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Chapter Seven
New Lessons and a Surprise

The meeting came to an end soon after Harry's explanation, and the teachers made their way down to the Welcome Feast.  The Weasleys, Grangers, Sirius and Remus had all been invited to stay at the school for a couple of days to give them the chance to spend some quality time with the time travellers.  All four of the students felt they needed to be close to those they considered family after being cut off from them for so long.  The Weasleys had eventually accepted what had happened to their two youngest, but Molly especially still wasn't happy about their exploits, especially the amount of combat situations they had found themselves in.  The Grangers were having a harder time grasping the situation, though.  As they were Muggles, it took a lot more explaining, even when it was Hermione who was telling them as simply as possible.  They just couldn't grasp the fact that their little girl was old enough to vote, drink alcohol, and marry without their permission.  She was eighteen, a legal adult, and they had missed the last three years of her childhood.

Sirius was taking it the hardest out of everyone.  Even though Remus tried to talk some sense into him, the animagus couldn't help feeling guilty for missing out on so much of his godson's life.  He had missed twelve long years while he was in Azkaban, and most of Harry's third and fourth years he wasn't in contact with the boy.  The previous year especially, as he still had to be careful not to get caught.  Now he had missed a further three years because Harry was off on a crazy trip, leaving Sirius feeling empty and lonely.  Harry was an adult now.  He didn't need his godfather to provide a home for him now that he was free.  Sirius felt as if he was no longer needed to be a part of Harry's life, and that was what hurt the most.

As everyone made their way to the Great Hall, Dumbledore and Ron discussed the last minute arrangements for the four of them.  They had all agreed to be placed once more in Gryffindor, as that was where they had originally been sorted.  They would now be taking classes with the seventh years, though; as Dumbledore knew they had successfully passed their fifth and sixth years without problems.  What to tell the school had been the hardest part to decide on, but eventually they settled on something informative, yet vague enough not to cause too many problems.  The four were to wait in a room off the Hall until they were announced by the headmaster, before making their way back to their House table.  When the group finally reached the Great Hall and walked through the doors, they could see that most of the teachers were already seated.  Harry looked at the Head Table intently for a moment before moving over to the Potions Master to ask him a question.

“ Sev, why is one of Hagrid's creatures sitting at the Head Table?”

Sev looked at him in confusion for a moment.

“ Where?”

“ There, between Professors Flitwick and Sprout.”

Severus looked over to where Harry was pointing, and a small chuckle escaped his lips as he realised what the boy meant.

“ Harry, that's Professor Umbridge, the Defence teacher.”

“ Really?” Harry asked in curiosity, “ I never would have guessed.  Is it just me, or does she look a little…sour?”

“ It's not you.  Harry, don't trust her.  She's from the Ministry, and is supposed to be inspecting the school.  Fudge is telling people that Shirley isn't back, and this is part of his plan to undermine Dumbledore's authority.  She's here to make sure our esteemed headmaster doesn't scare the students with `fictional' stories of the Dark Lord's return to full power.”

“ Sev, I thought the Ministry didn't have any authority over Hogwarts.”

“ It doesn't really, it's all down to the governors.  Unfortunately, the governors have been…persuaded…to agree with the Minister on this issue.”

“ Really?  Well, she'd better not cross me, I'm telling you.  Voldie is back, and no toad faced little Ministry spy is going to tell me any different.”

“ Be careful, Harry,” Sev said in earnest, “ She has a lot of influence in high places.  She's not someone to cross.”

Harry gave the older man a sharp look before his face split into a wicked grin.

“ Neither am I.”


After being ushered into the side room before Umbridge could notice, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny sat themselves down in front of the fire and waited for the signal.  Sev was standing on the outside of the door, waiting for the headmaster to announce them.  Once the explanation had been given, he would open the door and they would go to their House table.  As they waited in silence, an increasing amount of noise could be heard through the door coming from the Great Hall.

“ What do you think the reaction will be?” Hermione asked.

“ Not sure, love.  I bet a few faint, though.  I can't wait to see the look on Malfoy's face!”

“ Ron!”

