Chapter Seven

"There have been a lot of different views of muggles going around lately, as I'm sure you're all aware. The propaganda spread over the last few years by the Death Eaters, and their leader, has depicted muggles as inferior, unintelligent and barbaric. This is not true, and if you take nothing else from my lessons then please remember that muggles are imaginative, forward-thinking and hugely inventive."

Lily scanned the faces in front of her, trying to ignore the nerves that were making her hands shake ever so slightly. Having persuaded Dumbledore that Muggle Studies ought to be a compulsory subject for everyone in Hogwarts, even if they chose not to take an exam in it, it was essential that she kept the interest of her students. This particular class were sixth years, but many of them had never had a Muggle Studies lesson before.

"Over the next few months," she continued, "We will be looking at some aspects of muggle culture, and the ways in which it is similar to or differs from our own. We will also examine the influence muggle culture has had on our own. After Christmas we will study some of the basic inventions which allow muggles to go through life without magic."

A boy in the front row yawned pointedly and muttered something to his friend, who laughed. At the back, a small group of girls were giggling about something, clearly unrelated to what Lily was talking about.

"Is it true that your parents are muggles?" a Slytherin girl asked. Lily's stomach plummeted. She knew this was going in a bad direction.

"I fail to see how that's relevant to the lesson," she said coldly.

"Cos my dad said it's disgraceful that Dumbledore would hire muggleborns to teach us," the girl continued, "He says they're not as good as proper witches and wizards at magic, so they can't teach us properly."

Lily took a deep breath, trying to stop herself from snapping and yelling at the girl. She was going to be teaching these students for the next two years, and it wouldn't do to start off badly. Though this girl wasn't exactly making it easy for her.

"Your father is entitled to his opinion," she said calmly, "And there will be an opportunity for intelligent debate at some point later in the course. However, for now I would appreciate it if you would save your questions for the end of the lesson, and keep them strictly related to what we are talking about."

The girl clearly considered arguing, but stopped as she saw the look on Lily's face.

"Now, does anybody know the names of the three muggles who helped to found the Ministry of Magic?"

"That was exhausting," Lily said, collapsing onto the couch in the staffroom. Professor McGonagall – Minerva – smiled sympathetically at her.

"Teaching takes a bit of getting used to," she said, "And you're not teaching the easiest of subjects, considering how controversial an issue it is at the moment."

"I know," Lily sighed, "I just didn't think they'd all look so bored."

Minerva laughed.

"Oh I know what you mean," she said, "It's hard to understand how they can find it boring, when it's something you're passionate about. And I'm afraid you'll never get through to all of them. But don't worry: after a bit you'll start to see the ones who are as enthusiastic about the subject as you are. Just don't expect it to happen overnight."

Lily smiled gratefully, suddenly glad that she was working alongside such experienced teachers. She felt so young, and not really ready to be doing this. All the fifth, sixth and seventh years had already been at Hogwarts when she'd only been a student here, and she didn't feel qualified to go from being their Head Girl and fellow student to being their teacher. It would certainly be a while before she'd get used to being called "Professor Evans".

She'd decided to go back to using her maiden name as a teacher, for several reasons. Firstly, because excited first and second years immediately associated the name "Potter" with the newly famous Harry Potter, and that made it difficult to get them to actually focus on the lesson. And secondly, because "Potter" had been what she'd called James for years. She would always associate it with him, and it hurt too much to hear it on a regular basis.

She sat in the staffroom long after most of the other teachers went to bed, reading over her lesson plans for the next day. She was sure she'd get more relaxed about it once she got used to being a teacher, but right now she wanted to be as prepared as she possible could.

At around eleven in the evening, she glanced up as she heard someone else come in. It was Severus.

"How was your first day as a teacher?" she asked with a smile, glad to see someone else who was in the same situation as her. He scowled.

"They're all hopeless, arrogant little brats who don't know the first thing about potion-making," he said, "I don't know what Slughorn's been teaching them all this time, but it clearly wasn't respect."

"It can't have been that bad," Lily said.

"They called me Snivellus, Lily! Snivellus! I'm their teacher! Their professor. Aren't they supposed to have a little more respect for me than that? And how did they even find out about that name?"

Lily had to fight to keep from laughing at her friend's outraged expression.

"I'm sure it'll die down soon if you don't react to it," she said, "Some of the older ones probably heard James and Sirius use it. But it won't last long."

"It certainly won't," Severus said darkly, "A couple of detentions spent slicing up frog's liver and they'll think twice about showing that kind of disrespect towards a professor!"

Lily sighed.

"You can't win respect from them through fear, Sev," she said patiently, "You'll just end up with them all hating you."

"Better that they hate me than think I'm some sort of pushover. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed."

Lily watched as Severus stormed out of the staffroom, then sighed again. She wasn't sure why he'd even become a teacher, really. Not that he was bad at teaching. He could explain things very clearly, if he wanted to. It was just that he didn't have much patience with anyone he didn't like, and he didn't like many people.

Putting her notes away, she got up and left the staffroom. It was about time she got some sleep, too. She was sure tomorrow would be another exhausting day.