask filled. With another wave of the hand she stoppered the flask and whisked it back to her hand, reached out to scratch the big creature between the horns one last time, and released it, handing the flask to the examiner.

The Re'em turned and fled for the rocks again.

"You're a cool hand!" gasped the examiner "I half expected it to turn on us!"

"Poor thing just wanted to get away" said Jade "We weren't in its way; that I made sure of. Beautiful chap, isn't he?"

"Quite a magnificent specimen" said the examiner. "Right, let us get back!"

"How much blood did you get?" demanded Seppi Buser when Jade returned. Jade looked surprised.

"Well I filled the flask; obviously" she said "We were supposed to, weren't we?"

Cacilia laughed ironically.

"Poor Seppi" she said "So proud of getting enough for a single dose; and me no more. We had trouble, both of us, using wingadium leviosa on both knife and flask at the same time with the big critter shifting about."

"Oh!" said Jade "I made a corral out of moving sand to hold him still and scaled down diffindo to diffindinimo so I didn't make too big a cut and only used the hovering charm on the flask; so I could scratch his poll to keep him calm."

Cacilia laughed again.

"Ah, the English love of animals" she said. "You are so very good, Nefrita; I am impressed."

Jade grinned.

"Well I know this man who tried to rear a Hungarian Horntail in a cottage" she said "The English DO love animals. I don't like to see animals unnecessarily distressed. Examiners are another matter."

Jade's last exam was Herbology; and she fervently hoped not to have to deal with Snargaluffs.

She was lucky; the exam involved the collection of Mandrakes and repotting teething venomous tentacula plants. Jade used the sonic hum to remove her mandrake from its pot; and growled at her venomous tentacula.

It was all quite straightforward.

Nobody had passed out it seemed; as all the others had managed to use Jade's spell, even if not perhaps with the same speedy efficiency. Xia Xuang and Traudl both looked strained!

The written exam contained several essay questions; again a choice of three from five, and Jade chose to answer 'the choice and amount of fertiliser is paramount; discuss'; 'the properties of various trees determine their use of wand woods; expand'; and 'describe and explain how some plants may be considered to be close to being beasts.'

Jade knew plenty about fertiliser, including over fertilising plants; and she had heard Willow on wand woods often enough to go into great detail on that question. Then she tackled such plants as Screechsnaps that were borderline sentient, and Huorns that were neither plant nor beast.

There were some short questions too and Jade felt she had acquitted herself fairly well on the whole!

For Jade exams were now over; and she resisted murmuring to herself, 'for you, Fraulein, ze war of nerves is now ofer' in parody of any number of war films.

The ZP students were still to do their suffering; and Jade suffered for her Dark Arts students.

She busied herself with her potion to turn people into pigs; one might as well use the time to vindicate Circe after all. Herr Rebet was interested too.

And Jade was certain she was almost there.

Jade asked for a copy of the ZP Dark Arts paper whilst the youngsters sat it; and read it through.

If they had taken notice of her lessons there was no reason they should not pass well enough; and her harder workers should have a chance to take an 'E' if they did not muff the practical.

There were questions on signs to identify various dark creatures – and they were lucky, being given the question on listing five ways to identify a werewolf from a normal wolf; if any forgot the graphic demonstration she had given in class they jolly well deserved to fail! They were required to define what constituted a dark creature and they had no excuse to muff that either. There were also questions on simple jinxes and curses and how to recognise their effects; all quite simple stuff.

Jade asked to sit in on the practical too.

The examiner was not perhaps feeling too happy with her and asked rather waspishly why. Jade smiled brightly which made him quail.

"Well you see, as I had caused Hedda Schrempf's physical incapacity – rather than her self inflicted intellectual handicaps – Madam Bacsó asked me to teach the two exam classes, and as I intend to teach full time next year, I think it rather important to know what to teach towards, don't you? I had to fumble a bit in the dark this year, filling in as much as I could from the deficiencies of Schrempf. None of them could even produce a corporeal patronus until I taught them."

