How Delores Umbridge Came to be Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts,
or, How Albus Dumbledore Became Addicted to Pain Potions
It was the summer of 1995, and Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizardry, Order of Merlin Third Class and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, found himself, for close to the thirtieth time, in need of a professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts.
He had exhausted the vaguely-competent wizards and witches in his Order of the Phoenix: Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody had flatly refused on grounds of the position being cursed, ignoring Albus' reasoning that he wasn't actually the professor for the previous school year. Remus Lupin actually was susceptible to the curse, since he'd taught before - plus, werewolf.
Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks had their Auror duties to consider. Sirius Black was still considered a criminal. Hestia Jones had laughed in his face when he made the offer. Daedelus Diggle nearly took his head off with a Muggle firework and adamantly refused to come out from behind a hastily-constructed fortress made from furniture and animated portraits. Emmaline Vance took cover in an actual fortress, and though Albus had no idea where she'd found a Muggle shotgun in Britain, he was thankful for his shield charms.
In any event, he felt perhaps searching out a professor outside the Order might be wise, and had his Deputy Headmistress seek out applicants from the families of current and former students. The Headmaster whistled a jaunty tune, pleased with himself, and refilled his bowl of lemon drops: all that was left was to interview the new applicants.
"So really, Professor, I can afford to take a year off from Puddlemere United," Oliver Wood said. "I'm a reservist anyway for another year, and I'll do another year as a reserve if I can train a few kids up to crush the competition. I'll call it a recruiting trip." Albus looked over his half-moon spectacles at the nineteen year old.
"Well, Mr. Wood, you did score an 'Exceeds Expectations' on your Defense N.E.W.T., so technically you're qualified," Albus said, then frowned. "I must admit, my boy, I'm a little concerned about your age. We prefer our professors to be a little older, to put some distance between you and the students. What say you to that?" Oliver straightened.
"I might have just sat my N.E.W.T.s two years ago, but I can be as mature as anyone. Just ask my Quidditch players!" Albus' frown deepened, though his eyes continued to twinkle.
"I have a statement from the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team, actually," he said. "It reads, and I quote, 'We love Oliver, but he's a slave-driver and may be entirely insane. By all that is holy, please do not allow him anywhere near a classroom. He'll have us up at four practicing small-unit tactics and book all our evenings for mandatory Dueling Club. We'll be burnt out by October at the latest.' Care to comment?" Oliver waved it away.
"It's totally untrue." Albus began to relax, then the young man continued. "I'd give them Tuesdays off at least." The Headmaster rolled his eyes, selecting a lemon drop to relieve the stress.
"Next applicant, please."
"So you see, Albus, Ministry code 36-2903, On The Distasteful Subject of the Separation of State and Education, subsection thirteen-A, 'Lawful Hiring Procedures When The Headmaster Cannot Remove His Head From His Anus,' which governs ministry/Hogwarts interactions in reference to hiring new professors, states if the Headmaster cannot appoint a professor, one must be appointed for him."
"Cornelius," Albus said, looking longingly at the half-empty bottle of elf wine, a Christmas gift from a very inebriated kitchen elf the previous year, "That is exactly what you told me at the beginning of the summer. You didn't floo all the way from London to remind me, did you?"
"Of course not," the Minister for Magic said. "Rosmerta has an excellent steak-and-kidney pie this week, so I flooed out for lunch. Reminding you was only a short trip up the floo from Hogsmeade." The overweight politician patted his full stomach. "Of course, my lunch would settle better if you just capitulated."
"We aren't enemies, Cornelius," Albus reminded him. "The real enemy is out there." Fudge straightened immediately, the full strength of denial giving his backbone shape.
"He's! Not! Back!" the Minister whispered sharply. Albus held his hands up in a conciliatory gesture.
"I might allow you to appoint someone if you'll lend me one of your Aurors," the headmaster said. Fudge scoffed.
"Of course not," he said. "You saw what happened last year."
"That was a Death Eater in disguise."
"THERE ARE NO DEATH EATERS!" Fudge bellowed. "HE'S NOT BACK!"
"So, no Auror, then?" Albus asked, a slight twinkle still in his eye. Fudge sputtered, halfway to apoplexy.
Albus sent a quick Patronus to Madam Pomfrey for a blood-pressure potion. Cornelius really did turn a spectacular shade of red when his rage was up.
"So then I said, 'give 'em the ol' one-two!' And my Dudders, he was okay. Better than okay; he was my Dudders! So I say, shoot this Voldethingy in the face. You freaks can manage that, right?"
"How did you even get in this castle, Mr. Dursley?" Albus asked.
"I don't know and I blame you," Vernon Dursley said. "Freak." Albus just sighed.
"Kreacher's filthy mutt master sent him to filthy deviant headmaster so Kreacher can teach filthy Mudblood snot-nosed young things how to fall off platforms when dueling House Elves. Kreacher cannot disobey filthy mutt master. Kreacher lives to serve the Noble House of Black. Kreacher demands a sock. Dobby got a sock. Why not Kreacher?"
Albus just stared, grabbing for his lemon drops, then discarding them in favor of a bottle of Muggle aspirin. His headache was getting worse.
"I must say, Mr. Malfoy, I'm surprised to see you here," Albus said. "Especially after your removal from the Board of Governors. Most unpleasant." The Slytherin alumni flipped his long blond hair in annoyance, then affected a smile like a kitten about to pounce on the dog's tail... from ten feet up.
"That's all behind us now, Headmaster," he said. "In light of that Diggory boy's tragic accident in the tournament, I thought I might be of use in teaching our youngest to defend themselves. Besides," he added, "My son is still in school; I have a vested interest in ensuring he gets a good education."
