Harry has defeated Voldemort and saved all the people he cares for, so why do they all hate him? More importantly, what will he do about it? In this chapter Harry confronts his feelings about ...
Chapter Twelve: Fate Takes A Hand
Harry apparated outside the gates of Hogwarts and began to walk towards the castle. It was nearing noon and the sun was shining brightly on this early autumn day. Harry was finding it impossible not to smile as he made his way across the grounds, he had had a marvelous night after all, and he didn't think there was anything that could spoil his mood, not even a certain Deputy Headmistress.
Said Deputy was currently standing on the steps of the castle, tapping the end of her heavy walking stick against the flagstones and obviously watching Harry approach. She had that determined look on her face, as opposed to her usual simply stern look - the residents of Gryffindor Tower quickly learned to gauge their Head's mood by the thickness of her lips as she pursed them together - that told Harry that she was waiting for him in particular. It only took him a few steps to come up with the reason why she wanted to see him: Harry had been gone all night, not that a member of the staff was forbidden from spending the night away from the castle, but it wasn't supposed to be habitual. Teachers were expected to make themselves available to the students for extra tuition outside of class times, especially on weekends and the main way this was fostered was at mealtimes. It was expected that all members of the staff dine in the Great Hall along with the students at least twice a day so that any student of any house could approach them if needed. Harry had missed four consecutive meals and the Deputy Headmistress was obviously about to call him on the carpet for it.
It amazed Harry how petty people could be; when made to feel uncomfortable or inadequate they would lash out with the least little thing they could find, just to strike back. Harry preferred to save up his revenge until he found a way to strike a truly devastating blow. He had made them all feel useless when he pointed out their mistakes and Minerva McGonagall, in particular, did not like being made to feel the fool. Now she had found her path to revenge. She would harp on Harry's absence from school in order to cover up her own poor performance. But Harry was just not in the mood. As he strode up the steps to the front doors, he waited until Minerva began to close in before cutting her off with a raised hand.
"You know, Minerva," he said, not giving her a chance to speak, "I've had a wonderful night and I'm sure that whatever it is you have to say will be equally joyous to hear, but I'm rather in a hurry right now so why don't we save it for later, eh?" He brushed past her before she could formulate a response, muttering too low for her to hear, "or just forget about it entirely."
The Great Hall was sparsely filled, as this was a Saturday and the lunch hour was expanded to give the students greater flexibility, and Harry took his usual seat at the table. Professor Sprout, who had been sitting two spaces away from him, quickly rose and met McGonagall by the entrance. The two women engaged in a brief whispered conversation, punctuated by Minerva's shaking her head and pursing her lips, going from determined to angry on the lip thickness scale before they both left the room.
Harry took several sandwiches from the platter before him and a bowl of hearty pumpkin soup and began to eat. At the Gryffindor table he noticed Ron was wearing his Quidditch robes as were Katie Bell and several others, including a typically morose looking Ginny. Harry assumed they were holding tryouts for any vacant spots on the team, he tried to recall for a moment who from his timeline had been on the team that year but the list was so convoluted, given the events that occurred that he quickly gave it up as a bad job. He saw that Ron still had his Cleansweep so he assumed the prat had made Prefect once again. Looking at Ron's broom reminded Harry that he wanted to buy himself one and that he had a copy of "/Which Broomstick/" in his robes just waiting for him to read. Harry looked at the empty seats near him at the table and realized he didn't want to keep the rest of the staff from their meal so he opted to eat first and read later.
Seeking solitude as much as a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunshine that would be so lacking in a few months time, Harry strolled out to the pitch after eating and selected a seat high in one of the stands to avoid notice. It wasn't until he was comfortably ensconced in his seat that he recalled that the Gryffindor Quidditch team had the pitch that afternoon and, therefore, he wouldn't be alone. Still, Harry opted to stay and see what the team was like without him.
Katie had evidently been made captain as she took a couple steps forward before turning to address the rest of the team. Harry recognized Ron and Ginny, of course, and there was also Kirke and Sloper. Standing a bit away from these five were a gaggle of Gryffindors waiting their turn to try out. Katie was a chaser, Ron the keeper, Kirke and Sloper were the beaters, and Ginny was either another chaser or the seeker; that meant the team was looking for at least one more chaser and either another or a seeker. Harry put his magazine down to see how things progressed.
