"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms." – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Coffee jumps from the tiny hole in the top of my insulated cup, sticky liquid raining down milk chocolate spots on my hand. I try to walk more slowly, but only succeed in tossing up more frothy latte.
I tilt the cup slightly, but nothing seems to stop the torrent of coffee spattering me; so, I ignore the fact that my hand is growing sticky and march briskly to my first class of the day: literature.
I swing open the door and it's like a vacuum leeches all the sound from the crowded room. Each bleary-eyed student swivels around towards the front of the room, reaching for their packs and fishing pens and notebooks out, flipping through their text books for the section they (should have) read for today (but probably didn't).
At the head of the room, I gingerly place my coffee bastardization on the desk and try to rub the dried stickiness on my black slacks.
"Good morning, everyone," I chirp, and my students glare back at me, still half asleep. One, however is a ray of sunlight in the cloudy gloom of her peers.
"Hello, Mr. Potter," she beams, scooting straighter in her seat.
"Ms. Paige," I greet wryly, leaning back on the edge of my desk. Flicking through the gargantuan text book, I turn to my oh-so-eager students.
"I assume we all read?" I quirk and eyebrow and fail to miss a few of the shudders from some of the less enthusiastic students. "Can anyone tell me what the section was about?"
Predictably, Paige's hand shoots up like a rocket. With a student like Paige Smith, I find it's easier now to understand why Snape loathed Hermione: partly because the was a Gryffindor (and a member of the Holy Trinity), and partially because it's hard to get answers from other students when you've got someone so... energetic. It's like regrowing bones after moronic Defense teachers get a little bit carried away. But I digress.
"Let's have someone besides you, Ms. Paige," I say gently, and I see her deflate a bit. I offer her an apologetic smile, and continue on. "Do you think Thoreau's Walden is still applicable today?" I prompt, sliding off the desk. A blonde in the back of the room hesitantly raises her hand, and I quickly nod at her before she second guesses herself.
"Michelle," I smile, and her cheeks glow with a blush.
"Uh, yes, I think so, Mr. Potter," her voice is quiet, dreamy; I've caught her many times doodling in her notes instead of listening to me. But she does draw some pretty good "What Mr. Potter Looks Like Without Clothes" theories.
"Why?" I ask, and she pauses, clear blue eyes searching mine as if to try to get the correct answer from my mind.
"Well, because Thoreau wants people to let themselves be selfish," she continues, and I lean against my desk, tapping a pencil's eraser against my lip.
"Let themselves be selfish?" I interrupt, and she hardens determinedly, rolling her shoulders as she meets my gaze.
"Yeah, selfish, so that they can take better care of themselves. You know, stop living for other people. To slow down and find joy in their life, and not just do what other people want them to do." Bolstered, she offers me a tentative smile and I nod slightly, spinning around and taking up my cooling latte and sip from it.
"Is it so selfish to want to take care of oneself?" I ask. I bespy a boy tapping away on his cell phone, nestled carefully away in his crotch.
"Mr. Fredricks," I say, and the boy in question jumps a mile in the air, wildly glancing around. "Mr. Fredricks, nobody just stares and smiles at their crotch for fifteen minutes straight. I know you're on your cell phone." His classmates giggle, and the boy blushes.
"Sorry, Mr. Potter," he mumbles, shoving his phone in his pocket. I incline an eyebrow and he sinks lower in to his seat. I fancy I learned some good lessons from Snape. I'm a teacher, not my students' friend.
"Mr. Fredricks, do you think that is selfish to take care of yourself?" I ask the boy and he nibbles his lip.
"I don't know," he starts, grappling for words. "Well, it is and it isn't. You care too much about yourself and then you're an ass," when he curses, he shakes his head vigorously and blushes even more deeply. "Sorry, sir."
"I think we're all old enough to hear a few curse words," I grin and Fredricks nods sheepishly.
"But if you don't take care of yourself, then you..." he stops and his brow furrows.
"Then you," I encourage and his eyes narrow as he tries to find the right words.
"Well if you don't take care of yourself, then you're nothing. You don't have a life, you're not you."
"I agree." I nod and smile at Fredricks, making a mental note to give him a few extra points so he's got a C, and not a D. He's a brilliant student, if only he'd apply himself. I sip my latte again and wipe my lip with my sleeve.
