Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ A NEW JOB ( Chapter 11 )
Harry stared. He’d been prepared for all kinds of exotic quests, but this was wholly unexpected. He thought for a moment.
“Wait a minute! Isn’t there a curse on the job? You just said that!”
Dumbledore gave a thin smile. “Well, Harry, think back. All the teachers who have held that position have come to, let us say, sticky ends. Except one. Can you tell me who that might be, Harry?”
He thought for a while. They’d all died, or been imprisoned, except, “Lockhart?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “Sadly, Gilderoy is still in the process of having his memories restored, bit by bit. When he is well enough, he will probably be transferred to Azkaban. I think the curse had its effect on poor, silly Gilderoy Lockhart.”
Harry shook his head. “There’s nobody then. I mean, anyone who taught Defence Against The Dark Arts – something terrible happened to them.”
“I think you’re missing someone,” said Dumbledore. “When Dolores Umbridge was teaching the subject – or rather, not teaching it – a group of students selected an alternative teacher, and found a hiding place where lessons could take place. That teacher was you, Harry.”
“But… but… I wasn’t a real teacher! I just told them… what I knew.”
Dumbledore smiled. “What do you think teachers do, Harry? Some of the teachers you had were quite ineffectual. However, when you’d finished with your little group, they were capable of holding their own with a gang of Death Eaters.”
“I never had the title, though. I was never really part of the school – I mean, one of the staff. Would the curse even apply?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “Harry, if you are going to teach this subject, you must think clearly. Do you imagine that a wizard such as Voldemort would apply a curse that could be thwarted by renaming a job title? The curse did not affect you, not because it was not applicable, but because Voldemort could not curse you. You were immune to the curse for the same reason he was unable to kill you, in so many attempts.”
“But Professor… exams! I didn’t even take my NEWTs. I don’t know what the courses are. I’m barely of age!” Harry still couldn’t believe that Dumbledore was serious.
“These would be weighty objections indeed, if I merely wished for someone to fill a post at the school,” said Dumbledore. “In this case, as in so many others, I have another purpose in mind.”
Harry waited. Dumbledore said nothing.
“Which is?” asked Harry, eventually.
Dumbledore smiled. “I will tell you that purpose, Harry, in time. As you know, I regard the truth which such deep respect and affection that I don’t like to waste it all in one go. I like to sip my cup of truth very delicately. There is, after all, only so much to go around.”
“So I just do what you say and trust you, even though I don’t know anything?” snapped Harry angrily.
Dumbledore beamed. “Precisely! Surely it must be preferable now, compared to when you were doing as I wished without being told?”
“Not really,” said Harry curtly. “When I thought I was sneaking around behind your back, I found life a lot easier. Those first three or four years I might have been nearly killed at the end of each year, but at least I thought it was all my own idea.”
“But Harry – it was all your own idea. I didn’t make you seek the Philosopher’s Stone, or break into the Chamber of Secrets, or rescue Sirius Black. It was all you. I merely knew you well enough – or rather, knew your parents, and your upbringing – to surmise what you were likely to do. Your choices were predictable, but entirely free. Your triumphs are all your own.”
“Is that what you want to do this time? Let me make the choices?” Harry felt angry. For so many years, he’d had so many enemies to react against – the Dursleys, the Malfoys, Voldemort – that he hadn’t time to resent Dumbledore. Now he remembered those months in hiding, not knowing what to do or where to go, and the information he needed withheld by the headmaster. Now his enemies were gone. The Malfoys had been punished, and the Dursleys were back at Privet Drive. Voldemort was dead. For the first time, Harry started to think of Dumbledore as someone who had been manipulating him – bringing about the suffering Harry had endured over many years. It was Dumbledore who had left him with the Dursleys – Dumbledore who had allowed Dolores Umbridge to torture him, had insisted that he take part in the Tri-Wizard tournament.
Yet none of it mattered. The one thing he couldn’t forgive – the true source of his anger – was that Dumbledore had died. Like James Potter, like Sirius.
“You have to make the choices, Harry. I trust your decisions as I do not trust my own. You think, perhaps that I have manipulated you through the years. It would be as true to say that you have manipulated me. Every decision I have made, back to before… back to when you were orphaned and alone in the world – everything has been based around you. You are my guide. I know you will follow the right path. I may seem to be leading you, but I am merely following.”
