You're my Density

Just Suppose Harry hadn't heeded his godfather's advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is 'Back to the Future' joke.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11033616/1/You-re-my-Density

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21. Scalped

The five students said goodbye to Augusta on Platform nine and three quarters, knowing full well they would be seeing her again at tonight's opening feast in Hogwarts.

Harry and Hermione had certainly enjoyed staying the week with Neville. Parvati and Padma had joined them for the latter part of that week, with the five becoming even closer. Apart from Harry and Ron, Hermione hadn't really had any other friends the first time around. Even although she was older, Hermione had a good time hanging out with the twins. Harry too liked spending some time with Neville, without their girlfriends always being there.

Understanding this, Hermione was able to gently point Parvati into not being as clingy - giving Neville his own space. With Padma there too, Parvati began to realise that being Neville's girlfriend didn't mean she had to give up everything else. It was this slight change in attitude that had Hermione thinking these two could actually become a serious couple as they grew up together. Harry confirmed that Neville certainly appreciated the difference in Parvati as the summer had progressed.

Boarding the train, it was proving practically impossible to find a carriage that could accommodate all of them. After spotting a young girl sitting by herself, they opened the door and entered while Neville asked for permission.

"Excuse us. Do you mind if we share this carriage with you? The train is starting to get pretty full and we wanted to sit together."

Looking at Neville, the little blond girl put down the magazine she was reading and started to pack her things. Hermione was quick to correct her. "Oh, we don't want you to leave - you were here first. We just wondered if the five of us could share this carriage with you. I'm Hermione, this is Parvati, Padma, Neville and…"

"That's Harry Potter, so you must be his girlfriend, Hermione Granger. Pleased to meet you, Hermione."

Chuckling while hanging Hedwig's cage on the provided hooks, Harry was now wearing a wry smile. "There are certainly worse things in life than being considered Hermione Granger's boyfriend."

This didn't seem to disturb the little blonde in the slightest. "Everyone knows you are famous, Harry - we all grew up knowing that. Hermione Granger though has only been in our world for a year but has made an impact that will last for a lifetime. Very few witches ever receive Orders of Merlin, never mind a First Class one. For a witch of non magical parents to do so, while still only twelve, is astonishing. Hermione Granger is an example to witches all over the country of just what it's possible to achieve."

Harry was ready to burst out laughing, seeing the stunned looks on all their friends faces stopped him. That, and the girl continuing to talk. "I always wanted to be an explorer. Roam the far away corners of the world looking to discover new species of magical animals. Hermione Granger achieving what she has lets the Luna Lovegood's of this country see their dreams can be more than that - they are attainable. Sorry, Luna is my name. I'm so pleased to meet you. Could I perhaps have an interview? My father is the owner and editor of the Quibbler…"

This time Harry couldn't hold his laughter as Hermione's chin was almost hitting the floor. "You have to admit, Hermione, her approach is a lot more polite than that photographer's in the bookshop."

Parvati appeared to be deep in thought as the five of them settled in to share the compartment with Luna. "You know, Luna here is actually right. We just tend to think of you as Hermione, our friend."

"And that's quite enough for me. Sorry Luna, all this fame nonsense just leaves me cold. I'm quite happy to sit and chat, we've always room for more friends, but let's give the interview a miss."

This resulted in some teasing from Padma. "Aw Hermione, it would be so interesting to read about you - and your intended."

Her twin sister was teasing right back at her though. "Padma just wants to know if you or Harry have any more cousins like Dudley tucked away anywhere."

Padma's blushing had all of her friends laughing. Dudley had made quite the impression on Padma, Hannah and Susan at the party last Saturday night - with all three promising to stay in touch. Dudley now had even more reason to look forward to visiting Hogwarts for the first quidditch match Harry would be involved in. With the engagement party being a formal occasion, Lord Potter and his intended were required to wear their Order of Merlin's. His Uncle Vernon saying he was proud of them, and was now sorry he had missed the awards ceremony, had made Harry's night.

As the chat moved around the carriage, Hermione was sitting thoughtfully. Using the excitement and noise of the express pulling out of the platform, Harry was able to pull her close so they could talk in whispers.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, just not used to having people look up to me. We're deliberately trying to change things. It just never occurred to me we could still be radically altering people we weren't specifically targeting."