“ What?  The little ferret deserves to have the wind knocked out of his sails.  Just think, Harry knows more Dark spells that he ever will.”

“ Not that I'll use them unless necessary,” Harry defended.

“ Of course you won't, mate, but the option is there, and is enough to scare the little maggot with.”

“ Shh, Ron, I think Dumbledore's starting,” Ginny said, before tilting her head in the direction of the door.

The other three sat still, listening to the headmaster's words through the door.  The wood dulled the sound, so they had to listen very carefully to make out what was being said.  Just as he was about to start his speech, Hermione's eyes lit up and she wandlessly cast an eavesdropping charm, allowing them to hear what was going on in the Hall with perfect clarity.

“ Welcome, students, to another year at Hogwarts,” Dumbledore was saying, “ Before I give you the usual notices, I have something rather bizarre to tell you all…”

“ Hem hem.”

The Hall fell silent, and the time travellers sent each other questioning looks.  No-one, as far as they had seen, had ever interrupted Dumbledore during his start of term speech.

“ Headmaster, if I may,” came a sickly sweet voice.

“ Oh, of course, Professor Umbridge.”

When Harry heard this, his eyes darkened.  He hadn't even met her yet, and she was already getting on his bad side.  He had expected her to show a little more respect to the ancient wizard.  Ministry officials, he thought with contempt as he rolled his eyes.

“ Thank you Headmaster,” came through the door, “ I just wanted to tell everyone that I am Professor Dolores Umbridge, your new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.  As I have no doubt of what tall tale the headmaster was about to spin, I would like to clarify the matter concerning the return of You-Know-Who.  Professor Dumbledore told you at the end of your last year here that he had been given his body back, and I would like to take this opportunity to say that the Ministry rightly believes this information to be false.  There is no way that You-Know-Who is a threat, no matter who tells you otherwise.”

“ That's all well and good, Dolores, but that wasn't what I was going to say,” Dumbledore interrupted before she could continue.

“ Humph!” was all he got in response as the dumpy witch sat down again.  In the side room, the time travellers were trying not to laugh at her indignant noises.  

“ As I was saying,” the headmaster continued, “ I have some rather extraordinary news.  Over the summer, four students found a highly magical artifact which managed to transport them through time.  As you will see when they appear before you, they have grown three years since you have last seen them, and will now be joining the seventh years for lessons.  I ask that you do not question them on their whereabouts as they have been through a lot and may not want to talk about it.  It is their story to tell when they are ready, and anyone pestering them will lose House points, as two of their number are Prefects, and as such are well within their rights to punish you.  Now, can we please welcome Virginia Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter!”

Severus pulled the door open and the four strode out into the Great Hall, their coloured robes swirling around their legs.  As they stopped in front of the staff table, they were met with astounded looks from most of the other students.  As the shock started to wear off, Harry and Ron saw something that made them feel like Christmas had come early.

Malfoy fainted.

He actually fainted.

The loud *thump* as he hit the ground attracted the attention of everyone in the room, and when they realised what had happened they all started laughing.  A considerate sixth year Slytherin thought to send an enervate spell in the blonde's direction, effectively waking him from his faint.  As he sat up, a dazed look on his face, the other students laughed all the harder.  Harry and Ron actually had tears of mirth spilling over their cheeks.  Malfoy turned an amusing shade of red before standing with as much dignity as he could muster and striding out of the Hall, head held high.  Once everyone had calmed down, the four time travellers moved over to the Gryffindor table, where they were assaulted by questions left right and centre.  Fred and George were delighted at having the founders of the original Marauders in their classes.  The thought of gaining Peeves' cooperation filled them with glee.  They had tried for years to get the poltergeist to help them with some of their more elaborate pranks, and while the ghost had never given them away, he hadn't helped them either.  But now they had Harry and Ron, who were close friends of the ancient fiend, and would be able to talk him into anything.