“I suppose… we’ve gone this far. We might as well continue,” said Harry dully. This was his last link to Dumbledore. He could not lose it.
“I still trust you Harry, with more than you know – than you can know. Now, if you will excuse me…” Dumbledore clapped his hands and there was a flash of light. Harry blinked for a moment, and when he opened his eyes, Dumbledore was gone.
He stood up and looked around. The portrait of Dumbledore was back. It showed him dozing in his chair, looking peaceful – almost innocent. The Sorting Hat was still muttering. “… and then it’s all changed again. Half-bloods into Slytherin. Totally contrary to the whole point of the house. Then a few hundred years later, it’s all changed again...”
Harry tiptoed past, and crept down the spiral stairs. McGonagall was sitting on a bench, her head resting on her hand, snoring softly. As the gargoyle slid back into place, she awoke with a jump. “Oh, Potter. My goodness. I nearly dropped off. Well, did you say yes?”
“Yes?” said Harry, confused. “Yes to what?”
“To teaching Defence Against The Dark Arts, of course,” said McGonagall waspishly. "That is what Professor Dumbledore asked you, is it not?”
“What? No!” said Harry. “Er… I mean, yes. He did. And I did. Say yes. How did you know?”
“I am the headmistress of Hogwarts, Potter. Professor Potter. Dumbledore had his faults, but he was unfailingly polite. He informed me that he was going to ask you to take the post, but assured me that it would be my decision. Well, I would never have turned him down in any case, but you won’t be surprised to learn that recruiting for that particular position has been an absolute nightmare. If Dumbledore can reach out from the grave and solve that problem for me, I’d be mad to say no.” McGonagall shook her head. “I wake up in the morning with ninety-nine problems, and this, from now on, is not one of them.”
“Er… but Professor – I don’t have any qualifications to teach. I didn’t even take my NEWTs. I don’t know what the curriculum is…” Harry babbled.
“Fiddlesticks, Potter! Professor. You know more about facing dark magic than any wizard alive today. Do what most teachers do – in the wizard world, anyway. Read the textbook, and do your best. I saw the results of your teaching in the Battle of Hogwarts. Every one of Dumbledore’s Army was like an experienced Auror. That was due to you. You will be excellent in the post. I nearly said that you would be the best for many years, but that would hardly be difficult.” McGonagall was walking briskly down the passage as she spoke, and Harry almost had to run to keep up with her.
“Professor – there’s a bit of a problem. I have a job. I’m an Auror. I’m supposed to be at work tomorrow morning. We’re quite busy actually and…”
Without breaking step, McGonagall pulled an envelope from her pocket and handed it to Harry. “Just use a reading charm, Potter, you’d better watch where you’re going.”
Harry pulled his wand from his pocket and tapped the envelope, saying “Lire!”. A familiar deep voiced boomed out.
“My dear Harry. I have been informed by Professor McGonagall that it was the wish of the late Professor Dumbledore that you should take up the position of Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School, starting immediately. Professor Dumbledore had particular reasons for wishing you to occupy the position at this time – reasons which he has not, at present, chosen to reveal. I consider that to take up such a position is entirely compatible with your role as an investigator for the Auror’s Department. You will continue to be employed by the Department at full salary, and we trust that you will keep us informed of any matters which require our attention. The work you had been doing up until now continues to be essential and I’m sure you will be pleased to hear that I have authorised the recruitment of an additional Auror, Mr Ronald Weasley. Yours faithfully, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic (acting), Head Auror (provisional), O.P.”
“Well, that’s good news, isn’t it, Potter? I’d never wish to work anywhere else, but Hogwarts doesn’t pay especially well. And a job for Ronald. That’s excellent. Now, crouch down because there’s a beam half-blocking the corridor here. I haven’t had it moved because it’s impaling a demon.” McGonagall bent almost double and squeezed through a narrow gap formed by the fallen beam and a pile of rubble.
“We would normally turn left here, but a giant broke through and there’s a rather dangerous hole in the floor leading to a pit filled with ever-boiling oil that we prepared for the defence of Hogwarts,” said McGonagall.
