– CHAPTER SIXTEEN
In the Hogs Head
Hermione made no mention of Harry giving Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons for two whole weeks after her original suggestion. Harry’s detentions with Umbridge were finally over (he doubted whether the words now etched into the back of his hand would ever fade entirely); Ron had had four more Quidditch practices and not been shouted at during the last two; and all three of them had managed to Vanish their mice in Transfiguration (Hermione had actually progressed to Vanishing kittens), before the subject was broached again, on a wild, blustery evening at the end of September, when the three of them were sitting in the library, looking up potion ingredients for Snape.
‘I was wondering,’ Hermione said suddenly, ‘whether you’d thought any more about Defence Against the Dark Arts, Harry.’
‘Course I have,’ said Harry grumpily, ‘can’t forget it, can we, with that hag teaching us -‘
‘I meant the idea Ron and I had -‘ Ron cast her an alarmed, threatening kind of look. She frowned at him, ‘- Oh, all right, the idea I had, then – about you teaching us.’
Harry did not answer at once. He pretended to be perusing a page of Asiatic Anti-Venoms, because he did not want to say what was in his mind.
He had given the matter a great deal of thought over the past fortnight. Sometimes it seemed an insane idea, just as it had on the night Hermione had proposed it, but at others, he had found himself thinking about the spells that had served him best in his various encounters with Dark creatures and Death Eaters – found himself, in fact, subconsciously planning lessons…
‘Well,’ he said slowly, when he could no longer pretend to find Asiatic Anti-Venoms interesting, ‘yeah, I – I’ve thought about it a bit.’
‘And?’ said Hermione eagerly.
‘I dunno,’ said Harry, playing for time. He looked up at Ron.
‘I thought it was a good idea from the start,’ said Ron, who seemed keener to join in this conversation now that he was sure Harry was not going to start shouting again.
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
‘You did listen to what I said about a load of it being luck, didn’t you?’
‘Yes, Harry,’ said Hermione gently, ‘but all the same, there’s no point pretending that you’re not good at Defence Against the Dark Arts, because you are. You were the only person last year who could throw off the Imperius Curse completely, you can produce a Patronus, you can do all sorts of stuff that full-grown wizards can’t, Viktor always said -‘
Ron looked round at her so fast he appeared to crick his neck. Rubbing it, he said, ‘Yeah? What did Vicky say?’
‘Ho ho,’ said Hermione in a bored voice. ‘He said Harry knew how to do stuff even he didn’t, and he was in the final year at Durmstrang.’
Ron was looking at Hermione suspiciously.
‘You’re not still in contact with him, are you?’
‘So what if I am?’ said Hermione coolly, though her face was a little pink. ‘I can have a pen-pal if I -‘
‘He didn’t only want to be your pen-pal,’ said Ron accusingly.
Hermione shook her head exasperatedly and, ignoring Ron, who was continuing to watch her, said to Harry, ‘Well, what do you think? Will you teach us?’
‘Just you and Ron, yeah?’
‘Well,’ said Hermione, looking a mite anxious again. ‘Well… now, don’t fly off the handle again, Harry, please… but I really think you ought to teach anyone who wants to learn. I mean, we’re talking about defending ourselves against V-Voldemort. Oh, don’t be pathetic, Ron. It doesn’t seem fair if we don’t offer the chance to other people.’