The fifth year Gryffindors were the most talkative of the lot.  Seamus and Dean were relentlessly questioning Harry and Ron about the last three years, such as where they had been and who they had met.  The two boys were trying to answer their questions without giving away too much, but it was becoming increasingly difficult.  Neville didn't say much, but he sat and listened to everything the four were saying.  Lavender and Parvati were continuously asking Hermione and Ginny what boys were like in the times they had seen, giggling when they described people like Caligula Malfoy and Horatio D'Escargot.  Anything the two gossips did find out was promptly passed down the table, and soon spread to the girls at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables.  Even some of the Slytherins were talking about it.

Eventually, the feast appeared on the tables, giving the time travellers the chance to pause in their answers and eat the delicious food.  When the desserts appeared, Harry and Hermione were called up to the Head table with the rest of the prefects to be given the list of passwords, before they led their Houses back to the common rooms.  Hermione enjoyed the experience, telling all of the first years interesting facts about the castle, and advising them of the trick steps they found occasionally.  When she started telling them about what the school had been like a thousand years before, when it had first been built, the rest of the Gryffindors crowded around and listened as well.  Even Fred and George, who would normally have been pulling off a spectacular prank about now, were engrossed in the tales of Normans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Elves.  The latter caused quite a stir, as all but a handful of magical folk believed them to be an extinct race.  Talk of Lolide and her family made Harry feel nostalgic, and he vowed to contact the elven world as soon as the opportunity arose, giving him the chance to build bridges between the humans and the elves, something he had promised to do three years ago.  Eventually, the Gryffindors reached the Tower, and after a brief speech from Hermione about school rules, everyone retired to their dormitories for some much needed sleep.


Monday day saw the four friends up bright and early, each running laps of the quidditch pitch, thankful that their return had been on a Friday, giving them a couple of days to readjust to their own time.  Since they had received their weapons training it had been necessary for them to keep in shape.  The better their physical condition, the better their performance in battle, and with an enemy as dangerous as Voldemort they had to have as much of an advantage as possible.  After an hour of running and another hour of sparring, they made their way back to Gryffindor Tower for a quick shower.  Soon, they were all strolling into the Great Hall and taking their places at their table.  This time, they were dressed in the more modern uniforms they had transfigured from their old ones.  They still needed to make a trip to Diagon Alley, but that would have to wait until the following weekend.  As they started piling food onto their plates, Harry looked around the room and made an observation.

“ You know, I think this is the first time in ages we have been the first down to breakfast.”

Sure enough, every other table was empty.

“ Yeah, but at least we get first go at the food,” Ron pointed out.

“ Ron!  Is that all you think about?”

“ But of course, my dear sister, what else is there to think about?”

“ Men,” Ginny grumbled, sending a pointed look to Harry, who was busy shovelling scrambled eggs into his mouth.

Twenty minutes later, as the four were finishing their breakfast, Minerva strolled in with the rest of the teachers and headed straight over to them.

“ I have your timetables, if you want them,” she said as she passed the pieces of parchment out.  They all nodded their thanks and looked at the classes they had that day, Ron letting out a loud groan when he realised what he would have to sit through.

“ Can you believe we have Snape first thing today?”

Harry instantly brightened, a grin appearing on his face at this news.

“ That's brilliant!”

“ Harry, you're insane,” Ron deadpanned, staring at his friend in utter disbelief.

“ No, I just happen to like Potions.”

“ You never used to when Snape taught us.”

“ But now I understand the subject better, and I find it utterly fascinating.  Anyway, Sev can't take points.  A lot of what he knows was taught to him by me.  He can't exactly say I'm getting it wrong.”

“ True, but you're back to being a Gryffindor now, mate.  You're not one of his Slytherin buddies, and he has to keep up appearances.”

“ True, but at least we don't have Malfoy in our class anymore.”

Ron brightened at that prospect, and wasn't quite as somber as before.  Getting up, the four of them decided to head back to the Gryffindor common room and find something to do, as they still had an hour before their first lesson.  As they slumped into their seats in front of the fire, Ron pulled out his broomstick and started polishing it, while the other three sat down to write.  After a few minutes, the red head looked over at his friends with a puzzled look on his face.

“ What are you three doing

“ Writing,” Hermione muttered.

“ Writing what?”

