A chapter that resembles American football- violence interrupted by committee meetings.
The morning of the 2nd saw the children of House Harem anxiously waiting for their Professors to arrive. Without schedules, they had no idea where to go for their first class.
At seven o’clock, Professor Trelawney came in with a sheaf of documents.
“I’m sorry that I’m so late, but our meeting ran very long last night. Here are your schedules- you’ll all be together for the entire year. Luna, please come with me.”
Once Luna joined her in the Professor’s office, she outlined the compromise that the faculty had reached. “So, you’ll have two sets of exams to take at the end of the year, including those on the first year’s material,” Trelawney summarized. “Do you think that you can handle that responsibility?”
For a few seconds, Luna was quiet. Then, she assumed her usual placid smile. “I believe that I am, Professor. I will not fail Harry and the others,” she said quietly. “I think that my parents prepared me well. I accept the challenge.”
“Thank you, Luna.”
“No, thank you. This is a small price to pay to achieve my dream,” Luna finished with unexpected fervor.
“You’ve got Potions first. You might change your mind after that,” Trelawney finished ruefully.
Professor Severus Snape was actually feeling pretty good that morning. He had a chance to deny Harry the happiness that no man deserved and that he’d certainly never known, and improve his standing with the Malfoys to boot. All he had to do was make Luna’s life miserable.
For the first assignment, he made no concession to Luna’s presence but instead put the ingredients and instructions for the Scintillation Solution on the blackboard and ordered the students to begin. He then left the room for his office without further explanation.
If Luna expected anything different, she didn’t let it show. At the table she shared with Millicent and Lisa, she started by opening the luciferin bottle and slowly levitating a ball of it into the air. She followed by taking a spatula with her other hand and filling it with crushed quartz crystals, carefully sprinkling a few of them into the liquid until it changed colors. She then waved her wand to deposit the ball into her cauldron. After that, she waved her wand again to call up a bigger sphere of the shimmering liquid.
“Luna, how did you do that?” asked a fascinated Lisa Turpin.
“My mum was an Unspeakable since just after I was born,” Luna explained. “She used to let me help her with her experiments, starting when I was six. She was a very good teacher,” she sighed, remembering Celine Lovegood’s last lesson.
“So, how good are you at making potions?” Millicent inquired.
“I was able to make this potion when I was seven,” Luna said. “I hope the other potions we’re asked to brew are more interesting.”
Across the room, Snape had emerged from his office to criticize Harry’s subpar effort. He found fault with every potion but Luna’s, which received no comment at all.
“Professor?” Luna asked. “What kind of work do you intend for me to do to make up for first year?”
“I will be requiring some additional potions from you from time to time,” Snape explained smoothly. “I will give you the requisite notice. You may require some time outside of regular classes.”
“Alright,” said Luna. “As long as we don’t have to make the Glimdigger Potion, that’s fine with me.”
“The what, Miss Lovegood?”
After the Potions class ended, the Harem House class had its very first lesson with Gilderoy Lockhart, who seemed to be late.
“Do you think he’ll agree to dueling lessons?” wondered Harry.
“I hope we can convince him,” said Mandy. “My mother would be overjoyed! To think, learning from the great…”
“Gilderoy Keith Lockhart!”
Recognizing a cue when he heard it, the man himself swept into the room. He was wearing light blue robes over what appeared to be a shirt and pants made of brown leather. His long blonde hair streamed behind him, again. Harry heard Mandy and a couple of other girls sigh behind him.
Lockhart grabbed a copy of one of his books on the desk, and started his speech. “This handsome devil is me. Over the last ten years, I have experiences and survived adventures that most witches and wizards would tremble just to hear about. It is my job to ensure that you are capable of doing the same, although I cannot guarantee that you will be able to duplicate the savoir faire and style that I have brought to my endeavors.” He paused for applause, and about half the girls gave it to him.
“Now, I see that this is the Harem House class, is that correct?” After receiving a chorus of yeses, he proceeded, “Then that means that there is one young man among you, Mr. Harry Potter?” Harry stood up.
“I remember seeing you at my book signing, Mr. Potter! I hope that you enjoyed your autographed copy of Magical Me?” Harry nodded. “Which was your favorite part of the story?” Lockhart inquired, standing directly in front of Harry.
