Title: The Toad, the Wizard and the Nation
Chapter summary: Dumbledore shows why he should've been put in Slytherin, the staff become paranoid and the students (will) become nicer towards the 'transfers'. At least, the Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs do. The Slytherins, not so much…
AN: The wonderful SG-chan (StargateNerd) has agreed to beta this for me! Thank you, SG-chan! Also, I haven't posted a new chapter in a while, but in my defense, I had a fever! Hope you enjoy this (really long) chapter and review!
"Albus, these students have been acting particularly strange, and I am concerned that-"
"Minerva, it was not my choice to allow these students to come here."
Atlantis paused. Being pretty much an 'extinct' nation had some perks, such as the ability to turn 'ghostly', which basically meant she was invisible and untouchable to most, except for Prussia and Canada, who, being able to see her, could also manage to touch/poke her. Which Prussia frequently did, usually to piss her off. (It sometimes worked.)
"What do you mean, Albus?" Atlantis directed her attention towards the voices again, although she wouldn't actually enter the room. She'd had bad experiences with walking on several people, such as Kiku and Heracles, and even though she was sure nothing was going on in the office, she'd rather not get stuck in the wall.
"I mean, Minerva," Dumbledore continued, "I was not the one who decided to send these students here." His eyes blazed, the usual genial twinkle glaringly absent.
Atlantis listened carefully, curious as to what Dumbledore meant.
"Believe me, Minerva, these students are not to be trusted. When I arrived back from the Ministry and Harry's hearing, I found a letter from an extremely… influential person. Because of that, I had to allow these students to come here. But even though I must let them stay, I want you and the other professors to monitor these students." A self-righteous anger flared in his piercing blue eyes.
Atlantis wanted to continue listening, but felt herself appearing slowly. She couldn't afford to be stuck here, outside the Headmaster's office. Nation-stepping to the Slytherin common room, she landed solidly on the floor with a loud *bang*.
"What the bloody hell?" England was, to say the least, surprised. He'd been checking his Potions essay over when Atlantis appeared out of nowhere, falling onto the floor.
"Sorry…" Atlantis mumbled, her face red. "I've got some interesting news. When's the next World Conference?"
Standing up and tidying away his work, England replied, "I'm not sure. We haven't found a suitable place yet."
"Oh, damn. Because Dumbledore's really suspicious…" Atlantis trailed off, looking worried.
*Timeskip to next day, Defense Against the Dark Arts *1 (All houses)*
"Well, good afternoon!" Umbridge said in her breathy, sickly-sweet, girlish little voice. The nations, bunched together at the back, muttered "Good afternoon," feeling like they wanted to throw up. So did a few of the other students, although most of them merely stared at Umbridge warily.
"Tut, tut," said Professor Umbridge. "That won't do, now will it? I should like you, please, to reply 'Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.' One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!"
"Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge." they chanted at her, although a few nations glared at her darkly, hating being treated like children. (They were countries, for Christ's sake!)
"There, now," Umbridge said, her voice even sweeter. "That wasn't too hard, was it? Wands away and quills out, please."
Almost the whole class exchanged gloomy looks; the order 'wands away' had never been followed by an interesting lesson, at least by their standards.
Harry shoved his wand back inside his bag and pulled out ink, a quill and a roll of parchment. Professor Umbridge opened her handbag, extracted her own wand (which was unusually short), and tapped the blackboard sharply with it; words appeared on the board almost instantly.
Defense Against the Dark Arts
A Return to Basic Principles
"Well now, your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and fragmented, hasn't it?" Umbridge turned to the face the class, clasping her hands neatly in front of her. "The constant changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your OWL year." Madagascar resisted the urge to throw up at the obvious attempt to put the idiotic bureaucrats in a good light.
"You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory-centered, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year. Copy down the following, please." Madagascar poked America, trying to get him to wake up- he had, amazingly, fallen asleep by the middle of the speech.
Umbridge rapped the blackboard sharply, causing America to jolt awake in surprise. The letters on the board changed, becoming 'Course Aims'.
1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
2. Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic can legally be used.
3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use.
For a few minutes, there was the scritch-scratching of quills on parchment. When everyone finished copying down the three 'Course Aims', Umbridge asked, "Has everybody got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?"
Everybody murmured a dull, "Yes, Professor."
"I think we'll try that again, louder this time," Professor Umbridge said. "When I ask you a question, I should like you to reply, 'Yes, Professor Umbridge,' or 'No, Professor Umbridge'. So: has everybody got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?"
