Chapter Two: First Days
Harry woke the next morning relieved to be back at Hogwarts. He got dressed, woke Ron, and made sure his wand was stowed safely away.
He'd been afraid during the trial that he wouldn't get to come back to Hogwarts. And that he'd no longer have a wand.
McGonagall handed out schedules before breakfast, and they all compared notes, especially on Defense Against Dark Arts classes. Ginny and Luna had it second class the first day, Harry and his year-mates had it first class their second day. First day was Charms and Herbology. They'd have Defense right before Transfiguration.
Harry grabbed some breakfast, but his attention was on the staff table. The professors, including their new Defense teachers, had come in and settled down for breakfast. Snape looked as sour as ever, Dumbledore as amused, McGonagall as stern. Hagrid as nervous and Flitwick and Sprout as cheerful. Nothing new there.
The three Defense Professors were once more attired in Muggle clothes. In fact, it looked like Castiel had never changed out of his previous outfit. Maybe all his clothes were like that. The other two were relaxed, chatting to each other, and to Flitwick, who was sitting next to Sam.
Harry kept one eye on his food, one eye on the Professors. Halfway through the meal, he saw it.
Once again, Castiel had a full plate, while the other two were almost done. Once again, one of the others swapped his full plate for theirs and swapped out the silverware. And the smaller man just let it happen, as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
"Harry?" Hermione's voice jerked his attention back to the Gryffindor table.
Ron was frowning at him. "You've been staring at the staff table like you expect it to catch fire, mate. Snape giving you the glare again or what?"
Harry shook his head. "Snape's normal, for Snape anyway." He shot a quick scowl at the dark-haired Potions Professor. "It's just...have you noticed anything...odd, about our Defense teachers?"
"Aside from their clothing, you mean?" Ron shrugged. "They look a little tough, but hell, Moody looked worse."
Hermione pursed her lips. "Well, I'm not sure you'd call it...odd, exactly, but I did notice that none of them assigned a text book for this year. Well, I think the First Years are using the standard one, but there's not one listed for our year, or for Fourth Years and Third Years. I checked."
Harry blinked. He hadn't even noticed that, but Hermione was right. They hadn't picked up any new Defense books for class this year. New Charms, Transfiguration, and other books, but none for Defense. He set the thought aside. "That's odd, but that isn't what I meant."
He explained what he'd seen. "It's strange, isn't it?"
Ron's brow creased. "It is a bit dodgy. But...maybe he's just got a touchy stomach or something, doesn't want to broadcast it and get sent to Madam Pomfrey?"
Hermione nodded. "Or he could have an unusual eating schedule, or a specific diet, and not want people to know. I've heard there are medical conditions like that."
Ron smirked suddenly. "Or maybe Snape just puts him off his food."
"Ron." Hermione shot him an exasperated look. "We're prefects. We need to set a good example, no matter how we feel about certain professors."
"Sure Hermione." Ron shrugged. He glanced back at the Professor's table. "I get why you're a bit concerned, mate, but it's probably nothing much."
Harry scowled. "Yeah. That's what I thought about Moody last year. If I'd been suspicious of that stupid hip flask earlier..."
Ron grimaced. "Point."
Hermione frowned. "I can understand why you're concerned Harry, but two meals...it isn't all that much to go on. Why don't we just keep an eye on him for a week or so, and we can go to McGonagall or the Headmaster if he's still behaving oddly."
Harry's stomach clenched as he remembered the way Dumbledore had ignored him during the trial, and at Grimmuald Place. Nevertheless, he nodded. "All right."
"Good. Then finish eating, mate. We've got Charms in twenty minutes."
Harry gulped and turned his attention to his bacon and eggs.
Half an hour later, all thought of his Defense Professor's odd behavior had been wiped from his thoughts by Professor Flitwick's syllabus.
He'd known O.W.L year was supposed to be hard, but the workload the Charms Professor was giving them was astounding. 1-3 foot long essays due practically every class, and the number of spells they were learning...
By the time class let out, Harry was convinced that if the other professors were this bad, he'd barely have time to eat and sleep, much less play Quidditch or do anything else.
None of the Defense Professors turned up for lunch, but that wasn't so unusual. Teachers were frequently missing during the midday meal.
Following that was Herbology, and by the time that was over, Harry was about ready to throw his hands up in frustration. Professor Sprout was every bit as hard as Professor Flitwick. He already shuddered to think what McGonagall was going to be like. And Snape...
