A/N: I haven't decided whether this will be one that I'll continue or not. The idea struck me, though, so I thought I'd at least write a chapter. Never say never.
Professor Riddle and the Quest for Tenure
I'd always had a special fondness for Classroom 3C.
The new students were silent for once – an improvement that was owed in part to my decision to hang wool drapes over the windows. Winter was coming. The brats were entirely too fond of shouting "snow."
While the students inspected the classroom, I inspected them. Some, like the greasy little boy in tattered robes, I recognized from the Slytherin table. Others, I didn't.
A red-haired Gryffindor female was gaping at the shrunken head collection. She froze when she looked up, and then positively gasped. She poked the Slytherin boy. Together, they stared at the dragon skeleton suspended above them.
Mudblood. Undoubtedly. She had that odor about her – the bouncing, cherry-blush-and-dimpled stench of an indulgent family. I'd seen her kind often enough outside the orphanage as a boy. So very secure, those people.
I recognized Sirius Black rather sooner. I'd noticed him during my visits to the Black Estate – a lanky boy, whose hair hung over his eyes. What little I knew came from his cousin, and it didn't fill me with confidence. But then, Bella hated everyone.
I flicked my wand. A wardrobe rolled into the center of the room. Its wheels squeaked.
Even with the wool drapes, one could see the cloud of dust that it left in the air. It was aged oak, and had warped somewhere along the line. The walls were curved. The half-moon carving along its top had twisted.
"Who among you knows what a boggart is?" I said. "O'Grady?"
He didn't answer. I caressed my wand, feeling its wood grains roll against my palm.
"O'Grady? You are O'Grady, aren't you? If you've switched seats to confuse me like Flora and Bertrand tried to, I will be very displeased."
No answer. The boy's breaths came in smooth, regular cycles.
O'Grady rocketed out of his chair. His back collided with the ground. A pair of glasses skittered to my feet, and enchanted eyes stared up at me through the lenses.
"Stealth Snoozing Glasses, Mr. O'Grady?" I said.
The boy stared at me, open-mouthed and rigid. I allowed my voice to slide into a quieter pitch.
"Perhaps you believe that my class is an opportunity to catch up on your sleep, Mr. O'Grady?"
"I—I'm s-sorry, Professor. I d-didn't mean to—"
"Then we shall have to keep you awake. Won't we, Mr. O'Grady?"
After I'd re-positioned Mr. O'Grady in the far corner of the room (and cast a silencing spell so that his compulsive dancing didn't distract the rest of the class), I proceeded.
"…Hem. A boggart is a shapeshifter. While not strictly nocturnal, they prefer dark places: cupboards, dressers, and, on at least one occasion, a grandfather clock. Who can tell me a boggart's greatest strength?"
Well, then. Time for cold calling. While I preferred not to start this early in the semes—wait.
"Mr. Black?" I said.
"I dunno, Sir."
"Then what the-Why did you raise your hand?"
"I need to use the loo, Sir."
I resisted the urge to grit my teeth.
"Go ahead, Mr. Black. And in the future, do not interrupt my lectures to—"
"Never mind, Sir. Changed my mind. I can wait."
I felt a slight fizzle on the end of my wand, but restrained myself. A few chairs creaked. Good. At least the students were paying attention to the lecture.
I cleared my throat.
"The boggart relies on fear," I said. "It will transform into your deepest—Yes? What is it, Black?"
"Just stretching, Sir."
"Put it down or lose it."
The door opened before Sirius Black had the opportunity to test me on the point. A boy stood in the doorway.
Ah, yes. Potter.
Heir Apparent James Potter, of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Potter. Et cetera. The collar under his robe was crumpled. His tie was so loose that it seemed more a thicket than anything – an orange-and-black-striped Gordian knot. Thick, round glasses tilted just a bit to the left. Nevertheless, Potter's hair betrayed meticulous combing.
I glanced at the clock.
"You're twenty minutes late, Mr. Potter."
He gave me one of those square-jawed, Tom-Brown's-Schooldays grins. I would come to know them well in the coming months.
"A wizard is never late, Professor," he said. "Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to."
A scattering of giggles came from the Muggleborns.
Muggle literary references, you see, were rather "hip" in those days – especially among the rebellious sort. Tolkien's drivel had become particularly popular. It had spread from the Muggle countercultural movement to Wizarding Britain like an epidemic in a virgin field. As is usually the case, the Mudbloods had been the plague rats.
Nor, apparently, had Pureblood status stopped the likes of Mr. Potter from parroting it.
