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Chapter Thirty-Two: Mad Master Potter

It was now a month since Harry had left Hogwarts. Quite a few things had happened in a month. They had all seen an advertisement for apparition classes in the Daily Prophet, and were now taking those. Ron and Hermione had moved in together, in her home in Hogsmeade. Mr and Mrs Weasley, and Ginny, had moved back to the burrow, leaving Harry, Draco and Kainda in Grimmauld Place, playing house under the watchful eye of Sirius. Draco had made no mention of getting a job, but Harry didn't really mind. Kainda had the Daily Prophet delivered everyday, and had cut out any interesting career options, pinning them to a new noticeboard in the kitchen. Harry wanted to wait for his NEWT results before looking for jobs. For now, he was content to sit at home with Draco and enjoy his life as a wealthy, young, fully-qualified wizard. Several nights a week, Draco went out to various clubs in muggle London, both magic and muggle, and so the noticeboard was also pinned with various phone numbers of girls. Kainda had borrowed some of Mrs Weasley's cookery books, and copied out some good recipes, tacking them up in the kitchen. Harry and Kainda did most of the cooking between them. Occasionally, Draco had a go at making something, but it wasn't very often. Sirius was loving all the company. He had delighted in all the new decor and the loss of his mother's portrait, and was determined to turn the place into a bachelor pad. There was always beer in the fridge, the radio on loud, and somebody walking around in an open shirt. Kainda didn't seem to mind this at all, and in fact, she enjoyed it. Harry knew from Ron that Hermione was rather fussy about the tidiness of their house. Kainda had completely opposite views. If the floor or the walls or the windows got dirty, she just gave them a quick charm, and left it at that. Things always looked casually messy if Kainda had any say in it. She said she liked her house to actually look as though it was lived in.

It was a warm, bright and sunny Saturday morning. Harry woke up in bed, yawned, and reached out for Kainda next to him. She wasn't there. He stumbled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom, where he splashed some cold water in his face. It was icy against his skin, but certainly refreshed him, enough to open his eyes and gaze blearily at the figure looking back at him from the mirror. Harry normally just wore pajama bottoms in bed now. He smiled slightly, and glanced at the tattoo on his upper arm, reading 'Kainda'. He had gone to one of the magical tattoo parlours in Diagon Alley and had it done during the first week after school, along with Draco, who had a rather intricate dragon put on his lower back, and Sirius, who had a grim tattooed between his shoulder blades.

Yawning again, Harry left the bathroom and wandered out into the hall. Sirius was coming out of his room across the landing. They both grunted noises of good morning, staggered down the stairs and into the kitchen. Kainda was there in her dressing gown, conjuring up breakfast. She smiled as they walked in.

"Morning," she said. She put down plates of bacon and eggs in front of each of them, and gave Harry a hug around the neck.

He grinned and kissed her cheek. "Thanks, Kai."

"Where's blondie today?" asked Sirius, sitting back in his chair and starting on his breakfast hungrily.

"He's still asleep," said Kainda. She took out her wand, and conjured two steaming mugs of coffee. "I heard him come in late last night. He was out at some club I think, you know what he's like."

Harry picked up his coffee, and had a long drink. He really loved waking up to Kainda's cooking. She was fabulous at it. Sirius often joined in, cooking eggs and bacon for her, but it just wasn't the same.

Harry was brought out of his thoughts at that moment, by the sound of something beating gently against the window. He looked up, and saw three owls sitting there. One was Hedwig, and the other two were Hogwarts owls. All three were carrying letters stamped with a very official-looking crest. Harry's stomach seemed to tighten just at the sight. He leapt up, and pulled the window open. The owls fluttered in. One handed an envelope to Kainda, another took off up the stairs to Draco's room, and Hedwig gave Harry his own letter. She then settled herself on the back of his chair and watched, expectantly. Harry looked at Kainda.

"You go first," he said.

She nodded, and carefully opened up the letter, biting her lip. She unfolded a piece of parchment from inside, ran her eyes down it, and her face split into a smile. "Nothing below A! Not bad... I got an A in Potions, so at least I passed. Hey, O in Muggle Studies! That's pretty good for me."

"That's brilliant," he said, grinning and giving her a hug. "Well done."

Draco appeared in the kitchen door, holding his own letter and smirking from ear to ear. "All above E. O in Astronomy and Potions."

"Congratulations," said Kainda. She hugged Draco, and then handed him his breakfast and a mug of coffee. "You can start looking for jobs now."

She laughed, as Draco gave a snort. "Why? A job would just be filling time for me. I've got my Malfoy inheritance, and that will last me for a long time yet. I'm going to cruise for a while, see if anything interesting comes up. If not, I don't really care. After all, it's not like - Potter? What's the matter?"

For Harry had just opened his own envelope, and looked at his grades. His face had fallen. "She... she still got to them," he said. "Madam Ivy. Look."