"Yes, Professor Umbridge," rang through the room.
"Good. Now, I should like you to turn to page five and read 'Chapter One, Basics for Beginners'. There will be no need to talk."
Umbridge left her post at the blackboard and settled herself in the chair behind the teacher's desk, observing them all carefully with her pouchy toad's eyes. Atlantis turned to page five and started reading.
It was incredibly dull, almost as boring as listening to the ghost professor. Madagascar groaned mentally. She'd read through several of the textbooks already, including this one, so she was stuck with nothing to do. Looking around the classroom, Madagascar suddenly noticed Hermione's hand in the air.
The girl was staring fixedly at Umbridge with her hand in the air, barely blinking. However, Umbridge was ignoring her. After a moment or two had passed the other students started to notice the silent stand-off, and as one or two barely audible confused mutters rent the air, Umbridge was finally forced to acknowledge the Gryffindor girl's presence.
"Did you want to ask something about the chapter, dear?" Professor Umbridge asked Hermione as if she'd just noticed her.
"Not about the chapter, no," Hermione said.
"Well, we're reading just now," Professor Umbridge showed her small, unusually pointed teeth. "If you have other queries we can deal with them at the end of class."
"I've got a query about your course aims," said Hermione.
Professor Umbridge raised her eyebrows. "And your name is?"
"Well, Miss Granger, I think the course aims are perfectly clear if you read them through carefully." Professor Umbridge's voice was so sweet, Harry felt himself getting a toothache.
"Well, I don't," said Hermione bluntly. "There's nothing written up there about us using defensive spells."
Almost the whole class turned to frown at the three course aims still on the board.
"Using defensive spells?" Professor Umbridge laughed. "Why, I can't imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. You surely aren't expecting to be attacked during class?"
"We're not going to use magic?" Ron exclaimed loudly.
"Students raise their hands when they wish to speak in my class, Mr-?"
"Weasley," Ron clarified as threw his hand up in the air.
Umbridge smiled widely, and turned her back on him. Madagascar, Atlantis, Harry, Hermione and a few others also raised their hands. Umbridge's eyes rested on Harry for a few moments before she addressed Hermione, the presence of the transfer students not seeming to register.
"Yes, Miss Granger? You wanted to ask something else?"
"Yes," said Hermione. "Surely the whole point of Defence Against the Dark Arts is to practice defensive spells?"
"Are you a Ministry-trained educational expert, Miss Granger?" Umbridge's voice was as diabetic-inducing as ever.
"Well then, I'm afraid you are not qualified to decide what the 'whole point' of any class is. Wizards much older and cleverer than you have devised our new program of study. You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way-"
Harry interrupted, "What use is that? If we're going to be attacked, it won't be in a-"
"Hand, Mr Potter!" Professor Umbridge sang. Even though Harry thrust his fist into the air, Professor Umbridge turned away from him. But by now, several other people had their hands up.
"And your name is?" Professor Umbridge said to Dean.
"Well, Mr Thomas?"
"Well, it's like Harry said, isn't it?" said Dean. "If we're going to be attacked, it won't be risk free."
"I repeat, do you expect to be attacked during my classes?" Professor Umbridge smiled in an extremely irritating way at Dean.
Professor Umbridge interrupted, "I do not wish to criticize the way things have been run in this school, but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible in this class, very irresponsible indeed- not to mention," she gave a nasty little laugh, "extremely dangerous half-breeds."
"I've met Remus Lupin myself," England said, raising his hand, "and he is a very competent-" *2
"And you are?" Umbridge asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Arthur Kirkland, and-"
"Hand, Mr Kirkland. As I was saying before, you have been introduced to spells that have been complex, inappropriate to your age group and potentially lethal. You have been frightened into believing that you are likely to meet Dark attacks every other day-"
"No, we haven't," Hermione said, "we just-"
"Your hand is not up, Miss Granger!"
Hermione put up her hand.
Umbridge turned away. "It is my understanding that my predecessor not only performed illegal curses in front of you, he actually performed them on you."
"Well, he turned out to be a maniac, didn't he?" Dean protested hotly. "Mind you, we still learned loads."
"Your hand is not up, Mr. Thomas!" Professor Umbridge trilled. "Now, it is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your examination, which, after all, is what school is all about. And your name is?" she added, staring at Parvati, whose hand had just shot up.