I donned a smile and glided behind him, resting my hands on either side of his neck. His shoulders tightened. I caught myself pausing for a moment – my fingers did seem thinner and longer than a few months back. No matter. I tightened them, massaging the boy's neck and shoulders until he flinched.
"Never laugh at live dragons, Mr. Potter."
He glared, but I caught a subtle shiver running down his spine.
"Do I make myself clear?" I said.
"Very well," I said. "Sit down."
He did. I unclenched my hands just a fraction.
"Now then," I said. "Boggarts are dangerous because—WHAT DO YOU WANT, BLACK?!"
"Permission to use the loo after all, Sir?"
I turned to a boa constrictor-sized viper curled under my desk.
Rather like Mr. O'Grady, Nagini used my classes to catch up on her sleep. Also like Mr. O'Grady, she was occasionally disappointed. She got mice out of the deal, though.
Nagini's upper body seemed to coil in a shrug. She lunged.
With a scream, Black tore down the aisle. Parchment flew. Desks banged. A Slytherin stuck out his foot, nearly sending Black toppling. A desk squealed across the floorboards as Black grabbed it and righted himself.
He scrambled to the door, threw it open, and ran down the third floor hallway. His footsteps echoed off the tan stone walls. Nagini stopped at the door.
For a serpent, she had an inexplicable knack for giving me sardonic glares.
"Ssssooner or later, they're going to figure out that I can't actually eat them."
Fortunately, today was not that day. She slithered back under my desk.
"Ahem," I said. "Moving on…
The lesson proceeded smoothly from there. I explained that boggarts took the shape of one's worst fear. The first-years learned the Boggart-Banishing Spell in record time. Soon, they were working in assembly line fashion. The boggart would charge, the student would shout "riddikulus", and the boggart would transform into a parody of itself. Dragons became pink and furry. Snakes acquired roller skates. Vampires acquired buck teeth.
I was gratified to learn that half the class seemed to consider me its worst fear. By and large, I could even tolerate the obnoxious results of the riddikulus curse. A few exceptions applied, though.
"Mr. McMillan, imagining a Dark Arts professor engaging in that sort of behavior is not appropriate, even in self defense. Spiculum."
"Also, detention. You too, Miss Rosier. Don't think I missed you staring and panting."
By now, the boggart must have been wearing down. Its "Professor Riddles" were increasingly emaciated, garbed in fraying robes.
Perhaps to avoid the inevitable, it launched itself directly at me.
I grant the boggart this: it was both creative and persistent.
Around it whirled from one form to the next. A raven with glossy wings. A marble statue of a toga-clad woman with empty, staring eyes. A black void. A sword. Sand-swept remains of Pharaoh Ozymandias's statue. A corpse. The will-o-wisp glow of the Avada Kedavra. Physical traces left by something that was, by definition, absent.
The thing howled. Light filtered through its skin. The process continued until it became nearly transparent. And then, it faded into the air, as if it had never existed at all.
Oh, it was creative. Even so, I could still see the occasional glimmer of its magic. A riddikulus almost would have been redundant, but I fired one anyway. The air warped and whined as it retreated.
And so, with a word, I closed the trunk. Locks clacked. Bolts schlunked.
The class was silent for a moment.
"Um...What was all that with the boggart, Professor?"
"The only thing worth being afraid of, Mr. Snape," I said.
And with that, the bell rang.
I watched the class file out. Young Snape might have been a half-blood, but I'd seen some talent there, too. A promising candidate for the Defense Study Group. Perhaps.
A man waited in the back of the room.
I'd seen him enter when Black had escaped, but hadn't felt the need to comment.
He had light brown hair that was already thinning, but the long wisps covered it on the top well enough. He leaned on what I could generously call a staff: gnarled, knotted, and about five feet long. It roughly matched the color of his leather trench coat. As for the rest, imagine a beadier-eyed Oliver Cromwell. And then, imagine a few more scars.
"Professor," he said.
As he proceeded up the rows, his silhouette was reflected in the polished oak desktops. He walked with his hands behind his back - a wide-shouldered gait that reminded one of a sea captain.
"Mr…Moody, isn't it?" I said. "You're the one leading the Death Eater investigation, I hear."
"I am," he said. "And you're the Minister's Dark Arts consultant. So-called."
I forced a smile into place.
Moody thrust out a hand. A scar ran lengthwise from the space between his ring and middle fingers to his wrist. It disappeared into his sleeve. Several more marked his face. One was pink enough to be recent: a vertical slash across his cheek. Durmstrang-trained mensur work, by the look of it.