Harry was somewhat surprised to note that while the rest of the team stood or walked about the pitch, Ginny sat sidesaddle on a broom coasting a meter off the ground. She seemed far more animated now as she chatted with Katie, all the while pulling her hair into a ponytail. She actually smiled as Katie blew a whistle and the rest of the team took to the air. Ginny immediately rose high above the pitch by herself, she was the seeker then, and began a cruising pattern watching the action below. Harry noticed that she rode one of the battered school brooms instead of Charlie's old Nimbus 1000. It slewed slightly to one side so that she had to occasionally swerve to get back on her track.
Harry recognized Dean Thomas in the first group of perspective flyers and was so fixed on what was happening that he completely failed to notice as Minerva McGonagall climbed up into the stands with him.
"I didn't know that you were a fan of Quidditch?" she said as Harry practically jumped out of his seat.
He recovered quickly, however, and replied, "Yes, I used to play a bit when I was in school." He reached down to pick up his magazine from where it had dropped. "Now, if you will excuse me?" He began to rise but Minerva stopped him a hand on his arm. Harry quirked an eyebrow at her in question.
McGonagall's lips pulled into the tightest line Harry could ever recall seeing. "Professor Harris," she began, "there is something that needs to be said."
Harry thought silently to himself, 'Oh, so this is how it is going to be. She wanted to do this in public but I squashed that, so now she figures that the Quidditch team will spread the word nicely enough of her dressing me down. Well, I hope she's wearing fireproof knickers today because I fully intend to give as well as I get.'
Harry drew in a breath, ready to lash out with his own arguments, when Minerva spoke again, "Professor Harris, I owe you an apology for my behavior last week."
Harry's jaw opened but the only sound to escape was an inarticulate "huh".
"My attitude was totally uncalled for and completely lacking in any professionalism. While I might not have agreed with your methods..." She held up a hand to forestall any response from him. "... you were quite right in pointing out than none of the rest of the staff had done anything at all and so I had no right to criticize the actions you did take."
Harry simply stared at the woman for a moment before a small smirk crossed his lips. "I'll bet that hurt to say?"
"You have no idea," she answered wryly. Harry was shocked when her tight lips quirked up in a bit of a smile at him. She heaved a sigh and continued, "Professor Harris, I've been a teacher here at Hogwarts for longer than you have been alive. If they came from within the Empire, it is likely that I taught at least one of your parents." She looked out over the pitch and the students flying about it then back over at him. "Teaching is not just something you do, it is a calling... my calling, and I took great pride in my abilities. It was quite a shock to learn that I had been deceiving myself all these years. I always felt that I looked out for my students, that I protected them as much as possible as they grew into adulthood and to be shown so forcefully that it was all a lie... Well, I'm rather surprised I didn't submit my resignation right along with Filius, perhaps I still may."
"Flitwick put in his resignation!" Harry said appalled and more than a little surprised that he would react so, but tiny Professor Flitwick was as much a part of Hogwarts as the suits of armor in the corridors.
"That surprises you?" McGonagall asked. "He loves his House and to think that he sat by and allowed such a thing to happen right under his nose was more than he could bear."
"Did Dumbledore accept it?" Harry asked, hoping Albus would, for once, do the right thing.
"The Headmaster is still trying to talk him out of it. As it is, he convinced Filius to remain until the end of the school year and then, if he still wishes to leave, to retire."
"Good, that's good."
"Why?" Minerva seemed honestly surprised at Harry's reaction. "I would have thought you would be glad to see him go, as incompetent as you seem to feel he is."
"No," Harry said, shaking his head and trying to understand his own feelings on the matter. "I don't see him as incompetent and I don't want to see him leave, Snape definitely but not Filius."
"Then perhaps you could tell him that?"
"Me?" Harry seemed to be continually surprised by this conversation. "How could I persuade him if Albus can't? Besides, if you'll recall, none of the staff is speaking to me."
"What do you mean 'not speaking to you'?" she asked as she raised a hand to pat at the bun pinned tightly to the top of her head.
"It's rather obvious that I have been declared /personae non gratae/." McGonagall still just looked at him so he continued, "None of the staff has said so much as 'Good Morning' to me for days. And you can't deny that all of you are avoiding me, at meal times and throughout the day. I know when I'm being shunned."
"Oh dear," Minerva almost squeaked, almost. Harry turned away from her and looked out over the pitch. The team was running through some chaser drills while Kirke and Sloper tried to retain some control over the bludgers. He turned back as Minerva placed a hand gently on his arm. "Pro... Odysseus, - may I call you by your Christian name? - we are not shunning you. At least not deliberately. We are... well, after the events of last Wednesday's staff meeting, we are all quite ashamed of ourselves and of our actions towards you as well as towards Miss Lovegood. I'm afraid our own hurt feelings have caused us to inadvertently hurt yours."