The examiner grunted; he had found the upper sixth better prepared than he had anticipated in light of the previous year's neglected studies.

"Are you saying all the upper sixth class can produce Corporeal Patronuses?" he demanded.

"Of course" said Jade "I was sorry it wasn't tested in the exam. Billkvam and Frolika are a trifle deficient, but they learned quick enough when I set a dementor on them. I would not do so with students who merely had difficulties, you understand" she added "But they are lazy."

"I will consult with my superiors; we had not planned to ask for a demonstration of Patronuses as the previous years have been deficient" said the examiner.

"Yes; it is disgraceful" said Jade "In England it is a question asked at OWL – ZP – level for extra marks; about a quarter can claim those marks. For young adults of around eighteen years not to be able to produce corporeal patronuses is disgraceful. I don't think Schrempf herself could actually" she added meditatively.

"Probably not; she was most defective in her teaching" said the examiner "But I do ask you NOT to teach your students to practise the unforgivable curses on the examiner; they sap the energy, and make one consider resignation."

Jade looked at him thoughtfully.

"Perhaps you should petition the governors of the prison to offer a reduction in sentence to volunteers" she said "Say, six months off for every student who uses them as demonstration models."

"A remarkably good idea!" he was struck by it. "As you say, it is a better test to perform the curses on humans. Perhaps those due for execution might be used for the killing curse."

"I would advise not" said Jade "To start on life with a killing might disturb some young people; it is still a time even at our age where some are troubled with their sense of self worth and hormonal agonies. And besides, if that were the norm, it would not be well to have to suddenly find people to be executed if there were none due. A rat dies in the same way as any sentient. Because of my knowledge of horcruces I am well aware that a killing shatters the soul; unfair to a young person not ready for such a step."

"Excuse me asking, have you a horcrux?" he was curious.

Jade laughed.

"Not I!" she said "I know far too much about them from what happened to Voldemort in his indiscriminate use of them! There are better ways and more subtle to increase the lifespan, if one wanted to; and better, to my mind, to defend against being killed than to have a back up consciousness ready to move into if one is careless enough to get one's body destroyed. It is childishness; but then, Voldemort WAS childish. It's a weakness shared by a lot of megalomaniacs; and is the reason why I study the Dark Arts and have no desire to use them to undertake any form of rulership. The price of increasing paranoia and self-willed puerility caused by the gradual ascendance of the dark arts over one's nature is not worth it; and you agree or you'd be trying to rule Germany not examining dunderheads and incompetents in the hopes of finding the odd scholar."

She was right; infernally right. And so it was not wrong to fear the thought that the dark arts might start to rule; if this bright and dangerous young witch willingly spoke out of her own fears!

"Well, you understand the dangers; I expect you will teach of them" he said.

"I shall; and some will be tempted and will destroy themselves" said Jade. "I had preferred to teach the Art defensively to protect the young fools from themselves who will doubtless also cause some little trouble to the authorities before their foolishness catches up with them; but I shall do my best to put the fear of the dark into them so only true scholars and the terminally stupid continue down the path of study to the Dark Arts. One of my ZH students, incidentally, volunteered to wear my cursed belt to the conclusion of the birth; HE is a scholar and a brave one too. The child was born safely. I officiated at the process once I had left you. The Dark Arts can strengthen or weaken. It is in the character of the one who studies. May I sit in with the ZP's?"

"Yes. Yes you may" he said.

Jade nodded.

She assumed invisibility to watch; since her presence might put off her students.