Harry glanced at the little blonde, sitting discussing with Padma some creature she one day hoped to prove the existence of, and then raised a questioning eyebrow to Hermione. Her thumb signed an L on the back of the hand of his she was holding, letting Harry know the explanation would have to wait until later.

She hadn't exactly known Luna first time around, all of Hogwarts though had certainly heard of Loony Lovegood. Trying to equate those stories with the young witch sharing their carriage simply didn't add up, and Hermione hated it when that happened. Luna appeared to have ditched wearing those radish earrings and the butter beer corks necklace that were something of a trademark look for her last time around.

When talk turned to houses and professors, Luna saying her daddy didn't believe Lockhart's six books were a suitable defence curriculum for a first year saw all eyes focus on Harry.

"We don't think they're suitable for second year either, which is why we have Harry and Hermione teaching us. Of course that might change after our Harry here kicks Lockhart's arse in their duel tomorrow. He might end up teaching the entire school…"

"Now Neville, you know that's not fair. Professor Lockhart has promised to go easy on Harry…" Parvati couldn't hold her laugh after repeating that ludicrous comment.

"Have you thought about how you're going to handle the duel?"

"Honestly, Padma, no. I thought about standing there and letting him fire a few curses at me, just to see what he's got. I'm not expecting him to have much, and I'm not intending to let anything he does fire hit me, otherwise I wouldn't even consider using a tactic like that."

Susan and Hannah dropped by for a visit, with Hermione and Parvati making room for them by sitting on their respective boyfriend's knee. For some reason this set Luna off giggling, leaving Padma to comment that Luna would have to get used to it if she hung about with them.

With Luna's smile now lighting up the carriage, that decision already seemed made. Hearing Hermione's mum and dad, and Neville's grandmother, would be some of her professors had Luna's face lighting up like a Christmas tree on the twenty fourth of December. She was also as excited as any kid on Christmas Eve about attending Hogwarts, that was in sharp contrast to her mood before these people had entered the carriage.

"I wasn't sure what to expect when I got on this train but now I'm really looking forward to my time in Hogwarts. Imagine, Getting lessons in Hogwarts from Hermione Granger's parents!"

Watching as the young girl hugged herself with excitement, images of a lonely witch sitting by herself at the end of the Ravenclaw table came to Hermione's mind. She couldn't imagine someone like Luna surviving the regime change that hit Hogwarts after Dumbledore's death, Hermione just didn't know any details - and had no intention of asking Dobby if he did. If having someone to admire could bring a change in Luna like this, she wondered how having that person Luna admired as her friend would affect the young blonde. Hermione was determined to find out. Luna wouldn't be a strange faceless victim this time around, not if she and Harry could help it.

-oOoOo-

The sorting hat appeared to still be in the huff from Harry's aborted resorting. Apparently this year's message was the shortest on record, with the hat refusing even to sing it.

I'm the sorting hat

It's what I do

If that's not good enough for you

Go home…

McGonagall recovered quickly, calling the first student to come forward and be sorted.

Getting a nudge from Harry, Hermione then spotted who he was looking at.

"And we thought Luna was excited. He looks like a springer spaniel, waiting to go for a walk."

Leaning in, Hermione whispered the bad news to Harry. "That's Colin Creevey. Next to Ginny, he was the school's biggest Harry Potter fan. He was also a Gryffindor…"

As the hat once more sorted Colin into the house of the lions, Harry groaned, rather than roared. With Colin running straight toward Harry, and introducing himself - still with the sorting hat on his head - Harry's groans set all his friends off laughing.

Luna's sorting seemed to take the longest so far, with the hat almost grudgingly placing her in Gryffindor. She too headed straight for Harry but that was because Hermione had waved her over. Sliding along, they made room for her next to Hermione. They were left having to slide down again when Ginny too made Gryffindor. Ginny sat next to Luna with her head down, trying to hide a blush that resembled a blood moon.

Ginny was also almost chanting 'not Gryffindor'. When they finally figured out what was happening, one or two Gryffindors then actually joined their newest recruit in her chant. Ginny's brother was just about to be resorted.

With his surname being Weasley, and his forename Ronald, the boy being forced to repeat first year found himself the last to be sorted. With his angry face matching his hair for colour, Ron pulled the hat down as far as it would go to hide from the hall.

