It was the first Defence lesson of the term, and the teacher had yet to arrive. The mixed class of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs could tell that their new teacher, one Madam Umbridge, had an obsession with cats. And pink. What they couldn't tell is that the new professor was just about to enter the room, and so there was the usual cacophony of conversation that you get when twenty teenagers are left to their own devices. This died away as the teacher entered in all her sickly-pink glory. Except, that is, for one conversation, whose participants had not yet noticed. As luck would have it, the two conversationalists were Ronald Weasley and one Harry James Potter.

"How do you reckon she'll do? And how much do you stand to win?" Asked Ron.

"Well, I saw the twins. I got pretty good odds in the first and second pools. But they restricted my choices for the third one." Harry replied.

"Hem hem. And just what 'pool' might this be, gentlemen."

The pair jumped, began to turn red, and looked very shifty indeed.

"Nothing professor!"

"Now come, come children. I'm sure we all wish to hear about it. After all, we mustn't tell lies, must we?"

"Well, professor, there's a bit of a friendly wager going on. About, well, about you professor."

"And what, pray tell, does this friendly wager involve?"

"Uh, well. The first one is whether you last the year. The second one is how many times you'll try to kill me. And the third one is what will do you in if you don't last. The gits wouldn't let me enter that one."

"Why on earth would you children be betting on such a silly thing? Of course I'll be here until the end of the year!"

Ron just scoffed. "That'd get you four-to-one odds that would, based on the past four years. And Professor Lupin was forced to resign the last day of term. Didn't anyone tell you about the curse?"

"Curse? What curse?"

"Well, there seems to be something up with the job. The way it usually works is that something strange happens, the defence teacher tries to kill Harry, then something horrible happens to them. Apart from Lupin, and that's probably because he couldn't help it, being a werewolf and all."

"Hey - I only did in Quirrel!"

"Yeah, but you were there when Lockhart got his brain scrambled, and Crouch got kissed because he tried to kidnap you."

"I wasn't anywhere near when he was kissed - McGonagall said that was the minister's fault!"

"Hem hem. And what was the bet that you weren't allowed to place, Mr Potter?"

"Oh, well, I'm not allowed to bet that you'll be bumped off by me. I suppose it would be a bit unfair. I wasn't going to go for that one anyway - the odds are too low. By the way professor, if you're going to be trying to kill or maim me, can you hold off until after Halloween?"

At this the rest of the class began to chime in.

"Can you maim him twice please?"

"Can you try not to get eaten by the Cerberus?"

"Can you try to kill him twice, then make it through to the end of the year unscathed?"

"Yeah, right, like that's going to happen!"

"I reckon she'll try to kill him the two weeks before the end of the year, and she'll lose her marbles."

"Hardly the most adventurous bet!"

"If you do kill her, can you do it higher than the second floor?"


"I'm sorry to announce that Madam Ubridge has left to pursue new opportunities at the ministry. Until we find a new teacher, I'm sure I can find time out from my headmastering to impart some small amount of knowledge."

"And Misters Weasley - I believe that Harry and I had 'nervous breakdown in the first week'?"