The exam took the standard form that they defended against and cast two curses; and cursed an item. The shield charms were mostly fairly solid – only half a dozen students would need the school nurse to remove the curses cast at them – and the level of originality in the curses they cast was fair, if not up to the standard of Hogwarts corridor curses. Several people used the jellied furnunculous curse because Jade had mentioned it; Jochen managed to combine three curses for one of his efforts giving the startled examiner green spots that periodically exploded, not an effect that Jochen had expected and it was as well he was a naturally solemn child for even he had to fight off a fit of the giggles before reproducing the spell levicorpus reverse engineered from having heard of Jade's use of it. Jade had to rescue the examiner from the exotic combination of avocado kedavra, the furnunculous curse and the reductor curse.

"Not a nice curse to use on an examiner if it had done its job; I fancy he expected that the twist he gave it would blow you backwards rather than reduce you to dust" said Jade. "I love the combination however!"

"Cast wordlessly too" growled the examiner "You've brought some of them on well."

"Talent thrives regardless of the teacher" said Jade "But they have come on well and worked hard."

Hilde, Zhanargul and Stiv all used levicorpus; and Jade was pleased that they had co-operated to work it out. Hilde combined densaugeo with the furnunculous curse and came up with lengthened teeth dripping pus; Zhanargul stuck with langlock and Stiv used expelliarmus. And for all the ingenuity of Jochen and Hilde, Jade intended telling her advanced group – as the four undoubtedly were – that either langlock or expelliarmus would defeat most wizards since few could cast wordlessly or without wands.

And before she had done with her, Jade vowed that Zhanargul would learn to cast wandlessly and wordlessly for the child's own protection.

Elfleda had picked it up already after all.

The cursing of items was a rather mixed bag. The candidates had the choice of a hat, a piece of jewellery or a pair of shoes. Most picked the shoes to curse with an eternal dancing curse; and the better students managed not to have them start dancing regardless of not having feet in them. The second most popular choice was the hat, cursed to give a headache; and Everilde Widder managed to add the twist that it would not come off until uncursed. Hilde cursed the shoes to be one size too tight and not to be able to be removed; Jochen cursed the jewellery to shout ruderies if the wearer kissed anyone; Zhanargul cursed the hat to lay the babbling curse on the wearer and the inability to realise they were cursed; and Stiv cursed the shoes to whack anyone who tried to put them on and to give them a good caning.

Jade was concerned about Takeo Namudzu; who seemed to take delight in casting such offensive spells as the stinging hex and attempting the entrail expelling curse; appropriate perhaps for a Japanese boy in some respects, but he was a child who lived up to his name, that meant 'fierce boy'. He cursed the necklace to heat up and to be unremoveable. There was something in the lad's background, Jade was sure; and if he took the Dark Arts further perhaps she might then have the leisure to find out the reason for his violence and anger towards the whole world. And said so to the examiner.

"You're a fraud" he said "You aren't as fishy and cold as you like to pretend!"

"It's English to be unemotional in appearance" said Jade "One hides any emotions; being emotional is sort of impolite."

"Well I'll tell you now, all but half a dozen have at least passed the practical" said the Examiner "How they do in the written will determine overall marks. And some have done very well; I look forward – in a perverse sort of way – to the level of ingenuity they achieve next year. And I will, in such case, be very strenuously advising the use of prisoners as ZH victims! Will you object to goblins?"

"I don't care who volunteers; but I think it must BE volunteers with reduced sentence as an incentive" said Jade. "For practical considerations; knowing they can get good conduct marks as well and a reduction of time to serve means your prisoners will be better behaved. I'd militate against truculent unwilling prisoners ordered to comply. There's such a thing as duty of care to the younger kids too."

"Yes – yes, I see that point" he said "I had not considered it. Well, thank you Fraulein, and thank you for your efficient decursing of me variously. I forgive the use of unforgivable curses on me freely for your ideas. I shall see you next year."

Jade curtseyed as he clicked his heels to her.

He was a scholar too; and those who studied the dark arts really did fall into the two categories, the scholars and the megalomaniacs. Jade sighed.

Perhaps she could emphasise the defensive aspect enough that sooner or later the exam itself would change for the pressure of public opinion.

It was worth a try!