Since he hadn’t read the book at all, Harry felt rather stumped. “I, well, I couldn’t decide. It was all very good,” he sputtered out.
Evidently, this was the right answer, because Lockhart lit up. “Wonderful! I feel the same way, Harry. When I start writing my books, I feel such a connection to my readers. I am welcomed into their homes, and I can tell the stories of my most amazing expeditions, in a way that has never been done before! Perhaps after you have completed my course, you will be able to have stories written about you as well. I know that I have seen your name in the Quibbler and the Prophet once or twice.”
“Well, that’s true, sir…” Harry started, but Lockhart’s flow of words would not be dammed yet.
“But, after I am finished teaching you some of my secrets, maybe all of you can share in Harry’s fame! First, however, I want to see how much you already know. Please put your books away and produce your quills. Don’t worry, this quiz won’t be a large part of your grade.” With grumbles, the girls and Harry did so. Lockhart then passed out a sheaf of parchments.
Harry examined his.
1. How many times has Gilderoy Lockhart counted to infinity?
2. What does Gilderoy Lockhart do instead of sleep?
3. What is Gilderoy Lockhart’s favorite food?
4. When Gilderoy Lockhart needs information, what does he do?
And so on in the same vein.
Half an hour later, Lockhart collected the quizzes, and shortly thereafter, he had finished grading them.
“I see that some of you didn’t do your reading over the summer. For example, less than half of you knew that I have counted to infinity twice. Also, I do not sleep at night; I wait. And I once won a game of solitaire while using just eighteen cards. But one of you, it seems, has done all of the reading required, and done so very carefully. Otherwise, she would not have known that my dream is a world in which wizards, witches, and Muggles live in peace and freedom, although I wouldn’t mind living with two or three of my single fans! Anyway, which of you is Miss Hermione Granger?”
Hermione stood up. This had been the single dumbest test she had ever taken, but by God, it was assigned, and if she was going to do something, she would do it well.
“I congratulate you upon your acumen, young lady,” Lockhart beamed. “You have earned two points for Harem, and the right to make one request of me- as long as it isn’t anything too risqué, eh?”
“Well, sir, we were wondering if you could help us learn how to use swords,” Hermione said while trying to block out the mental images she was getting from Lockhart.
“That sounds like an excellent idea! I knew that you would like to get a little more of my expertise. Will you be available a week from Friday at 4 pm?” After the Harem House members signaled that they would, Lockhart concluded, “Excellent. You will see the very best I have to offer. There’s a reason that people say that I can kill two stones with one bird.”
“Why is that?” asked Luna, seemingly unaware of the concept of the rhetorical question.
“Because it’s true, young lady! I have the evidence if you’d ever like to see it, and it was printed up, so therefore it’s true. Now, I know that you have some other classes, so I will say farewell and that I will see you tomorrow!”
“Wow, he loves his work, doesn’t he?” asked Su.
“Himself, you mean,” amended Millicent. “At least he didn’t make a pass at me today.”
“Something tells me that your day is coming,” muttered a disgusted Hermione.
Over the next two days, the other professors outlined the work that they expected over the next year, including the additional assignments Luna would need to do to prepare to satisfy the requirement of taking both exams. Luna accepted each added assignment with placid good humor.
Of course, not everyone accepts important news with such equanimity. As an example, consider the Slytherin House Quidditch team.
On Tuesday, 1st September, Draco Malfoy entered the common room along with the other students leaving the opening feast, and announced that he would be receiving a new broom better than that of any other student in Slytherin.
On Wednesday, 2nd September, Draco Malfoy came down from his dormitory and announced that he would be receiving a new broom better than that of any other student in Slytherin. To ensure the best possible dispersal of his message, he repeated it several times during the day.
In case any stragglers were unfamiliar with this news, he repeated this announcement multiple times on the 3rd and the 4th.
On Saturday, 5th September, Draco emerged from his dormitory to further disseminate the good news, only to be confronted by the Slytherin House team, which asked Draco to accompany them to the locker room so that they could spread some news of their own.