He really didn't want to think about Snape. With Hermione's help, he'd gotten his summer Potions essay done, but he knew Snape wouldn't give him any points for it. He was already betting that Snape would be finding as many reasons as possible to deduct points and fail him. Especially since it was O.W.L year, and he'd want to make sure Harry failed that, the git.
Harry worked on some of his homework, then went down to dinner. Afterward, Ron and Hermione had to attend to prefect duties. Harry took the opportunity to go find Ginny and Luna, talking together. "Hey."
"Hey Harry." Ginny scooted over for him, and Harry sat down. "How are you?"
Harry cracked an awkward half smile. "Tired. The professors are really laying it on."
Ginny nodded. "It is O.W.L year. Fred and George said it was brutal. Then again, what they've been saying about this year..." She shrugged.
"Yeah." Harry swiped a stray bit of hair out of his eyes. "I was just wondering...you had Defense today, right?"
"We did. The teacher is very intense." Luna's eyes shifted to look at the table. "I don't think he likes teaching very well, but he's quite knowledgeable. He knows things I don't think some of our Seventh Years know. And he's very focused."
"He is." Ginny grinned. "He has this whole list of creatures we're going to learn how to deal with. And he's got this hands on approach to dealing with them. He gave us some ideas of the spells and all, but he seems really, really into hands-on methods. It's a lot different from Professor Lupin, or even Moody." She frowned. "He's...it's like Lockhart, only he's actually sensible. And capable."
"You think he knows what he's doing then?"
"He knows." Luna's voice had taken on an airy, singsong quality of utter certainty.
"That's good. Know anything about the other two?"
Luna actually smiled. "A bit controversial. Especially the smaller one."
"You mean Professor Castiel?" Harry tensed. "I've been wondering about him, since he's our year's teacher."
"He's quite skilled, and quite powerful. But apparently, he was taught a very different system of magic than we learn. The whole tower was in an uproar about it when the Seventh Years came in. It upset them a great deal, you know, having a whole system of magic that they never learned before now. I had a look at some of their notes...it looks quite intriguing."
A system of magic that no one had seen before...the prospect of the work was enough to make Harry groan. But if it was completely new, then it also might be something Voldemort had never seen.
He needed weapons. The bloody maniac was after him, and he needed as many weapons as he could get. Besides...he wanted to avenge Cedric. And his parents.
"Harry?" The concern in Ginny's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. Both girls were staring at him, Ginny with a worried look, Luna with her usual impassive one.
"Sorry. Just thinking. About...well, things." He managed a weak smile.
"About You-Know-Who." Ginny's voice was soft.
"Yeah. This stuff the new teacher's going over...I was wondering if he'd ever seen it. If not, I reckon I need all the lessons I can get." Harry felt his shoulders tense.
"I can understand why you'd think that Harry, but..." Ginny put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't forget about your O.W.L's and all, okay? There is life outside...all that."
Harry nodded, though his gut clenched. "Yeah. I know. Sorry." He ducked his head, then stood. "Speaking of O.W.L's, we've got loads of homework, and I reckon Hermione'll skin me if she gets back and I haven't even looked at it."
"Probably." Ginny smirked. "Glad it's not me."
Harry snorted. "Thanks." He turned and made his way to Gryffindor tower.
Dean collapsed on his bed. "Damn. These kids..."
"Fourth Years, right?" Sam looked up from his book.
"Yeah, Fourth Years. I gave 'em the basic 'talk' today, and you'd have thought I was telling them Santa wasn't real. Or that I'd stepped out of a loony bin." Dean grimaced. "Surrounded by frickin' wizards and witches, and they think I'm the nutjob here!" He huffed. "Swear to God..."
"Dean." Cas looked up sharply.
"Yeah, sorry." Dean grimaced. Cas had been touchy about anyone uttering his Father's name ever since Joshua's message had been delivered over a year ago. "These kids, I start talking and they're all sitting there, their little...sticks or whatever..."
"Wands." Sam supplied the word.
"Yeah. Those. Just sittin' there with them out, like, staring at me. And then this one kid puts her hand up and wants to know if I'll be covering the proper spells for them, and if I've ever faced a...booger..."