"I want a three page, double-spaced essay," most of the class groans, and I consider assigning an extra page for their cheek. Leveling a steely glare around the classroom, they immediately lower their gazes to their desks. "On Henry David Thoreau's Walden and its personal application to you."
Paige Smith raises her hand.
"Can we go over that, if we feel we need to?" I fight the urge to place a hand over my face. Not because I dislike her enthusiasm, but because I like to pretend I have some semblance of a social life outside of teaching.
"I would rather you not. I unfortunately can not dedicate all my time to grading your wonderful papers. I have to go out sometime," I joke, and the girl absolutely beams at the compliment. I inwardly thank Merlin for the sliver of Slytherin in me: I think all Slytherin are born with the innate nature to kiss ass. Paige is a brilliant girl, but if I know Hermione, she'd go on forever if she felt she needed to. And Paige was the same way.
"Okay, guys, turn to page 1534 and we'll read a bit of it together."
My first period goes well, at least without any major incidents, and by 10:00 am I'm sipping cold coffee from the teacher's lounge but I am mercifully caffeinated. I doge the students rushing to their classes, stopping to chastise a few overly friendly couples and send them on their ways. By the time I reach the offices, my Styrofoam cup is empty and I chuck it in the bin near the door.
"Morning, Harry," Mary Phillips, the portly history professor chirps, pushing her thick-framed glasses up her nose. She's tiny, barely reaching my shoulder (and that's saying something- I'm probably one of the most vertically challenged men I know) but her teased and hair sprayed coif make up for a few inches. I greet her pack, politely inquiring about her weekend. I excuse myself as she begins to discuss problems with her digestive tract agreeing that it's probably not supposed to be that color, and flee to my cubical in the farthest corner of the room.
Sitting down, I sigh, booting up the computer as I lay my grade book out in front of me. I think some part of me must learned organization by osmosis contact with Hermione. Maybe more than that; if anyone had told me in my last year of Hogwarts that I was going to end up fleeing the wizarding world and become a high school professor... I'd probably believe Snape secretly liked to dress in drag over that crock and bull.
Killing Voldemort took a lot out of me, a lot more than I thought it would have. I mean.. things would have been so much easier if I would have just stayed dead. Learning that I had to die for Voldemort to finally be gone... I expected I'd just cast the Killing Curse and it would all be over. Well, it was for a while.
And then I came back.
It was like I'd left a piece of me behind, and I guess technically I did. But the fact remains, I didn't expect to have to deal with a ll these new expectations: marry Ginny, become an auror, do a million interviews and ministry functions. And the trials. Oh Merlin, the trials.
I wiggle in my seat, and it squeaks in outrage. I type my login info in and the computer sings to life. I think the trails took the most out of me. I spoke at a few of them: Malfoy's, Blaise Zabini's, Snape's, and a few of the nastier Death Eaters like Greyback and that Lestrange bitch's. I honestly thought there would be no end to the trials; the comings and goings were enough to drive me crazy(er), and I finally just... well, snapped.
I left Grimmauld Place with the clothes on my back. Straight out of Hogwarts with no higher education and money to spare, it was rather easy finding a loft and enrolling myself in muggle university. Four or so years later, teaching degree in hand, I applied to Parson College Prep, and voila, we've come full circle.
I sigh, staring at the computer screen and for a moment, I'm filled with the indeliable urge to just magic this tedious stuff done. I can feel my magic, welling up inside me, beating at my ribs and spine as it roars to be used.
But my want is at home, hidden away in my "stuff" drawer. Besides a few accidental spells, I haven't used magic since I left the wizarding world and I don't want to start now, no matter how much it would it would help.
I boot up Microsoft Word and glance over the surprise quiz for my next literature class. Satisfied there are no errors, I hit print and sigh as a shadow looms over me, peering down at my computer screen.
"Hello, Harry," the man purrs, and I pretend to not notice the subtle way he breathes in my vanilla body wash, his nose inches from my neck. I stifle the urge to scoot back suddenly, whoops hitting him in the crotch accidentally-on-purose because I've tried it before and all it did was egg him on.