Thirty minutes later, twenty-five of these spent with his head immersed in a toilet, Draco agreed that the remaining starters on the team would be similarly gifted. In return, Draco would be allowed to join the team and to continue breathing as long as he stopped trying to spread his information.
Draco then returned to his room to inform his father that the budget for his present would need a slight increase.
Lucius Malfoy was not happy with this news, but he wasn’t really surprised, either. He should have known that his son’s teammates would also want new brooms. As for the dunking, Lucius believed that Draco should call it a character-building experience.
On Sunday, Sinistra announced that she was heading to the meeting to determine the Quidditch schedule for the year. Luna announced that she wanted to join the Junior team, and that although she had little experience on a broom, she was sure she’d enjoy it. The only problem with this idea was that House Harem had no Junior Quidditch team, and with only thirteen members, apparently couldn’t have one as well as a varsity team.
Millicent offered to play on both teams if it would help, as a Beater on the varsity and a Keeper on the Junior team. She still hadn’t decided which position suited her better based on the previous year’s experience.
“I don’t think that will help, Millicent. I don’t think you can play on both teams,” Trelawney said sadly.
“Are you sure about that? Can I have a look at the rules?” inquired Hermione.
A quick inspection of the rules confirmed that there was no actual prohibition on students playing on both teams, so long as they were eligible for the Junior team. Millicent reiterated her request, and Sinistra agreed to ask for Harem to have a Junior team.
As it turned out, the meeting was surprisingly calm. Sinistra’s request was granted, and the schedule was produced. The first game, between Harem’s and Slytherin’s varsity teams, would be held in twenty days.
More good news came from Madam Pomfrey the following day: Ginny Weasley would be sufficiently recovered from her injuries to be Sorted by Friday. Ron was still mending and would probably be in the hospital wing for a few more weeks.
The rest of the week passed uneventfully. Luna’s homework was beginning to mount, but she was quite willing to work through it, asking for no help and shrugging aside the occasional looks of concern from Harry.
On Friday afternoon, the time had come for Lockhart’s lesson.
Lockhart, as per his usual, came out with a dramatic flourish, now wearing black leather fencing gear and a lilac cape and wielding a sword. The gear was skintight, allowing the shape of his body to be easily seen. It was not a pretty sight; he was lean but not all that muscular.
Lockhart began with his usual style of introduction. “Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Today, as per your request, I shall be showing you the secrets of using cold steel as well as wooden wands to subdue your foes. I am glad to see that the accounts of my personal exploits have moved you to request instruction in the use of the blade. The Hags of the Orkneys and the Werewolves of Prague-“
“I thought they were in London,” Megan stage-whispered to Hermione. Lockhart did not seem to hear her or the chuckles from several other girls.
“Can testify to the skills that I am about to demonstrate,” Lockhart concluded before waving his sword in a manner that none of the children’s eyes could follow. “That was the blow that laid low a yeti in the Himalayas. It will not happen today, but in time you will be able to accomplish feats that will not duplicate mine but will still impress your friends and frighten your foes. Which of you is the most accomplished with a sword?”
Millicent stepped onto the stage.
Lockhart enthused, “So you are not only a beauty, but a shieldmaiden! I must say that I am honored to cross swords with a young lady such as yourself.” Lockhart bowed low, making Millicent clutch at the top of her blouse.
“I have brought a selection of weapons for our use this afternoon!” With that, he pulled a cloth off of a table to reveal a variety of rapiers, broadswords, and short swords. He already held a rapier for himself, while Millicent selected a bastard sword, wielding it with her right hand.
“Be carefully, my dear. You should not select a weapon that is heavier than your muscles can accommodate, because you may be required to use it for a long period of time,” Lockhart cautioned. “In my great duel with the …”
“Don’t worry, Professor Lockhart. I can handle this sword,” Millicent said flatly.
“Very well, then, my dear. I simply do not want you to fall into bad habits. How much instruction have you had?”
“This summer with my parents. Both participate in fencing tournaments, and my mother was a Somerset champion once,” Millicent detailed.
“Ah, yes. Well, Miss Bulstrode, is it? Welcome to the first division,” Lockhart said, more grimly. “You will find that it is one thing to duel with one’s neighbors and quite another to cross blades with a master. Take your position, madame.”