"Oh dear, a resorting! Ah, I can see why. Rushing blindly into a dangerous situation doesn't make you brave, just stupid. That stupidity also instantly disqualifies you from Ravenclaw. The fact that you left your former housemates behind in your quest to be a hero doesn't exactly endear you to Hufflepuff. That, and you and hard work are strangers to each other. Slytherin isn't a good fit either. You certainly have ambition, though no talent or work ethic to back that ambition up…"

"Not Slytherin, not Slytherin…"

"Not Slytherin? Ah well, I told Helga she was making a mistake when she said her house would teach the lot… Has to be Hufflepuff!"

That the hat's proclamation was greeted by sighs of relief or groans, depending what table people were sitting at, did nothing to alleviate Ron's anger. A smattering of applause finally appeared as he took his seat at the end of the Hufflepuff table. With a Slytherin snake part of the Hogwarts Badge on his chest and a Hufflepuff badger on his arm, Ron preferred it when his house associations were greyed out. Someone was going to be unloaded upon before the night was out.

The other Hufflepuff first years were being made uncomfortable by their fellow but much taller first year's glowering. So much so, Cedric moved his seat and inserted himself between Ron and the other firsties.

"Welcome to Hufflepuff, Weasley. We're the house that welcome all comers, even those that don't want to be here. From the moment you stepped on the express today, there was only one place you were going to be sorted. You must have known that, everyone else did, so why all the anger?"

Ron was attempting to ignore everyone, trying to wallow in self pity while eating his dinner. The prefect and quidditch captain badges on Cedric's robe left him with no option but to answer the question. This was not someone Ron wanted to piss off his first night back in Hogwarts.

"Knowing it is one thing, experiencing that was a lot different to what I'd imagined. Being resorted was bloody embarrassing…"

Thinking about that, Cedric finally answered. "There have only been two resortings in the last hundred years or so, and you have been responsible for both of them. I certainly wouldn't recommend trying for a hat trick!"

The shock of hearing that actually stopped Ron eating. He looked to the prefect, hoping Cedric would explain that remark.

"The Hufflepuff way to deal with this would be to become something of a mentor to the other first years in the house - even showing them the way to their classes would be a great help. You know what's in front of them, they don't. A word of warning though. The shit you pulled while a Gryffindor just won't be accepted in Hufflepuff. A house censure from us leaves you with nowhere else to go but out the main door. Think of that before letting your temper dictate your actions."

Cedric didn't say anymore, he just quietly ate his dinner. Ron however was running those words through his head. Where Cedric had said mentor, Ron was thinking leader. Yes, this might not be as bad as he originally thought.

At the staff table, Gilderoy was talking about his favourite subject - himself.

"The villagers were so delighted I'd run off the vampires, the were going to declare that day an annual holiday - Gilderoy Lockhart day. That is my main concern about this supposed duel tomorrow. I'm used to fighting some of the most dangerous creatures on the planet, not someone barely into his teens. I'm actually frightened I might hurt Harry during the duel."

This was her first meal with this prat but already Minerva was struggling to restrain herself from strangling him. "Oh you needn't worry about duelling a teenager, Gilderoy."

A wide smile played on his lips, thinking the school was now going to cancel the duel. Minerva then kicked him in his shiny white teeth.

"Mister Potter is only twelve, and won't reach his teens until next summer. I've actually cancelled all classes tomorrow. The spectacle of our new defence against the dark arts professor duelling the defeater of the dark lord is not something to be missed. I want all the students and staff there to see it."

Petunia was sitting between Emma and Augusta, her emotions all over the place. Not only did she get to witness the sorting, Petunia Dursley nee Evans was now a professor in Hogwarts. She had been thinking about an eleven year old Lily having that hat placed on her head when her day dreaming was interrupted by the prat everyone could see was getting desperate. He had obviously misread her thoughtfulness as apprehension.

"Ma'am, I understand your anxiety over your nephew having to face a professor in a duel. It all seems so unnecessary."

Petunia's stare pinned Gilderoy like some colourful bug about to be dissected. "You tried to grope Hermione, you deserve everything my nephew is going to do to you."

"I hardly think…"

"And that is your problem, you don't think. The last person who held your job also threatened Hermione, my nephew beat him to death with his bare hands. Unless you're more of a challenge than this dark lord who murdered my sister - Harry's mother - then I expect you to be defeated tomorrow. To be honest, most of us sitting at this table are expecting the same result."

