I. H. T. F. P.

written by Becky M

Remus J. Lupin coughed. When that didn't work, he pounded on his gavel. Unfortunately, the other members of the committee were still squabbling amongst each other. He sighed. "Could we please come to order?" he repeated in a slightly louder voice.

"You never thought I was any good, you—"

"Aw, go soak your head, Quirrell, you Janus-faced spook. And while you're at it, you can—"

"Such language, hem hem."

"Guhhhhhhh…"

"Would anyone like an autograph? I can do joined-up writing now, you know."

Lupin groaned softly. They were impossible, each and every one of them. And Professor Dumbledore expected him to preside over this tin of mixed-nuts. It was enough to make him wonder what he'd done to the twinkly-eyed bastard.

"Sonorus," he muttered, fingering the wand in his pocket. As if life as a penniless werewolf weren't bad enough, Lupin thought with a wince.

"STUFF IT THE LOT OF YOU."

Silence filled the room as the assembled beings (and has-been) recovered from the shock of hearing Remus Lupin raise his voice. Even the slack-jawed lump of what had once been a wizard shifted his head slightly, so that the soulless blue eyes seemed to be watching Lupin and not the surface of the table. Lupin muttered the counter-charm under his breath, then folded his hands on top of the table.

"Thank you," Lupin said, his normal tones of quiet authority restored. "Now. Will the first meeting of the Association of Former Teachers of Defense Against the Dark Arts please come to order?" Stares of astonishment were quickly replace by the shuffling of paper, the laying out of quills, and, in one case, drooling. Lupin smiled thinly before proceeding. "As you all are aware, Headmaster Dumbledore has brought us here to discuss the position of Defense master this upcoming semester. And, as you are also all aware, we all share a certain characteristic: each and every one of us has been in the position of professor for one Harry James Potter."

There was a loud snort from across the table. "I hardly consider spending a year in that bloody trunk serving as professor, Lupin, and you bloody well know it. Stop playing games."

Lupin sighed and willed away his developing migraine. "I'm perfectly aware of that fact, Mr. Moody. However, Mr. Crouch is clearly unable to speak for himself in this matter, no matter how much you poke him. Also, it is well known that that fiasco of two years ago was to be the second time you would have held down the position of Defense master. You taught the class when both I and the candidate took it, at least until the Incident."

"Boy seduced me, damn it," Alastor Moody muttered under his breath, favoring Lupin with a double-barreled glare; blue glass eye looking straight through him. "Fine," he grumbled more loudly. "Carry on then."

"Thank you," Lupin replied, his gaze shifting to the form floating above the first chair. "Mr. Quirrell," he began, "I believe you had some unusual dealings with our candidate, did you not?"

The ghost bobbed nervously above his chair, the pale lavender rags of his transparent turban shifting in line with his motion. "Yes, er, that is, you could say that, sir, you could say that indeed, most definitely yes." A look of disgust then crossed the spook's face and his voice rang clear and true: "He blackmailed me, Lupin. Threatened my position at this school."

The feminine presence in the room coughed. "And you were doing things, hem hem, that warranted it. Weren't you, Mr. Quirrell?"

The late Professor Quirrell shot her a look that could have frozen a salamander. "I do believe I detect a bit of the Innsmouth look about you, Miss Umbridge," he stated, almost offhandedly. The woman bristled in a very un-amphibious way.

"I think that's all I need from you," Lupin interjected, hoping to forestall another row. He rubbed his index finger against the side of his nose, tiredly. "I don't suppose Mr. Lockhart might share his opinion on the candidate?"

Gilderoy Lockhart looked up from his glossy stack of eight-by-fives. "Skin condition. No sense of personal grooming. Dreadful hair. Still in possession of a fatally Jewish nose. Hopeless." He returned his gold-tipped quill to the surface of the photograph.

"I… see," Lupin replied slowly, as if speaking to a hopelessly dim child. He could feel his migraine returning.

Moody snorted. "What do you expect from the kind of idiot that gets frightened off by a mere band of piskies?"

Lupin raised an eyebrow. "Indeed, Mr. Moody. I don't suppose you could give us your opinion as the candidate's former professor?" The unstated implication, of course, being that he was advised to keep his trap shut if he didn't.

The old man's scarred face broke into an uneven grin and he leaned forward, pulling his elbows onto the table. "Well," he said conversationally, "the boy was a natural prodigy with cursework. Knew most of my OWL-level hexes as a firstie, in fact. A little weak on Dark Beasts, though," he added thoughtfully.

"He believes in the Mongolian Kappa," Lupin stated with thin-lipped disgust. Moody winced.

"Now, now, I'm sure we all have our weak spots, hem hem," Dolores Umbridge interjected. "Some of us are brainless. Or soulless. Or lifeless—"

"Some of us belong in the Miskatonic zoology department," Quirrell muttered. Lupin moderated his laugh into a cough.

"Some of us are crippled relics of a defunct era," she continued on dauntlessly. "Some of us, hem hem, are disgusting monsters that should be put down on—Will you please stop pounding on Mr. Crouch like that?"

Lockhart pulled back his hands, wounded. "He keeps drooling on my autographs!" the former celebrity whined.

Moody reached over to pat his shoulders. "Keep your chin up. Once this damn meeting's over, you can go out and help me bat Bludgers at him." He grinned at Lockhart with an expression of unholy glee which, sniffling, the other man returned.

Lupin sighed. Hopeless. They were all hopeless. "Do you have any observations on the candidate, Miss Umbridge?"

"Well," she said, index finger on her cheek in a girlishly thoughtful gesture. "He does know how to install proper discipline."

There was a long, uneasy silence. The clock ticked. The lacewing by the window buzzed. Barty Crouch gurgled and presented them with a new puddle of saliva. "What about you, Lupin?" Moody asked finally. "I know you've got an opinion or three on the man."

All eyes were on the self-appointed moderator of the committee, who cleared his throat. "I don't like it," Lupin said, setting down his quill. "But I don't think we have any other choices, do we?"

There was a flurry of headshakes: "No." "No." "No." "No." "Unnnngh."

"Well then," Remus Lupin answered, rising to his feet. "I'll just have to go out and tell Severus he's got the job."

A/N: Written for Canards d'Amelie as part of the Genfic-a-thon. (Challenge: 'A conference of all of Harry's former DaDA teachers (plus Dumbledore, other authority figures if you like) in order to select next year's. (Since Quirrell is dead you are excused from writing him, but as this is obviously not a serious situation, why not bring him back as a ghost, or portrait?) Condition: Make me laugh. Parody if you like, but I'd prefer straight humor.') As for what the title stands for… guess.