After the start of term feast no student in Hogwarts could go anywhere without either overhearing a conversation about Professor Weatherwax or engaging in one themselves. The second year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws were the first class to take Headology and no sooner had they stepped out of the classroom the questions began to fly from all corners. Everyone wanted to know what this new class was like and more importantly what their new teacher was like.
‘Is she nice?’
‘Is she horrible?’
‘Did she give you any homework?’
These are just a few examples of the kind of questions that bombarded any student who had taken Headology in the first week of term, and it was not until the Thursday morning class that the sixth year Gryffindors got to meet Professor Weatherwax. The only problem was, as far as the Gryffindors saw it, was that they had to take the class with the Slytherins. Sharing a class with Slytherin House had never been an enjoyable experience from the Gryffindor point of view but since the return of Lord Voldemort certain Slytherins had become an intolerable pain, led as always by Draco Malfoy. Draco was obnoxious enough when his father Lucius had oiled his way on to the board of directors at Hogwarts, but now the Dark Lord had returned to power he was an absolute nightmare. Convinced that he was effectively untouchable at school, Draco and his cronies loved nothing more than to make trouble and one of their prime targets was and always had been Harry Potter.
So it was with a mixture of curiosity and concern that the sixth year Gryffindor class made their way down to Headology on the first Thursday morning of term. Curiosity because like the entire student populace they wanted to know what this new class and its new teacher were about, and concern because they knew the Slytherins, particularly Draco and his mob, would find some way to make trouble. This was the discussion that Harry, Ron and Hermione were having as they filed into the classroom.
‘Well I feel a bit sorry her to be honest,’ said Ron, as he slung his bag down on to the table.
‘Why is that?’ asked Hermione.
‘’Cos,’ shrugged Ron. ‘She’s new.’
‘What’s your point?’ she frowned.
‘Well you know what some people are like, she’s bound to get a hard time.’
‘From who?’ asked Hermione, wondering where Ron was going with this. Then, as if on cue Draco Malfoy swaggered into the room, followed closely by his two apelike associates Crabbe and Goyle. Ron looked at them briefly before turning back to Hermione. ‘Oh,’ she said, in realisation.
‘Yeah,’ said Ron, crossing his arms on the desk and laying his chin on his forearm. ‘I’m sure that slimy git will make this lesson as fun as possible.’
‘Come on Ron,’ said Hermione. ‘We’re at N.E.W.T. level now, don’t think you think people will have grown out of childish stuff like that?’ Again, as if given his cue by some unseen director, Malfoy completely floored Hermione’s attempt at reason.
‘Oi, Potter,’ he called derisively from the back of the classroom. ‘Haven’t you figured out a spell to get yourself some decent friends yet?’ A chorus of approving sniggers ran through the Slytherins as Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. Her expression quickly changed though, and she plastered a sweet smile on her face before turning in her chair to face Malfoy.
‘Well, I’m glad to see your father being a wanted Death Eater hasn’t affected your sense of humour Malfoy.’ At this the sniggering abruptly stopped and the superior smirk was wiped clean from Malfoy’s face, being replaced instead by a malicious scowl.
‘Watch it Granger,’ he said menacingly.
‘Or?’ she cooed, sweetly. As Malfoy opened his mouth, no doubt ready to insult Hermione as nastily as he could, Professor Weatherwax walked briskly into the room. Malfoy continued to scowl as Hermione gave him one last triumphant look before turning her attention to the class that was about to start. Both Harry and Ron smiled appreciatively at her as their new teacher settled herself behind her new desk.
‘Sorry I’m late class,’ she said. ‘This castle’s a bugger to get around.’ A few stifled laughs could be heard here and there and Ron leaned in slightly towards Harry.
‘Oh, I like her,’ he said, grinning.
‘You, the red headed lad,’ said Professor Weatherwax shortly. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Err…Ron Weasley, Professor,’ said Ron sheepishly.
‘Well Ron Weasley, whether you like me or not I don’t want you talking in my class, understand?’
‘Yes Professor,’ answered Ron glumly.
‘You’ll have to watch out for those Weasleys,’ sneered Malfoy. ‘They’re always causing trouble.’ Once again the Slytherin crowd met Malfoy’s snide remark with appreciative sniggering but Professor Weatherwax did not seem as pleased. She stepped out from behind her desk and strode right up to Malfoy, fixing him with a keen gaze.
‘And who might you be?’ she asked plainly.
‘Draco Malfoy,’ he said defiantly, putting quite unnecessary emphasis on both words.
‘Give me your hands,’ demanded the Professor.
‘What?’ he asked, almost in disbelief.
‘I said give me your hands,’ she repeated. Slowly and uncertainly, Malfoy brought his hands up on to his desk and as soon as they were within view Professor Weatherwax grabbed them with her long, thin fingers.
