Headmaster Albus Dumbledore smiled at his students as he sat back down in his chair. He'd just finished the usual brief words he uses at the beginning of the Start of Term Feast, and the students were now all helping themselves to various foods and drinks; a sight he never tired of. He had no doubt that every few years there would be a student who was starved half to death by their parents during the summer, and although the thought saddened him, there wasn't anything he could do to stop it.
People were blind, you see. The most horrific of things can occur before their very eyes and they would never even notice it. Of course, there were the odd few who would, but most were oblivious to the fact that bullying and child abuse exist. Why, even he had not noticed how badly Sirius Black's parents treated him. Thankfully, though, the boy had managed to run away a while back, and was now living with his best friend, James Potter during the summers. And Albus was glad for him.
But he couldn't convince the Ministry to do anything about it to make it official. They were so dumb that they thought young Sirius was bluffing, harming himself for attention. All because his parents were of an Ancient and Noble House. So the Ministry knew nothing of Sirius' living with the Potters, simply believing that he spent a lot of time with them, and the other Blacks just didn't care.
Albus truly wanted to help any of his students who had to put up with abuse from their peers or guardians, but it wasn't an easy thing to do. Abused children tend to either not realise what their parents are doing is wrong, or simply feel so ashamed about it that they never bring it up with anyone. Sirius had been an example of the latter case.
He sighed as he sipped from a goblet of pumpkin juice. He would never be able to help all of his students with these cases, he knew, but that didn't mean he liked it. The very thought of one of the faces before him utterly defenceless against those who wish to cause them harm angered him.
'And whilst we're on the subject of defending ourselves,' Albus thought bitterly, 'If someone doesn't turn up for that Defence post by the end of the day, I'll have to owl for someone hired by the Ministry.'
The only reason he hadn't owled them yet was because there were those rare but delightful occasions when an applicant to the job burst into the Great Hall during the Feast, or his Office just as he finished writing the letter. A late but good applicant was far better than a Ministry worker in his opinion. They'd had one of those last year, and the middle-aged man had barely knew what he was yapping on about himself.
Hearing a groan from beside him, Albus turned to face his Deputy Head, Minerva McGonagall, with a raised eyebrow. As soon as she noticed him, the witch gave a tired smile. "I was just imagining what sort of nonsense we may end up with for a DADA teacher this year, even if someone does show up," she nodded towards Hagrid. "We don't need another incident like 1974."
Albus chuckled. The Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in that year had been a nightmare. She'd been knowledgeable in the subject like few others, but it seemed that her twitching paranoia of potatoes had bit her in the back when she started screaming "The potato King! The potato King! Merlin have mercy on our souls!" while hexing Hagrid to oblivion. Hagrid, upset at being mistaken for a royal potato, had snapped her wand arm just to get her to stop firing spells at him. Needless to say, glares were exchanged on a regular basis after that incident.
"Indeed, Minerva. Although I must say I'm glad we don't have a Divination teacher obsessed with predicting a certain student's early and gruesome death yet." Albus mused, vaguely noticing that the pepper on his chicken leg was patterned like a man in a turban.
Minerva snorted. "I daresay we will have one of those eventually."
"You know," the squeaky voice of Filius Flitwick came from beside Minerva, "I sometimes wonder if we'll get a madman for the DADA post. After all, aurors have been known to go a little barmy from paranoia or over-exposure to the cruciatus every now and then."
Albus nodded, frowning slightly. "You make a good point, Filius. The Ministry would probably see any sign of madness as a weakness in an auror," he sighed, then turned to smile at him. "But do tell me, Filius. What sort of madness you were referring to?"
Albus never got to hear Filius' views on madmen, however, as his words were quickly drowned out by a loud bang and a triumphant yell. A young man had suddenly appeared in the middle of the Great Hall, wand drawn, with a mad grin on his face.
As if searching for something, the man turned his face quickly in various directions, his long messy black hair swishing all over the place. "Dude, where the hell did you go?" he yelled, scanning the room. "Chickened out at last? Finally realised how much of a ponce you are, yeh git?"
The man shrugged, as if to say 'Oh well, whatever,' and turned to grin at Albus. "Hey, Dumblydoor! Whatcha doing over there? Does this mean I'm dead?" his gaze turned to McGonagall. "Minnie! When did you die? Did the ponce get you too?" he stared at McGonagall for a little longer before a look of horror crossed his face. "Oh bum! I went out like a light. I didn't even notice! God, that's not the way I wanted to go, I wanted to go through the cruciatus a few more times, bleed a bit, and…"
The man whined on for a few more minutes about how he would have liked to die before Albus remembered what he really should be doing. "Excuse me," he called out, grabbing the attention of everyone in the Hall except for the still complaining man who thought he was dead. After a few more fruitless attempts, he yelled "YOU'RE NOT DEAD."
The man spun to face him, an unreadable expression on his face. "THEN WHAT AM IIIIIIIIIIII?" he bellowed in what could only be described as a failed attempt at sounding like a monster.
"Well, if you'll come to my office with me, we can figure that out." Albus smiled, moving towards the exit and gesturing for the man to follow. The man hummed an affirmative, walking with an odd spring to his step out of the Hall.
As the crazy duo left the Hall, Minerva turned to Filius. "I think you may be a seer, Filius."