He showed Draco the piece of parchment. He had scored a P in Transfiguration, an A in Charms, and a D in History of Magic. Draco's eyes ran up the rest of the list. Harry had got an O in Potions, Pure Arts and Defence against the Dark Arts, and then an E in Care of Magical Creatures.

"She's tampered with them," said Harry. "I don't believe it. I had to get really high marks in Transfiguration and Charms to get into auror training... she's put them down, so I can't. But how? She's dead."

Draco was quiet for a moment, and then said, carefully, "Look, Potter... don't think that I'm saying anything against you, but if she wanted to stop you becoming an auror, she could have just made you fail Defence Against the Dark Arts. It would have been most easy to do that. But you scored full marks on the Dark Arts exam, and ten bonus marks too. And as you said... she's dead. She couldn't have altered them. It's illogical. And... well, you weren't exactly firing on all cylinders when you were doing your exams, were you?"

Harry stared at him, his eyes wide. "Are you suggesting that I failed my exams, by myself?" He took Draco's silence to mean what he thought it did. He fell into a chair, now completely miserable, without any idea what he was going to do now. All his hopes and future plans had been counting on him becoming an auror. With such low marks, he had no chance of ever entering the ministry.

Sirius put an arm around him. "Come on, Harry... don't be down... I failed some of my NEWTs too. Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Arithmancy... I was dating a girl at the time, I think. I didn't revise properly."

"But you weren't counting on those marks for your whole future," said Harry, sullenly.

"I was," said Sirius with a slight smile. "I wanted to be an Arithmancy teacher, only to annoy Snape though. And without my Arithmancy NEWT, I had no chance, did I? So I had to settle for being an auror instead."

"You were an auror!?" Harry spluttered. "Why didn't you ever tell me!?"

Sirius shrugged. "It wasn't all it cracked up to be, Harry."

"Oh yes," said Harry savagely. "Only chasing and catching dark wizards, adventure everyday, and mountains of gold. Absolutely pathetic."

Sirius sighed, and patted his arm. Kainda and Draco were looking very sympathetic, and Kainda was making him another cup of coffee, but Harry didn't feel remotely hungry or thirsty anymore. He slumped forward onto the table. His dream of becoming an auror was shattered now. He picked up his envelope again, took out the letter with his grades, and re-read it angrily. It was only then that he noticed a note at the bottom of the parchment, in what he recognised as McGonagall's hand-writing. "Potter - please come to Hogwarts on the 20th of July for an emergency careers appointment. I know that these grades are not what you expected. We will be able to sort something out. Professor M. McGonagall."

By the time July the 20th had come, Harry had passed his Apparition Test and got his licence. When he woke up that morning, he kissed Kainda goodbye, got a good-luck hug off Sirius, and then apparated straight to Hogsmeade. It was a fairly warm, sunny morning. He could hear birds tweeting on the roofs of the houses above as he walked through the little village towards Hogwarts. He followed the winding path that the thestral-drawn carriages always took, and after about half an hour, the familiar castle rose up on the horizon. The sight was very comforting to Harry. After receiving his NEWT grades, he had been searching the Daily Prophet daily for any jobs that looked interesting at all, but none appealed to him. The prospect of seeing McGonagall, and talking things through with her, was very reassuring to him. At least all hope was not lost, just yet.

He slipped in through the huge gates guarding the entrance to the ground. One of the security dragons came lumbering across, and stood in front of him. Once he had been given a good sniff, and deemed trustworthy, he walked up the sloping lawns and opened up the doors to the entrance hall.

There was just something about being back at Hogwarts that made him feel a little bit better about his situation. He had never noticed before that Hogwarts just had an atmosphere of shelter and home. Hogwarts was the first place he had been truly happy after all, and just being back made him feel that things weren't quite so bad really.

He walked through the empty, silent corridors to McGonagall's office. The paintings all smiled and waved at him, and he grinned back. He even met Nearly Headless Nick, who greeted him like an old friend, before he was outside McGonagall's office and knocking to come in.

The door opened, and he found himself face-to-face with his old Head of House. She didn't look quite so fierce now that she could no longer put him in detention. "Ah," she said. "Come in, Potter. I've been expecting you."

He took a seat in front of her desk, and she sat behind it, peering at him over the top of her glasses.

"I trust that you have realised your grades cannot allow you to become an auror, Potter," she said, calmly. He nodded. "There are a few options you can take from here," she said, taking a bundle of leaflets out of her desk drawer and placing them before him. "You could perhaps take a course, over two years, to redo your Transfiguration NEWT and possibly your Charms. We would also give you the opportunity to come back to Hogwarts, and resit the entire two years, from scratch. Or if joining the sixth year does not appeal to you, we could take a look at some other career paths, and see if any would suit you."

She offered him the leaflets. He looked through them quietly, half-listening to her running commentary about the various jobs available to him, and finding nothing that caught his eye, until he picked up a navy blue pamphlet and studied the cover - "So You Want To Teach Magic? There's A Place For You At Merlin's Academy"

"What's this?" asked Harry, showing it to McGonagall.

