I knew she was trouble the moment she walked in.
Of course, that's exactly what she wanted me to know.
One encounters many different kinds of students teaching at this level, whether you're teaching English Literature or the Lore of Dragons. Your friends, when they find out that you spend your days riding herd on female students, waggle their eyebrows and ask impudent questions, and this kind of student is the one they have in mind.
I won't comment on her legs – though she did have them.
I won't comment on her other... assets – though she did have them.
My attention was drawn to her hair, expertly coiled on her head like a nest of compliant serpents, and to her eyes. Dark, hard, and searching, darting about, completely unlike the dull and unfocused look my younger students get when confronting the twelve uses of dragon's blood for the first time. Eyes that saw your soul and sized you up and found you wanting... but you'd do, for now.
At the end of my first class of the year she strides up to me, belting her dark grey trench coat one-handed and running the other through her hair. The white-haired boy who has been such a distraction to my female students walks up to her as she passes, and she does something with her hips, sways, half-turns. The coat flares out just a little and the hand he had meant to lay on her shoulder closes on empty air, and then she is talking to me and the boy is left cold.
Not the standard uniform, of course. Hogwarts students wear robes, not trench coats, and certainly not indoors. There is a double-headed eagle on the coat. Dammit, I think. She's my Durmstrang transferee.
"May I see you after class," she purrs, and if I didn't know she was trouble at the start I know it now.
"Certainly," I say, and she says, "Maybe I'll come to your office after fifth period."
"Maybe I'll be there," I reply.
She smiles with half her mouth and both her eyes and bids me good morning, and the rest of the day is spent wrangling with the rest of the seventh years. I see her once, striding down the hallway as I chat with Anna, another one of my students. The redhead glares at her, and her only response is to angle her arm so that the bracelet of perfect, magical ice she is wearing glitters in full view.
It is dark when she knocks on my office door. I take a moment to bring order to my cluttered desk and call on her to come in. She strides inside, heavy boots tapping on the stone floor. She turns her back to me and shrugs off the coat, and to my surprise she looks small and vulnerable without it. She stands in front of me with her shoulders hunched, and I invite her to take a seat. Just as she does, the door opens with a whoosh. Cold air floods into the room and rage flashes through those dark eyes for a moment before her face settles into a polite neutrality. My attention is then diverted to the brunette whirlwind who has entered my office unbidden. She pontificates cheerfully for a minute on the rights of house elves, and presses fliers into both our hands before exiting as quickly as she entered.
"You must excuse Rapunzel," I say. "She can be a bit of a handful."
She cants her head. "Good evening, professor."
"Good evening. It's a pleasure to have a newcomer in class, Victoria Intessar Nibelung. Your names mean 'victory' in Latin and Arabic. Someone gave you the strongest name they could think of. Tell me, what should I call you?"
"Whatever you like."
"I need your help, professor."
"For what," I ask.
"Durmstrang's curriculum is very different from that of Hogwarts. I do not feel entirely ready for your class."
I've seen her diagnostic test. She isn't. Durmstrang's legendarily poor lore curriculum has seen to that.
"And what do you propose we do about that, Miss Nibelung?"
"Extra classes of course. I have always done well with private tutoring, and I am told that you offer such to students who are behind."
"I see my reputation precedes me." I pull out a piece of parchment and scribble onto it. "I am compiling a list of readings for you, but there is more to this class than books. To learn the Lore of Dragons, you must have affinity for flame. May I ask for a demonstration?"
She leans forward and undoes the two top buttons of her shirt. She reaches inside and slowly pulls out a long ebony wand. She glances at the flier in her hand, flicks it into the air, and sets it on fire with a wordless incendio spell.
The flame is strong. The parchment is ash before it hits the floor. I nod. "That will do, Miss Nibelung."
She thrusts the wand back down her shirt in one smooth motion but does not button it up again. "I am worried, professor. Some days I feel I would do anything to graduate."
Our eyes lock. I lean in close.
I stuff the reading list into her breast pocket.
"Would you study?"
Some smiles show happiness. This one shows teeth. "Good evening, professor."
"Good evening," I say. "Remedial classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays at five pm."
She lets me put her trench coat on her as she leaves. I note the yellow and black tie stuffed into one of the deep pockets and recall something the headmaster once said, about how once in a while, an older student fools the Sorting Hat.