“ Books,” Ginny answered without looking up.  Shaking his head in exasperation, Ron turned back to his broom and started lovingly trimming the bristles.


Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny were the first seventh year students to arrive at the Potions classroom, and they promptly wandered in and chose their seats.  Although they didn't know where the rest of the class usually sat, they thought that no-one would complain if they chose the front row.  If their previous experience was the general trend, none of the other students would want to sit anywhere near the Potions Master.  People started drifting into the room soon after they set their things up, most of which gave the four rather curious looks.  After all, it wasn't every day that people who were supposed to be in fifth year joined the seventh year classes.  The Gryffindors grinned at them as they moved to their seats, and the Ravenclaws gave them fascinated looks, as if they were new specimens fit for study.  All four of them were relieved that the seventh year Potions class was shared with Rowena's House, and not the Slytherins.  It would be nice to be able to get through a whole lesson without malicious sabotage.  

Fred and George Weasley sauntered in seconds before Snape, chatting loudly and putting the Slytherin Head of House in a bad mood.

“ Weasley and Weasley, sit down and shut up.  I have no time for your interruptions.  You have your NEWTs this year, and I will not have you disturbing your classmates, no matter how incompetent they are.  Ten points from Gryffindor.”

“ But Sir…”

“ Each

The twins took their seats, pouting at the irate teacher and sending him mild glares.  All they got in response was a vicious sneer.  Harry watched the performance in amusement.  While Sev's behaviour in his first four years had been intimidating, now that he knew the man better he could see that it was simply a performance.  A very good performance, something that most people couldn't see through, but a performance none the less.  As the potion they were making was written up on the board and the students got to work, Harry wondered if he would be treated any better in class than he had been before he left for the founders' age.

Twenty five minutes later, the Boy-Who-Lived finished up the healing draught they were making and placed a sample in a vial.  Looking around the room, he realised that he was the only one that had finished.  Even Hermione seemed like she would need another quarter of an hour.  He felt pride swelling in his chest as he realised that all of the extra time he had been spending researching the subtle art of potion making had paid off.  Harry sat still for a minute or two, trying to decide what to do.  He could sit in silence and risk the Potion Master's ire, or he could tell the man he was finished and ask for something else to do.  Finally, common sense won out and he stood up, vial in hand, and made his way to the front desk where Sev was looking intently into his own simmering cauldron.  The potion inside was a rich royal purple, and had a faint blue mist rising from it, which gave the air in the vicinity a slight tang.  Harry was a little disappointed when he didn't recognise it.  Coming to a stop in front of the desk, he cleared his throat and waited for Sev to respond.

“ What is it, Harry?” the older man asked quietly, making sure they weren't overheard.

“ I've finished the potion.  I was wondering if you needed a hand.”

Sev gave him a penetrating look.

“ I don't think you can help.  Not unless you can tell me the antidote for the Infierno Poison,” he said, a trace of sarcasm noticeable.  Unfazed, Harry fixed him with a glare and started to recite ingredients from memory.

“ Three unicorn tail hairs, eight thestral feathers, twenty gnats' wings, an ounce of crushed shrivelfig, two ounces of asphodel, ground bicorn horn, three drops of phoenix tears, the tail bone of a crup, and an infusion of wormwood.”

Sev looked at him incredulously before fixing a genuine sneer of his face.

“ That's not funny.”

Harry gave him a level stare and answered seriously.

“ It wasn't meant to be.”

That obviously wasn't the answer the Slytherin had been expecting.  He gave his young friend an incredulous look before questioning him in an astonished tone.

“ And you know how to make it?  How to put the ingredients together?”

“ Of course,” Harry said with a frown, “ I know a lot about potions, if you remember.  I'm sure I could make something as simple as that.  The only tricky part is adding the unicorn hair without it reacting with the shrivelfig.  If you don't get the timing exactly right, the whole potion is ruined.  What's the big deal, anyway?  It's just a potion.”

“ Harry, that potion hasn't been made in over eight hundred years.  As far as anyone is concerned, the Infierno Poison has no antidote.  If what you are saying is true, we need to go for a little chat with the headmaster.”

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