"Boggart. One of the first creatures on your Third Year syllabus. It's a modified shade, responds to fear by shape-changing into the thing you fear most. Can be stopped by the incantation Riddikulus, and focusing on something that amuses you instead."
Dean snorted. "I know, Sammy, I did my homework. So shut up, bitch."
Sam huffed. "Jerk."
Cas's head cocked. "Iron and holy water will also temporarily dispel one."
"Good to know." Dean sighed. "Still, they're asking me about ghosts, and werewolves and trolls and all this gnarly crap. And yeah, I've faced 'em, I've hunted just about everything on the planet, only I can't tell these kids I just shoot most of it. And they're asking about all those spells and stuff...Sammy, I don't know this crap!"
"Yeah, well, better practice." Sam gave his brother a slightly malicious grin. "You're gonna have to demonstrate sometime."
"Screw you, Sammy." Dean's head thumped back on the pillow.
Sam shrugged. "What, I have to practice too. And neither of us have wands, so we're going to be learning it all the hard way, with focus on wandless magic. The principle seems to be focused on will power and visualization, though, so we should be able to manage."
"Indeed. The two of you should prove quite capable in that regard, considering that you derailed the Apocalypse with nothing else." Castiel looked up from his own notes. "If you wish, I can help you practice. This particular system of magic seems fairly straightforward."
Sam smiled. "Thanks Cas. We'll probably take you up on that."
Dean groaned. The other two ignored him. Then the older Winchester lifted his head. "Speaking of classes, weren't you teaching today too Cas?"
"Yes. I was teaching the Seventh Years, the ones about to graduate." He cocked his head. "Some of them were quite agitated when I explained the basics of Enochian sigils and spells. They seemed quite upset that they'd never heard of them before."
"Yeah, well, you get to the top and think you know everything you need, and then get whammied by new information..." Dean smirked.
Sam grinned too. "Kind of like us having magic?"
Dean scowled. "Shut up, Sammy."
"Just saying..." The younger Winchester frowned at his notes. "Hey Cas...if we're casting wandlessly, do we need to use the same gestures?"
"I don't believe so. However, in the interests of teaching, you may wish to practice them."
"Right." Sam sighed. "Well, I've got some basic shielding and disarming spells to go through. I'm not supposed to get to practicals until one or two class periods from now, but if I'm going to have any luck with this, better get started." He stood, stretched. "You up for some practice? The Headmaster told me there's a room on the seventh floor that should work."
"Of course. Dean?" Castiel cocked his head at the older Winchester.
Dean grimaced, but levered himself off the bed. "Fine. But I'm voting for a trip to the kitchens to get some pie when we're done."
Sam snickered. Castiel's brow furrowed, but he nodded. "I believe that would be acceptable. Magic does expend a great deal of energy, it's wise to consider replenishing it after use."
Dean smirked at his brother. "That's what I'm talking about. Let's go find this room, get some practice in before it's lights out."
"Sure." Sam picked up the books on his bed, and led the other two from the room.
Harry got to breakfast early the next morning. He hadn't been able to sleep, too nervous and excited about his new Defense Professor. Luna's description of him had sounded promising.
The three Winchesters arrived shortly after McGonagall. Castiel sat in the middle. Harry watched, frowning as one of the other brothers filled a plate and set it in front of him. Then they filled their plates and started eating, while Castiel watched quietly.
Ten minutes later, Dean cleaned his plate and stole some of the food off of Castiel's. Five minutes later, Sam stole the rest.
It was weird. Harry turned back to his own breakfast with a frown. He hadn't actually seen Castiel eat a meal yet. But Hermione might be right. It could just be some weird eating habit or diet that he didn't want people to know about. He forced himself to put the thought aside.
Best to see what kind of Defense teacher the man was, before worrying about his eating habits.
Half an hour later, Harry, Hermione and Ron settled into their seats in the Defense classroom. Hermione, as usual, pulled out a thick sheaf of parchment to take notes on.
Two minutes later, the rest of the students had filed in and taken their seats. And still, the Defense Professor hadn't showed up. Harry was just starting to wonder where he was when the man walked through the door, carrying a thick leather folder.
He set the folder down on the desk, flipped it open, and frowned at the first sheet. He didn't even look at the class.
Hermione shifted in her seat and raised her hand. He didn't seem to notice. She sat there for at least thirty seconds, then cleared her throat. "Professor..."