The predatory grins greeting Gilderoy as his gaze travelled up and down the table informed the defence professor this woman spoke the truth. He made to rise when McGonagall stopped him.

"Professor Lockhart. It is customary to wait until the Headmaster introduces the new members of staff to the students before leaving. As a new member of staff, staying until at least then is mandatory. Kindly wait until after being introduced before running away…"

That had a few of the professors doing spit-takes, with Dan's loud laughter ringing around the table. Gilderoy was forced to just sit there and endure it, the implied insult from McGonagall passing right over his head.

Dumbledore was almost tempted to draw out Lockhart's suffering but the children, especially the younger ones, had just endured a long and exciting day. He stood and walked to the podium, giving all the rules and regulations first. The Forbidden Forest is called that for a reason and so on.

"I would now like to introduce you to our new defence against the dark arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart."

That Dumbledore hadn't mentioned any of his achievements, or awards, hurt Gilderoy a lot less than the muted applause that greeted his theatrical bow. Didn't these children know how many hours he'd practiced that bow in front of his mirror.

"Now you may have heard Professor Lockhart issued a challenge for an honour duel..." Albus had to stop for a moment as laughter broke out amongst the students, as well as some chants of Harry, Harry. Since this fact had been all over the Prophet since the incident in the bookshop, the vast majority of those in the hall clearly appreciated his slight joke. Albus knew the students would appreciate his next announcement even more.

"As a special school treat, period one tomorrow has been cancelled - to allow everyone to witness this duel. I don't anticipated it lasting into period two."

This was greeted by more laughter from the Gryffindor table before the Headmaster introduced the teachers of their new courses.

"This year, Hogwarts will introduce a new course for our younger students, Cultural Studies. Teaching the magical side of this new course is the lady who instigated the entire program. Madam Augusta Longbottom is not only a member of one of Britain's oldest wizarding families, she sits on the Wizengamot and the Hogwarts Board of Governors."

The applause for Augusta was loud and genuine, almost causing the witch in question to blush. Albus then introduced the remaining teachers.

"The non magical portion of this course will be taught by people eminently qualified to do so. Dan and Emma Granger not only have a daughter currently attending Hogwarts, they are extremely successful health care professionals who are making time in their busy schedules to attend Hogwarts and teach our youngest students about the world that surrounds us. Petunia Dursley has known about magic since she was a teenager, and her younger sister attended Hogwarts. She has also raised young Harry since that horrible Halloween that robbed us of James and Lily Potter."

Again the applause was way louder than that Gilderoy had received, pissing him off even more. Things had reached a sorry state when muggles were more appreciated than he was.

"The magical side of this new course was initiated on a voluntary basis at the end of last year, proving to be a tremendous success. I'm really looking forward to seeing this new initiative in action, and might pop into a few classes myself. After all, you're never too old to learn something new..." Albus was smiling at Harry and Hermione as he said this, while the rest of the school just assumed he'd cracked another joke. He sent them all away to their beds happy, thinking that was a successful opening feast.

As Luna and Ginny were led away along with the rest of the first years, the two Gryffindor couples were joined by Padma before making their way to the staff table. They were greeted by Emma, Dan and Petunia, with Augusta saying goodnight and reminding them she would see them tomorrow for the duel.

McGonagall then asked Harry if he had a strategy for the duel, Harry was almost embarrassed admitting he hadn't. "To be honest, Professor, I really don't consider Lockhart a threat. That day in the bookstore, both Dan and I were angry enough to take him apart. Now, he hardly seems worth bothering about. Remember, it was Lockhart who issued the challenge - now he's trying to weasel out of it. I'll just take tomorrow as it comes, though I had to promise Hermione I'd be careful."

With the duel on the tip of everyone's lips, it was refreshing for Minerva to hear the person at the centre of all the talk had other things on his mind. Like the rest of the staff, Minerva was also expecting Harry to win tomorrow. What would happen to Lockhart after that was the only uncertainty. One thing she was sure of though, he wasn't leaving Hogwarts without refunding its students for all the useless books he made them purchase.

The three non magical professors had asked if they could keep the quarters they'd used when in the castle before, this had the five students walking along with them. When Padma had to break off for Ravenclaw Tower, she shyly asked Petunia if Dudley would be coming to Hogwarts to see the duel.