"Hmm," she said, studying it with a mild frown. "Merlin's Academy is another of the wizarding schools, somewhere in America. They generally take a less academic view to Hogwarts, though it is a fairly good school, and they produce some very good witches and wizards."

Harry pondered this. He hadn't considered teaching. He flicked through the leaflet. "Would I have to do a teaching degree or something like that?"

"No," said Professor McGonagall. "The wizarding community is very different to the muggle one, when it comes to teaching and qualifications. When you first begin teaching, you will be given the title of Master for some time, until the Department of Magical Education decide that you are doing well enough, and you will be upgraded to a Professor, if you choose so."

Harry was starting to warm to this idea. "I like the sound of it," he said. "But I don't want to move to America and leave all my friends behind..."

McGonagall studied him for a moment, with a thoughtful look on her face. "There is a position at Hogwarts that has recently become open... you see, there are plans to build a new Defence Against the Dark Arts Hall over the summer, and Professor Lupin has agreed to be in charge of that, rather than teach. With some consequences I'm sure you understand, there is a position open. You did get an O in the subject, and Professor Dumbledore has put me in charge of finding a suitable person to fill the gap on the Staff Pay Role."

Harry's eyes widened. "Honestly? I can come to Hogwarts and teach? I... I'd love to! It sounds brilliant!"

McGonagall smiled, and took out a scroll from her desk. She unrolled it, handed him a quill, and let him sign at the bottom. She then stood up. "Very good," she said, offering him a hand. He shook it eagerly. "Wonderful, Potter," she said. "This is a great help to us. Thankyou."

Harry grinned. The idea of teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, properly, was definitely appealing to him, and he couldn't wait to get started in September. "Thanks, Professor. I'm really grateful. I suppose there's a lot I have to sort out... looking at the syllabus and stuff..."

"Ah, of course," she said. "Professor Snape is in his quarters now, and he knows the syllabus backwards. I suggest you go and talk to him. I shall go and inform Professor Dumbledore of our new member of staff."

She opened the door for him, and smiled as he walked out. Just before he left, she spoke again.

"Thankyou once again, Potter," she said, with another slight smile. "You'll make an astounding Potions Master."

And before Harry could even register what she had said, she shut the door. He stood there, stunned, wondering if he had misheard. Potions Master? And then he realised. If Professor Lupin wasn't teaching Dark Arts, and the position was open, Snape would have taken it like a shot, which left the position of Potions Master free. He groaned at how utterly stupid he was. He considered going back into McGonagall's office, to try and tell her there had been a mistake and he didn't want to teach Potions, but he realised just how stupid he would look doing that. And really, what was so bad about teaching Potions? He could re-decorate the dungeons, get rid of all the cold stone, bring in some fake windows and some lights... it wouldn't be so bad. He might even go down in history as the first nice Potions Master at Hogwarts. He smiled a little, and headed down to the dungeons, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He had a lot of changes planned for Potions at Hogwarts.

He knocked pleasantly on the door of Snape's quarters. There was a pause, and then the door opened. Snape stood there, sleeves rolled up, hair pulled back into a ponytail, frown firmly in place.

"Potter," he said, blankly. Harry could see the room all packed up in boxes behind him, and house elves were staggering about, carrying bags of things. "What are you doing here?" said Snape.

Harry grinned. "I'm here to set up my new quarters."

Snape gave him a very suspicious look. "Meaning what, precisely?"

"I'm moving in," said Harry. He walked into Snape's old quarters, and looked around the place. It wouldn't be so bad with heating and lighting, and some new decor. "I'm the new Potions Master."

"You're not," said Snape.

"I am," Harry smiled.

Snape rubbed his forehead. "Why, Potter?"

"Because I just came to see McGonagall," said Harry brightly. "And she said I could have a job here, teaching, because I can't be an auror, and you're the new Dark Arts professor. Aren't you pleased?"

Snape eyed him for a moment, and then a half-smile curled his lips. "You're losing your mind, if you willingly took this job."

"Then call me Mad Master Potter," said Harry pleasantly. He grinned. "Now, I'll have to go get some SuperSplatterDecorator fireworks off Fred and George, if you don't mind. I have my quarters to paint, and furniture to buy. Will Kainda be allowed to stay here? And McGonagall says you have to give me information on the Potions syllabus, so I know what to teach my students."

"May Merlin have mercy on their souls," said Snape, dryly, but he was smirking.

Harry smiled too. "Just because I'll be more popular than you. So come on, get the syllabus out. I've got a lot to learn."

"You certainly have," said Snape, smirking still, and going through to his office. Harry followed, with a smile on his face, feeling better than he had ever since his NEWT results arrived. He couldn't wait to see Ginny and Luna's faces when he told them he would be teaching them Potions this year.


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