"Castiel." The professor looked up. Harry felt his spine instinctively straighten under the man's intense blue-eyed stare. He'd thought Moody's magic eye was formidable, but Castiel's gaze hit almost like a Bludger.
Hermione looked taken aback. "Sir?"
"My name is Castiel." He glanced back at his papers. "I'm here to be your instructor for Fifth Year Defense."
"Yes sir. I was just wondering...there wasn't a textbook assigned for this class, or a syllabus."
"Much of the material I will be covering will not be found in any books you possess. As for the other material, for your...O.W.L studies, I have been assured by the Headmaster that the books in your school library will furnish sufficient study materials. As for a syllabus..." He frowned, then pulled out a sheaf of notes from the binder. "This should be sufficient." He turned, picked up a piece of chalk, and began to write.
Hermione scrambled to keep up. The rest of the class watched, dumbfounded, as the man filled the entire chalkboard with neat, precise handwriting that would have put McGonagall to shame. Harry blinked at the terms. He didn't understand half of them.
Apparently, he wasn't the only one. After a moment, Seamus raised his hand. "Sir...what's...Eno..."
"Enochian. It's an old language, as well as a system of spells using runes and sigils. My family was educated in it's use, and Professor Dumbledore asked me to share the basics with you, as part of your education for the year."
Draco made a rude noise. "I've never even heard of such a thing."
Castiel's gaze flicked to him, and Draco actually flinched backward and snapped his mouth shut. "I suspect there are many things you've never heard of." He glanced around the class. "If you've all finished copying out the syllabus..."
There was an immediate scramble for parchment and quills. Castiel started to erase the board, but Hermione put up her hand again. "Please sir, I'm not quite finished yet."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as Castiel lowered his arm. Snape probably would have sneered and erased the instructions anyway. McGonagall probably would have given them one of those forbidding scowls of hers. Professor Castiel, on the other hand, didn't seem to be put out at all. He simply waited until the scratching of quills over parchment had ceased, then wiped the board clean.
"Enochian." He wrote the word on the board, then scratched out a line of incomprehensible syllables next to it. "The language was introduced in the early days of humanity, around the time of the Neandrathals, and largely forgotten shortly after the Tower of Babel fell. The diversification of human language made the consistent use of Enochian impossible for the majority of the population. Since then, each major human society has developed it's own specific form of spell-casting, and the majority of magic users today prefer the Latin derivation, which I understand is what you use."
Harry wrote quickly, his mind whirling. He'd never heard any of this discussed in History of Magic class. Hermione was frowning, the way she did when she encountered new information that threw her off.
"Enochian is a very complicated language. The proper combination of words and sigils in Enochian can accomplish virtually anything. Learning Enochian properly takes years...far longer than I understand you have at this institution, and certainly far longer than I intend to be teaching here. So, at the Headmaster's request, my intention is to introduce you to the basic sigils and spells required for self-defense and protection."
Harry raised his hand, and Castiel pinned him with an unblinking stare. "Sir...does Enochian have offensive spells too? Attacking spells?"
"Of course. But I think it would be unwise to teach you those." Castiel turned back to the board and began erasing his lecture notes again.
Harry bit his lip. He wanted to pursue the topic, but he had a feeling that the Professor didn't intend to answer him. And he wasn't in the mood to push too far and blow his chances of learning something later. But an attack spell, something that Voldemort might not know and be able to counter...he needed to know.
Castiel began writing again. Strange, runic markings, with what looked like nonsense syllables beside them. "These are the most basic defensive sigils. You should copy them down and memorize them."
"Seriously." A loud, drawling sneer interrupted. Harry twisted his head around to see Draco, sitting at his desk with his arms folded defiantly. "Ancient languages? I don't believe a word of it. My father can trace his lineage back nearly to Merlin, and I've never heard of any of this rubbish."
A faint frown creased Castiel's eyebrows. "Merlin was...very recent, all things considered. And I have explained how the system came to be largely forgotten."
"Then how did you learn it?" Draco's lip curled. "Honestly...if I didn't know better, I'd think Professor Dumbledore hired you off some Muggle street."
"I don't understand the reference, but I was not hired off the street. The matter involved some fairly intense discussion." Castiel's frown deepened. "Mr. Malfoy, I would prefer if you did not waste any further time."
Harry sucked in a breath. Castiel hadn't called roll, and today was the first day of classes. How did he know Draco's name?