"Sorry Padma, Dudley started his school this week too. He will be coming here for the first quidditch match, which will be earlier this year. That's when the non magical families will be visiting Hogwarts. Emma, Dan and I will be acting as guides that weekend - showing them just what's possible."

Knowing Dudley was going to be here for the entire weekend, and sooner than she thought, had Padma practically skipping off to her house. Thinking of the people Dudley had previously been hanging around with had Petunia smiling too. Padma, Susan and Hannah were all such lovely young ladies.

"Breakfast tomorrow will be a circus, with me as the main attraction. Do you mind if we eat it with you, in your room, before going down to the quidditch pitch?"

Emma had Harry in a hug at that. "Of course. We'll just have to let Sirius and Amelia know where we are."

Some more hugs were exchanged before the two couples then walked the short distance to the fat lady's portrait, Hermione having gotten the password from a prefect while sitting at the Gryffindor table. They managed to get through the common room and were soon in what they considered their flat, it was time for bed.

"Mmmm, I've missed this."

Snuggling in to her intended, Hermione couldn't help but tease. "I didn't realise that you liked this bedroom so much..."

"The bedroom doesn't matter, it's cuddling into my intended I missed. For most of the holidays this wasn't available to us and I think I'm addicted. This is also an addiction I have no intention of fighting against, I will happily snuggle into you every night for the rest of my life..."

After gently kissing Harry, Hermione was left confirming her intention to do her very best to help him with his addiction. Not to fight it, rather satisfy it.

-oOoOo-

Sirius and Amelia had arrived in the morning with a set of duelling robes for Harry. After changing into them, Hermione went and knelt before him.

"Help me Obi Wan Kanobi, you're my only hope..."

Harry waved his hand in front of her before muttering "These are not the droids you're looking for..."

Both then collapsed into laughter, much to the amusement and utter confusion of everyone else in the room.

His family led the way down to the quidditch pitch, forming around him to keep all the well wishers away. Dumbledore and McGonagall were waiting at the side of the pitch, the headmaster to take Harry forward while McGonagall led the rest to their seats. Harry and Hermione ignored the cheering as they shared their most passionate public kiss to date, it was a focused individual who left with Dumbledore to await Lockhart's arrival.

As the time of the duel approached, Gilderoy finally arrived. Flying in on a broom with a cape and his golden locks flapping behind him might have looked good but Harry couldn't miss Lockhart was clinging to the broom in fear. That fear disappeared when his feet touched the grass, it would seem he wasn't much of a flier either.

As he boldly strode toward them, the difference in their attire was also startling. While Harry's duelling robe was lose and flowed rather than restricting his movements, Lockhart had chosen the opposite extreme. His clothing was skintight, with his trousers probably cutting off the blood supply to his lower body. While Harry was no fashion aficionado, and Dumbledore had a style all of his own, neither considered Lockhart's attire to be either practical or attractive.

"Ah, young Harry..."

"Professor, in this situation you are dealing with Lord Potter. Headmaster, could you please go over the rules? It wouldn't surprise me if the Professor here didn't bother to read them, for a duel he initiated."

"When I fight, they're usually aren't any rules. Why I remember..."

Dumbledore shut the braggart down before Gilderoy could hit his stride. "All the more reason why I should follow Lord Potter's suggestion."

Lockhart's colour was fading the more he heard. As Dumbledore mentioned the Unforgivables were of course forbidden, he appeared ready to pass out. As referee, Dumbledore moved them to their positions and counted the combatants in.

At twenty paces apart, Gilderoy's stunner hardly reached Harry and certainly wouldn't threaten his shield. Not that he cast one. With Lockhart shouting his spells and telegraphing his aim, Harry simply had to step aside and avoid the few spells actually cast on target.

Gilderoy knew he was in trouble. He'd spent the last few minutes firing everything he had at the boy, and was being ignored. Potter had yet to use his wand, even to shield. Gilderoy discovered how much trouble he was in as a sharp pain suddenly penetrated his scalp.

Harry was watching Lockhart and didn't spot the stealthy approach until it was too late to do anything about it. Hedwig ghosted silently behind the wizard who was trying to harm her wizard, sinking her talons into his head.

Lockhart screamed like a girl, waving his arms wildly at the attacking owl. Whether it was this or Harry shouting at Hedwig to leave that saw the snowy owl pulling away was unknown. What was certain though was that Hedwig took a trophy with her, the golden locks that Lockhart was so proud of - and were clearly as fake as the rest of him.

