Ch. 13 - Derek In The Role of Professor
Before classes the next day I made a stop by the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom to see Derek. He had his back to me when I entered and I looked around taking in the changes of the room. He had pulled the shutters up from the windows allowing the morning sun to stream in, but he had the walls painted a deep blue to keep the room’s mysterious feel.
“So,” I called out, catching Derek’s attention, “fancy seeing you here.”
He turned and a smile crossed his handsome, albeit aging face. It struck me that he was my Professor
now and for some reason the title made him seem so much older. I finally took notice of the creases at the corners of his eyes, how deep his laugh lines were, and the way his chestnut brown hair was turning white just above his ears.
“Shouldn’t you be at breakfast?” he asked.
“I came to see how your first day of classes went,” I replied, absently setting my bag on a table and leaning against it.
Derek chuckled, “They went perfectly well, thank you very much.” He paused for a moment, looking up to the right before continuing, “Actually now that I think about it, the third years were rather bratty.”
“They usually are,” I replied. “How did you end up teaching here anyway?”
He crossed his arms and shook his head, “Well, I didn’t want to when Dumbledore first asked me, but you come to understand that no one says ‘no’ to that man.” Then Derek went around the table situated at the front of the room and adjusted the papers there. “How was your first day?”
I shrugged, “Not bad, could have been better. I think McGonagall’s got it in for me now that I’ve changed my courses.”
Then he gave me a pointed look, a deep penetrating stare and his eyes roamed over me as if he were looking for something wrong with me. “How’re you?”
I looked down at my shoes, noting the way the light cast off by the floating candles was reflected off the patent leather. I turned over my answer a few times before looking back up. “I think I’m starting to be okay. I try not to think about them too much at least when I’m around other people, it helps. But sometimes I miss them so much I think it’ll kill me.”
Derek nodded, knowing full well what I was talking about. He rounded the table and came to stand in front of me. He placed his hand against the side of my neck the way my father used to. “You’ll be okay, Elaina, you’re a strong girl. And time doesn’t heal all wounds, just bandages them.”
As he kissed the top of my head, I understood that the parameters of a teacher/pupil relationship would never fit Derek and me. I had known him all my life, he was my uncle, in fact when I was little my parents encouraged me to call him “Uncle Derek”. He would always be more to me than just a teacher, and I would always be more to him than just a student.
“Now get to breakfast! And I’ll see you in class,” he said, playfully shoving me away from him.
Unfortunately for me as I was making my way to the Great Hall, the bell dismissing breakfast rang and my stomach growled for good measure. I sighed and immediately changed my course for the Charms classroom. I guess I just have to wait until lunch
, I thought to myself taking the stairs two at a time, easily side-stepping underclassmen. When I reached the Charms classroom, I took the same seat I’d possessed in years past taking out my book, parchment and a quill.
Someone took the seat beside me just as my stomach growled again. “Sounds like you need this,” came Sirius’ voice and suddenly there was a bagel with cream cheese and jam wrapped in a napkin thrust in front of my face.
“You are amazing,” I told him, snatching the bagel and taking a bite.
Sirius laughed, “Tell me something I don’t know. Just don’t let Flitwick see you, he’ll make you pitch it.” He took out his things too, “Where were you this morning?”
I swallowed my mouthful, “I woke up late and decided to see Derek before breakfast.”
“Lily did say she tried to wake you but you apparently weren’t having it.”
“I’m not exactly complaining about the amount of sleep I got with how I’ve been sleeping,” I replied.
He turned toward me, his sharp grey eyes taking in the features of my face with a scrutinizing gaze. It was almost the same look Derek had given me not twenty minutes earlier. I met his eyes and felt goose bumps race across my arms. “What?” I asked.
“Are you still having nightmares?”
“Not rea --” I coughed around the sudden tightness in my throat. With a sigh of irritation that had nothing to do with Sirius, I told him, “Not as frequently.”
Sirius nodded, though he didn’t seem wholly satisfied with my answer and turned his attention to Flitwick who was balancing precariously on the stack of books he used to see over his podium and adjusting his notes for our lecture. I was diligently taking notes like a good student should when a piece of folded parchment found its way in front of me. I set my quill down and unfolded the torn piece of paper and couldn’t help but smile at the boy scrawl I found there.
You’re coming to the party on Saturday night, right?
I furrowed my brow and wrote a response sliding it back to Sirius. A moment or so later, the parchment was back in front of me.
The party Gryffindor throws every year after the first full week of classes.