Harry snorted. "Hardly. I'll have you know that I've been shunned and defamed by the very best. It would take more than the umbrage of a group of schoolteachers to bother me."
Minerva turned and looked deeply into his eyes, her own soft and gentle. "No, I don't believe you," she said quietly. "It may be true that you have known worse than this but you are hardly hard-hearted. You're actions to protect Miss Lovegood stand as proof of that. No, I think you simply refuse to show it."
Harry cleared his throat uncomfortably and looked back at the try outs. "Your Gryffindors seem to be struggling. I take it they are in a rebuilding period?"
Minerva smiled and allowed the change of topic. "Yes, we've suffered the loss of several outstanding players and it may take some time to rebuild." They sat quietly for a few minutes, just watching the students fly. Harry sat forward as Ginny dove down through a crowd of chasers, going for the snitch. Harry's hands tensed as they instinctively moved as if he were the one flying the broom. Ginny tried to roll to avoid a bludger but the school broom wouldn't react fast enough and it bounced off of her leg. Harry winced as that must have hurt.
"I was wrong about Miss Lovegood," Minerva said, breaking his concentration, "and I was wrong about your actions." She looked him squarely in the eyes again. "If you can protect our children, any of them, please do so." With that she rose and, using her walking stick to make her way through the rows of seats, left Harry there to watch the rest of practice.
Two days later, Harry sat at his desk drumming his fingers absently on its surface as the class worked on a reading assignment and essay. It was his fifth year Ravenclaw/Gryffindor class and he had given them a practice OWL question to work on while he struggled to come to terms with his feelings. He had spent most of the Quidditch team's practice this past Sunday watching Ginny. It was remarkable the change in the girl. So far, all he had seen was this morose, disheveled girl who was depressed enough to give Moaning Myrtle a run for her position, but in practice she was totally different. While on her broom, she was the bright, fiery, and vivacious girl that he had known in his world. She was the girl that he had fallen in love with and lost by trying to protect. He hated her. No, that wasn't quite it, it didn't hate her but it felt like it because he was so angry. Yes, that's it. He was furious that Ginny didn't understand what he was trying to do for her, for all of them. Instead, she had chosen to think of him as dark and to abandon him for Neville. He was so furious that he wanted to lash out, to punish her for not believing in him. But this girl wasn't that Ginny, was she? She had never hurt him; she didn't even know him. She was only a couple of months old when he had died in this world. So, why was he angry at her?
He recalled how she had pulled the curtain of hair away from her face as she sat upon her broom. How she had hovered just above the ground and coasted about sidesaddle while all of the others had walked. She had even flown into the locker rooms. Then, a few minutes later, she had walked out, once again hiding behind her curtain of dirty hair. He couldn't help but marvel at the stark contrast between how she looked flying and how she looked now.
He was startled out of his reverie by the bell signaling the end of class. "Be sure to have that essay done by our next class. You OWL tests will have four of them and knowing how to take the test is just as important as knowing the answers to the questions," he called out as the students hurriedly put their books and parchments away. He looked up to see the smiling face of Luna Lovegood, she was wearing a lovely cable knit jumper that would have fit her perfectly a couple of years ago. She must have just gotten it back this weekend and could finally wear it, even if it was a tad snug. She had her things away but instead of heading out the door she walked forward to his desk.
He beamed a smile back at her. "Good morning, Miss Lovegood. That is a lovely jumper you are wearing today."
"Thank you, Professor. It was a Christmas gift from my father two years ago and it's nice to be able to wear it again." She reached into her bag and drew out a Chocolate frog. She placed it on the desk in front him. "I know muggles usually give apples to their teachers but I think chocolate is much sweeter. Also, I seem to have quite a lot of these now."
"Thank you, Miss Lovegood."
Her smile grew slightly wider and took on a small feeling of... well, Harry didn't know what it was but he liked the feeling he got seeing it. "Thank you, Professor," she said quietly as she headed towards the door.
Without thinking about it any further, Harry called out, "Miss Weasley! If I could have a moment of your time as well?"
Ginny stopped herself from slinking out the door and turned to look at him.
"I saw you at the Quidditch tryouts this past Sunday," he continued conversationally. "I take it Tom doesn't like to fly?"
"No, he doesn't. It's the only time he bloody leaves me alo..." Ginny's head flew up and she stared at him with wide, frightened eyes.
"I want that diary, Ginny," Harry said coldly.