Millicent did so, right leg forward, sword held forward in tribute to her opponent. Lockhart did likewise, holding the rapier’s hilt with his left hand.
Lockhart swooped his rapier in a great circle, announcing “Let us begin!”
It was not a long fight. Millicent made slashing attacks against Lockhart, who parried the first, dodged the second, and dropped his sword against the third.
“I see that your attacks are strong, Miss Bulstrode. But attacking is the least of the skills that you must master to become an accomplished fencer. Now it is time for me to demonstrate the truth of that maxim,” Lockhart said, breathing hard. “I want you not to hold back.”
“That won’t be a problem, Professor,” Millicent said, a smile breaking out on her face. Its meaning was lost on Lockhart.
“This time, I shall begin with my attack. Do not worry, because I shall not hurt you; these swords are charmed not to bite, but only to leave a stinging sensation when they make contact,” Lockhart explained. Millicent nodded.
Repeating his swooping motion, Lockhart then launched a twisting, spinning move against Millicent. Even though she was not a small target (she stood just four inches shorter than Lockhart and was wider across the shoulders) and made no attempt to dodge or block, the blade missed her by a good six inches.
“That was an attack that we shall discuss at greater length later,” said Professor Lockhart. “But enough of this. Before you leave the stage, I would like to demonstrate my full prowess to you. For you see, I have been taking it easy on you in a sense, because I am not left-handed!” With that, he shifted his rapier to his right hand. “Feel no need to hold back, my dear.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Professor. You see,” she said while also shifting her sword, “I am.”
Her first blow was parried, and her second again knocked the sword out of Lockhart’s hand. She finished by using her right leg to kick him between the legs, and Lockhart crumpled in agony.
“Um, is that the end of the lesson?” asked Harry.
Millicent said, “Harry, about my birthday present? Never mind. This is all the present I need.” She laid the bastard sword down on the table where it had lain and the students got up and left the classroom, leaving Professor Lockhart to recuperate on his own.
That evening, Lockhart did not appear at dinner, but Ginny Weasley did. As the students were finishing dinner, she walked slowly toward the dais for her belated Sorting.
“I am sorry about your injuries and about the delay in Sorting you. You seem to be a very promising student,” the Sorting Hat said soothingly.
“It’s not your fault. Please, can I be in the Harem?” Ginny pleaded.
“I’m afraid that it’s not right for you,” intoned the Hat.
“But why?” begged Ginny.
“What do you know about Harry?” the Hat queried.
“I know that he defeated Voldemort, and that he plays Quidditch and is smart and good-looking,” Ginny said in a rush.
“But you don’t know what he’s like as a person, unlike your friend Luna. You’re in love with what he represents,” the Hat spoke solemnly.
“Well…” Ginny pondered this idea.
The Hat continued. “You’re not really in love with Harry so much as you’re in love with the idea of being in love. You are a very loyal person, however, and that is good even when the object of that loyalty doesn’t always deserve it. You will make an excellent HUFFLEPUFF!”
Ginny took the hat off her head in a daze. She had hoped for the Harem and expected Gryffindor if that failed, but she certainly didn’t believe she’d be in the Badgers’ house. She sat down next to a blonde girl who looked a year or two older.
“Welcome to Hufflepuff! I’m Hannah Abbott, and you’re Ginny Weasley, right?”
“That’s right,” she said morosely. “Why couldn’t I be in the Harem?”
“Oh, don’t be sad. We’ll see them in class and around the castle. We like them. Professor Sprout is a friend of his, and he was also a friend of our old prefect Tonks, before she graduated. Besides, this might be for the best,” Hannah said calmly.
“How so?” Ginny asked.
“Maybe it’ll be a good idea to get to know him first. I think Millicent’s the only one of the wives who hadn’t met him before coming here, and she moved because the Slytherins made her life hell. Perhaps you won’t really like him, or if you do, you can transfer later,” Hannah explained.
“You really think so?” Ginny asked, hope reviving in her chest.
“I’m sure of it. Besides, we’re not such bad people. You’ll like it here, I’m sure.”
“You’re welcome! We’re here for you, Ginny. That’s what loyalty is all about. Now let me tell you a few things you’ll need to know…”
Shortly thereafter, the students were dismissed and left for their dormitories.