The ZH students were indeed called back to produce a corporeal patronus; and notes on the solidity were made by the examiner. Billkvam and Frolika had rather weak ones; but they had at least something.

And the rest produced well formed patronuses with panache, even Franziska.

In the run up to the end of term – which also involved a Quidditch match against a team from a place Jade had never even heard of, that the first team creamed without difficulty and Jade's catching of the snitch was but an end to the visitors' miseries – she completed the potion.

She assembled the upper sixth potion class, plus those of her year who were blooded to her; Herr Rebet and Frau Schreiber, since it was study of ancient runes that had unlocked the secret.

"I thought I'd try it on myself" she said "Because it's unfair to try a new potion on anyone else; I have mandragora here to restore me."

The young sow was terrified. She was in a room with strange smells and humans who were trying to grab her as she ran to and fro. Two new humans suddenly appeared, both with damaged faces; but they felt soothing and she wanted to be soothed.

The one with the line down his face opened her mouth and poured in some liquid; it tasted bad…..

Jade flung herself on her husband.

"Oh Wulf!" she cried "Daddy! It worked but oh dear, it takes the intellect!"

"Naturally" said Severus "Circe didn't want her pigs running around knowing that they resented her. And loath as I am to suppress knowledge I should think that the method of his should NOT be published."

"I think you're right" said Jade.

"I think" said Professor Rebet "I will write into 'Transactions' and publish that one of my ZH students reproduced Circe's potion – to dispel the scepticism that she had one – and that the results were sufficiently successful that my student prefers not to publish the ingredients or method. I will add that the search for Moly is also over as it proved to be nothing more or less than Mandragora. And I will refuse to answer private queries about the potion; though I think I might hand them over to the judiciary! I can testify that I and my colleagues Professor Schreiber and also Professor Snape both saw the effects and that the drinking of the potion was also witnessed by my whole ZH class. It ought to quiet what has been an ongoing debate after all!"

"And I too will endorse it" said Frau Schreiber. "Without going into specifics of the texts used of course!"

"I agree" said Severus "And having the question of whether it is possible settled may stop independent potioneers trying and finding they turn themselves irrevocably into pigs, not knowing enough once changed to take an antidote. Make clear that the effect is a full transformation; and the young witch who managed the attempt needed to be given an antidote."

Rebet nodded.

"Are you feeling better, Fraulein?" he asked.

"Oh yes, thank you!" said Jade "It was scary but I'm glad I did it; Circe was rather a bitch but you can't fault her ingenuity. And I like to know what is true in old myth and what is so much rubbish. And I think it's time to evanesco that whole potion" she added, twitching her wand to suit deeds to words "And I shall put my notes somewhere VERY safe under fidelius charm" she added. "I've had such fun this year, despite missing Wulf and Ralph; there's been such a lot to learn!"

Severus laughed.

"Born a scholar and never likely to change!" he said.

"That's me!" said Jade. "And when I've licked the school into shape in the Dark Arts department and Volodya has started teaching chanting – he's coming to you, dad, for a year if his parents are willing – Wulf and I can set up a school for those not eligible for Durmstrang. And Clovis can take over from me teaching Dark Arts here; and its defences too without which anyone who dabbles in deeper mysteries is helpless."

"I will need to learn more for myself" said Gierek seriously.

"I suggest you go to England and ask Draco Malfoy for a job as assistant; he's an Auror, what you call here a Vehmgericht" said Jade "I understand that Vehmgerichten require only four ZHs; Aurors require five, of which one must be DADA. But an Auror may take on any and all the assistants he wants if he can justify them; or if he can pay them from his own pocket if he doesn't trouble to justify them. Draco has forgotten more about the Dark Arts than most ZH students here ever learn; and he knows more counter curses and defensive spells than anyone but dad, his own father and Harry Potter. Who's his best friend and with whom he often works" added Jade. "You may find an eclectic range of fellow assistants; Draco's not a fool and he takes his help where he can get it. He even has a drinking buddy who's a muggle police officer – their aurors. I don't think the muggle knows who or what Draco is; but Draco gains and passes such information as crosses the boundaries of their world and ours. He'll see you right; mention my name" said Jade.