Ginny's mouth opened wide as if to scream but no sound came out. Instead, she bolted from the room leaving Luna to follow along after.
Harry sat, staring at the door and pondering what might be going on with Ginny and the Horcrux, as his sixth year class filed in. As usual, Hermione was one of the first students to arrive and sat in the first row. Also as usual, Ron was one of the last and sat where he didn't think he would be noticed, or called on.
Harry pulled the string to open the box of his chocolate frog and watched as the frog sprang out and away from him. With an ease that surprised the watching students, he snatched the sweet from midair and, with the legs squirming between his fingers like the wings of a snitch, stuck it in his mouth and snapped off the head. He watched as the legs gave a few final quivers, not noticing the grimace on Hermione's face, then proceeded to finish the chocolate and wipe his fingers on a handkerchief. He looked down into the now empty box at the card lying there, it was Agrippa, and he smiled recalling that this was one of two cards that Ron needed to complete his set in the old world. He took out the card and read it silently.
Glancing up at the class after he was done, Harry asked casually, "So, does anyone know the significance of the Wizard Agrippa?" All the while waving the card casually. He was quite amused as Ron's eyes lit up, confirming that this hadn't changed between dimensions. Several hands shot up but Harry just waved them all down. "Never mind, never mind, it isn't germane to our discussions today anyways."
"Please, Professor," Hermione chimed in anyways, "Cornelius Agrippa was a German Alchemist who was imprisoned by the muggles for writing books advocating the study of magic and Arithmancy. This was one of the final events in the rise of the separation of the Wizarding and Muggle worlds that still exists today."
He stared at her while she sat there primly waiting to be awarded points.
"Did I ask you to speak, Miss Granger?" Harry said coldly. "Didn't I just state that no answers were needed as it was not pertinent to our class?" She nodded silently. "Then why did you feel the need to speak anyway?" She still remained silent. "Two points from Gryffindor." Her face fell as Harry turned back to the rest of the class. "Did you all manage to finish your assignments on the definition and classification of Dark magic?" He looked around the room at the mostly nodding faces. "Good. /Accio Essays/." As the rolls of parchment stacked themselves on his desk, Harry made as if to drop the card he was still holding into the trash bin beside it, staying his motion at the last moment and turning to the class as someone caught his attention.
"Excuse me, Professor?"
"Yes, Miss Patil?" Harry said, addressing Padma.
"I have a question about the assignment," she said quietly, as if expecting him to lash out at her either the way he did at Hermione or because she was a Ravenclaw.
Harry looked at her a moment. "Did you just hand in a completed assignment?" She nodded hesitantly. "Then it must not have been much of a question."
He looked sternly at the girl but instead of backing down as he expected she replied, "I was able to complete the assignment, listing the types of spells classified by the Ministry as Dark and all but I still don't quite understand. What is it that makes magic Dark?"
Harry gave the Ravenclaw girl a hard look for a few seconds, waiting for her to wilt. To her credit she didn't. She trembled a bit but returned his stare as firmly as she could. Finally, he smiled at her and broke the tension.
"An excellent question, Miss Patil. And I must say it took a lot of courage for you to ask. It's been quite awhile since any member of your house has had the nerve to say anything in my class other than 'Present' when I call the roll." He looked down at her questioningly. "Are you sure you shouldn't have been sorted into Gryffindor along with your sister?"
Padma giggled for a second. "I'm the one who got sorted first, I come first alphabetically, so she's the one who got into the wrong house," she said jerking a thumb at her sister.
Parvati replied indignantly, "But I'm the older twin, by seventeen minutes, so therefore you should have followed in my footsteps irregardless."
Padma was about to riposte in what was likely a long running argument when Harry cut them both off. "Regardless, it took nerve; take two points for Ravenclaw." He paused. "And two for Gryffindor as well, for shear entertainment." Both girls beamed and were congratulated by their seatmates. "Now, we have an interesting question: What exactly makes a certain spell, potion, or ritual Dark?" He looked around the room. "Anyone?"
Hermione thrust her hand into the air with a determined look in her eyes. "Sir, the Ministry has established the process of determining if a particular type or application of magic should be proscribed and classified as Dark."
Harry looked at her indulgently. "I believe that is what Miss Patil already said. The question is: what criteria is used to make that determination?"
"Sir, the criteria is based on the ability or the potential for the specific magic to do harm."
"And the Ministry should be the one to make this judgment?"
"Of course, it's their job."
"Tell me, Miss Granger, did or did not the Ministry send more than a year denying the return of Voldemort?"