Albus nodded. Ordinarily I'd be averse to hiring a Death Eater, he thought, but I'm beginning to despair of finding anyone, and despite Barty Crouch Jr.'s trying to kill Harry, we did have the highest pass rate for O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s in the subject in ten years.
"What would be your plan for curriculum, then?" the Headmaster asked. "Say, for the fifth-years - as young Draco is in that year, you'll have given it some thought. Lucius nodded.
"I thought I'd divide the class into three parts," he said. "The first group would be Pure Bloods." Albus continued nodding, though the twinkling in his eyes had begun to dim. "To these, I'd review the previous year's work on resisting the Imperius Curse, and continue working on Dark curses until they can recognize every curse of which I'm aware."
And cast them, no doubt, Albus thought, but held his tongue. "Go on."
"To the half-bloods, I would teach Stupefy and have them practice it for the first term to the exclusion of everything else, since half-bloods make up the bulk of the Auror Department and that's all they're allowed to use anyway. I'll place particular emphasis on shouting the spell as loudly as possible so everyone around knows they're casting it." Lucius smirked. "The second term will be spent on learning to look good in Auror robes, and badge polishing."
Albus resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "And the Muggleborns?"
"Mr. Malfoy, I'm afraid I find your supremacist views despicable and, unsurprisingly, believe you utterly unqualified for the position."
"Please," Lucius sneered. "I cannot possibly be worse than Gilderoy Lockhart." He twirled up from his chair, dramatically flouncing out the office door. "And my hair is absolutely prettier."
"Professor, for the fourteenth year in a row, I'd like to apply for the position of Defense Again-"
"There's shampoo in all the staff bathrooms. Use it."
A week of applicants had passed, and Albus was beginning to despair, when he found himself staring at his groundskeeper and occasional Care of Magical Creatures professor, who stood in his doorway.
"May I help you, Rubeus?" he asked. Hagrid shuffled.
"Ackshul, 'twas summit gonna infirm 'bout crush dirk eats fur hairy an' prolly alla Gryffs n' Huffles. Thenna gonna hippogryff purd catapult, an' mebbe howta ya'll knaw who wit' a bucket 'o curse fucker."
"Rubeus, I have no idea what you are trying to say."
"Aw say'd, 'Ackshul-"
"Pause a moment. Lingua," the Headmaster said, waving his hand at a piece of parchment. "Continue." As Hagrid repeated his earlier statement, words in a crisp, flowing hand appeared on the parchment:
"I was going to apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, so Harry and the other students could have a proper teacher. My first lesson was going to involve setting fire to Death Eaters while riding a Hippogriff, then launching Voldemort out of a catapult."
"While I appreciate your fervor, Rubeus, if I can't understand you, I doubt your students can."
"Her gonna beastings, howsit teh duffer?" Albus checked the parchment. "But I teach Care of Magical Creatures now. Does that not apply to my current class?"
"No spellwork in your class now, Hagrid." The half-giant brightened.
"CRUCIO!" Bellatrix Lestrange cast as she entered Albus' office.
"Crucio?" he inquired mildly.
"Really, Bellatrix? Crucio?"
"CRUCIO CRUCIO CRUCIO!"
"...You realize the Cruciatus Curse won't function in my office?"
"What fun is that?"
"Fun for the Aurors, who are likely on their way."
"Damn. I was hoping you'd hire me."
"Unlikely, Bellatrix. How did you plan to escape if I didn't?" Bellatrix grabbed a small dagger from her belt, held on tight, and mumbled.
"...crucio." She disappeared with a crack. Albus sighed. Damn portkeys. He needed a drink.
The door to the Hog's Head clattered open, and Albus stumbled in.
"Brother mine, you look to be in violation of pub policy," Aberforth Dumbledore said from behind the bar, pointing to a sign hanging behind him, which proclaimed sternly "No Pre-Drinking." Albus shook his head.
"I haven't been drinking, Aberforth," he said. "Though I'd like to change that, if you can spare a bottle of Ogden's Finest." Aberforth grunted, fetching a dusty bottle from under the bar, pouring a double and sliding it in front of his brother.
"Not that I don't feel you deserve a little headache," he started, and Albus groaned, gesturing to his long-broken nose.
"Yes, you made that clear years ago," he said, tossing back the drink. Aberforth smiled, and poured him another.
"I suspect I'm not the cause of this one. What'd you do this time?" Pour.
"You recall the curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts post?" Drink.
"Saved me the trouble of punching Lockhart in the face, yeah." Pour.
"I've been interviewing an increasingly-incompetent series of applicants for almost a month now." Drink.
"A too-young Quidditch fiend, no less than three Harry Potter fangirls, a Muggle, two Death Eaters, my Potions master-" Drink.
"Snape? He's not incompetent." Pour.
"True, but then I'd be back in the same boat looking for a Potions master." Drink.
"You have a point. Go on." Pour.
"Hagrid, two centaurs, Gilderoy Lockhart again - no idea how he got out of St. Mungo's - at least one house elf, and plenty of others." Drink. "Aberforth," Albus continued, as if he'd just realized something. "My rough, unlettered, infinitely-more-admirable brother..."
"Dobby hesitates to intrude, but Dobby was told Harry Potter Sir's Professor Dumblydoor needed a Defen-"
Albus banged his head against his desk repeatedly.
"Dobby will come back." A pop, and the second house-elf applicant was gone.
"Minerva?" the Headmaster moaned. A tall witch, wearing tartan and a stern expression, poked her head in his office door.
"Contact the Ministry. Tell Fudge he wins; he can choose a professor. And get me a pain-relieving potion. My headache is killing me."