“Do you really still need it?” asked Harry.
“Certainly not,” said McGonagall, “but ever-boiling means ever-boiling. The cauldron is filled to the brim and is designed to splash anyone within range. Professor Flitwick set up the trap, but he has no idea how to remove it. I’ve told him that he had better find out before term starts.”
They crept up a narrow, inclined passage that Harry had never encountered before. “There’s a lot of architecture in Hogwarts that only appears when necessary,” said McGonagall. “It’s probably the most magical building in the world. Teachers and the more talented students trying out their ideas, for a thousand years. We really have no idea how it all fits together – ah, here we are.”
She tapped twice on what appeared to be a solid stone wall, and it folded inwards, revealing a familiar room. Harry had first seen it when he’d been serving detention with Professor Lockhart – it was the study of the Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher.
“I think you know your way around,” said McGonagall. “The classroom is down that staircase, and your bedroom is through the door there. It’s all ready for you. One of the house-elves – Winky, I think his name is – insisted on preparing it for you. We’ll call you for breakfast at the usual hour. Welcome back, Professor Potter!” She scurried down the staircase and disappeared into the classroom.
Harry looked around at his new home. It looked bare, now. The last occupant had been Amycus Carrow, a sadistic torturer. Snape hadn’t used it. There were still smears of pink paint on the walls, from when Dolores Umbridge had occupied it. She’d been unable to access the Headmaster’s office, so she’d stayed here until her reign abruptly ended, carried off by centaurs.
Harry began to think about what had happened to the various users of this room. They’d all come to bad ends of various kinds. Lupin’s was the worst. He’d found happiness in spite of everything, had married, had a child – and then died at the moment of triumph.
Was he going to suffer a similar fate? Was Dumbledore picking him out again for some kind of sacrifice – offered up against Voldemort’s curse? He shook his head slowly and walked into his bedroom.
He’d been expecting a dark, forbidding room like the study. Instead, the bedroom was a blaze of light, a comforting fire roaring in the grate, and bedsheets, turned down. The cover of the bed was in the Gryffindor colours. There was a mug of hot cocoa on the bedside table and… was that a mint on his pillow?
He had never been in this room before, but felt instantly at home. He’d spent most of his life in Privet Drive, but when the time came to leave, he’d gone without a backward glance, and never looked back.
For the last year, he’d been living with the Weasleys. He’d constantly offered to move out, but Molly would never hear of it. A month ago, he’d tried to explain that he was looking for a flat near Diagon Alley, and she’d cried for hours. The shock of Fred’s death was almost worse now, as the tumult of the war had died down. Everything else was getting back to normal, but Fred was gone forever. Poor Molly. She would miss him, he knew, and he would miss her.
And Ron would have a job, at last! When Harry had joined the Auror Office a few months ago, he’d set out for London every day with Mr Weasley, leaving Ron behind. He’d worried about Ron. Sometimes he was the same as ever, laughing, chatting – and then he’d drift away. He’d shown no wish to go back to school, or to look for a job. He’d just wanted to stay in the Weasley house with his family – all of them clinging together. Even George, who’d been hardest hit by the loss, had gone back to run the joke shop he’d founded with his twin.
And Hermione? Was she still together with Ron? It was hard to tell. Hermione visited the Weasleys often, but she also spent a lot of time at her family home. Sometimes Ron and Hermione supported each other. Sometimes each found the other’s grief a burden too heavy to share.
Harry continued to muse about Ron as he readied himself for bed. Would Ron even accept the Auror’s job? If he did, what would Molly Weasley do, alone in the house all day? He lay back in bed, his eyes half-closed, already falling asleep, fatigue suddenly hitting him. At least she’d still have Ginny to keep her company.
Ginny! Harry suddenly sat bolt upright. He’d left the house that morning expecting to return the next day. He’d barely said goodbye. He’d accepted the job at Hogwarts without even discussing it with her. Harry felt a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. The one thing that was right in his life, one hundred percent perfectly right, and he’d stupidly risked getting it horribly wrong.
He lay back and closed his eyes, but sleep was a long time coming.