Gierek nodded curtly.

"All right; I shall" he said abruptly. "Nachtigall had a career mapped out for each of us, to be officers in ODESSA ; he would not have liked any of us having our own ideas, and it was easy to let him make decisions even whilst resenting it. You have taught me to use my own brain and make up my own mind; and you make suggestions not tell me what to do. I want to learn more; I am no fool like that Ulvang girl who has no idea!"

"We have a phrase in England; she knows everything and she knows nothing" said Jade.

Gierek gave a harsh laugh.

"Very descriptive!" he said. "And if she really was so clever she'd be taking more than three ZH's and be expected to get 'O' in all of them."

"Oh like Seppi Buser who only knows one opinion to be valid and it's his" said Jade "There are always people like them; and the comfort is that sooner or later if they don't learn they come a cropper."

"What are we all to do now we split up?" asked Ritter "We keep in touch, yes?"

"Can't really fail to" said Jade. "I was hoping that some at least of you would come and teach with me in the new school we plan to set up ultimately; Cacilia teaching potions, Ritter on charms, Rodica on enchanting or Herbology, Lazlo on History or enchanting, Bertel on Ancient Runes and Traudl on Dark Arts while I teach Arithmancy because none of the rest of you can add up to save your lives; and Wulf will by that time have the confidence to teach transfiguration."

"Oh you won't be getting in Ulvang for that then?" asked Ritter, laughing.

"I can't answer that; there are people present" laughed Jade "Oh I MUST tell you about Jochen Wiesel's cursed necklace – that sounded off if the wearer kissed someone; bless the child, he doesn't know how to swear or use curse words; the worst he came up with was 'scarlet woman! Pass me the sick bag!'"

There was general laughter.

"Poor brats, having to come up with dark items when they are patently normal children who are NOT so dark!" sighed Severus.

"Oh well, I expect I can manipulate the system soon enough" said Jade philosophically "I usually do what I set out to do; it's a matter of self belief after all!"

"Yes; and I don't mind betting you'd have realised deep down that you were Jade inside the sow and the blood connection would have given you the will to cast a homomorphous on yourself" said Wulf.

"Damn; I've thrown the rest away; we can't test if it would have worked" said Jade, considering. "Nor if the spell would work cast by someone on the sow."

"Never mind!" laughed Wulf "That's a level of scholarly curiosity I can live without in my wife; if you MUST investigate, I suggest you wait until Ralph and any others we have grow up!"

"Oh all right" said Jade, not too much put out at failing to answer all the questions her potion had raised. "As well not to have the stuff around while small persons might interfere and turn himself into a piglet; I should feel like the duchess in 'Alice through the Looking Glass'!"

Wulf laughed.

"But, Mein Liebling, a very great deal prettier!" he said.

"We need Jochen's cursed necklace; they're about to be remarkably soppy!" laughed Traudl "And I vote we leave them to it; it IS nearly the end of term after all!"

And term ended finally with a big feast such as occurred also in Hogwarts; and Madam Bacsó made the announcement that next year would see the inauguration of a prefect system; and read out the names of the eight sixth formers to be who would be prefects.

"And of those, Konstanty Masicwicz is to be Head Boy and Serafina Payutina his deputy" she said "And I trust you will all do all you can to help the prefects do their duty; and learn how to do so. They are there to take troubles to that you would prefer not to talk to a teacher about; and to act for the staff in breaking up mischief or trouble, in an unofficial capacity where they can and in an official capacity where they must; to sit with classes doing preparation; when they must be given the same respect as a member of staff of course. They are of the school; one with the rest of you; but also with some authority to keep order. They are, too, YOUR representatives to the staff. Nefrita Von Strang acted in the manner a prefect should when raising the concerns of the lower school about quidditch practice. She has of course been accustomed to being a prefect in her previous school; and when she returns to teach as Frau Von Lutytens she will doubtless be ready to answer any queries the new prefects have about their duties and how they should react in any given situation."