"They did, sir," she answered, unsure of where this was going.
"And how many people were killed, or otherwise harmed by this action on their part?" He got only a shrug for an answer. "Does this mean that the Ministry itself, by its own criteria, should be classified as Dark?" Smothered snickers came from several places around the room. "Rather a situation of the fox being put in charge of the henhouse, eh?"
Hermione looked completely confused. "But Professor, if the Ministry doesn't take the role of deciding this, who should?"
Harry raised his eyebrows in a questioning response. "Excellent point. Class! Who should be responsible for deciding what types of magic you should or shouldn't be allowed to know?"
Simultaneously, Hermione and Draco both spoke. "The Ministry is the only choice." "No one should."
Harry beamed at the two of them and said, "And here we have a fundamental conundrum of Wizarding political philosophy. What is the role of government?" He walked back and sat on the edge of his desk, all the while tapping the Agrippa wizard card against his knuckle. "Is the purpose of government to decide what is in the best interest of the people, shielding them from things that may cause them harm, protecting them as it were, as Miss Granger proposes?" He shifted his gaze to the young Slytherin. "Or is it to stay out of the way of the lives of the people as much as possible, only interfering in lives of the individual when absolutely necessary?"
Hermione sat for a moment, contemplating her answer before raising her hand. "It is the purpose of government to look after the needs of the people it serves. Making sure that there are the proper services available, such as education and health care. No other institution can do this."
Harry looked at her. "Why should any institution do it?"
"Someone has to."
"Why?" Hermione either had no answer or simply couldn't get her mind around the question, so Harry continued. "Miss Granger here has proposed that the government, the Ministry, should be charged with the responsibility of overseeing your educations. How do you all feel about that? Should Hogwarts be just another arm of the Ministry? Last year, my predecessor in this class was a Ministry appointed teacher teaching a Ministry approved curriculum. How did that work out?" He turned to look directly at Hermione again. "Miss Granger, what is your opinion of the job Madam Umbridge did last year?"
Hermione looked down at her desk. "It wasn't very good."
"So, how do you think it would be if the Ministry had control over all of Hogwarts?"
Hermione stumbled for a moment. "If the Ministry doesn't do it then who should?"
"Personally, I'd rather control my own life, thank you very much. But again we've found ourselves wandering afield of the original question from the delightful Miss Patil, the younger." He smiled as snickers came from both Padma and Parvati's groups. "What is it that makes magic Dark?"
Padma raised her hand and at a nod from Harry she spoke. "Like Hermione said before, the Ministry's judgment is based on the potential for harm. If a spell is harmful then it is classified as Dark."
Harry tilted his head and looked at her for a moment, considering her statement. "So, if a spell is harmful it is Dark and if it is not it is light?" He looked around the class again, trying to pick someone who hadn't gotten involved yet. "Miss Bones, do you agree with that statement?"
Susan Bones seemed surprised to be called upon but nodded her head none the less. "I suppose," she said meekly.
"And can you provide us with an example of a spell that doesn't cause harm?"
She thought for a moment before saying, "/Alohomora/, maybe?"
"Ah, the unlocking charm," Harry said sagely. "The spell used by thieves to open people's doors so they can rob them." He shook his head slightly. "I don't think so, perhaps another?"
Susan looked around the room as she thought, as if she would find the answer peeking in one of the windows. "/Lumos/!"
Harry took out his wand and lit the tip. It shone brightly but not enough to cause any discomfort. "Ah, this seems harmless enough, doesn't it?" The class nodded. "But what if I were to hold directly in front of someone's eyes?" He moved his wand towards Dean Thomas, as if he were going to poke him in the eye with the tip. "What if I were to hold it there, just an inch from your eyes, for a few hours? Or perhaps a few days?"
"It would be torture," Dean said, shielding his face from the bright light.
"Indeed, it would. The muggle Chinese called a similar idea the water torture. They would drip water into a restrained person's mouth drop by drop."
"That doesn't sound so bad," Ron mumbled.
Harry pounced on it. "Maybe not, Mr. Weasley, at least for the first hour or so, but imagine it going on for days? Not being able to sleep or even breathe without struggling with the water. One poor fellow lasted more than a fortnight before he drowned." He looked around as the class considered this. "One drop at a time."
Hermione paused a moment then raised her hand. "Sir, obviously any spell can be twisted to cause harm but they were not designed to do so. Dark magic is intended to cause harm and can not be used for good." The rest of the class nodded in agreement.
Harry looked at her and smiled. "Can you give me an example?"