‘What are you doing?’ he shrieked, trying to pull his hands free. Her grip was strong and her expression unchanged, she turned his hands over to look at them and after a few seconds she let them go. Malfoy was pulling back so hard that he almost fell off his chair when she let him go and as soon as he regained his composure he looked up at her with indignant fury in his eyes.
‘What was that about?’ he asked, sounding as put out as he could while still remembering he was talking to a teacher.
‘Your hands are as soft as a babbie’s backside,’ she said matter-of-factly. ‘Come from a rich family, do you?’
‘I’m a Malfoy!’ he said pompously.
‘Well la-de-da,’ said Professor Weatherwax, clearly not impressed. ‘I’ve run into your type many times before. Spoilt little rich boys who think they own the place, well that ain’t going to wash in my class, you hear me?’ The whole room had fallen deathly silent, Professor Weatherwax and Malfoy continued to stare at each other until her unwavering stare became too much for him and he cast his eyes away. Satisfied that she had made her point the Professor made her way back to her desk so she could continue her lesson.
‘My father will hear of this,’ said Malfoy, low and venomous.
‘I bloody hope so,’ said Professor Weatherwax, not turning round from the blackboard. ‘Maybe he can teach you some manners.’ After writing the name of the class on the board she turned around and clasped her hands in front of her. ‘Right, you all know my name, I’m Professor Weatherwax and I’m here to teach you Headology. I’ve been told some dark wizard fellow has come back from the dead or something and he’s causing all sorts of bother, so Headmaster Dumbledore wrote to me and asked if I’d help the cause as it were by teaching this class.’ Some of the class shifted uneasily in their seats at the mention of Lord Voldemort, even if it did seem like Professor Weatherwax had no idea who he was.
‘I’ll play no favourites in my class,’ she went on. ‘If you act like a silly bugger you’ll get it in the neck, same as anyone. I don’t expect much but what I do expect is for you to keep quiet, pay attention and let me do my job.’ No one spoke for a moment or two and Professor Weatherwax seemed perfectly happy with this, she was looking out into the faces of her class, figuring out what kind of people she had to deal with. After a lengthy silence the Professor finally spoke again.
‘So, any questions?’ The moment she asked this Hermione’s hand shot into the air so quickly that Harry swore he saw Professor Weatherwax blink. ‘Yes Miss…?’
‘Granger,’ replied Hermione. ‘Hermione Granger, and I was wondering. What exactly is Headology?’
‘Good question,’ said the Professor, pointing momentarily at Hermione. ‘Headology is… well it’s…’
‘Yes?’ said Hermione, eager to finally find out what her new class entailed.
‘Put it this way,’ said Professor Weatherwax, realising she had never really had to explain her craft before. ‘Headology is making your opponent think you know more than you actually do.’
‘Oh,’ said Hermione.
The rest of the class passed without incident; Professor Weatherwax did elaborate on her initial explanation of Headology but by the end of the lesson there were those who were still as confused as they were at the beginning of the classes, and in some cases more so. There had definitely been something weighing on Hermione’s mind since the mention of their Headology lessons being in conjuncture with their Defence of The Dark Arts classes, and that was they had still not been introduced to this year’s teacher for that class. Each and every year that Harry, Ron and Hermione had attended Hogwarts they had had a new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher and each and every year something had caused them to leave. In their first year Professor Quirrel had been allowing a weak Lord Voldemort to inhabit his body, in their second year Professor Lockhart had been revealed to be a fraud by Harry and Ron, in their third year Professor Lupin had left of his own accord on account of him being a werewolf, in their fourth year Professor Moody had turned out not to be Professor Moody at all and their last year had been spent languishing under the oppressive Ministry led rule of Professor Umbridge, who ended up being carried off into the Forbidden Forest by the resident unicorns and subsequently going mad, possibly because of her loathing for half-breeds. So by now the students at Hogwarts were used to greeting a new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher every year.
Just as the class was winding down to a close Hermione decided to find out once and for all who was going to be teaching their Defence Against The Dark Arts classes this year. Harry and Ron were not as bothered however so they told Hermione to meet them in the Great Hall for lunch. They were both tucking into platefuls of steak and kidney pie when Hermione arrived with a rather confused look on her face.
‘Well?’ asked Ron between mouthfuls of pie. ‘Did you find out who’s teaching Defence Against The Dark Arts this year?’
‘Yes,’ said Hermione, clearly still in a state of confusion.
‘Well don’t leave us hanging,’ said Ron, swallowing his current mouthful. ‘What’s the poor sod’s name?’
‘Professor Dumbledore,’ said Hermione.
- June 2005