Gilderoy took aim at the bird that was stealing his favourite wig, only for a spell to rip that wand out of his hand. Harry had been unable to cast while Hedwig was on Lockhart's head, seeing the supposed professor aim his wand at the beautiful owl was all the motivation needed to end this. With Hedwig still in the vicinity, Harry's Expelliarmus was cast with a precision not seen in all Lockhart's efforts. That this spell was instantly followed by an Incarcerous and Stupify soon left an unconscious and wandless Lockhart lying tied up by ropes on the grass. That Hedwig's talons had scratched his head saw Lockhart's blood covering the bald part previously concealed by the wig.

The laughter and cheers meant nothing to Harry, he was far to concerned with Hedwig's condition. Calling his familiar, she landed on his outstretched arm and emitted what sounded like a victory bark.

"You silly bird, you could have been hurt! It's my fault I suppose for not ending it sooner..." Harry was stopped by Hedwig presenting him with her trophy, Lockhart's wig. While he didn't want to touch the thing, he couldn't refuse Hedwig.

"Thank you, girl, that was so brave of you." Harry quickly dropped the wig onto the grass but Hedwig didn't mind, she understood her wizard needed that hand to pet her. After discovering Hedwig had nothing more than a few ruffled feathers, Harry began to relax and notice his surroundings.

A smiling Dumbledore was approaching. "Lord Potter, I assume that wasn't planned?"

"No Sir. Hedwig saw someone firing curses at me and reacted."

"A familiar protecting her wizard, perfectly natural and understandable. Something we should perhaps have considered while holding the duel outside. There is nothing in the rules about that, therefore I declare Lord Potter the winner."

It was only then Harry realised what they were saying was being broadcast to the stands, with Dumbledore's announcement resulting in a mighty cheer. Harry also noticed Hermione sprinting towards them, or should that be Hedwig. She had actually cared for the owl a few years longer than the single one that Harry had memories of. This was proven to be true when Harry received a quick kiss before all Hermione's attention and concern switched to the preening owl.

"Oh Hedwig, what a brave and clever owl you are. While Lord Potter here was messing about, you showed him how to deal with a pest."

Lockhart had been revived by the Headmaster. Looking over at the bird receiving all the attention almost had him in tears. "That vicious raptor attacked me when I wasn't looking, Potter cheated!"

There was a gasp around the stands before Dumbledore spoke. "Surely a man of your documented talents could cope with an angry post owl reacting to you firing curses at her wizard? Publicly calling the Lord of an Ancient and Noble family a cheat is also not a course I would recommend..."

At that, Harry responded. "It's okay, Professor. No one actually believes a word Lockhart says or writes anyway, he's nothing but a fake." As if to emphasise that point, Harry's wand set Lockhart's wig on fire before he, Hermione and Hedwig left the pitch.

Waiting until they had cleared the area covered by the broadcasting spell, Harry then had a word with his owl. "I hope you don't intend to make a habit of this. Do I need to lock you in your cage next time I play quidditch? I don't think Dumbledore will let you away with attacking the opposition beaters every time they fire a bludger at me..."

Hedwig moved up Harry's arm and onto his shoulder before affectionately butting heads with him. Hermione then slipped by Harry's side as they walked back to their family and friends. Hedwig stayed for the ride, and all the congratulations that she felt sure were going to come her way.

Sirius and Dan had been laughing so hard, they both had tears in their eyes. Neville soon set them off again - along with almost everyone else.

"Lockhart wants us to believe he spent a year with the yeti yet he couldn't handle a snowy owl!"

-oOoOo-

After being kicked out of the infirmary, the stupid healer saying his wounds were nothing more than scratches she'd casually waved her wand over, Gilderoy was at a loss about what to do next.

His first instinct was to quit Hogwarts and put this nightmare behind him. Initially he thought this would be easy, since McGonagall seemed most agreeable to the idea, until she introduced a proviso. He could leave Hogwarts, directly after reimbursing every student who was forced to buy the books he'd specified for his defence course. Since he'd already spent over half of that money on new outfits to impress the students, Gilderoy Lockhart had an image to maintain, there was no way he was willing or able to do this.

Walking back to his quarters, Gilderoy was left pondering the question of what to do next. He was forced to admit, only to himself, that he'd just been publicly humiliated by a twelve year old and his owl. His reputation was in ruins...