"The Unforgivables," she said without hesitation and with a slightly smug look to her face.
"Ahh, the Unforgivables," Harry said while making quotation marks in the air before him. "The Imperious, the Cruciatus, and, last but not least, the Killing Curse. Here we have three prime examples of spells that have only Dark or evil intent. No one could possibly use any of these for good reason, right?" Hermione was nodding confidently while a couple of others seemed to know that he had to have something up his sleeve.
"Let us take Avada Kedavra first, shall we? Does anyone know the origin of this spell?" He looked around the room to see that no one had their hand raised. "Would it surprise anyone to learn that it was actually developed by healers at our own St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries?"
"How could that possibly be?" Hermione asked stunned.
"Imagine a person inflicted with a disease, a fatal, debilitating and painful disease. There is no cure and no easing the constant agony the patient suffers as he waits inexorably for death. In this case wouldn't a quick and painless death be considered an act of mercy? Could it be that the dreaded Killing Curse was created as a vehicle to ease the suffering of those whom healers can not help?"
"What about the Imperious?" Justin Finch-Fletchley asked. "It robs a person of their free will, how can that not be evil?"
Harry grinned back. "Imagine if you will that a deranged person, someone not in their right mind, suddenly goes berserk. He grabs a poisoned dagger in one hand and an innocent child in the other." At this Harry drew up his wand and waved it like a knife, then he reached out for Hermione but shifted at the last second and snatched up her book bag as she flinched away. He pressed the tip of his wand against the bag. "He is threatening to kill the child if anyone comes near. You all are Aurors, surrounding him; what do you do?"
"Disarm him," suggested Dean.
"No," said Hermione nearing shouting, her eyes glued to her bag as if it really were her child. "The effect of the spell might hurt the hostage and if the knife is poisoned it could kill her."
"We could rush him?" suggested Ron weakly but when everyone turned to stare he sank down in his seat.
"We're looking for a stratagem that will not harm either the hostage or the patient, Mr. Weasley," Harry chided.
It was Padma who came to the logical conclusion. "You cast the Imperious and then command him to drop the knife and release the child. Then you have him peacefully surrender. The situation is defused with no one being harmed on either side."
Harry beamed at her. "Two more points for Ravenclaw." Harry replaced the bag on the table in front of Hermione, who snatched it to her bosom. "Which leaves us with the Cruciatus: a curse that causes unfathomable pain. A vehicle of torture. Can anyone think of a way that this curse can be used for good?" He looked around the room but there were no takers. "Anyone? Not even for ten points?" He waited for someone to be willing to give it a try but no one did.
Turning back to Hermione, he said, "Miss Granger, you are muggle-born, correct?" She nodded at this as did several other students, including both Ron and Draco. "Are you perhaps familiar with the letters C - P - R?"
"Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation," Hermione recited. "It is a means of externally stimulating the heart and lungs of a person who has stopped breathing and has no pulse."
Harry smiled at her but any hopes of gaining house points quickly died when he followed up with: "And what is the standard procedure in hospital or other medical facility when said patient does not respond to the external massage?"
"They use an electric shock to stimulate the heart and get it beating again."
"Excellent, two points," Harry said and Hermione beamed. "So muggles use electricity to shock an injured person and restore his heartbeat. A quite clever, muggle-born healer, not unlike our Miss Granger here, came up with the brilliant idea that magic could be used to do the same thing and hence we have the Cruciatus spell. It was intended to be used to revive people whose hearts had stopped beating. Can anyone here see the problem with this idea?"
"It hurts," quipped Ron to Seamus but not quite quietly enough.
"Indeed you are correct, Mr. Weasley. When applied for the briefest of instances to someone whose heart has stopped, the Cruciatus will provide sufficient shock to restart the heart to beating, however when applied to a healthy person or for more than the span of a heartbeat it causes excruciating pain. Likely where the name came from," Harry added in a stage whisper to the Ravenclaw group of students. "When supporters of the late Dark Lord Grindelwald learned of this they began to use it to torture prisoners and the Ministry, in its infinite wisdom, then banned it.
Harry paced across the front of the room. "So we have the three so-called Unforgivables, two of which were developed by healers to help and one clearly useful to law enforcement personnel. The three Darkest of spells, or perhaps just the three most drastically misused. Either way, I think we have more than adequately shown that any spell, regardless of how it is classified by the Ministry, can be used for either good or evil, dependent upon the intent of the caster. But we have also returned ourselves to the original question: What makes magic D..."
"Necromancy!" Hermione practically shouted.