Jade nodded.

"And I'll be ready, while you learn the ropes, to take my 'Professor' hat off to give advice" she said "And if it's something I don't want to hear about officially, well, I shan't even listen to myself."

There was some laughter; but Konstanty Masicwicz was nodding. He had taken the point well; and Jade was glad.

She thought he might rise to the challenge of being head boy.

"And may I also say" said Agata "I would like my Head and Deputy to turn up as early as possible at the lodge next year to help supervise finding suitable fellows for the new intake to fag for. I would like all prefects early; but I only require it of the head boy and deputy."

Masicwicz clicked his heels and bowed in the stiff Germanic fashion; Serafina curtseyed.

It had come almost spontaneously.

"Please, are younger people to rise for and curtsey for prefects?" asked Xanthippe Eulenspiegel. Agata looked helplessly at Jade.

Jade rose again.

"No, Eulenspiegel; save when a prefect comes to take prep when it is polite to rise as a token of thanks that he or she must do their own preparation in a bear garden instead of in the quiet seclusion of their own study" she said "And as such the prefect is in the place of an adult too. In other respects a prefect requires in general the same level of respect you would give to any elder; with too the obedience to an order – a legal order, prefects being bound by that as much as anyone – and anyone who talks back better learn that it's not a good idea or you'll be the world champion at learning poetry. At English schools, repetitions of suitable poetry are set by prefects for minor transgressions; the rule is no more than ten reps, which might be lines along the lines of 'I should act my age not my shoe size' or rather as continental shoe sizes are different, hat size; or a complex poem. It is an unwritten rule that serious mischief is sorted with ten reps of a vasty poem rather than being made official; especially if the miscreant is repentant. The sort of stupidity that could have killed or injured a friend and got the culprit expelled for example; but that a prefect feels the culprit is sorry about and won't do it again. Like urging someone to climb the castle walls for a dare" she added having stopped the Eulenspiegel twins from egging each other on to do just that. "Writing poetry several times is tedious and makes the wrist ache. Learning yards of poetry makes the brain ache. The prefects will pick what they prefer; English prefects fall back too on Shakespeare for an appropriate quote. I once wrote one hundred times – it was a teacher's impot – 'her voice was ever gentle low and sweet, an excellent thing in a woman' for having an argument clear across the great hall at breakfast; and my friend I was quarrelling with got the same impot for the same reason. I have to say I have used some of the poetry I've been set as bases for chanting; so there's no great loss without some small gain and whilst virtue may be its own reward, mischief and acceptance of the concomitant punishment is part of the way of life of the average schoolchild. I think I'm speaking sacrilege for a fledgling professor; but if I say, THINK before you get up to mischief, and the prefects count to ten before they lose their rag and order lines or other creative punishment you probably won't have too much serious trouble. Thank you Madam Bacsó."

And then it was all over; and next year Jade would be teaching properly; and Durmstrang was no longer the enemy to be infiltrated but her place of work.

She would still be glad to have her own school however!

And next year she would appear as Jade Snape save that she would wear her hair drawn back Nefrita Von Strang fashion; and those who did NOT know who she really was probably would not even notice that her hair was a slightly different colour and her eyes different too.

And she would have Wulf and Ralph with her all the time!

Fin

It's nice to have conclusions I have drawn endorsed by academe, the University of Virginia has recently concluded in a study that where bullying exists the academic standard of the whole school is affected for witnessing this which anyone who has ever taught could have told them.

On a Potterverse note, the next one up will be 12b Lilith Goes To School, I've kept the lettering to cover which school is what, not necessarily the most felicitous order in which to read.