"Hi, Jerry," I mutter, not skipping a beat. I have to fight a smirk when he stiffens, squeaking. Calling him Jerry is like calling Draco Malfoy Drake... for gods' sake, it just isn't done.
"Oh Harry," he sighs, and I jerk as he moves to massage my shoulders with his huge hands. "It's Jericho. How many times do I need to tell you?" His hands move slowly, rubbing the cotton of my shirt against my skin.
"One more time, surely," I quip, and he leans against my chair as I'm ram-rod straight, his fingers trailing the short hairs on the nape of my neck before moving back to my shoulders. He kneads the achy shoulder I slept wrong on, forcing his thumbs in to the knotted muscle. Merlin, it hurts, but damn it feels so good and I almost relax in to his touch before I remember we're in the middle of the staff office and someone could walk in at any moment. Not to mention a male teacher had his hands on me in a decidedly school-inappropriate manner.
"Jericho," I hiss, and I can taste his good-for-nothing smirk as he rubs harder. "Please," I plead and he slows his hands, bending over. His jawline is already shadowed with growth, and it pokes me as his skin brushes my ear.
"I love it when you beg," he breathes against the shell of my ear and I fight the tightening in my trousers.
"Knock it off," I say, and the infernal man chuckles, darting his tongue out to taste the tip of my ear before he finally relents, stepping away from my chair. I spin around to face him, blushing like a fiend, and glare.
"Relax, Mr. Potter," he smirks, raising his hands in surrender. "You seemed like you were having a bad day and I thought I'd help you out a bit." He's positively beaming and I want to smack his face off. So I do the logically best thing and glare murderously at him, my lips pursed.
He chuckles at my duck face and my eyes slit.
"I'm fine," I bite out and he nods sagely, arms folded across his chest.
"Your shoulder was tense," he murmurs, winking at me like he's Rhett and I'm Scarlett, and any moment some cheesy 50s music is going to start playing.
"Yeah, well," I grumble, grimacing. Smirking, he spins his own chair and slides in to it like a smooth shot of whiskey.
"You're welcome," he teases, booting up his own computer and pulling his lesson plans from his "satchel". I glare one last time at the back of his perfectly-groomed head and turn back to my own work, wondering why I put up with his bullshit.
I'd be Percy Weasley with a dancing house elf if I didn't admit Jericho McAvoy was one up of Irish cream I'd like to taste. The Irishman, with his mellow brogue, was certainly one of the most handsome men I'd ever seen, with his wavy brown hair kept cropped a few centimeters beyond his ears. And those eyes... green as the rolling Erin hills themselves, flecked with hazel, and framed by sleepy eyelashes. Worse thing about it was he knew he looked good, and love to do seduce anything that moved: animal, mineral or vegetable.
He had teased me mercilessly from the day I'd started at Parsons. A piece of me relished the attention, but I didn't believe for one moment Jericho McAvoy was serious. He reminded me a bit of Malfoy, peacock preening and antagonizing me every moment he got, though admittedly Malfoy had moved on to mostly ignoring me or cool civility during our last year at Hogwarts.
On the final ride back to Platform 9 ¾ , he'd actually sought me out, shaken my hand, and informed me if I ever needed solace from the Press, Malfoy Manor (unplottable, he imperiously informed me) would always be open.
Of course, I was a bit out of sorts and blown away by his invitation, so I did what I normally do and stood there flabbergasted, trying to catch flies (I've had a lot of practice with that expression I'm told) while he offered me the most genuine and beautiful smile I've ever seen: just the tips of his lips curling as his grey eyes pierced mine.
But I mean I never seriously thought about it. For all I knew, Malfoy had just said it to make us even after I cleared his name at the trial. Even after my breakdown, I never considered Malfoy's offer. A part of me wondered what would have happened if I had fled there instead of for the muggle world. No doubt the next day Rita Skeeter or whichever nasty bit of work the Prophet contracted to detail ever aspect of the life of Harry Potter would have had "Harry Potter Living with Ex-Death Eater", or worse.
I absentmindedly tap away at the keyboard and pretend I can't hear mr. McAvoy singing dirty lyrics under his breath. I don't know who he wants to fuck like an animal, but I'm sure the would enjoy it. Shaking my head, I check the time of my clock and buckle in to finally get some work done.