Ah, right, I had forgotten. It was almost tradition for every house to throw a party celebrating the kick-off of the new school year at the end of the first full week of classes. In years past, I had not been in attendance to the Gryffindor party because I was at the Slytherin party. I briefly wondered how the two would differ. The Slytherin party was usually a high end affair, semi-formal dress was a must and soft classical music would play through the half-light of the common room, everyone casually sipping at their tumblers that were usually full of firewhiskey. It was definitely reminiscent of the parties our parents held and attended. Then as the night wore on you could see people pairing off going to darker corners of the room or girls following boys up to their dorms.
I imagined the Gryffindor party being much more of a ruckus affair. Loud music, sleazy dancing, excessive drinking.
Sirius elbowed me and I realized I hadn’t answered him yet. I scribbled my affirmative reply and pushed the parchment back to him. Out of the corner of my eye I watched a wide, grin spread across his features as he turned toward me, still smiling. I felt a slow smile spread across my face as I looked at him, taking in the smooth handsome angles of his face. Then Sirius reached out, taking my free hand before he lifted it to his lips and kissed the back of it.
He dropped my hand and went back to taking notes while I tried to desperately ignore the pitching sensation in my stomach.
I was practically bouncing from excitement when I walked into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom after Charms and promptly took the open seat beside Marlene.
“My, don’t we look excited,” she commented.
I smiled at her, “Derek was my father’s best friend, I just have a feeling it’ll be a great class.”
The late bell rang bringing with it the last stragglers. The class was split right down the middle, Slytherin on one side, Gryffindor on the other. Funny how before this year, you could have found me sitting among the Slytherins rolling my eyes at my friends as they openly mocked my own house. I shook the irony away from my thoughts as the door to Derek’s office opened and he came strolling out.
I heard many of my female classmates, including Marlene, take sudden gasping intakes of air as they got their first up close look at Professor Perkins. Already I knew that some of them had developed school girl crushes on the man I considered my uncle. It took a lot of self-control not to laugh out loud. If my father were still alive, I imagined the two of them would laugh about my classmates having crushes on him.
Derek rounded the front table and leaned against it, crossing his legs at the ankles. “Good morning class,” he said with a smile. The class echoed back a pathetic reply and Derek tsk’ed, “Come on now, I know you can do better than that… Good morning class!”
“Good morning Professor!” came the collective, sarcastic reply.
He nodded. “Very good. As you are all aware, my name is Derek Perkins and I am going to be playing the role of your Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. I’ll tell you a little about myself - I, too, attended Hogwart’s under the classification of Gryffindor. I’m also an Auror, my partner was the former Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”
“I’ll also have all of you know that I am well aware of the Slytherin/Gryffindor rivalry, however in my classroom you will all be civil and amicable. I will not tolerate degrading, teasing or mocking fellow students and should I catch any of you doing such a thing I will not hesitate to subtract points, hand out detentions, or send you to the Headmaster no matter your house.”
Derek pushed himself off the table and clapped his hands together before he began to walk around the room. “Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering what this class will have in store for you this year. Unlike many of your other Professors, I’ll not shield you from the unpleasant business happening outside the walls of this school - some of you are already more aware of it than others. You are all old enough and, hopefully, mature enough to know what is happening in the world you live in.”
“That said, this course will be a more practical, hands on class to prepare you for the darkening world; we will spend very little time with our noses in books and more time with our wands in our hands. Your lessons will be focused on proper dueling technique, learning more advanced defensive and offensive spells, I will teach you how to defend not only your body but your mind, as well as perfecting your non-verbal and wand-less magic because less face it: you don’t want to be helpless should you lose your wand in a fight. I do not expect you to succeed the first, or even second time around, but that is why I’m here.”
I heard everyone around me murmur with anticipation while I felt my hand tighten around the wooden strut holding mine and Marlene’s table together. Derek was going to be making this a mostly practical class. Yes, in other classes there were practical lessons but mostly we worked in books - Derek was changing that. We would be dueling, and performing wand-less
magic which was dangerous, though I doubted if any of my classmates would be able to perform the most basic of spells without their wand.
Due to my father’s lessons, I was far more advanced than any student my age should be. If I could out-duel and kill a full grown Death Eater, I could certainly out-duel my sixteen/seventeen year old classmates. I would have to hold back, especially when it came time for us to begin to learn how to perform wand-less magic. Wand-less magic was dangerous because it was wild, difficult to control and powerful beyond belief which is why wands needed to have cores with magical qualities because ordinary sticks of wood would end up destroyed with all that magic flowing through it. The magical cores diluted a wizard’s magic, making it more easily controllable. Only the most powerful wizards had full control of their magic to the point they didn’t need a wand - do you think Merlin and Morgan Le Fay used a wand?
As for me, wand-less magic was the first thing my father started our lessons with when I was thirteen.