When I shook Moody's hand, I felt callouses.
"Er, yes," I said. "I was under the impression that we would meet formally in a few days, but I'm not averse to—"
"That was an interesting display you put on with the Potter boy," he said. "The passage you quoted. Legilimency?"
"You overestimate the average delinquent," I said. "I'd be surprised if he's actually read the books beyond a smattering of quotes."
Moody attempted a smile – a crooked expression.
"Doing a little summer reading yourself, then, Professor?"
"Whatever the students may think, professors do not come out of the womb fully formed."
A succinct but incomplete explanation. In the year before I'd come to Hogarts, a rotund boy named Dennis Bishop had brought a copy of The Hobbit to our orphanage. I suspect that he'd purloined it from a library.
The previous owners – whoever they'd been – had liberally applied tea stains to the book's dulling teal covers. A few pages had been torn. Somehow, though, the wear-and-tear had not reached the picture of a fire-drake on its cover, drawn in black ink. The dragon had snaked its way across the front so convincingly that you could almost fancy its bat-wings flapping, or that the triangular scales on its back were undulating.
I'd stolen it.
Not to be outdone, Dennis had extracted a threefold price for my theft: a swollen lip, a black eye, and a heavily torn book. No matter, though. I'd charged him more interest on that transaction than he could afford, so to speak.
I must have still owned the book's remains somewhere, buried in my pile of trunks and crates. Just where wasn't particularly relevant. Dennis didn't have it, and that is the point.
Moody was staring. Most people will avert their eyes every few seconds during a conversation, if only to reduce the tension. Moody glared as if he was inviting Legilimency.
"I read your report," Moody said. "The one the Minister ordered."
"I'm flattered. Now that we're both on the same page, perhaps—"
"Can't agree with your conclusions, though," Moody said.
I raised an eyebrow.
"That bit about the centralized command structure," he said. "Don't believe it. Wouldn't work. Not with the Death Eaters."
"Grindelwald operated that way back in '45—"
"And lost," he said. "No...Grindelwald did big-budget stuff. Major attacks. Control freak, too. This 'Voldemort' character operates on too many fronts at once. His teams must work independently, with Voldemort giving general directives."
I wondered whether my smoothed facial features constituted tells in and of themselves. Not that most would have noticed. Legilimency makes our Aurors so very lazy compared to their Muggle counterparts…
"Quaint theory, but—"
"I'd expect you of all people to understand," he said.
"Er…sorry?" I said.
Moody chuckled for the first time, and flopped into my professor's chair. He pulled out a silver flask. It glistened when it passed across a shaft of light from between the curtains.
"Modest, aren't ye?" he said. "Y'know, Riddle, I did some summer reading of my own."
"You don't say?"
He jabbed the air with his flask.
"Muggle academic journal. Couldn't understand half of it. Something political. But I found an anonymously submitted article called Reflections on Left-Wing Terrorism in Brazil…"
I was thankful that most of my body hair had fallen out, since I suspected Moody would have noticed it prickling up. I kept my voice dry.
"Fascinating," I said. "And where did you hear about this—"
Moody took a swig, and then waved me off.
"Long story, Professor," he said. "Alarmist headmistress at the Salem Institute contacted me. Found a copy of a Muggle paper called the Berkeley Tribe in the dorms. Subscribers list turned up a few odds n' ends. Not important."
"But how exactly did—"
"So I dug around a bit more," he continued.
Moody leaned forward. His breath smelled of alcohol – a stench he channeled into my face by putting his hand to his mouth "confidentially".
"And what d'ye think I found?" he said. "Well? There's this tall, thin, academic-looking man poking around Brazilian jails a few years back. Mebbe a year before the first Death Eater attacks. Says he's looking for ALN terrorists. And nobody can remember what his face looks like. Odd, eh?"
I rolled my eyes, and forced my voice level.
"I fail to see the relevance," I said. "Perhaps you should have reported this to the Slender Man Taskforce at the Ministry?"
He prodded me with one of his sausage-shaped fingers.
"Oi," he said. "Don't joke about Slendy. At any rate, what d'you think I heard from my German counterparts a few months ago?"
"Seems our mystery man's been asking questions about the Baader-Meinhoff group now," he said. "Somebody's swapping recipes."
"Most people would have asked 'What's Baader-Meinhoff?' but never mind," he said. "You know what I think, Riddle? I think someone in Voldemort's inner circle is Muggleborn or halfblood."
"He sssssuspectsssss…." Nagini whispered from behind the desk.