"Parvati Patil, and isn't there a practical bit in our Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL? Aren't we supposed to show that we can actually do the counter-curses and things?"
"As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason why you should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination conditions," said Professor Umbridge dismissively.
"Without ever practicing them beforehand?" said Parvati, looking shocked. "Are you telling us that the first time we'll get to do the spells will be during our exam?"
"I repeat, as long as you have studied the theory hard enough-"
"And what good's theory going to be in the real world?" Harry snapped, his hand in the air.
Umbridge looked up. "This is school, Mr Potter, not the real world," she said softly.
"So we're not supposed to be prepared for what's waiting for us out there?"
"There is nothing waiting out there, Mr. Potter."
Harry opened his mouth to speak, but Madagascar and Atlantis interrupted.
"Nothing out there? You mean there's no reason for-"
"-us to be prepared because there's-"
"nothing waiting out there?"
Umbridge (and most of the other students, except for some of the nations) looked unnerved. "Hands, Misses-"
"Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?" Umbridge's voice was horribly honeyed.
"Hmm, let's think… Maybe…Lord Voldemort?" Harry said, in a mock thoughtful voice.
Many of the students flinched or gasped in horror. Professor Umbridge, however, did not. But before she could say anything, some of the other transfer students flung their hands in the air.
"Even if Voldemort hasn't come back, won't there still be danger out there? I mean, he isn't the only Dark wizard in existence ever, right?"
"What if Voldy's followers are still trying to bring him back?"
Umbridge cut in. "Ten points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter." She seemed to have ignored the nations' outbursts. "Now, let me make a few things quite plain." She leaned towards them, stubby-fingered hands splayed out on her desk. "You have been told that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the dead-"
"He was only mostly dead," said Harry angrily, "but yeah, he's returned!"
"Mr-Potter-you-have-already-lost-your-house-ten-points-do-not-make-matters-worse-for-yourself," Umbridge said in one breath, without looking at Harry. "As I was saying. You have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large once again. This is a lie."
"It is NOT a lie!" exclaimed Harry. "I saw him, I fought him!"
"Detention, Mr Potter!" exclaimed Umbridge, looking triumphant. "Tomorrow evening. Five o'clock. My office. I repeat, this is a lie. The Ministry of Magic guarantees that you are not in danger from any Dark wizard. If you are still worried, by all means come and see me outside class hours. If someone is alarming you with lies about reborn Dark wizards, I would like to hear about it. I am here to help. I am your friend. And now, you will kindly continue your reading…"
"Hello, Miss Duvange. I was wondering, could you tell me about yourself?" Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling, deceivingly gentle.
Mentally bracing herself, Atlantis replied, "What would you like to know, Professor?"
"Where are you from?"
"Oh, well, I'm not sure. I was abandoned when I was a few years old, so I don't know."
"How do you know the other transfer students? You seem to be all different nationalities, yet you're very familiar with each other."
Atlantis swallowed slightly. Damn, she hadn't thought of that. "We're all… world representatives, so we've worked with each other many times." Well, it was mostly true. And why was she starting to feel a probing, tingly sensation…?
"I see. How did you come to be in this position?"
Atlantis began telling a complicated lie about the 'world representatives' appointments, mentally reminding herself to tell the others later. Meanwhile, Dumbledore was trying to get inside her head by using Legilimency, but no matter how hard he tried, her Occlumency shields were too strong. As a result, both of them were getting quite bad headaches. However, Dumbledore eventually managed to get flashes of her memories.
A few moments after this happened, Atlantis couldn't bear it, and started rubbing her forehead.
"Are you okay, my dear girl?" Dumbledore's eyes gleamed, all traces of twinkling gone. He looked slightly mad.
"Could I be excused? My head hurts."
One down, 38 to go, Dumbledore thought. He grinned slightly, looking smug. Even though he hadn't been able to get inside her head completely, he'd still managed to get some of her memories. Now he only had to figure out what they meant…
*1 I know DADA was on the same day as Potions. And I know that they have different lessons, but just for the sake of the plot, let's imagine that the first lesson is with all of them, yes?
*2: Yes, I'm basically stealing some of the HP character's lines for the APH ones. It'd be really hard to fit them in otherwise.
Random note: You know how in Chapter 4 or so, I said that Harry, Neville and Ginny stared at Iggy weirdly? I forgot to mention this, but in my headcannon, the nations' accents change. Like, for instance, America. His accent can change from New York to Texas to… yeah, I think you get what I mean.