“I dunno about anyone else, but I think Perkins is the first Defense Professor we’ll have who actually knows what the hell he’s talking about,” Sirius said at lunch after class.
“It does seem like it’ll be a good class,” Peter replied with a nod.
“I’m just excited for when it comes time to actually duel, can’t wait to land a nasty spell or two on a Slytherin,” said James.
I sat in between two conversations. Sirius, Peter, James and Remus were on my left discussing Defense Against the Dark Arts. One my right, sat Marlene, Mary, and Lily who were gushing over Derek - well, more like Mary and Marlene were gushing while Lily was shaking her head and laughing.
“Do you think he’s married?” Mary wondered with a sigh.
Marlene shrugged, “I don’t know, but my oh my is he fit! Definitely an improvement over the boys
that surround us.”
“You two do know he’s old enough to be your father?” Lily commented.
I was silent as I poked at my lunch in more than mild disinterest. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t hungry because my stomach couldn’t decide if it was twisting with hunger or anxiety. I was trying to figure out how in the world I was going to down play my abilities in Defense when I considered giving anything less than my everything a failure.
I hadn’t noticed that the conversations taking place on either side of me had stopped until Marlene elbowed me painfully in my side. I yelped and turned to glare at her, “What!?”
“We are trying to talk to you, you know,” Mary snapped.
I snorted, “Oh please, like you would talk to me if you had a choice.”
“And did you hear anything I said, either?” James asked me.
I turned to him, “No, what did you say?”
“Quidditch try-outs are next Saturday morning,” he told me. “You’re still planning on trying out, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am.”
He nodded. “Good, and don’t think it’s going to be easy.”
“James, I was the MVP three years running in summer leagues not to mention I can outrun your sorry rump, I think I’ll be fine,” I replied. I turned back to Marlene, Mary and Lily. “Now what did you want?”
“Is Professor Perkins married?” Marlene asked.
I shook my head. “Widower, his wife died about ten years ago and I wouldn’t suggest bringing it up to him.”
Lily sighed, “Oh, that’s so sweet, he still mourns her.”
If only it were as sweet as Lily thought. Derek’s late wife was a muggle named Eileen and from what I remember, she was quite stunning. I was around six or seven when she died and Derek had come to live with my family for awhile because my father didn’t trust him on his own. I wouldn’t fully understand what happened that caused Derek to move in with us until much later, I only knew that “Aunt Eileen” had passed away and gone to a better place and that “Uncle Derek” needed us . I later learned that she died in childbirth, she had gone into labor prematurely and had complications. She died from blood loss, and the baby only lived long enough for Derek to name him and for the birth and death certificates to be within two days of one another. He named the baby Arthur Demetri Perkins; Demetri after my father.
I don’t remember the funeral, but I remember that Derek was not the same man after Eileen died. He didn’t leave the guest room my father gave him for weeks, my mother personally delivered his meals and my father forcibly made him shower and take basic care of himself. I don’t remember much of that time, but Derek would later tell me (when I was old enough to understand) that I was the one who helped him the most. He told me that everyday without fail, no matter how much he turned me away, that I would come in and sit on the bed and tell him about my day, or I would bring one of my children’s books and read to him. He told me that because I saw no darkness in the world in my childish naiveté, I had helped him see the light in it.
I shook myself out of my morbid trip down memory lane just as I heard the bell ring for the last class of the day. With a sigh I gathered my bag and headed to Astronomy with Sirius, Marlene and Remus.
“What class does James have right now?” I wondered.
Sirius and Remus cast each other a knowing look before trying not to laugh out loud. Sirius cleared his throat, “James is currently on his way to Muggle Studies.”
Marlene threw her head back with a laugh. “Why? What would posses his pampered, Pureblooded arse to take Muggle Studies?”
“He signed up for the class before Lily agreed to date him; he thought it would impress her if he was… oh, how did he phrase it…” Remus sighed, tapping his chin with his forefinger.
“If he was ‘making an attempt to learn about her people’,” Sirius supplied, “like muggles were a foreign race.”
“And then he forgot to drop it,” Remus finished. “Now he’s stuck with it.”
I shook my head. “Oh my goodness, that’s too funny.”
Woo, chapter 13! Viola!!
This was kind of another filler chapter but not really. I wanted this chapter to focus on Derek and Elaina's relationship, and to show that just because she lost her parents doesn't mean that she has absolutely no parental figure in her life. I also wanted us to learn a little more about Derek... I made his life so sad! Jeez.
Also, doesn't his DADA class sound like it's going to be awesome!? I have some good things planned for it!
I (finally) figured out a few things to put between now and Quidditch Try-outs!
Thank you everyone who has reviewed recently! I'll put everyone's names in the next update :)