Harry stared at her, beyond merely annoyed at the interruption. "I beg your pardon?" he asked, tightly holding himself back from hexing her.
"Necromancy, Professor," Hermione crowed. "It is purely Dark magic and can not, by its very definition be used for good."
"And what, exactly, is Necromancy, Miss Granger?" The ice in Harry's voice caused most of the students to draw back or even slump down in their chairs, but Hermione seemed oblivious in the face of her apparent, imminent victory.
"Death magic, Professor. How can that be used for good?"
Harry looked at her for a moment before speaking; he was trying desperately not to lash out. "Miss Granger, would you hold out your wand for a moment?" She did so, albeit reluctantly, this wasn't going the way she had planned. She had expected Professor Harris to admit that she was right all along but she suddenly began to doubt that it would happen. "And what is this wand made of?"
She looked up at him confusedly. "It's vinewood with a core of dragon heartstring, Professor."
"Dragon heartstring, did you say?" She nodded. "And do you suppose that a kind-hearted dragon just permitted himself to be anesthetized, some veterinarian healers surgically removed a bit of its heart, healed it back up, then revived it to go along its merry way?" Reluctantly, Hermione shook her head no. "Or could it be that the dragon was slaughtered... killed if you will, and its heart harvested for your wand while its hide was sent off to be turned into some gaudy clothing, and every other bit of its carcass used however its murderers saw fit?" Hermione looked to be near tears and couldn't say a word. "Every charm you cast, Miss Granger, can be seen as a type of Necromancy since it all stems from the magic of death."
"Our illustrious headmaster is world renowned for what accomplishment?" Harry asked. "Come now, it's right there on his chocolate frog card?" With this Harry snatched up the Agrippa card that he had nearly forgotten and waved it at the group of students. "Isn't it true that Albus Dumbledore is famous for his discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood? Do any of you think that dragons line up to donate their blood in exchange for a glass of pumpkin juice and a biscuit?" Harry stalked to the other side of the room. "How many of you have had Potions recently?" Most of the hands in the room went up, excluding several male Gryffindors. "And what sort of ingredients did you use in your brewing? Eye of newt? Toad spleens? How many living things died so that you could learn a simple lesson? The magic of death is all around us."
"But those are just animals, they're not people, so it really doesn't matter," Lavender Brown said.
"Doesn't matter?" Harry responded, incredulous. "Do you honestly think Dragons are merely stupid beasts? That they aren't just as intelligent as humans, just in a different way? Or unicorns are simply beasts of burden and ought to be broken to the will of man?"
"NO! Of course not!" Lavender practically gasped.
"But it still doesn't matter if we kill them?" Most of the class, or at least most of the ones not too shocked to move, shook their heads. "And what about house elves, eh? They may be sentient and they may have feelings, but they aren't quite human so it doesn't matter if they are enslaved, or abused, or killed for failing to anticipate our every whim? Miss Granger, what say you?"
Whatever answer Hermione may or may not have given was cut off as the bell rang signaling the end of class. The students bolted with far more than their usual asperity; all except two. Ron hesitated, glancing covetous looks at the card still held in Harry's hand. Harry shot him a glare that had him scurrying out of the room like a frightened rabbit. Harry turned back to his desk to find Hermione standing there. Her lips were trembling, Harry could see, but she stood there still, ready to confront him.
"Professor," she asked when he had returned to his seat, "why do you dislike me?"
'Because you are a faithless, meddlesome, backstabbing bitch!' he wanted to scream at her, but he didn't. Instead he said as calmly as he could, "What makes you think I dislike you, Miss Granger?"
Hermione snorted in a most unladylike fashion. "Please, Professor Harris, don't take me for a fool. You may treat me as one in class but I assure you I am not. It is quite plain that you dislike me. I can understand it from Professor Snape, after all I'm a muggleborn, a mud..."
"Don't say that!" Harry snapped. "Do not use that term in my presence. My mother was a muggle-born and I will not abide that filthy word used in my presence."
Hermione started at this outburst then quickly realized that it wasn't directed at her. "He dislikes me because I serve to disprove his beliefs that any pure-blood is superior in magic to any muggle-born. Even if he is no longer a Death Eater, he still believes in blood supremacy."
"And do I believe in that notion?"
Hermione shook her head. "No. What you said about your mother and how you reacted to... to that word shows that. But you still dislike me and I'd like to know why."