I mentally screamed at her to keep quiet. Moody knew she was there, of course, but he doubtless also knew that I was a Parselmouth. Even if Moody couldn't understand Parseltongue…
…Probably couldn't understand Parseltongue…
"Funny," Moody said. "You remember Nobby Leach? First Muggle Minister of Magic before you and your pal Abraxas kicked him out?"
"As I recall, Nobby resigned before I took my seat on the Wizengamot."
"I wasn't referring to your official actions," he said. "Anyway, ol' Nobby brought all sorts of interesting ideas into the Auror Office. Like personality profiling."
I didn't need to work hard to conjure up a sneer.
"Muggle nonsense," I said. "Though I imagine it would be a good diversion for a rainy afternoon. You might as well look for Voldemort's name in a Sunday crossword."
Moody chuckled again and nodded. He slapped his hands on his leather jacket and jumped out of his chair. It creaked.
"Ohhh, likely as not you're right, Professor," he said. "They didn't give us much to go on, anyway."
He pulled me close and affected a suppressed laugh. Ye Powers, his breath reeked of distilled spirits.
"You would've enjoyed their descriptions of Voldemort, though," he said. "Halfblood or Muggle-born, they said! Ha! Highly educated, suffering from a – whatsit called – an 'attachment disorder', 'impulse control' problems, fear of death, hoarding, trophy collecting, probably an orphan…"
He smiled. I swear his eyes twinkled when he glanced at the pile of rare books, basilisk scales, brass amulets, and other assorted bric-a-brac that I'd piled into the far end of the room.
"…Nonsense, eh?" he said.
He slapped me on the back.
"Well, I'll leave you to your work, Professor," he said. "Until our 'official' meeting."
"Sorry? Didn't catch that," he said.
I cleared my throat.
"Ah, yes," I said. "Until then."
The door's hinges squealed as he stepped out. I waited until long after Moody's hummed rendition of Melbrick's Reel disappeared down the corridor. And then, I waited a while longer.
Finally, I let my muscles relax with a shudder.
I summoned a mirror, and adjusted my robes. When I inspected my reflection, the shadows accentuated what I'd been noticing for a while now: a gaunt face, thinning hair, and a nose already retreating into vestigial irrelevance. The eyes were cloudy.
"Sssso handsssssome," Nagini whispered. "And sssssuch a wassssste on the Black sisssster."
"Jealousy is not an attractive quality, Nagini."
"The barren sssssssow can't even give you hatchlingsssss. Not that ssssshe would choose to, either…"
Silk swished against silk as I secured my tie.
Bellatrix was the least of my problems. The meeting that night at Grimmauld Place would entwine two threads that I'd long tried to keep separate: the terrorist campaign against the Mudblood sympathizers, and my own candidacy in the still-distant Ministerial elections. Admittedly, both operations shared some of the same staff.
"Bellatrix recognizes that the marriage is political," I said. "Even if she's unenthusiastic about my Muggle heritage behind closed doors—"
"Heh, heh, heh. Hatesssss your gutsssss. Too bad you can't tell her about your...extracurricular activitiessssss, isssssn't it?"
"That's one way of putting it."
"Oh, and it looksssssss like you'll need your Time-Turner tonight."
I glared down. Nagini held an envelope in her mouth. The malicious glint in her eye did not escape my notice. I straightened my collar a final time and snatched the envelope.
"Messsssage for you," Nagini said.
"Don't tell me..." I grumbled.
I opened it.
With a heavy sensation sinking into my gut with each leaden paragraph, I scanned the parchment. I've often thought that Wizarding education places its educators between Scylla and Charybdis. Professors must teach prepubescent slobberers while they also participate in the peer review process.
Of the two, I concede a greater fondness for the prepubescent slobberers.
The Petrified Heraclitus: Neo-Marxism, Modernism, and Quasi-Magical Ways of Being in Situational Tension
by R. J. C. Brunhilda von Knox-Browne, Magi.D.
Department of Magical Literature, Salem Institute
1. Quasi-Magical Ways of Being in the Dialectical Narrative Context
In the works of Bainbridge, a predominant concept is the distinction between apparition and disapparition. Flay's analysis of dialectical narrative states that the task of the spellcaster is the significant form. But the characteristic theme of Brunevald's  critique of mythopoetical totality verges on Grindelwaldian hubris.
If one examines the dialectic narrative, one is therefore faced with a choice: either accept Sanguinity or conclude that Muggles are capable of intent, but only if consciousness is interchangeable with both narrativity and alchemical compliance. The Muggle scholar Roland Barthes  further urges…
"Just kill me now," I muttered.