"I understand Professor. But frankly Professor, I'd like to see some proof that this...system of yours is even real." Malfoy stood up. "Because I've heard people talk, and not even the Ravenclaws have read of anything like this. Nor has my father."
Castiel's head cocked, tilting like an owls. "I suppose a demonstration would be beneficial." He set down the chalk. He considered the classroom, then moved to one end. "You should come here."
Draco smirked, then swaggered up to the front of the classroom, stopping when he was standing across from the Professor.
Castiel stood, loose and relaxed. He hadn't even taken off his coat or drawn a wand. Harry's hands clenched under the desk.
"You may cast any spell you wish at me." Muffled gasps went up all around the classroom. That was more lenient than even Lupin had been. Harry bit his lip.
Draco's sneer increased, lighting his eyes with malevolent glee. Harry felt his stomach clench. No way was Draco not going to try and humiliate the Professor...
Draco raised his wand. "Stupefy!"
The Defense Professor didn't even twitch. Instead, his left hand shot up, almost inhumanly fast...
And caught Malfoy's spell, the beam of light compressing into a small, glowing red ball against his palm.
The Professor turned his hand palm upward, studying the spell. "A stunning spell. Excellent strength, for a practitioner of your age. However..." He lifted his other hand, sketched a quick symbol over the ball of spell light in his palm. The magic fizzled away like a match being doused in water. "This is why Enochian is effective."
There was a surprised splutter from Dean Thomas. Hermione spoke up. "But sir...you didn't say or write anything to block it."
To Harry's surprise, the Professor looked away, lips compressing into a thin line. "When you've been practicing as long as I have, you learn to use the spells without resorting to written sigils and vocalizations." He glanced at Draco. "You should return to your seat."
Draco slunk back to his desk. Castiel moved back to the board. "For reference..."
He wrote out a quick phrase, followed by a circled symbol of some kind. "This is the blocking spell and sigil. And this..." He drew another one, one that looked vaguely like the hand motion he'd demonstrated. "This is the sigil used to dispel and neutralize hostile powers. There are other runes, but these are the most generalized of them."
Harry scrambled to copy the words down, then raised his hand. "Sir...the spell, does it block just once, or can it be used multiple times?"
"When the sigil is drawn, it will last as long as the marks remain unbroken. Spoken or used non-verbally, it must be renewed. If you combine the methods, it will be stronger, but the stronger spell must also be repeated."
He glanced up at the class, then swept the board clean. "For the sigil, bear in mind that the materials used for drawing it will determine it's strength. Chalk works, but it is very impermanent. Paint is more efficient. Also, using your own blood ties your magic into the sigil, which provides more force, but can also be extremely dangerous. Some sigils should never be drawn in blood, as the side effects can prove disastrous. Likewise, some sigils should always be drawn in blood, to increase their potency, and to exclude yourself from the spells effects. Most banishing sigils fall under this category."
The Professor continued. "Defensive sigils, such as this one, should be drawn in ink or paint. This gives you the greatest durability in your spell, and avoids the personal repercussions if the spell is broken by your opponent."
Ron broke in. "Repercussions?"
"They are...unpleasant. Highly unpleasant. Using the spoken version avoids some of them, but only if your concentration is unbroken. The spell may backlash otherwise. And that is also unpleasant."
That made it a little more dangerous than the standard shield spells that Harry knew, like the Protego. But still...he'd never seen anyone catch a Stunning spell before.
The rest of the lecture involved the sigils Professor Castiel had drawn before, explaining their uses and the pronunciation of their vocal forms.
Harry left the class feeling like someone had tried to cram an entire years worth of information into his head. He was also convinced that Castiel was the strangest Professor he'd ever had. He didn't give or take points, although maybe it was just because it was his first day with them. He certainly knew what he was talking about, but he seemed...awkward. And that stare of his could definitely have given Moody's eye a run for it's money. He didn't even think Snape's glare could compete with it.
But he was competent, and he didn't seem evil. That was enough to be going on with. Harry made a resolution to study his notes more thoroughly later, then raced to make it to Transfiguration class.
Author's Note: So...first day of school for everyone. How did you like it?
Castiel's kind of awkward to write as a teacher. Don't worry, his style will smooth out as he gets used to things. Sort of. As much as an angel teaching teenagers can.
Up next, everyone's got a lot to learn...