Harry looked at her; she was plainly terrified but still she was standing her ground. Harry couldn't help but see his Hermione and how she had done this same thing, proved herself a real Gryffindor, so many times. Facing Death Eaters and refusing to back down no matter how frightened she was. How could he tell her that he hated her for the things done to him by someone else, someone who she just coincidently happened to have the same DNA as? Suddenly, Minerva's words echoed in his head: "Protect our children." They were followed immediately by Narcissa's: "You teach, therefore you are a teacher." If he was ever going to let go of his old world and make a life for himself in this new one he would have to let go of the grudges he felt for those who had wronged him there. You are what you do, and he couldn't be a new person until he let go of the old one. He looked up at Hermione and tried to see her for who she was and not who she had become in another reality.
"Miss Granger, why do you suppose I ask questions in class?" he said finally.
"Because you want to know the answer," she responded.
Harry smiled at her, he hoped it was a calm and reassuring smile but he had little experience with those, either giving or receiving. "Do you really think that I ask questions that I don't already know the answers to?"
"I suppose not."
"Then why do I, or any teacher for that matter, ask them?"
"Because you want to see if I know the answers?"
"Half credit," Harry said with a grin. "That is one of the primary reasons, to see if the class knows the answer, not just you, Miss Granger, the whole class. I am here to teach the entire school, not just one student, and I have to be able to judge the understanding of all of them. When you immediately answer any question asked, you prevent the others from being able to answer and so I can't evaluate how well they understand the issues at hand."
"But in my muggle school," Hermione hesitated a heartbeat saying that, "my primary school, class participation was a significant portion of our grade. Isn't it the same here at Hogwarts?"
"Yes, it is," Harry answered. "But you seem to have a faulty understanding of the concept. It isn't like I have only ten points to award for participation in each class and if you don't get them you will receive a lower grade. You don't have to answer every question just to show that you can."
Hermione looked confused. "I don't?"
Harry chuckled a bit. "Do you really think that, after more than five years here, that we teachers don't just assume that you know all the answers?" Hermione turned pink with embarrassment. "We do, you know. Professor McGonagall bragged to me about you before classes even started. And Snivellus..." Hermione snorted at hearing a Professor use the nickname for the Potions Master to almost all of the rest of the student body used, at least in private. "... is constantly complaining about how you must be cheating to get all the right answers before any of his Slytherins." Hermione went from embarrassed to furious at this but Harry forestalled her rant with a raised hand. "No one believes him, of course, we all know how hard you work at your studies. But we are getting off track. I said that getting an answer was only one of the reasons for asking questions. Sometimes, I ask a question in order not to hear an answer."
Hermione looked puzzled again. Harry took advantage of this pause to conjure the girl a chair as well as a pot of tea and two cups. As Hermione sat , he played mother, giving Hermione her usual drop of milk and no sugar. She didn't seem to notice this, or at least didn't comment on it.
"Sometimes, a teacher will ask a question that has no answer, or perhaps it may have several equally valid answers."
"Why would you do that?" she asked, picking up her cup and taking a small sip.
"To get the class thinking. To open up avenues of discussion that you might not consider on your own."
"Like you did with the Unforgivables," she stated, dissecting the logic of his position. Harry nodded. "But if I don't answer your questions, how will you know that I really do know the material?"
"As I said previously, all of your teachers have come to simply assume that you do." Hermione seemed about to say something but Harry stopped her. "How about this, Miss Granger? From this point forward, you stop raising you hand in class." She looked scandalized at the thought. "I will just assume that you could answer the question. If it is a question I do want to hear answered and no one else in the class volunteers then I will call on you. If it is a rhetorical question then I will proceed with my lesson. How does that sound?"
Hermione thought about this for a moment. "But what if I don't know the answer?"
"Well, you will just have to maintain your present high levels of revision to make sure that doesn't happen."
"But what if..."
"If you get the answer wrong?" Hermione nodded. "Then the other students will see that you are more than just a recitation machine, they will see that you are a human being just like they are. And that can't be a bad thing, now can it?"
Hermione thought about this for a minute, then put down her tea and started gathering her things. "Thank you, Professor," she said. "I... thank you."
Harry looked at her and smiled the first genuine smile he had given her since he arrived in this world. "You're welcome Miss Granger. Oh, and here, take this," he said, handing her the chocolate frog card. "When you are working in the common room tonight, use it as a coaster under your pot of ink. Even spill a bit of ink on it, quite accidentally of course. I think you'll find that Mr. Weasley has an interesting reaction."
As she left his class, Harry's smile grew more than a little mischievous. If he was going to have to be a good teacher in this world, he could at least have a bit of fun with it.