It was then Gilderoy had his epiphany - these children didn't know his reputation! Since it was looking like he was going to be forced to teach here for at least a year, he would teach the students about one of the wizarding world's greatest heroes - Gilderoy Lockhart.

He could start their first lesson with a quiz, just to see how much they actually knew about him. After establishing that, it would then be time to enact some of the more heroic scenes from his written works. A few weeks of learning about their new defence professor should see today's debacle soon relegated to nothing more than a bad memory.

Now with a sense of purpose, Gilderoy hurried to his apartment. He needed to get another wig before anyone else saw him. He intended to totally ignore the fact that all of Hogwarts had witnessed Hedwig making off with his last hairpiece.

-oOoOo-

The group of friends accompanied Dan, Emma, Petunia, Augusta, Sirius and Amelia to the edge of the Hogwarts wards to say goodbye. With Cultural Studies timetabled for Monday mornings, Dan and Emma would be back in the castle from Saturday. Like Augusta, Petunia would arrive by portkey on Monday morning.

The snowy owl was still on Harry's shoulder, and Emma was currently telling Hedwig she would bring a box of owl treats for the most special owl in the country. The clever owl emitted a little bark of agreement, causing all the adults to leave with grins on their faces.

Both couples, Padma, Susan and Hannah were heading back to the castle only to find Hagrid waiting on them. Wearing an infectious wide smile, it was soon apparent exactly who Hagrid was waiting for.

"Did yeh lot have a good holiday?"

Noticing Hagrid was excited to tell them about his, Harry gave his large friend that opening. "We had a great holiday, but somehow I don't think it was as good as yours?"

"Arry, I can' thank yeh an' Ermione enough. T'was a dream come true. I got a little somethin' fer yeh..."

Accepting the badly wrapped parcel, Harry began to open it. "Hagrid you shouldn't have - Shit! Is that Norbert?"

The framed photograph of the Norwegian Rigeback was taking everyone's breath away, but Hagrid was like a proud parent showing off a picture of their baby. "Ain' he a little beauty?"

A horrified Neville couldn't take his eyes off the moving picture. "Hagrid, there's nothing little about Norbert. How the hell were you going to raise that in your cottage?" It was only after seeing everyone staring at him that Neville realised he'd said something he shouldn't.

It was Hermione who then took command of the situation. "Okay everyone, that's not something we want spread around the castle - or anywhere else for that matter. My parents would go ape if they found out I was involved in this, with Harry's aunt and Neville's gran probably worse..."

The rumours had flooded Hogwarts at the time but here was confirmation. "Neville Longbottom, what possessed you to get involved smuggling a dragon out of the castle?"

While Parvati was shocked, her twin came at it from a different angle. "Never mind that, which one of you stripped Malfoy?"

"Yuk! We had nothing to do with that. There are plenty of people in Hogwarts who don't like that little shit..."

Hermione's expression of disgust convinced all of them they had nothing to do with divesting Draco, before dangling him from the ceiling. Susan spoke for all of them when claiming their lips were sealed. Both her and Hannah were delighted they'd asked to be part of the second year group not taking their defence lessons from Lockhart. It would seem Hermione and Harry were well qualified to teach it - certainly more than Lockhart.

-oOoOo-

With Lavender, Seamus and Dean also asking to join them for defence, there were now ten students partaking in the newly founded second year defence self study program. Since Hermione had written up the course objectives that McGonagall had agreed to, she was also the person writing the lesson plans.

As she had already received an Outstanding at NEWT level for defence, and most of the other subjects she was currently having to retake as a second year, this was something Hermione actually enjoyed. Thanks to all their extra training, Harry was already way beyond second year level so was also a great help.

The result of this was their eight friends leaving the first defence lesson while happily proclaiming it was the best ever - only to find a beleaguered reception committee of fellow second year students waiting for them in the corridor. As Hermione and Harry pushed their way to the front, all of these students tried to speak at once.

"You have to help us..."

"Man's a menace..."

"Released Cornish Pixies into the class..."

"He ran away when they took his wand..."

"Please help us..."

"We don't want to go back in there..."

Noticing a few Slytherins amongst the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, Harry was inclined to say yes. He turned to Hermione for her thoughts on the matter. As usual, his intended had immediately focused on the practicalities involved in dramatically increasing their numbers.

"We're going to need a bigger classroom!"

 
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